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Trade deal leaked, China’s breach, Disney’s H-1Bs, whither Marky…

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Friday, June 5, 2015

 


FAST TRACK

 

KING-Obama-on-trade_front► From Politico — Obama’s interviews with local journalists don’t go as planned — The “Live from the White House” series is usually President Barack Obama’s show. But not all of his interviews with anchors from regional TV stations this week worked out quite as planned… Obama isn’t just trying to make the substantive case for the TPP. He’s also trying to show in advance that he’ll make good on a commitment to help Democrats who support a top priority of his term’s fourth quarter when the fast-track authority he wants to seal the deal comes up for a vote as early as next week in the House.

ALSO at The Stand — We’ve heard this before: ‘Trust me’ on trade

► MUST-READ from Huffington Post — Another leaked trade agreement, another reason to oppose Fast Track (by Yale professor David Singh Grewal) — Yesterday, WikiLeaks released 17 documents from a little known trade agreement now under negotiation. The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) represents a first step in crafting a new global regime for governing the cross-border flow of services, and academics and activists studying the leaked drafts have already noted some of this deregulatory and privatizing pressure. Longstanding systems of public service provision in areas ranging from transport to broadcasting to utilities look likely to be come under new scrutiny. Financial regulations and safeguards — including Dodd-Frank — may be further eroded under this agreement, under the guise of financial service liberalization.

fast-track-public-citizenThe same “fast track” authorization that will soon be debated in the House of Representatives doesn’t just concern the controversial TPP and TTIP. Later this year or next, it will be used to provide special, expedited review for TiSA as well. For fast track — now called “Trade Promotion Authority”–will last for six years. Thus, after Obama’s term is finished, through the next Presidential administration, and until 2021, the special treatment decided on this coming week will be used to push through future “trade” agreements that may address any activity that crosses a border — which is to say, almost anything of importance in today’s world.

 


STATE GOVERNMENT

 

► From AP — State budget negotiations continue in Inslee’s office — Budget negotiators from the House and Senate are getting closer to an agreement on how much money should be spent under a new two-year state operating budget, the governor’s budget director said Thursday.

olympia-enough_take-action_frontALSO at The Stand — ENOUGH! Avoid the shutdown, pass House budget, go home

► In the Olympian — Path to budget deal made semi-easy (editorial) — A capital gains tax is a small step toward making Washington’s tax code — which is simply the worst in the country in terms of burdening the poor — a little less unfair. If the Senate still doesn’t like the capital gains tax, then its leaders should point out where they want to find new revenue.

jinkins-laurie► From AP — Tax millions of average families or the richest 32,000? (by Rep. Laurie Jinkins) — This small capital-gains tax is intended to strengthen the middle class by asking the wealthiest few to pay more of their fair share. Would you be affected? Probably not, because estimates tell us only about .4 percent of Washington’s 7 million residents make enough money from the stock market and other assets to pay a capital gains tax.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Bill would require Boeing to maintain 79,500 jobs in state — Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) introduced a bill Thursday that would require Boeing to provide a certain number of jobs in Washington in exchange for receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks. The bill doesn’t contain any penalties if the company doesn’t comply.

EDITOR’S NOTE — So… it’s more of a guideline than a requirement.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review —  Health insurance premiums going down for some — While some states are expecting double-digit increases in individual health care insurance premiums next year, some Washington insurers on the state exchange plan to lower their rates for 2016.

WA_healthplanfinder► In today’s Seattle Times — More small employers using state’s health-insurance exchange — More than 100 small businesses in Washington are covering their workers through the state’s health-insurance exchange. And beginning in November, the Washington Healthplanfinder Business exchange will expand its reach to include employers with up to 100 workers, growing beyond its current market covering businesses with 1 to 50 workers.

► In today’s News Tribune — Inslee directs state agencies to get ready for military downsizing — His new subcabinet would try to help displaced service members. A looming Army force reduction could take as many as 11,000 more Army positions from JBLM.

► In today’s Olympian — Inslee appoints Vikki Smith to lead Department of Revenue — Vikki Smith, 45-year employee of the state Department of Revenue, will be the agency’s new director, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday.

 


LOCAL

 

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Broetje Orchards to pay record $2.25M in immigration penalty — Broetje Orchards, a major apple producer east of the Tri-Cities, will pay a record $2.25 million in civil penalties for failing to verify the eligibility of its employees to work in the United States. The Washington Growers League says the massive fine is a classic example of why federal lawmakers must pass comprehensive immigration reform.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Kaiser Permanente employees rally in Longview — About 50 health care workers rallied outside the office of Kaiser Permanente in Longview on Thursday morning to support their unions’ effort to negotiate a new contract.

► In today’s PSBJ — Despite the state’s epic growth, chamber of commerce membership drops in many areas — The Association of Washington Business again tops the list of largest chambers in the state, but it lost about 200 members this past year. Others like the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce trimmed down to 500 from last year’s 700.

 


FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

 

► In today’s Washington Post — Chinese breach data of 4 million federal workers — Hackers working for the Chinese state breached the computer system of the Office of Personnel Management in December, U.S. officials said Thursday, and the agency will notify about 4 million current and former federal employees that their personal data may have been compromised.

► In today’s Washington Post — Bill would undermine protections for all VA workers — House hearing examines legislation that would sharply cut appeals process for fired or demoted VA employees. Congress is using VA as a test tube for civil service reform.

► From AFL-CIO Now — Sen. Warren to SEC chair: ‘You’re leadership has been extremely disappointing’ — In a blistering 13-page letter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took SEC Chair Mary Jo White to task for a series of broken promises. At the top of Warren’s list — the commission’s ongoing failure to finalize a rule requiring companies to disclose the gap between their CEOs’ pay and that of the median worker.

 


NATIONAL

 

Unions-Work-reducing-inequality► From Business Insider — It’s time we admitted it: To save this country, we need labor unions (by Shane Ferro) — The economic problem of this generation in the United States is income inequality. The rich continue to get richer, and the rest of America wonders when, if ever, a raise is coming. One of the best solutions to this problem is for workers to organize and form unions.

► From ABC News — Missouri Gov. Nixon vetoes ‘right-to-work’ legislation — Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a measure Thursday that would have made Missouri the 26th right-to-work state, and it’s unclear whether proponents will be able to muster enough support in the Republican-led Legislature to override the veto.

disney-world

► In the NY Times — Pink slips at Disney. But first, train foreign replacements. — About 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost. The layoffs are raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States.

H-1B_layoffs► In today’s NY Times — Senator seeks inquiry into visa program used at Disney — Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) called on Thursday for the Department of Homeland Security to investigate a temporary visa program for highly skilled immigrants.

► From Fox Salt Lake City — Utah construction companies ordered to pay workers nearly $2 million in back wages — Several Utah construction companies are being forced to pay nearly $2 million in back wages to their workers after federal investigators found 2,700 Utah construction workers were cheated out of thousands of dollars.

► From Medium — FIFA Corruption a Symptom of a Diseased System (by Tefere Gebre) — While the eyes of the world are focused on the international scandal surrounding FIFA, going unnoticed are the migrant workers who have been injured or killed building the infrastructure needed to support the World Cup.

 


T.G.I.F.

 

► Today, the Entire Staff of The Stand wishes “Marky Mark” Wahlberg a happy 44th birthday. Back when he was 20, he made this video of himself working out and boxing barechested, dancing with his friends The Funky Bunch, and making out with a girl on a bed. (“Yeah. You feel it, baby?”) It was his only big hit and afterwards, Wahlberg fell into obscurity and was never heard from again. Sad.

 

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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