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Diaries

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Diaries

Trump looks to make NAFTA even worse

by Dan Burns on July 20, 2017 · 0 comments

stopwaronworkersNegotiations are scheduled to begin on August 16.
 

At first glance, it’s a very mixed bag. The negotiating objectives for NAFTA are mostly vague, and in parts revisit the well-worn tactic of using trade rules to guarantee corporate profits. In fact, several provisions are ripped directly from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the corporate-friendly deal Trump loudly rejected in January. “This document does not describe the promised transformation of NAFTA to prioritize working people,” said Public Citizen trade expert Lori Wallach in a statement. It looks like another case of Trump’s rhetoric’s being submerged in the swamp…
 
It does appear that the globalists in the administration won this round before NAFTA negotiations even had a chance to begin. Some of the most ardent free-traders in the Republican caucus praised the contents of the draft. As Richard Neal, top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, put it, “the ‘new’ NAFTA might not be new at all.”
 
NAFTA negotiations can now begin within 30 days. The biggest thing needed to truly assess whether the administration actually wants to fix NAFTA’s problems or further entrench corporate control is transparency.
(The Nation)

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Twin Metals backers skip listening session

by Dan Burns on July 19, 2017 · 0 comments

sulfideThis isn’t about PolyMet. The Twin Metals mine is the one that would be right on the edge of the BWCA. Governor Dayton publicly announced his opposition a while ago. Twin Metals is trying to plow ahead anyway, but undoubtedly to their shock the Trump administration doesn’t seem to be with them. So this proposed atrocity is looking like a long shot, these days, but that doesn’t mean anyone should relax, and as you can tell from the article a lot of righteous people know that.
 

With one side refusing to show up, opponents of copper-nickel mining on the edge of Minnesota’s pristine wilderness packed a hearing Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
 
A group of 17 organizations that support the mining proposal boycotted the event, while speakers from a crowd of about 1,000 were unanimous in opposing copper-nickel mining in a watershed on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Voyageurs National Park…
 
Those boycotting Tuesday’s event say they’ll continue to make their case for mining “loud and clear” at a hearing next week in Virginia, Minn.
 
“Why must the people with the greatest stake, whose jobs and regional economic viability are at risk, have to keep turning out for these charades?” the group said in a statement. “When was the last time federal agencies held a hearing Up North on projects in the Twin Cities, such as the Green Line or St. Croix River Crossing?”
(Star Tribune)

When people start whining about “charades,” in contexts like this, it’s a good sign that they just don’t have the mojo working.
 

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Neocowards howl for Iran war

by Dan Burns on July 17, 2017 · 0 comments

woundedSorry to stick something like this in front of you at the beginning of another week of toil and drudgery. But people need to know.
 

Iran hawks suddenly have a new mantra: the Islamic Republic is the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the Trump administration should work to hasten the regime’s impending collapse.
 
It’s not clear why this comparison has surfaced so abruptly. Its proponents don’t cite any tangible or concrete evidence that the regime in Tehran is somehow on its last legs. But I’m guessing that months of internal policy debate on Iran has finally reached the top echelons in the policy-making chaos that is the White House these days. And the hawks, encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s rather offhand statement late last month that Washington favors “peaceful” regime change in Iran, appear to be trying to influence the internal debate by arguing that this is Trump’s opportunity to be Ronald Reagan. Indeed, this comparison is so ahistorical, so ungrounded in anything observable, that it can only be aimed at one person, someone notorious for a lack of curiosity and historical perspective, and a strong attraction to “fake news” that magnifies his ego and sense of destiny.
(LobeLog)

The following is from a really good essay about the Iran thing, from an Iraq combat veteran.
 
…READ MORE

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trump24This belongs here because it shows how suckered you’d have to be to vote for a guy so g*d-damned pathetically stupid.
 

[B]ut you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall. And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them—they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. But we have some incredible designs.

 
We can roughly guess at the conversation or, ahem, television report that led Donald to this discovery, but Donald’s takeaway from the event is quite special. According to Donald, drug dealers are in the practice of just launching 60 pound bags of The Drugs over the wall with no warning and no arrangement for an accomplice to be waiting on the other side to get it.
(Daily Kos)

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collegeThis has been causing a stir online, as it should.
 

While a majority of the public (55%) continues to say that colleges and universities have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days, Republicans express increasingly negative views.
 
A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.
(Pew Research)

That’s quite a swing. Some of it may have to do with Republicans who went to college now being unwilling to identify themselves as such, or even as “Republican-leaning,” due to entirely legitimate embarrassment, even shame, over being connected in any way with the pitiful, disastrous buffoon currently in the White House. (Though most will unfortunately continue to vote Republican, unless things get really awful.) Response bias is real, though its significance varies.
 

As for most of it, though, how much is because colleges purportedly “indoctrinate” atheism, feminism, socialism, and so on? And how much because they believe those who went to the fancy colleges are getting all the money? Especially when the college guy boss down at work is always full of sincere, regretful reasons why, though you’re a good worker and they really like you, they’ve only been able to come up with a total of $0.60/hr in raises, total, for the last four years?
 
I don’t claim to know the answer to that.
 
Comment below fold.
 
…READ MORE

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trump7Unfortunately a lot of Trump voters are never likely to face reality on this.
 

But this is where we are. The best defense of Trump’s associates, at this point, is they were too dumb to know what they were doing — a defense that doesn’t work when it includes experienced international operators like campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-Defense Intelligence Agency Director Michael Flynn. Donald Trump Jr.’s own defense of himself is that he attempted to collude with Russian agents but they didn’t have any useful information and so he didn’t. This is, as my colleague Zack Beauchamp notes, no defense at all — even if it is true, Trump Jr. may well have committed a crime.
 
What’s more, we know for a fact that the Russian hacking of Democratic files happened, that it was successful, and that Trump has stubbornly resisted efforts to admit or investigate Russia’s intervention into the campaign while repeatedly praising Putin. We also know Trump has, since taking office, undermined the NATO alliance while cozying up to Putin — the two of them joked about their shared dislike for the American media at the G20 last week and pledged to work together on cybersecurity.
(Vox)

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oilspillIf you’re into this stuff I respectfully suggest that you subscribe to emails from Midwest Energy News, which I believe also get you those from U.S. Energy News. That’s where I saw these.
 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday called for the development of a “specific and definite timetable” to close Enbridge Energy Inc.’s Line 5 dual pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac…
 
“The safety and security of our Great Lakes is etched in the DNA of every Michigan resident, and the final decision on Line 5 needs to include a discussion with those that rely on propane for heating their homes, and depend on the pipeline for employment,” Schuette said in a statement. “One thing is certain: The next steps we take should be for the long-term protection of the Great Lakes.”
(The Detroit News)

Keystone XL is facing a new challenge: The oil producers and refiners the pipeline was originally meant to serve aren’t interested in it anymore.
 
Delayed for nearly a decade by protests and regulatory roadblocks, Keystone XL got the green light from President Donald Trump in March. But the pipeline’s operator, TransCanada Corp., is struggling to line up customers to ship crude from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, say people familiar with the matter.
(Fox Business)

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trump14I see a lot of clickbait stuff to the effect that focusing too much on Trump’s mental health (or Trump/Russia) is a bad scene, because then people aren’t paying attention to his policies. Come on. People can pay attention to more than one thing at a time.
 

It’s no secret by now that Trump is out of his depth, unable to comprehend the vast federal bureaucracy he’s supposed to command, incapable of absorbing the knowledge necessary to inform critical decisions about commanding it, and frankly, uninterested in anything that isn’t directly related to whichever immediate concern has hijacked his limited attention span at any given hour of the day.
 
But now we are seeing how that psyche is choking off the entire White House from the world, not just so Trump can maintain control over the government, but so no inconvenient truths can infiltrate his fortress and encroach on his reality.
(Daily Kos)

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bwcaTwo items.
 

An environmental group says the design for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota has changed in significant ways that require regulators to conduct a fresh environmental review of the revisions.
 
WaterLegacy says changes in the mine’s tailings basin and wastewater treatment facilities, and a new disclosure of how much water would be pumped from the mine, obligate federal and state agencies to take a closer look — a move that could cause further delays in an already long process. The group made the request in a letter (June 29) to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and other agencies.
 
Paula Maccabee, an attorney for WaterLegacy, said the plans changed between March 2016 when the DNR approved the final environmental impact statement and when PolyMet started submitting permit applications in recent months. She called it a “bait-and-switch” to cut up-front costs. She also said the changes increase the risks of a catastrophic dam failure, pollution spills and damage to wetlands.
(MPR)

(On June 9), Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) appealed an order of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that removed public water protections from many miles of Minnesota streams and rivers. A DNR order in April used a one size fits all approach to delete over 640 miles of waterways from Minnesota’s public water inventory with no public notice, no chance for the public to comment and with no transparency. Because there was no public input, many public waters that should be protected would lose that protection if the DNR’s order is implemented. MCEA appealed to reverse DNR’s order and protect these public waters from being filled, drained, dammed or altered without a permit.
 
“As we investigated waterways that DNR deleted as public waters, we were shocked to discover many weren’t private ditches, but were clearly public waters,” said Leigh Currie, Staff Attorney at MCEA. “DNR’s order, supposedly to correct mistakes, only made issues with the public waters map worse. Dozens of public waters that are not private ditches were erased incorrectly.”
(Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy)

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hero_image_main_2There is a daily roundup of immigration news on this blog, well worth checking out regularly:
 

The very limited travel ban reinstated by the Supreme Court will go into effect Thursday morning — but exactly who is banned remains unclear. Under a very narrow reading of the decision, only tourists with no other connection to the United States would be barred. Most visa applicants from the six targeted, mostly-Muslim countries will have the “bona-fide connection” to a person or entity within the United States that would exempt them from the travel ban.
 
Refugees, all of whom have undergone years of vetting before approval for visas, can arguably claim connection to the resettlement agencies working with them. However, it seems likely that the Trump administration will continue to resist admission of refugees.
(Immigration News)

Actually, anyone who eats food is likely to be adversely affected by what’s going on with immigration. Making America Great Again!

 

Research by the Farm Bureau suggests that the federal immigration policy Trump is promoting could result in a massive farm labor shortage across the country, causing domestic fruit output to plunge anywhere from 30 to 61 percent and vegetable production to fall by 15 to 31 percent. Industrial-scale livestock operations and slaughterhouses also rely heavily on immigrants, so meat production could tumble by as much as 27 percent. As a result, the group concludes, US eaters are looking at food price hikes of 5 to 6 percent. That might not sound like much, but it’s sure to squeeze families on a tight budget. So Trump’s efforts to save us from “bad hombres” is bad news for farms—and for Americans who are just trying to put dinner on the table.
(Mother Jones)

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