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Baobab's Journal
Baobab's Journal
May 31, 2016

Let's Fight Islamic State, but Without Any Kurds: Turkey to US


Ankara is angered by Washington's support for Kurdish fighters in Syria in the fight against Islamic State group.
Turkey is offering to "join forces" with Washington for a special operation inside Syria on the condition that the United States does not include the latter's closet ally against the Islamic State group: a Syrian Kurdish militia blacklisted by Ankara .

May 30, 2016

"No, I Won't Work for Hillary Clinton: A Response to Robert Reich"


Jake Johnson

I don't know Robert Reich personally, but I greatly respect and appreciate his work; his voice is an important one in the fight against inequality.

He has, however, repeatedly come down on the wrong side of one crucial issue, an issue that has serious implications for the future of American politics broadly, and for the future of the American left in particular.

Last week, Reich published a piece on his blog that reiterated a few nuggets of advice he offered on his Facebook page a week or so earlier.

While he directs advice to supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, naturally, as a Sanders supporter, I was drawn to what he had to say to backers of the Vermont senator.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders should, Reich argues, "Be prepared to work hard for Hillary Clinton if she gets the nomination."

Reich anticipated the backlash he ultimately received, writing that his advice "may be hard to swallow."

"But swallow it you must," he concluded, "not just for the good of the Democratic Party, but for the good of the nation."

He was right, of course, to expect strong reactions; I didn't like his advice, nor did many others. And I don't plan to act on it.

But as I read Reich's appeal, I was overwhelmed not by emotion, and not by a sense of outrage, but by a sense of déjà vu. I thought: I have heard, and read, this all before.

Indeed I had. Though Reich words his appeal eloquently and without condescension, it is the same appeal that has been made by the more crude apologists of "lesser of two evils" politics over the past several decades.

Matt Taibbi, in an article for Rolling Stone published in March, put it his way: Democrats "have been saying, 'The Republicans are worse!' for so long that they've begun to believe it excuses everything."

To his credit, Reich correctly predicts this objection—but he does not deny its validity.

"I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course," he writes of the large number of Sanders supporters who say they will not vote for Clinton. "But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump."

The latter sentence is the crucial one, and the weight of his argument in favor of backing Hillary Clinton if she becomes the Democratic nominee rests on its potency. The problem:The claim that refusing to support Clinton "is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump" is erroneous.

Perhaps unwittingly, Reich is merely rehashing—in a new context—a rather old argument, one that was made most prominently by George Orwell in his screeds against pacifism in the midst of World War II.

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist," Orwell argued in an essay that appeared in 1942. "This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other."

As Corey Robin has observed, the Democratic establishment, in an effort to suppress dissent and silence legitimate criticism of their favored candidate, has adopted what is effectively a Leninist posture, one that prioritizes unity and conformity over basic principles that Democrats, in other contexts, are happy to champion—all under the guise of protecting the party and ensuring victory against the other side.

According to Reich, Sanders supporters who don't fall in line behind a candidate they believe to be part of the problem, not a potential solution, are objectively pro-Trump: You're either with us, Reich contends, or you're against us.

But this is a false dichotomy, as Orwell himself would come to recognize in print a few years later.

"The key-word here is 'objectively,'" Orwell wrotein 1944. "We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once."

Orwell was a rarity among political writers, in that he was rather quick to correct errors in his own reasoning.

"This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it," Orwell continued. "If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."

Reich, though his intentions are undoubtedly noble, is committing the same error Orwell criticized himself for making "more than once": He disregards subjective motives (which are, in the case of Clinton versus Trump, of great significance) and fails to anticipate how Sanders supporters will act in the future.

Judging by the polling data, most Sanders supporters view Trump just as unfavorably as Clinton supporters, and are unlikely to vote for him. But that is not the concern: For Reich, not actively helping Clinton—just staying home in November—is the equivalent of lending a helping hand to Trump.

But Sanders supporters have not been sitting on the sidelines; they have, in fact, been at the front of the line, protesting Donald Trump's inexcusable bigotry and condemning his phony populism while articulating an inspiring and inclusive alternative.

This is the point Reich fails to acknowledge: One can, without contradiction, both refuse to support Hillary Clinton and ardently oppose Donald Trump. Protests, engagement, organization, and civil disobedience often make more noise, and force more change, than decisions made at the ballot box.

Sanders supporters are simply not content to dilute the political revolution they have started by integrating it into the framework of the Democratic Party and by placing it within the confines of a Clinton presidency. Reich, himself, has emphasized the importance of this point.

"I endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States," Reich wrote in February. "He's leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few. And such a political mobilization — a 'political revolution,' as he puts it — is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests that now control so much of our economy and democracy."

Here, Reich and I agree: A political revolution in the form of various movements working together to bring lasting change "is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests."

To work for Hillary Clinton would be to put aside principled stands in support of campaign finance reform, for instance, or against American aggression overseas, in favor of a candidate who has repeatedly been on the wrong side.

So I will continue to support Bernie Sanders and the movement he has sparked both because I believe it is the right thing to do, and because I refuse to fall in line behind a candidate who has, in just the past few months, repudiated basic standards of transparency, belittled those who fight for ambitious social agendas, turned her back on single-payer health care, courted Republican donors, accepted campaign contributions from Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, and attacked the core argument against the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision.

I will also happily join Robert Reich in the fight against Donald Trump. His ignorance is terrifying and his bigotry is reprehensible.

But I will not endure lectures on how refusing to support Hillary Clinton—a candidate who embodies the right turn of the Democratic Party that has had such devastating effects on the same people Clinton now claims to be fighting for—is, in effect, the equivalent of supporting Trump. It clearly isn't.

As for Reich's concerns about the future of the Democratic Party, well, I'm with Michelle Alexander: "I hold little hope that a political revolution will occur within the Democratic Party without a sustained outside movement forcing truly transformational change. I am inclined to believe that it would be easier to build a new party than to save the Democratic Party from itself."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Jake Johnson is an independent writer. Follow him on Twitter: @wordsofdissent
May 29, 2016

EVITA (Broadway) - "And the Money Kept Rolling In" (2012 Tony Awards)

Elena Roger, Ricky Martin y la compañía de EVITA interpretando "And the Money Kept Rolling In", en vivo en los Premios TONY 2012.
Elena Roger es la primer actriz argentina en protagonizar un Musical en Broadway.

Elena Roger, Ricky Martin and EVITA company performing "And Kept Rolling In the Money" live at the 2012 Tony Awards.
Elena Roger is the first argentinian actress to starring on Broadway.
May 29, 2016

Video: EVITA (Broadway) - And the Money Kept Rolling In (2012 Tony Awards)

"Presumably", Hillary's "suitable for framing" poster is styled after the poster for the Broadway show "Evita"
May 29, 2016

10 reasons TTIP is bad for good food and farming


10 reasons TTIP is bad for good food and farming

The United States and the European Union have launched negotiations on a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): a free trade agreement that aims to “harmonize” standards and regulations in both regions to expand corporate profits. However, the regulations in question are critical to creating more sustainable, healthy food systems in Europe and in the United States. In May 2013, over 20 agribusiness industry groups—particularly from the meat, dairy and grain industries—submitted comments to the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office outlining their clear interests in TTIP. Agribusiness on both sides is pushing to rollback regulations that hinder their profits at the expense of food safety, farmers and ranchers, consumers and animal welfare.

Reason 1

The U.S. meat industry wants the EU to begin treating its meat with chemicals to eliminate harmful bacteria: chlorine for poultry, other organic acids for meats such as pork.
The use of hyper-chlorinated water as an anti-microbial treatment was, and continues to be today, the standard practice in the majority of poultry establishments in the United States…U.S. chicken processed with the use of hyper-chlorinated water is consumed every day by over 300 million American citizens and by consumers in the nearly 100 countries to which the U.S. industry currently exports product, all without any negative health effect.

–The U.S. National Chicken Council (NCC), USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), and the National Turkey Federation (NTF))1

The National Pork Council wants the EU to approve lactic acid washes for pork—similar to EU’s approval in February 2013 of lactic acid washes for beef.2 The approval was likely given with the expectation that European beef exports to the United States will increase as a result of meeting this U.S. beef industry demand.

Reason 2

The U.S. meat industry wants the EU to remove the ban on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters.
Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are linked to food animal production, including antibiotic use for growth promotion. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a minimum of 23,000 deaths occur each year due to antibiotic resistance.3 The U.S. and the EU need to strengthen standards that prevent the use of antibiotics in the food system, not encourage their expansion through free trade agreements.

Reason 3

The U.S. meat industry wants the EU to remove its ban on ractopamine—a failed asthma drug that serves as a growth promoting hormone in animals (banned in 160 countries).

The North American Meat Association, the National Pork Council, the American Meat Institute and other industry lobby groups are pushing the U.S. government to continue pressuring the EU to remove this ban which they contend is “not scientifically justified and inconsistent with international standards.”4 Ractopamine is banned in many countries because it can cruelly impact animal health—mimicking stress hormones, which in pigs can cause tremendous distress and even death.5 There are also concerns that consumption of meat with ractopamine may interfere with the control of asthma by other medications.6

The “international standard” the industry refers to is the extremely controversial vote in the international standard setting body Codex Alimentarius that approved its use by a margin of two votes out of more than 180 government members and was based on a literature review of six studies, three furnished by the ractopamine manufacturer.7

Reason 4

The U.S. grain industry would like to see faster approvals of new genetically modified (GM) seed varieties used for feed in the EU.
The U.S. seed and grain industry associations such as the U.S. Grains Council want faster approvals of GM traits in grains used for animal feed than the current EU framework allows.8 Each trait requires its own approval in the EU, whereas new varieties being developed in the U.S. and elsewhere have multiple traits in one seed. The industry wants these multiple traits to be approved at the same time and at a much faster rate.

Reason 5

U.S. meat and grain industries want the EU to remove restrictions on animal byproducts in feed and pet food.
The American Feed Industry Association (whose companies represent 75 percent of the feed manufacturing in the U.S.) are challenging a 2002 EU regulation that places restrictions on animal byproducts used in feed or pet food. They contend that the industry experienced a 62 percent drop in volume of exports in the last ten years because of these EU restrictions.9 Animal byproducts in feed have resulted in major outbreaks of animal diseases such as swine fever, foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease, causing tremendous economic losses to producers and increasing the risk of human and pet infections.

Reason 6

EU is considering restrictions on meat and dairy products from offspring of cloned animals; the U.S. meat and dairy industries want no such restrictions
The issue of trade policies for products from the offspring of cloned animals is itself a concern and holds the significant potential to negatively impact U.S. exports to the EU.
–The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Export Dairy Council10

Industry contends that neither the EU nor the U.S. have a tracking mechanism of offspring of cloned animals and therefore the rule would be difficult to implement and should not be considered.

Reason 7

The U.S. meat and dairy industries want to weaken provisions for animal welfare in the EU.
American and European civil society have pushed hard over the years to strengthen animal welfare standards in both regions. California is in the process of strengthening its own regulation on layer hens. However, the U.S. meat and dairy industries are pushing to eliminate or weaken animal welfare standards that they say are “barriers to trade.” For instance, the National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Export Dairy Council Dairy would like to see limits on somatic cell counts in dairy herds removed11—the cell count indicates mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue in cows. Other regulations, such as the pig housing regulations that came into force in the EU in 2013 are also being targeted.

Reason 8

The U.S. meat industry wants to remove European duties on artificially cheap pork products, frozen poultry parts and dairy.
The U.S. National Pork Council wants to see the elimination of all European customs duties on pork; Yum! Restaurants International (the owner of fast food chains such as Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut) wants the elimination of all customs duties on frozen poultry parts.12 The National Dairy Council and U.S. Export Dairy Council would like to see all European variable duties on dairy removed given the $1 billion USD trade deficit of the U.S. in dairy to the EU.

The U.S. meat industry claims to be internationally competitive, but this is because a few meat companies control the U.S. market at the expense of the vast majority of producers, workers in their supply chain, and the public who pay the real cost of their environmental and public health impacts.

Reason 9

U.S. agribusiness would like to use TTIP to undermine the EU’s “precautionary principle,” which reinforces stronger food safety standards.
The U.S. National Pork Producers Council and others want the EU to recognize U.S. food safety standards as equivalent so that any EU standards related to animal welfare or even “newly emerging or unanticipated technological developments” cannot be used to block U.S. exports. The American Meat Institute notes:

Structural disparities exist in the regulatory systems of the two economies as they relate to food safety and agricultural risk management. These differences pose serious challenges to any meaningful regulatory cohesion in the sector and must be addressed by the TTIP negotiations in order to unlock the economic potential of this relationship. The two most obvious examples of regulatory disparity is the EU’s reliance on the “precautionary principle” to evaluate innovative technologies and its acceptance of cultural preferences (or “other legitimate factors”) as a basis for regulatory action.13

Reason 10

Agribusiness and some members of Congress are pushing for enforcement of food safety rules in TTIP that go beyond WTO rules.
Seventy-six members of the U.S. Congress have lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on behalf of the agribusiness lobby to make food safety standards “fully enforceable” in TTIP.14 This could mean that the U.S. government would sue the EU directly over the implementation of any agreements on food safety in TTIP, without even the limited procedures and protections established at the WTO.

Sample of U.S. agribusiness associations and food companies that have submitted comments to USTR and engaging on TTIP:
Meat Industry (including animal genetics and vaccines)
National Pork Producers Council
American Meat Institute
International Serum Industry Association
U.S. Meat Export Federation
Cobb-Vantress, Inc
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Chicken Council
USA Poultry & Egg Export Council
National Turkey Federation
North American Meat Association
Fonterra (USA)
National Milk Producers Federation
U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. Grains Council
National Oilseed Processors Association
American Feed Industry Association
American Seed Trade Association
Biotechnology Industry Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association
American Soybean Association
Retail, Food and Beverage Companies
National Grocery Manufacturers Association
Yum! Restaurants International
The Coca-Cola Company


1. Michael J. Brown, James H. Summer, Joel Brandenberger, “Comments of the National Chicken Council (NCC), USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), and the National Turkey Federation (NTF) Concerning Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement: Seeking a Negotiated Outcome That Will Provide Real Market Access to the European Union for U.S. Poultry,” Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0269 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

2. National Pork Producers Council, “National Pork Producers Council Comments on the ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,’” Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0363 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Antibiotics Threats in the United States, 2013, (Atlanta: CDC, 2013) Accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/threat-report-2013/ (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

4. Mark Dopp and William Westman, “Reply to Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement”; Docket No: USTR-2013-0019,” American Meat Institute, Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0205 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

5. Helena Bottemiller, “FDA Petitioned to Lower Ractopamine Limits for Meat, Review Health Impacts,” Foodsafetynews.com, December 21, 2012, http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/12/fda-petitioned-to-lower-ractopamine-limits-for-meat-review-animal-health-impact/#.UzM8OYWTIZ8 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

6. Karen Hansen-Kuhn and Steven Suppan, “Promises and Perils of the TTIP: Negotiating a Transatlantic Agricultural Market, IATP.org, October 23, 2013, http://www.iatp.org/documents/promises-and-perils-of-the-ttip-negotiating-a-transatlantic-agricultural-market (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

7. Ibid, pg. 8

8. U.S. Grains Council, “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Request for Comments: USTR – 2013—0019: Statement of the US Grains Council,” Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0053 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

9. Gina Tumbarello, “Reply to Docket Number USTR-2013-0019 ? Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement,” American Feed Industry Association, Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0339 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

10. National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council, “Comments by the National Milk Producers Federation And the U.S. Dairy Export Council Regarding the Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Docket Number USTR-2013-0019,” Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0340 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

11. Ibid.

12. Yum! Restaurants International, “Reply to Request for Comments on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) – Docket No. USTR-2013-0019,” Regulations.gov, May 3, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0034 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

13. Mark Dopp and William Westman, “Reply to Request for Comments Concerning Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement; Docket No: USTR-2013-0019,” pg. 3, American Meat Institute, Regulations.gov, May 10, 2013, http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USTR-2013-0019-0205 (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

14. Karen Hansen-Kuhn and Steve Suppan, “Promises and Perils of the TTIP: Negotiating a Transatlantic Agricultural Market, IATP.org, October 23, 2013, http://www.iatp.org/documents/promises-and-perils-of-the-ttip-negotiating-a-transatlantic-agricultural-market (Date accessed: March 26, 2014).

- See more at: http://www.iatp.org/documents/10-reasons-ttip-is-bad-for-good-food-and-farming#sthash.fGqomFHL.dpuf

May 29, 2016

Pending Pact Will likely "roll back" ACA, and make all Sanders platform impossible

No new single payer, free public education, or New Deal programs would ever be allowed.

Presidents of nations or states would be just as powerless as the rest of us to change anything.

Pact could be signed soon.


Also, all changes since 1994 or 1998 in covered areas (health insurance is clearly a covered area under GATS and TiSA) could and likely would be rolled back by the WTO (TiSA is supposed to be merged back into WTO-GATS in the near future)

See this video where Lori Wallach explains how standstill and rollback work in TiSA's financial services -.

Jobs- TiSA contains a huge scheme to lower costs for companies by creating global competition between staffing firms eager for business.

the developing world is very excited because it promises to be a meritocracy where small corporations from disadvantaged countries will be treated as well as huge corporations from developed countries, perhaps even better in that they will get to discriminate in various ways that developed countries cannot.

After having been planned for over 20 years, this is part of the economic integration of the Earth.

Nations domestic regulations will have to adjust.

Sanya Reid Smith explains TiSA here.

May 29, 2016

European municipalities join the battle against TTIP to protect sovereignty and public services.


European municipalities join the battle against TTIP to protect sovereignty and public services, demonstrating how to take political initiative and build an alternative economy.

Opponents of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) see their chances of victory increasing. Local authorities are now also increasingly taking a strong position against supranational structures that negotiate opaque trade deals.

Recent declarations by the two Austrian presidential contenders ensuring they would block TTIP , Hollande’s declarations claiming he would not approve TTIP at any cost and the Polish Agriculture minister rejecting the TTIP provisions about food safety rules revealed in the leaks published by Greenpeace Netherlands, have placed the EU Commission and the EU Chamber of Commerce on the defensive. They have reason to be worried, support for TTIP is plunging in the US and Germany - from more than 50% in 2014 to less than 20% now - to the extent that US Consulting firms working for Pro-TTIP groups call for coordinated actions to win the public debate and “control the news cycle”.
May 29, 2016

"I know [student loan forgiveness] works because Bill and I did that!"

An inspiring rags to riches story? (Her story may not be true.)

Story posing the question:

Is Hillary's Personal Story About Student Loans a Fabrication?


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