Here’s a short animated video explaining why the Trans-Pacific Partnership sucks. Starring my imitation of Ross Perot!
Remember, Ross knew all about the “Giant sucking sound from the South” that became NAFTA.
I pulled concepts from both the left and the right to inform this video. My number one concern on TPP is Food Safety, which nobody is talking about yet.
Unsafe food from some Pacific Rim countries will literally kill people in the US. They will not have to follow US food safety regulations, just the food safety regulations of the shipping country. And if we don’t like it, they can sue us for refusing to accept their food under the TPP guidelines!
I hope you enjoy this educational video, please share it.
Microsoft. Google. Facebook. These firms, among others, have featured prominently in the news over the past few weeks and months. Recently, reports indicated that they have come together to demand changes to US surveillance policy, because it’s bad for business. A while earlier, reports had arisen indicating that some major US companies had worked with the US government against the best interests of their customers. Their cooperation with government spying activity evidently seemed fine to them as long as it was done in secret, but now that their bad behavior has been made public, it seems that they are concerned that their customers might not want to buy tainted goods.
The NSA and other US Government Agencies have induced US vendors to cooperate with their surveillance of every atom’s vibration on our planet. With one notable exception, Joe Nacchio and Quest, who told the government to “come back with a warrant” – in our option both a perfectly legal and morally a correct response.
Joe Nacchio went to jail for “insider trading,” a crime which probably could be proven for every other CEO of publicly traded companies. Enron and Tyco come to mind.
All other companies either cooperated (with ‘noble intentions,’ of course) or were persuaded by the example the US Government set with Joe Nacchio that “cooperation” was preferable to fighting the “requests”.
AT&T for certain, and most probably all the other Telecom carriers help the NSA to tap into their fiber optic networks, for a fee, and we understand provide the Government many years of call detail records – the so called “ metadata” for phone calls. The phone companies had been collecting this data for years to use in their own market research, generally to measure individual customer profitability, which made the data the property of the Telecom Carrier. While the government pretends that this metadata doesn’t really tell them much, let me ask you a simple question: “IF the government does not get useful information from the metadata, WHY DO THEY WANT TO COLLECT IT?” For phone calls, the metadata includes who you were talking to, how long the conversation was, the originating phone number, and the destination phone number, plus the date and time. For email, it includes your email address, the email address(es) of all the other parties, the Subject Line, your IP address, and the date it was sent. As you can see, there is a LOT of information there, which, when cross-referenced with other information in their database, can give the government a good idea of what you were discussing.
The problems that US tech corporations are having, especially those who caved in when asked to put back doors in their products, or to find other ways to help the US government collect data on their customers, is that people found out about it, and NOW THEIR CUSTOMERS DON’T TRUST THEM anymore. Trying to get the government to rein in the NSA now is like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. It’s never too late to do the right thing, but customer trust is fragile. Once people learn that you’ve been engaged in conspiracies against their best interests, WHY would companies making loud public statements that imply that “it’s not our fault. Blame the government” ever convince customers who have been damaged that they should start trusting these sinners again? To be clear, YES, those companies SHOULD work to get the government to behave itself. All the same, it’s NOT going to change the viewpoint of customers who may have been damaged by the companies’ willingness to conspire in secret with the government, to the potential harm of those customers.
What SHOULD the companies have done? These companies could have protested and filed appeals to protect their customers’ information. If the companies had truly been concerned about the Government’s behavior, they could have picked up the phone and asked either their lobbyists or their Congressman or Senator to exert pressure on the government. Or, they could have take action through the US Chamber of Commerce or their trade association, to act in unison to protect them from this behavior by the Government. Apparently they did not, because we know of no appeals from the FISA court to appear on the Supreme Court’s docket.
Of course, it takes backbone to stand up to a government which is willing to use or abuse anything to get its way. Joe Nacchio’s treatment by the Government was clearly designed to send a message to others, as a form of intimidation. Sometimes, leadership requires backbone, and a sense of ethics. As the Nuremburg trials showed, “We were just following orders,” is NOT an excuse. So, it’s clear that the corporate leaders failed to lead; instead, they meekly followed the governments’s dictums. If they had failed to comply, it is not a stretch of the imagination to think that the government might have refused to renew contracts, or might have engaged in some other sort of financial response. To have acted effectively against government threats, either stated or implied, the tech companies needed to come together and provide a united response. Only a unified response by the tech corporations could have protected them and their CEO’s en masse.
Legalities set aside, with the Companies providing information, either through CALEA-engineered “wire taps” (back doors into products) or taps on live networks, information, not demanded legally by warrants or illegal demanded by extortion information, the Companies now lie in the bed they have made for themselves, by their lack of coordinated resistance. It’s hard to be sympathetic to their cries, “We’re innocent! It was the government’s fault,” when they seem to have been willing enough to go along with it as long as their customers didn’t know about it.
The have lost the trust of their customers, and the Governments of the countries where they do business. They have demonstrated they are not to be trusted, and thus cannot be considered to be long-term suppliers to those countries or to their customers in those countries.
Only hours before Paul Ryan and Patty Murray announced that they reached a two year budget agreement (The BiPartisan Budget Act of 2013), representatives from a broad coalition demanding a budget that would cut military expenditures in order to increase funding for a wide range of domestic programs called on Congressional leaders to craft a budget for people, peace and the planet.
Now, because this broad coalition included over a hundred peace, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, environmental and community groups it is almost universally ignored within the walls of Congress. That is one reason why part of that call came in the form of an unscheduled visit to the office of Paul Ryan and Patty Murray.
David Swanson, writing at War is a Crime points out, the Murray Ryan Budget deal, which sets aside more than 50% of the 2014 budget for the military budget is an unbelievable outrage to churn out on International Human Rights Day while numerous members of Congress were off in South Africa claiming to support the use of nonviolence to effect change in the world. At a press conference before the office visits, speakers representing a Budget for People, Peace and the planet spoke to the media.
Speakers at the news conference included the following: Jill Stein, Green Shadow Cabinet; Cheri Honkala, Liz Ortiz, and Glen Davis of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign; David Swanson, Roots Action; Mark Dunlea, Hunger Action Network of New York State; Dr. David Schwartzman, Professor Emeritus Howard University and community activist.
Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts.
New Japanese laws seek to suppress Fukushima reporting.
The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S.
But within Japan, a new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law “represents a coup d’etat” leading to “the recreation of a fascist state.” The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to “conspiracy” laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been leading Japan in an increasingly militaristic direction. Tensions have increased with China. Massive demonstrations have been renounced with talk of “treason.”
But it’s Fukushima that hangs most heavily over the nation and the world.
Tokyo Electric Power has begun the bring-down of hot fuel rods suspended high in the air over the heavily damaged Unit Four. The first assemblies it removed may have contained unused rods. The second may have been extremely radioactive.
But Tepco has clamped down on media coverage and complains about news helicopters filming the fuel rod removal.
Under the new State Secrets Act, the government could ban—and arrest—all independent media under any conditions at Fukushima, throwing a shroud of darkness over a disaster that threatens us all.
By all accounts, whatever clean-up is possible will span decades. The town of Fairfax, CA, has now called for a global takeover at Fukushima. More than 150,000 signees have asked the UN for such intervention.
As a private corporation, Tepco is geared to cut corners, slash wages and turn the clean-up into a private profit center.
It will have ample opportunity. The fuel pool at Unit Four poses huge dangers that could take years to sort out. But so do the ones at Units One, Two and Three. The site overall is littered with thousands of intensely radioactive rods and other materials whose potential fallout is thousands of times greater than what hit Hiroshima in 1945.
Soon after the accident, Tepco slashed the Fukushima workforce. It has since restored some of it, but has cut wages. Shady contractors shuttle in hundreds of untrained laborers to work in horrific conditions. Reuters says the site is heavily infiltrated by organized crime, raising the specter of stolen radioactive materials for dirty bombs and more.
Thousands of tons of radioactive water now sit in leaky tanks built by temporary workers who warn of their shoddy construction. They are sure to collapse with a strong earthquake.
Tepco says it may just dump the excess water into the Pacific anyway. Nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani has advocated the water be stored in supertankers until it can be treated, but the suggestion has been ignored.
Hundreds of tons of water also flow daily from the mountains through the contaminated site and into the Pacific. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen long ago asked Tepco to dig a trench filled with absorbents to divert that flow. But he was told that would cost too much money.
Now Tepco wants to install a wall of ice. But that can’t be built for at least two years. It’s unclear where the energy to keep the wall frozen will come from, or if it would work at all.
Meanwhile, radiation is now reaching record levels in both the air and water.
This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.
Novelist Beverly Gologorsky on the influence of war on fiction & culture.
In the years when I was growing up more or less middle class, American war on the childhood front couldn’t have been sunnier. True, American soldiers were fighting a grim new stalemate of a conflict in Korea and we kids often enough found ourselves crouched under our school desks practicing for the nuclear destruction of our neighborhoods, but the culture was still focused on World War II. Enter a movie theater then and as just about any war flick ended, the Air Force arrived in the nick of time, the Marines eternally advanced, and victory was ours, a God-given trait of the American way of life.
In those days, it was still easy to present war sunny-side up. After all, you couldn’t go wrong with the Good War — not that anyone called it that until Studs Terkel put the phrase into the language and the culture dropped the quote marks with which he carefully encircled it. And if your Dad, who had served in one of the great draft armies of our history, sat beside you silently in that movie theater while John Wayne saved the world, never saying a word about his war (except in rare and sudden outbursts of anger), well, that was no problem. His silence only encouraged you to feel that, given what you’d seen at the movies (not to speak of on TV, in books, in comics, and more or less anywhere else), you already understood his experience and it had been grand indeed.
And then, of course, we boys went into the parks, backyards, or fields and practiced making war the American way, shooting commies, or Ruskies, or Indians, or Japs, or Nazis with toy guns (or sticks). It may not sound pretty anymore, but take my word for it, it was glorious back when.
More than half a century later, those movies are relics of the neolithic era. The toy six-shooters I once holstered and strapped to my waist, along with the green plastic soldiers that I used to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima or Normandy, are somewhere in the trash heap of time. And in the wake of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, who believes that America has a God-given right to victory? Still, I have a few relics from that era, lead Civil War and Indian War-style soldiers who, more than half a century ago, fought out elaborate battles on my floor, and I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that holding one for a moment doesn’t give me some faint wash of emotion from another age. That emotion, so much stronger then, sent thousands of young Americans into Vietnam dreaming of John Wayne.
These days, post-Vietnam, post-9/11, no one rides to the rescue, “victory” is no longer in our possession, and for the first time in memory, a majority of the public thinks Washington should “mind its own business” globally when it comes to war-making. Not surprisingly, in an America that’s lost its appetite for war, such conflicts are far more embattled, so much less onscreen, and as novelist Beverly Gologorsky writes today, unacknowledged in much of American fiction.
There was nothing sunny about war, even in the 1950s, for the young, working-class Gologorsky. If my childhood was, in a sense, lit by war and by a 24/7 economy in which the same giant corporations built ever larger cars and missiles, television consoles and submarines, hers was shadowed by it. She sensed, far more than I, the truth of war that lay in our future. That shadowing is the essence of her deeply moving “Vietnam” novel, The Things We Do to Make It Home, and her just-published second novel, Stop Here, a book that comes to grips in a way both subtle and heart-rending with the Iraq and Afghan wars without ever leaving the environs of a diner in Long Island, New York. Tom
In the Shadow of War Life and Fiction in Twenty-First-Century America
By Beverly Gologorsky
I’m a voracious reader of American fiction and I’ve noticed something odd in recent years. This country has been eternally “at war” and you just wouldn’t know that — a small amount of veteran’s fiction aside — from the novels that are generally published. For at least a decade, Americans have been living in the shadow of war and yet, except in pop fiction of the Tom Clancy variety (where, in the end, we always win), there’s remarkably little evidence of it.
* THE SECRET TRADE AGREEMENT ABOUT TO COMPLETE THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF DEMOCRACY
Source: Scriptonite Daily
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) enshrine the rights of Corporations under International Law, restricting future governments from overturning the changes through fear of costly legal action. They are the largest trade agreements in history, and yet are not open for review, debate or amendment by national parliaments or the public.
It was recently revealed that only three individuals in each TPP nation have been given full access to the agreement, while 600 ‘trade advisors’, those are corporate lobbyists from corporations such as Monsanto, Chevron, Haliburton and Walmart have been granted access.
In fact, if it were not for WikiLeaks, we would still be unaware of the contents of the TPP. In mid-November, WikiLeaks published a draft chapter of the agreement – and the reasons for secrecy became clear. This agreement tips the scales in the balance of power between Corporations and the State – tipping them firmly in favour of corporations. […]
* YANIS VAROUFAKIS: WHAT EUROPEANS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE CURRENT SITUATION IN GREECE
In an interview with Edward Geelhoed, Varoufakis gives an urgent, sobering picture of the conditions in Greece, which contrasts dramatically with the claims made by Eurozone politicians.
By Yanis Varoufakis, Naked Capitalism
Some positive sounds are audible from Greece these days. Mostly produced by the government itself, of course, but also by Merkel, by the OECD (along with some negative sounds), by some European officials (while others say they’re ‘impatient’ with Greece). Is Greece slowly recovering?
It takes a passionate disregard for the truth to suggest that Greece is recovering. Investment has fallen by 18% since the dismal levels of 2011/12, credit to non-financial institutions is 20% down from the asphyxiating depths of 2012, poverty has reached record heights, and is still growing, employment is at levels that are best narrated in the style of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, public debt is exceeding the worst expectations of the greatest pessimists, private debt is reaching for the sky at a time when the collateral posted (e.g. house prices) are sinking fast, the government’s tax take is trailing the worst forecasts. The list of woes is endless and the so-called ‘Greek Success Story’, or ‘Greek-covery’, reflects nothing except the determination to reverse the truth, Goebbels-like, by those who insisted on the policies which resulted in this debacle.
The positive sounds refer to the budget surplus, to a small growth (says the gov’t) or just a small recession (says the others) of the economy.
Yesterday, Deseret News reported that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will pay $8.5 million dollars to Utah for “defrauding the state’s Medicaid program through allegedly false and misleading marketing of Avandia.” Avandia is a drug intended to manage Type 2 diabetes.
Also, The Scientist reports that Nature Medicine retracted a scientific paper authored by a GlaxoSmithKline employee, that detailed multiple sclerosis blood cell samples that never existed. This is not the first and only time that GSK has engaged in scandalous practices.
Sensing a drug industry cash cow potential, GSK turned its attention (and lack of scruples) to China last year and its upper level executives apparently engaged in business methods that are sleazy, even by today’s standards. Using travel agents as middlemen to essentially bribe physicians to buy their drugs, acceptable forms of currency included sexual favors, and cash.
Although four Chinese executives have been detained in China and police are investigating them for bribery and other illegal practices to promote drug sales, it is unlikely that anyone will go to prison, and the occasional fine seems to be a part of SKG’s business plan at this point. The Guardian summarizes:
China has accused the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) of behaving like a criminal godfather, bribing doctors with cash and sexual favours in return for prescribing its drugs.
Chinese police have detained four senior Chinese executives as part of an investigation that stretches back to 2007 and involves deals worth 3bn yuan (£320m).
The Chinese investigator leading the inquiry said the head of GSK’s Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, a British national, had left the country on 27 June.
Gao Feng, the head of China’s fraud unit, said: ‘We found that bribery is a core part of the activities of the company. To boost their share prices and sales, the company performed illegal actions.’
The Guardian adds:
GSK said it was ‘deeply concerned and disappointed’ by the allegations, and would co-operate fully with the Chinese authorities. However, Gao said the investigators had yet to receive any information from GSK’s British headquarters.
Given the repeated flagrant egregious conduct (sexual favors, for God’s sake), one can only imagine that GSK is actually ‘deeply concerned and disappointed’ that it got busted again, and will firmly commit to being even more secretive.
While GSK may be in the spotlight for the moment, it is not the only Big Pharma company engaging in unscrupulous practices. Worthy of a separate post, for example, is the practice of companies and doctors over-prescribing anti-psychotics, powerful drugs, for every off-label use from pain to anxiety to insomnia. This has become a multi-gazillion dollar industry, and I seriously question its benefit to a single patient.
Related (video) whistleblower explains in detail, the bribery, misconduct and unscrupulous practices:
Tonight’s video is from TED-Ed, with a lesson on the chemistry of cookies! Yum. Think about this as you bake for the holidays.
I’m fascinated by the way modern Internet media allows fans to display their fannish dedication in more dedicated ways than ever, like creating incomplete or alternate versions of movies. I covered this once before with the recreation of The Thief and the Cobblerbut another fan recently compiled the original vision for Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal. This all puppet movie envisions a weird fantasy land, but in its first cut the film had less narration and alien speech from the horrid, vulture-like Skeksis. Test audiences hated it, so the movie was recut with more hand-holding voice overs and the Skeksis learned English.
There were obvious hurdles for Henson when it came time to convince the studio execs of the viability of such an ambitious film. So the changes that were made to the dialogue had to be done to help the film appeal to a wider, theater-going audience. I think it should also be noted that the performances given by the puppeteers on set were based on the lines heard in the workprint [the early cut] so in that way, this cut matches the acting better.
Higgins: How would you characterize the differences between this version and the theatrical version? Certainly it is darker, weirder, more surreal. There seems to be a parallel to me with Blade Runner (another 1982 film…) and its many cuts—it had narration and other de-complicating factors added after test screenings, but the original version has more depth. Do you agree with the Blade Runner parallel?
Orgeron: Absolutely. It was clearly a time of film-making experimentation. Late 70s and early 80s sci-fi movies are arguably some of the best that have ever been made. It’s like 90s Nickelodeon. Less restriction in unexplored mediums led to some really great creativity. This version of The Dark Crystal plays out more like a sci-fi film set on a different planet than a kids’ fantasy movie. The Skeksis and Gelflings seem more like extraterrestrials in a way.
The Blade Runner comparison is a fantastic analogy with similar circumstances. Another one I just discovered recently was in, oddly enough, a Frank Oz film called Little Shop of Horrors. Totally different ending where (spoiler alert!) the plant multiplies and goes on a killing rampage, destroying the entire city! These days I think the formulas for movie-making and audience reception are a little more clear and changes made after test screenings are a little less dramatic.
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