As the Senate Prepares to Vote on “Fast Track,” Here’s a Quick Primer on the Dangers of the TPP

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.55.20 PM

The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries. Who will benefit from the TPP? American workers? Consumers? Small businesses? Taxpayers? Or the biggest multinational corporations in the world?

One strong hint is buried in the fine print of the closely guarded draft. The provision, an increasingly common feature of trade agreements, is called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement,” or ISDS. The name may sound mild, but don’t be fooled. Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.

ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws – and potentially to pick up huge payouts from taxpayers – without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court. Here’s how it would work. Imagine that the United States bans a toxic chemical that is often added to gasoline because of its health and environmental consequences. If a foreign company that makes the toxic chemical opposes the law, it would normally have to challenge it in a U.S. court. But with ISDS, the company could skip the U.S. courts and go before an international panel of arbitrators. If the company won, the ruling couldn’t be challenged in U.S. courts, and the arbitration panel could require American taxpayers to cough up millions – and even billions – of dollars in damages.

If that seems shocking, buckle your seat belt. ISDS could lead to gigantic fines, but it wouldn’t employ independent judges. Instead, highly paid corporate lawyers would go back and forth between representing corporations one day and sitting in judgment the next. Maybe that makes sense in an arbitration between two corporations, but not in cases between corporations and governments. If you’re a lawyer looking to maintain or attract high-paying corporate clients, how likely are you to rule against those corporations when it’s your turn in the judge’s seat?

– From Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Washington Post Op-Ed: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Clause Everyone Should Oppose

Trying to learn about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is like trying to walk through a minefield. The only information we really have is courtesy of leaks, and those snippets are definitely not encouraging.

Pretty much every piece of major legislation passed by Congress since 9/11 is either a taxpayer giveaway to mega corporations, or a major expansion of government power. The worst pieces of legislation are always marketed with positive sounding terms and soundbites. The latest swindle is no exception. At its core, the TPP appears to be nothing more than a ceding of national sovereignty to multi-national corporations. Then again, us skeptics could be wrong about that, but chances are we’re not. We just don’t know because the text is “classified.”

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

U.S. Officials Panic About Seymour Hersh Story; Then Deny His Claims Using Jedi Mind Tricks

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 2.10.33 PM

What really struck me last evening as I was reading Seymour Hersh’s article exposing the bin Laden raid story as a farce, was the fact that it answered in detail so many of the questions I’ve had about the raid over the years. For example:

In 2012, I wrote the post: New Emails Say No Sailors Watched Bin Laden’s Burial at Sea

This was followed up in 2013 with: U.S. Government’s Secret Move to Hide Files on the Osama Bin Laden Raid

Then, finally in 2014: The U.S. Military Ordered Bin Laden Photos Destroyed 10 Days After Freedom of Information Act Request

Commenting on the burial aspect of this White House fairytale, I noted:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Chris Christie Spent $82,000 in Taxpayer Money on Concessions at MetLife Stadium.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 1.37.43 PM

This is just too good. Isn’t this the clown who goes around picking on teachers about waste , but who never dares goes after Wall Street criminals for destroying the global economy and taking trillions in taxpayer bailouts and backstops? Yep, it’s that guy: Chris Christie. 

We learn from New York Magazine that:

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is a big football fan, but he is also apparently a big fan of snacks at football stadiums. According to New Jersey Watchdog, Christie reportedly spent over $82,000 of taxpayer money on concessions at MetLife Stadium.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Wal-Mart Exposed Bottling Water from Sacramento Municipal Supply in the Middle of a Drought

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.45.04 PM

Wal-Mart is facing questions tonight after CBS13 learns the company draws its bottled water from a Sacramento water district during California’s drought.

According to its own labeling, the water in the gallon jugs appears to come from Sacramento’s water supply.

Sacramento sells water to a bottler, DS Services of America, at 99 cents for every 748 gallons—the same rate as other commercial and residential customers. That water is then bottled and sold at Walmart for 88 cents per gallon, meaning that $1 of water from Sacramento turns into $658.24 for Walmart and DS Services.

– From the CBS News in Sacramento article: Wal-Mart Bottled Water Comes From Sacramento Municipal Supply

We all know there’s a severe drought plaguing much of California. I haven’t focused on this topic much, but I did publish a very powerful post on it last fall titled: Video of the Day – Stunning Scenes from California’s Central Valley Drought. I suggest checking it out if you missed it the first time.  

Now we learn of some pretty troubling news that Wal-Mart is sourcing some of its bottled water from the Sacramento water supply, despite the fact that: “Sacramento-area water districts are preparing to enforce residential water-use cuts as high as 36 percent.”

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

How the U.S. Military is Paying NFL Teams Millions to “Honor the Troops” at Sporting Events

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.28.45 AM

When the Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military — it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show.

The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.

The agreement includes the Hometown Hero segment, in which the Jets feature a soldier or two on the big screen, announce their names and ask the crowd to thank them for their service. The soldiers and three friends also get seats in the Coaches Club for the game.

– From the New Jersey Star Ledger article: Jets’ Salutes Honor N.J. National Guard but Cost Taxpayer 

Like everything else in America, faux patriotism is also for sale.

I’ve written previously about how uncomfortable the superficial “honor the troops” displays at sporting events makes me feel. In the post, “Stop Thanking Me for My Service” – Former U.S. Army Ranger Blasts American Foreign Policy and The Corporate State, I noted:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Isolated – China and Russia Demonstrate Closer Relationship with Joint Military Exercises

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.38.45 PM

BEIJING — When a Chinese honor guard joins a military parade in Russia’s capital this weekend, watched by China’s President Xi Jinping, it will mark more than just a symbolic recognition of the two countries’ contributions to the Allied victory in 1945.

China’s participation also reflects an upgrade of its military ties with Russia, including joint naval exercises and a revival of arms purchases, that could complicate U.S.-led efforts to counter both nations’ expanding military activities, analysts and diplomats say.

They’ve basically come to a consensus that despite their differences over some national interests, they really face the same common enemy,” said Gilbert Rozman, an expert on China-Russia relations at Princeton University.

– From the Wall Street Journal article: China Parades Closer Ties in Moscow

One of the key themes here at Liberty Blitzkrieg has been the carelessness and ineptitude of those in charge of crafting U.S. foreign policy. I’m not naive, and I fully understand that the world is a dangerous place. Just as I believe individuals should have the right to defend themselves and their families with the right to bear arms, I also understand the importance of strong national defense.

The problem with current U.S. foreign policy is that it is not defensive in nature. Rather, all indications are that the U.S. government is acting offensively; primarily driven by ego and the will to dominate. Much of the world has come to see the U.S. not as a powerful partner, but as a narcissistic master. What American leadership fails to understand, is that by taking such a posture it is simply making others overseas feel paranoid and threatened, thus drawing them closer to each other and farther from the U.S.

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

How a Department of Homeland Security Fusion Center in Texas Targeted Animal Rights Activists

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.28.12 PM

Last September, a Facebook event caught the eye of a counterrorism specialist within the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The email was among those released by the Austin Regional Intelligence Center (ARIC) last month. This same release revealed that ARIC took stock of potential anti-circus demonstrators in 2012.

Given the overall tame tenor, it’s unclear how such a post came across a counterterrorism specialist’s desk, or why it merited sharing. 

The privacy policy for ARIC similarly limits collection of information on individuals and organizations. Collected information must relate to terrorism, criminal activism or a threat to public safety.

– Fromt the Muckrock article: Vegan Potlucks, Anime Screenings on the Counterterrorism Unit’s Calendar

In the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the American public morphed into a collective of spineless jellyfish and basically let Congress and the intelligence agencies to do whatever they wanted in order to “protect them.” Never mind that convincing a naive and fearful populace to hand over authoritarian powers to the government has been the playbook of tyrants for millennia, it still worked brilliantly on the dumbed down American public.

One of the most hideous creations to emerge from the post 9/11 societal lapse in sanity was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As far as I can tell, this organization has done nothing but harass and threaten ordinary Americans for completely normal activities. Let’s revisit a few examples from the DHS highlight reel:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Pentagon Employees Caught Using Government Credit Cards on Gambling & Escorts…Staff Given “Stern Warning”

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.58.12 AM

Last month, we learned that DEA agents were caught attending sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels. No one was fired. We also learned that the DEA agents who left a California student in a cell without food or water for five days until he was forced to drink his own urine in order to survive, were given a slap on the wrist. Finally, we heard about how TSA screeners in Denver were intentionally manipulating the naked body scanners in order to allow a particular agent to sexually molest male passengers. While the offenders were fired, no criminal charges were filed, and the TSA refuses to release their names. All of this was revealed in the last month alone.

Well, we can now add another to the list. In the latest example of abuse by the unaccountable feds, we learn that Pentagon employees have been caught using their government credit cards on gambling and escorts, amongst other things. Their punishment? A “stern warning.” 

Politico reports that:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Trademark Terrorism: Hotel Chain Sends Cease and Desist Letter to 1,000-Year-Old Village for Using its Own Name

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 4.34.16 PM

In one of the most embarrassing cases I’ve ever seen of corporate overreach, Copthorne Hotels sent a cease and desist letter to a village that has used its name for almost a millennium, claiming the tiny hamlet of 5,000 was infringing on its trademark. I wish I was making this up.

TechDirt covered this story and explained that:

Techdirt has covered its fair share of idiotic legal threats over trademarks, but the following example is spectacular even for a field that has many superb examples of corporate bullying. It concerns the village of Copthorne (population 5,000), in the English county of West Sussex. It’s rather well established: it’s been around for a thousand years, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which was compiled in 1086. Recently, though, its village association was threatened with legal action for using the name ‘Copthorne’ on its Web site.

Now here’s the actual letter, courtesy of the Plymouth Herald:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Chinese Company Moves to Replace 90% of its Workforce with Robots

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 2.45.56 PM

I’m not one of those people who thinks robots taking over menial labor from human employees is a bad thing. On the contrary, I think such a displacement could ultimately prove very positive for the species. Nevertheless, the short-term pain and suffering that this could cause for displaced workers and their families likely will have tremendous negative repercussions to the societies that are most affected in the near and intermediate-term.

Since robots entering the workforce is probably one of the most significant economic trends in the decades ahead, we should all start thinking about how to deal with what will be a major adjustment for hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people.

From the South China Morning Post:

Read the Full Article »

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.