12 May 2015   Leave a comment

US President Obama has been pushing for two free trade agreements:  the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  The trade pacts are incredibly complex and cumbersome and the only way to ensure passage of such bills is to get the US Congress to give up its right to place amendments on each of the trade bills.   Such legislation is known as fast-track legislation, or, more formally, Trade Promotion Authority or TPA.  Today the Senate refused to grant such authority to the President, largely because Senate Democrats refused to back the President.  These Democrats believe that free trade pacts have led to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs in the last thirty years.  This vote, if it stands, could mark the end of globalization as supported by the US.

The Pew Research Center has polled Americans about their religious beliefs.  Interestingly, the number of Americans who describe their faith as Christian has declined in recent years:  71% describe themselves as Christian as opposed to 76% in 2007.  The number of Americans who do not profess a religious faith has increased.  The numbers certainly do not resonate with the mainstream media’s characterization of American religious beliefs.

The US is considering whether to test China’s activities in the South China Sea by sending US naval vessels within 12 miles of the reefs upon which China is building up facilities.  The challenge would be to see whether China’s activities have led to a Chinese territorial claim to those islands.  The US is committed to the idea that the South China Sea is “high sea” and not territorial–a point of view essential to freedom of navigation for all countries using those sea lanes.  The Chinese, however, may decide that the reefs are part of Chinese national territory.  It will be an interesting confrontation.

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Posted May 13, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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