Category Archives: Law

Trump calls an end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership


While we’ve long advocated that the TPP deserves a quick death because of provisions ensuring the free reign of capital and the imposition of the neoliberal looting regime, we suspect that Trump’s replacement will be even worse.

From teleSUR English:

The announcement was initially made in a statement on the White House’s website that promises to bring jobs and economic prosperity by “rejecting and reworking failed trade deals.” Earlier this month, his team also announced they would instead be focusing on more bilateral trade deals.

“This strategy starts by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and making certain that any new trade deals are in the interests of American workers,” the statement reads, then delivers an ultimatum regarding its commitment to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, the neo-liberal wedge used to open up the Mexican market to trade by promising, and failing to deliver, economic prosperity.

“If our partners refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal, then the President will give notice of the United States’ intent to withdraw from NAFTA,” says the statement.

The statement, titled Trade Deals Working For All Americans, emphasizes Trump’s “lifetime of negotiating experience” as a selling point for withdrawing from the 12-nation agreement, which former President Barack Obama adamantly pushed.

Except for the U.S., all other countries have signed the controversial TPP, which promises to open up markets by removing trade barriers, though it has yet to be ratified by any single one. The TPP’s member countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The deal purports to bring economic prosperity to all by equally opening borders and market opportunities. But critics argue that less developed countries, such as the three commodity-dependent Latin American members, are at an obvious disadvantage when competing against developed countries that export more costly value-added goods.

Environmentalists have also blasted the agreement for allowing member-governments to be sued by corporations claiming profit-loss due to environmental and labor regulations. Thousands of protesters have come out against the deal in Peru and Chile.

TrumpAmerica™ Today: The looting commences


Trump is owing to make good on two of his campaign promises, and with Republicans in the majority in both houses of Congress, he’s likely to get his way.

First, and of great interest to all those billionaires on his inaugural platform. Comes a package of tax cuts in which corporations get a major slice.

Of equal interest to the corporateers is a vow to ruthlessly pare regulations, those pesky rules and laws, already shaped in whole or part by corporate lobbyists, that force constraint on the untrammeled pursuit of profit.

We begin with this from a decidedly Right political news site, the Daily Caller:

President Donald Trump doubled-down on his campaign promises to massively deregulate the economy during a meeting at the White House Monday morning.

Trump said he would “cut regulations by 75 percent,” in a move that would drastically change the regulatory landscape of the American economy.

Trump has repeatedly pledged to end “all unnecessary regulations” imposed on the energy industry, to “dismantle” the 2,300-page Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act, and to put a moratorium on any new regulations when he takes office.

His promise Monday was the first step in coming through on his campaign agenda. The president also pledges to order federal agencies to “identify job-killing regulations that should be repealed.”

The president’s economic plan laid out on the White House website promises to create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade and a return to 4 percent annual economic growth, according to statement released Friday on the official White House website.

The president also promises to cut the U.S. corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

And from the White House website, Trump’s policies are laid out in a section that reeks with hubris emphases added]:

The President’s plan will lower rates for Americans in every tax bracket, simplify the tax code, and reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is one of the highest in the world. Fixing a tax code that is outdated, overly complex, and too onerous will unleash America’s economy, creating millions of new jobs and boosting economic growth.

As a lifelong job-creator and businessman, the President also knows how important it is to get Washington out of the way of America’s small businesses, entrepreneurs, and workers. In 2015 alone, federal regulations cost the American economy more than $2 trillion. That is why the President has proposed a moratorium on new federal regulations and is ordering the heads of federal agencies and departments to identify job-killing regulations that should be repealed.

With decades of deal-making experience, the President also understands how critical it is to negotiate the best possible trade deals for the United States. By renegotiating existing trade deals, and taking a tough stance on future ones, we will ensure that trade agreements bring good-paying jobs to our shores and support American manufacturing, the backbone of our economy. The President plans to show America’s trading partners that we mean business by ensuring consequences for countries that engage in illegal or unfair trade practices that hurt American workers.

Trump issues orders, keeps them secret

Another monious devekopment.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau [emphasis added]:

President Donald Trump has taken at least six executive actions since he was sworn in as president, but half of them remain secret.

The text of two of them – weakening the health care law and freezing regulations – were emailed to reporters. The third was revealed in a letter from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to lenders and real estate brokers about the roll back of a policy that would have reduced the cost of mortgages for millions of home buyers. But the language of the remaining three hasn’t been released; their existence is known from a single tweet by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

The administration has a spot on its revamped whitehouse.gov website for “presidential actions“ including executive orders, memorandum and proclamations. But all the spaces are blank.

Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, which pushes for transparency in government, said the decision not to post the information online as former President Barack Obama cut out “millions of Americans.” Trump’s team, he said, needs to realize that he is not campaigning anymore, but governing.

The website was revamped Friday to include bios of the new president and vice president and their wives and scrubbed of references to gay and lesbian issues and global warming [see previous].

State GOPs rush to ban, criminalize protest


Inspired by President Pussygrabbers and his wrathful and sometimes forceful loathing of protests against His Royal Puissance, state legislators are in a stampeded to crackdown on protests.

From Spencer Woodman, writing in the Intercept:

Over the weekend, millions of demonstrators took to streets across the country to mobilize against the new president and his agenda, assembling in a national turnout that organizers call the beginning of a reinvigorated protest movement. But in states home to dozens of Saturday’s demonstrations, Republican lawmakers are moving to criminalize and increase penalties on peaceful protesting.

Last week, I reported that such efforts were afoot in five states: In Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan, and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have proposed an array of anti-protesting laws that center on stiffening penalties for demonstrators who block traffic; in North Dakota, conservatives are even pushing a bill that would allow motorists to run over and kill protesters so long as the collision was accidental. Similarly, Republicans in Indiana last week prompted uproar over a proposed law that would instruct police to use “any means necessary” to clear protesters off a roadway.

Over the weekend, readers alerted me to two additional anti-protesting bills, both introduced by Republicans, that are pending in Virginia and Colorado. This brings the number of states that have in recent weeks floated such proposals to at least eight.

Want to run over a protester? Try North Dakota


New legislation proposed in north Dakota because of those pipeline protests would, among other things, bar the wearing of masks in public [what about Halloween and costume parties?] and, uh, make if legal for folks to “accidentally” run over or injure protesters with their cars.

An ominous report from RT America:

Proposed protest laws in North Dakota would let drivers run them over

Program notes:

Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline are shocked over new measures introduced by GOP lawmakers which would criminalize road protests, restrict what protesters can wear, and allow the federal government to sue to cover enforcement costs. RT America’s Alexey Yaroshevsky reports.

Brace for a flood of GMOs after TrumpAscension™


Each of them accompanied by a Rebel Yell.

From teleSur English:

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump picked the last member of his cabinet on Wednesday. Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue — who has been linked to big agribusiness and has sympathized with confederate history — has been tapped to become the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Unsurprisingly, like Trump and the rest of his cabinet, Perdue has links to big business and in particular corporate agriculture. He has been a supporter of factory farms, and in 2009 he signed a bill to stop the local regulation of the industry to prevent animal cruelty.

In 2009, he was named “Governor of the Year” by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which the Organic Consumers Association referred to as “a front group for the GMO industry.” During his campaigns for governor, he also received donations from pesticide companies. After finishing up as governor, he founded his global exporting business Perdue Partners.

The 70-year-old was on Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during last year’s presidential campaign. During his time as Georgia governor from 2003 to 2011, Perdue drew the support of many disillusioned white voters and was well known for leading a service at the state capital building in Atlanta to literally pray for rain during a harsh drought in 2007.

“Farmers need a champion in the USDA who will fight for conservation programs to help farmers be more resilient in the face of extreme weather, not pray for rain,” Kari Hamerschlag, from Friends of the Earth, said in a statement.

In 2010, Perdue signed a law that proclaimed April “Confederate History and Heritage Month.” The month, which was also declared in six other southern states, is particularly controversial because it failed to mention the history of slavery in its proclamation.

The anti-environment environmental boss


Another gift from President Pussygrabber, via the Los Angeles Times:

Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency kicked off a contentious confirmation hearing Wednesday, expressing doubt about mainstream climate science and harshly criticizing the agency he seeks to lead.

Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt was defiant in the face of questioning from Democratic senators who attacked his record on environmental protection, skepticism about the impact of global warming and financial ties to some of the nation’s biggest oil and gas companies.

Pruitt said the EPA’s aggressive enforcement of federal anti-pollution rules during the Obama administration reflects inappropriate overreach that he would change.

“Regulators are supposed to make things regular,” Pruitt said at the start of the hearing, “to fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers.”

He charged that the issue of climate change had been overtaken by emotion and incivility.  “We should not succumb to personalizing matters,” he said.

Saving the best for last: Obama frees Manning


Barack Obama, who has ordered the prosecution of more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, has finally decided to set one of them go.

From the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, allowing the transgender Army intelligence officer convicted of leaking more than 700,000 U.S. documents to go free nearly three decades early.

Embracing his clemency powers days before leaving office, Obama also pardoned 64 individuals including retired Gen. James Cartwright, charged with making false statements during another leak probe. Manning was one of 209 inmates with sentences commuted by Obama, who has now granted more commutations than any other president in history.

>snip<

Manning has been serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified government and military documents to WikiLeaks, along with some battlefield video. She was convicted in military court of violating the Espionage Act and other offenses and spent more than six years behind bars. She asked Obama last November to commute her sentence to time served.

Her case has pitted LGBT rights activists, who warned about her mental health and treatment as a transgender woman living in a men’s prison, against national security hawks who said she did devastating damage to U.S. interests. The former cheered Obama’s move, while the latter called it an outrageous act that set a dangerous precedent.

Yet Obama did not grant a pardon to another prominent leaker, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, whom the U.S. has been unable to extradite from Russia. Snowden hasn’t formally applied for clemency, though his supporters have called for it. Yet the White House drew a distinction between the unapologetic Snowden and Manning, whom officials noted has expressed remorse and served several years already for her crime.