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Backlash Against TPP Grows as Leaked Text Reveals Increased Corporate Control of Public Health

As the Obama administration praises the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), backlash continues to grow against the deal. WikiLeaks has just published another section of the secret text — this one about public healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. Newly revealed details of the draft show the TPP would give major pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine, and weaken public healthcare programs. The leaked draft also suggests the TPP would prevent Congress from passing reforms to lower drug costs. One of the practices that would be allowed is known as "Evergreening." It lets drug companies extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and then getting a new patent. We speak to Peter Maybarduk of Public Citizen and John Sifton of Human Rights Watch about their concerns.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Welcome to all our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world. House Republicans are set to push for a vote as soon as Friday on approving a measure to give President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. The secretive TPP deal involves 12 countries and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. On Wednesday, WikiLeaks released a leaked draft of another chapter of the secret negotiating text. This time the TPP’s so-called "Healthcare Annex." Newly revealed details of the draft show the TPP would give major pharmaceutical companies more power over public access to medicine, and weaken public healthcare programs. The leaked draft also suggests the TPP would prevent Congress from passing reforms to lower drug costs. One of the practices that would be allowed is known as "evergreening." It lets drug companies extend the life of a patent by slightly modifying their product and then getting a new patent. This is a video explaining the practice, produced by Doctors Without Borders.

PRESENTER: Evergreening. It sounds nice, doesn’t it? But evergreening is what drug companies do when they want to increase their profits. And it leads people in developing countries without the medicines they need. Here is how. A drug company develops a new drug and is rewarded with a patent. The patent stops other producers making the medicine for 20 years. So the drug company can charge very high prices without anyone else undercutting them, for 20 years. When the patent ends, other producers can come in and compete with each other, and bingo, the prices come tumbling down. So the medicines become affordable for everyone. But the drug companies want more profits, so they make a tiny little change to their drugs and ask for another 20 year patent.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by two guests in Washington, D.C. Peter Maybarduk is Director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. And John Sifton is an advocacy director with Human Rights Watch. Today he is hosting a briefing at the National Press Club on the Human Rights and Humanitarian Concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, along with Oxfam America and the Council on Global Equality. We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Peter, let’s begin with you on this issue of drugs. Talk about the TPP, and for those who have never heard of it, explain its significance and, particularly, as it relates to global access to drugs.


Elizabeth Warren Launches Last-Minute Blitz to Stop Trade Bill

With a critical series of House votes scheduled for Friday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is making a last-minute push to kill President Barack Obama’s bid to secure fast-track trade negotiating authority.

The vote is expected to be close, and many Democrats are angry about a funding mechanism contained in the Senate version of the bill that would pay for a worker retraining program by taking money from Medicare. On Thursday afternoon, Warren e-mailed her liberal supporters, imploring them to call their representative and urge a “no” vote on the trade bills. “We have one last chance to stop Fast Track on trade—right now!” Warren writes.

While Republican leaders don’t normally bring a bill to the floor unless they’re confident they have the votes for passage, House Speaker John Boehner’s tenure has been marked by several notable failures. Most Republicans support the trade measure, so a defeat on Friday would most likely be chalked up to disagreements within the Democratic Party over the trade bill, which many liberals and labor unions vehemently oppose.

Warren, a liberal icon, has led several successful revolts against the White House in the past, such as blocking a key Treasury nominee in January. While she opposed the trade deal in the Senate, and was personally criticized by Obama, she has frustrated many liberals by staying relatively quiet after it cleared the chamber last month. That’s probably because most of the Democrats wavering on trade don’t hail from the sort of liberal districts where direct pressure from Warren would inspire fear. Instead, Warren is hoping that their constituents will apply that pressure directly.



Study: members of Congress 231% more likely to meet with you if you've paid them

What does it take to get the personal attention of a member of Congress? A good idea backed by a strong, logical argument? Reams of academic research backing your point of view? Broad-based grassroots support for your ideals from millions of people around the country?

If you nodded your head in the affirmative to any of those possibilities, that's adorable. The correct answer is money, and a recent study by a pair of U.C. Berkeley political scientists published in the American Journal of Political Science proves it conclusively.

In their experiment, the researchers teamed up with progressive activist group CREDO Action and tried to schedule meetings between with 191 members of Congress about a bill to ban an environmentally damaging chemical. Authors Joshua Kalla and David Broockman wanted to see if identifying the CREDO members seeking meetings as campaign donors—rather than simply concerned constituents—had any effect on their ability to get meetings.

CREDO emailed its members who had donated to their local representatives, then sent a message to the staffers in charge of organizing the schedules of the 191 elected representatives. Each message said that about a dozen of the group's members wanted to speak with the lawmaker, either in person or over the phone, about the legislation in question. Some of the messages identified the people requesting the meeting as “active political donors,” whereas others were simply called “concerned constituents.”



Fact is, I have paid them, through my taxes and their salaries. Guess that isn't enough.

Jamie Dimon Wants To Mansplain Banking To Elizabeth Warren

There are few people in Congress who criticize big Wall Street banks more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) does. A former Harvard bankruptcy law professor, she is the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and chaired the government panel that oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which bailed out the financial sector in 2008.

But according to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, she really doesn't know what she's talking about.

"I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system," Dimon said on Wednesday at a luncheon in Chicago, according to Bloomberg.

Dimon did acknowledge that Warren and other critics have some "legitimate" concerns, and said that he'd be happy to meet with her.



Jamie should be 'splainin' himself to a Judge....

Unraveling the Enigma of Saturn’s Huge, Ghostly Halo

Saturn's biggest ring was created by its moon Phoebe. One face of Iapetus, positioned within the ring, has grown dark due to the debris.

RINGS AROUND PLANETS are supposed to stay close to home, as any Astro 101 textbook will tell you. Once they venture too far afield from their gravitational overlord, conventional astronomical wisdom dictates that they will collapse and form new satellites.

“That does a really good job of explaining rings—except for this one,” says Douglas Hamilton, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland. Hamilton and colleagues describe Saturn’s biggest, strangest, most recently-discovered ring in a study published today in Nature. The so-called Phoebe ring is not only bigger than the researchers thought, it appears to be made of unusually fine particles—particles that continually collide with Saturn’s moon Iapetus as it circles the planet, turning the moon’s leading face black.

Hamilton was part of the team that discovered the Phoebe ring in 2009, with help from the Spitzer Space Telescope. They wouldn’t have found it except for that weird pattern on Iapetus’ surface: one face an icy white, the other inky black. Like Earth’s own moon, Iapetus keeps one constant face toward its planet. So one side—the darkened one—is forever leading the charge through space. Phoebe, a dark-as-coal moon further away from Saturn than Iapetus, was the second piece of the puzzle.

“You can imagine something big smashed into Phoebe a billion years ago, and all of this debris was flung out,” Hamilton says. When he calculated how long it would take for this debris to be cleaned up (either by collapsing into a new satellite or to fall to Saturn) he found that it would take a shockingly long time: about 10 billion years. That’s longer than the solar system has existed. “We realized that all of the debris coating the face of Iapetus, that didn’t happen long ago. It’s going on now,” he says. So his team started searching for the source of the material painting the moon black. “Finding it was really gratifying.”



What is driving Scott Walker's war on Wisconsin universities

By Saul Newton

Scott Walker’s war on Wisconsin’s public colleges will result in lower quality and higher debt for students and families, which is precisely what his right wing political patrons at the Bradley Foundation have been planning for decades.

Wisconsin students have experienced first hand Scott Walker’s assault on public higher education over the last four years. Double-digit tuition increases and historic, unprecedented budget cuts have resulted in declining enrollment, rising costs, and exploding student loan debt for millions of Wisconsin families. The groundwork for Walker’s crusade against public higher education in Wisconsin was first being laid as Walker began his political career over two decades ago by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a well funded far right wing organization that today has been behind every facet of Walker’s political rise, as well as the ideological and financial source of his failed agenda.

Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s colleges have been the targets of an ideologically motivated attack to undermine and dismantle higher education in this state. In his first term, Walker slashed funding for Wisconsin universities and technical colleges by nearly $400 million while in-state tuition rose by double digits. As tuition increased Walker froze funding for financial aid programs and cut tuition assistance by nearly $40 million, forcing college students to carry the weight of his extreme budget cuts. Earlier this year, Scott Walker defied the national trend and intensified his war on the on the University of Wisconsin System by proposing a massive budget cut of $300 million, the largest funding cut in University of Wisconsin history. He also included a proposal in the budget to eliminate portions of the Wisconsin Idea, the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement that codifies that the purpose of the University of Wisconsin System is to improve people’s lives outside the classroom. When confronted, Walker claimed the changes were the result of a “drafting error” and quickly withdrew the proposal. Records later revealed that Walker’s office had directed the changes over the concerns of University of Wisconsin System administrators. In addition, Walker’s budget proposal includes unprecedented assaults on academic freedom and university governance that are already driving away professors and faculty from across Wisconsin. Walker’s crusade against higher education is not “reform,” but is actually strategic and coordinated assault on universities across this state.

Scott Walker’s war on Wisconsin colleges and universities has been a hallmark of his tenure as Wisconsin's Governor. However, the coordinated political attack on higher education in Wisconsin we see today did not start with Scott Walker. Walker is instituting an ideological agenda laid out by his political benefactors, the Bradley Foundation, as far back as twenty years ago.

In 1994, the Bradley-funded Wisconsin Public Research Institute’s Wisconsin Interest magazine published an article titled “The Legacy of the Wisconsin Idea: Hastening the Demise of an Exhausted Progressivism.” The author, Michael S. Joyce, was then President of the Bradley Foundation, a well funded right wing organization that has funneled large sums of money to fund a sprawling network of extreme organizations for decades. In the article, Joyce claimed that the University of Wisconsin was emblematic of a philosophy that “required nothing less than the transfer of moral and spiritual authority away from civil society into the hands of the modern, centralized state.” Joyce viewed the dismantling of public education as a way to “invigorate traditional, local institutions” by working to “re-establish the dignity of traditional folk wisdom.” According to Joyce, “our common project must be to hasten the demise of progressivism” by demolishing public institutions, specifically public education.



The White House sent five top officials to lobby Nancy Pelosi on the fast-track trade bill

The White House sent Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and a small army of administration officials to Capitol Hill Wednesday to talk fast-track trade authority with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

House Republicans say they expect to put the Senate-passed trade measure on the floor before the end of the week. It would allow for an up-or-down vote on future trade deals, most notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which major liberal groups oppose. The vast majority of Pelosi's Democrats are expected to vote against the president, but the White House is still trying to round up as many as 20 to 25 defectors to join hands with Republicans.

With little fanfare, McDonough walked into Pelosi's second-floor Capitol Building office with National Economic Council director Jeff Zients, US Trade Representative Mike Froman, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and legislative affairs specialist Amy Rosenbaum at about 3 pm.

The meeting was "part of the administration's ongoing engagement with Congress on the president's trade agenda," a White House official said. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill declined to discuss the meeting; the minority leader has so far kept her cards close to the vest on both fast-track authority and the TPP deal as a whole.



Sir Christopher Lee dies at 93

Source: Telegraph UK

• Film legend Sir Christopher Lee dies aged 93
• Actor passes away in hospital at 8.30am on Sunday
• Star had suffered respiratory problems and heart failure

Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin has written a piece celebrating the life of a man whose "talent will outlast us all":

Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/11666316/christopher-lee-dies-live.html

Thursday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest







Red Cross


Thursday Toon Roundup 2: Bad Cops

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