The OB Media Rundown for 6/15/12

Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises

A critical document from President Barack Obama’s free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.
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The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

Campaign cash is the gift that keeps on giving

Look at the Wisconsin recall campaign of Republican Gov. Scott Walker. At least 14 billionaires rushed to the support of the corporate right’s favorite union basher. He outraised his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by nearly 8-to-1. Most of his money came from out of state. More than $60 million was spent, $45 million of it for Walker alone.
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These are the people who are helping to fund what the journalist Joe Hagan describes as a “tsunami of slime.” Even as they and their chosen candidates are afforded respectability in the value-free world of plutocracy, they can hide the fingerprints they leave on the bleeding corpse of democracy in part because each super PAC comes with that extra special something every politician craves: plausible deniability. When one of their ads says something nasty and deceitful about an opponent – when it slanders and lies – the pol can shrug and say: “Not my doing. It’s the super PAC that’s slinging the mud, not me.”

Coming weeks may prove crucial to world’s faltering economies

The U.S. economy is stumbling, the global economy is slowing and the next few weeks are likely to be crucial in determining the pace of business activity for everyone from Boston to San Francisco, Beijing to Sao Paulo.

Finance Jobs Still Appeal to Graduates at Dartmouth

Wall Street’s allure may have dimmed for some of America’s sharpest young minds in recent years, but a quick look at the top of Dartmouth College’s class of 2012 shows that the appeal seems to remain strong. At its commencement on Sunday, Dartmouth recognized four valedictorians who graduated with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. Three are headed to work on Wall Street at major investment banks, and one will go to the giant business consulting firm that advises them.

The Cult of Smartness: How Meritocracy Is Failing America

In an engrossing passage from Twilight of the Elites, a new book about the American meritocracy and its failures, author Chris Hayes directs our attention to an all but forgotten moment in 2009, when debate raged about who President Obama should appoint to a Supreme Court vacancy. Sonia Sotomayor was widely thought to be on his short list. But various liberal commentators, including The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen and Harvard’s Laurence Tribe, argued that she should be passed over for alternative candidates who they regarded as observably smarter. “Keep in mind the person under discussion is someone who, from humble beginnings in the Bronx, had gained entry to Princeton, graduated summa cum laude, and gone on to Yale Law, where she edited the Yale Law Journal,” Hayes observed. “She had checked off every box on the to-do list of meritocratic achievement. Apparently it wasn’t enough.”

In his telling, that’s one example of the “Cult of Smartness” that has taken hold in American life, a pathology characterized by the mistaken assumption that intelligence is an ordinal quality — that it is possible for observers to accurately rank intelligent people in order from most  to least smart, and that the right person for a job is always the one deemed smartest. “While smartness is necessary for competent elites,” Hayes retorts, “it is far from sufficient: wisdom, judgment, empathy, and ethical rigor are all as important, even if those traits are far less valued.”

Washington vs. the middle class

Government workers are being purged, adding to the unemployment rolls. Yet it seems this is what people want.

You can feel the tide turning as those stung by the globalized economy (manufacturing workers, for example) turn on their brothers and sisters in the tax-fueled economy that is the government payroll. Voters are saying, “How dare they get raises and a good retirement!” instead of asking why the rest of us don’t.

But this is a scorched-earth approach, focusing on what we can take away from others instead of how to make things better for everyone. We’re talking reallocation of resources, not fresh growth or new jobs. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney illustrated this view with his own gaffe, complaining that Obama wants “more firemen, more policemen and more teachers.”

Occupy the Court: Bishop, protesters defend entering lot

On Monday the first mass trial of a group of Occupy Wall Street defendants who tried to take over a privately owned space in Duarte Square last year began in Manhattan Supreme Court. If the line of people waiting to get in was any indication, the nine-month-old O.W.S. movement can still draw a standing-room-only crowd.

The defendants were some of the dozens arrested last Dec. 17, a month after O.W.S.’s eviction from Zuccotti Park. Half of the 20 defendants in this particular group had already had their cases adjourned or charges dropped entirely.

Eight stood ready to go to trial on Monday morning. Charges for most of those who entered the lot included trespassing and criminal mischief.

Holland [MI] pastor wants judge to throw out tresspassing charge for ‘occupying’ City Hall

The pastor of a Holland church wants a judge to throw out trespassing charges against him, stemming from his attempt to “occupy” City Hall to protest the city’s refusal to expand its anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Rev. Bill Freeman, of Interfaith Congregation, will ask 58th District Court Judge Susan Jonas on Monday to dismiss the trespassing charge, citing his First Amendment right to free speech. Freeman was arrested last October after he refused to leave City Hall following a City Council meeting.

“Each one of us has the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the freedom to peaceably assemble and to associate with others to express our grievances to the government,” Freeman said. “That’s all I was trying to do. I wasn’t trying to trespass.”

Boulder [CO] city manager recommends protest permits over parks board objections

Boulder officials want to move forward with new rules that would require protesters to get a permit from the city manager, unless there are fewer than 25 demonstrators and they stay in a designated “advocacy area.”

A draft version of the ordinance was unanimously rejected by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board earlier this year. Members of the board didn’t understand the need for the ordinance and worried that it would suppress spontaneous demonstrations in response to news events.

Occupy Delaware protests outside bank

Members of Occupy Delaware staged a protest this morning outside the Chase building on Walnut Street in Wilmington.

About 10 protesters held signs and acted out a play to show their disdain with what they said was “gambling” with citizens’ money by elected officials and banks.

The theatrical protest over banks’ “addiction to derivatives” included stand-ins for elected officials including Vice President Joe Biden.

Hundreds Rally to Fight for Philadelphia Public Schools, Privatization Plan Delayed, maybe Derailed


Undocumented students occupy Obama’s Oakland headquarters

A group of undocumented immigrants has occupied President Barack Obama’s campaign office in downtown Oakland, refusing to leave until his administration stops deporting students.

“We’re going to stay here as long as we can,” said Luis Serrano, 24, speaking by cell phone Thursday evening from inside the Telegraph Avenue storefront where he and other students were staging a sit-in.

Oakland police faulted for handling of Occupy

Longstanding problems in the Oakland Police Department led to a botched response to Occupy Wall Street protests last year, according to the findings of an independent review of the events conducted at the city’s request and released on Thursday.

The review also raised concerns about the quality and breadth of a criminal investigation into police officers who fired tear gas and stun grenades at Occupy protesters, which critically injured an Iraq war veteran.

‘Occupy’ march leads to 4 arrests [NY]

Four members of Occupy Albany were arrested Wednesday night as protesters clogged Lark Street while marching from Central Avenue toward downtown Albany, police said.
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The incident unfolded around 8:15 p.m. as the anti-corporate movement left Townsend Park after a brief rally. The demonstrators had gathered in a solidarity march for the thousands of students in Quebec who have been protesting massive tuition hikes. The Occupy Albany members – roughly 40 gathered in the park Wednesday – planned to march from the park to the State University at Albany administration building on Broadway.

Debt crisis in the UK: More bailout money for banks to tackle ‘worst crisis since second world war’

Sir Mervyn King has announced emergency measures to help banks and boost business lending after a warning from George Osborne that the “debt storm” raging on the continent had left the UK and the rest of Europe facing their most serious economic crisis outside wartime.

In a joint proposal between the Bank of England and the Treasury, banks will receive cut-price funds provided they pass on the benefits to their business customers.

Greek leftist Tsipras slams bailout, vows to keep euro

The head of Greece’s leftist SYRIZA party promised on Thursday to rip up the conditions attached to the international bailout agreement but keep Greece in the euro zone after an election on Sunday that could decide the fate of the single currency.

“The memorandum of bankruptcy will belong to the past on Monday,” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tspiras, said in his last campaign rally in Athens before the June 17 election.

Thousands of flag-waving supporters filled the area around Omonoia square which has degenerated over the years from one of the ornaments of central Athens into a grimy area scarred by crime and poverty.

Protesters occupy Canadian mine in Bolivia

Farmers and mine workers have forcibly occupied Canada-based South American Silver’s Malku Khota mine in Bolivia, the company said Wednesday, as the group pushed for La Paz to take over the mine.

“They arrived with explosives and people were forced to flee into the mountains. We’ve stayed up all night hoping for news,” mine operations chief Fernando Caceres told local broadcaster ATB.

The occupiers moved in late Tuesday to take over the mine, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) south of the capital La Paz, and had assumed control by Wednesday morning. No one was injured in the incident.

Spain’s ‘indignants” fight crisis with food aid

Spain’s “indignant” protesters against economic injustice, who once inspired a global uprising, seem to have vanished from the headlines right at the peak of a financial crisis.

But that does not mean they have given up.

In fact, far from the public squares they once occupied in their tens of thousands in a blaze of publicity, the “indignants” are building an extraordinary street-level network to help those hardest hit by economic hardship.

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