August 4, 2015 archive

Doom de Doom Doom

Don’t look now, but the TPP just hit a major snag

by David Dayen, Salon

Tuesday, Aug 4, 2015 05:58 AM EST

Since the passage of fast-track authority, the biggest obstacle to more corporate-written international trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not been unions or environmentalists or public health advocates. It’s been the calendar. And jostling by TPP member countries over domestic priorities may have just created such a calendar problem that we will not see a deal completed by the end of the Obama presidency.

Ministerial meetings in Maui last week were supposed to end in an agreement between the 12 nations negotiating TPP. But those talks broke up on Friday without a breakthrough. Officials played down the differences, claiming that anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of the details have been finalized. But the outstanding issues involve the basic building blocks of a trade agreement – specifically, what industries get tariff elimination and unfettered market access, and which remain protected.

For example, the U.S. wants to protect profits for the pharmaceutical industry by increasing exclusivity times for prescription drugs, including lucrative biologics that often cost tens of thousands of dollars per treatment. Generic drug manufacturers would not be able to make cheaper knock-off versions for 12 years, a much longer exclusivity period than the current standard in TPP partners like Australia, Chile and New Zealand. Those countries have rejected intellectual property barriers posted for the benefit of large drug companies.

Other stumbling blocks concern major industries. For example, the U.S. won’t open up its sugar trade. Japan wants to limit access to its rice markets. New Zealand is seeking lower tariffs for the Canadian dairy market. Japanese carmakers want to continue to source auto parts from non-TPP countries like Thailand, but Mexico and Canada want that supply chain to end.

Japan’s economic minister said talks should resume in late August, but other media outlets claimed they wouldn’t until November. The discrepancy can be explained by news out of Ottawa this weekend: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called elections for October 19, and with important implications in TPP for Canadian dairy farms and beloved state-run enterprises like the CBC and Canada Post (both of which may have to be privatized under the agreement), he would not want to ignite controversy by signing a major trade deal in the middle of the campaign. The chance of August negotiations is made more remote by polls showing the Canadian electorate ready for a change.

If TPP talks don’t restart until November, the timeline slides into elections in the U.S., exactly what President Obama had been trying to avoid. Under fast-track rules, the government must publish the complete text of any trade agreement 60 days before signing. So even completion of TPP in November – and there’s no guarantee of that – would mean that signing wouldn’t take place until next January. And after that, there are reporting requirements that must take place before the White House can introduce the bill in Congress, which could mean another delay of at least 90 days. At that point, Congress has 90 session days to act on the implementing legislation.

So you’re talking about a series of TPP votes in Congress right in the middle of both the presidential race and Congressional primaries, a distasteful scenario for members who don’t want to draw an angry challenger because of their trade vote.

The White House would have been thrilled to get TPP done in the dead of winter, preferably over the holidays while everyone was consumed with tree-trimming and shopping. But that’s not going to happen now, which could lead the U.S. to shut down TPP completion until after the 2016 elections. And when you’re dealing with 12 countries, it’s hard to find a sweet spot for a trade deal you can’t sell at home and would rather hide from the public. Australia must hold elections by January 2017. New Zealand will vote in the fall of 2017. And there are local and regional elections throughout this time.

(E)xtending the clock adds a bit of unpredictability into a process with a heretofore more predictable ending. What if a change in leadership in Canada causes them to bolt from the agreement? What if Hillary Clinton, worried by the Sanders juggernaut, makes a public vow to stop TPP? What if labor succeeds in picking off a couple Congress members who voted for fast track? What if Australia or New Zealand walk away over the pressure to change their pharmaceutical rules or the controversial investor-state dispute settlement process?

A lot can happen over the next several months, or potentially years. And the loss of momentum for TPP could rebound to the other trade agreements the Administration wants to finish, like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and Europe, or the massive 51-nation Trade in Services Agreement.

This is what happens when world leaders try to make deals they know their populations will detest. Apparently the last threads of democracy remaining are strong enough that, sooner or later, these same leaders must stand before their people and defend gutting regulations, selling out their sovereignty and benefiting multinational corporations instead of the public. It’s apparently hard to find a good time to do that.

I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!

U. Of Cincinnati Shooting Puts Spotlight on Campus Police

Associated Press

JULY 31, 2015, 3:58 P.M. E.D.T.

It would be a mistake to shutter the university police department, Ono said.

“You need to have a knowledge of how to interact with students. There are many different issues and federal guidelines that have to be followed that are very specific to campus policing,” he said in an interview, adding that municipal and campus police work closely together. “Sometimes UC police and Cincinnati police ride together in a car. They collaborate to help each other out. It really brings crime down generally.”

There’s also an expectation among parents and students that university police should be responsible for safety off campus.

“We’re getting pushed to ignore those imaginary lines on the map,” Jeff Corcoran, then the interim chief of the University of Cincinnati police, told The Associated Press in an interview last year.


The Breakfast Club (Dream a Little Dream)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Nazi police arrest Anne Frank and family; Britain declares war on Germany in World War I; Three civil rights workers found slain in Mississippi; The Bordens axed to death; Jazz great Louis Armstrong born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Anne Frank

On This Day In History August 4

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.

Click on images to enlarge

August 4 is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 149 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

On Junr 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day–June 21–the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Yes Sensei!)


We will play in Spades

This week’s guests-

Thursday is of course Jon Stewart’s last episode as host.

I like Amy Schumer.

Yes Sensei!

Oh yeah, therapy and Oprah.  Well, I’m in therapy with a wonderful person who has made me much more positive and less confrontational unlike other bloggers I could name (Armando).

Actually I kind of like him but really, whining about hide rates?  Show a little dignity dude.  I am permanently and definitively banned, not by some auto hide rate system but by the personal action of Meteor Blades who had to break all the rules (rules?  Hah!) to do it.

Denise, you’re still a rapist apologist and Blade- you’re a disappointing sellout, a whore to corporatists and Plutocrats.

Yes, I feel MUCH better now.

Amy is in fact the cousin of Chuck who is probably as embarrassed as can be about the fact she’s perceived as the bluest female comic performing today.  Among the things she will be talking about is tighter gun control in the wake of the tragic shootings at her new film Trainwreck.

Oh, it’s not her best work.  In the end the damsel gets saved by a guy, rent Frozen instead.

Man Bites Dog

You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

Oh, and Dirk Benedict is a neighbor and he likes to be remembered for his role as ‘Face’.

Our panelists tonightly will be Julie Klausner, Rory Albanese, and Deon Cole.

The real news below.