This is interesting. Kader Arif, the “rapporteur” for ACTA, has quit that role in disgust over the process behind getting the EU to sign onto ACTA. A rapporteur is a person “appointed by a deliberative body to investigate an issue.” However, it appears his investigation of ACTA didn’t make him very pleased:
I want to denounce in the strongest possible manner the entire process that led to the signature of this agreement: no inclusion of civil society organisations, a lack of transparency from the start of the negotiations, repeated postponing of the signature of the text without an explanation being ever given, exclusion of the EU Parliament’s demands that were expressed on several occasions in our assembly.
As rapporteur of this text, I have faced never-before-seen manoeuvres from the right wing of this Parliament to impose a rushed calendar before public opinion could be alerted, thus depriving the Parliament of its right to expression and of the tools at its disposal to convey citizens’ legitimate demands.”
Everyone knows the ACTA agreement is problematic, whether it is its impact on civil liberties, the way it makes Internet access providers liable, its consequences on generic drugs manufacturing, or how little protection it gives to our geographical indications.
This agreement might have major consequences on citizens’ lives, and still, everything is being done to prevent the European Parliament from having its say in this matter. That is why today, as I release this report for which I was in charge, I want to send a strong signal and alert the public opinion about this unacceptable situation. I will not take part in this masquerade.
Republicans don’t even acknowledge that racism exists. There were a couple of new stats in the paper last week. One showed how blacks were treated way worse than whites by mortgage lenders. The other was about Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi who just pardoned like 200 prisoners as he was leaving office. Two thirds of the prisoners he pardoned were white, even though the prison population in Mississippi is two thirds black. And another study found that the odds would be ONE TRILLION TO ONE that that would be coincidental.
And what is the Republican solution to these outrageous inequalities? There isn’t one. And that’s the point. Denying racism is the new racism. To not acknowledge those statistics, to think of that as a ‘black problem’ and not an American problem. To believe, as a majority of FOX (News) viewers do, that reverse-racism is a bigger problem than racism, that’s racist.
Yesterday my mom posted a picture on Facebook of my 5 year old brother Sam wearing a pair of shoes he picked out for his first day of preschool.
She explained to him in the store that they were really made for girls. Sam then told her that he didn’t care and that “ninjas can wear pink shoes too.”
Sam went to preschool and got several compliments on his new shoes. Not one kid said anything negative toward him about it.
However, my mom received about 20 comments on the photo from various family members saying how “wrong” it is and how “things like this will affect him socially” and, put most eloquently by my great aunt, “that shit will turn him gay.”
My mom then deleted the photo and told Sam that he can wear whatever he wants to preschool, that it’s his decision. If he wants to wear pink shoes, he can wear pink shoes.
Sam then explained to her that he didn’t like them because they were pink, he liked them because they were “made out of zebras” and zebras are his favorite animal :)
“There as a study in which it comes out that thirty of the largest companies in the United States are now spending more on lobbying than they pay in federal taxes. …Who really pays for that? And the answer is America’s middle class — they’re the ones who are left to pick up all the pieces, to pay the taxes to keep the country running. And, more to the point, they’re the ones who are paying for the fact that there’s not enough money left to invest in our kids’ future.”—Massachusetts Senate candidate ELIZABETH WARREN, on The Daily Show (via andyouhavetogivethemhope)
Little known fact about Sweden, that supposed bastion of liberal idealism: If a Swedish transgendered person wants to legally update their gender on official ID papers, a 1972 law requires them to get both divorced and sterilized first.
Sweden is considered extremely gay-friendly, with one of the highest rates of popular support for same-sex marriage, and more than half the population supports gay adoption. Arguing that the current law is both unpopular and abusive, the country’s moderate and liberal parties want to see it repealed. In response, the small but powerful Christian Democrat party formed a coalition with other right-of-center parties to join in upholding the requirement for sterilization. End result: a proposal for new legislation that allows trans—a preferred term for many people who undergo gender reassignment—to be married, but continues to force them to be sterilized.
The fact that such a despicable and ignorant law could not be changed is disheartening, to say the least. Between this and Norway taking children from parents for the offense of being from a different culture, my opinion of the Nordic countries has plummeted.
A referendum for Scotland’s independence poses serious concerns for the future of the United Kingdom.
Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, is a major advocate of independence from Britain
Britain once ruled a vast empire from India to Singapore and South Africa, but its own borders are now being threatened.
The Scottish National Party, which won last May’s Scottish election, has pencilled in autumn 2014 as the date for a referendum on independence. Voters will be asked whether Scotland should secede from the UK and become the world’s newest independent state.
It is likely to be the most important democratic decision that many Scots will make.
Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, on a visit this week to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, told Al Jazeera, “I want Scotland to be independent because independence is the natural state for most nations around the world - not being independent is the exception.”
A concern for Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron has good reason to be concerned.
It has become a common joke that his ruling Conservative Party has fewer Scottish MPs than the number of giant pandas in Edinburgh Zoo. (There are two pandas - just one Tory.)
His government’s austere programme of spending cuts is beginning to bite; the Scottish Nationalists are counting on them becoming even more unpopular as the referendum approaches.
If Salmond gets his way and the Scots vote for independence, the UK will lose 90 per cent of its oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and almost half its land mass.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, who served as Britain’s Defence and Foreign Secretary, told Al Jazeera, “I have no doubt that if Scotland became a separate state the perception would be that the UK was a much diminished country.”
things to pay attention to since i hope to move there.
Last week, Apple released for the first time the list of companies that supply components and manufacturing services to the company. It also announced that it would allow the Fair Labor Association to oversee independent audits of assembly plants employed by Apple.
A week before this news, This American Life aired “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” which followed lifelong Apple superfan, Mike Daisey, to an Apple assembly plant in China called Foxconn, where employees recently staged a protest and threatened to commit suicide.
On the show, Daisey reported on the conditions at the plant, and host Ira Glass talked with with Ian Spaulding, founder and managing director of INFACT Global Partners, which goes into Chinese factories and helps them meet social responsibility standards set by Western companies; and with Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times who has reported on Asian factories.
In the podcast and streaming versions of the program Glass also speaks with Debby Chan Sze Wan, a project manager at the advocacy group SACOM, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, based in Hong Kong. They’ve put out three reports investigating conditions at Foxconn (October 2010, May 2011, Sept 2011). Each report surveyed over 100 Foxconn workers, and they even had a researcher go undercover and take a job at the Shenzhen plant.
This American Life producer Brian Reed wrote this response to Apple’s news.
you really should listen to this episode. it’s intense.
The more time has gone on, the more it has become clear that we’re not going see change in this country with these two parties. There are lots of good individuals in the Democratic party, but without Democrats voting the way they did in Congress, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. We wouldn’t have suffered as a nation because of these Bush tax cuts. Obama received more money from Wall Street than any presidential candidate ever. And they got a great return on their investment.
There is clearly a convergence of interests regarding the concerns we have and the concerns of Occupy Wall Street. There’s little I’ve heard from the Occupy movement that I would disagree with and I think there’s little we support that they would disagree with.
As long as the fear of being a spoiler prevents people from moving in a direction that will change the corrupt system that’s in place, then we’ll never see change in this country. At least, we’ll never see changes move in a positive direction. The choice people have now is to either support a very different way that would signal a revolution and vast correction of the systemic problems in our government – or they can carry on going in the same direction they have been going all these years that’s resulted in so much tragedy for people in this country and the world.
It’s a perfect storm for an alternative party that would be a major force in American politics. The system’s completely broken. Everyone in this country knows that’s why we’re not seeing policies coming from the White House or Congress that really serve the interests of the American people. They keep selling out. Not because they’re bad people, but because they’re part of the system.
We don’t only have a two-tier economic system in this country. We have a two-tier judicial system, where the rich and powerful don’t have to worry about violating the law. Not one person from Wall Street has been arrested, charged or convicted for what has happened during this financial crisis.
Communications are now radically democratized so that a campaign no longer needs to depend on TV advertising. Revolutions have taken place around the world recently without that kind of money, but instead, building on social media and grassroots organizing. It’s the people who will have ownership of the campaign and the results.
MSNBC and Fox News are both hammering home that out of all the candidates in the GOP primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich’s support was the highest among people who said the most important factor in their selection was a candidate who could defeat Barack Obama. Coincidentally, beating Obama was the most important factor in candidate choice to nearly 50% of voters. Fox News is also pointing out his strong performances in debates with his zingers at the media and fellow candidates and his stubborn refusal to go gently into that good night as factors in his rise in the polls, and his overall victory in South Carolina.
You know that after January 20, 2013, the president-elect is now the president. That means said president has to actually do shit. Things will not be magically fixed just because you voted out Barack Obama. In fact, much of what Gingrich wants to do in office could make things worse.
I imagine the thought process of many voters when considering Gingrich goes like this:
Doughy white guy says shit I like. He sounds smart. He says he’s going to beat Obama. He sounds confident, unlike that sputtering asshat with tax problems. Plus, he’ll end Obama’s war on my religion.
Fuck the lazy-ass poor people. Get jobs, douchebags. He’ll even put kids to work, too.
Open marriage? Shit, at least he could beat Obama.
Vote Newt Gingrich.
*POOF* Teatopia, y’all!
This is remarkably similar to liberal pals of mine who are pissed Obama didn’t unbreak everything in four years and bring about the opposite of Teatopia. If you listened to Obama and examined his voting record, you’d see he’s fairly moderate. In fact, compared to past Republicans, i.e. Richard Nixon, he’s more to the right.
But in the 2012 Electoral Race to the Bottom, sponsored by Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the facts don’t matter and Barack Obama must be defeated. Even if it means nominating a man with absolutely no character or ability to lead. Why is it so tough to wrap my brain around voters supporting Newt Gingrich?
Speaking of the Citizens United decision, Gingrich Productions has “produced three films on religion and one each on energy, Ronald Reagan and the threat of radical Islam.” These films are little more than GOP talking point advertisements. Gingrich’s funding partner? As The Wall Street Journal points out, these were “all done as joint projects with the conservative activist group, Citizens United. The latest project: A film on American exceptionalism, another likely campaign theme.”
He’s admitted to multiple affairs, while attacking others on “family values” and holding himself up as a moral paragon. His personal life is irrelevant until he begins throwing stones in his obviously glass house.
Newt Gingrich decided to attack Juan Williams, claiming on Friday, “I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept.” So in order to defend himself against charges of racism, he essentially states Williams is lazy. Williams was the African-American man who had the audacity to ask him a tough question, and that does not seem to sit well with Newt several days later.
He blasted colleagues for ties to lobbyists and corruption, yet Gingrich accepted a check from Employment Policies Institute lobbyist Richard B. Berman for $25,000. This particular check, supposedly given to Gingrich as a donation for a college course he was teaching, led former Rep. Ben Jones (D-Ga.) to demand an ethics investigation by the US House because the note attached to the contribution raised questions of possible criminal wrongdoing by suggesting Gingrich used his influence on behalf of the lobbyist at a 1993 congressional hearing.
A side note from Esquire on the ethics investigation: [Emphasis mine]
The House Ethics Committee started investigating GOPAC’s donations to his college class and caught him trying to hide his tracks by raising money through a charity for inner-city kids called the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation. Another charity of his called Earning by Learning actually spent half its money supporting a former Gingrich staffer who was writing his biography… The Ethics Committee found him guilty of laundering donations through charities, submitting “inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable” testimony, and making “an effort to have the material appear to be nonpartisan on its face, yet serve as a partisan, political message for the purpose of building the Republican party.”
Gingrich is running what he claims to be a revolutionary campaign of ideas. Yet those ideas are little more than attacking fellow candidates, the media, and Barack Obama for issues ranging from corruption and immorality, to favoritism and anti-Americanism. Gingrich employs a set of cliches and fiery debate invective that gets voters in the booth on primary day as evidenced by South Carolina. Can he continue this into the general election?
As multiple news outlets discussed today, Gingrich’s unfavorability rating is the highest of any candidate among moderates and independents. This is a significant voting bloc the GOP will seek to court from Obama. Gingrich is not stupid. He is effective in debates. He calls other candidates “Washington elites” (when he spent significantly more time in Washington than any other candidate running) and the crowd goes wild.
Mitt Romney, the ostensible front-runner, is a terrible candidate in debates. He is easily rattled and incapable of answering a direct question. The GOP field is in disarray and looking for unity. The former Speaker of the House is an experienced politician - though divisive - and may be the one to watch going into Super Tuesday in the next several weeks. Perhaps a theory posited by Gingrich in 1988 explains his success: “In every election in American history, both parties have their cliches. The party that has the cliches that ring true wins.”
The 2012 primary season promises to be a dog and pony show until the bitter end - or until the money runs out. This election cycle reinforces the idea that American politics is little more than contemporary bread and circuses, only less bread and more circuses. Elections are ideally about issues and governance. This year, the only stated mission of the GOP is to rid the White House of Obama, and Gingrich is the candidate best at smearing Obama as somewhere between Benedict Arnold and Benito Mussolini.
Voters are responding well in the primary to this kind of messaging, but the GOP will hopefully discover it’s difficult to run on a platform of needing to do nothing besides regain control of the presidency. To run on a platform that consists of “beat the other guy and BAM! TEATOPIA!” is simply intellectually dishonest. But if it’s intellectually (and morally) dishonest they want, the GOP has their man in Gingrich. If it’s beat Obama they want, they may get it. However, January 21, 2013 and every day after is another day Obama will no longer be available as the executive target, and another day when the new president will be expected to lead. The GOP may be content to run a cliche-machine, powered by egomaniacal bile, but American voters deserve more than just some guy nominated to beat Obama.
We got to talking about Thomas Carlyle, and my professor made the assertion that Carlyle was like Ron Paul and also had better ideas than Marx.
I involuntarily shook my head in disagreement at him, and he called me out to make my case against his statements, so I did,
“Well, Ron Paul doesn’t like the state taking care of everyone. He wants people to take chances with their general well-being. He wants the bootstraps mentality to prevail. He’s an anti-federalist. So, really, he supports authoritarianism at the locale. Carlyle romanticizes the idea of regressing back to a Middle Ages feudal system. He wanted barons and captains of industry to use their capital to help the people within their respective communities. The people being their workers. Like Ron Paul, he too supports authoritarianism at the locale, but with a little more compassion mixed in. And like Ron Paul, he makes the assumption that all people are inherently good and want nothing more than just help out one another. That kind of mentality is dangerous, especially in a system like that where the wealth is concentrated in one place. With wealth concentrated in one place, it’s likely the person holding the wealth adopts the idea that they are a self-made person, so they would just like everyone else to do the same since they did it too. Of course, they don’t even account for the fact that no wealthy person is self-made because the laborers or the workers that they employ are really the ones making the products or providing the services, so their labor can be exploited for some loose change.”
He stood there, and said, “Well, then, what would you do with the wealthy?”
And I retorted, “There would be no wealthy in a Marxist society. Everyone would live at a similar standard of living dictated by the amount of work the society actually does. The transitional phase before communism is a people’s dictatorship, as Marx described it. It’s an unfortunate name, but try to pay not attention to that. In essence, it’s a people’s democracy. It’s a society that works for itself, you know, the greater good. There is no need for capitalists, captains of industry, or the wealthy to create jobs or maintain society. Just look at the mess we are in now.”
My professor stood there and said, “So, it sounds like Marx really wanted some kind of anarchy then, huh?”
And I responded with, “Well, yeah, but I’m not sure if you really understand what anarchy is. Earlier, you said it was a chaotic, Darwinistic society, which can be the case for certain types of psuedo-anarchism. But real anarchism is just anti-hierarchy. No hierarchy. You know, the whole no gods, no masters etc. It’s what puts people directly in control of their respective societies without any middlemen to go through. The work they do is the work they all benefit from. There is no profit margin or status quo to meet. It’s all about people coming first.”
My professor stood there and said, “So communism is —”
Some girl interjected, “People owning people.”
And I laughed and said, “Oh, you must be talking about capitalism, dear, because that’s what that is. People owning people. Profit over people. Nothing matters when it comes to the laborers or workers because you have to generate that profit!”
Surprisingly, a lot of the class started echoing my sentiments, and then my professor got back to me and said,
“I really want to disagree with everything you just said, but I absolutely don’t know how.”
He then awkwardly tried to continue the lesson, but kept turning away from my section every time he made eye contact with me.
I’m pretty sure I scare everyone in that class now, but do I really care?
Please help. We won’t be able to send you BBC and European TV and stuff if this passes. As my friend said, this is dangerous and scary.
I’m not sure how to set one up, someone please make a petition.
+ Canada. Canada is included in this as well. fml.
ACTA is actually worldwide!
The negotiating parties include: Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States. And according to Wikipedia of all these participants only The EU, Mexico, and Switzerland have yet to sign!!!
All the negotiations were conducted behind closed doors until a series of leaked documents relating to the negotiations emerged which explains why there is little to no media coverages.
the world:hey man we've got some really serious problems like global warming and mass economic failure and riots and genocide and aids and cancer and your healthcare system is shit so maybe we should get to work
us government:sit down i have to stop people from sharing things online
If the Enemy Expatriation Act passes in its current form, the legislation will let the government strike away citizenship for anyone engaged in hostilities, or supporting hostilities, against the United States. The law itself is rather brief, but in just a few words it warrants the US government to strip nationality status from anyone they identify as a threat.
What’s more, the government can decide to do so without bringing the suspected troublemaker before a court of law.
Under the legislation, “hostilities” are defined as “any conflict subject to the laws of war” and does not explicitly state that charges against suspects go to court.
In the past, journalist Chris Hedges has worked for NPR, The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor. In his latest endeavor, however, he is teaming up with an unlikely pair: a couple of attorneys that will help him take on the president.
US President Barack Obama is the target of a suit filed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Hedges, and the reasoning seems more than obvious to him. The decision to take the commander-in-chief to court comes as a response to President Obama’s December 31 signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a legislation that allows the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely at off-site torture prisons like Guantanamo Bay.
I suspect the real purpose of this bill [NDAA] is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up. Consider the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of the military, a suspected “terrorist” who also happens to be a U.S. citizen can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in one of our black sites “until the end of hostilities.” Since this is an endless war that will be a very long stay.
This demented “war on terror” is as undefined and vague as such a conflict is in any totalitarian state. Dissent is increasingly equated in this country with treason. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word “democracy” to describe our political system.
The supine and gutless Democratic Party, which would have feigned outrage if George W. Bush had put this into law, appears willing, once again, to grant Obama a pass. But I won’t. What he has done is unforgivable, unconstitutional and exceedingly dangerous. The threat and reach of al-Qaida—which I spent a year covering for The New York Times in Europe and the Middle East—are marginal, despite the attacks of 9/11. The terrorist group poses no existential threat to the nation. It has been so disrupted and broken that it can barely function. Osama bin Laden was gunned down by commandos and his body dumped into the sea. Even the Pentagon says the organization is crippled.
So why, a decade after the start of the so-called war on terror, do these draconian measures need to be implemented? Why do U.S. citizens now need to be specifically singled out for military detention and denial of due process when under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force the president can apparently find the legal cover to serve as judge, jury and executioner to assassinate U.S. citizens, as he did in the killing of the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen? Why is this bill necessary when the government routinely ignores our Fifth Amendment rights—“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”—as well as our First Amendment right of free speech? How much more power do they need to fight “terrorism”?
Fear is the psychological weapon of choice for totalitarian systems of power. Make the people afraid. Get them to surrender their rights in the name of national security. And then finish off the few who aren’t afraid enough. If this law is not revoked we will be no different from any sordid military dictatorship. Its implementation will be a huge leap forward for the corporate oligarchs who plan to continue to plunder the nation and use state and military security to cow the population into submission.