Two huge, phony free trade agreements about to be negotiated – on behalf of corporate special interests

Though nothing has come of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Round of global trade negotiations since they were launched almost a dozen years ago, another round of talks is in the works. But this time the negotiations will not be held on a global, multilateral basis; rather, two huge regional agreements – one transpacific, and the other transatlantic – are to be negotiated…

The Doha Round was torpedoed by the United States’ refusal to eliminate agricultural subsidies – a sine qua non for any true development round, given that 70% of those in the developing world depend on agriculture directly or indirectly. The US position was truly breathtaking, given that the WTO had already judged that America’s cotton subsidies – paid to fewer than 25,000 rich farmers – were illegal. America’s response was to bribe Brazil, which had brought the complaint, not to pursue the matter further, leaving in the lurch millions of poor cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and India, who suffer from depressed prices because of America’s largesse to its wealthy farmers…

Given this recent history, it now seems clear that the negotiations to create a free-trade area between the US and Europe, and another between the US and much of the Pacific (except for China), are not about establishing a true free-trade system. Instead, the goal is a managed trade regime – managed, that is, to serve the special interests that have long dominated trade policy in the West…

…There must be a commitment to transparency. But those engaging in these trade negotiations should be forewarned: the US is committed to a lack of transparency. The USTR’s office has been reluctant to reveal its negotiating position even to members of the US Congress…

If negotiators created a genuine free-trade regime that put the public interest first, with the views of ordinary citizens given at least as much weight as those of corporate lobbyists, I might be optimistic that what would emerge would strengthen the economy and improve social well-being. The reality, however, is that we have a managed trade regime that puts corporate interests first, and a process of negotiations that is undemocratic and non-transparent.

The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans’ interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker.

I doubt there is much inclination to invite of any of our recent Nobel Prize winners in economics to participate in governance of the United States. They have an unsettling habit of telling the truth about who owns our politicians, Liberal and Conservative. Joe Stiglitz in particular.

As much as politicians inside the Beltway blather about transparency they wholly ignore the concept in practice. When gadflies like Stiglitz puncture the information bubble provided by tame media a certain amount of dissent leaks to those Americans willing to engage in independent thought.

I’m not certain how large that number is or what effect they have on politicians or ordinary voters alike. I don’t hear a whole boatload of discussion in either the analog or digital world. That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Rudimentary liver tissue has been grown from stem cells


Yokahama City University Medical Center

In work that will raise hope that organs could be repaired or even grown from scratch using a patient’s own tissue as the raw material, Japanese researchers have created functioning liver tissue from stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice.

The researchers found that a mixture of human liver precursor cells and two other cell types can spontaneously form three-dimensional structures dubbed “liver buds.” In the mice, these liver buds formed functional connections with natural blood vessels and perform some liver-specific functions such as breaking down drugs in the bloodstream.

It’s possible the technique will work with other organ types, including the pancreas, kidney, or lungs, said lead author Takanori Takebe, a scientist at Yokohama City University…The study…is the first demonstration that a rudimentary human organ can be produced using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, says Takebe.

These iPS cells are made by converting mature cells such as skin cells into a state from which they can develop into many other cell types…The discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to this powerful state that’s useful for experiments was the basis of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology for Medicine.

A broad range of hope appears on the horizon of future experiments. Liver, pancreas, other organ replacements can sustain and extend the lives of many who otherwise wouldn’t have anything but palliative care to look forward to.

Brilliant work.

Either way – dumb crook of the day

Prosecutors say the Nevada man arrested near the University of Washington campus with weapons and explosives also had anti-government propaganda and directions to three Seattle colleges.

Justin Miles Jasper, 21, is being held in King County, Wash., in lieu of $2 million bail…

Montana authorities said Jasper had stolen a pickup truck and several firearms from a truck driver who gave him a place to stay in Butte for the last month, the AP reported.

Authorities who searched the truck after Jasper’s arrest found a stolen scoped rifle, a stolen shotgun, body armor, three knives, a machete and six Molotov cocktails, county prosecutor Alexander Hamilton said.

Prosecutors announced Friday that investigators had also uncovered propaganda materials — including a recording of a podcast — in which Jasper allegedly addressed the political upheaval in Syria and Brazil and expressed anti-government sentiments, Hamilton said…

The suspect was also found with directions to three college campuses: the University of Washington, Seattle University and South Seattle Community College, Hamilton said.

After a police pursuit, Jasper was arrested near Seattle Children’s Hospital late Wednesday, a short drive from the UW campus, said John Vinson, chief of the university’s police department. He provided no additional details of the pursuit, but described the arrest as “high-risk.”

Check out this dodo. Either he planned a great deal of violent crime – cruel and dumb – or, as he said, he stole the truck and never noticed what was inside. Just dumb.