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Member since: Fri Nov 12, 2004, 07:39 AM
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WikiLeaks/Open Med: Leaked Draft Confirms TPP Will Censor Internet, Stifle Free Expression Worldwide


The last time the public got access to the TPP IP Chapter draft text was in November 2013 when WikiLeaks published the 30 August 2013 bracketed text. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little. However, there are significant industry-favouring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.

Nevertheless, some areas that were highlighted after WikiLeaks' last IP Chapter release have seen alterations that reflect the controversy; surgical method patents have been removed from the text. Doctors' groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients. Opposition is increasing to remove the provision proposed by the US and Japan that would require granting of patents for new drugs that are slightly altered from a previous patented one (evergreening), a technique by the pharmaceutical industry to prolong market monopoly.



Leaked draft confirms TPP will censor Internet and stifle Free Expression worldwide

October 16, 2014 – This morning Wikileaks published a second leaked draft of the Intellectual Property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The draft confirms people’s worst fears about Internet censorship. That’s according to community-based organization OpenMedia, which is leading a large international Fair Deal Coalition aimed at securing balanced copyright rules for the 21st Century.

“It is hugely disappointing to see that, yet again, Canadians - and members of the public worldwide - have to be informed about these critical issues through leaked drafts, instead of through democratic engagement on the part of governments and elected officials,” said OpenMedia Campaigns Coordinator Meghan Sali. “When will our decision-makers recognize that negotiating serious issues - especially proposals that would censor our use of the Internet - must be considered and debated democratically instead of in secret meetings with industry lobbyists?”

Sali continued, “It is now clearer than ever that we need a positive alternative to this secretive process. It is unacceptable to design and impose new laws through closed-door processes that disenfranchise individuals around the world and shut off debate on important issues that will affect all of our futures. This is what the Our Digital Future report, released just yesterday, is all about - challenging the notion that we can’t make these laws in a more democratic manner.”

This morning, copyright and digital rights expert, Prof. Michael Geist, weighed in on his blog about the most recent leaked draft, noting that the Canadian negotiators have been opposing U.S. pressure to introduce stricter enforcement for patent and copyright law - with the strongest pushback coming in the “patents, enforcement, trademarks and copyright sections.”


Pharmaceutical Thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10025674991

BREAKING: Arkansas High Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: Arkansas' highest court tosses law that requires voters to show photo ID before casting ballot.

Arkansas high court strikes down voter ID law

OCT. 15, 2014 5:52 PM EDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas' highest court on Wednesday struck down a state law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, ruling the requirement unconstitutional just days before early voting begins for the Nov. 4 election.

In a decision that could have major implications in the state's election, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that determined the law unconstitutionally added a requirement for voting.

The high court noted that the Arkansas Constitution lists specific requirements to vote: that a person be a citizen of both the U.S. and Arkansas, be at least 18 years old, and be lawfully registered. Anything beyond that amounts to a new requirement and is therefore unconstitutional, the court ruled.

"These four qualifications set forth in our state's constitution simply do not include any proof-of-identity requirement," the ruling said.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/491edb64efe34a77bcaef56888c78eb1/arkansas-high-court-strikes-down-voter-id-law

Iraq war supporters think they were just vindicated on Saddam's WMDs. They're wrong.


Iraq war supporters think they were just vindicated on Saddam's WMDs. They're wrong.

Updated by Max Fisher on October 15, 2014, 11:30 a.m. ET @Max_Fisher max@vox.com

A blockbuster story in today's New York Times reports that American troops in Iraq "repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule." The American invasion of Iraq was premised on Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and chemical weapons are WMDs. So the story finally vindicates President George W. Bush and his decision to invade Iraq, right?

Wrong. The story, while important, is being widely misrepresented by Iraq war advocates seeking to exonerate Bush, who are also misrepresenting the Bush administration's widely-publicized rationale for invading.

Today's story comes nowhere close to backing up Bush's claims — and nothing ever has.

- snip -

Those claims have never been proven, including by today's New York Times report (the Times article is very clear about this). Rather, today's story reveals only that Iraq was sprinkled with aging, forgotten, and long-discarded warheads from Saddam's shuttered 1980s chemical weapons program — and that the Bush and Obama administrations have systematically covered up discoveries of those warheads, including the wounds they've caused American soldiers.


UN Report Finds Mass Surrveillance Violates International Treaties and Privacy Rights

Source: First Look


@ggreenwald TODAY AT 8:32 AM

The United Nations’ top official for counter-terrorism and human rights (known as the “Special Rapporteur”) issued a formal report to the U.N. General Assembly today that condemns mass electronic surveillance as a clear violation of core privacy rights guaranteed by multiple treaties and conventions. “The hard truth is that the use of mass surveillance technology effectively does away with the right to privacy of communications on the Internet altogether,” the report concluded.

Central to the Rapporteur’s findings is the distinction between “targeted surveillance” — which “depend upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization” — and “mass surveillance,” whereby “states with high levels of Internet penetration can [] gain access to the telephone and e-mail content of an effectively unlimited number of users and maintain an overview of Internet activity associated with particular websites.” In a system of “mass surveillance,” the report explained, “all of this is possible without any prior suspicion related to a specific individual or organization. The communications of literally every Internet user are potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.”

Mass surveillance thus “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications,” it declared. As a result, “it is incompatible with existing concepts of privacy for States to collect all communications or metadata all the time indiscriminately.”

In concluding that mass surveillance impinges core privacy rights, the report was primarily focused on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty enacted by the General Assembly in 1966, to which all of the members of the “Five Eyes” alliance are signatories. The U.S. ratified the treaty in 1992, albeit with various reservations that allowed for the continuation of the death penalty and which rendered its domestic law supreme. With the exception of the U.S.’s Persian Gulf allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar), virtually every major country has signed the treaty.

Read more: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/10/15/un-investigator-report-condemns-mass-surveillance

Big NYT Story: The Secret U.S. Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

@GregMitch: Giant NYT story now: U.S. troops stumbled upon chem weapons in Iraq & harmed--kept secret, ISIS may now possess. http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/LvRx

@GregMitch: NYT: Congress not informed about troops hurt by chem weapons in Iraq. Ex-soldier says he felt like "guinea pig." http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/wmCP

@GregMitch: NYT states that finding abandoned chem weapons does not justify Bush's WMD claims--but expect to hear opposite soon. http://t.co/5sbX0fh38q/s/wo-E


The Secret U.S. Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons


Published: October 14, 2014
The soldiers at the blast crater sensed something was wrong.

It was August 2008 near Taji, Iraq. They had just exploded a stack of old Iraqi artillery shells buried beside a murky lake. The blast, part of an effort to destroy munitions that could be used in makeshift bombs, uncovered more shells.

Two technicians assigned to dispose of munitions stepped into the hole. Lake water seeped in. One of them, Specialist Andrew T. Goldman, noticed a pungent odor, something, he said, he had never smelled before.

He lifted a shell. Oily paste oozed from a crack. “That doesn’t look like pond water,” said his team leader, Staff Sgt. Eric J. Duling.

The specialist swabbed the shell with chemical detection paper. It turned red — indicating sulfur mustard, the chemical warfare agent designed to burn a victim’s airway, skin and eyes.

All three men recall an awkward pause. Then Sergeant Duling gave an order: “Get the hell out.”

Five years after President George W. Bush sent troops into Iraq, these soldiers had entered an expansive but largely secret chapter of America’s long and bitter involvement in Iraq.

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule.

- snip -

The American government withheld word about its discoveries even from troops it sent into harm’s way and from military doctors. The government’s secrecy, victims and participants said, prevented troops in some of the war’s most dangerous jobs from receiving proper medical care and official recognition of their wounds.

- snip -

The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

Then, during the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.

All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. Filthy, rusty or corroded, a large fraction of them could not be readily identified as chemical weapons at all. Some were empty, though many of them still contained potent mustard agent or residual sarin. Most could not have been used as designed, and when they ruptured dispersed the chemical agents over a limited area, according to those who collected the majority of them.


Preliminary magnitude-7.4 earthquake strikes 66 miles southeast of Usulutan, El Salvador

Source: NBC News

@BreakingNews: Preliminary magnitude-7.4 earthquake strikes 66 miles southeast of Usulutan, El Salvador - @USGS http://t.co/jJKUfB0hfv/s/DQIx

@BreakingNews: Tsunami threat issued along coasts of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras after magnitude-7.4 earthquake - @NWS_PTWC http://t.co/MdiPVpLVdL/s/nARA

@BreakingNews: Warning center: Tsunami threat has mostly passed after earthquake hits off coast of El Salvador- @NWS_PTWC http://t.co/27Uw0ptCio/s/1S6U

No link yet.

TOM TOMORROW: The Counter-Intuitivist

DAILY KOS LINK: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/13/1333878/-Cartoon-The-counter-intuitivist

NYFF 2014: Edward Snowden Documentary 'Citizenfour' Jolts Film World (Directed by Laura Poitras)



OCTOBER 11, 2014, 2:38 PM

Many documentaries seek to kick-start environmental movements, reverse death row sentences or even change legislative policy.

But few come with the kind of ideological ambition of the Edward Snowden study "Citizenfour," a movie of grand scope that also tells an intimate personal story.

The long-awaited documentary from Snowden chronicler Laura Poitras arrived with a bang at its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Friday night, receiving a rare festival standing ovation ahead of its theatrical release Oct. 24, when it could well jolt both the fall moviegoing season and the national conversation about privacy and security.

Poitras, as some may recall, shot the 12-minute video of Snowden that went viral in June 2013 and made the National Security Agency contractor, at 29, perhaps the most important and polarizing figure since Daniel Ellsberg. "Citizenfour” is, in effect, that original video effort writ very large — a look at how Snowden came to the decision to pull back the curtain on the NSA's massive surveillance operation and what happened to him when he did.

- snip -

There are reveals toward the end of the film of both the personal and political kind. For example, viewers learn that Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, is now living with him in Moscow.


US Judge Strikes Down NC Gay Marriage Ban; First Weddings Expected to Quickly Follow

Source: Associated Press / WTVD

@AP: BREAKING: US judge strikes down NC gay marriage ban; first same-sex weddings expected to quickly follow.


Updated 1 min ago
ASHEVILLE, NC -- Federal U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. has overturned North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage in a case filed by members of the clergy seeking to marry gay couples.

The case is separate from the one being overseen by Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. in Greensboro. Osteen put off a ruling in that case until Monday.

The amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2012.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not hear appeals of decisions striking down similar marriage prohibitions in other states. In July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Virginia's gay marriage ban. The appeals court in Richmond has jurisdiction over North Carolina, and judges here are required to follow its ruling.

Read more: http://abc11.com/politics/federal-judge-in-asheville-overturns-north-carolinas-same-sex-marriage-ban/345114/

Supreme Court Lifts Hold on Same-Sex Weddings in Idaho

Source: Associated Press

@AP: BREAKING: Supreme Court lifts hold on same-sex weddings in Idaho.

High court lifts hold on gay marriage in Idaho
OCT. 10, 2014 5:26 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says same-sex marriage can go ahead in Idaho.

The court issued an order Friday that appears to remove the last legal obstacle keeping gay and lesbian couples from getting married in the conservative state.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday declared gay marriage bans illegal in Idaho and Nevada.

Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked same-sex weddings in Idaho a day later after the state asked for a delay. Idaho officials said county clerks would be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples almost immediately without the high court's intervention.

Kennedy offered no explanation for his order, but indicated it would not be lasting. The court issued no explanation for its order Friday, either.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/3cb3ce24a34c4b779d28b4e1be2f5c71/high-court-lifts-hold-gay-marriage-idaho
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