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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Home country: Citizen of the world whose address is in the U.S.
Current location: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 66,812

Journal Archives

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)

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/us_braces_for_even_worse_wildfire_season_20150503




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)

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/04/28/2009-organizations-call-congress-oppose-fast-track-authority-tpp




Chicago CTA: A Farewell to the 2400 Series Railcar





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



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 “ur nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal” and that “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 “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/




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