Same as it ever was….
Christmas came a few days early for corporate interests and won’t arrive for the jobless as a result of the budget deal just announced. Seeking to avoid the public relations disaster of the last budget fight, Republican negotiator Rep. Paul Ryan worked out a deal to avoid another dust up. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), represented the Obama administration
The deal restores some of the cuts from the sequestration process, mainly to defense programs. It is described as a “small deal” that fails to do much for either deficit reduction or to promote economic growth.
There is no provision for extending Emergency Unemployment Insurance benefits. Between Christmas and New Years, 1.3 million citizens will lose their benefits. Another 850.000 will lose benefits by the end of March 2014.
At the same time, airlines got some relief and the planned 24% cut to Medicare physician fees was delayed. These rates are already low. The restoration on fees will probably prevent the start of an exodus of physicians away from Medicare.
Some Democrats are upset that the unemployment insurance extension was left out of the budget deal and the Tea Party faction of Republicans complained that there the deal does nothing about deficit reduction. They’re both right. Continue reading Budget deal – Corporate welfare trumps jobless benefits
(BBC) – FSA fighters and civilians at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey (file) SMC fighters were reportedly “asked” to leave Bab al-Hawa by the Islamic Front
The US and UK governments have suspended all “non-lethal assistance” for the opposition in northern Syria.
A US embassy spokesman in Ankara said the decision was made after Islamist rebels seized bases belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Fighters from the Islamic Front, a new alliance of major rebel groups, took control of the bases at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey last week.
Humanitarian assistance by the US and UK is not expected to be affected.
That was distributed through international and non-governmental organisations, the US embassy spokesman added.
Also see, Syrian Crisis – Original Writing in the Agonist
Hersh’s story [Whose sarin?] was supposed to appear in the Washington Post, but … the Post passed on the story, saying it did not meet its standards. Hersh’s usual outlet, the New Yorker, also passed on the story. Jack Mirkinson, HuffPost, Dec 9
Seymour Hersh’s article, Whose sarin?, makes the case for a concerted effort by the Obama administration to deliberately deceive Congress and the public regarding the facts of the chemical weapons attack in Syria on August 21. The case derives from current and retired intelligence community sources that detail the attempt to “fix” intelligence in order to blame the Syrian government for the attack.
If believed, the deception would have enabled an act of military aggression against a sovereign nation that was no threat and had not attacked the United States. If we believe Hersh and his sources, the deception is clearly a “high crime” against the Constitution.
Why believe Hersh?
Hersh’s reporting has helped define and set the standards for investigative journalism for over 40 years. He broke the story on the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, scooped the secrets behind the downing of Korean Airlines 007, exposed the lies behind the Iraq invasion, and confirmed what many suspected about Obama’s deception regarding the proposed attack Syria. Continue reading Why Wash Post, New Yorker take a dive on Hersh Syria article
Agonist Diaries are back!
One of the best features of the old Agonist was USER DIARIES. After considerable effort, we’ve restored that function to the new WordPress platform.
All Agonist registered users can now create their own Diary entries. Posts can be on any subject but are subject to respecting the copyright of others and a few other obvious rules.
The goals for Diaries include:
- Opening the Agonist up to a broad spectrum of ideas and topics;
- Encouraging more communication on these ideas and viewpoints in the Diaries section and on the Main Page; and,
- Broadening the reach of the Agonist. Continue reading Agonist Diaries are back!
Uruguay is nestled between Argentina and Brazil. We don’t hear much about the nation of five million. The most recent news concerned the election of José Mujica as president. He had once been an urban revolutionary. The transition, like others in South America, symbolized the reintegration of former leftists and their constituencies into states once ruled by fascists. But, Uruguay is now a world leader as the first nation to legalize marijuana. The substance is government controlled but available those who want it.
But now this! From The Independen Dec. 11t
“Uruguay has approved a ground breaking bill legalising marijuana, making it the first country to allow the growth, sale and consumption of the drug.
“The decision was made by senators following almost 12 hours of debate late on Tuesday evening, with the bill passing with 16 votes in favour and 13 against. Congress’ lower house had already approved the measure in late July.
“The bill, which is expected to come into effect after April, allows Uruguayan residents registered on a database to purchase up to 40g (1,4oz) of the drug each month from licensed pharmacies. Continue reading Uruguay legalizes pot – world’s first nation to do so
Cross-posted at Firedoglake.
Microsoft. Google. Facebook. These firms, among others, have featured prominently in the news over the past few weeks and months. Recently, reports indicated that they have come together to demand changes to US surveillance policy, because it’s bad for business. A while earlier, reports had arisen indicating that some major US companies had worked with the US government against the best interests of their customers. Their cooperation with government spying activity evidently seemed fine to them as long as it was done in secret, but now that their bad behavior has been made public, it seems that they are concerned that their customers might not want to buy tainted goods.
Continue reading Nasty NSA, the End of US Tech, and You are the Product.
I think Barack Obama took a swing and a miss in his eulogy of Nelson Mandela this morning. In a rare moment, I believe he misread his audience.
Continue reading Ubuntu
Self-employed Agonistas looking for healthcare coverage – are you having trouble getting into Obamacare? It wasn’t going anywhere for me until this week, when I finally got to see my options.
I struggled for almost 2 months to get my application through. I tried doing it online, then by phone, then online again, then by phone again. Errors that I had corrected kept coming back. My case languished in the black hole called the Advanced Resolution Center. Telephone support people tried to fix it, but old errors kept coming back. Even when the errors seemed to be corrected, my application was endlessly in process.
A couple of days ago, an Obamacare telephone support person showed me a new feature on the site: Now you can delete your application and start again. I protested, of course; I had done that countless times already without success. He explained that before this week, you could not really delete the file (even if you thought you could); the corrupt code was still in there. Now you can just push this button and really truly start over.
I can’t remember what the button is called. “Delete” maybe? It’s on the login page, but it isn’t there right now, because the page is down for maintenance. Whatever the word is, it’s pretty obvious. You can find it on the page you get just after you log in.
Bottom line: Now you can delete your electronically corrupt application and start over. And now there’s a real chance that it will work.
Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
Also see commentary in The Agonist
China reacts coolly. Whilst the long running Sino-Japanese war threat now has the makings of a Clancy thriller – but check out the dates within the < article - back from the future????
Global research has analysis on the US-Japanese/China ‘conflict’.
The people of the United States were subject to a deliberate deception by the Obama administration concerning the use of chemical weapons in Damascus, Syria on August 21 according to leading investigative reporter Seymour M. Hersh. No stranger to big stories, Hersh has a successful track record of books and articles based on sources deep in the United States intelligence community.
The article, Whose Sarin, was published in the London Review of Books on Sunday. If we believe Hersh and his sources, the pattern of deliberate lies is so pervasive, there is no reason to believe much of what we hear from the Obama administration without independent verification.
The Core Case for Deception Continue reading Seymour Hersh, Sarin, and the Obama Deception on Syria WMD
Oh, the people have no jobs…let them volunteer. Marie Antoinette
We’ve moved beyond John Locke as our social model to the attitude of Marie Antoinette. The White House acts as though there’s not a massive job problem.
The White House will not insist that an emerging budget deal include an extension of the unemployment benefits program set to expire at the end of the year, press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday. Roll Call Dec 6
The White House wants the unemployed to know that it feels their pain:
[White House Press Secretary] Carney said that it would be “terrible to tell more than a million families across the country just a few days after Christmas that they’re out of benefits,” but that the White House was agnostic on how the extension happened. Roll Call Dec 6
Terrible to tell millions “a few days after Christmas” that they’re totally screwed, forgotten, cast aside, left without help… Actually, Mr. Carney should consider this. If it’s “terrible” to tell people this, just imagine how terrible it is to live it. But Carney and the others inside the Beltway don’t need to worry. They are supported by the socialism for the Mandarin class…guaranteed income no matter how badly you behave.
“The vehicle that they use to do that is less important than the fact that they do it,” Carney said. Roll Call Dec 6
Continue reading ‘Oh, the poor have no jobs – let them volunteer’ Jobless aid dropped from budget deal