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marmar

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Gender: Male
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 71,045

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Dean Baker | The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and "Fast Track" Gets Hot


Dean Baker | The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and "Fast Track" Gets Hot

Monday, 27 April 2015 00:00
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed


President Obama must be having trouble getting the votes for fast-track authority since the administration is now pulling out all the stops to push the deal. This has included a press call where he apparently got testy over the charge by critics that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secret trade deal.

Obama insisted the deal is not secret, but googling "TPP" will not get you a copy of the text. Apparently President Obama is using a different definition of "secret" than the ordinary English usage.

But that wasn't the only fun in the last week. The administration got 13 former Democratic governors to sign a letter boasting about the jobs generated by the growth of exports. The letter noted that exports had added "$760 billion to our economy between 2009 and 2014 - one-third of our total growth." It neglected to mention that imports had grown even faster, diverting $890 billion in demand away from the domestic economy to foreign economies.

Contrary to what the governors were claiming in their letter, trade was a net negative to the tune of more than $130 billion over this five year period. Instead of adding jobs, the growing trade deficit was drag on growth, slowing job creation and putting downward pressure on wages. The growth in the trade deficit over this period has the same impact on the economy as if people pulled $130 billion out of their paychecks each year and stuffed it under their mattress. .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30441-the-battle-over-the-trans-pacific-partnership-and-fast-track-gets-hot




"US capitalism is fundamentally flawed, and has a strong tendency toward stagnation."

This interview with Professor Robert McChesney is from January, but it's a good -- and always relevant -- read.



Robert McChesney, a leader in challenging the corporate media's role in degrading democracy, carries on this fight with Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century. In the book, he makes an urgent and compelling argument for ending communication monopolies and building a post-capitalist democracy that serves people over corporations.


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

US capitalism is fundamentally flawed, and has a strong tendency toward stagnation. Left to its own devises, without exogenous factors, the private economy cannot generate sufficient jobs and incomes for full employment. That means low growth rates, rising poverty and growing inequality. Due to popular pressure, government politics can arrest these tendencies, with public works programs, progressive taxation, support for unions and the like. Capitalists generally oppose these measures as an impingement on their prerogatives and their control over the economy. Even in Scandinavia, where working-class victories created a much-admired social democracy (unless you are a FOX News fan), capitalists lie in wait always keen to reverse the victories and turn back the clock. In the United States, military spending became the one form of government stimulus spending that faced no serious opposition from capitalists coming out of World War II, and instead it created an army of corporate supporters: Eisenhower's military-industrial complex. Militarism is now so hard-wired into really existing capitalism in the United States that the call to reduce it to a level approaching sanity becomes a demand to rethink the entire structure of the economy.

Since the 1970s, the far right has come to dominate American politics and both political parties have become more preoccupied with serving large corporations and billionaire investors - and much less concerned with the needs of the general population. In doing research on the matter of whether Obama might launch a new "New Deal" upon his election in 2008, my friend John Bellamy Foster and I wrote an essay that is in the book arguing that the key determinant of a new New Deal will be if the amount of government spending for civilian (non-military) purposes increases as a percentage of GDP above the level it had been stuck at since the New Deal raised it in the late 1930s. We argued that it was highly unlikely because of the strong corporate political pressures that exist, and we have been proven right.

But we were also struck by the fact that civilian spending at all levels of government had not changed much as a percentage of GDP for decades, despite all the right-wing attacks on social spending that have dominated the past three or four decades. How could that be? The answer became clear: Civilian spending remained constant because a significant portion of what had been social spending was converted to prison spending, which is included in the civilian (non-military) spending category. Factoring this in, the actual provision of social services had declined as a percentage of GDP. And now, as with the military, there is a huge private sector that benefits from the prison-industrial complex and lobbies for its expansion at every turn, while no major corporate interests oppose the expansion of prisons.

What does this illustrate about the degeneration of US capitalism? As a system, it requires extensive government spending, but it tends toward military and police spending as the preferred option, and that creates all sorts of spectacular problems for anything remotely close to democracy. This point was well understood by the (constitutional) framers who wanted to eliminate as much as possible the scourge of militarism from coming into existence. As Madison and Jefferson repeatedly wrote, a nation that is permanently at war cannot remain free. Militarism generated secrecy, inequality, corruption and what we would call jingoism that in combination would overwhelm democratic institutions and practices. ...................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/28294-robert-mcchesney-we-need-to-advocate-radical-solutions-to-systemic-problems




Challenging American Exceptionalism


Challenging American Exceptionalism

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 00:00
By Marjorie Cohn, Marjorie Cohn's Blog | Op-Ed


President Barack Obama stood behind the podium and apologized for inadvertently killing two Western hostages - including one American - during a drone strike in Pakistan. Obama said, “one of the things that sets America apart from many other nations, one of the things that makes us exceptional, is our willingness to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.” In his 2015 state of the union address, Obama described America as “exceptional.” When he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, he said, “Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional.”

American exceptionalism reflects the belief that Americans are somehow better than everyone else. This view reared its head after the 2013 leak of a Department of Justice White Paper that describes circumstances under which the President can order the targeted killing of U.S. citizens. There had been little public concern in this country about drone strikes that killed people in other countries. But when it was revealed that U.S. citizens could be targeted, Americans were outraged. This motivated Senator Rand Paul to launch his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination for CIA director.

It is this double standard that moved Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu to write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, in which he asked, “Do the United States and its people really want to tell those of us who live in the rest of the world that our lives are not of the same value as yours?” (When I saw that letter, I immediately invited Archbishop Tutu to write the foreword to my book, “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” He graciously agreed and he elaborates on that sentiment in the foreword).

Obama insists that the CIA and the U.S. military are very careful to avoid civilian casualties. In May 2013, he declared in a speech at the National Defense University, “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.” .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30468-challenging-american-exceptionalism




Dean Baker | The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and "Fast Track" Gets Hot


Dean Baker | The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and "Fast Track" Gets Hot

Monday, 27 April 2015 00:00
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed


President Obama must be having trouble getting the votes for fast-track authority since the administration is now pulling out all the stops to push the deal. This has included a press call where he apparently got testy over the charge by critics that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secret trade deal.

Obama insisted the deal is not secret, but googling "TPP" will not get you a copy of the text. Apparently President Obama is using a different definition of "secret" than the ordinary English usage.

But that wasn't the only fun in the last week. The administration got 13 former Democratic governors to sign a letter boasting about the jobs generated by the growth of exports. The letter noted that exports had added "$760 billion to our economy between 2009 and 2014 - one-third of our total growth." It neglected to mention that imports had grown even faster, diverting $890 billion in demand away from the domestic economy to foreign economies.

Contrary to what the governors were claiming in their letter, trade was a net negative to the tune of more than $130 billion over this five year period. Instead of adding jobs, the growing trade deficit was drag on growth, slowing job creation and putting downward pressure on wages. The growth in the trade deficit over this period has the same impact on the economy as if people pulled $130 billion out of their paychecks each year and stuffed it under their mattress. .................(more)

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/30441-the-battle-over-the-trans-pacific-partnership-and-fast-track-gets-hot




Still early in the season, but the NL team most often picked for the WS is in disarray


ATLANTA — Doug Fister fields his position so well that the Nationals ask their minor league pitchers to emulate his defensive approach. When he threw away two pickoff throws in the fifth and sixth innings of Monday night’s 8-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves, one of Washington’s last pillars of defensive reliability toppled.

By the end of the game — a few hours after the team confirmed ace Max Scherzer is too injured to start Tuesday and Anthony Rendon was scratched from a minor league rehab game — the rest of the Nationals’ foundation seemed to have fallen apart, too.

Nothing has truly crumbled yet, of course. Though the Nationals have lost six straight games, are alone in last place in the National League East and have the second-worst record in the National League, it is still April — far too early to reduce all hope to rubble. But right now, nothing is going right. ......................(more)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-fall-to-braves-for-sixth-straight-loss-sit-alone-in-last-place-in-nl-east/2015/04/27/cf5f070c-ed21-11e4-a55f-38924fca94f9_story.html




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/



Long Beach Transit Agrees to Purchase Electric Buses


CA: Long Beach Transit Agrees to Purchase Electric Buses

HAILEY BRANSON-POTTS ON APR 28, 2015
SOURCE: LOS ANGELES TIMES


April 28--The Long Beach Transit Board of Directors on Monday awarded an $11.7-million contract to Los Angeles-based BYD Motors Inc. to manufacture 10 battery-powered electric buses and charging systems.

"The Long Beach Transit Board made a historic decision today that will not only benefit our customers, but will also be a win for the community," Long Beach Transit chief executive Kenneth McDonald said in a statement.

The buses will be zero-emission, McDonald said, adding that they will be the "the cleanest bus we have offered to date" and on the "leading edge of technology in the industry."

The contract approved Monday -- bringing a competitive bidding process to a close -- includes funding for training and required equipment associated with the purchase of the buses, according to Long Beach Transit. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11938725/long-beach-transit-agrees-to-purchase-electric-buses



Noam Chomsky at UMass Boston: "The Common Good: Assaults and Resistance"





On April 14, Noam Chomsky gave a lecture titled "The Common Good: Assaults and Resistance" to approximately 600 attendees at the Campus Center Ballroom in the University of Massachusetts Boston, answering audience questions after. Numerous departments sponsored the event, and its integrated essay contest will publish top essays in Writ Large, the non-fiction student magazine on campus.

Chomsky rose to scientific prominence in the 1950s as a linguist, and holds the title of professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his employer of 60 years. The internationally recognized political activist and intellectual gave a campus lecture centered on social responsibility and took a critical stance towards “neoliberalism.” After the lecture, Chomsky answered close to 20 audience questions related to politics, justice, and more.

“The assault mentioned in the title (of the lecture) is an ongoing one. It’s a form of class war where the wealthy and powerful are seeking to attain their own ends at the cost of the common good. The modern name for it is neoliberalism,” said the 86-year-old. ....................

http://www.umassmedia.com/news/noam-chomsky-gives-lecture-at-umass-boston/article_f6f66a0c-e566-11e4-88c9-0bed56ed4bd0.html



Noam Chomsky Joins Educators Opposing Suspension of NJ Teacher Whose Students Wrote to Mumia




Published on Apr 22, 2015

http://democracynow.org - Noam Chomsky has joined hundreds of students, educators and scholars from across the country in sending a letter to city authorities in Orange, New Jersey, urging them to reinstate a teacher suspended for letting her third grade students write get-well cards to imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Speaking before the school board last week after her suspension, Marilyn Zuniga said her students wanted to send letters to Abu-Jamal after learning he was seriously ill.


The Undemocratic Job-Killing Trade Scheme That Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership


from In These Times:


The Undemocratic Job-Killing Trade Scheme That Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership
BY LEO GERARD, UNITED STEELWORKERS PRESIDENT


Free traders in Congress formally proposed last week that lawmakers relax, put their feet up and neglect the rigor of legislative review for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade scheme.

The TPP is a secret deal among 12 Pacific Rim nations that was covertly negotiated by unelected officials and corporate bosses. It’s so clandestine that lawmakers elected to represent the American people were refused access to the deliberations. It would expand secret trade tribunals that corporations use to sue governments over democratically established laws and win compensation from taxpayers.

The Congressional free traders want to Fast Track authorization of the TPP. Fast Track enables Congress to abdicate its constitutionally mandated duty to regulate international trade. Instead of scrutinizing, amending and improving proposed trade deals, lawmakers use Fast Track to gloss over the specifics and simply vote yea or nay on the entire package as presented. With elected officials excluded from the talks, details of the treaty deliberately shrouded in secrecy and free traders demanding lawmakers ignore the deal’s effects on constituents, this process condemns democracy.

As usual, the free traders say, don’t worry, the TPP is gonna be great, just great! Trust us, they say.

For opponents of the deal—unions, environmentalists, human rights groups and Congressional progressives—there’s no trusting free traders. That’s because they’ve proven to be nothing but flimflam men. Deals they’ve peddled previously, like NAFTA, CAFTA and KORUS, have not, in fact, been great. They’ve dramatically increased the nation’s trade deficit, prompted corporations to ship manufacturing offshore, cost millions of American workers their jobs and suppressed wages. ................(more)

http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17880/the_undemocratic_job_killing_trade_scheme_that_is_the_trans_pacific_partner




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