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Divernan's Journal
Divernan's Journal
February 26, 2014

How TPP Would Harm You at the Drug Store and on the Internet

I don't care how much Obama and either Clinton have benefited or expect to benefit from past or future campaign contributions and/or board appointments from Big Pharma or other giant, monopolistic corporations. We know, thanks to Wikileaks that this secretly negotiated trade agreement and the fast track approval process Obama is pushing for are the antithesis of our government's balance of powers and what we progressive Democrats are all about, and it can prove lethal for the citizens of the USA or any other country affected by the TPP. When it comes to drug patents and prices, we're talking life and death.

One example of the way the intellectual property provisions favor giant, multinational corporations over smaller, innovative corporations and regular people around the world is in pharmaceutical prices. A company with a drug patent is granted a monopoly to sell the drug at any price they choose with no competition. Currently a drug might be patented for a limited number of years in different countries. When the patent runs out other companies are able to manufacture the drug and the competition means the drug will sell at a lower cost.

Leaked documents appear to show that TPP will extend patent terms for drugs. Countries signing the agreement will scrap their own IP rules and instead follow those in TPP. So giant drug companies will have the same patent in all countries, for a longer period, and the patent will prevent competition that lowers drug prices.

Currently smaller, innovative companies can produce “generic” drugs after patents run out. Because of competition these drugs can be very inexpensive. Walmart, for example, sells a month’s supply of many generic drugs for $4, while drugs still under patent protection can cost hundreds or even thousands. This is of particular concern to poor countries that will be under TPP rules
This would provide large pharmaceutical firms with new rights and powers to increase medicine prices and limit consumers’ access to cheaper generic drugs. This would include extensions of monopoly drug patents that would allow drug companies to raise prices for more medicines and even allow monopoly rights over surgical procedures. For people in the developing countries involved in TPP, these rules could be deadly – denying consumers access to HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and cancer drugs

As to the Internet, the IP section of TPP gives corporations power in deciding what regular people can see, do or say on the Internet. It would override our current rules and regulations, even imposing laws like SOPA and PIPA, which Congress has specifically rejected. More detailed information is provided at the above link.

If Obama and the global corporations gain fast track approval, it will be one-bribe(oh, excuse me/campaign "contribution&quot -fits-all on this straight up or down vote, and it appears Obama/Corporate interests wouldn't be pushing so hard for this unless they were confident they can buy enough Congressional votes to win this vote, no matter how horrific the provisions of the TPP.

Fast Track
An Undemocratic Path to Unfair “Trade”

Fast Track was an extreme and rarely-used procedure that empowered executive branch negotiators advised by large corporations to skirt Congress and the public and use “trade” agreements to rewrite policies that affect our daily lives – from the stability of our jobs to the safety of our food. Past “trade” deals rammed through Congress under Fast Track have empowered foreign corporations to attack domestic health and environmental policies, enabled pharmaceutical firms to raise medicine prices, and equipped banks with a tool to roll back financial regulation.

Because Fast Track’s dramatic shift in the balance of powers between branches of the U.S. government occurred via an arcane procedural mechanism, it obtained little scrutiny – until recently. Its use by Democratic and Republican presidents alike to seize Congress’ constitutional prerogatives, “diplomatically legislate” non-trade policy, and preempt state policy, has made it increasingly controversial.

A president cannot obtain Fast Track empowerment without a vote of Congress. President Clinton, renowned for trade expansion, only had Fast Track authority for two of his eight years in office due to congressional opposition. The last time Congress authorized Fast Track was in 2002, with a 3:30 am vote before a congressional recess in which the antiquated mechanism was approved by just three votes. Since 2007, Congress has refused to authorize this extreme procedure, even after its proponents tried to escape Fast Track’s bad reputation by renaming it “Trade Promotion Authority.”

As a candidate, President Obama said he would replace this anti-democratic process. But now he is asking Congress to grant him Fast Track’s extraordinary authority – in part to try to overcome growing public and congressional opposition to his controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) deals. To prevent an expansion of this unfair “trade” model, Congress must not allow the executive branch to once again gain Fast Track’s undemocratic powers.

February 24, 2014

Chicago actor, writer & director Harold Ramis dies at 69

Source: WGN-TV, Chicago

Harold Ramis was one of Hollywood’s most successful comedy filmmakers when he moved his family from Los Angeles back to the Chicago area in 1996. His career was still thriving, with “Groundhog Day” acquiring almost instant classic status upon its 1993 release and 1984?s “Ghostbusters” ranking among the highest-grossing comedies of all time, but the writer-director wanted to return to the city where he’d launched his career as a Second City performer.

haroldramis2“There’s a pride in what I do that other people share because I’m local, which in L.A. is meaningless; no one’s local,” Ramis said upon the launch of the first movie he directed after his move, the 1999 mobster-in-therapy comedy “Analyze This,” another hit. “It’s a good thing. I feel like I represent the city in a certain way.”

Ramis, a longtime North Shore resident, was surrounded by family when he died at 12:53 a.m. from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, his wife Erica Mann Ramis said. He was 69.

Ramis’ serious health struggles began in May 2010 with an infection that led to complications related to the autoimmune disease, his wife said. Ramis had to relearn to walk but suffered a relapse of the vaculitis in late 2011, said Laurel Ward, vice president of development at Ramis’ Ocean Pictures production company.

Read more: http://wgntv.com/2014/02/24/chicago-actor-harold-ramis-dies-at-69/#1VEUbP4tRzvgAGaA.01

February 17, 2014

Wee Donald, defeated in Scotland, faces Irish wind farm battle.

US TYCOON Donald Trump could find himself again plagued by a wind farm near one of his signature golf courses – but this time in Ireland rather than ­Aberdeenshire.

Just days after announcing his £12.4 million investment in a County Clare centre instead of a second course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, it emerged that a plan for nine wind turbines two miles south of Mr Trump’s newly acquired resort in the town of Doonbeg will be considered by the Irish local authority in the coming weeks.

Mr Trump lost in the Court of Session last week against the Scottish Government over an offshore 11-turbine wind farm near his luxury golf course on the Menie estate. He withdrew plans for the second course after the defeat.

The billionaire has repeatedly spoken out against the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay. Last week, he declared that wind farms were “a disaster for Scotland”.


The funniest part of this article is the comment section. Various Scots tear Trump to shreds. Here's a wee sample.
Ireland will rue the day if they let this arrogant balloon dictate to them.

His history in Aberdeen is sickening, with boast after boast, distortion of the truth time after time. His shameful attacks upon our planning system when it doesn't suit him.

But the very worst of it all was his disgraceful treatment of the residents who lived on or around The Menie Estate. He behaved like an 18th century "Clearances Lord" who used intimidation to try to evict them. Beware Ireland, Trump is a Bully--full stop !!!

Build your Windfarms and turn his next " world class golf course " at Doonbeg into BrigaDoonbeg, or BigBalloonBeg. If It all fails, Trump will blame you anyway !

From Roy Linton,
an Aberdonian who supported the Menie Golf Course at first, but then was sickened by Trump's stupid arrogance !
February 15, 2014

Many thousands of men have falsely claimed to have been Navy Seals

Interesting book on the topic:

No Guts, No Glory - Unmasking Navy Seal Imposters
Paperback – January 1, 2002
by Former US Navy Seal Steve Robinson (Author)

Those who undertake to impersonate US Navy SEALs, for whatever purpose, are a disgraceful insult to every man and woman who ever served honorably in any branch of America's armed forces..."

With these words the author begins his account of the fight to uphold the honor of his fallen Teammates. Detailing some of the most ludicrous claims imaginable, former Navy SEAL, Steve Robinson, catalogs a wild array of bizarre tales and outlandish stories recounted by SEAL imposters in their attempts to manipulate family and friends, influenced employers, and impress employees. Including police officers who have used false claims of SEAL experience to gain positions on SWAT teams, teachers who have regaled their students with fraudulent tales of daring combat encounters, and con artists who have swindled women out of thousands of dollars and taken advantage of their trusting nature, these stories seem beyond belief, yet every one of them is true!

The book contains 97 case studies from the most simple false claims to the most complex and bizarre fantasy stories of heroics that never happened and more.

I ran into one of these bogus SEAL wannabes when I signed up at a local diveshop to take PADI classes to get my certification. I found myself sharing the high price "private" class with 4 other people and the final qualification dives were a joke - done in a 20 foot deep pond, with about 10 feet of visibility. For the written examination, we sat around a picnic table while the instructor read the questions to us. We students took turns orally guessing at the multiple choice answers until we lucked upon the correct answer and then all were instructed to fill in the appropriate blank.

What did I know? I was a total newby. Off I went on my first dive trip, to Belize, and a near drowning experience on a night dive. By talking to other experienced divers, I learned that my classes had neglected some vital information on dive safety. On returning home and researching my dive instructor, I learned that PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) had pulled his license for rushing people through the course/fudging the tests, and he had only recently been re-instated when I contacted him. He also advertised himself as a former Navy SEAL.

I contacted a Navy SEAL group which maintains a Wall of Shame for bogus SEAL claimants. They looked him up and informed me he was never a SEAL, but he had done underwater construction for the Navy as a "non-combat" diver. I'm not sure what they did to follow up, but within the year he closed the dive shop and was working strictly as a commercial diver. I found a reputable dive shop and retook the entire certification course and went on to further certifications/diving experience in wreck diving, night diving, drift diving, underwater propulsion vehicles, rescue diving, equipment repair, etc. and many fantastic dive trips. The best was Truk Lagoon in Micronesia (central Pacific) diving on wrecks of Japanese ships from World War II. Scuba diving is a fantastic experience - just make sure you get good instruction and good, well-maintained equipment and a very reliable person as your dive buddy.
February 11, 2014

Company Responsible For West Virginia Chemical Spill Skips Congressional Hearing

Source: Think Progress

Exactly one month and a day after 10,000 gallons of chemicals spilled into West Virginia’s water, members of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure committee on Monday traveled to the state’s capital city, ostensibly to ask state leaders the still-unanswered questions surrounding the leak. There are many.

Perhaps the most important party that could provide answers would have been Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical storage tanks leaked a coal-cleaning chemical called crude MCHM into the water. Company president Gary Southern had been invited to testify, but in the end, did not show up.

“I find that extremely telling,” said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). “Freedom Industries’ decision not to testify today compounds its gross misconduct, and is an absolute affront to every person impacted by its spill.”

Freedom Industries’ decision not to show up to a hearing that otherwise housed every party that should be held accountable for the spill (Representatives from West Virginia American Water, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board showed up, to name a few) is depressingly typical, and a painful reminder of the company’s non-presence throughout the month-long ordeal.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/10/3273201/freedom-chemical/

Duh-uh! Congressional investigative hearings include the power to subpoena witnesses. Whomever organized this really screwed up in failing to subpoena Gary Southern. Since he insulted the House Committee by ignoring the invitation and not appearing voluntarily, I trust the Committee will now subpoena his sorry a** to Washington. It should be a subpoena duces tecum, i.e, translates to "bring with you under penalty of punishment" and obliges the recipient to appear and bring with him/her all documents or other tangible evidence for use at hearing or trial. The subpoena can spell out a description of such documents.
Subpoenas and depositions:
Most individuals respond favorably to an invitation to testify before Congress, believing it to be a valuable opportunity to communicate and publicize their views on a question of public policy. However, if a person will not come by invitation alone, a committee or subcommittee may require an appearance through the issuance of a subpoena (Rule XXVI, paragraph 1). Committees also may subpoena correspondence, books, papers, and other documents. Subpoenas are issued infrequently, and most often in the course of investigative hearings.

February 7, 2014

In 2016, Warren will be 67; Clinton will be 69; O'Malley will be 53.

If Clinton ran and was elected, Warren would be 75 when Clinton finished a 2nd term. Obviously, you can't see both of them in the oval office. I expect, based on her political history and sponsors that Clinton would be even more corporate friendly than Obama.

I like O'Malley very much. He's better qualified than either Clinton or Warren, but lesser known. I'd like to see a Warren-O'Malley ticket. 8 years of Warren, followed by 8 years of O'Malley. My Mom lived in Baltimore while O'Malley was Mayor, and I've followed his political career closely. He has experience in local/city, state and federal govt. Started out as a legislative fellow for Senator Barbara Mikulski; then right onto Baltimore City Council, thence to Mayor of Baltimore and thence to Governor of Maryland.


Prior to serving as Governor, O’Malley served as Mayor of the City of Baltimore, where he was recognized by Esquire magazine as “the best young mayor in the country” and by Time magazine as one of America’s “Top 5 Big City Mayors.” First elected in 1999, he was re-elected in
2003, receiving 87 percent of the vote. Between 1999 and 2009 his policies helped the people of Baltimore achieve the greatest crime reduction of America’s largest cities.

Governor O’Malley served two terms as Chair of the Democratic Governors Association. He currently serves as the organization’s Finance Chair. In addition, he serves as Co-Chair for the National Governors Association Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety. He was appointed to the nation’s first-ever Council of Governors by President Obama in 2010 and was named co-chair of the council in 2013.

A former Governing Magazine “Public Official of the Year,” Governor O’Malley was re-elected in 2010. His 2013 legislative successes were described in a Baltimore Sun editorial as “without many parallels in recent Maryland history.”

With a balanced approach of spending cuts, regulatory reform, and modern investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure, Governor O’Malley's results include:

The fastest rate of job growth in the region.
The #1 ranking for best public schools in America for an unprecedented five years in a row. (Education Week)
The #1 ranking for holding down the cost of college tuition. (College Board)
The #1 ranking for innovation and entrepreneurship for two years running. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

Maryland ranks #1 nationally in median income,
#1 in PHD scientists and researchers per capita,
#1 in Research and Development,
#1 in businesses owned by women.
The Milken Institute ranks Maryland as one of the top 2 states in America for science and technology.

Maryland is one of only a handful of states to earn an AAA Bond Rating, certified by all three major rating agencies.

Called “arguably the best manager in government” by Washington Monthly magazine,

Governor O’Malley has cut more state spending than any previous Governor in Maryland’s history, balancing these record cuts with targeted, modern investments in priorities like public education. He has reduced the size of government to its smallest size since 1973 (on a per capita basis) and reformed the way it is managed, to make it work more efficiently and accountably. His actions to save Maryland’s state pension system have made it sustainable over the long term. His fiscal stewardship has nearly eliminated Maryland’s structural deficit. His efforts to streamline, consolidate and digitize things like business licensing are making Maryland a better place to do business.

Governor O’Malley’s StateStat initiative – modeled after the CitiStat initiative he created in the City of Baltimore – is widely cited as a model for government efficiency and effectiveness.

The O’Malley-Brown Administration has expanded health care to more than 380,000 previously uninsured Marylanders. It has driven down infant mortality to an historic low and provided meals to thousands of hungry children as it moves forward toward its goal for eradicating childhood hunger.

The Governor’s policies have been credited with restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and saving the Bay’s native Blue Crab and Oyster populations.

The O’Malley Administration has secured millions of dollars in rate relief for Maryland energy consumers while jumpstarting the creation of thousands of green energy sector jobs. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, Maryland led the charge for RGGI, the nation’s first cap-and-trade auction of greenhouse emissions.

Governor O’Malley has cut income taxes for 86% of Marylanders and reformed Maryland’s tax code to make it more progressive. In addition, he has signed the nation’s first statewide living wage law, along with some of the nation’s most comprehensive reforms to protect homeowners from foreclosure.

Governor O’Malley has signed legislation to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom, along with legislation to protect voting rights. He signed – and successfully defended at the ballot box – the DREAM Act, which expands the opportunity of a college education to more Marylanders.

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