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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

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Yes, Virginia, the TPP is at least as bad as its critics say it is.


By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

People who support the Administration’s efforts on the TPP have been known to reply to my posts on this subject by attempting to ridicule the scenarios I’ve presented as possible under the TPP Agreement as “out there” speculation of the tin foil variety that will never actually happen. For those who think that my examples of what is possible under the TPP are just this kind of speculation, please keep in mind that I don’t have the proposed draft agreements to work from.

This is due to the President’s decision to classify the drafts and seek Fast Track Authority before disclosing them more freely even to Congress for an up or down vote. However, there is no indication from anyone that the actual drafts of the agreement contain rules that would definitively prevent the possible very damaging consequences I’ve mentioned here for example.

Elizabeth Warren and Bill Black make clear why the secrecy and Fast Track Authority (FTA) itself are anti-democratic, and they also point out that some speculation, or at least educated guesses about what exactly is in the TPP, is forced upon us in order to carry on political debate before it is too late to have it because Congress has given up its constitutionally important debate, negotiation, and amendment capabilities to the Fast Track process.

In short, debate on the TPP, and perhaps disclosure of it, must come first, before FTA is approved. Afterward no legitimate debate can be forced on those who want to push approval through Congress. So, why would they agree to one?

However, I don’t need access to the TPP text to counter the wild speculation charge. The fact is, that TPP Agreement provisions establishing Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals allow supra-national elite authorities unaccountable to voters to trump domestic laws and in so doing subordinate the Government of the United States and the consent of the governed to such authorities. ...................(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/04/ridiculing-concerns-tpp-tyranny.html




Indicting the TPP: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!


Indicting the TPP: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00
By Joe Firestone, New Economic Perspectives | Op-Ed


To really appreciate what a travesty the TPP is, and the scandal of the failure of our Congress to reject it, and the "Fast Track Authority" sought for it, out of hand, I'm going to list 23 negative consequences that would likely follow from it. Any one of these, would, by itself be sufficient for any representative of the people, Senator or Congressperson, to vote to kill it. I'll offer this list in the form of stanzas appropriate for a chant, except for the starting point in the list.

The tune of the chant that might be used is the tune used for Dayenu, the passover seder chant in which Dayenu means "It would have been sufficient," where the reference is to all the things the almighty is purported to have done for the Israelites on their way out of Egypt and during their wanderings in the Sinai. I'm sure the President is familiar with this chant since he has had seders at the White House more than once. I'm also sure that he never envisioned using Dayenu to highlight the horrors of one of his favorite projects, the passage of "Fast Track Authority," the TPP, and other "free trade" agreements such as the TTIP, and the TISA, all of which would get "Fast Track Authority" if the present bill passes.

The Stanzas of the Anti-TPP chant

1. The TPP makes it easier to offshore more jobs now performed in the United States.

2. If the TPP just made it easier to offshore more jobs and did not also generate increasing downward pressure on wages, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

3. If the TPP just generated increasing downward pressure on wages and did not also empower another 25,000 foreign corporations to use Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

4. If the TPP just empowered another 25,000 foreign corporations to use investor state tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations and did not also give big pharma new monopoly patent rights, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it! .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30499-indicting-the-tpp-even-one-of-these-counts-is-sufficient-to-vote-to-kill-it




Thom Hartmann: When Is The NSA Going to Stop Spying on Americans?





Published on Apr 28, 2015

Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) joins Thom. If our lawmakers cared at all about public opinion - or what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution – they should let Section 215 expire in June - repeal the Patriot Act - and bring the US security state back in line with the Bill of Rights.



Indicting the TPP: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!


Indicting the TPP: Even One of These Counts Is Sufficient to Vote to Kill It!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00
By Joe Firestone, New Economic Perspectives | Op-Ed


To really appreciate what a travesty the TPP is, and the scandal of the failure of our Congress to reject it, and the "Fast Track Authority" sought for it, out of hand, I'm going to list 23 negative consequences that would likely follow from it. Any one of these, would, by itself be sufficient for any representative of the people, Senator or Congressperson, to vote to kill it. I'll offer this list in the form of stanzas appropriate for a chant, except for the starting point in the list.

The tune of the chant that might be used is the tune used for Dayenu, the passover seder chant in which Dayenu means "It would have been sufficient," where the reference is to all the things the almighty is purported to have done for the Israelites on their way out of Egypt and during their wanderings in the Sinai. I'm sure the President is familiar with this chant since he has had seders at the White House more than once. I'm also sure that he never envisioned using Dayenu to highlight the horrors of one of his favorite projects, the passage of "Fast Track Authority," the TPP, and other "free trade" agreements such as the TTIP, and the TISA, all of which would get "Fast Track Authority" if the present bill passes.

The Stanzas of the Anti-TPP chant

1. The TPP makes it easier to offshore more jobs now performed in the United States.

2. If the TPP just made it easier to offshore more jobs and did not also generate increasing downward pressure on wages, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

3. If the TPP just generated increasing downward pressure on wages and did not also empower another 25,000 foreign corporations to use Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it!

4. If the TPP just empowered another 25,000 foreign corporations to use investor state tribunals to gut our net neutrality, environmental, health, labor and safety laws and regulations and did not also give big pharma new monopoly patent rights, it would still be sufficient to vote to kill it! .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30499-indicting-the-tpp-even-one-of-these-counts-is-sufficient-to-vote-to-kill-it




A Call to End War on Whistleblowers


from Consortium News:



A Call to End War on Whistleblowers
April 29, 2015

The post-9/11 expansion of U.S. government spying on citizens has coincided with an equally draconian crackdown on government whistleblowers who try to alert the American people to what is happening, an assault on the Constitution that seven whistleblowers say must end, writes John Hanrahan.


By John Hanrahan


Seven prominent national security whistleblowers on Monday called for a number of wide-ranging reforms — including passage of the “Surveillance State Repeal Act,” which would repeal the USA Patriot Act — in an effort to restore the Constitutionally guaranteed Fourth Amendment right to be free from government spying.

Several of the whistleblowers also said that the recent lenient sentence of probation and a fine for General David Petraeus — for his providing of classified information to his mistress Paula Broadwell — underscores the double standard of justice at work in the area of classified information handling.


[font size="1"]Photo of (left to right) Kirk Wiebe, Coleen Rowley, Raymond McGovern, Daniel Ellsberg, William Binney, Jesselyn Radack, and Thomas Drake by Kathleen McClellan (@McClellanKM) via Twitter[/font]

Speakers said Petraeus’s favorable treatment should become the standard applied to defendants who are actual national security whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeffrey Sterling (who has denied guilt but who nevertheless faces sentencing May 11 for an Espionage Act conviction for allegedly providing classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen).

In a news conference sponsored by the ExposeFacts project of the Institute for Public Accuracy at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., speakers included William Binney, former high-level National Security Agency (NSA) official; Thomas Drake, former NSA senior executive; Daniel Ellsberg, former U.S. military analyst and the Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Ray McGovern, formerly CIA analyst who chaired the National Intelligence Estimates in the 1980s; Jesselyn Radack, former Justice Department trial attorney and ethics adviser, and now director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project; Coleen Rowley, attorney and former FBI special agent; J. Kirk Wiebe, 32-year former employee at the NSA. .............(more)

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/04/29/a-call-to-end-war-on-whistleblowers/




E.J. Dionne: Is Democracy As We Know It Unraveling?



by E.J. Dionne


The world’s democracies, perhaps especially our own, face a peculiar set of contradictions that are undermining faith in public endeavor and unraveling old loyalties.

There is a decline of trust in traditional political parties but also a rise in partisanship. A broad desire for governments to reduce the levels of economic insecurity and expand opportunity is constrained by a loss of confidence in the capacity of government to succeed. Intense demands for change are accompanied by fears that much of the change that is occurring will make life worse for individuals and families.

These crosscurrents are undercutting political leaders and decimating political parties with long histories. In Europe, movements on the far right and left (along with new regional parties) gain traction with disaffected citizens. Concerns about immigration reflect uneasiness among some over the social and cultural tremors in their nations. At the same time, discontent about the economic decline that afflicts regions not sharing in the global economy’s bounty calls forth protest against the privileged and the well-connected. In both cases, anger is the dominant emotion.

The convergence of these forces is especially powerful in Britain, which holds a national election on May 7 and where neither of the long-dominant Conservative and Labour Parties is likely to win a parliamentary majority. In 1951, the two parties together secured 96.8 percent of all the votes cast. This year, they are struggling to reach a combined 70 percent. ................(more)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/is_democracy_as_we_know_it_unraveling_20150429




Chicago: CTA Moves Ahead on Plan to Modernize Red, Purple Lines





The CTA is moving forward with its Red and Purple Modernization (RPM), a transformational, multi-phase program to completely rebuild and add passenger capacity to the northern section of the Red Line, as well as the Purple Line north of Belmont.

As part of the federal environmental review process, the CTA today published the first of two federal documents, called Environmental Assessments (EA), that are associated with Phase 1 of RPM. These documents are an important step in the process of informing the public and gathering feedback about this critical project, all of which contributes to the project’s development and allows the CTA to apply for federal funding for RPM.

The first EA is the analysis of the portion of the project that would completely rebuild four stations and more than a mile of track infrastructure at Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr. This modernization project would create brand new state-of-the-art stations with elevators to make them fully accessible to customers, plus new elevated track infrastructure that would increase service reliability and speeds. Improvements also include wider and longer platforms for faster boarding, better lighting and customer security features, more benches and wind screens, real-time information boards and longer canopies. In addition, this project includes replacing old infrastructure with new tracks, support structures, bridges and viaducts for the entire section of the Red Line adjacent to the four stations, approximately between Leland and Ardmore Avenues.

The EA outlines construction plans and impacts related to this project. The CTA anticipates construction for the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project could begin as early as 2017. ....................(more)

http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12069397/cta-moves-ahead-on-plan-to-modernize-red-purple-lines



Neoliberals are killing us: The TED talk, techno-utopian, Thomas Friedman-economy is a lie


from Salon.com:



Neoliberals are killing us: The TED talk, techno-utopian, Thomas Friedman-economy is a lie
Neoliberal fantasy world is filled with daring entrepreneurs competing in a meritocracy. Do you recognize that?

BILL CURRY


Last week, 295,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Economists called it good news, as the number was less than 300,000; that’s the line they say separates good news from bad. But it isn’t much less, and other news seems very bad. In February, housing starts plunged 17 percent. Inventories are high. Demand is low. Job growth is anemic. Still, economists say things are going so well we can raise interest rates. They call that good news — though they don’t say for whom.

There’ll be more news this week: home prices, consumer confidence, new growth figures. In our casino economy we hang on these reports like blackjack players waiting for a dealer to turn the next card. Republicans and Democrats alike believe growth will cure all our ills. President Obama and Hillary Clinton call it their No. 1 economic priority. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they still believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

Some call Obama’s and Clinton’s economic worldview ‘neoliberal.’ Like ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ it’s an imprecise word meant to signify a cluster of opinions; among them that globalization is inevitable and benign and that the revolution in information technology is fast democratizing commerce and politics. Neoliberals love fiscal austerity and free trade and are suckers for privatization, deregulation and ‘education reform,’ which they say will keep us competitive.

Like the neoconservatives with whom they often ally on military matters, neoliberals seem to regard our present political and economic arrangements as civilization’s final flowering, as close to perfect as one can get in a fallen world. It’s the faith that made Bush think Iraqis would greet us as liberators–who wouldn’t want to be us– and why Obama bet his presidency on economic recovery rather than reform. It’s our establishment orthodoxy, the ‘bipartisan consensus’ we’re forever chasing. It’s killing us. .................(more)

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/29/neoliberals_are_killing_us_the_ted_talk_techno_utopian_thomas_friedman_economy_is_a_lie/



Killing the Future: The Theft of Black Life


Killing the Future: The Theft of Black Life

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 00:00
By Nicholas Powers, Truthout | News Analysis


"Tell me of the night your son was killed by the police," I asked. She sat up and a deep sorrow moved in her eyes. "I had a habit of looking out the window to see my son," Danette Chavis said. "But that night, I said to myself, 'oh leave the boy alone' and took a nap. The phone woke me up and my daughter was rushing out of the door. I followed her and saw police tape, cops standing around a body. I yelled to see if it was him. But they wouldn't let me close. Later, I went to the morgue and identified my son."

We sat in the café, a few seconds passed in silence. She looked away as if seeing him dead for the first time and I regretted asking the question. Around us, people typed on laptops or chatted over coffee. They were so carefree. How do we reach a city that mostly looks at people of color in contempt or pity, but not solidarity? How do we get them to listen?

I looked up from my notebook. "Ms. Chavis," I asked, "What do you miss most about your son?"

Making Wounds Speak

Imagine hearing that someone you loved, died. Your heart would jump in your chest. Your body would clench like a fist around their memory. How angry would you be? How loud would you yell at the sky, at God, at anyone you could blame? Afterward, you'd float in a limbo of grief until you got answers, made sense of it and then slowly, said goodbye. Gathering at the funeral, you could complete the storyline of loss.

.......(snip).......

Stealing Black lives at gunpoint is the most visible and violent evidence of history repeating in the present. To be Black in America is to be evidence of a theft. It is to be a descendent of human beings stolen from villages, stolen from their bodies, stolen from each other, sold and sold again. It is to see in one's family history, ancestors stolen from their language, stolen from their land and left as walking targets. And inevitably, we, their descendants are shot at with everything from microaggressions to all-out physical violence, from suspicious stares to racial slurs, from stop-and-frisk to bullets. ................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30489-killing-the-future-the-theft-of-black-life




Neoliberals are killing us: The TED talk, techno-utopian, Thomas Friedman-economy is a lie


from Salon.com:



Neoliberals are killing us: The TED talk, techno-utopian, Thomas Friedman-economy is a lie
Neoliberal fantasy world is filled with daring entrepreneurs competing in a meritocracy. Do you recognize that?

BILL CURRY


Last week, 295,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Economists called it good news, as the number was less than 300,000; that’s the line they say separates good news from bad. But it isn’t much less, and other news seems very bad. In February, housing starts plunged 17 percent. Inventories are high. Demand is low. Job growth is anemic. Still, economists say things are going so well we can raise interest rates. They call that good news — though they don’t say for whom.

There’ll be more news this week: home prices, consumer confidence, new growth figures. In our casino economy we hang on these reports like blackjack players waiting for a dealer to turn the next card. Republicans and Democrats alike believe growth will cure all our ills. President Obama and Hillary Clinton call it their No. 1 economic priority. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they still believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

Some call Obama’s and Clinton’s economic worldview ‘neoliberal.’ Like ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ it’s an imprecise word meant to signify a cluster of opinions; among them that globalization is inevitable and benign and that the revolution in information technology is fast democratizing commerce and politics. Neoliberals love fiscal austerity and free trade and are suckers for privatization, deregulation and ‘education reform,’ which they say will keep us competitive.

Like the neoconservatives with whom they often ally on military matters, neoliberals seem to regard our present political and economic arrangements as civilization’s final flowering, as close to perfect as one can get in a fallen world. It’s the faith that made Bush think Iraqis would greet us as liberators–who wouldn’t want to be us– and why Obama bet his presidency on economic recovery rather than reform. It’s our establishment orthodoxy, the ‘bipartisan consensus’ we’re forever chasing. It’s killing us. .................(more)

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/29/neoliberals_are_killing_us_the_ted_talk_techno_utopian_thomas_friedman_economy_is_a_lie/




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