Archive for International
Pope Francis last week issued Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel, an “apostolic exhortation.” Less than an encyclical on church doctrine, Evangelii Gaudium nonetheless stamps papal authority across Francis’ recent speeches. The National Catholic Reporter likened it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For conservative pundits it’s more of a nightmare:
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. 
Commenters looking for moral wiggle room at Free Republic debated the accuracy of the translation — not of the whole document, just the passage above. A National Review critic argued that nobody said markets were sufficient to bring down poverty. Still, people working sweat shop jobs in developing nations are less impoverished. Those who lost jobs in this hemisphere? Well, those are the breaks.
Wikileaks press release this week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and its Intellectual Property provisions draft:
Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states…
In the words of WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange, “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons. If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”
Once again, very serious people are warning Americans that it would embolden our enemies if the United States doesn’t make some foreign rubble dance. Syrian rubble this time. Seems like just yesterday they were debating whether leaving Iraq would embolden our enemies. It’s a phrase that if you don’t think too hard sounds like common sense, end of discussion. That’s why it’s flung around so freely — to shut down debate.
Somehow, every time a foreign military conflict arises, bombing something seems to be the Washington cocktail circuit’s default position. We don’t want to attack, of course. Our enemies force our hand. Because if we don’t intervene, bad guys will be emboldened. Thus, the Ledeen Doctrine (for neocon pundit Michael Ledeen): “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”
“This is a textbook case of how corporations attempt to influence our democracy, election after election. No. Seriously. They have a textbook.”
If we can help Boulder succeed, whose town gets helped next?
From your friends at Upworthy:
The MSM has spent weeks focused on whistleblower Edward Snowden’s character rather than whether government intelligance services should be engaged in the massive data hoovering Snowden revealed to the press. There’s quite a media circus around the affair. Digby spent some time focusing on the clowns.
Spencer Ackerman has a good piece in the Guardian about this cavalier accusation among some of our leaders, both in government and in the political press, that Edward Snowden has been actively aiding “the enemy.” He specifically discusses something that I’ve been wondering about as well — what’s the difference between a whistleblower and a spy? (Or if you prefer, a leaker and a spy.)
Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kansas), Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Peter King (R-New York) condemn Snowden for providing intelligence to America’s adversaries. Rogers’ Twitter account, writes Ackerman, even likened him to “Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, two infamous CIA and FBI double-agents.” King called him a “defector.” A “senior administration official” questioned Snowden’s motives for consorting with “China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.” Ackerman concludes:
Melissa Harris Perry’s panel analyzes corporate taxes and overseas tax havens. Tech and pharma leeching off the American taxpayer’s largesse.
Kudos to the doggedly determined Tom Burnet, who’s been pushing for an improvement to Beecham’s Curve for going on ten years. The weird 90-degree on Haywood Road has been a confunction for as long as anyone can remember, and it’ll soon be home to a great little traffic light. Without Burnet’s efforts, NCDOT wouldn’t have had a plan ready to go.
Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will be appointed by President Obama to be the next US Secretary of Transportation. I’m guessing this’ll change the way the NC General Assembly approaches seizing Charlotte’s airport. If all goes well, it may affect the way our own airport situation unfolds. Due to shoddy bill drafting, the transfer of the asset from Asheville to an independent authority is held up by the Federal Aviation Administration. Some would like to blame Asheville for “foot dragging”, but the fault lies in a poorly written piece of legislation. Secretary Foxx might want to have a look at it.
Speaking of transportation, that guy who’s been holding out on selling land to connect French Broad River Park with Carrier Park has finally struck a deal with the city. This is an important connection, and it brings us one step closer to the multimodal transportation network we need in order to provide affordable transportation options as well as economic development. Y’all know the Swamp Rabbit Trail down in Greenville? “A scholarly study in 2012 estimated that more than 350,000 people annually used the trail and that area businesses increased their sales from 30 to 85%”.
As we await Art Pope’s tax plan for North Carolina, keep this in mind: “Families with moderate and low incomes pay more sales and property taxes, as a share of their incomes, than higher-income families because they spend a higher proportion of their earnings on taxable goods and housing. Thus, increased sales and property taxes would shift a larger share of the responsibility for paying for schools, health care, and other services onto those with relatively less ability to afford it.”
We’re also moving toward the end of public education as we know it, with your tax dollars funding the shift.
“Senate Bill 337 and a parallel bill in the House would strip the State Board of Education of its responsibility for overseeing charter schools and set up an 11-member governing board mostly of charter school advocates appointed by the governor and the legislature.”
Since the board would not be bound by conflict of interest laws, members would include profit-making charter school operators who would then be in a position to shape policies favoring their own private economic interests, including the blocking of applications from potential competitors.
The legislation would allow charters to hire fewer teachers with professional credentials – scoffing at the concept of teacher professionalism that has been a point of pride among successful charter schools. It would further jeopardize the status of teachers who, thanks to the Republican legislature, are already staring at the loss of tenure, shorter contracts and fewer teaching assistants.
In addition to disenfranchising college students, the elderly, and minorities, the NCGOP’s voter suppression efforts will also smack NC’s transgendered citizens in the face: “Some transgender citizens might present poll workers with IDs that do not match their current gender, and poll workers could decide that the ID does not pass muster. Those citizens would not have their votes counted.”
In the aftermath of the Bangladesh garment factory disaster, Matthew Yglesias caught a world of criticism for these comments in Slate:
It’s very plausible that one reason American workplaces have gotten safer over the decades is that we now tend to outsource a lot of factory-explosion-risk to places like Bangladesh where 87 people just died in a building collapse.* This kind of consideration leads Erik Loomis to the conclusion that we need a unified global standard for safety…
I think that’s wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.
The reason is that while having a safe job is good, money is also good [and] in a free society it’s good that different people are able to make different choices on the risk–reward spectrum.
Yglesias ignited a firestorm. But targeting him or any individual actor for similar comments misses a larger point.