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Mike Luckovich Toon- Young George W Bush

Is TPP trade deal a massive giveaway to corporations? An exchange between Obama and Sherrod Brown

By Greg Sargent

One way to make sense of the bewilderingly complex debate over the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — which involves a dozen countries around the Pacific and could impact some 40 percent of U.S. trade — is to understand that there are a number of separate arguments about it proceeding on different tracks.

There’s the argument over whether the deal’s higher labor standards will even be enforceable for countries such as Vietnam. There’s the argument over whether more import competition will further weaken American manufacturing, or whether lowering tariffs abroad will strengthen American exports. There’s the argument over whether TPP’s intellectual property rules will primarily benefit Big Pharma and major corporations. There’s the argument over whether the “fast track” process is legitimate.

And this is one of the most contentious arguments of all: The debate over the TPP’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision. The ISDS, which has drawn high profile criticism from Elizabeth Warren and many others, is a mechanism contained in the deal that would allow for the litigation of disputes between corporations and local governments in a manner designed to create a stable legal environment for investments in participating countries.


Aggressive Effort Underway by Democratic Leaders to Recruit Elizabeth Warren

The Observer has obtained private email correspondence among a small group of Democratic insiders that reveals a plan to recruit Sen. Elizabeth Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president.

The email, sent by Niko Elmaleh to a group that includes Andy Tobias, who has been the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee since Bill Clinton was president, and Jim Dean, the chairman of the nation’s largest political action committee, Burlington, Vt.-based Democracy for America. It was sent to Mr. Tobias’ personal email account and Mr. Dean’s DFA account.

Mr. Elmaleh, a reliable Democratic donor ($25,250 in 2012; $26,150 in 2008; and $31,000 in 2006) is the executive vice president of World Wide Holdings Corp, a New York City developer of luxury residential high-rise buildings that was founded by his father, Victor Elmaleh. Niko Elmaleh’s bio calls him an “environmentalist and patron of the arts” who supports charitable organizations including the Clinton Global Initiative, the League of Conservation of Voters, and Media Matters, the left-leaning media watchdog organization.

In his April 3, 2015, email to the small group, Mr. Elmaleh refers to his concern that a lack of a meaningful primary opponent will result in a stale and complacent candidate. He writes, “I think we should seriously consider as an excellent way to keep Hilary fresh in the public eye; Elizabeth Warren should run against her.”

Read more at http://observer.com/2015/04/aggressive-effort-underway-by-democratic-leaders-to-recruit-elizabeth-warren/

Chilesaurus: New Dinosaur Species Discovered In Chile

Chilesaurus, an entirely new dinosaur species, was apparently the Mr. Potato Head of the Late Jurassic. As described today in a study in the journal Nature, Chilesaurus had the teeth of an apatosaur, the arms of an allosaur and the axial skeleton of a ceratosaur. A member of the theropod clade, Chilesaurus was essentially an adorable, turkey-sized, vegetarian T-Rex.

“It’s a new species, genus and completely new lineage of dinosaurs that wasn’t known before,” says Martín Ezcurra, a doctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham and coauthor of the study. “Theropods were quite common during the Mesozoic, but in this part of Chile, this is the first plant-eating theropod dinosaur.”

Seven-year-old Diego Suarez initially stumbled across the Chilesaurus fossils in 2005, while hiking with his parents near the Andes mountains. The skeletons were remarkably complete, but paleontologists were less excited—they assumed that Suarez had discovered several different species of well-known theropods. It was only in 2008, when scientists looked more closely at the findings, that they realized the skeletons likely represented an entirely new, albeit enigmatic, species.

“The most interesting thing about this new dinosaur is that different parts of the body resemble different, unrelated groups,” Ezcurra says. “It show us how convergence evolution works.” (Convergence evolution is when organisms evolve certain traits independently, due to having to contend with similar conditions—not a common ancestry).



The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking

The White House Correspondents' Dinner has become a strange event. It is, ostensibly, an evening when the president and the press can come together to share a few lighthearted laughs. But it's evolved into a recital of brutal truths — albeit one neither side ever really admits happened.

The joke of President Obama's performance on Saturday was that he wasn't joking. Everyone just had to pretend he was. Take this section, from the official White House transcript:

After the midterm elections, my advisors asked me, "Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?" And I said, "Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.’" (Laughter and applause.)

Take executive action on immigration? Bucket. (Laughter.) New climate regulations? Bucket. It’s the right thing to do. (Laughter and applause.)

The tip-off there is, "It's the right thing to do." That's not a joke. That's Obama's actual justification for the aggressive executive actions of his second term — "fuck it, it's the right thing to do." But the norms of politics are such that he typically has to frame his actions as routine, dull, even necessary. He has to search for precedent and downplay the consequences.


How the stock market destroyed the middle class

Nonfinancial corporations haven't raised any net capital in the stock market for 21 straight years.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — There’s something seriously wrong with an economy that nurtures a few billionaires but can’t sustain the middle class.

Many factors have been blamed for the plummeting fortunes of the American middle class: globalization, technology, deregulation, easy credit, the winner-take-all economy, and even the inevitable tide of history.

But one under-appreciated factor is a pervasive business model that encourages top managers of American corporations to loot their company for short-term gains, depriving those companies of the funds they need to build and enlarge, and invest in their workers for the long haul.

How do they loot their company? By using large stock buybacks to manage the short-term objectives that trigger higher compensation for themselves. By using those stock buybacks to manipulate the share price, which allows them to use inside information to time their own stock sales. By using buybacks to funnel most of the company’s profits back to shareholders (including themselves).

They use the stock market to loot their companies.


Exclusive: First diplomat for LGBT rights speaks out

Becoming a father was a prime motivator for Randy Berry to accept what's sure to be a controversial new role at the State Department.

Berry, 50, is the U.S. special envoy for the human rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender persons, the first such post ever created by a nation, according to the State Department.

In that trailblazing role, he said he has an opportunity to help his two children grow up in a world more accepting than the one he was born into.

As someone who has "walked the personal journey of coming out," Berry said he knows how critical positive messages and support are to a U.S. and global LGBT community plagued by young suicides.

"Our children may be straight, they may be gay, I really couldn't care less, but I do want them to be happy," Berry said in an interview with USA TODAY. "They're likely to grow up in international environments, so I'm interested in working this in a broader space."


Obama and Republicans Agree on the Trans-Pacific Partnership … Unfortunately

There’s an important issue out there you may never have heard of, which is just what its proponents would like. That’s the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently being pushed by the Obama administration and its corporate (and mostly Republican!) allies. It’s a blatant attack on labor, farmers, food safety, public health and even national sovereignty.

And the details of the deal are largely secret. Other than what’s been leaked, the public has no access to its contents, and even members of Congress don’t know much. (On the other hand, “cleared advisers,” mostly corporate lawyers, have full access.) That’s because the TPP is way too important to its sponsors to allow little details like congressional or public input to get in its way, even though constitutional authority over trade is granted to the legislative, not the executive, branch.

This is a bipartisan effort if ever there was one; George Will has called the TPP “Obama’s best idea.” Thus we see the administration, along with pro-business Democrats and Republicans, trying to bulletproof the deal. Last week, a bill was introduced that would give the president “fast-track authority” on the TPP. If that passes, Congress could vote only up or down on the deal, not amend it. That’s quite a bit of presidential power for a scheme that would have a striking impact on the global economy — and the food on our table.

The TPP is little more than enhanced corporation power branded as free trade. It gives corporations the right to challenge government regulations and seek compensation if they think they’ve been treated unfairly by any of the 12 Pacific Rim nations in the deal. (China is currently, but not necessarily permanently, excluded; part of the thinking behind the TPP is to lock up an agreement with these partners before China does.)



Monday Toon Roundup 2- The Rest








Monday Toon Roundup 1- Repubs

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