11 Countries Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet | The Top Information Post

11 Countries Are Meeting in Peru to Figure Out How They Can Control the Internet | The Top Information Post.

But now it appears that it’s going to be even easier for international copyright offenders to be tried in court by the interests–and lobbying power–of Hollywood. Starting today, 11 countries—Canada, America, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand—are having a secret (no members of the public and no press) meeting in Lima, Peru to figure out what can be done about copyright offenders who transmit Hollywood’s precious content over the interweb’s tubes without paying for it.

The meeting is held under the banner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. They’re looking to sign an international treaty that will create world government-esque laws to handle anyone who downloads an early leak of Iron Man 3 illegally.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling this the “biggest global threat to the internet since ACTA.” If you remember, ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is an international, internet-policing treaty that was shut down by the European Parliament with a 92 percent nay vote. Luckily for Europeans, no EU country is anywhere near the TPP negotiations in Peru right now—and European politicians are now quick to distance themselves from the policies that ACTA is trying to ram down the world’s throat.

But in North America, the ACTA movement is still very much alive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government passed a bill in March that makes Canada more ACTA-friendly by allowing customs officers to destroy counterfeit goods and ratcheting up the criminal penalties against copyright offenders. And the United States has seized hip-hop blog domains without warning or trial, because they were alleged to host pirated material.

A leaked chapter outlining some preliminary discussion to re-examine intellectual property has revealed that TPP wants to add further checks and balances to restrict fair use. Those behind TPP want to make sure that if a teacher is trying to show some copyrighted material in their class for the purpose of education, or if a humorist using copyrighted material in an article for the purpose of satire, they’re doing so under what TPP calls a “good faith activity.”

The language in this leaked TPP chapter is incredibly dense and dates back to February 2011—so not only is it a confusing bit of writing, but it will also likely be revised over and over during this meeting in Peru. As it stands, the EFF is worried that “the United States is trying to export the worst parts of its intellectual property law without bringing any of the [fair use] protections.” And just like SOPA or CISPA, many people are concerned that the broad language in new legal terms like “good faith activity” will potentially lead to unjust prosecutions.

NZ WikiLeaks scoop: NZ, US in trade battle – National – NZ Herald News

NZ WikiLeaks scoop: NZ, US in trade battle – National – NZ Herald News.

 

Intellectual property is especially important to Hollywood and US pharmaceutical, biotechnology and entertainment corporations, which have a strong influence over the Obama Administration’s trade policy. Their influence is seen throughout the draft document.

A large section reveals the battle between the US pharmaceutical lobby and countries such as New Zealand that want to continue to buy cheaper generic medicines. The US negotiators have inserted several pages of measures to help maintain and extend the dominant position of big pharmaceutical companies. Only the US supported these proposals while Australia, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei opposed them in full.

New Zealand is the lead nation for a series of alternative proposals to “adopt and maintain measures to encourage the timely entry of pharmaceutical products to the market”. Canada, Singapore, Chile, Malaysia and Vietnam join New Zealand in proposing rules that would avoid blocks to generic medicines.

Since this text was written US Trade Representative Michael Froman has publicly proposed giving developing countries a phase-in period if they accept the US-promoted pharmaceutical rules, but this would give no relief to New Zealand.

Other areas of dispute are provisions that would require internet service providers to enforce copyright of behalf of foreign corporations, including closing down their customers’ accounts; overseas royalty payments on all books, music and movies for 20 years longer than at present; restricting cheaper parallel importing; imposing penalties for breaking “digital locks” such as regional zones on lawful DVDs; allowing plants and animals to be patented; and allowing “diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals” to be patented.

There is also dispute over agricultural chemicals.

A target of Christmas for concluding the agreement was set by President Barack Obama last year and was reconfirmed at the TPP leaders’ meeting in Bali in October.

However the wide differences evident between the US and New Zealand mean someone would have to back down on national interest provisions – or the US back down – for there to be any prospect of the agreement being concluded. More than 100 issues are unresolved.

A coalition of groups, ranging from Internet New Zealand to Trade Me and the Library Association, have opposed the agreement. The Fairdeal Coalition’s spokeswoman Susan Chalmers said the New Zealand negotiators have been sticking up for the country and called on the Government to support them.

“If New Zealand caves on the intellectual property chapter,” she said, “it will face inevitable economic, cultural and social losses that in the long-term will likely outweigh any gains from improved agricultural access.”

An earlier WikiLeaks release of US embassy cables showed former New Zealand chief TPP negotiator Mark Sinclair privately telling visiting US State Department Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed in February 2010 that there were “a number of areas sensitive to New Zealand” in the TPP talks and pharmaceuticals were “bound to be a contentious issue”.

Plutocrats vs. Populists: Good Piece Until the End — Answers are Easy | Beat the Press

Plutocrats vs. Populists: Good Piece Until the End — Answers are Easy | Beat the Press.

 

Plutocrats vs. Populists: Good Piece Until the End — Answers are Easy

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Sunday, 03 November 2013 08:17

Chrystia Freeland has a good piece in the NYT on the rise of plutocratic politics in the United States and elsewhere and the populist opposition it has provoked. The piece makes many interesting points but then towards the end strangely tells readers:

“Part of the problem is that no one has yet come up with a fully convincing answer to the question of how you harness the power of the technology revolution and globalization without hollowing out middle-class jobs.”

No, this is very far from true. There are very convincing answers to this question, it’s just the plutocrats block them from being put into practice.

Topping the list of course would be aggressive stimulus to bring the economy back to something resembling full employment. This not only would give tens of millions of people more income, it would make many bad jobs into decent jobs.

In a tight labor market employers will pay someone $15-$20 hours to work as a retail clerk at big box stores or fast food restaurants or as custodians. These jobs pay very low wages in the current economy because government policy acts to limit employment. If we didn’t have policy (fiscal and exchange rate policy) that reduced employment, then there would be more demand for labor and the wages in low-paid occupations would rise.

In terms of globalization, we have deliberately structured globalization so as to put downward pressure on the wages of low and middle wage earners. There is no reason, except for political power, that we could not have designed globalization to put downward pressure on the wages of the doctors and other highly paid professionals. This was a policy choice, it has nothing to do with the inherent dynamics of globalization.

Also, the high pay on Wall Street would be brought down to earth with the end of too big to fail subsidies. This policy reversal coupled with the imposition of financial speculation taxes or other taxes that would bring taxation in the financial industry in line with taxation in other industries (a policy even advocated by the IMF), would substantially reduce the take of Wall Street plutocrats.

And replacing government granted patent monopolies in the drug and high tech sectors with more efficient mechanisms of supporting innovation would also go a long way towards both reducing high end incomes and making essential medicines more affordable. These and other issues are discussed in The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progress, among other places.

Anyhow, it is bizarre that Freeland would end her piece by asserting the problem is a lack of answers. As she effectively documents, the plutocrats have managed to seize control over politics in the United States and elsewhere. There is no lack of good answers, the problem is that the plutocrats have power to stop them from being put into practice.

As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media

As Europe erupts over US spying, NSA chief says government must stop media | Glenn Greenwald | Comment is free | theguardian.com.

By

Can even President Obama and his most devoted loyalists continue to maintain, with a straight face, that this is all about Terrorism? That is what this superb new Foreign Affairs essay by Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore means when it argues that the Manning and Snowden leaks are putting an end to the ability of the US to use hypocrisy as a key weapon in its soft power.

Speaking of an inability to maintain claims with a straight face, how are American and British officials, in light of their conduct in all of this, going to maintain the pretense that they are defenders of press freedoms and are in a position to lecture and condemn others for violations? In what might be the most explicit hostility to such freedoms yet – as well as the most unmistakable evidence of rampant panic – the NSA’s director, General Keith Alexander, actually demanded Thursday that the reporting being done by newspapers around the world on this secret surveillance system be halted (Techdirt has the full video here):

The head of the embattled National Security Agency, Gen Keith Alexander, is accusing journalists of “selling” his agency’s documents and is calling for an end to the steady stream of public disclosures of secrets snatched by former contractor Edward Snowden.

“I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000 – whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these – you know it just doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said in an interview with the Defense Department’s “Armed With Science” blog.

“We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policy-makers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on,” the NSA director declared. [My italics]

There are 25,000 employees of the NSA (and many tens of thousands more who work for private contracts assigned to the agency). Maybe one of them can tell The General about this thing called “the first amendment”.

I’d love to know what ways, specifically, General Alexander has in mind for empowering the US government to “come up with a way of stopping” the journalism on this story. Whatever ways those might be, they are deeply hostile to the US constitution – obviously. What kind of person wants the government to forcibly shut down reporting by the press?

Whatever kind of person that is, he is not someone to be trusted in instituting and developing a massive bulk-spying system that operates in the dark. For that matter, nobody is.

Leaving

As many of you likely know, it was announced last week that I am leaving the Guardian. My last day here will be 31 October, and I will write my last column on that date.

Elsipogtog Everywhere

Elsipogtog Everywhere.

So we are faced with a choice. We can continue to show the photos of the three hunting rifles and the burnt out cop cars on every mainstream media outlet ad nauseam and paint the Mi’kmaq with every racist stereotype we know, or we can dig deeper. We can seek out the image of strong, calm Mi’kmaq women and children armed with drums and feathers and ask ourselves what would motivate mothers, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and daughters to stand up and say enough is enough. We can learn about the 400 years these people and their ancestors have spent resisting dispossession and erasure. We can learn about how they began their reconciliation process in the mid 1700s when they forged Peace and Friendship treaties. We can learn about why they chose to put their bodies on the land to protect their lands and waters against fracking because setting the willfully ignorant and racists aside, sane, intelligent people should be standing with them.

Our bodies should be on the land so that our grandchildren have something left to stand upon.

How Do We Force Cash Hoarders to Invest? Tax Them

How Do We Force Cash Hoarders to Invest? Tax Them.

 

How Do We Force Cash Hoarders to Invest? Tax Them

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 09:43 By Alejandro Reuss, Dollars and Sense | Op-Ed

 

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Tax words(Image: Tax words via Shutterstock)The supply-side economists of the 1980s famously emphasized how government policies (especially taxes) affect incentives. They argued that taxes act as disincentives to work, saving, and investment. Conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation repeat this, like a mantra, to the present day. The argument is basically that tax policy, by discouraging desirable economic activities, misaligns private incentives from the common good. In practice, of course, it has been used mainly to justify tax cuts for corporations and high-income individuals.

Today, it’s clear that incentives are badly misaligned, but not because of excessive taxation. Corporations are making record profits while investment remains at historic lows. Nonfinancial corporations are stockpiling enormous sums of cash—totaling almost $1.5 trillion at the end of last year, according to Moody’s. Apple alone has nearly $150 billion in cash reserves.

The investment shortfall is at the core of the sluggish “recovery” and chronically high unemployment.

There’s an obvious response—a tax on this idle cash that would light a fire under corporations to spend it now. If focused on expanded production and new investment, such spending would help close the still-enormous gap between the economy’s current production and its potential. And it could help boost employment, which has hardly grown (relative to the working-age population) during our current sluggish recovery.

Mihir Desai, a professor at Harvard Business School, proposed a tax on “excess cash reserves” in a 2010 Washington Post op-ed and alluded to it again in congressional testimony the following year. Recently, the Financial Times’ Martin Wolf called for a “punitive tax on retained earnings” to spur investment. (He wrote this about Japan, but has suggested this policy more generally.) Overall, however, this idea has, so far, not made much of an impact on public debates.

Desai views a cash-reserves tax as a solution to a “coordination problem.” This means a situation in which individuals act rationally (from their own vantage point), yet their decisions add up to an “irrational” (undesirable) overall outcome. Low investment in a depressed economy is a classic example: No single company can affect overall demand in the U.S. economy very much. As long as demand is weak, then, it makes no sense for any one company to expand its current production or future capacity. Therefore, low investment creates a vicious circle of low demand, low output, and high unemployment. A cash-reserves tax would increase the cost of not investing. By spurring new spending, it would create the demand needed to justify the new investment.

Despite record profits and rampant corporate tax avoidance, public debate has focused largely on yet more tax cuts for big corporations. In part, this is because big business speaks with a giant megaphone. In recent congressional testimony, Apple CEO Tim Cook blamed U.S. corporate taxes for Apple’s huge offshore cash hoards. Economists, commentators, and politicians have echoed calls for a repatriation “tax holiday.” This shows how thoroughly the bias in favor of corporate tax cuts has permeated the political mainstream.

To work right, a cash-reserves tax should come along with other changes to the corporate tax code. By itself, the tax would not necessarily distinguish between spending on new investment and cash disbursements to shareholders. From the standpoint of total demand, however, inducing companies to “disgorge” profits to shareholders—in the form or dividends or stock buybacks—would probably not help much. Corporate stock is overwhelmingly owned by wealthy individuals, who would surely save a large portion of the windfall. It would make sense, then, to impose a cash-disbursements tax high enough to prevent corporate cash stockpiles from just going into shareholders’ bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the loophole in the tax code that allows corporations to exploit offshore tax havens also need to be addressed. The answer, though, is not to suspend the “repatriation” tax, but to close the loophole and tax corporate profits on a global basis.

The cash-reserves tax, if done right, would be an elegantly double-edged policy. If corporations still won’t spend their cash hoards, the tax would boost government revenue—which could be used to address human needs, build infrastructure, etc. (If corporations won’t invest, the government will.) On the other hand, the companies could avoid the tax by spending the idle cash, increasing output and employment.

For years, we’ve been told that rising corporate profits and growing inequality are necessary incentives for the “job creators” to do their magic. Maybe it’s time to abandon the sanctity of corporate profits and tell the corporations to move it—or lose it.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

NONE DARE CALL IT CONSPIRACY  by Gary Allen

NONE DARE CALL IT CONSPIRACY  by Gary Allen.

You may have received this book through the mail it is a gift from a concerned American who has read the book. The donor believes that the survival of our country hinges on the public becoming aware of the material contained here in. All he asks is that you read the book Thank you.

Gary Allen is a California based free-lance journalist. After majoring in history at Stanford University and doing graduate work at California State College at Long Beach, he became aware through independent research that his college courses had been highly slanted. Many of the most important facts had been left out. This book is the result of his personal “post graduate studies” in finding out “who’s who in American politics.

First printing, February, 1972-350,000
Second printing. March, 1972-1,250,000
Third printing, April, 1972-4,000,000

INTRODUCTION

The story you are about to read is true. The names have not been changed to protect the guilty. This book may have the effect of changing your life. After reading this book, you will never look at national and world events in the same way again.

None Dare Call It Conspiracy will be a very controversial book. At first it will receive little publicity and those whose plans are exposed in it will try to kill it by the silent treatment. For reasons that become obvious as you read this book, it will not be reviewed in all the “proper” places or be available on your local bookstand. However, there is nothing these people can do to stop a grass roots book distributing system. Eventually it will be necessary for the people and organizations named in this book to try to blunt its effect by attacking it or the author. They have a tremendous vested interest in keeping you from discovering what they are doing. And they have the big guns of the mass media at their disposal to fire the barrages at None Dare Call It Conspiracy.

By sheer volume, the “experts” will try to ridicule you out of investigating for yourself as to whether or not the information in this book is true They will ignore the fact that the author about to conjecture. They will find a typographical error or ague some point that is open to debate. If necessary they will lie in order to protect themselves by smearing this book. I believe those who pooh-pooh the information herein because Psychologically many people would prefer to believe we are because we all like to ignore bad news. We do so at our own peril.

Having been a college instructor, a State Senator and now a Congressman I have had experience with real professionals at putting up smokescreens to cover up their own actions by trying to destroy the accuser. I hope that you will read the book carefully, draw your own conclusions and not accept the opinions of those who of necessity must attempt to discredit the book. Your future may depend upon it.

October 25, 1971 JOHN G. SCMITZ UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN

1. DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH FACTS

Most of us have had the experience, either as parents or youngsters, of trying to discover the “hidden picture’ within another picture in a children’s magazine. Usually you are shown a landscape with trees, bushes, flowers and other bits of nature. The caption reads something like this: “Concealed somewhere in this picture is a donkey pulling a cart with a boy in it. Can you find them?” Try as you might, usually you could not find the hidden picture until you turned to a page farther back in the magazine which would reveal how cleverly the artist had hidden it from us. If we study the landscape we realize that the whole picture was painted in such a way as to conceal the real picture within, and once we see the “real picture,” it stands out like the proverbial painful digit.

We believe the picture painters of the mass media are artfully creating landscapes for us which deliberately hide the real picture.In this book we will show youhow to discover the “hidden picture” in the landscapes presented to us daily through newspapers, radio and. television. Once you can see through the camouflage, you will see the donkey, the cart and the boy who have been there all along.

Millions of Americans are concerned and frustrated over mishappenings in our nation. They feel that something is wrong, drastically wrong, but because of the picture painters they can’t quite put their fingers on it.

Maybe you are one of those persons. Something is bugging you, but you aren’t sure what. We keep electing new Presidents who seemingly promise faithfully to halt the world-wide Communist advance, put the blocks to extravagant government spending, douse the tea of inflation, put the economy on an even keel, reverse the trend which is turning the country mto a moral sewer, and toss the criminals into the hoosegow where they belong. Yet despite high hopes and glittering campaign promise these problems continue to worsen no matter who is in office. Each new administration, whether it be Republican or Democrat continues the same basic policies of the previous administration which it had so thoroughly denounced during the election campaign. It is considered poor form to mention this, but it is true nonetheless. Is there a plausible reason to explain why this happens? We are not supposed to think so. We are supposed to think it is all accidental and coincidental and that therefore there is nothing we can do about it.

FDR once said “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” He was in a good position to know. We believe that many of the major world events that are shaping our destinies occur because somebody or somebodies have planned them that way. If we were merely dealing with the law of avenges, half of the events affecting our nation’s well-being should be good for America. If we were dealing with mere incompetence, our leaders should occasionally make a mistake in our favor. We shall attempt to prove ‘bat we are not really dealing with coincidence or stupidity, but with planning and brilliance. This small book deals with that planning and brilliance and how it has shaped the foreign and domestic policies of the last six administrations. We hope it will explain matters which have up to now seemed inexplicable; that it will bring into sharp focus images which have been obscured by the landscape painters of the mass media.

Those who believe that major world events result from planning are laughed at tot believing in the “conspiracy theory of history.” Of course, no one in this modern day and age readily believes in the conspiracy theory of history — except those who Those who believe that major world events result from planning are laughed at for believing in the “conspiracy theory of history.” Of course, no one in this modern day and age really believes in the conspiracy theory of history — except those who have taken the time to study the subject. When you think about it, there are really only two theories of history. Either things happen by accident neither planned nor caused by anybody, or they happen because they are planned and somebody causes them to happen. In reality, it is the accidental theory of history preached in the unhallowed Halls of Ivy which should be ridiculed. Otherwise, why does every recent administration make the same mistakes as the previous ones? Why do they repeat the errors of the past which produce inflation, depressions and war? Why does our State Department “stumble” from one Communist-aiding “blunder” to another? If you believe it is all an accident or the result of mysterious and unexplainable tides of history, you will be regarded as an “intellectual” who understands that we live in a complex world. If you believe that something like 32,496 consecutive coincidences over the past forty years stretches the law of averages a bit, you are a kook!

Why is it that virtually all “reputable” scholars and mass media columnists and commentators reject the cause and effect or conspiratorial theory of history? Primarily, most scholars follow the crowd in the academic world just as most women follow Why is it that virtually all “reputable” scholars and mass media columnists and commentators reject the cause and effect or conspiratorial theory of history? Primarily, most scholars follow the crowd in the academic world just as most women follow fashions. To buck the tide means social and professional ostracism. The same is true of the mass media. While professors and pontificators profess to be tolerant and broadminded, in practice it’s strictly a one way street-with all traffic flowing left. A Maoist can be tolerated by Liberals of Ivory Towerland or by the Establishment’s media pundits, but to be a conservative, and a conservative who propounds a conspiratorial view, is absolutely verboten. Better you should be a drunk at a national WCTU convention!