11. Robert Reich: Well before the Obama Campiagn swooped in and made the serious problem of income inequality a key part of its 2012 platform, Clinton’s former Labor Secretary had been all over it. Like Paul Krugman, Reich’s analysis over much of the last decade has been prescient and his prognoses painfully ignored for the most part. I highly recommend his 2010 book, Aftershock.
10. Veena Malik: The Pakistani actress caused a lot of vigorous beard-stroking with her controversial covershoot for a bad Indian Men’s Magazine. In it, she displays an “ISI” tatoo, the murderous military rulers of Pakistan.
(The twist here is that after coming under fire from a lot of people + being disowned by her father [great guy], she has claimed part of the picture was edited, though didn’t deny posing with the ISI tatoo.)
However, Malik is no stranger to challenging the hyper-misogynist Muslim establishment.
In January she attacked attacked hardline clerics in Pakistan who demand modest Muslims should be suitably covered at all times.
‘If a woman is cool with wearing a burqa, she should wear a burqa. If a woman, being a Muslim, wants to wear jeans, then she should wear jeans,’ she said in an interview with The Australian newspaper.
She also launched a stringent attack on honour killings, highlighting that women were always the target and not men.
‘Have you ever heard that they’ve thrown acid in a guy’s face in Pakistan?,’ she asked.
This gutsy display has earned her credit in my book – enough to overshadow her fame-chasing as a cast member of India’s Big Brother. Religious zealots who blindly follow the military establishment are the same all around the world. Keep it up, Ms. Malik.
9. Occupy Protestors: I attended a few Occupy Detroit events. They were enjoyable (sans drum circle) and appropriate. It’s a headless collection without an always consistent message. But there’s nothing wrong with that. Unlike the Tea Party, it’s not merely the arm of an established political party trying to mask itself as something else.
Although most of the media coverage unfortunately dealt with Occupiers and their day-to-day relationship with local authorities, the movement effectively brought conversation of “gross income inequality” from the quiet rooms where Mitt Romney thinks this chronic and devastating problem should remain. So this goes out to the Occupiers – and I mean you…anarchist with an iphone. You too…hippy dude with the unironic Guy Fawkes masks. Black guy who walked here? Kudos. Keep it up. (not you, drum circle)
8. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs came out in 2010, but is still the best album of the decade. Their artistic evolution and continued attention to Haitian relief kept them in the front of mind this year. Also, an ass-kicking tour didn’t hurt.
7, Wael Ghonim: No one knows how Egypt’s revolution will shake out. However, the removal of an entrenched autocrat in cause for optimism. Former Google executive Ghonim was instrumental to the uprising, using social media as the spark.
“People who live in a country are the ones to decide their destiny because they are the ones who eventually pay the price for whatever choices they make.”
6. Foldit: This is so cool. I believe the lesson here is that smoking weed and drinking Mountain Dew Big Gulps will save the world.
Scientists spent a decade trying—and failing—to map the structure of an enzyme that could help solve a crucial part of the AIDS puzzle. It took online gamers all of three weeks.
Foldit was developed in 2008 as a means of discovering the structures of various proteins and amino acids—something computers can’t do very well—by turning it into a game. By inputting the experimental coordinates for the monkey virus enzyme, gamers—most of whom didn’t have a background in molecular biology—were able to accurately predict the structure of the protein, allowing scientists to pinpoint locations to stop the virus’ growth.
The study, published in Nature Structure & Molecular Biology, details how incredible a step this is towards developing more effective therapies for HIV/AIDS patients. It’s also an important precedent that lays the groundwork for scientists and lay people to work together to solve new problems and save lives. Which is very exciting. [Sydney Morning Herald via The Next Web]
5. WikiLeaks: There is no black and white morality when it comes to Wikileaks + Julian Assange. In an era of near total control by corporate interests and the military industrial complex, it would be nice if we could rely on the Fourth Estate to expose harmful corruption and abuses of power. However, newspapers continue to fold and news organizations continue to cut overseas bureaus. Do you trust CNN + MSNBC to turn away from the ease of perpetual election coverage? Do you trust Fox News to– hahaha, nevermind.
Do you want to know if your country is secretly dropping bombs on another country (say, Yemen…)? How about obstruction of justice by the Catholic Church (gasp!)? It’s really difficult to cut through the static, but abuse of power and corporate misbehavior need to be exposed.
Truth to power.
4. Sen. Bernie Sanders: I understand it’s a lot easier for a guy like Sen. Sanders to vote his conscience in a state like Vermont. Nevertheless, he’s one of the lone independent voices on the out-of-touch & dysfunctional Capitol Hill. Among his positions this year:
- One of 13 to vote against the NDAA, which allows military to detain US citizens without due process.
- One of few courageous enough to vocalize against historical tragedy known as the Iraq War.
- Introduced bill to audit the Federal Reserve.
- Longtime supporter of free media and critic of continued consolidation and vertical integration of media outlets.
- (the only?) single payer supporter
3b. Derrick Rose: The NBA’s ratings were through the roof last year. Much of this had to do with LBJ and the Heat. However, the soft-spoken Rose didn’t let those self-promoters overshadow him (until the EC Finals). The NBAs MVP was humble as ever, yet nothing short of spectacular in bringing the Bulls from NBA purgatory to among the league elite. A local kid from a terrible neighborhood, he has been aided by a strong family to get to where he is. That’s nothing short of remarkable. When he received his much-deserved $95 million contract extension a few weeks ago, I almost lost it when he choked up after saying, “Mom, We finally made it.” Yeah, I’m a sucker for this kid.
Proving you don’t have to be a dick like Michael or Kobe in order to be competitive and successful, Rose is hopefully blessing Bulls’ fans with a hard-working, gracious star they can support for years. (But if Thibs thinks punching Steve Kerr will get them closer to a title, I’m all for getting the likeable chucker out of the studio and having DRose light him up.)
3a. Aaron Rodgers: I will never be a Packers’ fan. However, with the exception of the “Belt” celebration, there’s little not to like about Aaron Rodgers. I realized this while watching alleged rapist and definite dirtbag Ben Roethlisberger get the ball with a chance to march down the field in Super Bowl XLV, thus fulfilling all the disgusting “redemption” storylines manufactured by ESPN & co.
In 2011-12, if you hear the words “Christian,” “Community Leader,” Charity Work,” “Quarterback” and “Champion,” Skip Bayless and ESPN might chloroform you and place you in an unmarked van if you don’t smile and say “Tebow” with drool running down your mouth. You would’ve thought Tebow was the one with the perfect mechanics, Super Bowl Ring and statistically historic season.
Besides being a seemingly decent guy who’s not up in your fucking face about it, Rodgers is actually interesting and has a sense of humor. My Green Bay QB envy is fierce, but unlike oldman #4, I just can’t hate on Rodgrs. I wish them “average luck” this post-season, which is a big step for me…
2. Stephen Colbert: For his hilarious & relentless mockery of the Citizens’ United decision, Stephen’s place is well-deserved as always.
1. Lisa Madigan: On its face, the Illinois AG’s record is really solid, but not “sexy.” In reality, as an Illinois elected official who received her initial opportunity because of her powerful father, her independence is pretty remarkable. “Ethical compromise” doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary and her fights on behalf of consumers are courageous.
She eschewed calls for her to run for Mayor, Governor + Senator in order to finish what she started. Also, she’s the shit + has relentlessly looked out for those most vulnerable.
- Well before other late-to-the dance AGs saw the politically beneficial action…
Attorney General Lisa Madigan took immediate and aggressive action to bring relief to homeowners facing foreclosure. In October 2008, she negotiated a landmark settlement against Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, for predatory mortgage lending and fraud. The Countrywide settlement, hailed as a model nationwide, pioneered the country’s first mandatory loan modification program. As a result of this settlement, approximately 400,000 homeowners across the country are expected to receive modifications of their loans with a total savings of $8.7 billion. That means approximately 21,000 Illinois homeowners will receive consideration for loan adjustments, from which $185 million in modifications are expected.
- Then…In December 2011, Attorney General Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a record-breaking $335 million settlement with Countrywide over claims of discriminatory lending practices.
- She has been a zealous advocate for the safety of children.
- Ditto for seniors.
- She has strengthened FOIA and had no problem going intra-party and contributing to the Blago investigation. She has spearheaded ethics reforms in a state with plenty of ethical problems.
- and on and on and on…
All of this has been done with budget cuts at nearly every level of Illinois government. She is truly an example of the good government can do to protect its citizens. It’s why we vote and it’s why we don’t necessarily need bigger or smaller government, but better government – accountable to the people.
Also, I love her….
So Congrats, AG Madigan. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish over the rest of your term.