Policy Laundering: how the US Trade Rep is trading away America’s right to unlock its devices

Some of America’s worst copyright laws were passed through a profoundly undemocratic process called “policy laundering.” This is what happens when an administration can’t get Congress to pass a bad copyright law, so the US Trade Representative instead signs the US up to international treaties requiring America to pass the unpopular law. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act is one of the policy-laundered laws that has done enormous harm to the country.

Now the USTR is busy again, signing America up to treaties that undermine attempts by Congress to make phone unlocking and jailbreaking legal. America’s official representative is going to other countries and telling them, “If you want to do business with America, you must ban jailbreaking and phone unlocking, and in return, we promise to keep those activities on the banned list, too.”

In other words, America’s trade reps are cramming a massively unpopular, harmful policy down the throats of its trading partners, while simultaneously locking America into the same policy, undermining Congress at the same time.

Click to read more, including a call to action.

The sequester, explained.

What’s a sequester, how did we get here, what gets cut and by how much?

Link to the Mother Jones article

What, me worry?

  • Porter Stansberry writes in the S&A Digest:
    • According to independent analysts (Bloomberg News and State Budget Solutions), the state of California is now $617 billion in debt. This figure includes likely future pension fund contributions. That’s more than twice as much as the next most indebted state, New York ($305 billion).
      California has about 37 million people. About 15% of these folks are under 18 years old. So that leaves about 30 million adults. As a rough measure, we can assume that only about 60% of the adults are working… That leaves about 18 million actual workers. It’s these folks who (in theory) will bear the burden of these debts. That’s $34,000 per worker in the state of California. Do you think the average citizen in California can really afford an extra $34,000 in debt?

Entrepreneurs, Investors and Financial Engineers – Not All are “BusinessPeople”

From blogmaverick.com by Mark Cuban:

The Cause of Bubbles =Investment vs Financial Engineering

Oct 11th 2008 3:12PM

Let me get this straight. In 2008, funds trying to squeeze out another basis point or two thought they were being conservative buying insurance on heavily leveraged portfolios of sub prime loans and other debt. Once those loans started to default, it created a cascading deleveraging event which lead to major financial institutions failing and the “smartest” minds on Wall Street being forced to dump everything to raise cash, which in turn lead to a crisis of confidence and deleveraging that created the worst week in the history of the stock markets. Did I get this right ?

In 1987, funds, trying to squeeze out another basis point or two thought they were being conservative, buying insurance on leveraged stock portfolios. Once the stock prices on those portfolios started to drop, their insurance programs pushed them to dump everything AND sell stock index futures to raise cash, which in turn lead to a crisis of confidence and deleveraging that created the worst single day melt down in the history of the stock markets. Did I get this right ?

Think it wont happen again ? Of course it will. Whatever money the Fed makes available to stimulate the economy will be used, as intended, by entrepreneurs and businesspeople to create and grow businesses.

read more…

The Cure to our Economic Problems

From Mark Cuban:

I would hate to be the winning Presidential candidate. Both candidates are delusional  in thinking  their economic policies will drag us out of a recession or even improve the economy.  The reality is that the solutions offered by both are the equivalent of shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. They are meaningless.

You can cut taxes for 95pct of Americans and raise taxes for the rest. You can cut taxes for businesses and retain the Bush Tax Cuts. You can increase or decrease the capital gains tax 5 or 10pct either way.  Under both programs the deficit for the country will increase,  we will borrow and print more money.  5 or 10pct variance either way, given the big hole  our economy is it wont matter.

The cure for what ails us is the Entrepreneurial Spirit of this country.  We are a nation of people who encourage , support and invest in those of any and all age, race and gender who will use their ingenuity and come up with a new idea.

Read more (and you should)

Who are Mitt Romney’s 47%?

Everyone is still trying to make sense (or in the Democrats’ case, make hay with) Mitt Romney’s disparging remarks about “the 47 percent,”but where did he come with that number and why are these people not paying income taxes?

While Romney’s statement is technically true, and widely used conservative talking point, it’s highly misleading and hardly the justifies the critique that these tax shirkers “should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Even conservative pundit Ramesh Ponnuru said that the argument was “an intellectual and political dead end.” The two main problems with Romney’s statement are that many of the people in that 47 percent aren’t actually living off government handouts — and they don’t all vote Democratic either. Economics writers all over the internet broke out the chart machinesto debunk these two claims. Here’s the basics:

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“They Won’t Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster”: Chris Kluwe Explains Gay Marriage To The Politician Who Is Offended By An NFL Player Supporting It

From Deadspin:


Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage. Yahoo has published a letter that Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote last week to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, urging him to “inhibit such expressions from your employee.” This is Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s response to Burns.


Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.


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Voting matters

Nice opinion piece by one of the titans of the tech world:

Yes, I’ve started writing about politics again, and the cynics are weighing in also, as usual. Don’t you know it’s all theater, and there’s no difference between the candidates. The world is run by a few rich people, and they don’t care what we think.

I’ve never really addressed this, and thought now was a good time to do so.

My answer is this — bullshit. That’s not the way it works. You wish it worked that well, but it’s actually chaotic, nonsensical, Dilbertesque, crazy, dysfunctional, self-destructive, suicidal, nutso, etc. Can you think of any more adjectives for we, as a species, net-net, have lost our minds? Go ahead and add them.

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Some basics on the economy

Very good and very scary (that’s why it’s good, IMHO…) post by Ian Welsh on the economy. From the post:

1) the majority of new jobs are bad.

2) the economy has still not recovered all lost jobs, either in absolute #s or as a percentage of the population

3) so there are fewer jobs, and what new jobs have been created are worse. They pay worse.

4) The upper middle class job market has recovered, which is why those folks are no longer panicking and are telling you that the economy isn’t so bad as all that.

5) the failure to force the rich to take their losses and to break up the banks means that the same people who caused the 2007/8 financial crisis still control the economy and the government.

Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/09/some-basics-on-the-economy.html#kzBH1Bb5mxZysIPK.99