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What does it take (to win your love)

Jr. Walker and the All Stars:

A joint a day

What it does (and doesn’t do) to your lungs.


And yet, we can’t arrest bankers.

Bank of America

Gets a makeover of 85 ATMs, thanks to some San Francisco activists!

Plunder watch

How Mitt robbed workers and left the federal government to clean up Bain Capital’s mess.

Free agents

Looks like these AGs are still planning to pursue their own prosecutions against mortgage companies instead of signing off on the federal settlement:

Attorneys general or representatives from nearly 15 states met in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to discuss and share different enforcement options and strategies around various mortgage-related issues, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

The meeting was prompted by the slow pace at which a national foreclosure settlement led by the Obama administration is progressing, and is likely to be the first in a series, said these sources.

The participating attorneys general, from states including California, Nevada, Delaware, Massachusetts and New York, discussed how they could possibly join together to investigate and potentially file lawsuits against abusive mortgage lenders and servicers. Principals or representatives also attended from Hawaii, New Hampshire, Missouri, Mississippi, Maryland, Kentucky and Minnesota.

“This past Tuesday, a group of like-minded Attorneys General met in D.C. to discuss ongoing and future investigations into the mortgage finance and foreclosure industries,” said Delaware Deputy Attorney General Ian McConnel.

“The talks weren’t just about investigations,” said a source with knowledge of the discussions. “They were also about the attorneys general offices feeling uninvolved in a process by which their federal colleagues have been negotiating on their behalf.”

The administration, along with a coalition of state law enforcement officials, is currently pursuing a settlement with big banks over their role in the practice of “robo-signing” and other alleged forms of mistreatment of struggling homeowners.

‘Hot Coffee

Nicole Belle wrote about “Hot Coffee” back in October over at C&L, and I wrote about it here a year ago.

In case you didn’t already know, the movie uses the famous McDonald’s hot coffee jury award as a starting point — you know, the one that was pushed by the media as an example of reckless juries and people not taking responsibility for themselves?

What they didn’t tell you was how severely the victim was burned — and that several other court rulings instructed McDonald’s to lower their coffee temperature, which the company ignored.

But that’s not all. The documentary illustrates how the tort reform movement has used distortions and lies to convince the public that corporations are inundated with groundless lawsuits. Like this one:

Lisa and Mike Gourley are the parents of twin sons Colin and Connor. Colin was born with cerebral palsy because of medical malpractice during childbirth. A Nebraska jury awarded Colin $5.6 million to cover his medical expenses. But a state-mandated cap reduced his award by 80 percent, to $1.2 million. We speak with the family about how taxpayers are now responsible for paying for Colin’s expensive healthcare costs and how mandated caps in malpractice lawsuits relieve the wrongdoer of responsibility for the damage they cause.

There’s even more to the story than that. Corporations are just buying their own justice system through forced arbitration and by pouring huge amounts of money into judicial elections.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that litigators are the last line of defense between us and and complete corporate control, so the more you learn about how this is happening, the better prepared you are to vote for your own interests.

Newt joins OWS!

I’m joking, but in his speeches and attack ads against Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich sounds a lot like the thousands of Occupiers who protested the vulture capitalism that Mitt personifies. More here.

Copyright for me

But not for thee! Yes, SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith feels very, very strongly about copyright violations:

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – The lawmaker behind a bill to combat online piracy vowed on Thursday to press ahead in the face of fierce criticism from Internet giants such as Google and Facebook.

“It is amazing to me that the opponents apparently don’t want to protect American consumers and businesses,” Republican Representative Lamar Smith told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Are they somehow benefitting by directing customers to these foreign websites? Do they profit from selling advertising to these foreign websites? And if they do, they need to be stopped. And I don’t mind taking that on.”

The Stop Online Piracy Act, which is before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee chaired by Smith, aims to fight online piracy of pharmaceuticals, music and other consumer products by allowing the Department of Justice to seek federal court injunctions against foreign-based websites.

Smith said Internet counterfeiters cost American consumers, businesses, inventors and workers some $100 billion a year, though critics accuse him of exaggerating.

Under the bill, if a judge agrees that websites offer material that violates U.S. copyright laws, Internet service providers could be required to block access to foreign sites and U.S. online ad networks could be required to stop ads and search engines barred from directly linking to them.

But not strongly enough to follow them when it’s for his own benefit. Via TechDirt:

Any time you have someone who is vehemently copyright maximalist, it’s really only a matter of time until someone discovers that they, too, violate copyrights. There had been some questions asked a few months ago about whether or not SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith had licenses to put up videos of news reports on his site, but that didn’t seem like a huge deal (and was likely fair use anyway). However, the latest, as a ton of you are sending in, is that some enterprising folks at Vice discovered that Lamar Smith’s campaign site was making use of a photograph in violation of its Creative Commons license.

So they contacted the photographer, DJ Schulte:

I contacted DJ, to find out if Lamar had asked permission to use the image and he told me that he had no record of Lamar, or anyone from his organization, requesting permission to use it:

“I switched my images from traditional copyright protection to be protected under the Creative Commons license a few years ago, which simply states that they can use my images as long as they attribute the image to me and do not use it for commercial purposes.

“I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith’s organization did improperly use my image.”

Ooops. And this is a big part of the problem that we’re talking about. Thanks to the ridiculousness of today’s copyright laws, it’s pretty much guaranteed that everyone infringes, whether you intend to or not. Which is why we ought to be exceptionally careful about doling out quick and powerful punishment for those involved in infringement. After all, the supporters of these things never know when it might just come back to bite them directly…

Yep. That nice nature scene in the background? ILLEGAL. At least, under SOPA it would be. They could shut down his website for good and convict him of a federal crime. Maybe he should think about that.

Selective stenography

Glenn Greenwald really rips into NY Times’ public editor over yesterday’s column in which he asked if reporters should note in their stories that the people they’re interviewing are lying.

That most reporters faithfully follow the stenographer model — uncritically writing down what people say and then leaving it at that — is so obvious that it’s hardly worth the effort to demonstrate it. There are important exceptions to this practice even at the most establishment media outlets, where diligent and intrepid investigative journalismexposes the secret corruption of the most powerful. But by and large, most establishment news coverage consists of announcing that someone or other has made some claim, then (at most) adding that someone else has made a conflicting claim, and then walking away. This isn’t merely the practice of journalists; rather, as Rosen points out, it’s virtually their religion. They simply do not believe that reporting facts is what they should be doing. Recall David Gregory’s impassioned defense of the media’s behavior in the lead-up to the Iraq War, when he rejected complaints that journalists failed to document falsehoods from Bush officials because “it’s not our role“ and then sneered that only an ideologue would want them to do so (shortly thereafter, NBC named Gregory the new host of Meet the Press).

Literally every day, one finds major news stories that consist of little more than the uncritical conveying of official claims, often protected by journalists not only from critical scrutiny but — thanks to the shield of anonymity they subserviently extend — from all forms of accountability. Just to take one highly illustrative example from last week, theNYT published an article by Eric Schmitt based almost entirely on the assertions of anonymous officials, announcing that “a nearly two-month lull in American drone strikes in Pakistan has helped embolden Al Qaeda and several Pakistani militant factions to regroup, increase attacks against Pakistani security forces and threaten intensified strikes against allied forces in Afghanistan.” No criticisms of drone attacks were included. Three days later, the U.S. resumed drone attacks, after which the same Eric Schmitt immediately ran to inform us, citing Reuters, that the drone strike killed “at least three militants” (as always, “militant” in American media discourse means: any person who dies when an American missile shot from a drone detonates).

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