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News and Culture

US Trade Agreement Leak Reveals 'Radical New Powers' for Multinational Corporations:
Obama administration agrees to deal that contradicts domestic agenda

The release today of a confidential document from ongoing US trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations -- known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- reveals that provisions included in the trade agreement would drastically undermine Obama's proposed domestic agenda and give unprecented political authority to multinational corporations.

President Barack Obama during a meeting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, November 2011. (Larry Downing/Reuters)
The TPP negotiations have gone on for two years between the Obama administration and several Pacific nations under conditions of 'extreme secrecy' without press, public or policymaker oversight, says Public Citizen who posted the leaked document on their website today.

“The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Europe making headway on bank reforms: Bank of Canada Governor Carney
MONTREAL — The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jun. 11 2012, 11:38 AM EDT
Europe is making good progress in attempts to reform its ailing banking system and undertake the difficult task of rebuilding a strong economic union, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney told an international conference Monday.

“The financial reform agenda can be combined with bold steps in Europe to rebuild the single European financial market on a more robust foundation,” Mr. Carney told a gathering of politicians, academics and business people at the 18th annual International Economic Forum of the Americas.

He hailed the plan to bail out Spain’s banking system and warned of serious consequences if the European union starts to fracture along national lines.

Quebec Students Spark Mass-Protests Against Austerity
An atmosphere of defiance now cloaks Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city, as people of all ages don red squares—the symbol of solidarity with the strike, originating from French expression of being ‘squarely in the red’ financially. The balconies of the city’s distinctive townhouses are dotted with red banners, and nightly pots-and-pans protests ring out through Montreal neighborhoods as they bring thousands into the streets.
Obama to Skip Rio Earth Summit
Even if Obama did attend the summit, commitment to action would surprise some environmentalists. While he did attend the Copenhagen climate summit, Kyle Ash of Greenpeace, told IPS, "In Copenhagen, Obama didn't put enough political weight on climate change – he just gave the issue to Congress and sat back to wait.
U.S. drones deeply unpopular around the world
The new multi-nation poll finds that “in predominantly Muslim nations, American anti-terrorism efforts are still widely unpopular.” Beyond Muslim nations, “in nearly all countries, there is considerable opposition to a major component of the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policy: drone strikes.”
Ontario extends Human Rights Code to protect transgendered people
Ontario, Canada is the first major jurisdiction in North America to provide human rights protections for transgendered people.
Patti Smith: The responsible artist
Smith’s ism was and is punk rock. “To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.” If she did not call herself a feminist, does it matter? No one decides who is and isn’t feminist. And anyway, what really matters is whether or not someone/something is helpful or harmful to women. I dare you to argue Patti Smith has not helped us. She is helpful to the core. So helpful in fact that the first thing she says to me on the phone - and no celebrity interview subject has ever said this - is “How can I help?” And she has never apologized for being a woman, never accepted less than respect. That’s how she helped. Bangs called her a hero to a generation of girls, but now she is a hero to three generations of girls. Where she copied Rimbaud and Bob Dylan, the nouveau poètes maudits copy her.
The Cone Collection: Henri Matisse’s vibrant, colorful works
Large Reclining Nude, by Henri Matisse
The big summer exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery is full of vibrant, colourful works by Henri Matisse and other early 20th century modernist artists who were exploring new ways of representing the world in painting, drawing and sculpture.

The VAG exhibition places Large Reclining Nude in its context by showing it beside one of Matisse’s preparatory drawings and the 22 photographs he took of the painting’s progress. The photographs are arranged in a grid on the wall and show how Matisse added or subtracted from the canvas as he flattened out the figure of a reclining woman. Taken together, the additional works show how Matisse worked through various problems he faced depicting a three-dimensional figure in two dimensions.

Blog Posts of Interest

Austerity – part 1 – The 1% Want To Steal Your Social Security, Pres. Obama Is Helping Them
by joe shickspack
This is the first of two articles about the growing politcal “consensus” that America needs austerity.  I wrote this a little while back and it gives some background on who is pushing this current austerity drive and how they’ve gone about it.
Time Lightbox: Invisible Youth: Samantha Box
On any given night in New York City, an estimated 4,000 LGBT youth roam the city without a home. As the country celebrates LGBT Pride month throughout June, Box aims to remind us that, in spite of tremendous progress, vulnerable LGBT youth still suffer in the shadows. According to a recent study by the Empire State Coalition of Youth and Family Services, an estimated 25-40% of homeless youth in New York City identify as gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

Originally posted to DFH writers group on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 05:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Team DFH.

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