Blogging 3.0

Quo Vadis again again

Blogging 1.0 often replaced the plethora of special purpose forums that were apparently everywhere.

Blogging 2.0 consisted of some special-purpose sites, but the real blogosphere was comprised of many sites very much like The Agonist: covering a wide range of topics, multiple viewpoints, meaningful (and sometimes heated) discussion, generally outside of and frequently in opposition to the MSM.

It seems to me it’s time to ask, “What will Blogging 3.0 bring?” As has been noted elsewhere, the drop-off in activity is not limited to The Agonist but blogs with a specialized focus are still healthy. Generalized blogs are either attached to some other money-making entity, independently funded or dependent on reader contributions.
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Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran

Exclusive: As the Obama administration is rushing to complete a nuclear agreement with Iran and reduce regional tensions, the Israeli media is reporting on a deal with Saudi Arabia to let Israeli warplanes transit Saudi airspace en route to bombing Iran, reports Robert Parry.

Consortium News, By Robert Parry, February 25

According to an Israeli media report, Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Israeli warplanes fly over Saudi territory to save fuel while attacking Iranian nuclear sites, the latest indication of how the two former enemies have developed a behind-the-scenes alliance that is reshaping geopolitics in the Middle East.

“The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official in Brussels told Israel’s Channel 2 in a report broadcast on Tuesday and described in other Israeli media outlets.

Riyadh’s only condition was that Israel make some progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, a stipulation that may be mostly cosmetic so the Saudis can save face with other Arab states without really interfering with an Israeli flyover to strike Iran.

Disclosure of this Israeli-Saudi military cooperation comes as the United States and five other world powers rush to finish an agreement with Iran to curtail but not eliminate its nuclear program, which Iran says is only for civilian purposes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to appear before the U.S. Congress on March 3 to undercut President Barack Obama’s negotiations.

The reported Saudi permission for Israeli warplanes to take a shorter route to bomb Iran also suggests that Netanyahu may be laying the groundwork for his own plans to attack the Iranian nuclear sites if the international negotiations are successful. Netanyahu has denounced a possible deal as an “existential threat” to Israel.

Australia’s prime minister has announced a huge national security crackdown

Reuters, By Matt Siegel, February 22

Sydney- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday announced a national security crackdown that could deny welfare payments to people seen as potential threats, strip the passports of those with dual nationality and curb travel overseas.

Abbott, bruised politically and facing pressure for dramatic action after surviving a leadership challenge this month, unveiled the measures in the wake of a hostage siege in a Sydney cafe that left three dead in December.

He said some personal freedoms would have to be curtailed to fight what he called a rapidly growing threat from radical groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“For too long, we have given those who might be a threat to our country the benefit of the doubt,” Abbott said.

An Unfortunate Death

An Obituary printed in the London Times….

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

  • Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
  • Why the early bird gets the worm;
  • Life isn’t always fair;
  • And maybe it was my fault.

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Wkend Jukebox: love, oh careless love ?

Need a break from the ice and snow?
… Kleenex handy?
… Ticket to Ride?

Fare well, Agonistas ~nymole

Odetta- Love, oh careless love” – a late version

Merle Haggard: Frankie and Johnny

Patti Smith with Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”
   at a memorial to her friend Robert Mapplethorpe in France

The Cars, of course: “My Best Friend’s Girl”

or maybe:
The Pretenders: Pack it Up

Ezra Furman: Anything can happen
Neill Young: My Heart

Christian War Crimes Prize

Christian College Gives Torture President Honorary Humanities Degree

Texas Baptists confirm Obama’s comments about Christian crimes

By William Boardman – Reader Supported News [2.18.15]

The American torture president and self-professed Christian, George W. Bush, gratefully accepted an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the Christian-ideology-based University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, on February 11, in a “public” event that was closed to most of the public. The only direct media coverage allowed for the event was by Fox News and the college public relations team.

Even though it might have been headlined as “Christians Honor War Criminal,” there were apparently no national news stories about the former president’s award. Five days after the fact, the Washington-insider publication, the Hill ran a short summary noting that Bush had said, “Evil is evil.” Read More

Lawful Evidence, Cell keys, Stingray and Other Breaches

It appears that a 4-letter agency (UK-based) and a three-letter agency (US-based) have conspired to reduce the security of cell phone users worldwide to approximately zero. Surely, their motives must have been noble; after all, these agencies belong to two governments renowned for their verbal support of democracy and freedom worldwide. To consider them as seeking their own selfish interests is unthinkable.

How nice it is for all Telephone Carriers to be released from all responsibility, especially after a series of record-breaking credit card number heists. We’re sure the incidence of these data beaches and the exposure of cell phone encryption keys is just coincidental.
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Ukraine: UK and EU’s ‘catastrophic misreading’ of Russia

BBC – The UK and the EU have been accused of a “catastrophic misreading” of the mood in the Kremlin in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine.

The House of Lords EU committee claimed Europe “sleepwalked” into the crisis. The EU had not realised the depth of Russian hostility to its plans for closer relations with Ukraine, it said… The committee’s report said Britain had not been “active or visible enough” in dealing with the situation in Ukraine. It blamed Foreign Office cuts, which it said led to fewer Russian experts working there, and less emphasis on analysis. A similar decline in EU foreign ministries had left them ill-equipped to formulate an “authoritative response” to the crisis, it said.

The report claimed that for too long the EU’s relationship with Moscow had been based on the “optimistic premise” that Russia was on a trajectory to becoming a democratic country. The result, it said, was a failure to appreciate the depth of Russian hostility when the EU opened talks aimed at establishing an “association agreement” with Ukraine in 2013.

Mr Cameron rejected claims Britain “sleepwalked” into the crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. fears Palestinian ruin as Israel denies funds

AFP, February 20

The United States voiced fears Thursday that the Palestinian Authority may be teetering on the brink of collapse because of a lack of funding, as Israel withholds taxes and donor aid stalls.

Washington has been in urgent talks with regional leaders as well as other stakeholders in the frozen Middle East peace process in a bid to try to release more funds. “It’s true we’re very concerned about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if they do not receive funds soon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. Such funds would include the resumption of monthly Israeli transfers of Palestinian tax revenues, or additional donor assistance, she said.

In January, Israel suspended $127 million in tax revenues which should have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for its move to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Palestinians’ membership in the ICC, which takes effect on April 1, sets the scene for potential legal action against Israelis for alleged war crimes, in a move which has infuriated the Jewish state.

Unions in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

Francis Scott Key’s famous lyric claims we live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Aspirationally, we applaud his word choice. Currently, we’d like to be able to agree, but we have a few problems with the description, given the state of the Union at present.

Affirmation of Rights

Remember the historical lesson: Rights must be defended, if you want to keep them. To defend your rights takes courage and determination. Those qualities are the foundation of heroes, whence cometh F. Scott Key’s praise that our earlier defenders of freedom had given us a place to live, which he called “the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Stand UP for your rights. That way, you will be able to pass them on to your children. Give your children something to sing about, when they learn the words! Vote in the primaries, and support candidates who support Unions. Vote in the elections, too. Do not leave the voting to others who do not have your interests at heart.
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Immigration Ruling Leaves Millions in Limbo; Obama to Appeal

Republicans cheer judge’s blocking of president’s plan, while immigration-rights activists show confidence plan will prevail

WSJ -AUSTIN, Texas—A federal judge’s decision to temporarily block the Obama administration’s immigration actions delivered a first-round victory to Republican opponents, while leaving an estimated four million illegal immigrants who were set to be shielded from deportation in limbo.

The Obama administration said it would appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, of Brownsville, Texas, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush , a Republican. It freezes immigration actions issued by President Barack Obama, which were challenged as unconstitutional in a lawsuit filed by Texas and 25 other states…Republicans, who have been struggling to block the executive actions through legislation, welcomed the ruling.

Obama blinks.