By Doug Porter
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have set a Friday deadline for a vote on a bill giving the President fast-track authority on commercial treaties currently being negotiated.
The legislation would allow the executive branch to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments was passed by the Senate last month. President Obama has said he wants to complete a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and send it for approval under that procedure.
House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have reportedly agreed to replace a plan, opposed by Democrats, that would have funded some trade programs with about $700 million in Medicare cuts.
The measure has created unusual bedfellows, with most Republicans backing a president they normally loathe. Supporters say the proposed trade measures would help U.S. workers and set rules for the global economy.
The legacies of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement and widespread concern over the deep involvement of corporate interests in closed-door negotiations for agreements under consideration have galvanized the US labor movement in opposition.
Since March, unions and affiliated groups have organized more than 650 events around the country against fast track. Labor groups have have made 2 million phone calls to union members warning against fast track, generating more than 161,000 phone calls, along with nearly 18,000 handwritten letters to Members of Congress and gathering more than 40,000 petition signatures. Digital advertisements targeting dozens of Members of Congress have made more than 25 million impressions.
Locally the focus has been on Reps. Scott Peters and Susan Davis, both of whom remain officially uncommitted on the legislation.
The Associated Press interviewed San Diegan Gretchen Newsome, with Local 569 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), asking her about reports President Obama was exchanging political favors for ‘yes’ votes:
We think his actions are offensive and wrong. Leading environmental groups, the California Democratic Party, worker rights advocates and unions are all opposed to Fast Track and the TPP on the grounds that it undermines the democratic process and would be devastating to working families and the environment. Asking our Congressman – Scott Peters – to stand against us proves how disconnected the White House is with what’s happening on the ground in San Diego. Further – one wins re-election with support from communities and by developing strong relationships with voters – not by receiving a celebrity endorsement.
Yesterday WikiLeaks published the Healthcare Annex to the secret draft “Transparency” Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, along with each country’s negotiating position. The Healthcare Annex concerns regulations for medicines and medical devices.
To nobody’s surprise, the Wikileaks analysis concludes:
“It forces healthcare authorities to give big pharmaceutical companies more information about national decisions on public access to medicine, and grants corporations greater powers to challenge decisions they perceive as harmful to their interests.”
WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said in a statement yesterday:
“It is a mistake to think of the TPP as a single treaty. In reality there are three conjoined mega-agreements, the TiSA, the TPP and the TTIP, all of which strategically assemble into a grand unified treaty, partitioning the world into the west versus the rest. This ‘Great Treaty’ is described by the Pentagon as the economic core to the U.S. military’s ‘Asia Pivot.’ The architects are aiming no lower than the arc of history. The Great Treaty is taking shape in complete secrecy, because along with its undebated geostrategic ambitions it locks into place an aggressive new form of transnational corporatism for which there is little public support.”
Vaccination Bill Clears Committee
Senate Bill 277, mandating full vaccination for school children made it through the Assembly Health Committee on a 12-6 vote Tuesday following a contentious hearing in the state capital.
From the Sacramento Bee:
The measure has galvanized constituents like few other bills. Parents from around the state have journeyed to Sacramento to condemn SB 277 at each hearing. They again packed two floors of the Assembly’s spacious Room 4202 on Tuesday, hissing at testimony they disputed and interrupting with derisive laughter when Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento said his bill was “about freedom” from diseases. One woman was removed after screaming over lawmakers, shouting about seeing her son “on the floor, seizing.”
Supporters of the legislation have complained about stalking and threats from opponents, who claim the issue intrudes on their freedoms.
Again, from the Bee:
Before the hearing, hundreds of opponents gathered for a rally on the Capitol steps and cheered raucously for a group of Republican lawmakers urging them on. It was the most public instance yet of legislators joining advocates to speak against the measure.
“This bill, in my opinion, is not vaccines,” Assemblyman Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, told attendees. “It is about combating an overreaching government that is infringing on our constitutional rights.”
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, invoked “concentration camps” and “internment camps” in suggesting non-vaccinated children would be set apart by not being allowed to attend school.
From NBC7’s coverage:
The bill would eliminate the personal belief exemption that allows parents to send their unvaccinated children to school. Students who cannot be immunized because of medical problems can still attend, while others must be home-schooled.
If the bill becomes law, California would join Mississippi and West Virginia as the only states with such strict requirements.
“SB277 is about freedom,” said Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, one of the bill’s authors. “Freedom from deadly, crippling contagions that are now preventable through the science of vaccination.”
I hate big pharma about as much as anybody can. I recognize that we’re not far removed from the days when blood letting and electroshock therapy were accepted medical practices.
But until such time as I see evidence –not anecdotes– to the contrary, I say the vaccines should be required to attend public school. The evidence that they work is clear; we no longer have epidemics of those diseases throughout the country. And as far as the “nazi” and “concentration camp references” go, I say try spending a few weeks in Ferguson, Missouri as a person of color before you complain about oppression.
Speaking Up on Policing the Police
Kelly Davis’ report over at Voice of San Diego on proposals to overhaul to the citizen watchdog group that monitors the San Diego Police Department is worth a read.
Changes to the City Charter could result in a Citizen’s Review Board with some actual power, as opposed to the toothless, underfunded and understaffed status quo, which can hardly be bothered to utter anything critical.
Or, perhaps it’s just that the SDPD are perfect. Except there are several million dollars in out-of-court settlements suggesting otherwise.
A coalition of activist groups including the Black Student Justice Coalition, Women Occupy San Diego and United Against Police Terror San Diego is urging people to attend a city council hearing on Thursday, June 11 (6pm, 202 “C” Street, 12th Floor) to demand reform for the San Diego Citizens Review Board on Police Practices.
From their Facebook page:
We have a real chance of getting an independent Community Review Board with subpoena powers – SHOW UP to support this call for reform!
Reforming the CRB will provide SD with a truly effective Review Board on Police Practices. Sign up to SUPPORT our Agenda Item or just come and hold a small sign that will be provided – show the council that this matters to the people of San Diego.
Our coalition recommends that the Charter Review Committee adopt the model of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB), empowered by the voters in 1990 by passing Proposition A.
City Charter reforms essential to the effective functioning of civilian and community oversight of the SDPD include:
- Independent investigators and subpoena power, as provided to the San Diego County Law Enforcement Review Board by the voters in 1990 (Proposition A).
- Intake, tracking and review of all complaints filed is done by the CRB rather than by SDPD Internal Affairs, also as modeled by the San Diego County Law Enforcement Review Board approved by the voters in 1990.
Our coalition additionally recommends that the Charter Review Committee make two further revisions to the City Charter to reinforce the community-based nature of independent police oversight:
- Change the name from “Citizens Review Board” to “COMMUNITY Review Board”.
- Have the Members of this Community Review Board on Police Practices appointed by the representatives elected in the 9 City Council Districts – 2 per District. Plus 1 appointee by the Mayor.
This Charter Revision would provide the residents of San Diego County with a consistent civilian review process for law enforcement throughout much of the County, since the CLERB has jurisdiction over the 9 cities that contract with the County Sheriff for law enforcement, as well as the unincorporated County, jails, and probation/parole services.
Yesterday’s News UPDATE #1- Mazel tov to inewsource
The non-profit KBPS-affiliated inewsource group has its records in Sacramento up to date and is no longer listed as delinquent. Yesterday I reported on the apparent hypocrisy of their coverage critical of non-compliant non-profits represented by attorney Cory Briggs in lawsuits against the city of San Diego. (h/t KS)
Yesterday’s News UPDATE #2: County Punts on Speech Permits
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors kicked the can down the road to July 21st yesterday, following criticism of regulations purporting to regulate free speech activities in the park surrounding the County Administration Center.
After some discussion, the supervisors decided more time was needed to review the proposal and make changes before going to a vote.
A report by county staff says the park, since opening last year, has become a popular venue for people who wish to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech. They gravitate to the busier sections of the park, like recreational areas and walkways.
On This Day: 1924 – The Republican National Convention was broadcast by NBC radio. It was the first political convention to be on radio. 1946 – The Supreme Court ruled in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. that preliminary work activities, where controlled by the employer and performed entirely for the employer’s benefit, are properly included as working time. The decision is known as the “portal to portal case” 1966 – Janis Joplin debuted on stage at the Avalon ballroom in San Francisco.
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