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marmar's Journal
marmar's Journal
May 5, 2015

The Abe-Obama Trans-Pacific Trade Deal Is in Trouble

(The Fiscal Times) The Trans-Pacific Partnership, until recently background noise for many Americans, is about to become another field of battle in Washington. As of last week, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concluded an unusually long state visit, we’re on notice: This pact is probably in trouble.

The debate in Washington has two parts. As early as this week the Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill introduced last month that gives President Obama “fast-track authority” to sign a deal with other Pacific nations with a guarantee that Congress will not amend it to smithereens afterward.

If the fast track bill passes -- and Japan, New Zealand, and other, nations favoring the TPP accord have made this a precondition – lawmakers can say yes or no, nothing more. The fast-track legislation is expected to hit the House floor by the end of this month.

Part 2 is the bill itself. And Capitol Hill’s divisions on fast track, which cut across both parties, are mere prelude to the splits to come when TPP goes up for ratification. The administration wants this done and dusted by yearend so as to keep the issue out of the 2016 presidential race.

But here’s the thing: However fractious the TPP debate gets in the U.S., its most formidable problems lie at the other end of the Pacific. ....................(more)


May 5, 2015

Carly Fiorina, former head of a COMPUTER company, forgets to register URL, gets trolled

GOP Prez Candidate Carly Fiorina Forgets to Register URL, Gets Mercilessly Trolled for Mass Layoffs

No sooner had Carly Fiorina announced her bid for the Republican nomination for president this morning that she faced an incredible trolling from some anonymous denizen of the Internet. Fiorina and her campaign neglected to register CarlyFiorina.org, and the site has become a soapbox highlighting her tragic tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

The website is simple, saying “Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain. So I'm using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard. It was this many:” followed by 30,000 emoji.

After scrolling through the acres of sad faces, the website concludes “That's 30,000 people she laid off. People with families. And what does she say she would have done differently? ‘I would have done them all faster.’ —Carly Fiorina”

Fiorina became famous for becoming the first female CEO of a Fortune 100 company in 1999. Her tenure at HP, one of the founding firms of Silicon Valley, was contentious and included the laying off of 30,000 employees, stagnant stock prices, and an ill-fated merger with Compaq. She was fired in 2005. ...........(more)


May 4, 2015

Chris Hedges: Make the Rich Panic

from truthdig:

by Chris Hedges

It does not matter to the corporate rich who wins the presidential election. It does not matter who is elected to Congress. The rich have the power. They throw money at their favorites the way a gambler puts cash on his favorite horse. Money has replaced the vote. The wealthy can crush anyone who does not play by their rules. And the political elites—slobbering over the spoils provided by their corporate masters for selling us out—understand the game. Barack and Michelle Obama, as did the Clintons, will acquire many millions of dollars once they leave the White House. And your elected representative in the House or Senate, if not a multimillionaire already, will be one as soon as he or she retires from government and is handed seats on corporate boards or positions in lobbying firms. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a political system that has legalized bribery, exclusively serves corporate power and is awash in propaganda and lies.

If you want change you can believe in, destroy the system. And changing the system does not mean collaborating with it as Bernie Sanders is doing by playing by the cooked rules of the Democratic Party. Profound social and political transformation is acknowledged in legislatures and courts but never initiated there. Radical change always comes from below. As long as our gaze is turned upward to the powerful, as long as we invest hope in reforming the system of corporate power, we will remain enslaved. There may be good people within the system—Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are examples—but that is not the point. It is the system that is rotten. It must be replaced.

“The only way you can get the parties’ attention is if you take votes away from them,” Ralph Nader told me by phone. “So,” he said of Sanders, “How serious is he? He makes Clinton a better phony candidate. She is going to have to agree with him on a number of things. She is going to have to be more anti-Wall Street to fend him off and neutralize him. We know it is bullshit. She will betray us once she becomes president. He is making her more likely to win. And by April he is done. Then he fades away.”

We must build mass movements that are allied with independent political parties—a tactic used in Greece by Syriza and in Spain by Podemos. Political action without the support of radical mass movements inevitably becomes hollow, and that, I think, will be the fate of the Sanders presidential campaign. Only by building militant mass movements that are unrelentingly hostile to the system of corporate capitalism, imperialism, militarism and globalization can we wrest back our democracy. ..................(more)


May 4, 2015

Ethiopian Israelis: 'A community crying out'

(CNN) The clashes between Ethiopian-Israeli protesters and police over the weekend have drawn international attention to one of the most disadvantaged groups in Israel.

"The protesters, in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, revealed an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society," said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. "The pain of a community crying out over a sense of discrimination, racism, and of being unanswered."

But who are the Ethiopian Israelis, and what are their grievances?

Most arrived in recent decades

Many Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in two large waves of migration in the 1980s and early 1990s after the Chief Rabbinate of Israel recognized them as Jews in 1975. Their ancestors had lived in Ethiopia for thousands of years. ...........(more)


May 3, 2015

Henry Giroux: Liberalism's Failures in a Time of Increasing Violence, Racism, Inequality and State..

Henry A. Giroux: Liberalism's Failures in a Time of Increasing Violence, Racism, Inequality and State Terrorism (pts I & II)

In these two far-reaching interviews on the "Soap Box" with Eric Poulin, Henry Giroux talks about the failure of liberalism in a time of increasing violence, racism, inequality, state terrorism, and the rule of the financial elite over every commanding social, cultural and political institution in the United States. He elaborates on the failure of many liberals to move both beyond the call for weak reforms that do not challenge the fundamental structures of domination and their willingness to often align themselves with repressive policies that benefit the rich and powerful. He points, for instance, to liberalism’s refusal to name the corruption and misery produced by neoliberal capitalism and its willingness to align itself with policies of the right such as the Iraqi War, state torture, a health-care program that largely benefits big insurance companies, and the massive suffering caused by the growing inequality in wealth, income and power. He also points to the refusal on the part of liberals to protest a grotesque and dangerous incarceration and surveillance state, and the failure to address the issue of what it takes to reinvent politics so as not to serve the interests of the rich and powerful - the failure in short to name a counter-revolution politics that has corrupted both political parties. He argues that liberals are more afraid of the left than the right and have consistently, especially under President Obama, gone out of their way to compromise with the right while moving the Democratic Party into more conservative territory, all the while refusing to bear responsibility for destroying the conditions that make a real democracy possible. .................(more)


May 3, 2015

U.S. Braces for Even Worse Wildfire Season

This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—The firefighters are primed, hoses at the ready. May and June are often the peak months for forest fires in the southwest of the US, and the outlook for this year is grim.

“I wish I could have some hope,” says Dr Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at North Arizona University. “It’s just a terrible situation in southern California.”

Covington, an internationally recognised expert on forest restoration, says a prolonged drought, higher temperatures and stronger than usual winds mean big wildfires are inevitable across the southwestern US.

The main season for wildfires in the region has in the past been from mid-May through till late September, but now forest fires burn virtually year round.

Vulnerable landscape

“Climate change and misguided forestry policies have combined to present a landscape very vulnerable to devastating fires,” Covington told the Climate News Network. ...............(more)


May 3, 2015

2,009 Organizations Call on Congress to Oppose Fast Track Authority for the TPP

2,009 Organizations Call on Congress to Oppose Fast Track Authority for the TPP

Unprecedented Unity Against Bill to Railroad into Place a TPP Replicating Failed Terms of Past Trade Pacts that Offshored Jobs, Lowered Wages and Exposed Consumer and Environmental Safeguards to Attack

WASHINGTON - An unprecedentedly united movement of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, faith, Internet freedom and other organizations escalated their campaign to defeat Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) today with a joint 2,009-group letter urging Congress to oppose it.

As the TPP text leaks revealed that the pact replicates and expands on the most damaging provisions of past U.S. trade pacts, thousands of organizations nationwide have educated their members about the TPP’s threats to American jobs and wages, food safety, affordable medicines, the environment, financial stability and more. The pact also replicates the labor and environmental framework first established in George W. Bush’s final trade agreements, which recent U.S. government reports reveal has proved ineffective. These facts have generated wide opposition to the agreement and undermined the White House effort to characterize it as “progressive.”

“Fast Track is rigged to give special rights to corporations at the expense of workers and consumers,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “We’ve seen this before and it has led to massive job loss. We cannot get better trade agreements until we get our priorities straight.”

“While we are not currently permitted to see the terms of the new trade deal, what we do know is the Fast Track process enables trade deals that hurt everyday Americans and stack the deck in favor of corporations,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It limits public and congressional oversight and does not allow effective enforcement. We need trade policy that strengthens our country — ensuring the rights of workers, and protecting consumers and the environment. We need a democratic and transparent trade process that offers a fair shake for American workers. Fast Track fails these standards and should be rejected.” ..................(more)


May 2, 2015

David Sirota: In Defense of Hillary Clinton, Democrats Embrace Citizens United Decision

from truthdig:

In Defense of Hillary Clinton, Democrats Embrace Citizens United Decision

Posted on May 1, 2015
By David Sirota

Less than three weeks into her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has already accomplished a stunning feat: She appears to have unified large swaths of the Democratic Party and its activist base to support the core tenets of the Citizens United decision—the one that effectively allowed unlimited money into politics.

That 2010 Supreme Court ruling declared that, unless there is an explicit quid pro quo, the fact that major campaign donors “may have influence over or access to elected officials does not mean that these officials are corrupt.” The theory is that as long as a donor and a politician do not agree to an overt bribe, everything is A-OK.

When the ruling was handed down, Democrats were outraged, and Hillary Clinton herself has recently suggested she wants it overturned. Yet with revelations that firms with business before Clinton’s State Department donated to her foundation and paid her husband, Clinton’s campaign and rank-and-file Democratic activists are suddenly championing the Citizens United theory.

In campaign statements and talking points—and in activists’ tweets and Facebook comments—the party seems to be collectively saying that without evidence of any explicit quid pro quo, all the Clinton cash is acceptable. Moreover, the inference seems to be that the revelations aren’t even newsworthy because, in the words of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, “there’s nothing new” here. ...................(more)


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