How exciting would this be if we replaced the location of Long Beach, CA, with Georgetown, S.C.
LONG BEACH - The Port of Long Beach's next major projects will include union- endorsed labor deals that city leaders and supporters say will mean more jobs for locals.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners on Monday voted unanimously to approve project labor agreements for the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project and six Pier E construction projects involving Middle Harbor, a $1.2 billion redevelopment project linking two older terminals into one large terminal.
The boardroom was filled with workers with "PLAs Yes" buttons and "jobs" signs and city officials including Mayor Bob Foster and City Council members Rae Gabelich, James Johnson and Gerrie Schipske expressing support for these agreements.
"Labor made this port," Schipske said. "Labor made the harbor. Labor made Long Beach to be able to have middle income in our community ... to have a good wage with good benefits and be able to have a good living."
The Harbor Commission on Monday also supported two incentive programs designed to bring more business to the Port of Long Beach.
To attract larger, cleaner ships, the commission approved a dockage incentive program that caps fees at $8,641 a day for container vessels longer than 345 meters. Previously, a large container vessel could pay more than $11,242 a day in dockage fees.
The second program, a wharfage incentive program, allows shippers to get $10 discounts for every additional cargo container traveling by rail through Long Beach. To measure the extra cargo volume, the port would compare statistics from Aug. 1 through July 31 in 2011-2012 with the same time frame in 2012-2013. Both programs begin Aug. 1.
Not only is Mitt Romney's record on the individual mandate out of step with the Republican Party, but there is no one on his side of the aisle that can or will come to his defense on that issue. [...]
Read The Full Article:
Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
This post is about domestic spying. Specifically, that done by the National Security Agency. Or at least, the NSA is one of the participants. While on the NSA website, I noticed a ?Kid?s Page? link. That?s where the graphic above comes from. I?m not sure how that fits with the rest of the post. Maybe I really don?t want to know. But it did make me think of Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, and “Teach Your Children Well.”
Now, about the ?domestic spying ring?: Sometimes the words employed by our Electeds and those who work for them are so poorly chosen it?s more frightening than usual to think of them in positions of power. David Sirota writes about one such instance at Nation of Change, in ?A New Standard for Oxymoronic Newspeak.? (emphasis mine)
If there was an ongoing contest in the art of self-contradicting newspeak, a quote from a U.S. military official during the Vietnam War would be the reigning victor for most of the modern era. In describing the decision to ignore the prospect of civilian casualties and vaporize a Vietnamese village, that unnamed official famously told Peter Arnett of the Associated Press that ?it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.? …
But now … the Vietnam quote has been dethroned by an even more oxymoronic line ? one that perfectly summarizes the zeitgeist of the post-9/11 era. As Wired?s Spencer Ackerman reports, ?Surveillance experts at the National Security Agency won?t tell two powerful United States Senators how many Americans have had their communications picked up by the agency (because) it would violate your privacy to say so.?
In a letter to senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall, the agency wrote: ?(A) review of the sort suggested would itself violate the privacy of U.S. persons.?
Wyden told Ackerman that all they asked for was a ?ballpark estimate of how many Americans have been monitored under this law.? They didn?t ask for names, just the estimate.
So why would the NSA nonetheless refuse to provide one? Most likely because such an estimate would be a number so big as to become a political problem for the national security establishment … .
… if the government officially acknowledged an even bigger domestic spying regime than we already know about, we might finally reach a tipping point ? one in which public outrage forces a wholesale reevaluation of the NSA?s entire mission.
Stuff like the ?we can?t tell you how many of our own citizens we?re spying on because that would violate their privacy rights? is yet another indication of growth of the policy state thinking and actions. I?ve written about this, in general, fairly often, because it shows up in so many ways. Just this year:
The ?right to be secure? doesn?t mean what it use
Police State, Part I: The Bipartisan NDAA
Police State, Part II: The Nation?s ?Biggest Spy Center?
Police State, Part III: It?s Really Happening, and the State Thanks Those Ignoring It
SCOTUS Okays Strip Searches for Minor Offenses, and Camp David G8 Kettling Begins
Brewing Beer or Manufacturing Molotov Cocktails?: Welcome to ?Preemptive Policing?
How Many Drones In the Sky Must We Have, Before We Declare Ourselves Safe?
That Feeling of Security, Brought to Us by the U.S. House Unmanned Systems Caucus
I don?t really have any hopes that Obama or Romney will be pushed on this subject. But if ignoring and rationalizing are a primary response, one result will very likely that the ?tipping point? Sirota mentions will continue being pushed further and further out. And probably what we teach the children about all of this will have an influence further out, too.
(National Security Agency Kids Page graphic via NSA)
Just a newsy follow up to this earlier post on the CBS News report that Roberts switched his vote ? as well as to this post about the dissenting opinion itself. So, who leaked to CBS News that Roberts changed sides? The reporter, Jan Crawford, said she had "two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations." That can only be justices, their clerks, or their confidants. As Noam Scheiber...
As you can see from the chart above, "we're #1, we're #1!" Not in math and science scores, not in health outcomes, not in general happiness (we're tied with France at #13)... but in military spending. The only big military spender that wastes a bigger percentage of their gross domestic product on military spending is the brutal fascist dictatorship of Saudi Arabia (8.7%). Our two biggest perceived rivals, China and Russia spend, respectively 2.0% and 3.9% of their GDPs on the military. The U.S. spends 4.7%. In 2011 the U.S. spent $711 billion. China spent $143 billion and Russia $71.9 billion. Throw in the U.K. ($62.7 billion), France ($62.5), Japan ($59.3 billion), Saudi Arabia ($48.2 billion), India ($46.8 billion) and Germany (46.7 billion) and you still only get a fraction of what the U.S. spends. That's right, all the big military spenders combined-- and remember, most of them are our allies-- is considerably less than what the U.S. spends. The U.S. Navy's budget alone-- $149.9 billion annually-- is more than the entire military budget of China. And all this was for 2011. This year the budget shot bast a trillion dollars. In fact, it's almost a trillion and a half dollars this year! You wouldn't know it from hearing the whining and caterwauling of House Armed Services Committee chairman, Buck McKeon. We'll come back to that in a moment.
The standard mainstream indictment of budget-busting military spending in the U.S. usually misses one very important feature: the role of political bribery. We'll come back to that in a moment as well. First let's take a look at a well put together indictment based on budgetary criteria. It comes from Joshua Holland's book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About The Economy.
Even the most hawkish of deficit hawks are quite fond of some aspects of big government. Most are military hawks as well. So, even though they warn of economic destitution coming over the horizon unless we tear more holes in an already threadbare social safety net, they rarely mention the enormous amounts of money that are spent on the security state and national ?defense.? It?s as if money for guns is somehow different from money spent on butter.
If you want to look at long-term budget busters, however, there?s no better place to look than our military spending. Never mind what we?re paying for today?s wars-- the $685 billion defense budget tells only part of the story. The little-discussed truth is that we?re still paying for Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, the Balkans, and on and on.
Estimates of just how much of our national debt payments are due to past military spending vary wildly. Economist Robert Higgs calculated it like this:I added up all past deficits (minus surpluses) since 1916 (when the debt was nearly zero), prorated according to each year?s ratio of narrowly defined national security spending-- military, veterans, and international affairs-- to total federal spending, expressing everything in dollars of constant purchasing power. This sum is equal to 91.2 percent of the value of the national debt held by the public at the end of 2006.
In 2006, he came up with an annual figure of $206.7 billion for interest payments alone on our past militarism. Add it all up, and we?re talking about at least a trillion dollars in military and homeland security spending. If there were a million-dollar bill, you?d have to stack a million of them to reach a trillion dollars. It?s almost three times the entire budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is tasked with protecting the well-being of all Americans.
So the stark reality is that what poses as a debate between advocates of ?big government? and fiscal conservatives is actually a debate about priorities, because we?re going to spend a lot of money on government regardless of who occupies the White House and who?s running Congress. The questions come down to what those massive piles of dollars are going to buy, and whether we?ll raise enough taxes to cover it or simply borrow the cash from the Chinese and let future generations worry about paying it back.
In recent days, ThinkProgress has identified the most pro- and anti-LGBT members of the U.S. House of Representatives. While in this Congress anti-gay forces have been relatively quiet in the Senate — only Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has proposed an overtly anti-LGBT bill or resolution — Senators in support of equality have proposed sixteen bills pro-LGBT bills since the start of 2011. Eleven Senators have sponsored or co-sponsored at least ten of those measures.
Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), and Patty Murray (D-WA), tied for the honor of most pro-LGBT Senator: they put their names on 13 of the 16 bills each. Akaka, a fourth-term Senator who will retire at the end of 2012, authored the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2012 (a bill to improve tracking of health data for LGBT people and other minority groups). Murray, a fourth-term Senator, spells out on her LGBT issue webpage that “Equal protection under the law is a fundamental right in our country. No one should suffer discrimination because of their race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.” And Kerry, now in his fifth term in the Senate, is chief sponsor of the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act of 2011 (which seeks to help at-risk LGBT youth) and the HOME Act of 2011 (which protects LGBT citizens from housing discrimination).
Eight other Senators ? seven Democrats and one independent ? signed on to at least 10 pro-LGBT proposals, putting them just behind Akaka, Kerry, and Murray. They are:
In all, 61 Senators have signed onto at least one pro-LGBT bill — every member of the Democratic caucus and eight Republicans. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) were the most pro-equality Republicans, co-sponsoring three bills each.
The pro-LGBT proposals were:
As Mitt Romney continues to avoid expressing a clear position on immigration policy, one Republican Congressman is tiring of the Romney campaign’s vagueness on the issue. Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) told BuzzFeed this week that presidential candidates should “put out your proposals and let voters judge them on their merits.”
He said he will not act as a surrogate unless the campaign provides some specifics on how to protect undocumented immigrants who came to to the country as children:
I’m not willing to participate in any Hispanic outreach efforts without seeing more details on a permanent solution for these kids … Right now, his Hispanic supporters and Hispanic surrogates don’t have the ammunition to combat the Obama attacks on him.
Last week, Romney reportedly told supporters that he will not moderate the hard-line anti-immigrant positions he took in the primaries as he does not want to be viewed as a “flip-flopper.” But his current path seems likely to risk the support of Hispanic Republicans like Rivera.
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel appeared on Fox Business Tuesday afternoon and expressed strong resentment for having to provide more health care coverage to sicker Americans in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare.
During a discussion about how medical providers will respond to the law, Siegel argued that some physicians won’t accept newly insured patients with pre-existing conditions who “eat all the wrong foods” and “gain weight” because “they are not paid enough”:
TOM SULLIVAN (HOST): Right now you can say I don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid? Right?
SIEGEL: Tom, that the untold story. There has been no consideration to the fact that many physicians do not take insurance. Many surgeons don’t take insurance…The more Obamacare floods the gate, the less they will take insurance. If they’re not getting paid and an insurance company says, I have to cut somewhere.
They are forcing me to cover all pre-existing conditions, which sounds great. Let’s take care of everybody’s pre-existing condition. You lie on the couch for 30 years, you never exercise, you gain weight, you eat all the wrong foods, you get diabetes and now you have Obamacare. But the fact is, doctors don’t have to play ball with it. If they are not paid enough they won’t play ball with it.
In reality, only a small minority of doctors in higher-income areas refuse to accept insurance. Most providers participate in Medicare and Medicaid and will continue to do so under the Affordable Care Act.
The law increases incentive payments for primary care physicians in Medicare, general surgeons in rural and underserved areas, and some mental health services. Primary care physicians in Medicaid will also receive a payment bump in 2013 and 2014. ACA also invests in preventive care and wellness initiative to encourage people to lead healthier life styles.
The head of the Arab League said ahead of a meeting the organization hosted in Cairo that the Syrian opposition must set aside differences and present a unified face against Bashar al-Assad’s government. Those hopes, however, were dashed when, far from coming together, fistfights reportedly broke out at the meeting. “This is so sad,” said one opposition activist. “It will make the Syrian opposition look bad and demoralize the protesters on the ground.” The main Syrian rebel group — the Free Syrian Army — had already denounced the meeting.
I don't even know what to say about something like this. I wrote about the leaked copy of this treaty a few weeks ago, and the response from our readers in the media seemed to be a big yawn. The more I read this, the worse it gets. We actually elected someone who thinks this is a good idea? The media doesn't want to discuss this, and we're just a bunch of whiners if we bring it up.
I say, we need to blow the damned thing up -- and Public Citizen is trying to do just that:
Have you heard about the small U.S. government agency engaged in years of closed-door negotiations that could undermine the Obama administration?s declared goals of creating jobs, reregulating the financial sector and lowering healthcare costs?
With the direct participation of 600 corporations and shocking levels of secrecy, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is rushing to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Branded as a trade agreement (yawn) by its corporate proponents, TPP largely has evaded public and congressional scrutiny since negotiations were launched in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.
But trade is the least of it. Only two of TPP?s 26 chapters actually have to do with trade. The rest is about new enforceable corporate rights and privileges and constraints on government regulation. This includes new extensions of price-raising drug patent monopolies, corporate rights to attack government drug formulary pricing plans, safeguards to facilitate job offshoring and new corporate controls over natural resources.
Also included are severe limits on government regulation of financial services, zoning and land use, product and food safety, energy and other essential services, tobacco, and more. The copyright chapter poses many of the threats to Internet freedom of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was stalled in Congress under intense public pressure.
The proposed pact is so invasive of domestic policy space that it would even limit how governments can spend tax dollars. Buy America and other Buy Local procurement preferences used to reinvest our tax dollars in the American economy would be banned and sweat-free, human rights or environmental conditions on government contracts would be subject to challenge in closed-door foreign tribunals.
Indeed, signatory countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to TPP?s rules, effecting a quiet corporate coup d?état. And, regardless of election outcomes or changes in public opinion, these extreme rules could not be altered without the consent of all signatory countries. Failure to conform to these rules would subject countries to indefinite trade sanctions.
A recent leak of one of TPP?s most controversial chapters reveals that the pact would elevate individual corporations and investors to equal status with sovereign nations to privately enforce this treaty. U.S. negotiators are among the greatest champions of this ?investor state? enforcement system. It would give any foreign firm incorporated in any TPP country new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges.
After Obama?s election, U.S. trade officials were instructed to withdraw from the TPP negotiations Bush had launched ? supposedly to sort out a new approach that implemented candidate Obama?s campaign commitments to fix the damaging old NAFTA model. But after a kabuki dance of ears-closed check-the-box ?consultations? with a minimal number of congressional representatives and civil society groups, Obama?s trade officials picked up where Bush left off. Actually, they doubled down -- pushing even more extreme positions than the Bush administration on issues like Internet freedom and access to medicines.
Now a thirteenth round of TPP negotiations involving the Obama administration will occur next week in San Diego. There negotiators from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will meet behind closed doors with their counterparts from eight Asian and Latin American countries. What?s on the table is a 1 percenters? dream ? a corporate power tool of unprecedented scope and might. Think NAFTA on steroids with the whole world.
How could something so extreme get so far? Because the entire process has occurred under conditions of unprecedented secrecy. And, the goal is to sign a final deal before the election.
Why the rush? It's because these sorts of corporate-power-grabs via ?trade? agreements do not fare well in the sunshine. Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk defended the extreme secrecy of TPP negotiations by noting that when the draft of a major regional trade pact was released previously, it became impossible to finish the deal as then proposed.
Yes, in a moment of candor, the top U.S. trade official admitted that TPP must be kept secret because otherwise they won?t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress.