January 30, 2014 archive

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SotU: Notably Absent

“A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU

“Dirty Wars” Filmmaker Jeremy Scahill on the “Drone President” & Obama’s Whitewashing of NSA Spying

Also notably ineffective.


SotU: Inequality & Minimum Wage





TPP Kaput?

Reid Announces Opposition to ‘Fast Track’ on Trade

By Siobhan Hughes, Wall Street Journal

January 29, 2014, 2:47 p.m. ET

“I’m against fast track,” Mr. Reid told reporters one day after President Barack Obama renewed his call for Congress to pass fast-track legislation, which means Congress must consider trade bills on an expedited basis in an up-or-down vote with no amendments. “I think everyone would be well-advised just not to push this right now.”

Fast-track authority is seen as crucial to cementing the trade deals because of the reassurance it would provide negotiating partners in the final, politically-sensitive rounds of talks. Other nations are typically reluctant to make trading concessions unless the U.S. can offer assurances trading pacts won’t be amended or rejected by Congress at the last minute.

“You can kiss any new trade deals goodbye,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas.) “I think the majority leader’s focus is on the November elections and he doesn’t want to expose his vulnerable members to controversial votes.”

On Wednesday Mr. Reid made clear that he has expressed the depth of his opposition plainly, including to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.), who recently unveiled the fast-track bill, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who is presumed to become chairman of the committee when Mr. Baucus steps down to serve as U.S. ambassador to China.

“Everyone knows how I feel about this-Senator Baucus knows; Senator Wyden knows; the White House knows,” Mr. Reid said, declining to say whether he would stop fast-track legislation from coming up for a Senate floor vote. “We’ll see,” he said.

Mr. Wyden has expressed concerns about the existing fast-track bill and thinks it needs to be rewritten, an aide said.

An aide to Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp said the Michigan Republican would like to have bipartisan support before moving fast-track legislation forward in the House.

Many Democrats are skeptical of recent free-trade agreements, saying they don’t do enough to stem the flow of jobs overseas and don’t require trading partners to observe strict labor and environmental rules similar to those in the U.S. Some are concerned the Asia-Pacific pact under negotiation will siphon U.S. jobs to low-income countries such as Vietnam.

“It seems there’s a great opportunity to get off the fast track to bad trade deals and open the policy window to a better deal for workers,” Celeste Drake, a trade expert with the AFL-CIO, said.

A poll released on Wednesday showed that 62% of voters oppose fast-track negotiating authority for Mr. Obama. The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, shows that Republican voters are more concerned about giving fast-track authority to Mr. Obama than Democrats.

Mirabile Dictu! Reid Tells Off Obama on Fast Track, Killing Toxic Trade Deals for 2014

by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Posted on January 30, 2014

(M)y Congressional correspondents think another gambit is more likely: to make some cosmetic changes and try to get the bill passed during the lame duck session, on the assumption that some Democrats (particularly those who are leaving office) will use the cover and change positions.

However, that cheery view assumes that the situation is static, when opposition to these bills is becoming even more pronounced.

And the repudiation by Reid and the stiffening resistance to these bills won’t go unnoticed overseas. The Wikileaks publication of drafts of two critical chapters showed a wide gap between the US positions and that of many of its supposed partners. Our reader Clive has also described how the Japanese media (and Japan is essential to the TPP being consummated) is being uncharacteristically direct in saying the US was not negotiating, and it would need to make significant concessions to reach an agreement. The TPP was already going pear shaped, and whatever sense of momentum the US had been able to create is now kaput.

On This Day In History January 30

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 30 is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 335 days remaining until the end of the year (336 in leap years).

On this day in 1969, The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.

A din erupted in the sky above London’s staid garment district. Gray-suited businessmen, their expressions ranging from amused curiosity to disgust, gathered alongside miniskirted teenagers to stare up at the roof of the Georgian building at 3 Savile Row. As camera crews swirled around, whispered conjecture solidified into confirmed fact: The Beatles, who hadn’t performed live since August 1966, were playing an unannounced concert on their office roof. Crowds gathered on scaffolding, behind windows, and on neighboring rooftops to watch the four men who had revolutionized pop culture play again. But what only the pessimistic among them could have guessed-what the Beatles themselves could not yet even decide for sure-was that this was to be their last public performance ever. . . . . .

When the world beyond London’s garment district finally got to see the Beatles’ last concert, it was with the knowledge, unshared by the original, live audience, that it was the band’s swan song. On Abbey Road Paul had sung grandly about “the end,” but it was John’s closing words on the roof that made the more fitting epitaph for the group that had struggled out of working-class Liverpool to rewrite pop history: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.”

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