Since last week’s catstravaganza featured Japanese cats, and since today’s Naked Capitalism links featured a Tibetan tiger rug (with cat, below), perhaps a few more cats from non-Japanese Asia might be fun:
Category - Agonist Compilation Threads
Summary compliation thread on a topic
Here is a list of top posts from the Agonist in terms of hits/views. There are some posts from the Drupal (old Agonist) platform (we long for that!) and some from the WorePress platform. In any event, here they are. Posts in italics are original writing and the others are either functions like Newswire or some of the excellent finds the Newswire editors and others re-posted.
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Harvard Business Review – Where the Green Jobs Really Are
New Republic – Karl Rove’s Latest Project Won’t Solve the GOP’s Problem
Mother Jones – California’s overflowing prisons
Ma’an News – Egyptian forces close 2 Gaza tunnels, arrest 10
You Tube Video – Battle for the Elephants
During 2012, we’ve read some good posts and some great posts by contributors at the Agonist. Here’s a look back at the posts the internet remembers best according to our traffic figures, Yahoo! search and Google search. 2012 was an election year, of course, and it’s no surprise that many of those posts dealt with that election or issues that would raise their heads during the 2012 campaign.
Top of the bill is Numerian’s “Totalitarianism in the US: An accident waiting to happen“. A look at Republican political philosophy which compares it to that of Soviet Russia, Pravda-like propaganda and promoting themselves through big lies. The editors at Agonist also unanimously voted this post the Agonist’s nomination for the 2012 Jon Swift Memorial Roundup at Vagabond Scholar. A great post from a great blog writer.
Also check out Numerian’s explanation of the origins and eventual path of current world financial turmoil and the debt crisis: Peak Money Arrives
Michael Collins set a lot of people talking in October with his post “Rigged Elections for Romney?“, which looked at a pattern of apparent vote flipping during the 2012 Republican primaries.
Cheryl Rofer is our resident nuclear expert, having done amazing world-changing work helping the states of the former U.S.S.R. with clean up operations. Back in March, in “What Obama Will Say To Netanyahu“, she explained how President Obama was working to convince Israel’s Netanyahu not to attack Iran in a post which foreshadowed talk later in the year of an Israeli “October Surprise” for the US elections.
Conservatives thought they smelled Obama-crippling blood in the water over the deaths of the US amabassador and others in Benghazi. In “Desperately Seeking Scandal“, Kathy Kattenburg tried to figure out why.
Of course, the real October Surprise was always going to be, as Mattt explained, that “President Barack HOOOOSAAAYN Obama is — wait for it — still black black blackity black black black”. As Cheryl wrote, we have to stop listening to America’s Crazy Uncle in the Attic.
Bruce A Jacobs has been a featured author at the Agonist for many years. Sadly he had to bow out this year due to the pressure of other work. here’s his last Tuesday Muse.
Adrena and Raja hold down the Agonist Newswire in fine style, but sometimes we can convince them to post their own thoughts on things. Here’s a powerful piece by Adrena: “Should she have become a porn star?”
Our biggest posts in terms of traffic this year? Mattt’s storify of David Frum’s meltdown at the NRA and our posts on the Petreaus/Broadwell scandal which expanded into the Jill Kelley fracas. All were off the chart – make of that what you will.
My own posts? My personal favorites were the posts I wrote about climate change and the need for something other than a military hammer in America’s hard power toolbox. Both have a common theme: the folks at national security think tanks, paid to think by the people who build tanks, aren’t thinking about the biggest national security problems very much at all and even when they do they do so to their paymasters’ agendas.
OK, what did I miss?
I was trying to think of ways that we could remember the basic tenets of the Occupy movement so that when people ask what we stand for we can more easily recall them. In this way we don’t spend time arguing over the things that are being yelled at us (lazy, socialist, get a job, bums, etc.) and keep the conversation about what is really important.
What I thought we could use to help us is our hands as we do with our hand signals together with some easy to remember mnemonic devises. My idea started with the convenient fact that we all have ten fingers. This can be the beginning reminding ourselves first that we have ten basic tenets.
I put up my right hand pointer/index finger up. One. I think, my index finger is attached to my hand, which is attached to my arm and body. My body, when I am dead, is a corpse, my body is a corporation. I lower my index finger in the air and remember that we first want to reduce corporate influence on politics.
I imagine a corpse dressed in a hooded sweatshirt under the corporate uniform of a pinstriped suit. I imagine that corpse suddenly getting up like a zombie. I think, ”œthat corpse is a person with a hood,” and remember that we want to eliminate the ”œpersonhood” legal status for corporations.
I look back at my hands and see my fingers as citizens united by my palm and I flip my hand of citizens over to see the reverse side of my palm. I remember that we want to reverse the ”œCitizens United” Supreme Court decision. To remember why we need to reverse ”œCitizens United,” I think back to the corporation corpse (zombie) and imagine it trying to speak, but instead of audible word coming out money keeps coming out of its mouth instead. Then I remember that ”œCitizens United” was the Supreme Court ruling that designated dollars as free speech and therefore could not be limited.
Then I imagine our corporate zombie trying to give money to a politician on an elevated platform and Occupy movement trying to stop him, and remember that we want to limit campaign contribution. I then imagine our hooded corporate zombie with the word ”œlobbyist” emblazoned across the shoulders of his pin stripped suit, trying to give money to a government official at a desk while the Occupy people try to prevent him from doing that, and I remember that we want to stop the influence of money and lobbyist on government officials.
When I go back to my fingers and look at my index finger I remember:
1. Stance on reducing or eliminating corporate influence in politics
Eliminate “Personhood” legal status for corporations. The interests of the general public and society must always come before the interests of corporations.
Reverse Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission (2008 Supreme Court decision), the decision that states that dollars equal free speech.
Fix our broken electoral system by limiting campaign contributions.
Eliminate the influence of money and lobbyists on government officials.
Then I put my index finger and my middle finger up at the same time indicating 2, the second tenet of the Occupy Movement.
I bend my fingers down imagining they are crumbling as I do this. When I put them back up I imaging they are reforming into the walls outside the New York Stock Exchange, and remember stance number 2 is for the reform of Wall Street. I look into the palm of my hand and I imaging that there is a glass there with an image of a seagull on it and remember that we want to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which keeps brokerage houses out of regular banking.
I look back at my two fingers and I imagine them gripping the handle of a broom and I go into the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and begin to sweep out Black Jack tables, roulette wheels and slot machines and remember that we want to remove the casino like aspects of investing now practiced on Wall Street. Once I’ve finished with sweeping the casino stuff out of Wall Street, I go back in and cuff all the brokers responsible for the gambling, and lead them out of the NYSE, all of them wearing blue trader coats like prison garb and all chained together like a chain gang. This reminds me that we want those who caused the financial crisis to be held accountable.
2. Stance on reforming Wall Street
Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, keeping brokerage houses out of mainline banking.
Eliminate the ”œcasino” aspects of business investing currently practiced on ”œWall Street” and place serious regulations on how business is conducted by Wall Street and banks.
Hold the people who caused the financial crisis accountable.
I now have my index, middle and ring finger up to signify 3. I go back to my hand and cup them as if to hold water. This reminds me of a dam. I imagine my hands making a life-like model of the Hoover dam on my palm and thousands of tiny workers helping me put it together. This reminds me that Occupy wants the government to be active in creating jobs and one solution for this is to massively expand public works projects. I imagine my hands paying all these tiny workers money, which reminds me that all workers should be paid a living wage.
3. Stance on creating jobs
Massive expansion of public works projects or projects in general designed to employ people directly.
Guaranteed living wage income for employment.
I now have 4 fingers up with my thumb tucked into my palm. I put my 4 fingers together and take my left hand and create a flat top on top of my right hand to form a ”œTimeout” T. Only this time the T stands for ”œtaxes.” I put my hands together with the palms facing my eyes, tuck my thumbs in and bend my spread out fingers to form a bush, and remember that we want to end Bush-era tax cuts to the wealthy and put in a progressive income tax structure. I now cup my hands together to form a hole and imagine our corporate zombie trying to squeeze through, but then I collapse the hole so he can’t. This reminds me that we need to close corporate loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying taxes. Then I imagine that I have money in my hand and I am giving it to our corporate zombie, but then I don’t, which reminds me that we want to end corporate welfare and handouts.
4. Stance on reforming the tax structure
End the Bush-era tax cuts, institute a progressive income tax that asks more from the wealthiest Americans, close corporate tax loopholes and eliminate corporate handouts.
My right hand is now wide open showing all five fingers. I look at my hand and think how much it is like the leaf of a palm tree and how it would be a shame if that palm tree leaf would be damaged by pollution or burned by climate change. And I imagine it catching fire. And I see the flame turn into the burning flair off of oil well heads and the flames seen above refineries. I remember that we want to strengthen our environmental laws in order to hand future generations a world undamaged by our callousness to the environment. I also remember that we want to end the fossil fuel economy and replace it with clean, renewable energy.
5. Stance related to the environment and energy
Strengthen environmental laws to guarantee a clean, undamaged environment to future generations.
Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same time bringing the alternative energy economy up to current energy demand.
Now my right hand is wide open and I have the index finger of my left hand up. I move my hands over and under each other as if I were holding a globe the size of a softball between them. I move my hands close to my heart and I remember health, which reminds me that all Americans should have healthcare.
6. Stance related to healthcare
Join the rest of the free world and create a single-payer, free and universal health care system that covers all Americans.
I now have two fingers up with my left hand and an open hand with my right. I move my hands to point up, fingers together and parallel, like the ”œtouch down” signal, but only in front of my face. I bend my fingers over and touch my middle fingers together to form a roof and remember that we want to freeze foreclosures until we can figure some way to keep families in their homes during this crisis.
7. Stance on how to deal with the mortgage crisis
Keep working families in their homes by putting a freeze on all foreclosures until a solution can be put in place.
I now have three fingers up on my left hand and all five fingers up on my right. Eight. I move my hands together and open them up as if they were a book. This reminds me that college education should be free and that the overburden of college loans currently being held by students needs to be eased.
8. Stance on reforming education
Tuition free public college attendance.
Ease current student debt.
I now have four fingers up on my left and all fingers up on my right hand. Nine. I move my right hand to the edge of my brow then I put my index fingers out with my thumbs up, point them straight ahead and pretend to shoot as if they were pistols. This reminds me that we don’t want to be the policeman of the world and we don’t want to be an empire by force or arms. We want to reduce our military presence around the globe and immediately withdraw our troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
9. Anti-war stance
Reduce the U.S. military globally. We are supposed to be an empire of peace, freedom and liberty, and not of war, force and oppression.
Immediate withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
My palms are facing out and my fingers are flared. Ten. My fingers are now American workers in their various worker uniforms and clothes. Little by little their clothes signifying their jobs begin to disappear and corporate zombies fingers begin to transform to have the American workers clothes. Before I can do anything, corporate zombie jumps on a corporate jet and flies off. This reminds me that corporations should be taxed for moving American jobs off shore and that goods coming back to this country should have tariffs imposed on them so as not to unfairly compete with wages here in the United States.
10. Stance on out sourcing and moving jobs off shore
Assess a penalty tax on any corporation that moves American jobs to other countries.
Impose trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for American family farms, American manufacturing and the American worker.
If the Bush administration intended to lower expectations ahead of the Middle East peace conference it is hosting in Annapolis on November 27, the effort has been a resounding success. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spent weeks shuttling back and forth to the region, and at times sounded decidedly pessimistic about prospects for progress. Then, on November 20, the administration announced it had invited over forty nations to attend.
In spite of an upbeat assessment (video) from David Welch, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, the ground looks anything but fertile. Prodded by Rice, the primary diplomatic actors — Israel and the Palestinian Authority — spent weeks in a fruitless effort (Ynet) to agree to a joint declaration on a “two-state solution” that Washington hoped would form the foundation of the conference. In the latest twist, rhetorical outrage swept the Arab world when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insisted the Palestinian side accept the notion of Israel as a Jewish state, as opposed to a multicultural one, as a precondition to any grand bargain (BBC).
The Qandil mountains, a vast mountain range that straddles Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
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Oil Market Could Help It Weather U.S. Sanctions
Confronted by mounting U.S. and U.N. pressure, Iran has been steadily shifting its trade from West to East and, with the benefit of record high oil prices, is likely to be able to withstand the new U.S. sanctions, according to U.S., European and Iranian analysts.