TPA Fast-Track Authority Passes: Is Obama On The Wrong Side?


MoveOn.org

Wednesday, Barack Obama was given the authority he has long sought to hasten the negotiations for a massive trade deal with countries on the Pacific rim – the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership).

Wednesday’s vote was for the TPA – or “fast-track authority” – which would push the US toward a landmark agreement that, both proponents and critics agree, will reshape the global economy, writes The British newspaper The Guardian.

The vote, which passed 60-38, was a significant victory for multinational corporations which have been lobbying hard for a trade agreement expected to lower tariffs and create new regulations for sectors as diverse as agriculture, banking and the pharmaceutical industry.

The Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation on Wednesday that gives the president the power to “fast-track” negotiations with the 11 other countries party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It creates an unusual coalition of House and Senate Republicans teaming up with the Democratic president.

Not only that, the President seemingly threatened to sign the TPA fast-track bill regardless of whether an accompanying jobs bill (the TAA) for dislocated workers was passed.

Representative Marcia Fudge wrote that she felt pressured to vote for the TAA:

“President Obama said he would not sign TPA (fast track) without accompanying legislation to support America’s workers. That no longer appeared to be the case,” she wrote in the Huffington Post.

“We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Our hands tied. We had to hold the President and Republicans accountable to America’s displaced workers,” she continued.

The vote for the TAA has also now passed both the House and Senate.

That bill, however, will be eclipsed by congressional approval of the trade promotion authority, which constitutes a huge breakthrough for the Obama administration and its wider effort to “pivot” foreign and trade policy toward Asia, writes The Guardian.

The White House has spent months trying to win over sceptical labor union leaders and Democrats who are wary of a repeat of NAFTA, the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993. The overall effects of that deal are disputed, but many economists argue it resulted in a US trade deficit and the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas.

Even the AFL-CIO labor union, which has been withholding donations from congressional Democrats and campaigning against pro-trade lawmakers, stood down this week, according to Roll Call magazine.

“We do not have confidence that the White House would hold out for a stronger TAA bill if this one were to fail,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka wrote to members of Congress.

During a previous vote for the on June 12th, the House of Representatives stalled the TPA / TAA.

The Illinois Times writes:  “TPP is the global trade scam that was being railroaded through Congress, carrying an unbelievably odious load of freight that would give more power to Big Pharma, Wall Street, Walmart, Big Oil frackers, Silicon Valley monopolists, agribusiness giants, climate change deniers, job exporters, exploiters of labor and other multinational corporate elites.”

“The more you learned about what the TPP is carrying the more you realized what a raw deal it is for your democratic rights, your jobs, income, health, environment, food, etc. – so the more involved you got in the StopTheTPP.org movement. “You The People” rose up in nearly every congressional district, and even though the national media didn’t notice you Congress did. Thus, the done deal derailed – to the shock of corporados and their politicos, nearly 70 percent of the House voted with the people against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Of course Obama and Co. are trying to put their railroad job back on track, but that’ll be a heavy lift. The wreck of the TPP was not due to a glitch in legislative procedure but to the establishment’s procedural miscalculation that we Americans will just sit still as it autocratically uses secrecy and lies to snatch away our democratic sovereignty.”

In the video above, Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, discusses the TPP trade agreement.

(Updated article)

http://stopthetpp.org/

2nd Suicide Related To Missouri Auditor’s Office

A top Missouri political aide has reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound a month after his boss – the Missouri State Auditor and Republican Tom Schweich – took his life with a gun, police said Monday.

State auditor’s spokesman Robert “Spence” Jackson was found dead Sunday night inside his Jefferson City apartment after police responded to concerns of a relative that he wasn’t answering the phone.

Robert Jackson

Authorities said they are investigating the case as a suicide.

Jackson’s former boss, Auditor Tom Schweich, had been running for the Republican nomination for Governor of the state when he shot himself in the head on Feb. 26 inside his home in Clayton, Missouri.

Schweich was also about to go public with complaints that a GOP rival was spreading a “whisper campaign” that Schweich was Jewish.

According to the Washington Post, Schweich was an Episcopalian Christian.

He had told others that he believed rivals – led by Missouri Republican Party chairman John Hancock – were spreading an anti-Semitic “whisper campaign” against him.

Jackson was among the first of Schweich’s allies to demand Hancock’s resignation from the top party post. Hancock has denied making anti-Semitic remarks but admitted telling people he thought, mistakenly, that Schweich was Jewish.

Tom Schweich

Jackson remained with the Auditor’s Office after Schweich’s death.

“The initial investigation gives detectives reason to believe this is most likely a suicide,” Jefferson City police Capt. Doug Shoemaker told reporters on Monday.

“There were no signs of forced entry nor any signs of a struggle. There was one firearm found at the apartment. A revolver and one spent round were recovered.”

Police also found a note from Jackson, but Shoemaker declined to elaborate.

More here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/03/30/spokesman-found-dead-weeks-after-missouri-state-auditor-tom-schweichs-suicide/

(Updated post)

L.A. Prosecutors Charge Real Estate Mogul With Murder


MSNBC

According to lohurst.com, real estate mogul Robert Durst – suspected in the 1982 disappearance of his wife and the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman –  seemed to confess in the conclusion of the HBO documentary “The Jinx” on Sunday.

The Boston Herald states that authorities found more than a quarter-pound of marijuana and a gun in Durst’s New Orleans Marriott hotel room when he was arrested over the weekend.

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki suggested in “The Jinx” that it is Durst ‘s handwriting on a note directing police to Berman’s body.  Durst later left his microphone on as he went to the bathroom.

“There it is. You’re caught,” he said, adding moments later “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”

More here:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/national/2015/03/prosecutor_durst_had_nearly_150_grams_of_pot_when_arrested

(Updated post)

Funny African Dictator Memes

Wikipedia states that Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born in 1924 and is the President of Zimbabwe. As one of the leaders of the rebel groups against white minority rule, he was elected as Prime Minister, head of government, in 1980, and served in that office until 1987, when he became the country’s first executive head of state. He has led the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) since 1975.

Mugabe tried to censor photographers who caught his public tumble on a red carpet this week.

The footage made it out, and on Twitter, the hilarious and humiliating #MugabeFalls meme began trending.

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