Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nations within Nations. Is it true?



Which of the 11 American nations do you live in?
Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.

“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.” [...]
See the whole article for a larger map, embedded links, and descriptions of each of the individual "nations" on the map.

This reminds me a lot of a similar map I blogged about in 2007. The older map broke up areas into even smaller areas. So which is better? Have things changed much? Or is it just a matter of perspective?
     

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Are their different "flavors" of capitalism and socialism? What should we choose?

Is the pope stirring the pot for the communists?

In Fiery Speeches, Francis Excoriates Global Capitalism
[...] Having returned to his native Latin America, Francis has renewed his left-leaning critiques on the inequalities of capitalism, describing it as an underlying cause of global injustice, and a prime cause of climate change. Francis escalated that line last week when he made a historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism — even as he called for a global movement against a “new colonialism” rooted in an inequitable economic order.

The Argentine pope seemed to be asking for a social revolution.

[...]

Francis has defined the economic challenge of this era as the failure of global capitalism to create fairness, equity and dignified livelihoods for the poor — a social and religious agenda that coincides with a resurgence of the leftist thinking marginalized in the days of John Paul II. Francis’ increasingly sharp critique comes as much of humanity has never been so wealthy or well fed — yet rising inequality and repeated financial crises have unsettled voters, policy makers and economists.

Left-wing populism is surging in countries immersed in economic turmoil, such as Spain, and, most notably, Greece. But even in the United States, where the economy has rebounded, widespread concern about inequality and corporate power are propelling the rise of liberals like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who, in turn, have pushed the Democratic Party presidential front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to the left.

[...]

Even as he meets regularly with heads of state, Francis has often said that change must come from the grass roots, whether from poor people or the community organizers who work with them. To Francis, the poor have earned knowledge that is useful and redeeming, even as a “throwaway culture” tosses them aside. He sees them as being at the front edge of economic and environmental crises around the world.

In Bolivia, Francis praised cooperatives and other localized organizations that he said provide productive economies for the poor. “How different this is than the situation that results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!” he said on Wednesday night.

It is this Old Testament-like rhetoric that some finding jarring, perhaps especially so in the United States, where Francis will visit in September. His environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” released last month, drew loud criticism from some American conservatives and from others who found his language deeply pessimistic. His right-leaning critics also argued that he was overreaching and straying dangerously beyond religion — while condemning capitalism with too broad a brush.

“I wish Francis would focus on positives, on how a free-market economy guided by an ethical framework, and the rule of law, can be a part of the solution for the poor — rather than just jumping from the reality of people’s misery to the analysis that a market economy is the problem,” said the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, which advocates free-market economics.

Francis’ sharpest critics have accused him of being a Marxist or a Latin American communist, even as he opposed communism during his time in Argentina. His tour last week of Latin America began in Ecuador and Bolivia, two countries with far-left governments. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, who wore a Che Guevara patch on his jacket during Francis’ speech, claimed the pope as a kindred spirit — even as Francis seemed startled when Mr. Morales gave him a wooden crucifix shaped like a hammer and sickle as a gift.

[...]

The French economist Thomas Piketty argued last year in a surprising best-seller, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” that rising wealth inequality is a natural result of free-market policies, a direct challenge to the conventional view that economic inequalities shrink over time. The controversial implication drawn by Mr. Piketty is that governments should raise taxes on the wealthy.

Mr. Piketty roiled the debate among mainstream economists, yet Francis’ critique is more unnerving to some because he is not reframing inequality and poverty around a new economic theory but instead defining it in moral terms. “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy,” he said on Wednesday. “It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: It is a commandment.”

Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist, said he believed Francis was making a nuanced point about capitalism, embodied by his coinage of a “social mortgage” on accumulated wealth — a debt to the society that made its accumulation possible. Mr. Hanauer said that economic elites should embrace the need for change both for moral and pragmatic reasons.

“I’m a believer in capitalism but it comes in as many flavors as pie, and we have a choice about the kind of capitalist system that we have,” said Mr. Hanauer, now an outspoken proponent of redistributive government policies like a higher minimum wage.

Yet what remains unclear is whether Francis has a clear vision for a systemic alternative to the status quo that he and others criticize. “All these critiques point toward the incoherence of the simple idea of free market economics, but they don’t prescribe a remedy,” said Mr. Johnson, of the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Francis acknowledged as much, conceding on Wednesday that he had no new “recipe” to quickly change the world. Instead, he spoke about a “process of change” undertaken at the grass-roots level. [...]
This pope has a strong history of being an advocate for the poor. I get it, and don't think anything is wrong with that. It's just that he seems out of touch with the modern world and how it works. He has spend so much time working with the poor, that it's all he sees; with out a more balanced understanding of the larger whole, and no clear plan for change... what is he doing?

Stirring up revolution against people who create wealth, calling for the redistribution of wealth, without any sort of plan as to how that should be done... how is that any different from the Communism of the past, that has wrought so much death and destruction? And when will the Vatican put it's money where it's mouth is, and return all the gold and priceless treasures they've ripped off from around the world?

Instead of cursing the darkness, why not light a candle? Why not focus on the more positive aspects of capitalism and how it can be used to lift people out of poverty, be used wisely and compassionately, steer the conversation in more constructive ways, rather than just painting all capitalists with a tar-brush and stirring the pot for communist revolutionaries? I think perhaps this pope, however well-meaning, doesn't have the broader perspective or the brain-power to be able to do that.

Here at home, we have Bernie Sanders and followers, wanting us to drink his flavor of Kool-Aid:

How Bernie Sanders plans to win, and change Washington
[...] In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Sanders said that the president ran "one of the great campaigns in the history of the United States of America" in 2008, but he also made a mistake by trying to negotiate fair compromises with Republicans and their leadership in Congress.

"The truth is Republicans never wanted to negotiate, all they wanted to do is obstruct," Sanders said. "What I have said throughout this campaign is electing Bernie Sanders as president is not enough. Not going to do it. We need a mass grassroots movement that looks the Republicans in the eye and says, 'If you don't vote to demand that your wealthy people start paying their fair share of taxes, if you don't vote for jobs, raising the minimum wage and expanding Social Security, we know what's going on, we're involved, we're organized, you are outta here if you don't do the right thing.'"

He plans to build that grassroots coalition by bringing more people into the political process and focusing heavily on poverty and income inequality.

"I'm going to be going around the country not only to blue states...but to red states, conservative states. We're going to go to Alabama, we're going to go to Mississippi," Sanders said. "I think the message that we have is resonating. People are going to get involved in the political process, we're going to drive turnout up and when we do that we win." [...]
He sounds like he's the one that doesn't want to negotiate anything. I'm always amazed when Democrats become outraged that the Republicans don't just roll over and play dead. As if it's a crime to disagree with them.

I agree with one of the comments below the article; we don't need any ONE group of people telling us all what to do and how to live.

Also in the comments, someone holds up Denmark and Germany as examples of socialism that "works"; should we, could we not follow them as examples of the way civilized people should live?

That's the progressive dream. It's tempting to say yes. If it works, why not?

Those particular countries have been very careful to maintain a balance between wealth re-distribution and fostering the conditions for the creation of wealth. And perhaps that IS the civilized thing to do. I just have doubts that the pope or Bernie really understand that balance. It's easy to advocate the redistribution of wealth. But if the people who create wealth no longer have the motivation to do so, the redistributed funds dry up, and when there are no more, then everyone ends up poorer.

Most of the nations around the world have overspent more than they have created. Until they demonstrate that they understand the balance between spending and wealth creation, I would not encourage their redistribution efforts. It will only end badly. Such stupidity CAN only end badly.

I've posted previously about the likely future of world economics and the needed flexibility of the new economic reality of the global economy in the Brave New World we are becoming. A good deal of "workable" socialism or socialist ideas may be built into it. If it works, then so be it. Perhaps it will be true progress. It's just that, where will it lead us, unless we are VERY careful?

Every communist I've ever known (and I've known quite a few) has told me that socialism is not an end goal in itself; it's merely a stepping-stone to communism. Socialism gets people used to the idea that the government has the right to redistribute wealth and control people's lives for "the greater good". Once the people become dependent on the government for their needs, then democracy and capitalism and be abolished as "unnecessary", and the government can own and run everything. Which is essentially, one group of people telling everyone else what to do and how to live.

But, people could get "stuck" on socialism that "works"; they get too comfortable, and stop "progressing". The communist's answer to that is to overload the system till it no longer works; destroy the balance, keep spending until the system collapses. Capitalism can then be declared "dead", and replaced with communism. By then the people will be so dependent on the government and so fearful that they will gladly trade freedom for security. And if history is any indication, they will end up with neither.

Communists are fond of saying that "real" communism has never been tried. But that's not true, it has been tried, many times, and every time it's killed a lot of people. That kind of control goes against human nature, and the only way to enforce it is to kill lots of people. If we don't learn that lesson from history, we may be destined to continue repeating it. There may be different "flavors" of capitalism and socialism. But there is only one flavor of communism, and it's always deadly.

Perhaps we are destined for some flavor of socialism to dominate the Brave New Word our future is becoming. I can only say, it's a slippery slope. Perhaps it can be managed, but it would mean being forever vigilant of the dangers. Are we, the human race, up for it? Time will tell.



     

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Auroras tonight, and Wednesday?

Looks like it. This was Iowa from the early morning hours today:



Look up! Another solar storm may supercharge auroras Wednesday
While a "severe" solar storm that sparked dazzling auroras around the world on Monday through Tuesday morning is dying down now, skywatchers shouldn't stop looking up quite yet.

Another potentially powerful solar tempest is expected to impact Earth on Wednesday into Thursday, and it could create more amazing auroras for people in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

In particular, the next solar storm is especially well aimed to enhancing aurora activity over North America, according to experts at the National Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado.

Monday's solar storm hit the G4 or "severe" level, a relatively rare class of storm that can create bright auroras in relatively low latitudes. Such G4 storms — the rating scale goes up to G5 — can also cause problems with power grids on Earth and harm satellites in space.

And another storm of that severe magnitude is likely on its way to Earth now.

Scientists at the SWPC are anticipating that the solar storm predicted to arrive Wednesday could, yet again, produce beautiful auroras in relatively low latitudes.

At the moment, the SWPC is predicting a G3 or "strong" storm on Wednesday and Thursday, but that was the forecast for Monday, as well. [...]

See the whole article for embedded links, photos, videos and more.

For more technical details, and an Aurora Prediction map, see the NOAA website: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/




   

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Oregon is for Losers?

This is an unpleasant statistic:



Report: Oregon has worst graduation rate in the U.S.
A comprehensive U.S. report showed that Oregon not only has the worst graduation rates in the nation, but it's holding the country back from achieving its graduation rate goals.

The 2015 Building a Grad Nation report analyzed 2013 graduation rate data from every state in the nation. While the national average reached a record high of 81.4 percent, the four-year graduation rate in Oregon was only 69 percent.

Furthermore, Oregon hadn't improved from the year before, showing stagnation as the last remaining state with graduation rates lower than 70 percent.

"Oregon did not experience significant improvements and became the state with the lowest graduation rate in the nation and the last remaining state with an ACGR [Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate] in the 60s," the report said.

The Grad Nation report shows that overall, much of the country is on track to graduate upwards of 90 percent of seniors by 2020, and many states are already graduating more than 80 percent of students, including neighboring California. Washington State had a 76.4 percent graduation rate. [...]
Even California is doing better. What gives?
     

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

An Embryonic New Turkey?

Not the bird, but the country. They recently had an election. Before the election, there was this:

Why Turkey's election doesn't matter
[...] The focus is not the usual one on "Who will form the next government?" Analysts agree that the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP), in power since 2002, will win again. But will it have to sign up a junior partner? Will it win sufficient seats to change the constitution and fulfill President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's plan to turn his position from a largely symbolic one into a fully executive position?

Erdoğan wants powers so wide reaching that he actually compares them to those wielded by absolute Saudi monarchs. Ironically, those powers would be extracted from the prime minister, which position Erdoğan filled for eleven years until last August, when he voluntarily ceded the position to a hand-picked successor, a mild-mannered academic, and moved over to the grander but far less powerful presidency.

Expressed numerically, the question fascinating Turks is whether the AKP will win a one-seat majority (276 seats out of 550) to rule alone, the 3/5s majority (330 seats) enabling it to change the constitution pending a public referendum, or the 2/3s majority (367 seats) required to change it unilaterally.

The main drama concerns a new party, the leftist, Kurdish-oriented Peoples' Democratic Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, or HDP): Will it manage to reach the world's highest threshold of 10 percent of the total vote and enter parliament, in this, its first national campaign? If yes, it will could deprive the AKP of its majority 276 seats; if no, the AKP will likely reach that number and maybe even the magic 330.

But where others find high drama, I see near-tedium, and for two reasons. First, the AKP has used ballot-box shenanigans and other dirty tricks in the past; many indications point to its preparing to do so again, especially in Kurdish-majority districts.

Second, since the moment Erdoğan's presidency began nine months ago, he has behaved as though his wished-for constitutional changes had already been effected; he has chaired cabinet meetings, chose AKP candidates, leaned on the judiciary, and deployed a bevy of "czars" to compete with the prime minister's staff. He is lord of all he surveys.

He also blatantly defies the ban on political activities by the president, illegally stumping the country, worshipful governmental media at his disposal, Koran often in hand, urging citizens to vote AKP and thereby enhance his powers as cumhurbaşkan.

As he transforms a flawed democracy and NATO ally into a rogue state, ostrich-like Western governments sentimentally pretend it's still the 1990s, with Ankara a reliable ally, and abet his growing despotism.

Therefore, I conclude, how many seats the AKP wins hardly matters. Erdoğan will barrel, bulldoze, and steamroll his way ahead, ignoring traditional and legal niceties with or without changes to the constitution. Sure, having fully legitimate powers would add a pretty bauble to his résumé, but he's already tyrant and Turkey's course is set.

Being a brilliant domestic operator and also an egomaniac in a tinderbox of a region suggests where Erdoğan's future troubles lie – abroad. Under his leadership, Ankara suffers poor to terrible relations at present with nearly the entire neighborhood, including Moscow, Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Jerusalem, Cairo, Athens, the Republic of Cyprus, and even with the new leader of Turkish Cyprus. [...]
Sounds pretty grim. But is it really that bleak? The election has happened now, and the results are in:

Turkey election: Erdoğan accepts no party has mandate to govern alone
The election result brought forth an embryonic new Turkey, but not the one the president wanted.

It produced what is tantamount to a cultural revolution in Turkish political life. Women will pour into the 550-seat parliament in Ankara in unprecedented numbers, 98 up from 79. Openly gay candidates won seats for the HDP. Most of all, the long-repressed Kurdish minority (one in 5 citizens) will be properly represented in the parliament for the first time with 80 seats.

“This is the first time that feminists in Turkey actively supported a political party,” said feminist activist Mehtap Dogan. “Up until now we have always done politics on our own, away from parliament. But this time we ran a campaign supporting the HDP because we believed in their sincerity when it comes to defending the rights of women, LGBTs and ethnic minorities.”

The HDP is the first party to introduce a quota of 50% female politicians, and all party offices and HDP-run municipalities are chaired by both a man and a woman.

The party’s successful attempt to break out of ethnic identity politics and broaden its appeal well beyond the Kurdish issue owes much to leader Selahattin Demirtas’ magnetism and his message of outreach.

But the mass protest movement born in a central Istanbul park two years ago and which mushroomed into national protests which Erdogan crushed mercilessly also fed in to the HDP’s support.

“During the Gezi [park] protests, many got an idea of what Kurds had to go through for years: the violence, the repression, the unjust arrests. It opened our eyes to the Kurdish suffering,” said Dogan. “At the same time, we saw how the pro-government press tried to turn our legitimate, peaceful protests into acts of terrorism.”

Just as Erdogan branded the protesters two years ago “riff-raff”, “terrorists” and “foreign agents”, in the election campaign he stoked division and malice by repeatedly smearing his HDP opponents as “terrorists, marginals, gays and atheists.”

He asked religiously conservative voters not to cast their ballots for “such people who have nothing to do with Islam.”

The tactic backfired as many religiously conservative Kurds shifted their votes from the AKP to a party that promised to represent everyone’s interests. [...]

Erdoğan may well try to push ahead anyway, but it won't be easy for him, he will have opposition. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.
     

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exactly what’s killing Americans in each of the 50 states, the “most distinctive” causes?



Death Map: What’s Really Killing Americans
Heart disease and cancer are the most common killers in the United States but a new map sheds more light on exactly what’s killing Americans in each of the 50 states.

Using statistics from 2001 to 2010, the map highlights the “most distinctive” causes of death, rather than what kills the most people. A ‘distinctive’ cause of death is when the rate is higher compared to the national average.

The map is “a somewhat of a colorful and provocative way of starting some conversations and highlighting some unusual things that are going on,” study co-author Francis Boscoe told LiveScience.

The flu was the most distinctive cause of death in Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. In mining states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, lung diseases caused by inhaling certain dusts were the most distinctive causes of death.

Dying in a plane or boat accident was the most distinctive cause of death in Alaska and Idaho, while sepsis was the most distinctive cause of death in New Jersey. The most distinctive cause of death in New York and Connecticut was inflammatory diseases of pelvic organs.

Possibly the most surprising statistic comes from Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon, where deaths caused by law enforcement officers — not including legal executions — were the most distinctive cause of death in those states, meaning “death by police officer” occurred in those states at a higher rate compared to the national average.

The numbers of “distinctive” deaths vary greatly. For example, 15,000 people in Florida died of HIV, the most distinctive cause of death there. Meanwhile, there were 22 deaths from syphilis, the most distinctive cause of death in Louisiana.

The source of the map is here.
   

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Friday, May 08, 2015

Elon Musk makes the Future Happen

Has the future finally arrived? I hope so:

Tesla's Elon Musk Unveils Solar Batteries for Homes and Small Businesses
The system could easily take a home off the power grid, especially with the use of many solar panels, Musk said
From a man who made his name and charted his career with lofty goals and often unexpected financial decisions, the news came with little surprise: Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., unveiled a product line of electric batteries late last night in Los Angeles.

Musk introduced the Tesla Powerwall, a wall-mounted lithium-ion electric battery for homes and small businesses, and the Tesla Powerpack, a heftier version of the same core product designed for utility-scale use.

He also announced a new wing of the company, Tesla Energy, which will begin shipping the Powerwall systems to domestic customers in three to four months. Deliveries will trickle out slowly, he said, then accelerate next year when the company begins shipping orders out from its so-called Gigafactory in Nevada.

Yet Musk spoke first about rising emissions and climate change solutions, not cars. He used a slide show of power plants and smoggy skies to introduce the problems. “It sucks, exactly,” he said. “I think we, collectively, should do something about this,” he added, “for us and a lot of other creatures.”

The Powerwall battery charging system, which can be stacked up to nine batteries high and mounted on an inner garage wall or outside, costs $3,000 for a 7-kilowatt-hour system and $3,500 for the 10 kWh option. The entire Powerwall system is roughly 3 feet wide and 4 feet long, and would stick out about 7 inches once mounted. It could easily take a home off the power grid, especially with the use of many solar panels, Musk said.

“Tesla is not just an automotive company, it's an energy innovation company,” the firm said in a statement. “Tesla Energy is a critical step in this mission to enable zero emission power generation.”

The utility version comes in 100 kWh blocks that can be grouped together. Musk said one utility company is already interested in a 250-gigawatt installation of Powerpack systems alone.

Shifting cities to 'stored sunlight'
“This entire night has been powered by batteries,” he told the audience in the warehouse in Hawthorne, Calif., pointing to gray, blocky Powerpack systems standing on end and powering the facility. “Everything you're experiencing is stored sunlight.”

Musk's solution is as audacious as it is simple. By harnessing energy from the sun—“this handy fusion reactor in the sky,” he called it last night—getting enough renewable energy on the power grid and smoothing out energy generation and use between peak and off-peak hours, the nation and planet can shift away from fossil fuels' dominance as a power source, he told the crowd.

The new batteries, he said, will help speed that transition worldwide. “These is going to be a great solution for people in remote parts of the world,” he said, noting that it allows homeowners to leave the power grid and ditch electric cables.

“It can scale globally,” he added, likening the battery systems' potential in emerging economies to mobile phones that penetrated markets faster than old technology and leapfrogged landline sales.

Tesla, the first American car company to go public since Ford Motor Co., has been a darling stock to many in recent years, climbing from trading in the $30 range in 2012 to above $200 a share for most of the past year.

In a research note about yesterday's announcement from Deutsche Bank AG, which was reported by Bloomberg, the authors struck a bullish tone, writing: “Based on the preliminary work on the economics of stationary storage, we believe that this has the potential to be more significant” than Wall Street analysts expect. The battery system, they wrote, could add up to $100 a share.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said Tesla's new battery division could be even more successful than its car business. [...]
The German bankers recognize the potential. This is really exciting. I had posted previously about this new type of power grid that such batteries would create. Now it's actually starting to happen.

Hooray!
     

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I agree with President Obama...

...about this Nike thing:

As Obama Visits Portland, Trade Deal Divides Liberal Community
As President Barack Obama visited Nike's headquarters in Portland — a city known for lush greenery, constant drizzle and liberal politics — the left-leaning enclave has become ground zero Friday for the debate over the administration's push for a sweeping, multinational trade deal.

The president acknowledged that he's faced hurdles in his quest to garner support for an ambitious trade accord between the United States and 11 South American and Pacific Rim nations, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He told workers at the Nike campus that the people opposing this "typically they're my friends and coming from my own party. On this one, they're like, whooping on me."

Obama insisted the trade push is not political for him, since he's run his last election. He said the trade accord is the right thing to do for working families.

"The only reason I do something is because I think it's good for the economy," Obama said.

Still, in Portland, with its normally laid back vibe, the debate over the trade issue is splitting residents into two camps.

On the one side are companies like Nike, one of the city's largest employers. The company employs 8,500 people in Oregon and 26,000 nationwide. Nike says its economic impact on the state of Oregon is $2.5 billion.

And the company promises to add 10,000 jobs and an additional 40,000 indirect and supply chain service jobs if the trade deal is approved.

"We believe agreements that encourage free and fair trade allow Nike to do what we do best: innovate, expand our businesses and drive economic growth," said Mark Parker, Nike's president and CEO.

On the other side are labor unions that argue that the trade accord would repress worker wages and encourage companies — like Nike — to outsource jobs.

Those differences were on display Friday morning as Nike workers, most wearing Nike shoes, lined up to cheer the president. Meanwhile, about a hundred protesters crowded outside and chanted their outrage.

"Nike represents everything about corporate America that stinks," said Andrew Crosby, as he carried a protest sign.

The pact has even split Oregon's senators, both Democrats.

Sen. Ron Wyden is helping lead the charge to pass "fast-track" authority which would grant Obama and future presidents the right to ask for an up-or-down vote in Congress on trade agreements. Obama and supporters say the president needs this authority to better negotiate with other nations.

Opponents worry that such large trade deals deserve vetting by Congress. Sen. Jeff Merkley has said he is "dubious" about the impact of such broad trade accords. [...]
Wyden is a reasonable Democrat. Merkley is a Moron. Oregon desperately needs the jobs and revenue. The unions here are too powerful, and dragging our state down. I have to agree with president Obama on this one.
     

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