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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Member since: Thu Jul 8, 2004, 02:14 PM
Number of posts: 3,903

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade. It's a corporate coup d'etat--against us!

(Long read, by Jim Hightower. Well worth the read. I've clipped just four paragraphs


Drug prices. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Besides artificially keeping everyone's prices high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands. The deal would also restrict the rights of our government to negotiate with drug giants to get lower consumer prices with bulk purchases, as Medicare and Medicaid do in the US.

Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits: The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world; it restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking (thus prohibiting Congress from reinstating the much needed Glass-Steagall firewall in our country); it could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash; and it provides a backdoor escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths. These extreme provisions would be enforceable by the banks themselves--TPP empowers them to force governments either to repeal reform laws or to compensate banks with taxpayer money for "losses" they say are caused by reforms.

Internet freedom. Thanks to public rebellion, corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into TPP. Corporate-created content, for example, would be given copyright protection for a stunning 120 years! The deal would also transform internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our "user activity," arbitrarily take down our content, and cut off our access to the internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for non-commercial, small-scale copying--like sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.

Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One especially insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry pick the profitable customers and sink the public service. Also, corporations from any TPP nation must be allowed to bid on contracts to provide public services in the US on the same terms as American corporations.

Somewhere, in the ether, J. Edgar Hoover is smiling coyly, and looking through yet one more

index card file, scheming...(and wishing he had lived long enough to have spearheaded it all).

That is all.

Obama Administration Releases Previously Secret Legal Opinion on NSA's Associational Tracking Progra

The Administration released a White Paper on Friday that summarized its claimed legal basis for the bulk collection of telephony metadata, also known as the Associational Tracking Program under section 215 of the Patriot Act, codified as 50 U.S.C. section 1861. While we’ll certainly be saying more about this analysis in the future, the paper makes one central point clear:

There is no direct authorization for the Associational Tracking Program in section Patriot Act section 215.

Nowhere does the statute say that the NSA may conduct bulk collection and analysis of the phone records of nonsuspect, nontargeted Americans on an ongoing basis, including requiring the production of records that haven’t even been produced yet.

It could, of course. Congress could have said that bulk collection is allowed and a properly drafted statute would also define “bulk” collection in a way that everyone can understand and isn't full of word games. That statute would not have been constitutional (since the program isn't constitutional), but would at least say what the the Administration wishes section 215 did.
More at link: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/10-0

Guitar Center Union Campaign Notches Second Store Victory

Giving a boost to a budding organizing campaign, workers at a Guitar Center store in Chicago voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union on Friday, likely adding another unionized store for the music retailer under Bain Capital ownership.

The vote at Chicago's flagship store follows one successful union bid and two failed ones in New York City, where the Manhattan store recently became the music retailer's first union shop. According to the union, more than three quarters of the Chicago workers who cast ballots Friday voted in favor of the union, but the federal labor board hasn't officially ratified the results yet.

The union has said it intends to take its campaign to Guitar Centers throughout the country, and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday that the Chicago vote shows the campaign has staying power.

"his vote in Chicago proves that retail workers are ready and willing to stand up and demand change," Appelbaum said. "Retail workers at Guitar Center nationwide are reaching out to the union because they understand that when they unite and stand together, their voices will be heard."


(much more at link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/12/guitar-center-union-chicago_n_3743664.html?utm_hp_ref=business

Your mortgage documents are fake!

Source: Salon

Prepare to be outraged. Newly obtained filings from this Florida woman's lawsuit uncover horrifying scheme (Update)

If you know about foreclosure fraud, the mass fabrication of mortgage documents in state courts by banks attempting to foreclose on homeowners, you may have one nagging question: Why did banks have to resort to this illegal scheme? Was it just cheaper to mock up the documents than to provide the real ones? Did banks figure they simply had enough power over regulators, politicians and the courts to get away with it? (They were probably right about that one.)

A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $95 million, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.

This reality, which banks did not contest but instead settled out of court, means that tens of millions of mortgages in America still lack a legitimate chain of ownership, with implications far into the future. And if Congress, supported by the Obama administration, goes back to the same housing finance system, with the same corrupt private entities who broke the nation’s private property system back in business packaging mortgages, then shame on all of us.

The 2011 lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in both North and South Carolina, by a white-collar fraud specialist named Lynn Szymoniak, on behalf of the federal government, 17 states and three cities. Twenty-eight banks, mortgage servicers and document processing companies are named in the lawsuit, including mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/12/your_mortgage_documents_are_fake/

much more at link. comment: Is anyone surprised? I'm not. (on edit: cleaned up the title, added subtitle to excerpt)

Here is how I know I'm at the right place:

Last year, after many years of laying low locally, I decided to resume being active in local politics. I went online to try to find out about when and where our local party meets. It had been many years, and the Union hall was sold years ago to a private group so they could use it as a school (go figure, they did that with some school buildings as well). Anyhoo, after finding out the pertinent info, I noticed they had a website listed: www.democraticunderground.com! Does your local do that?

Donald Trump: Sen. Ted Cruz ‘Perhaps Not’ Eligible for White House ‘If’ Born in Canada

Source: ABC News

During an interview for “This Week,” real estate mogul Donald Trump questioned whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would be eligible for the White House given his Canadian birth.

“If he was born in Canada, perhaps not.” Trump told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

“I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing,” he said.

Trump also defended his previous accusation that President Obama may not actually have been born in the United States — a conspiracy theory that has been proven false — when asked about the issue by Karl.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/08/donald-trump-sen-ted-cruz-perhaps-not-eligible-for-white-house-if-born-in-canada/

One more short paragraph, video at link. Trump's going all birther on Cruz.

Jennifer Hoelzer, Former Wyden Aide, Unleashes On Obama Administration Secrecy

Source: Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- A former top aide to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) fired back at the Obama administration this weekend, challenging the president's assertion Friday that he welcomed a debate on privacy and national security and that Congress had been fully briefed.

Jennifer Hoelzer was a longtime aide to Wyden until recently, and vented her frustration in a way she couldn't as his communications director or deputy chief of staff. Hoelzer wrote on TechDirt that she was stunned to see President Obama claim he wanted such a conversation after she had worked for years to beg and plead with the administration to declassify material so that an actual debate could take place.

Really, Mr. President? Do you really expect me to believe that you give a damn about open debate and the democratic process? Because it seems to me if your Administration was really committed those things, your Administration wouldn't have blocked every effort to have an open debate on these issues each time the laws that your Administration claims authorizes these programs came up for reauthorization, which -- correct me if I am wrong -- is when the democratic process recommends as the ideal time for these debates.

For example, in June 2009, six months before Congress would have to vote to reauthorize Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which the Obama Administration claims gives the NSA the authority to collect records on basically every American citizen -- whether they have ever or will ever come in contact with a terrorist -- Senators Wyden, Feingold and Durbin sent Attorney General Eric Holder a classified letter "requesting the declassification of information which argued was critical for a productive debate on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act."

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/11/jennifer-hoelzer-obama-nsa_n_3739639.html

more at link

I'd rather restore constitutional law and give up my healthcare. Just thought I'd throw that out

there, since there seems to be a trend right now to parade the healthcare here. In other words, no amount of rah-rah about the healthcare, no matter how good it truly is for folks, will negate the loss of constitutional law, nor will it deflect my attention. Keep your eye on the ball (for those able to see it).

Has anyone heard when Tom Delay reports to prison yet? I've lost track of the status of his case,

and I don't want to miss the perp-walk (yeah, I know he likely never will, but I sure wish the system worked for politicos the same way it works for everyone else).
Posted by silvershadow | Fri Aug 9, 2013, 05:54 PM (5 replies)
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