Category - Agonist Compilation Threads

Summary compliation thread on a topic

Agonist Top Posts – All Time

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.

Enjoy…    Read More

Monday Roundup

Guardian – ‘Climate change isn’t a challenge of the future – it’s here’

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

The Verge – Ron Paul asks UN to strip domain ownership away from supporters

Ma’an News – Egyptian forces close 2 Gaza tunnels, arrest 10

Global Post – Facebook confronts ‘like button’ lawsuit from Dutch company

Reuters – Insight: Has Volkswagen discovered the Holy Grail of carmakers?

On Violence – Queer Eye for the Straight Navy: An Argument to Paint Aircraft Carriers Rainbow Colors

You Tube Video – Battle for the Elephants

The Daily Galaxy – The Visible Universe: “Seven Trillion Dwarfs and Billions of Undetected Galaxies” (Weekend Feature)

Exit Art

The Canadian: Ghost Train Crossing Canada



The Agonist 2012 Retrospective

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?

How to Remember What Occupy Stands For

OWS hand signals

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.

Tenet 1

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.

Tenet 2

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.

Tenet 3

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.

Tenet 4

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.

Tenet 5

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.

Tenet 6

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.

Tenet 7

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.

Tenet 8

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.

Tenet 9

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.

Stance 10

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.

The Road to Annapolis

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).

** Ode to Condi
** Broken Peace Process
** Annapolis: A View From the Middle East
** Haniyeh: Annapolis deal won’t be binding
** Tension rises as Hamas threatens fresh bloodshed

Earlier post: Expectations low for U.S.-Mideast peace talks Read More

Is The US an Operating Democracy Any More? (Real ID Act Updates)

Originally posted August 22

From Slashdot, (hat tip MediaGirl):

rev_media writes to tell us that CNN has a few updates to the Real ID act currently facing legislators. The Real ID acts mandates all states to begin issuing federal IDs to all citizens by 2008. Costs could be as much at $14 billion, but only 40 million are currently allocated. Several states have passed legislation expressly forbidding participation in the program, while others seem to be all for it. The IDs will be required for access to all federal areas including flights, state parks and federal buildings. People in states refusing to comply will need to show passports even for domestic flights.

So yeah. Internal passports (along with exit visas) are the very mark of the beast. At the point where you have to show internal papers you are no longer living in the land of the free.

I find this all very interesting because there are majorities for universal healthcare and for abortion on demand, and have been for ages – yet there has been no action on either of these things. There is a majority for getting out of Iraq yet every nominee who stands a chance of being the President with the exception of Richardson won’t rule out “residual forces” – just as American legislators won’t do what the majority wants, yet there seems to be this bipartisan consensus for spying on Americans (there was no public outcry for the FISA changes); for torture; for ending habeas corpus; and for internal passports and a computer system which will tell you if you can work or not and which you won’t be able to fully appeal the damages of false positives to the court system (this restriction of the courts right to try cases is becoming more and more common.)

The only conclusion one can come to anymore is that the US is no longer a functioning democracy. The elites in the country are doing what they want to do no matter what the majority opinion. If the opinion is far too far against them, well, they will use propaganda (the 70% of Americans who believed Iraq was behind 9/11) and they expect (indeed, they know from repeated experience) that the media will propagate their propaganda and not challenge it. Indeed, when 5 media conglomerates control about 80% of all media, it would be surprising if it were otherwise.

More After the Jump
Read More

Where the Jihad Lives Now: Pakistan

Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation.

Today no other country on earth is arguably more dangerous than Pakistan. It has everything Osama bin Laden could ask for: political instability, a trusted network of radical Islamists, an abundance of angry young anti-Western recruits, secluded training areas, access to state-of-the-art electronic technology, regular air service to the West and security services that don’t always do what they’re supposed to do. (Unlike in Iraq or Afghanistan, there also aren’t thousands of American troops hunting down would-be terrorists.) Then there’s the country’s large and growing nuclear program. “If you were to look around the world for where Al Qaeda is going to find its bomb, it’s right in their backyard,” says Bruce Riedel, the former senior director for South Asia on the National Security Council. Read More

Geopolitical jockeying for position in Myanmar

There are facts and then there are facts. Take the case of the recent mass protests in Burma or Myanmar, depending on which name you prefer to call the former British colony.

First it’s a fact which few will argue that the present military dictatorship of the reclusive General Than Shwe is right up there when it comes to world-class tyrannies. It’s also a fact that Myanmar enjoys one of the world’s lowest general living standards. Partly as a result of the ill-conceived 100% to 500% price hikes in gasoline and other fuels in August, inflation, the nominal trigger for the mass protests led by saffron-robed Buddhist monks, is unofficially estimated to have risen by 35%. Ironically the demand to establish “market” energy prices came from the IMF and World Bank.

This is all understandable powder to unleash a social explosion of protest against the regime.

It is also a fact that the Myanmar military junta is on the hit list of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Bush administration for its repressive ways. Has the Bush leopard suddenly changed his spots? Or is there a more opaque agenda behind Washington’s calls to impose severe economic and political sanctions on the regime? Here some not-so-publicized facts help.

The tragedy of Myanmar, whose land area is about the size of George W Bush’s Texas, is that its population is being used as a human stage prop in a drama scripted in Washington by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the George Soros Open Society Institute, Freedom House and Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution, a US intelligence asset used to spark “non-violent” regime change around the world on behalf of the US strategic agenda. Read More

'Sudan expects full-blown fight'

The combination of a crisis in Sudan’s unity government and fresh violence in Darfur is threatening to trigger a full-blown conflict in the oil-rich region of Kordofan, say observers.

They said that Kordofan, which had increasingly seen the Darfur conflict spill over its borders, could be Sudan’s next frontline.

Late last month, suspected Darfur rebel groups killed 10 African Union peacekeepers in Haskanita, which lies on the border with Kordofan. Rebels also launched a deadly raid against police inside Kordofan in August.

Last week, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement suspended its participation in the country’s unity government, the most serious snag yet in the peace deal signed by Khartoum and the former southern rebels in January 2005. Read More

The man who knew too much

Richard Barlow was the CIA’s expert on Pakistan’s nuclear secrets, but he was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he’s to have his day in court.

Rich Barlow idles outside his silver trailer on a remote campsite in Montana – itinerant and unemployed, with only his hunting dogs and a borrowed computer for company. He dips into a pouch of American Spirit tobacco to roll another cigarette. It is hard to imagine that he was once a covert operative at the CIA, the recognised, much lauded expert in the trade in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

He prepared briefs for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was at the Pentagon, for the upper echelons of the CIA and even for the Oval Office. But when he uncovered a political scandal – a conspiracy to enable a rogue nation to get the nuclear bomb – he found himself a marked man.

This is a great backgrounder on the blind eye turned to the Khan network being allowed to get Pakistan the bomb in defiance of stated US policy. Names will be familiar. ~ CiL (and similarities to the Sibel Edmonds case) – qB Read More