Faryn Balyncd's Journal
Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,766
Number of posts: 4,766
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Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Feb 6, 2015, 06:16 PM (1 replies)
email today from Robert Reich:
Republicans in Congress are trying to give President Obama new powers to fast track the negotiation of the worst trade deal you've never heard of.
Why would they want to do that? I'll tell you. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not just the worst trade deal you've never heard of -- it's also the biggest. With lobbyists for big business crafting the deal behind closed doors, it has been infamously called "NAFTA on steroids." And, if Congress gives the president fast track authority, that means Congress will not have the ability to amend this undemocratic deal before voting on it.
That's why I'm collaborating with my friends at Democracy for America and MoveOn to spread the word about why the TPP is such a bad idea. Check out this email that I made with MoveOn -- and then sign DFA's petition to Congress:
Will you help fight back? Share this video and sign DFA's petition to Congress urging them to reject fast track authority for the TPP! Thank you for helping stop the erosion of the middle class -- and standing up for democracy.
Former Secretary of Labor
Reich's email could not be more timely given Paul Ryan's speech Thursday urging Republicans to enact Fast Track, as reported in the Wall Street Journal
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Fri Feb 6, 2015, 04:00 PM (12 replies)
Negotiators Burn Their Last Opportunity to Salvage the TPP by Caving on Copyright Term Extension
New reports indicate that Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators have agreed to language that would bind its 12 signatory nations to extend copyright terms to match the United States' already excessive length of copyright. This provision expands the reach of the controversial US Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (or the “Mickey Mouse Act” as it was called due to Disney’s heavy lobbying) to countries of the Pacific region. Nations including Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Canada would all be required to extend their terms and grant Big Content companies lengthy exclusive rights to works for no empirical reason. This means that all of the TPP's extreme enforcement provisions would apply to creative works for upwards of 100 years. . . . . Negotiators have been made well aware that there is no economic rationale that can justify this extension. The fact that they have chosen to ignore what is a clear consensus among economists points to the fact that this agreement has not been driven by reason, but by the utter corruption of the process by lobbyists for multinational entertainment conglomerates, who have twisted what is notionally a trade negotiation into a special interest money-grab. After all of the trouble that public interest advocates have gone to educate negotiators about the folly of term extension, the fact that they have gone ahead anyway is the last straw for us. We'll now be pulling out all the stops to kill this agreement dead.
These are the terms of the proposal, revealed by several leaks of the TPP Intellectual Property chapter: If the copyright holder is an individual, the minimum copyright term would extend to the lifetime of the creator plus 70 years after her death. This means restrictions could easily be in place for a century after a work is created. In the case of works with corporate authors, the term extends to 95 years from the first publication, or if not published within 25 years of its creation, 120 years from then. These terms go far beyond what is required by international standards set out in the Berne Convention (WIPO) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). . . . . . Copyright law gives rightsholders exclusive rights to use and profit from creative works, and, in theory, secure economic returns to the creator for their efforts. Hollywood and other copyright-industries therefore claim that longer terms of restriction are necessary to incentivize creativity and innovation. But long copyright terms are a defective means of compensating creators, who generally receive low royalties from their works. Meanwhile this right is abused in a way that deprives the public of valuable culture and knowledge. Lengthy copyright terms don't work to promote creativity—this is most obvious where terms extend past the life of an author. On the contrary, the public domain is a necessary source from which authors can learn and create. It is the fueling source of our shared culture, and it recognizes that we are always “building on the past”.
Even as excessive copyright fails to accomplish its aims, it creates a host of other problems. It would force everyone living in a TPP signatory country to pay a heavy price in continued royalties for content. For example, one scholar estimated that copyright extension has resulted in Australians sending an extra $88 million per year in royalties overseas. Such long copyright terms also lead to orphan works, where authors are long gone or no where to be found, leading to a massive amount of works whose copyright status is almost impossible to know. This can mean decades of knowledge and creativity stays locked up, and in too many cases, completely lost due to these restrictions that can impede the preservation of old works. . . . . .The White House justifies TPP by claiming it will promote economic growth and create jobs. But the continued enclosure of culture under exorbitant copyright terms would have the opposite effect. Creators who want to build new culture out of the shared building blocks of the public domain have to wait ever longer and use more and more distant and obscure materials. We squander the promise of the Internet and digital tools promise to make it more possible to make, sell, and distribute creative works if we cut out the common resources artists and authors would use to build them.
The copyright term extension provisions in TPP embody everything that is wrong with the TPP's digital policy rules, namely that the rules are put there for and by corporate interests that are privy to these secret negotiations, at the expense of users and the public interest. If TPP passes with these copyright terms, the agreement will be pointed to as a standard for "copyright protection", when in fact, they are just the result of lobbying from big corporate interests who got such laws passed in the US. TPP is just the latest vehicle for copyright policy laundering, and now more than ever, we need to stop it all costs.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Feb 5, 2015, 01:11 PM (12 replies)
Don't Trade Away Our Health
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world. Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries. Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions — those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs. . . . . . The secrecy of the T.P.P. negotiations makes them maddeningly opaque and hard to discuss. But we can get a pretty good idea of what’s happening, based on documents obtained by WikiLeaks from past meetings (they began in 2010), what we know of American influence in other trade agreements, and what others and myself have gleaned from talking to negotiators.
Americans might shrug at the prospect of soaring drug prices around the world. After all, the United States already allows drug companies to charge what they want. But that doesn’t mean we might not want to change things someday. Here again, the T.P.P. has us cornered: Trade agreements, and in particular individual provisions within them, are typically far more difficult to alter or repeal than domestic laws. . . . . . .We can’t be sure which of these features have made it through this week’s negotiations. What’s clear is that the overall thrust of the intellectual property section of the T.P.P. is for less competition and higher drug prices. The effects will go beyond the 12 T.P.P. countries. Barriers to generics in the Pacific will put pressure on producers of such drugs in other countries, like India, as well.
Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries, by making it more difficult for scientists to build on the research of others and by choking off the exchange of ideas that is critical to innovation. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations. The efforts to raise drug prices in the T.P.P. take us in the wrong direction. The whole world may come to pay a price in the form of worse health and unnecessary deaths.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, a professor at Columbia and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, is the author of “The Price of Inequality.”
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Feb 4, 2015, 12:53 AM (10 replies)
Well, maybe we can find an answer in his 1912 Progressive Party platform:
Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.
From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.
To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.
And how would Teddy Roosevelt have responded if emissaries from J. P. Morgan had approached him with an idea to create "investor-state dispute resolution" tribunals in which Morgan could sue any federal, state, or local governmental agency which negatively impacted J. P. Morgan's profits, and have the tribunal approved by Morgan and exempt from judicial appeal?
Well, perhaps we can find an answer in Roosevelt's response to Morgan, when Morgan thought he could make a private deal with Roosevelt to save his railroad trust:
...Roosevelt told J. P. Morgan, when he thought he could make a deal to save his Great Northern Railroad Trust, he was "not interested" (and proceeded to have his Attorney General file suit under the Sherman Act.)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Feb 1, 2015, 07:00 PM (54 replies)
UPDATED: Man Shoots, Kills Dog at Dog Park, Because...Texas
UPDATE 1/27/15 @ 3:00 p.m.: Today we heard from a witness who gave a statement to police, but the story he gave us conflicts in part with what's in the incident report. . . .In Monday's story, we shared the deputy's version of what a witness who was "20 to 30 yards away." However, this witness said he told the investigator that he was 8 feet away. "I had a perfect view. I stood there at a perfect zero-degree angle, straight ahead. Everything was right in front of me," the witness said. Here's what he said what he saw: Diesel and Potts' German shepherd were play-wrestling, "and kicks the dog and tells it to fuck off. And at that moment, the dog whimpered...and then dog comes and reinitiates to play....And at that moment, pulls out his gun, takes aim. One bullet. Pow. And then the dog cries. Re-aims the gun." Potts fired two more rounds. . . .The witness alleged that Potts didn't hesitate, and added, "He had no remorse. He held his gun in the air as my wife asked ? And he said, 'What do you think I just did? These are real fucking bullets.'" Potts' wife was approximately 15-20 yards away at the time and was never in danger, the witness claimed.
The witness added that there is no physical evidence of a fight between the dogs. "Where are the dogs injured? When was there, like, any injury to the dog or to the human?" he said. He said Potts said, "Control your fucking dog," after shooting Diesel. He alleged that Potts just had a smug smile on his face. Not once did he say he was sorry. Not once did he ever say, 'Check on that dog, make sure he's OK'...he was aggressive....All of us were kind of afraid to keep him in the park, but we had to. All of us were saying, like, 'Don't let him get away.'" . . . . . .As for Potts' assertion -- per the incident report -- that he called 911 himself, the witness told us that that didn't happen until all the other witnesses pulled their phones out first. . . . He got the impression that the officers who arrived were generally on Potts' side, and when there was a discrepancy among witnesses over how many shots were fired, the witness told us that "They said, 'it's not a human, we don't need to count the bullets....They were like, 'Nah, it's not like CSI.'"
We also heard from a woman Tuesday who claimed she was only a few feet away from the shooting, but that when she tried to tell an officer what she saw, the officer only told her that Potts had a right to carry a gun. She told us: "I tried to explain, like -- kids are coming to the park. Nobody's life was in danger. He put everyone's life in danger...and the cop, he was like, 'I'm not going to talk to you.'" The woman said she was still shaken up by the shooting, and said that she felt Potts endangered everyone in the park by firing his weapon. "He had no right to put us in this situation," she said. . . .The woman said that after the shots were fired, "The owner said, 'Is it a real bullet?' And said, 'What do you think? Of course I'm going to put real fucking bullet in my gun." She said that she knew Diesel from the park, and that while he could play rough, he was not vicious. She said he often played with the woman's chihuahua mixes, and that the dogs made growling sounds, but not out of aggression. She said that's what Diesel was doing with Potts' dog. . . . "I am a dog owner, and my dogs play all the time and make that sound," she said. "It looked so normal to me....He was overreacting." She said Potts grabbed Diesel by his blue harness and separated him from his own dog, but that the dogs started playing again. That's when Potts kicked Diesel, the woman said. . . . She said she approached Potts after she saw him kick Diesel, and that's when Potts fired the first shot. Then Potts "went two more steps and, like, I cannot forget the hate in his face." Then she saw Potts shoot the dog twice more. . . ."He was so proud -- that's the worst part," she said, adding that when she came within two feet of Potts, "He still had his gun in his hand, and he was screaming my face."
She said, "The dog was limping. He went under the tree. He laid down, and that poor guy was like...blood came from his mouth, and his owner turned to me, and she said, 'Promise me, you're going to tell the cops...promise me'....And I waited for those cops to come, I waited for those people to listen to me. They did not listen." . . . . . We asked Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesman Deputy Thomas Gilliland if deputies interviewed every witness at the scene. He told us in an email that "When a case is referred to investigators, they will try to contact the witnesses listed in the initial patrol report. The patrol deputies try to find as many as possible for the investigator to follow up with." . . . . . . Unfortunately, the woman who told us she was ignored is not listed in the incident report, so how could investigators follow up with her? Or is she full of shit? If she is, then it would be nice if HCSO could rule her out. Somehow, though, we don't think that's going to happen. . . . .We left another voicemail for Potts, but it's possible that the ringing phone made him fear for his safety and he shot it.
Justice For Deisel Facebook page
Woman shoots at dog in Missouri City park
Police say the 68-year-old shooter had a right to protect herself.
MISSOURI CITY, Texas - There was gunfire at two dog parks over the weekend. At one of those parks, a family pet was killed. Just the day before, someone also fired at a woman and her dog in Missouri City.
"She emptied the gun on us. She just went pop, pop pop and we were lucky we didn't get hit," according to Kate, who didn't want to tell KHOU 11 News her last name but says she was walking with her 9-year-old dog Henry when they barely escaped gunfire on Saturday. She says all she could do at the time was scream. "Are you crazy!" Kate shouted. "You're shooting at me!" . . . Missouri City police say those shots were fired by a woman who was scared of Henry while she also was walking in Buffalo Run Park. Investigators say the 68-year-old shooter had a right to protect herself. "She was so fearful of my dog at 150 feet that she opened fire," Kate said. "She emptied her gun on us."
We spoke to the woman off-camera at her home in Missouri City. She says the dog was off it's leash and she didn't know what it was capable of. That woman does have a permit to carry the 38-caliber revolver she discharged. The gun will be returned to her. . . . . .
(VIDEO at link)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Feb 1, 2015, 12:35 PM (31 replies)
What business does a "democracy" have bundling, behind a "national security" wall of "security" and secrecy:
(1) massive changes in patent and copyright law, and
(2)the establishment of sovereign "investor-state dispute resolution" tribunals, exempt from appeal in the courts, in which corporations may defeat environmental, labor, safety, food labeling, and other threats to their profits?
What business does a "democracy" have preventing U.S. Senators from taking notes and analyzing the fine print of such a massive law with staff and legal experts before voting to prevent amendments?
Does not the concealment of corporate backed changes to copyright, patent, environmental, labor law, and the establishing of sovereign tribunals for corporate complaints, behind a "national security" wall of secrecy, and the bundling into an package exempt from amendment. . . . transform "democracy" into parody?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Feb 1, 2015, 10:49 AM (10 replies)
TPP = NAFTA on steroids
By Jo Comerford. Wednesday, January 28 2015
Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.
It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”
Will you help spread the word about fast track and the TPP by watching and SHARING the video right now?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Jan 29, 2015, 05:10 PM (9 replies)
Voting up or down without amendments may have a place in certain foreign policy negotiations that involve the constitutional duties of the executive branch.
This has been expanded over the years to trade agreements. When "Trade Agreements" were actually about lowering protective tariffs and duties, applying the "up or down" Fast Track vote was within the realm of consideration.
Now, however, with the proliferation of so-called "Free Trade Agreements" who important components involve the stealth modification of issues that are clearly the providence of Congress and the judicial system (issues such as intellectual property law radically effecting drug pricing and threatening the internet, environmental, labor, consumer safety, and labeling law, and the setting up of a "investor-state dispute settlement" tribunals exempt from appeal to the courts are perverse attacks on the constitutional duties of Congress, and on the courts.
The founders did not intend for such issues to be rammed through Congress with Congressional input & amendments banned, or for corporate controlled tribunals to bypass the judicial system as corporations intimidate government entities into abandoning their duties too protect the general welfare or face bankruptcy.
Economists have clearly demonstrated that the optimal length for patent and copyright protection for stimulating innovation is a SHORTER period than we now have after the Sonny Bono Act. Overly pro-corporate current law does need to be reformed, but inthe OPPOSITE direction from where the TPP would take it.
Passing such an abomination under deceptive duress (calling measures that ENHANCE PROTECTIVE BARRIERS a "Free Trade Agreement" that lowers barriers) is bad enough.
But doing it a way that the fine print is not known until it has been passed, and unable to be amended without unanimous consent of all foreign states, is beyond the pale.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Jan 28, 2015, 02:35 AM (2 replies)
Calling TPP a 'Death Pact,' Health Advocates Rally Outside Secretive Trade Talks
Protesting the secret trade negotiations taking part behind its doors, activists rallied outside the Times Square Sheraton in New York City on Monday. (Photo: Jason Cone/ Twitter)
Braving snow and blizzard warnings, health, labor and environmental activists rallied outside a New York City hotel on Monday where industry leaders met with international trade representatives to commence the "final negotiations" over the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Leading the protest and carrying signs that read "Hands Off Our Medicine," protesters with health groups Doctors Without Borders and Health Global Access Project (GAP) warned that the TPP will undermine efforts to ensure access to affordable, life-saving medicines in both the United States and abroad. . . .
"The TPP would create a vicious cycle. The provisions currently proposed will allow for fracking and other practices that fuel environmental degradation and make people sick. Strengthened intellectual property rules will then prevent people from accessing life- saving medicines," said Michael Tikili, national field organizer for Health GAP, in a press statement. "Thirteen million people living with HIV depend on generic AIDS medicines and another 20-plus million are waiting line for treatment. By protecting Pharma’s bloated profits, the Obama administration is undermining its own global AIDS initiative—this isn’t a trade agreement—it’s a death pact."
. . .
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 10:39 PM (28 replies)