By Doug Porter
Representatives of the United States and eleven other Pacific Rim nations are gathered in Auckland, New Zealand this week for discussions and a largely symbolic signing ceremony of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Activists around the world have been staging protests to drive home the point that reshaping international trade cannot be limited to protecting the interests of transnational corporations and their investors.
Events in San Diego, Los Angeles and other cities will echo the Capitol Hill appearance of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, joining with MoveOn.org to deliver 1 million petitions calling on Congress to reject the agreement. Protests at the signing ceremony in New Zealand are expect to be muted, given the efforts by local police to visit “known activists” in recent weeks.
The deal still has to be ratified by at least six of its member nations, a process that can take up to two years and must include Japan and the United States. In the US, ratification has been (unofficially) put off until after the November elections meaning it will be voted on by a lame-duck congress. Under the terms of the TPA Fast-track legislation, a yes or no vote with no amendments allowed must take place within 90 days of its introduction in the congress.
Here’s a recap on the potential impact of TPP on 2016 elections from the American Prospect:
Members of Congress, especially those up for re-election this year, do not relish that scenario. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, told NPR this month, “As Trent Lott used to say, you don’t vote on a trade agreement in an even-numbered year.” Translation: Corporate-friendly trade deals that ship jobs overseas don’t tend to sit well with voters. Even lawmakers who support free trade would rather not trumpet that fact at election time.
Indeed, all the highest-profile candidates for president—Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the right and Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on the left— have publicly opposed TPP. While such promises may not amount to much—then-candidate Barack Obama vowed to oppose trade deals in the mold of TPP when he ran for office in 2008—they complicate prospects for approval in Congress. This administration readily acknowledges that TPP is not a slam dunk on Capitol Hill. And by the time the next administration takes over—even if Obama’s successor reverses course and endorses the pact—public support for TPP may sink even lower, and other countries may pull out or force a renegotiation.
In fact, the argument for ratification is getting steadily weaker. The first two economic analyses of the agreement, which the administration wants to use to bolster its case, drew fire as misleading and incomplete.
Alfred de Zayas, a U.N. independent expert on democratic international order, warned world leaders in the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership yesterday against signing the trade pact without being able to guarantee human rights and environmental commitments within the framework of the deal.
“The TPP is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States,” said Zayas, “The TPP is based on an old model of trade agreements that is out of step with today’s international human rights regime.”
Drug Crazed Rabbits Missing in Action
“The deforestation has left marijuana grows with even rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana,” Fairbanks warned, “where one of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone.”
It’s easy to sympathize with the disbelief the rabbit must have experienced in that situation. Ganja aficionados easily latched on to the bit as yet another federal fear-mongering tactic against growing widespread acceptance. For one, the bill originated with Republican Utah State Senator Mark Madsen, who introduced the bill after his own experience using cannabis instead of prescription opioids for ongoing back problems.
In this clash between state and federal views of marijuana legalization, the DEA often serves as the mouthpiece of the government’s interests. Or, as Agent Fairbanks put it …‘I come to represent the actual science.’
Doing what they do best, MuckRock filed a FOIA request shortly after the hearing looking to discover any of the science or data supporting concerns that “Utah’s new post-legalization weedscape would be overrun by high rabbits.”
The DEA has responded… And surprise, surprise, surprise! There are no responsive records.
So that leads us to the headline used by Muckrock: Weeding out the truth: No substance to DEA’s claims of pot-crazed bunnies
Bad Times for School Board Trustees in San Diego and Escondido
San Diego Unified School District trustee Marne Foster and Escondido Union School District trustee José Fragozo are both mentioned in the news today. And not in a good way.
Foster has tendered her resignation to the SDUSD board, following a plea agreement with the county district attorney. She copped to one misdemeanor charge of receiving financial gifts over the legal limit. Foster faces three years of probation, 120 hours of community service, restitution of the $3,487 gift, and is barred from running for elected office for four years.
From Voice of San Diego:
No other charges were formally filed against Foster, and the DA’s office agreed not to pursue charges in the future on the allegations that plagued Foster since 2014. The school district could take further action, though Foster’s defense attorney Adam Gordon said he didn’t anticipate it doing so, since she had resigned…
…[Deputy District Attorney] Schorr said the DA’s office accepted the deal after considering the effect a “long, drawn-out” trial would have on the district.
Neither would discuss what other charges might have been associated with other allegations against Foster.
“This isn’t getting off easy,” Schorr said. “This is a major, major life hit for her.”
Controversy has swirled around trustee Foster for the past couple of years, beginning with charges that she was responsible for the removal of a principal at a school attended by her son. My daughter happened to attend the school in question, and I wrote about it in July 2014.
The Voice and Viewpoint newspaper defended Foster in a December 2015 editorial, saying she was being lynched by the media in San Diego.
Meanwhile, up in the north county, embattled EUSD trustee Jose Manuel Fragozo has been charged with 13 felonies associated with allegations that he misrepresented his place of residence to get elected.
Fragozo issued a press release denying any criminal wrongdoing, calling upon the school district to stop wasting public resources on frivolous, unfounded judicial actions.
The EUSD board majority is wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to date on judicial actions against me, even mailing libelous letters to 20,000 parents and staff. Our schools are severely underperforming and failing our English learners. Our infrastructure is broken; there are 491 portable buildings, some more than 20 years old as well as electrical/plumbing/safety issues that plague our students and their parents. The community is outraged by this attempt to distract parents from these severe problems facing the district.”
District administrators have harassed Fragozo with what many say are sham judicial maneuvers such as such as unproven allegations of threatening behavior against the district superintendent and staff, and now, the investigation into whether his district residence fully conforms to state law.
It is no coincidence that the same people initiated the temporary restraining order, the internal investigation, and the residency investigation.
From the Union-Tribune:
The charges add to the tumult surrounding Fragozo’s service on the board. In December, he was hit with a temporary workplace violence restraining order after district administrators said they felt threatened by his behavior, which they described as loud and “bullying.”
District officials said they would not comment on the charges related to Fragozo’s residency.
“I’m not in a position to comment what the DA has done,” said Superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra, who filed for the temporary restraining order. “They have their own investigation and I can respect that.”
Last week, Superior Court Judge Richard Whitney extended the restraining order against Fragozo until Feb. 9, at which point the hearing will resume and Whitney could issue a ruling.
Fragozo was slated to become the EUSD’s first Latino president in 2016. A 20-year-old policy of rotating those duties was changed by the board last fall, preventing him from assuming the position.
On This Day: 1941 – The Supreme Court upheld the Wages and Hours (later Fair Labor Standards) Act banning child labor and establishing the 40-hour work week. 1947 – Percival Prattis became the first black news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate press gallery in Washington, DC. He worked for “Our World” in New York City. 1959 – Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson died in a plane crash in Iowa.
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