November 16, 2013 archive
Nov 16 2013
Nov 16 2013
The Most Nefarious Part Of The TPP Proposal: Making Copyright Reform Impossible
by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt
Thu, Nov 14th 2013 12:02pm
Watch closely, and you’ll see supporters of TPP, and especially USTR (United States Trade Representative) employees, make the claim that nothing or almost nothing in the TPP will require legal changes in the US. They’ll say that this is just about “harmonizing” norms across borders to make it easier for businesses to do business internationally. This is a lie.
It’s a lie in two different ways. First, there are multiple provisions in here that will absolutely require changes to US law. We’ll discuss a few in other posts, but what’s much more nefarious and downright obnoxious, is that this would lock in a variety of really bad copyright policies, making it nearly impossible for Congress to go back and change them. And that’s a real issue, because, as we’ve been discussing, Congress is actually discussing copyright reform again. The head of the US Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, has proposed a bunch of changes to copyright law (some good, some bad), and astoundingly, just as Congress is at least trying to have the discussion about whether or not those and other ideas make sense, the USTR is looking to effectively tie everyone’s hands by saying “these things cannot be changed,” including many of the reforms that Pallante has directly proposed.
That’s really quite incredible if you think about it. On the one hand, you have the very head of the Copyright Office suggesting some reforms, and you have Congress beginning the process to explore that. On the other, you have the USTR totally ignoring the sole power of Congress to make copyright and patent law, and effectively saying “you cannot make any of the suggested reforms.” And then the USTR has the gall to ask Congress to give up its power to challenge specific provisions in the agreement? While we’re concerned about the Congressional copyright reform process, at least it’s being done in the open. The USTR has been hashing out the plan in TPP in total secrecy for years.
Who the hell does the USTR think they are that they can flat out override the Constitution and the Congressional process, and effectively block them in and stop any meaningful attempt at copyright reform? All done via a process driven entirely by a few special interests? It’s anti-democracy. It’s pure corporate cronyism by the worst cronies around.
Nov 16 2013
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
November 16 is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 45 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1959, the musical, “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway.
Did the young Austrian nun named Maria really take to the hills surrounding Salzburg to sing spontaneously of her love of music? Did she comfort herself with thoughts of copper kettles, and did she swoon to her future husband’s song about an alpine flower while the creeping menace of Nazism spread across central Europe? No, the real-life Maria von Trapp did none of those things. She was indeed a former nun, and she did indeed marry Count Georg von Trapp and become stepmother to his large brood of children, but nearly all of the particulars she related in her 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, were ignored by the creators of the Broadway musical her memoir inspired. And while the liberties taken by the show’s writers, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and by its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, caused some consternation to the real Maria von Trapp and to her stepchildren, according to many later reports, those liberties made The Sound of Music a smash success from the very night of its Broadway opening on this day in 1959.
The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The original cast included Mary Martin (at age 46) as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp, Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, Kurt Kasznar as Max Detweiler, Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schraeder, Brian Davies as Rolf and Lauri Peters as Liesl. Soprano June Card was one of the ensemble members in the original production. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!. Other awards included Martin for Best Actress in a Musical, Neway for Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction (Frederick Dvonch). Bikel and Kaznar were nominated for acting awards, and Donehue was nominated for his direction. The entire children’s cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a single nominee, even though two children were boys.
The Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.
Rebecca Luker leads the 1998 Broadway revival cast in a performance of ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Tony Awards.
Nov 16 2013
Doreamon get his first ever CG overhaul in upcoming movie, “Stand By Me: Doraemon”
Those encountering the wide-mouthed blue robot that is Doraemon for the very first time could be forgiven for not realising that he’s supposed to be a cat. And even once filled in we’re sure that few people would ever imagine that this earless robo-feline should be any more popular than the thousands of other quirky anime characters that exist in popular culture today.
But for most Japanese, and perhaps a handful of Westerners who were introduced to the anime as kids, Doraemon is a seriously big deal, and fans are currently buzzing with excitement following the news that one of Japan’s most-loved characters is not only getting a brand new movie of his own, but will be appearing in gorgeous 3-D computer generated form for the first time ever.
Nov 16 2013
Princeton University has been hit with its seventh case of meningitis since an outbreak that began last spring, a university spokesman said Monday.
The latest case was reported over the weekend, when a male student became acutely ill and underwent treatment at the campus health center, spokesman Martin A. Mbugua said.
The student was later taken to a local hospital, where meningitis was diagnosed early Sunday, Mbugua said. The student remained in the hospital Monday.
Health officials are conducting tests to determine whether the student has type B meningococcal bacteria, the type contracted by six other Princeton students this year.
Students living in dormitories are required to receive the meningitis vaccine, which protects against most strains of meningitis but not type B. The CDC has now decided to import a vaccine that has yet to be approved in the US to halt the breakout. The vaccine, Bexsero (pdf), is available in Europe and Australia.
“This is a bad disease and we know how devastating it is,” Dr. Thomas Clark, acting head of the Centers for Disease Control’s meningitis and vaccine preventable diseases branch, told NBC News. “A lot of us had a gut feeling that there would be more cases and we should get the ball rolling.”
The unprecedented move could aim to inoculate the nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the Ivy League school in hopes of stopping the spread of an illness that kills 10 percent or more of teens and young adults who get it.
“If you’re a student at Princeton University right now, your risk is quite high,” Clark said.
Officials at the New Jersey university were mum on the arrangement, providing no details about how or when a vaccination effort would be launched.
The Princeton cases were all caused by the B strain of the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis which is uncommon in the US.
The germs that cause bacterial meningitis can be contagious. Some bacteria can spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing). Fortunately, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or the flu. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been. Other meningitis-causing bacteria are not spread person-to-person, but can cause disease because the person has certain risk factors (such as a weak immune system or head trauma). Unlike other bacterial causes of meningitis, you can get Listeria monocytogenes by eating contaminated food.
Sometimes the bacteria that cause meningitis spread to other people. This usually happens when there is close or long contact with a sick person in the same household or daycare center, or if they had direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend). People who qualify as close contacts of a person with meningococcal or Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis are at higher risk of getting disease and may need antibiotics (see Prevention). Close contacts of a person with meningitis caused by other bacteria, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, do not need antibiotics. Tell your doctor if you think you have been exposed to someone with meningitis.
Healthy people can carry the bacteria in their nose or throat without getting sick. Rarely, these bacteria can invade the body and cause disease. Most people who ‘carry’ the bacteria never become sick.
Signs & Symptoms
Meningitis infection may show up in a person by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It will often have other symptoms, such as
Increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
Altered mental status (confusion)
The symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.
Babies younger than one month old are at a higher risk for severe infections, like meningitis, than older children. In newborns and infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive (lack of alertness), irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly. In young infants, doctors may look for a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on infant’s head) or abnormal reflexes, which can also be signs of meningitis. If you think your infant has any of these symptoms, call the doctor or clinic right away.
Later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very severe (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, anyone who thinks they may have meningitis should see a doctor as soon as possible.
While the Bexsero vaccine will only be made available to the Princeton community, it is important that all students, whether they live on or off campus, even at home, receive the meningitis vaccine.
Nov 16 2013
JP Morgan Chase is once again under investigation by the Department of Justice. This time for possibly bribing the daughter of the Chinese prime minister with a lucrative business deal to gain preferential treatment on the Chinese markets.
To promote its standing in China, JPMorgan Chase turned to a seemingly obscure consulting firm run by a 32-year-old executive named Lily Chang.
Ms. Chang’s firm, which received a $75,000-a-month contract from JPMorgan, appeared to have only two employees. And on the surface, Ms. Chang lacked the influence and public name recognition needed to unlock business for the bank.
But what was known to JPMorgan executives in Hong Kong, and some executives at other major companies, was that “Lily Chang” was not her real name. It was an alias for Wen Ruchun, the only daughter of Wen Jiabao, who at the time was China’s prime minister, with oversight of the economy and its financial institutions.
While the bank emerged from the financial crisis stronger than it ever was, Moody’s Investors Service cut its ratings of the JPMC and three other banks after deciding the government would be less likely to help them repay creditors in a crisis. JPMorgan was cut to A3 from A2. According to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the yield on JPMorgan’s $2 billion of 3.375 percent subordinated notes due May 2023 slipped 10 basis points to 4.3 percent.
Moody’s said that there was less likelihood of a widespread bailout of banks by the United States government as there was during the financial crisis five years ago and that bank debt holders would be forced to shoulder more of the losses in the future.
But the rating agency said it expected banks would be required by regulators in the United States to hold a higher level of capital, which was likely to result in higher recoveries for creditors in any future bank default. [..]
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Federal Reserve has been limited in its ability to provide taxpayer money to individual banks, and failing banks would be wound down in a so-called orderly liquidation, in which creditors would bear the bulk of the burden of the losses.
However, some critics have expressed doubts that regulators could handle the liquidation of one or more of the nation’s largest banks in a severe financial crisis.
In the midst of this, somebody at JPMC thought it would be a great idea to hold a Twitter Q&A with the public using the hashtag #AskJPM. The results were extremely amusing but a major PR #FAIL for the bank. Award winning actor Stacy Keech, the voice of American Greed, reads some of the best tweets verbatim.
If you’re a poet and good at writing haiku, Rolling Stone‘s contributing editor Matt Taibbi is offering a Jaime Dimon tee shirt for the best “J.P. Morgan Chase Q&A Fiasco” haiku. Matt will announce the winner Monday.
Nov 16 2013
Even as President Barack Obama’s nominee to chair the Federal Reserve is committed to transparency, Janet Yellen is opposed to an audit of the central bank’s monetary policy decisions.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has proposed legislation that would subject the Federal Reserve to a full audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), offering Congress a look at the internal operations of the famously opaque institution. Tea partiers like Paul aren’t the only people who support an audit: the proposal has also garnered support among labor leaders such as AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, progressive economists like Dean Baker, and Congressional liberals such as Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.
Paul has threatened to block Yellen’s nomination unless his proposal for a Fed audit gets a vote in the Senate. His office did not respond to a request for comment on Yellen’s remarks.
Yellen, who currently serves as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, also indicated during the confirmation hearing that her tenure would not represent a significant break from that of outgoing chair Ben Bernanke. She defended the Fed’s policy of buying Treasury bonds as a form of economic stimulus and hinted that she would continue with policies in that vein if confirmed.
The Federal Reserve has only been audited once in 2010 after the proposal for a one time only audit, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, was attached to the Dodd-Frank Finance Reform bill. That audit revealed trillions in secret bailouts to banks around the world.
“This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement.
The majority of loans were issues by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). [..]
The report notes that all the short-term, emergency loans were repaid, or are expected to be repaid.
The emergency loans included eight broad-based programs, and also provided assistance for certain individual financial institutions. The Fed provided loans to JP Morgan Chase bank to acquire Bear Stearns, a failed investment firm; provided loans to keep American International Group (AIG), a multinational insurance corporation, afloat; extended lending commitments to Bank of America and Citigroup; and purchased risky mortgage-backed securities to get them off private banks’ books. [..]
Some of the financial institutions secretly receiving loans were meanwhile claiming in their public reports to have ample cash reserves, Bloomberg noted.
The Federal Reserve has neither explained how they legally justified several of the emergency loans, nor how they decided to provide assistance to certain firms but not others.
Nov 16 2013
Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.
Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.
You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.
Some pastries lend themselves to interpretation and adaptation to whole grain variations; others are best left alone in their white flour and sugar splendor. Biscotti, the dry Italian cookies that are twice baked (which is what the name means), is one of the pastries that does. It is supposed to be hard, and doesn’t have to be too sweet, though most of the biscotti you find in coffee shops are – too sweet, that is.
I had a lot of fun working with different whole grain biscotti variations this week. I began with a straight all whole wheat and almond flour cookie filled with toasted almonds, made with Community Grains whole wheat flour, which I never hesitate to substitute for white flour in baked goods because it is so finely ground. I used no more than two-thirds of the amount of sugar called for in virtually all of the biscotti recipes I looked at, and the sugar I used was either organic brown sugar or organic white sugar (which is really more of a beige color) and coarsely ground. One of this week’s recipes, a hazelnut orange biscotti, is sweetened with honey only.
~Martha Rose Shulman~
A less sweet version of the classic biscotti de Prato.
Buckwheat flour provides a great backdrop for the chocolate in these cookies.
Using a bit of butter results in a delicate cookie that is irresistible.
A wonderful combination of flavors results in a cookie that tastes great when dipped in tea.
Coconut oil provides great flavor a sweet smell to these cookies.