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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: 74,622

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Real story behind Abe’s visit: China, TPP and what the media won’t tell you about this state visit


(Salon) The grande fête Washington has laid on all week for Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, is very unusual on the face of it. When a head of state spends this much time in another nation’s capital, you know significant doings are afoot.

And they are. In agreements reached as soon as they met Monday, Abe and President Obama have taken defense ties to an intimacy unprecedented in history. As it stands now, this breaches Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, the “no-war” clause barring Japan from military activities other than those in direct defense of its shores.

On the White House steps Tuesday, Abe confirmed his conscription as a commissioned officer in Washington’s campaign to get its ambitious trade pact, the corporate-drafted Trans-Pacific Partnership, signed this year. “We will continue to cooperate to lead the TPP talks through their last phase,” Abe said in one of those side-by-side tableaux commonly staged for the press and the television cameras.

Less practically but more momentously, we have Abe’s Wednesday address to a joint session of Congress, wherein 535 American legislators implicitly certified Abe and the rightist factions in his Liberal Democratic Party in their efforts to get past questions of guilt and responsibility in the Pacific War (as Asians call World War II and the decade of aggression that preceded it) without honestly addressing them. ..............(more)

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/the_real_story_behind_shinzo_abes_visit_china_tpp_and_what_the_media_wont_tell_you_about_this_state_visit/




Fast Track/TPP: Death of National Sovereignty, State Sovereignty, Separation of Powers and Democracy


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 Corrente


Most of the critical attention given to the Fast Track Trade Agreement legislation and to the associated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Congressional – Executive Agreement on mainstream corporate media and by politicians and establishment interest groups interacting with them in the beltway echo chamber, has focused on the likely or possible economic impacts of these. But relatively little attention has focused on sovereignty, constitutional separation of powers, or democracy impacts, which however are being covered increasingly well in alternative social media. See here, here, here, and here.

In hopes of breaking through this fragmentation by type of media of the debate over the TPP, I’ll focus this post only on governance impacts and try to make the case, that this so-called trade agreement, if passed and implemented would create profound governance changes in the United States without benefit of the constitutional amendments that would normally be required to accomplish such changes. I’ll also make the case that the governance impacts destroy national sovereignty, state sovereignty, separation of powers, and democracy.

Governance Impacts

The anti-democratic fast track process that gives Representatives and Senators no space to represent the range of people electing them
. This process provides no room for debate of the TPP that includes the public and severely restricts Congressional debate.

It also incorporates secrecy of the TPP drafts, hiding them from the public and making it an impossible burden for Congresspeople to evaluate them and to solicit the views of their constituencies about them. It also then provides for keeping the proposed or actual agreement secret so that the American people can’t even know what the law is that may result in international levies of many billions of dollars upon them, for four years after the TPP is either passed or defeated.

Of course, Congress can simply take back the policy space that would be taken from them by Fast Track by defeating it, letting the Executive know in no uncertain terms that the sense of Congress is that Fast Track is an improper device for getting around Congress’s constitutional role in reviewing and giving its informed consent to Congressional – Executive Agreements, and that Fast Track proposals from the Executive Branch preceding trade deals will from then on be dead on arrival. .............(more)

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/fast-tracktpp-death-national-sovereignty-state-sovereignty-separation-powers-democracy.html




How Government Policies Cemented the Racism that Reigns in Baltimore


from the American Prospect:



In Baltimore in 1910, a black graduate of Yale Law School purchased a home in a previously all-white neighborhood. The Baltimore city government reacted by adopting a residential segregation ordinance, restricting African Americans to designated blocks. Explaining the policy, Baltimore’s mayor proclaimed: “Blacks should be quarantined in isolated slums in order to reduce the incidence of civil disturbance, to prevent the spread of communicable disease into the nearby White neighborhoods, and to protect property values among the White majority.”

Thus began a century of federal, state, and local policies to quarantine Baltimore’s black population in isolated slums—policies that continue to the present day, as federal housing subsidy policies still disproportionately direct low-income black families to segregated neighborhoods and away from middle-class suburbs.

Whenever young black men riot in response to police brutality or murder, as they have done in Baltimore this week, we’re tempted to think we can address the problem by improving police quality—training officers not to use excessive force, implementing community policing, encouraging police to be more sensitive, prohibiting racial profiling, and so on. These are all good, necessary, and important things to do. But such proposals ignore the obvious reality that the protests are not really (or primarily) about policing.

In 1968, following hundreds of similar riots nationwide, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson concluded that “[o]ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal” and that “[s]egregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.” The Kerner Commission (headed by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner) added that “[w]hat white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.” ...............(more)

https://prospect.org/article/how-government-policies-cemented-racism-reigns-baltimore




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)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/democrats_embrace_citizens_united_in_defense_of_clinton_20150501




David Sirota: The left’s Citizens United hypocrisy: Why Hillary is getting a free pass


from Salon:


The left’s Citizens United hypocrisy: Why Hillary is getting a free pass
Democrats condemn the Supreme Court's decision but look the other way when it benefits one of their own

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)

http://www.salon.com/2015/05/01/the_lefts_citizens_united_hypocrisy_why_hillary_is_getting_a_free_pass_partner/




Robert Reich: The wealthy have broken society by siphoning all its money to themselves


(Salon) Robert Reich, the Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, published an essay in the most recent American Prospect in which he argues that the wealth inequality isn’t a problem because of current economic policy, but because the financial elite starting rigging the game against the middle- and lower-class half a century ago.

Debates between those on the left and the right about the merits of government intervention versus the free market distract people from the real problem, Reich said, which is how different the market is than it was 50 years ago.

“Its current organization is failing to deliver the widely shared prosperity it delivered then,” he explains, because it’s no longer designed to reward hard work. Everything from intellectual property rights to basic contract laws has been altered at the behest of corporate interests, creating a system in which — if functioning properly — money is siphoned from the bottom up.

The entry-level wages of female college graduates have dropped by more than 8 percent, and male graduates by more than 6.5 percent. While a college education has become a prerequisite for joining the middle class, it is no longer a sure means for gaining ground once admitted to it. That’s largely because the middle class’s share of the total economic pie continues to shrink, while the share going to the top continues to grow. .............(more)

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/robert_reich_the_wealthy_have_broken_society_by_siphoning_all_its_money_to_themselves/




"One Newark" Exemplifies the Shock Doctrine


from The Progressive:



by Jan Resseger




In her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes the takeover of the New Orleans schools in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina as a grand experiment perpetrated by policy makers on a city so vulnerable nobody could protect the public assets that should have been rescued. Klein concludes, “I call these orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities, “disaster capitalism.” (The Shock Doctrine, p. 6)

When we think about the Shock Doctrine applied to education, New Orleans—where the schools were charterized and all the teachers fired—is the example that comes to mind, but our test-and-punish system under the No Child Left Behind Act has branded the schools in our poorest cities as “failures” and created a crisis atmosphere that has also made way for the application of the Shock Doctrine. Back in 2010, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, working with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, seized such an “opportunity” and set up Newark for an experiment in disaster capitalism; he staged his Shock Doctrine live on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg handed Booker $100 million to fix Newark’s schools. In a recent article Washington Post education writer Lyndsey Layton summarizes what happened as the “One Newark” plan was put in place by Christie and his appointed overseer Newark school superintendent, Cami Anderson. Public schools were closed and charter operators brought in. Union agreements were abrogated. It has been easy to move quickly in Newark, where the schools have been under state control for twenty years and residents have been unable to establish sufficient checks and balances despite the presence of an elected school board that lacks virtually any power. Cami Anderson has not bothered to attend any meetings of Newark’s school board for well over a year now.

Layton describes One Newark:

“The plan is the signature initiative crafted by Anderson, who was appointed by Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2011 to run Newark Public Schools. The state seized control of Newark Public Schools in 1995 amid academic and financial failure, but two decades of state control has resulted in little progress. One Newark, which fully took effect in the current academic year (2014-2015), essentially blew up the old school system. It eliminated neighborhood schools in favor of a citywide lottery designed to give parents more choices. It prompted mass firings of principals and teachers, and it led to numerous school closures and a sharp rise in the city’s reliance on charter schools. . . With Christie’s blessing—and freed from the need for approval from a local school board—Anderson pushed through a raft of changes, many of which were untested. . . As a result, many families saw their children spread among multiple schools or sent across town. The scattering has been problematic for a city divided along gang lines, and where many residents don’t own cars. The end of neighborhood schools meant that newcomers no longer had a right to attend the school down the street. The new citywide lottery, relying on a computer algorithm, forced many students to change schools while dividing siblings in some cases between different schools in different parts of the city. Meanwhile, state test scores have stayed flat or even declined. . .”


Local elected officials have tried unsuccessfully to protect the right of parents and citizens of Newark to control their public schools. Senator Ronald Rice, chair of the New Jersey Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Schools, was able only after repeated attempts to require Cami Anderson to appear before his committee to defend her plan, but she refused to discuss matters of substance with his committee. A civil rights complaint was filed earlier this year with the U.S. Department of Education. A group of high school students occupied the offices of Superintendent Cami Anderson for several days in February. U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., Newark’s representative to Congress, recently petitioned Cami Anderson in a formal letter to respond to the concerns of his constituents: “Your failure to respond and to engage in a meaningful dialogue on behalf of all Newark students is very disappointing to my constituents and me. There is a crisis situation going on in Newark.” And just this week, in an attempt to gain leverage, Newark’s new mayor, Ras Baraka, a high school principal elected on a pro-public school platform in the spring of 2014, was able to get his own “Children’s First Team” of three elected to the local elected board of education. All five of the elected board members support Baraka and oppose Cami Anderson’s One Newark plan. ...............(more)

http://www.progressive.org/news/2015/04/188111/one-newark-exemplifies-shock-doctrine



When you lie down with dogs........


from the BBC:



Germany's national intelligence agency, the BND, spied on top French officials and the EU's headquarters on behalf of US intelligence, German media report.

The leaks from a secret BND report suggest that its monitoring station at Bad Aibling spied on France's presidential palace and foreign ministry, and the European Commission.

The US National Security Agency also allegedly spied on some European firms.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere denies claims of a cover-up.

The BND reportedly collected information on European firms at Washington's behest to check if they were breaking trade embargos.
According to the reports, the BND did not target German or US officials in the surveillance, as they are protected by a BND-NSA agreement signed in 2002. ..........................(more)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32529277?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AMorning%20Brief&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign




Detroit-area transit agencies consider single fare card





(Detroit Free Press) Imagine grabbing a DDOT or SMART bus and paying with a plastic card that you just used to ride the People Mover and M-1 Rail.

Later, you head to Ann Arbor and use the same plastic card to ride the bus there.

Or maybe you just used a credit card or smartphone app to do the same thing.

A study is under way to transform how the four transit agencies under the umbrella of the Regional Transportation Authority of Southeast Michigan — DDOT, SMART, Detroit People Mover and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority — collect fares and how updating technology would make transferring from one system to another seamless.

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

The M-1 Rail streetcar line under construction on Woodward Avenue is not technically part of the RTA but has been participating in the discussions on the study, which began last year and is expected to be completed in June. M-1 Rail is expected to be ready for operation as early as late 2016. ...................(more)

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/04/28/metro-detroit-transit-considering-fare-card/26486033/



Newark Airtrain, Only 19 Years Old, Is Too Shoddy To Fix





The Port Authority has decided to address the problem-plagued Newark Airtrain by giving up on it entirely and building a new one. The cost could be as high as $2 billion.

The preliminary plan alone will cost $40 million, an expenditure approved by the board of directors on Thursday. The authority will seek approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with the money by raising fees on passengers using the airport.

Executive director Pat Foye conceded that the Airtrain began having problems soon after it opened in 1996. "As I understand it, Port Authority staff became concerned about whether it was robust enough," he said. "We don't want to repeat that mistake."

The authority has already sunk $170 million into keeping the Newark Airtrain running. It is regularly shut down overnight for maintenance and, last year, was closed altogether for eight weeks to undergo major repairs. The authority plans to complete the new monorail by 2020, when the current one reaches the end of its useful life. .................(more)

http://www.wnyc.org/story/newark-airtrain-only-19-years-old-too-shoddy-fix/




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