Sanders: Call for 'Political Revolution' Is About Mass Movement, Not Me

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'Enough is enough. This country belongs to all of us and not a handful of billionaires.'

Published on Sunday, June 07, 2015 byCommon Dreams

by Jon Queally, staff writer

As Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to attract overflow crowds, it was "standing-room-only" at a large community center in Keene, New Hampshire on Saturday where the presidential candidate continued to describe how a grassroots-driven "political revolution" is needed in the country in order to make real progress on debilitating levels inequality and student debt, the increasing threat of climate change, and the firm grip on the nation's democracy held by the billionaire class and corporate interests.

The Wall Street Journal reported that approximately "800 people squeezed" into the event, but a local newspaper put the number at over a 1,000 attendees, with many spilling out into the entryway and beyond.

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"This is not about Bernie Sanders," the candidate said to the room filled beyond capacity. "You can have the best president in the history of the world but that person will not be able to address the problems that we face unless there is a mass movement, a political revolution in this country.

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Under Shadow of Trade Deal, US Pesticide Lobby Pressured EU to Dump Toxic Pesticide Rules

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Opposition to the TTIP spans Europe. (Photo: Garry Knight/flickr/cc)

Published on Friday, May 22, 2015 byCommon Dreams |Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Report details how corporate lobbyists mobilized to stop the EU from regulating hormone disrupting chemicals known to have significant health and environmental impacts

Under pressure from the U.S. and agrochemical industry lobbyists and amid ongoing negotiations for a controversial trade deal, the European Union dropped planned rules that could have led to the banning of 31 pesticides containing hazardous chemicals, a new investigative report has revealed.

The probe, led by the Brussels-based research and watchdog group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and French journalist Stephane Horel, exposes how corporate lobby groups like the American Chemistry Council, CropLife America, and the American Chambers of Commerce, mobilized to stop the EU from taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs)—known to have significant health and environmental impacts.

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Governments Giving Fossil Fuel Companies $10 Million a Minute: IMF

 

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Governments are failing to properly tax fossil fuel consumption, with enormous environmental costs, the IMF reports. (Photo: Andrew Hart/flickr/cc)

Energy companies receive $5.3 trillion a year in funding from governments worldwide, says financial powerhouse

Published on Monday, May 18, 2015 byCommon Dreams | Nadia Prupis, staff writer

The fossil fuel industry receives $5.3 trillion a year in government subsidies, despite its disastrous toll on the environment, human health, and other global inequality issues, a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published Monday has found.

That means that governments worldwide are spending $10 million every minute to fund energy companies—more than the estimated public health spending for the entire globe, IMF economists Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar wrote in a blog post accompanying the report (pdf).

"These estimates are shocking," Clements and Gaspar wrote. "The number for 2015 is more than double the US$2 trillion we had previously estimated for 2011."

Subsidies occur in two ways, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department directors Sanjeev Gupta and Michael Keen explained in a separate blog post published Monday:

“[P]re-tax” subsidies—which occur when people and businesses pay less than it costs to supply the energy—are smaller than a few years back. But “post-tax” subsidies—which add to pre-tax subsidies an amount that reflects the environmental, health and other damage that energy use causes and the benefit from favorable VAT or sales tax treatment—remain extremely high, and indeed are now well above our previous estimates.

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Warren Hits Back Hard on 'Broken Promises' of Corporate Trade Pacts

Report concludes that, despite pledges, US has routinely failed to protect worker rights under so-called 'free trade' deals

Published on Monday, May 18, 2015 byCommon DreamsLauren McCauley, staff writer

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Speaking at a labor rally last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said workers "have to fight back" against corporate-friendly deals like TPP. (Image: Screengrab/AFL-CIO)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took decisive aim at President Barack Obama's pending global trade pacts on Monday with the release of a new report, which argues that—despite pledges to the contrary—so-called "free trade" agreements have a record of undermining workers rights.

The 15-page staff report, Broken Promises: Decades of Failure to Enforce Labor Standards in Free Trade Agreements (pdf), contends that under previous agreements, the United States has repeatedly either failed to enforce or adopts unenforceable labor standards resulting in widespread labor-related human rights abuses.

"Supporters of past trade agreements have said again and again that these deals would include strong protections for workers, but assurances without strong enforcement are just empty promises," Senator Warren said in a press statement. "The facts show that, despite all the promises, these trade deals were just another tool to tilt the playing field in further of multinational corporations and against working families."

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“What is Inexcusable is Venezuela's Political Independence”

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An interview with John Pilger, conducted by Michael Albert.

Why would the U.S. want Venezuela's government overthrown?

There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because it is independent of U.S. designs for the region and because Venezuela has the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically rapacious U.S. An Oxfam report once famously described the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as 'the threat of a good example'. That has been true in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez won his first election. The 'threat' of Venezuela is greater, of course, because it is not tiny and weak; it is rich and influential and regarded as such by China.

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European Union Targets Google with Antitrust Probe

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Powerful internet company operating to give itself "unfair advantage" at the expense of European consumers and competitors, says EU official

byJon Queally, staff writer | CommonDreams.org

 

If Google executives use their service to perform an online search for "antitrust + European Union" on Wednesday morning, they may not like the results.

The European Union has opened a formal investigation and sent a list of complaints to the U.S.-based internet giant accusing it of behaving in ways that give it "unfair advantage" over its competitors in Europe, opening a legal door that may have far-reaching consequences for one of the world's most lucrative corporations.

In addition to the broader list of charges regarding Google businesses practices on the continent, the EU Competition Commission, which handles such matters, has also opened a separate antitrust investigation which will look specifically at Google's mobile operating system, known as Android.

"If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe," said Margrethe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner.

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As Bills Advance, Will Grassroots Resistance Finally Overcome Fast Track Push?

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Grassroots and labor groups to hold week of action calling on Democratic lawmakers to block secretive trade pact

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Signaling that loud grassroots resistance may be working, congressional Democrats are failing to get behind the White House's push for unilateral authority over the secretive 12-nation trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to news reports on Tuesday.

At issue is whether the House will approve a pending bill that would grant President Barack Obama 'Fast Track' trade promotion authority, which would allow the White House to bypass Congress and seal the deal on the controversial TPP.

According to The Hill on Tuesday, as few as 15 House Democrats appear willing to support Fast Track legislation. That number, The Hill reports, is "far fewer than the 50 Democrats Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republicans have asked the White House to deliver." And with some conservatives wary of backing the President, "it's possible a vote would fail on the floor."

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Food, Farming and Climate Change: It’s Bigger than Everything Else

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Published on Monday, April 13, 2015 by Common DreamsbyRyan Zinn

'Compared to large-scale industrial farms, small-scale agroecological farms not only use fewer fossil fuel-based fertilizer inputs and emit less GHGs, including methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide (CO2), but they also have the potential to actually reverse climate change by sequestering CO2 from the air into the soil year after year.' (Image: Fair World Project)

Record-breaking heat waves, long-term drought, “100-year floods” in consecutive years, and increasingly extreme superstorms are becoming the new normal. The planet is now facing an unprecedented era of accelerating and intensifying global climate change, with negative impacts already being widely felt. While global climate change will impact nearly everyone and everything, the greatest impact is already being felt by farmers and anyone who eats food.

When we think of climate change and global warming, visions of coal-fired power plants and solar panels come to mind. Policy discussions and personal action usually revolve around hybrid cars, energy-efficient homes and debates about the latest technological solutions. However, the global agriculture system is at the heart of both the problem and the solution.

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