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The Trans Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships are NIGHTMARES on wheels. They are coming, and soon, to a country near you, and they may very well mean the end of things as we know it. No, that’s not melodrama. Tune in to Open Eyes to find out why!
The following are the show notes used to record this episode. They are here for your references and convenience.
Officials in Newtown have voted to tear down the home where Adam Lanza lived before he carried out the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The vote Wednesday evening by the Newtown Legislative Council approves a proposal by the board of selectmen to raze the 3,100-square-foot home and keep the land as open space.
Neighbors have been pleading with town officials to tear down the house, with one resident saying it’s “a constant reminder of the evil that resided there.”
Computer-security researchers fear President Barack Obama’s proposed changes to federal hacking laws could put them out of business, could make computers less secure overall, and could put some of them — and maybe even you — in prison.
“Under the new proposal, sharing your HBO GO password with a friend would be a felony,” Nate Cardozo, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, told an audience of researchers and IT pros Saturday (Jan. 17) at ShmooCon 2015, a security conference held annually in Washington, D.C.
The proposed changes to the CFAA and related laws, posted online by the White House early last week, would broaden the definition of computer crime and stiffen penalties for existing crimes, including doubling the maximum penalty for many violations from 10 years to 20 years.
It would also subject computer fraud to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) of 1970 — a law designed to charge Mafia bosses with crimes committed by their underlings, but now broadly applied in both criminal and civil cases against all manner of organizations.
The RICO addition is likely directed at the type of organized cybercrime that emanates from Russia and other former Soviet-bloc countries, but if it becomes law, it could just as easily be applied to anyone affiliated with any kind of suspected hacking group.
“Even if you don’t do any of this, you can still be guilty if you hang around with people who do,” said Robert Graham, CEO of Errata Security in Atlanta, in a blog posting last Wednesday (Jan. 14). “Hanging out in an IRC chat room giving advice to people now makes you a member of a ‘criminal enterprise,’ allowing the FBI to sweep in and confiscate all your assets without charging you with a crime.”
The White House proposal also places electronic “intercepting devices” in the same category as terrorist weapons training and chemical weapons, making their “manufacture, distribution, possession and advertising” a crime. Any such devices, and property bought with the proceeds from the sale of such devices, would be subject to seizure.
But while the heading of that section implies that its target is “spying devices,” the legal language never specifies exactly what such a intercepting device might be. A regular laptop running Firefox with the Wi-Fi sniffing Firesheep extension might qualify — as would the “blue boxes” for making free long-distance telephone calls that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold to fellow college students before they built the first Apple computer.
In his own tweet Wedneday (Jan. 20), EFF’s Cardozo linked to a real story on TechCrunch listing the “worst passwords of 2014,” then pointed out that what he’d done could be felonious.
“Under the DOJ’s CFAA proposal, this article (and this tweet linking to it) could be a 10 year felony. That’s insane,” Cardozo wrote.
It’s an information superhighway that speeds up interactions between a large, diverse population of individuals. It allows individuals who may be widely separated to communicate and help each other out. But it also allows them to commit new forms of crime.
No, we’re not talking about the internet, we’re talking about fungi. While mushrooms might be the most familiar part of a fungus, most of their bodies are made up of a mass of thin threads, known as a mycelium. We now know that these threads act as a kind of underground internet, linking the roots of different plants. That tree in your garden is probably hooked up to a bush several metres away, thanks to mycelia.
Suzanne Simard now believes large trees help out small, younger ones using the fungal internet. Without this help, she thinks many seedlings wouldn’t survive. In the 1997 study, seedlings in the shade – which are likely to be short of food – got more carbon from donor trees.
“These plants are not really individuals in the sense that Darwin thought they were individuals competing for survival of the fittest,” says Simard in the 2011 documentary Do Trees Communicate? “In fact they are interacting with each other, trying to help each other survive.”
Working at a lab with a relatively low level-two biosafety rating, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka has created a strain of flu that can completely escape the human immune system. The new genetically-engineered virus is based on H1N1, which may have killed 500,000 people just five years ago.
Most people today have a level of immunity to the H1N1 flu, which is now regarded as arelatively low threat. Kawaoka genetically manipulated H1N1 so it can “escape” our neutralising antibodies. This would make the human immune system—and population—unable to resist an outbreak.
We are confident our study will contribute to the field, particularly given the number of mutant viruses we generated and the sophisticated analysis applied.
There are risks in all research. However, there are ways to mitigate the risks. As for all the research on influenza viruses in my laboratory, this work is performed by experienced researchers under appropriate containment and with full review and prior approval by the [biosafety committee]
The venue for the research was the Institute for Influenza Virus Research in Madison. The institute has a level three agriculture biosafety rating, one level beneath institutes that carry out Ebola research. However, Kawaoka’s work was carried out at a level two biosafety lab. The University claims there was no risk of escape from the lab. For reference, the recent Anthrax contamination scare at Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a level-three biosafety rating.
IRS Taxpayer Elderly Disabled
Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Barack Obama’s health law. But they shouldn’t expect much help from the Internal Revenue Service.
Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person.
Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions.
The IRS will no longer help low-income taxpayers fill out their returns, and tax refunds could be delayed for people who file paper returns.
In its annual Report to Congress today, the office of the National Taxpayer Advocate outlined a series of Internal Revenue Service failures. In the “Access to the IRS” section, the report details the trouble taxpayers face reaching the right person in order to meet their tax obligations:
“The IRS does not answer the phone at local offices and has even removed the option it once provided for taxpayers, including the elderly and disabled, to leave a message.”
Until 2013, taxpayers — including the elderly and disabled — were allowed to leave a voicemail requesting an in-person appointment. But now, elderly and disabled taxpayers attempting to navigate the automated helpline maze are asked to email the IRS to set up an appointment. The automated message instructs as follows:
“If you are disabled or elderly and require special accommodations for service, please email us at…”
But this leaves many taxpayers in the dark. As the report states:
“Demographic research data show only 57 percent of adults over age 65 use the Internet compared with 87 percent of all adults. According to 2010 Census data, only 41 percent of those with a non-severe disability use the Internet and only 22 percent of those with a severe disability age 65 and older use the Internet. For those without Internet access, the only viable ways to reach the IRS are by phone, or in person.”
Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
We only know about the TPP’s threats thanks to leaks – the public is not allowed to see the draft TPP text. Even members of Congress, after being denied the text for years, are now only provided limited access. Meanwhile, more than 500 official corporate “trade advisors” have special access. The TPP has been under negotiation for six years, and the Obama administration wants to sign the deal this year. Opposition to the TPP is growing at home and in many of the other countries involved
And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty. It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress. Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty. If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more. This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.
In other words, it is the treaty from hell.
As Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out, in a letter to the White House:
I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the administration’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States. I believe in transparency and democracy and I think the US Trade Representative should too.
The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source…
• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)
Internet freedom –
Should be a major concern here, quite possibly affecting sites such as ATS, not only that but the net overall
Such as; ISP’s would be required to watch your internet use monitoring for piracy. More:
Under this TPP proposal, Internet Service Providers could be required to “police” user activity (i.e. police YOU), take down internet content, and cut people off from internet access for common user-generated content.
Violations could be as simple as the creation of a YouTube video with clips from other videos, even if for personal or educational purposes. Mandatory fines would be imposed for individuals’ non-commercial copies of copyrighted material.
So, downloading some music could be treated the same as large-scale, for-profit copyright violations.
“[T]hey have to go to a secure room without notebooks or even their staff to read what is being negotiated. They are then not allowed to discuss those documents with their staffs[…] All this information is in legalese and unless they’re an expert in the issues being addressed, it is going to be difficult for members to truly understand without the help of their expert staff just what these documents mean.”
-Job loss and less pay
As it would provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries.
Allowing corporations to sue governments- even locally
That “lack of knowledge” isn’t elective, however. Though TPP stakeholders, including 600 corporations and multiple labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, are allowed access to the draft, the public is not. Even Congress is being kept on a short leash — while a few Congress members have been allowed to read draft text of the trade agreement, they’ve also been sworn to secrecy about what they’ve seen.
“I read some sections of a draft of the TPP that identified sections that were still being negotiated, that did not identify what positions were being taken by which countries,” Florida Representative Alan Grayson told VICE News.
“A number of staffers from the Trade Representative’s office came, brought the document with them, and insisted on staying in the room and looking at me as I read the document.”
His general take on what he read, even if he can’t reveal the details? “It would be a punch in the face to the middle class of America. But I can’t tell you why.”
The investor-state dispute settlement provision (ISDS) of the TPP would allow foreign investors to sue governments over domestic policy that might diminish their profits. Hypothetically, for instance, an agribusiness company could sue a country that bans GMOs in order to recoup lost profits. This has already been possible, to some extent, under NAFTA — as in the cases “Eli Lilly v. Canada” and “Metalclad v. Mexico” — yet these rules do not apply to countries governed by the WTO. The TPP would extend NAFTA-style ISDS to the 12 participating countries.
Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told VICE News that the ISDS “would formalize the elevation of individual corporations and investors to equal status with nation states.”
Grayson is ferociously clear about what the effect will be: “The TPP would destroy our ability to govern ourselves. In large part, what you’d see is something between corporate rule and anarchy… It establishes a Hobbesian war of all against all.”
This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”. He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.
Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery. He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.
But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.
Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.
And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening. If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.
Just think about it. If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?
Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers. For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers. That alone will represent a huge savings.
Stupid spending stuff
GATHERING DUST: The Transportation Security Administration let 5,700 pieces of unused security equipment worth $184 million sit in storage in a Dallas, Texas, warehouse, which costs $3.5 million annually to lease and manage. Taxpayers lost another $23 million in depreciation costs, because most of the 472 carry-on baggage screening machines had been housed there for nine months or more. That’s a lot of money!
The National Science Foundation used part of a half-million dollar grant to develop a video game that simulates a high school prom.
he U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research spent $300,000 on a study that concluded the first bird on Earth probably had black feathers.
The Office of Naval Research spent $450,000 on a study that determined unintelligent robots do not have the ability to maintain a baby’s attention.
Do you think this guy appears taller, stronger, and manlier? The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research spent $681,387 on a study to confirm that he does—when he’s carrying a firearm.
The Internal Revenue Service spent $4.1 million on a lavish conference in 2010 for 2,609 of its employees in Anaheim, California. Expenses included $50,000 for line-dancing and “Star Trek” parody videos, $135,350 for outside speakers, $64,000 in conference “swag” for the employees, plus free meals, cocktails, and hotel suite upgrades.
In 2010, 117,000 people who double-dipped into Social Security’s disability insurance program and the federal unemployment insurance program received $850 million in cash benefits.
Did you know that golfers who imagine that the hole is bigger boost their confidence and accuracy? Thanks to the National Science Foundation, Purdue University, and $350,000 in taxpayer money, now you do.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $300,000 on activities promoting caviar produced in Idaho.
A $100,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts funded a video game that depicts a female superhero sent to save planet Earth from climate changes allegedly caused by social issues that affect women.
1,000 prisoners like these in Pennsylvania collected weekly unemployment benefits over a four-month period, costing taxpayers $7 million. Thank you, poor oversight!
The government spends about $100 million every four years to subsidize parties at the political conventions.
The Department of Agriculture spent $2 million to fund an internship program. The program hired one full-time intern.
Last year, $120 million was paid to dead federal employees.
A total of $146 million was paid for federal employees to upgrade their flights to business class.
The government spent $2.6 million to encourage Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly.
The Department of Health and Human Services provided an $800,000 subsidy to build and IHop in Washington, D.C.
The National Institutes of Health has given $1.5 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to study why “three-quarters” of lesbians in the United States are overweight and why most gay males are not.
During 2012, $25,000 of federal money was spent on a promotional tour for the Alabama Watermelon Queen.
The U.S. government spent $505,000 “to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs” last year.
NASA spends close to $1 million per year developing a menu of food for a manned mission to Mars even though it is being projected that a manned mission to Mars is still decades away.
Over the past 15 years, a total of approximately $5.25 million has been spent on hair care services for the U.S. Senate.
The U.S. government spent $27 million to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery in 2012.
During fiscal 2012, the National Science Foundation gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000. They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.
A total of $10,000 of U.S. taxpayer money was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes in Michigan.
Vice President Joe Biden and his staff stopped in Paris for one night back in February. The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar produced in Idaho.
The National Institute of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is conducting a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.
The National Institute of Health also spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.
The federal government spent $750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.
The IRS spent $60,000 on a film parody of Star Trek and a film parody of Gilligan’s Island.
Last year, the federal government spent $96,000 to buy iPads for kindergarten students in Maine.
The U.S. government spent $200,000 on “a tattoo removal program” in Mission Hills, Calif.
Last year, the government spent just under $1 million posting snippets of poetry in zoos around the country.
The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research spent $300,000 on a study that concluded the first bird on Earth probably had black feathers.
The federal government spent $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees and poinsettias.
They had 2 days to read through a 1600 page bill. God help us all. Seriously. It’s like Obamacare.
Here’s just a FEW of the things that have been released about what is in this bill for this year. Ugh. This is ridiculous.,
And yet, not shocking.
5.4 billion to fight Ebola in Africa
5 billion to fight ISIS
479 million to buy 4 F-35 Jets that are NOT WANTED. According to the Pentagon, they do not even work! The plane, according to the Pentagon reports about it, “Can’t turn, can’t clinb, can’t run.”
Of course, Lockheed Martin, the builders of the F-35, contributed massive amoutns of money, up to 28 MILLION, during the last election, so, of course, no cronyism there, right guys?>
93 million cuts in WIC
60 million in cuts to EPA
Citigroup wrote a part of this bill, by the way, as well. Specifically, they made it so that the requirement that banks rid themselves of derivatives trading from the parts of Dodd Frank that made the government responsible for.
In other words, the risk is now back on US, the Taxpayers, insteaad of on the banks that are profiting on these derivative trading actions.
Oh, they also voted to increase by a factor of TEN the amount of money people can donate to campaign funds. They can now, in effect, donate over 300,000 dollars to campaign funds, nstead of 35,000.
Examples of Out of control Spending
So, we all know that the spending by the American government is out of control.
But do you know how bad it really is? Have you seen some of the things that have been given money by the government?
It’s a sad testimony to the depths of ineptitude this government has.
How about these for examples?
One professor at Stanford University was given $239,100 to study how Americans use the Internet to find love.
The U.S. government once spent 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.
If you can believe it, the U.S. government has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.
The Obama administration plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars helping students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.
A total of $1.8 million was spent on a “museum of neon signs” in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The federal government spends 25 billion dollars a year maintaining federal buildings that are either unused or totally vacant.
U.S. farmers are given a total of $2 billion each year for not farming their land.
According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. military spent “$998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida”.
The National Institutes of Health paid researchers $400,000 to find out why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.The National Institutes of Health also once spent $442,340 to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.
The NIH once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.
The ongoing National Institutes of Health study, now in its fourth year and scheduled to last another two, has cost about $3 million to date, the Washington Free Beacon reported in a recent article.
A summary of the research project said that nearly three-quarters of lesbians are overweight or obese. The rate is 25 percent higher than heterosexual females and almost “double the obesity risk of gay men,” the summary said.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but for a government that seems determined to do everything that it can to hold down gay people through all of the same sex marriage bull that goes on, they seem really obsessed with gay folks.
And these are just a teeny fraction of the obscene amounts of money that is spent oby the government.
This IS our money, mind you. Let me compare for a moment what it would be like if you or I did this kind of thing.
Let’s say, for example, you make 40,000 a year. You are responsible to pay out 50,000 a year. You cover that 10,000 a year by borrowing money from your granddaughter. You then take some of that money and spend it on figuring out how quails poop or how ducks have sex or how gay prostitutes wash their balls.
I know my wife would hang me for something like that.
But that’s just a comparison on how ridiculous it is. I know when speaking about government spending, there’s always big numbers that fly around that are almost incomprehensible. But it’s easy to get if you put it into context.
But think about this people. They are constantly crying poor mouth. Constantly going on about how they can’t pay the bills.
The public is always screaming about people on welfare and social security being the problem.
GET RID OF IT! We don’t need to support those scumbags!
Yeah. They are really the problem. 😛
Meanwhile, 2.3 TRILLION comes up missing from the Pentagon, and no one remembers because of a little incident with a couple of planes.
Great timing on that announcement, Donald Rumsfeld!
It was almost like you guys planned it.
Meanwhile, they spend over 700 MILLION dollars on a healthcare website that didn’t work, that still has issues, and that was never wanted by the American people.
We really are living in an insane country.
I have some more for you.
When there are 2.5 million homeless children living in your nation and nobody is calling it a “national emergency
Indeed, and not only that, but there are 10 homes for every homeless person just sitting vacant.
It’s also illegal to feed the homeless, and, in some places, to BE homeless.