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Politicians and energy industry enthusiasts have touted fracking as the path to US energy independence, while environmentalists have battled against the proliferation of fracking and the resultant damage to the Earth. Despite environmental concerns, 18 states have jumped onto the fracking bandwagon (map.)

If President Obama uses his State of the Union address to launch a major push for “fast-track” authority to bypass congressional input and oversight on a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, he will need new allies to generate support around the country.

In his upcoming State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama is expected to prioritize what is emerging as his legacy issue: combatting America's growing wealth inequality. Expect him to promote policies to create new middle-class jobs, especially in manufacturing, and counter the erosion of wages now undermining workers economy-wide.

But in the speech, Obama is also expected to highlight several major trade initiatives, including his priority Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, a massive pact with 11 Asian and Latin American nations that Obama hopes to sign quickly. The business lobby is at full tilt pushing Obama to use the SOTU to call on Congress to pass Fast Track trade authority for the TPP.

StopFastTrack.com highlights how secretive trade deal "threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet."

With the launch of StopFastTrack.com, the organizations highlight how renewal of Fast Track legislation, also known as Trade Legislation Authority, would take away Congress' democratic power in deliberating and amending the TPP, which thus far has been negotiated behind closed doors, with the only information about it being provided through leaks.

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.

“We need a comprehensive plan, but let’s start with increasing the right to collective bargaining,” Ellison said on MSNBC. “We’ve got to get workers on the job in a position to demand that the wealth that they create be shared by the company. That’s a key thing. If you look at how wages has stagnated in the United States and you look at how union did something that has gone down, the lines track right together. You got to get power in the hands of the workers. That’s key.”

The implementation of the Iran accord Monday signaled a modest but still important sea change in that country’s relationship with the world. As with all good diplomacy, the deal is a win-win for Iran and the United Nations Security Council’s permanent members.

MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — The United Nations is taking a day to see if there is enough common ground between Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the opposition to talk directly for the first time since the rebellion began in 2011.

Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.

No matter what line of work you’re in, you should be watching the debate over the emerging trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) very closely.

It’s going to impact the American economy as much as NAFTA, and whatever version gets approved is going to be with us for a very long time.

The talks in Syria began today, with the Syrian government and opposition exchanging accusations and invectives. Missing was the voice of nonviolent civilians, especially women, even through they have been trying for months to have a seat at the table.

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