* OCCUPY CONGRESS STORMS ALL 3 BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT
* LABOR BEAT: CHICAGO CITY HALL PRESS CONFERENCE AGAINST NATO/G8 ORDINANCE
* EMANUEL’S PROTEST-SQUASHING “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP” ORDINANCE PASSES IN CHICAGO
By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout
[…] Chicago Independent Media Center reports that the ordinance, as it stood the day before the vote, contains the following:
Non-violent civil disobedience could now carry a $200-$1000 fine, up from $25-$500, in addition to more to other, more typical misdemeanor charges;
Virtually every street protest in the downtown would be designated a “large parade,” requiring $1 million liability insurance and for organizers to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or to city property arising out of or caused by the parade”;
Large parade or not, organizers would be required to provide the city with “a description of any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade” at least a week in advance of the march;
Every contingent in the march and the order in which they would appear would have to be registered at least a week in advance with the City; and,
Demonstration organizers would be required to have one marshal for every 100 participants.
Under a wholly new section of the municipal code (10-8-334), even gatherings on sidewalks, with no presence in the streets, would now be subject to demands that they get permits, giving the City extraordinary latitude to dictate what union and other pickets occur or get shut down by police action.
Allow the police Superintendent to deputize FBI, DHS, ATF, and DOJ employees as Chicago police officers.
According to Twitter reports, the first vote on the ordinance change passed by the City Counsil 41-5 and the second passed by 41-4.
* 1 MILLION RECALL SIGNATURES VS 1 PARTISAN JUDGE
Activist right-wing judge threatens to thwart democracy by legislating from the bench in favor of Walker …
By Ernest A. Canning, BradBlog
Fed up with the hard-right’s oligarchic, union busting agenda, on Tuesday, opponents of Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (R) delivered a Recall petition to the state’s Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) containing more than one million signatures — approximately 459,792 more than the 540,208 valid signatures required to trigger a statewide gubernatorial recall under WI law.
Those one million signatures are about to run into an attempted roadblock, however, courtesy of two questionable rulings by Republican Waukesha Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis in the Friends of Scott Walker vs. Brennan case.
The Judge’s first questionable ruling was to deny the state Democratic Party’s motion to intervene as defendants in the case. The second ruling, issued orally, also found in favor of the GOP, aspiring to force a significant delay in the process of validating signatures (and, therefore, the recall election itself) by shifting the statutory burden for challenging the validity of signatures from Walker to the G.A.B. That second ruling is in direct contradiction to decades of recall history in the Badger State and upends existing law — a law that went unchallenged by Republicans previously, and worked rather well, even as recently as last year’s recall elections of 6 GOP state Senators and 3 from the Democratic Party.
Both rulings, currently the subject of an appellate challenge by the Democrats, may border upon judicial misconduct by a partisan jurist with disturbing ties to a previous statewide scandal… […]
* THE REPUBLICANS’ DARK-MONEY-MOVING MACHINE
Inside the GOP group that skirts election rules by shuffling millions across state lines and then “wiping the fingerprints off the money.”
By Andy Kroll, Mother Jones
Michigan’s 2010 elections had just concluded, and Rich Robinson, the state’s leading campaign finance reform advocate, was conducting his usual postmortem. As he tallied the big money behind the conservative groundswell that swept Republican Rick Snyder into the governor’s mansion and placed the state Legislature solidly under GOP control, one particular political action committee caught his eye.
Created in December 2009 and shut down shortly after the election, RGA Michigan 2010 had come out of nowhere to spend nearly $8.4 million—54 percent more than any other PAC had poured into any election in Michigan history. Ninety-six percent of the group’s donors lived outside the state, and its top three funders included Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, Koch Industries’ David Koch, and New York City hedge fund CEO Paul Singer. On the other side of the ledger, RGA Michigan 2010 had given $5.2 million to the Michigan Republican Party—no surprise there—but, mysteriously, it had also funneled $3 million into the campaign coffers of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Robinson, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, began to connect the dots. He remembered the phone calls from reporters in Maine and Florida asking if Robinson knew why money from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce had ended up with PACs in their states. The state’s Chamber, which usually spent more than $1 million on TV ads during Michigan elections, officially didn’t spend a dime on ads in 2010, according to Robinson. But it had given an unprecedented $5.37 million to a national organization that, Robinson now realized, was at the root of the anomalous spending he’d uncovered: the Washington, DC-based Republican Governors Association. […]
* CHRIS DODD’S PAID SOPA CRUSADING
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Dodd says he still doesn’t know what he’ll do come January 2011, when, for the first time in 36 years, he will no longer be a member of Congress. But he has ruled out one option.
“No lobbying, no lobbying,” Dodd said in a recent interview. That Dodd would forgo a trip through Washington’s “revolving door,” using his policy and political expertise–and a thick Rolodex–to launch a new career in the influence industry, may come as a surprise.
Hollywood’s chief lobbyist lashed out at tech companies for mounting Tuesday night’s planned online blackout to protest proposed anti-piracy legislation that has pitted Southern California movie and music distributors against Silicon Valley Internet corporations.
Motion Picture Assn. of America Chief Executive Chris Dodd, the former Senator from Connecticut, accused technology companies such as Google, Mozilla and Wikipedia of resorting to stunts. . . .
“It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and who use their services,” Dodd said in a statement. “It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today.”
Chris Dodd’s emphatic 2010 pledge not to lobby once he finally left the Senate was prompted by widespread speculation that he spent the last two years in office blatantly shilling for corporate interests in order to ensure a prosperous post-Congress career. Particularly during the 2010 financial reform debate — when it became increasingly apparent that allegations of improper benefits from Countrywide Financial would make his re-election close to impossible — Dodd served on multiple occasions as chief spokesman for, and defender of, the interests of Wall Street and corporate America. Though sleazy and grotesque, it was therefore entirely unsurprising when it was announced last March that Dodd would “be Hollywood’s leading man in Washington, taking the most prestigious job on K Street”: Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), “whose perks include a $1.2 million-a-year salary and getting to attend the Academy Awards ceremony.”
It is in that capacity that Dodd has become the leading public spokesman and private lobbyist for the truly dangerous PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, bills craved by the industry that pays him. These bills, which vest the power in large corporations and the government to seize and shutdown websites with little or no due process in the name of stopping piracy, pose the greatest dangers to Internet freedom of any bill in the last decade, at least. So serious are these threats that they have prompted a rare — and inspiring — protest movement from numerous large Internet companies and blogs in the form of an Internet “blackout” today.
In his SOPA advocacy, Dodd has resorted to holding up Chinese censorship as the desired model, mouthing the slogans of despots, and even outright lying. Like virtually all extremist, oppressive bills backed by large industry, SOPA and PIPA have full bipartisan support; among its co-sponsors are Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, with many Senators from both parties in support and Harry Reid pushing it forward (to its credit, the White House expressed opposition to several of the worst provisions, though has not yet issued a veto threat). […]
* INTERNET CENSORSHIP AFFECTS EVERYBODY (VIDEO)
Source: Democracy Now! w/ Amy Goodman
As protests mount against two controversial internet anti-piracy bills moving through Congress, we speak with Rebecca MacKinnon, author of the forthcoming book, “Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom.” “If we want democracy to survive in the internet age, we really need to work to make sure that the internet evolves in a manner that is compatible with democracy,” MacKinnon says. “And that means exercising our power not only as consumers and internet users and investors, but also as voters, to make sure that our digital lives contain the same kind of protections of our rights that we expect in physical space.” She argues that for every empowering story of the internet’s role, there are many more about the quiet corrosion of civil liberties by companies and governments. [includes rush transcript]
Rebecca MacKinnon, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and co-founder of Global Voices Online. Her new book, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, will be out at the end of this month. […]
* JON STEWART NOW KNOWS ABOUT SOPA / PIPA … AND HE’S NOT IMPRESSED
By Mike Masnick, TechDirt
from the hello-fair-use dept
Remember how, based on an audience question, Jon Stewart promised to study up on SOPA/PIPA for a future show. Looks like that happened. And, apparently, he did his homework before Wednesday, so he could actually use Wikipedia. In last night’s show, Stewart used yesterday’s blackouts and protests as a jumping off point to discuss the bill. There were two main points: (1) Congress is trying to pass laws about an internet they don’t understand at all, and (2) fair use is incredibly important, and anything that potentially damages fair use is dangerous to culture. For the first point, he played some clips of Rep. Mel Watt proudly displaying his ignorance of technology — and then points out that Watt is the ranking member on the IP sub-committee. He also mocks the calls during the markup from various Congressional Reps. to have a hearing with “the nerds” by reminding them that it’s not “nerds” they’re looking for… it’s experts. Something in short supply in Congress. For the second point, he ably uses a ton of short clips, fair use style, to demonstrate how important fair use is to a show like his… while mocking Viacom and its own lawyers for trying to limit fair use. Good stuff all around. And yes, for those people who live in foreign countries that don’t have a deal with Viacom, I apologize that you can’t see the video below. It’s just one more example of how Viacom encourages infringement by not giving people what they want. […]
* A CLOSE LOOK AT THE STOP ONLINE PIRACY BILL
By Jonathan Zittrain, Information Clearing House
This article is a guide to the Stop Online Piracy Act as proposed in the United States House of Representatives. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), HR 3261, 112th Cong. (2011). It represents our notes as we sought to understand exactly what it does and how it does it – along with our corresponding sense for why its principal mechanisms make for poor law. Our aim is for this analysis to be useful to anyone wanting to understand the act – whatever their point of view may be on technology or intellectual property policy.
According to its advocates, SOPA will strengthen copyright in the United States by establishing a number of public and private tools to hinder infringement by international “rogue” sites previously unreachable by US law. The act also includes a number of independent provisions targeting the sale and dissemination of prescription drugs and military materials and equipment.
1. Copyright enforcement against websites, foreign & domestic
The bulk of SOPA is a set of public and private mechanisms intended to give US copyright holders tools to combat offshore infringers. The attorney general’s office, when armed with a court order (the granting of which doesn’t appear to have a standard beyond the act’s definitions – the court “may” grant an order when requested (Id., at § 102(c)), and will be able to demand the elimination of access and funding to infringing sites on behalf of copyright holders. When acting alone, copyright holders can use these mechanisms to cut off funding. […]
* SOPA WILL TAKE US BACK TO THE DARK AGES
By Lance Ulanoff
I had an epiphany today. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.
Behind the almost unreadable (yet truly scary) text of SOPA (and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA, or the Protect Intellectual Property Act) is a desire, likely fueled by powerful media conglomerate backers, to take us all back to the thin-pipe, content-distribution days of 1994 — right before the World Wide Web launched. From the moment the Internet and websites arrived, a veritable Pandora’s box of opportunities have opened to every average Joe and Josephine in the world. Everyone became a content creator. Everyone had an audience.
The Internet also almost immediately became the transport mechanism for a steady flow of pirated content — first images, then music and, when the pipe got fat enough, movies. Major media companies, which once upon a time had sole control of the creation and distribution of popular entertainment, were appalled — and also powerless to stop it. […]
* UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
List of Supporters: H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act
* SUPREME COURT SAYS CONGRESS MAY RE-COPYRIGHT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
By David Kravets, Wired
Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
In a 6-2 ruling, the court said that, just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” (.pdf)
The top court was ruling on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.
Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a plaintiff’s lawyer in the case, called the decision “unfortunate” and said it “suggests Congress is not required to pay particularly close attention to the interests of the public when it passes copyright laws.”
The majority, however, rebuffed charges that a decision in favor of Congress’ move would amount to affording lawmakers the right to legislate perpetual copyright terms.
“In aligning the United States with other nations bound by the Berne Convention, and thereby according equitable treatment to once disfavored foreign authors, Congress can hardly be charged with a design to move stealthily toward a regime of perpetual copyrights,” Ginsburg wrote.
It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has approved the extension of copyrights. The last time was in 2002, when it upheld Congress’ move to extend copyright from the life of an author plus 50 years after death to 70 years after death.
The lead plaintiff in the case, Lawrence Golan, told the high court that it will not longer be able to perform Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf, or Shostakovich’s Symphony 14, Cello Concerto because of licensing fees.
* SCOTUS HOLDS THE FATE OF MEDICAID
By J. Lester Feder, PoliticoPro
Two cases before the Supreme Court have the potential to effectively do what Republican lawmakers have tried and failed: transform Medicaid into a block grant program for states with few enforceable federal rules about how they provide health coverage for the poor.
That outcome may not be the most likely scenario. But legal experts say no one can predict what the high court will do — particularly because many were surprised that the Supreme Court agreed to consider the Medicaid portion of the big multistate challenge to President Barack Obama’s health reform law in the first place.
Should the courts rule against the Obama administration and back the states’ contention that Medicaid expansion under the health reform law is unconstitutional, it would severely limit Washington’s ability to tell the states: If you want the federal Medicaid funds, you have to follow the federal Medicaid rules.
And that outcome — federal money but few federal strings attached — would be much like the block grant approach that Republicans have periodically attempted, most recently in last year’s House budget.
The second Supreme Court case, arising from a dispute over California Medicaid payment rates to health care providers, could give states even more latitude to run their programs by limiting individuals’ right to argue in court that a state Medicaid policy violates federal law.
The federal health reform case has gotten more attention than the California pay dispute, but the Medicaid aspect has been overshadowed by the fight over the individual health insurance mandate. But last week, the 26 states challenging the law filed a brief arguing that Congress exceeded constitutional limits by telling states how to run their Medicaid programs. The health law requires expansion of Medicaid to populations not previously covered starting in 2014, although the feds are picking up the tab in the first years and most of the cost for several years thereafter. […]
* SINCE AUGUST, 88,000 PENNSYLVANIA CHILDREN HAVE LOST MEDICAID BENEFITS
By Don Sapatikin, Philly.com
More children lost Medicaid coverage in Pennsylvania in December than in the previous three months combined, according to new Department of Public Welfare numbers that show a total of 88,000 cut since August.
Advocates for the poor and disabled say orders to quickly process a backlog of eligibility reviews, which has mushroomed to more than 700,000 cases, have pushed an already overwhelmed workforce over the edge. Many cuts that legal-services and social workers challenged turned out to involve paperwork that they say DPW lost – sometimes repeatedly, even when clients had receipts – or that had never been sent in the first place.
The official numbers don’t count an additional 23,000 children whose benefits were cut and eventually restored retroactively, often with legal help. But poorer people may be less likely to call a lawyer, and child advocates believe thousands have no idea they are now uninsured.
“Our fear is that there are many out there,” said Renee Turchi, a pediatrician in St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children’s special needs clinic, where about 50 children have lost coverage at some point. […]
* FLUORIDE LINKED TO #1 CAUSE OF DEATH IN NEW RESEARCH
By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society
Groundbreaking new research has linked sodium fluoride to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Researchers found that fluoride consumption directly stimulates the hardening of your arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis that is highly correlated with the #1 killer. Sodium fluoride is currently added to the water supply of many cities worldwide, despite extreme opposition from health professionals and previous studies linking it to decreased IQ and infertility.
In their research, scientists examined the relationship between fluoride intake and the hardening (calcification) of the arteries. Studying more than 60 patients, the researchers found a significant correlation between fluoride consumption and the calcification of your arteries. Published in the January edition of the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications, the research highlights the fact that mass fluoride exposure may be to blame for the cardiovascular disease epidemic that takes more lives each year than cancer. In 2008, cardiovascular killed 17 million people.
According to the authors of the study:
“The coronary fluoride uptake value in patients with cardiovascular events was significantly higher than in patients without cardiovascular events.” […]
* BIG PHARMA ROUTINELY SUPPRESSES DATA FROM CLINICAL TRIALS — BUT FDA APPROVES THESE DANGEROUS DRUGS ANYWAY!
By Alliance for Natural Health
Help us persuade Congress to reform the agency with our Action Alert!
Drug research, even from clinical trials sponsored by the federal government, is routinely suppressed, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), an international peer-reviewed medical publication. The study found that less than half of all NIH-funded clinical drug trials were published in a medical journal within two and a half years of the trial’s completion—with fully one-third of trial results remaining unpublished even four years after the trial. Why? Because the drug manufacturers didn’t like the data.
One example cited in the study was the FDA-approved diabetes drug Avandia, which in 2007 was found to increase heart attacks and cardiovascular deaths—even though the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, had known about the risk before the drug was approved. The BMJ study found that 35 of the drug’s 42 clinical studies had never been published, and were obtained only because a court case required the pharmaceutical company to turn over the data.
Not only does this irresponsible practice harm patients, it also increases healthcare costs. Eugene Carragee, a Stanford University orthopedic surgeon and editor-in-chief of the Spine Journal, spearheaded an unprecedented independent analysis showing that the medical device manufacturer Medtronic—not to mention a circle of orthopedic surgeons who received millions of dollars in royalties from the company—systematically failed to report serious complications with Medtronic’s bone-growth stimulating back surgery device known as Infuse. The results of a crucial clinical trial of the product were not published until nearly five years after the trial had to be halted because unwanted bone was growing around the spines of the trial volunteers. […]