US Congress

The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of 'free trade' | Mark Weisbrot

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The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It's a win for corporations

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement among 12 governments, touted as one of the largest "free trade" agreements in US history, is running into difficulties as the public learns more about it. Last week 151 Democrats and 23 Republicans (pdf) in the House of Representatives signed letters to the US chief negotiators expressing opposition to a "fast track" procedure for voting on the proposed agreement. This procedure would limit the congressional role and debate over an agreement already negotiated and signed by the executive branch, which the Congress would have to vote up or down without amendments.

Most Americans couldn't tell you what "fast track" means, but if they knew what it entails they would certainly be against it. As one of the country's leading trade law experts and probably the foremost authority on Fast Track, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, put it:

[Fast track] authorized executive-branch officials to set US policy on non-tariff, and indeed not-trade, issues in the context of 'trade' negotiations.

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South American leaders should help Hondurans fighting for democracy | Mark Weisbrot

November's presidential vote is a key test of whether Honduras can return to democracy after the US-supported 2009 coup

Do the people of Honduras have the right to elect their own president and congress?

That depends on whom you talk to. In 2009, the country's left-of-center President Mel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup that was heavily supported (and, according to Zelaya, organized) by the United States government. After six months and a lot of political repression, the coup government was re-established with an election that almost the entire hemisphere – except, you guessed it, the United States – rejected as illegitimate.

[H]uman rights abuses under the existing government continue to threaten basic civil liberties, opposition candidates do not enjoy a level playing field, and state security forces are taking on an increasingly central, and ominous role in context of the election.

We are particularly alarmed to learn that the ruling party, and its presidential candidate M Juan Orlando Hernandez, now dominates all the key institutions of the government, including the country's electoral authority and the military, which distributes the ballots – leaving scarce recourse for Honduran citizens should fraud be committed in the electoral process, or human rights violations continue to threaten open debate.

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On Syria and Summers, the Obama '08 voters have finally found their voice | Mark Weisbrot

Looking past the shutdown and budget battle, the big picture is that America's four decade-long drift to the right is decisively over

If we step back a moment from the government shutdown – an assault on millions of federal workers and people who need the services of the national government at this time – and the Republicans' over-hyped and largely empty threat to trigger a default on the national public debt, there are more significant recent political developments that will continue long after this damaging political theater is over.

President Obama was twice defeated last month on matters of national and international importance, by grassroots opposition and resistance from within his own party. The first was over his planned bombing of Syria; the second was over his attempt to appoint Larry Summers as chair of the Federal Reserve.

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Syria: thank Congress's resistance to war for the chance of a diplomatic deal | Mark Weisbrot

The military intervention party has powerful advocates, including President Obama, but Congress has heard the American public

President Obama has headed up a lobbying and public relations blitzkrieg for bombing Syria that seems to surpass any legislative effort of his presidency besides healthcare reform. Why?

If Congress refuses to authorize Obama's proposed bombing, it will be the first time it has stopped a president from going to war. For those who want the United States to be an empire, that is a scary thought.

[T]he Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, [but appears to be] more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

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