Late Night FDL: Shaking The Tree

Peter Gabriel – Shaking The Tree

Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Sting, and others are contributing to the Dalai Lama’s latest tribute album, The Art Of Peace: Songs For Tibet II…

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush are among artists contributing tracks to an album that marks the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama.

They’ll appear on The Art Of Peace: Songs For Tibet II, alongside Elbow, Sting and others to be announced.

The Art Of Peace Foundation have set up a PledgeMusic campaign to support the release, which follows Grammy-nominated 2008 title Songs For Tibet: The Art Of Peace. It’s being produced and musically directed by Rupert Hine, who oversaw the original release.

The foundation says: “The Dalai Lama is a unique beacon of wisdom and insight for millions throughout the world.

“He turns 80 on July 6. To recognise this milestone, the foundation is producing an album to honour his vision of compassion, non-violence and peace.”

Proceeds from sales will go towards the preservation and promotion of Tibetan culture.

What’s on your mind onite…?

Plan B: Ditch Help For Workers, Just Get Corporations What They Want

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) have hatched a plan to muscle through Fast Track for President Obama. But there is no guarantee their plan will work.

As a new GOP-led approach to approving Fast Track authority on behalf of the Obama administration materializes, the process itself signals just how noxious the contents of deals like the TPP must be

By Jon Queally

Legislative maneuvering around Trade Promotion Authority (TPA or Fast Track) continued late Tuesday, as GOP leaders in Congress, the Obama administration, and a handful of anti-democracy Democrats hatched a plan to hold a straight vote on Fast Track—handing the White House the authority it wants to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership and other pending corporate-friendly agreements—while separating out a provision offering assistance to workers displaced by future trade deals.

It’s not a simple or guaranteed path forward for Fast Track, but Politico explained the GOP leadership’s latest approach this way:

Under the emerging plan, the House would vote on a bill that would give Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a sweeping trade deal with Pacific Rim countries, sending it to the Senate for final approval. To alleviate Democratic concerns, the Senate then would amend a separate bill on trade preferences to include Trade Adjustment Assistance, a worker aid program that Republicans oppose but that House Democrats have blocked to gain leverage in the negotiations over fast-track.

The leaders’ behind-the-scenes machinations are an attempt to allow both bills — TAA and the fast-track measure known as Trade Promotion Authority — to move to Obama’s desk separately, sidestepping the objections of House Democrats that stalled the package last week. The idea, which has been discussed among top congressional leaders and the White House, would be tantamount to a dare to pro-trade Democrats in both chambers to vote it down.

The plans are fluid and could change. But multiple congressional leaders, speaking anonymously to candidly describe their strategy, said they felt this was the only hope to reverse the trade package’s flagging fortunes.

The big question in the House remains how many of the 28 House Democrats who voted for Fast Track when the worker assistance program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), was on the table would do so now that it’s been taken off. But even if the GOP-controlled House does pass a clean Fast Track bill, the path in the Senate is not likely to be smooth sailing. As The Hill notes, when the Senate approved Fast Track it included “both programs, and the support from 14 Democrats in the upper chamber hinged in part on that fact.”

And according to the Huffington Post:

As rumors swirled about Boehner being ready to move forward with a stand-alone TPA bill, House Democrats called for an emergency caucus meeting on Wednesday morning, where pro-TPA Democrats were expected to try to garner support for the Republican strategy. That meeting was abruptly canceled late Tuesday, after the House Rules Committee opted not to line up a floor vote on a clean fast-track bill. A committee aide said the panel had no plans to meet again this week to take up TPA.

Despite the committee’s punt on Tuesday, House Republican leaders appear ready to push through a clean TPA bill. Their latest strategy, according to Democratic and Republican aides, is to pass the clean bill and send it to the Senate, where lawmakers would then attach TAA to a separate trade bill for African countries, the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The strategy behind that approach would be to convince members of the Congressional Black Caucus to support TAA this time around, since the controversial funding would then be tied to AGOA.

If House Republicans do pursue a stand-alone TPA bill, it won’t necessarily make matters better for the president’s agenda. Passing a clean bill would be far more difficult in the Senate. Obama has vowed to veto a fast-track bill unless TAA is also passed or attached, and passing a clean bill would be far more difficult in the Senate.

Sen. McConnell, President Obama, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have been discussing their options since the defeat last Friday, but it was McConnell on Tuesday who expressed the most optimism that Fast Track could still become law in the coming weeks.

“The Speaker and I have spoken with the president about the way forward on trade,” McConnell told reporters. “It’s still my hope that we can achieve what we’ve set out to achieve together, which is to get a six-year trade promotion authority bill in place that will advantage the next occupant of the White House as well as this one.”

Critics of both the TPP and Fast Track point out that machinations necessary to get them passed through Congress bodes poorly for the contents of the corporate-friendly agreements themselves. As David Morris, executive director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, argued in a piece at Common Dreams on Tuesday, the whole process stinks of an anti-democratic culture in which the contents of so-called “free trade” deals are being actively kept secret from the people—even as lawmakers jump through procedural hoop after procedural hoop in order for multinational corporations to get what they want. Moving forward, hope opponents, Congress should consider how the process has eclipsed substantive debate over the trade agenda’s wide-ranging implications for public health, the environment, and workers’ rights. According to Morris:

We the people would like it to be as transparent and democratic as possible. Public opinion consistently favors trade but just as consistently solidly opposes fast track. We oppose the remarkable, indeed unprecedented secrecy in which the trade pact has been drafted and the inability of the average citizen, unlike giant corporations, to play a part in that drafting. We condemn the prohibition against changing the document in any way after submission.

And perhaps most of all we are furious about fast track’s foreclosure of extensive and intensive debate on a complex document of far reaching consequence.

Morris noted that the existing system ostensibly allows for such debate, explaining that Obama, as president, can always submit a trade agreement—which historically were considered treaties and required approval of the Senate for passage. “If fast track fails the President can still submit a trade bill,” Morris explained. “And we can then launch a much needed and long overdue national conversation about the benefits and limitations of trade and the dangers of ceding sovereignty to a new international constitution whose goal is to limit democracy and expand corpocracy.”

Though the White House, according to the Huffington Post, has been “coy about what efforts are being made behind the scenes to get the trade package passed,” previous reporting by Common Dreams makes it clear that the political “arm-twisting” is happening at the highest levels.

—————–

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Late Night FDL: Wolf Moon

Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – Wolf Moon

Neil Young certainly doesn’t mince his words…

When Donald Trump strode on to the stage at Trump Tower on Tuesday to announce that he would enter the Republican race for president, a rock and roll anthem blared: Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” It was an odd choice, given that the 1989 song seemed to slam a Republican administration for not giving a damn about the poor. And Young has taken exception to Trump’s appropriation of his tune. A statement issued to Mother Jones for Young by his longtime manager Elliot Roberts suggests Young was not pleased by Trump’s use of the song:

Donald Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” was not authorized. Mr. Young is a longtime supporter of Bernie Sanders.

In other words, it may be a free world, but you’re not free to steal my song.

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Delay Could Sink Fast Track, But Corporate ‘Arm-Twisting’ Not Over Yet

“I will continue to vote against Trade Promotion Authority until the Trans-Pacific Partnership is fixed,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), above, declared on Monday. (Photo: Center for American Progress/flickr/cc)

“The delay shows that there is not Congressional will to walk the plank for a corporate trade agenda that is reviled by the voters.”

By Deirdre Fulton

While House Republicans and the White House consider their options for reviving failed Fast Track legislation, civil society groups are heralding the delay as a sign of the measure’s imminent defeat.

A trade package including Fast Track failed to pass the House on Friday. Now, according to news reports, Obama administration officials and lawmakers are considering “a list of complicated procedural options that could circumvent House Democratic opposition” in favor of Fast Track. But, as stakeholders on both sides of the issue have acknowledged over the past few days, the setback could spell doom for Fast Track and the corporate-backed trade deals the authority is designed to promote.

To buy more time, House Republicans on Monday night extended—to July 30—the possibility for the chamber to vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) again. Overwhelming opposition to TAA is what derailed the Fast Track trade package in the House last week.

“The corporate trade agenda is stalled in Congress,” said Patrick Woodall, research director and senior policy advocate for Food & Water Watch. “By extending the re-vote period by six weeks, the GOP leadership and the White House gave themselves time to work their parliamentary witchcraft, arm-twisting and gift-giving to cajole Congress into caving into the corporate trade agenda. But the delay shows that there is not Congressional will to walk the plank for a corporate trade agenda that is reviled by the voters. Congress is listening to the public and recognizes the TPP and other trade deals pose genuine risks to consumers, workers and the environment.”

Fast Track, or trade promotion authority, would hand over the power to negotiate international trade deals to President Barack Obama, reducing Congress’s say on such mammoth agreements to an up-or-down vote. Environmental, public health, and digital rights groups say Fast Track would weaken democracy and eliminate congressional oversight of critical details included in the trade agreements, while increasing global corporate influence.

With such criticisms in mind, the AFL-CIO is thanking Democratic lawmakers who stood with organized labor in blocking the Fast Track trade deal in the House last week. “Thank you for standing with working families,” the ads state, featuring photos of the lawmakers. The labor federation, along with climate, public health, and digital rights groups, is also urging members to call their representatives to “ask him or her to hold the line on the next Fast Track vote and say NO.”

Because, as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) put it in a piece published at Medium on Monday, “My colleagues and I who voted against Trade Promotion Authority are not isolationists. We’re not against trade. We understand we live in a global economy. Many members of Congress have proposed models for fair trade deals that can’t even get a debate or a vote in the Congress. But the newest trade proposal before us, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), repeats the harmful practices of past deals. It contains specific threats to working people. I will continue to vote against Trade Promotion Authority until the Trans-Pacific Partnership is fixed.”

According to Ellison, lawmakers should ask themselves the following questions before voting on Fast Track:

-Does the proposed deal help or hurt Americans who work hard every day to make ends meet?

-Does the proposed deal bring back jobs to communities like Baltimore, Flint, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Oakland?

-Does the proposed deal ask our partner nations to stop jailing labor organizers; to stop human trafficking; to raise environmental protections?

Ellison concluded: “If the answer to these questions is no — I think it is a resounding no — then we should vote no.”

—————

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

IMF Report Admits IMF’s Obsession with Capitalism Is Killing Prosperity

“By releasing this report, the IMF has shown that ‘trickle-down’ economics is dead; you cannot rely on the spoils of the extremely wealthy to benefit the rest of us.”

By Jon Queally

In light of how the International Monetary Fund has spent most of its existence parading around the world telling governments to make their economies more friendly for multinational corporations by suppressing wages, restricting pensions, liberalizing industries, and more or less advocating they ignore the popular will of workers and the less fortunate—all in the name of market capitalism and endless economic growth—a new report released by the IMF on Monday contains an ironic warning: stop doing all that.

Though it perpetuates the idea that economic growth is the master to whom all should bow, the new research—conducted by the IMF’s own economists and submitted under the title Causes and Consequences of Inequality (pdf)—argues that many of the policies promoted by the IMF have actually harmed nations by exacerbating widespread economic inequality. As many have noted, current disparities between the world’s richest and poorest represent a nearly unprecedented level of global inequality which the report described as the “defining challenge of our time.”

In order to strengthen economies, the report declares, nations should admit that “trickle-down” theories of wealth and prosperity do not work. In lieu of those, the study recommends raising wages and living standards for the bottom 20 percent, installing more progressive tax structures, improving worker protections, and instituting policies specifically designed to bolster the middle class.

“Fighting inequality is not just an issue of fairness but an economic necessity,” said Nicolas Mombrial of Oxfam International in response to the report. “And that’s not Oxfam speaking, but the International Monetary Fund.”

This is not the first time the IMF’s own research has bolstered the arguments of its biggest critics. According to the International Business Times, the new analysis on inequality “echoes previous IMF research that show that redistributive policies have a positive effect on countries’ economic output.”

But as the Guardian’s economics editor Larry Elliott notes, the new paper creates obvious “tension between the IMF’s economic analysis and the more hardline policy advice” it continually gives to countries seeking foreign assistance or development funds. With Greece as the most obvious example, Elliott cites details from the report and writes:

During its negotiations with Athens, the IMF has been seeking to weaken workers’ rights, but the research paper found that the easing of labor market regulations was associated with greater inequality and a boost to the incomes of the richest 10%.

“This result is consistent with forthcoming IMF work, which finds the weakening of unions is associated with a higher top 10% income share for a smaller sample of advanced economies,” said the study.

“Indeed, empirical estimations using more detailed data for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries [34 of the world’s richest nations] suggest that, in line with other forthcoming IMF work, more lax hiring and firing regulations, lower minimum wages relative to the median wage, and less prevalent collective bargaining and trade unions are associated with higher market inequality.”

The study said there was growing evidence to suggest that rising influence of the rich and stagnant incomes of the poor and middle classes caused financial crises, hurting both short- and long-term growth.

No one should be fooled into thinking that the new research aims to alter the IMF’s central commitment to advancing the financial interests of the global elite.

In fact, part of the argument presented in the paper is that such enormous levels of global economic inequality could seriously undermine the institution’s public defense of capitalism’s overall supremacy. “For example,” the paper states, “[too much inequality] can lead to a backlash against growth-enhancing economic liberalization and fuel protectionist pressures against globalization and market-oriented reforms.”

According to a recent report by Oxfam International, almost half the world’s wealth is owned by one percent of the population, while the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same wealth as the richest 85 people in the world. For Oxfam’s Mombrial, who heads the international anti-poverty group’s office in Washington D.C., the IMF’s report is a welcome development that should put a nail in the coffin of the austerity-driven policies prescribed by governments and powerful financial institutions like the IMF, World Bank, and others.

“The IMF proves that making the rich richer does not work for growth, while focusing on the poor and the middle class does,” Mombrial said. “This reinforces Oxfam’s call on how we need to reduce the income gap between the haves and have-nots, and scrutinize why the richest 10 percent and top 1 percent have so much wealth. By releasing this report, the IMF has shown that ‘trickle-down’ economics is dead; you cannot rely on the spoils of the extremely wealthy to benefit the rest of us. Governments must urgently refocus their policies to close the gap between the richest and the rest if economies and societies are to grow.”

As Oxfam and other international campaigners have been saying it for decades, he concluded, “The IMF has set off the alarm for governments to wake up and start actively closing the inequality gap, not just between the rich and poor, but for the middle class too. Their message to them is pretty clear: if you want growth, you’d better invest in the poor, invest in essential services and promote redistributive tax policies.”

————–

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Late Night FDL: What Happens Tomorrow

Duran Duran – What Happens Tomorrow

Duran Duran just announced their new album; Paper Gods…

Duran Duran will release their 14th studio album, Paper Gods in the U.S. on September 18th and in the rest of the world on September 11th through Warner Bros. Records.

Singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, bassist John Taylor, and drummer Roger Taylor recorded the album in London with producers Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Josh Blair and Mr Hudson. {…}

The songs on Paper Gods capture the duality and sense of conflict at the heart of Duran Duran’s music. ‘It really goes back to that strange early Duran mix: the hard-edged pop, coexisting with this dark, weird, experimental side,’ John says.

‘That’s something that’s essential to all of us,’ Nick adds. ‘It’s great to be able to lift people’s spirits – and your own – with a strong shot of pure pop, but the world we live in isn’t all just made of that stuff, so it seems natural to me that we have kept one foot in the darker, more Gothic side of life.’ {…}

‘We found a whole new level of inspiration on this album,’ says Rhodes.

‘We’ve allowed ourselves the time to make music that we can be proud of,’ adds Le Bon. ‘I judge what we release by my favourite albums – Horses, Harvest, Let It Bleed, Blue, Transformer, Aladdin Sane. Those are classic albums. The only rule is it’s got to be music you can live with for the rest of your life.’ {…}

Alongside news of the new album, Duran Duran have also announced that they will perform a series of summer festivals, as well as several shows in the U.S. in September and October, followed by a UK arena tour that kicks off in late November.

I’ll see y’all tomorrow nite…! Be nice…!

‘Fast Track’ Hands the Money Monopoly to Private Banks — Permanently

It is well enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. -Attributed to Henry Ford

By Ellen Brown

In March 2014, the Bank of England let the cat out of the bag: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it. So wrote David Graeber in The Guardian the same month, referring to a BOE paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy.” The paper stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong. The result, said Graeber, was to throw the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.

The revelation may have done more than that. The entire basis for maintaining our private extractive banking monopoly may have been thrown out the window. And that could help explain the desperate rush to “fast track” not only the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA would nip attempts to implement public banking and other monetary reforms in the bud.

The Banking Game Exposed

The BOE report confirmed what money reformers have been saying for decades: that banks do not act simply as intermediaries, taking in the deposits of “savers” and lending them to borrowers, keeping the spread in interest rates. Rather, banks actually create deposits when they make loans. The BOE report said that private banks now create 97 percent of the British money supply. The US money supply is created in the same way.

Graeber underscored the dramatic implications:

[M]oney is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it.

Politically, said Graeber, revealing these facts is taking an enormous risk:

Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

(more…)

Late Night FDL: I’m No Angel

Gregg Allman – I’m No Angel

Gregg released it ahead of his new album…

With the Allman Brothers Band now retired for good, Gregg Allman is moving ahead with his solo career, and his next release will be the live CD/DVD package, Back To Macon, GA, due out August 7.

Allman has been touring quite a bit as of late with his solo band, which now includes longtime Allmans percussionist Marc Quinones. Back to Macon, GA sees his current ensemble revisiting some of his Allmans classics as well as some of the highlights from his solo catalog, including his 1987 hit “I’m No Angel.” Watch that performance above.

When we spoke to Gregg last year, he told us to expect more solo releases. He’s planning to work with producer T-Bone Burnett on a follow up to 2011’s GRAMMY-nominated Low Country Blues. Additionally, he said, “I also have one to cut in Muscle Shoals with Don Was, and that’s a record I’ve long been pre-meditating, maybe thirty years, and the title will be All Compositions By… my name.”

In the meantime, Gregg and his band are currently on tour (see the dates at his website), including headlining the Laid Back Festival in Long Island, New York on August 29.

Be nice to one another…!

The Sunday Times’ Snowden Story is Journalism at its Worst — and Filled with Falsehoods

By Glenn Greenwald

Western journalists claim that the big lesson they learned from their key role in selling the Iraq War to the public is that it’s hideous, corrupt and often dangerous journalism to give anonymity to government officials to let them propagandize the public, then uncritically accept those anonymously voiced claims as Truth. But they’ve learned no such lesson. That tactic continues to be the staple of how major US and British media outlets “report,” especially in the national security area. And journalists who read such reports continue to treat self-serving decrees by unnamed, unseen officials – laundered through their media – as gospel, no matter how dubious are the claims or factually false is the reporting.

We now have one of the purest examples of this dynamic. Last night, the Murdoch-owned Sunday Times published their lead front-page Sunday article, headlined “British Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese.” Just as the conventional media narrative was shifting to pro-Snowden sentiment in the wake of a key court ruling and a new surveillance law, the article (behind a paywall: full text here) claims in the first paragraph that these two adversaries “have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services.”

Read the full column on The Intercept.

UPDATE: The Sunday Times has now quietly deleted one of the central, glaring lies in its story: that David Miranda had just met with Snowden in Moscow when he was detained at Heathrow carrying classified documents. By “quietly deleted,” I mean just that: they just removed it from their story without any indication or note to their readers that they’ve done so (though it remains in the print edition and thus requires a retraction). That’s indicative of the standard of “journalism” for the article itself. Multiple other falsehoods, and all sorts of shoddy journalistic practices, remain thus far unchanged.

——————–

© 2015 The Intercept / First Look Media

Red Cross Holds a Press Conference In Haiti. It Doesn’t Go Well.

Haitian reporters demand answers from the Red Cross but don’t get many.

By Justin Elliot

Haitian journalists grilled an American Red Cross official Wednesday about the group’s Haiti program, but the official declined to provide any new details of how it spent nearly $500 million donated after the 2010 earthquake.

The Red Cross called a press conference, held at the Le Plaza Hotel in downtown Port-Au-Prince, in response to ProPublica and NPR’s story published last week revealing a string of Red Cross failures in Haiti.
The American Red Cross official at the press conference was repeatedly interrupted by Haitian reporters frustrated that he would not give specifics on its spending.

The official, Walker Dauphin, criticized our story for making “misleading allegations” and said that “in total, more than a hundred projects were implemented.”

But Haiti’s most prominent newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, wrote that Dauphin was merely “retracing the broad strokes of the interventions and expenses … while avoiding going into detail.” The paper ran the story on its front page under the headline, “When the Red Cross drowns the fish,” a reference to sidestepping a touchy subject.

Jean-Max Bellerive, who was prime minister of Haiti when the earthquake hit, also publicly criticized the American Red Cross, telling Le Nouvelliste that the Haitian government must “take legal actions to demand accountability.”

In the United States, Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., has called for the House oversight committee to hold hearings on the Red Cross’ Haiti program. The story has also prompted anger and calls for investigation in a number of states. Watch this video where an activist and Georgia state senator interrupt a Red Cross spokesman: “They do not deny anything that’s been said and just direct you to some website,” said Sen. Vincent Fort.

Red Cross spokeswoman Jana Sweeney said in a statement: “The Red Cross is happy to talk with any member of Congress who has questions about our relief work in Haiti, or elsewhere.”

————-

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.