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May 24 2015 | Pitchforks - USA | 0 comments
How Trade Agreements Amount to a Secret Corporate Takeover
photo: Richard Harris

Joseph Stiglitz on the TPP:

"...Perhaps the most invidious - and most dishonest - part of such agreements concerns investor protection. Of course, investors have to be protected against the risk that rogue governments will seize their property. But that is not what these provisions are about. There have been very few expropriations in recent decades, and investors who want to protect themselves can buy insurance from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, a World Bank affiliate (the US and other governments provide similar insurance). Nonetheless, the US is demanding such provisions in the TPP, even though many of its "partners" have property protections and judicial systems that are as good as its own.

The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety, and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect America's own economy and citizens. Companies can sue governments for full compensation for any reduction in their future expected profits resulting from regulatory changes.

This is not just a theoretical possibility. Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia for requiring warning labels on cigarettes. Admittedly, both countries went a little further than the US, mandating the inclusion of graphic images showing the consequences of cigarette smoking.

The labeling is working. It is discouraging smoking. So now Philip Morris is demanding to be compensated for lost profits.

In the future, if we discover that some other product causes health problems (think of asbestos), rather than facing lawsuits for the costs imposed on us, the manufacturer could sue governments for restraining them from killing more people. The same thing could happen if our governments impose more stringent regulations to protect us from the impact of greenhouse-gas emissions..."

Click here for the rest of the srticle.
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April 30 2015 | Politics - USA | 0 comments
Science Shmience
photo: Richard Harris

""It is an incredibly discouraging time for a couple of reasons," said Alt. "Americans just don’t see a future at this point in time in science, and it has happened pretty quickly. And the other thing that is real interesting is, I’ve always had a number of Chinese recruits in the lab, and they would end up getting good jobs at MIT and Stanford -- great places. Now, everybody who comes to my lab... they are going now to get their own labs back in China, because they feel there is a much better situation to get funding.”"

Click here for the rest of this extremely important article.
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April 19 2015 | Shopping - Brussels | 0 comments
Window Of The Day 97
photo: Richard Harris

I try not to include commercial window displays in this category but occasionally I make an exception. This is the window of a children's clothing store called Kat en Muis which has wonderful children's clothes. And in honor of the store's name they have a few muisen here and there.
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April 17 2015 | Politics | 0 comments
Pot, Kettle, Black
photo: Richard Harris

"The United States warned last week against militarization of contested territory in Asia, and President Barack Obama accused China of using its "sheer size and muscle" to push around smaller nations"
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April 14 2015 | Art - Brussels | 0 comments
Juggling For Euros
photo: Richard Harris

Art being subsidized by amused drivers at a red light on the boulevard.
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