Congress is trying to pass a massive corporate power grab. You need to know what’s in it.

Meet the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive trade agreement that would let 9,000 foreign corporations bypass the U.S. legal system and force taxpayers to pay them millions.

Why would both Congressional Republicans and President Obama support such a naked corporate power grab? Just follow the money.

The TP-What now?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a massive proposed free-trade deal that would include roughly
40% of the world economy. It’s also highly secretive — leaks to the press are the only reason the public has any idea what could be in it.

You down with TPP? (Source: Congressional Research Service)

The TPP lets corporations bypass the domestic legal system.

Imagine if a multinational corporation was accused of something truly reprehensible — like, say, poisoning hundreds of children with faulty mining equipment. What if when the government tried to make them pay for the cleanup, they responded by suing taxpayers for $800 million? And what if instead of filing in a normal court, they were allowed to take their case to a tribunal of three highly paid corporate lawyers whose rulings can never be appealed?

Well, you don’t have to imagine — That’s exactly what’s
happening in Peru right now (poisoned children and all):

This is all possible thanks to a process called Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), which is frequently included as a feature of modern free-trade agreements, including the TPP. ISDS cases allow foreign companies to bypass the legal systems of sovereign governments and go straight to an
international trade tribunal
to demand compensation directly from taxpayers.

It’s as bad as it sounds. (Source:
The Economist)

It’s a policy designed perfectly to infuriate both the American right (ceding U.S. power to tribunals organized by the United Nations and World Trade Organization) and left (giving corporations massive new power to attack everything from environmental policy to public health measures on a global scale). It has drawn heavy criticism from all sides, from
Tea Party groups to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Why is this happening?

How could it be that the TPP, which would open the U.S. to ISDS actions from 9,000 foreign companies, has the support of both congressional Republicans and President Obama?

Here’s a hint: The answer rhymes with “$.”

Some of the most powerful special interests in Washington — from Hollywood to pharmaceutical companies — are huge fans of the TPP. ISDS is just one of many, many corporate-friendly provisions being pushed by the Obama administration’s trade negotiators. Other leaked draft texts have revealed provisions that critics say could
sharply increase the cost of prescription drugs, threaten Internet freedom and privacy, and hit American workers with outsourced jobs and lower wages.

The pro-TPP lobby is composed of industries that help raise big money for both Republicans and Democrats, which could explain why major political donors have been given full access to TPP documents even though the Obama administration has made every effort to conceal the details from the public. (Even members of Congress had to jump through hoops to view draft texts.) It also helps that many of the administration’s trade negotiators used to work for companies that are now lobbying for the TPP.

They know what’s in it. (Source: Maplight)

What happens now?

Congressional leaders recently struck a
deal that would give President Obama authority to “fast-track” TPP negotiations, which would help rush the TPP through with extremely limited debate. However, the deal isn’t final quite yet.

The TPP’s supporters know they have a small window before the public catches on and they lose their chance, which is why they’re trying to rush fast-track language through Congress as quickly as possible. Without fast track, the TPP will have to work its way through Congress in the full view of the American public — which means a massive wave of opposition that could derail the entire agreement.

You’re telling us. (Source: The New York Times)

It has already cleared two key committees and is headed to the House floor for a likely vote in early May.

If you think the TPP sounds awful, call your member of Congress right this second and demand they make a public statement against fast track. If email is more your speed, you can also send a short message using this form.

And lest you get all cynical on me, remember that the fast-track agreement is very much up in the air and is facing growing opposition from both liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans in the House. With enough public attention and pressure, fast track will fall apart, which could derail the entire TPP agreement.

TL;DR

If want to see the TPP stopped, now’s your chance. Get calling.

Original
video by Tzipora Lederman and yours truly for Represent.Us. Don’t forget to Like Represent.Us on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube for more tales of money, politics, and corruption. You can also click right here to learn a bit more about how money corrupts the political process, and click right here if you’re interested in supporting a campaign to tackle this kind of corruption head-on.

Special thanks to Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen for patiently talking me through some of the finer points of the ISDS process. Check out Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch for a comprehensive guide to ISDS case gone bad.

Thumbnail image: Mohd Rasfan/AFP/Getty Images.

DISCLOSURE: In addition to my job as a contributing curator for Upworthy, I also work for Represent.Us — a nonprofit anti-corruption organization. This video was originally created for Represent.Us and has been independently fact-checked by Upworthy’s editorial staff.

Sources and further reading:

Circa News (Background on TPP, and generally a lovely app. Yes, I’m doing a plug for an app I kinda like in the source notes.)

NY Times (Background on TPP)

Vox (Background on TPP and ISDS)

The Economist (Background on ISDS)

Corporate Europe Observatory (Stats and background on ISDS)

NPR (Philip Morris sues Uruguay)

Bloomberg Business (Alleged child poisoners Doe Run Peru use ISDS to sue Peru for $800 million)

MapLight (Donor data on companies given access to TPP documents)

Huffington Post (Sen. Ron Wyden‘s office describes secrecy around the deal, plus access given to top donors)

Washington Post (Background on additional special-interest goodies found in leaked draft texts)

What Pope Francis just said about the gender pay gap is exactly why so many folks love him.

“We must support decisively the right to equal pay for equal job.”

During his weekly address, Pope Francis spoke up in support of women being paid equally to men.

This is the latest Cool Pope thing he’s done, and it comes just two weeks after saying that “more weight and more authority must be given to women.

These great GIFs and the video at the bottom of this post come from our friends at NowThis News.

Now, usually Pope Francis’ statements come with conditions, but this one seems pretty clear.

Men and women should have the same rights, including the right to equal pay for equal work? Sounds good to me. I don’t see how that could be misinterpreted.

And given that he’s got more than a few (somewhere around 1 billion) followers, I think he might be able to change a couple of minds here and there.

And while long-lapsed Catholics like me might not be on board for every bit of policy that comes out of the church, I’m 100% on board with his sentiment on this one.

When it comes to the church, if you’re usually like…

This might be an opportunity for you to be like…

Because the gender pay gap is a huge deal, and it affects women all over the world.

Here’s hoping his comments help inspire others to work to break down the gap and make equal pay for equal work a reality.

Check out NowThis News’ video containing some of the pope’s comments from today.

Thumbnail comes from Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images. All GIFs and video comes from NowThis News. Full disclosure: I’ve written about my feelings on Pope Francis in the past, but I still think this is pretty cool.

What Pope Francis just said about the gender pay gap is exactly why so many folks love him.

“We must support decisively the right to equal pay for equal job.”

During his weekly address, Pope Francis spoke up in support of women being paid equally to men.

This is the latest Cool Pope thing he’s done, and it comes just two weeks after saying that “more weight and more authority must be given to women.

These great GIFs and the video at the bottom of this post come from our friends at NowThis News.

Now, usually Pope Francis’ statements come with conditions, but this one seems pretty clear.

Men and women should have the same rights, including the right to equal pay for equal work? Sounds good to me. I don’t see how that could be misinterpreted.

And given that he’s got more than a few (somewhere around 1 billion) followers, I think he might be able to change a couple of minds here and there.

And while long-lapsed Catholics like me might not be on board for every bit of policy that comes out of the church, I’m 100% on board with his sentiment on this one.

When it comes to the church, if you’re usually like…

This might be an opportunity for you to be like…

Because the gender pay gap is a huge deal, and it affects women all over the world.

Here’s hoping his comments help inspire others to work to break down the gap and make equal pay for equal work a reality.

Check out NowThis News’ video containing some of the pope’s comments from today.

Thumbnail comes from Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images. All GIFs and video comes from NowThis News. Full disclosure: I’ve written about my feelings on Pope Francis in the past, but I still think this is pretty cool.

See how a group of Swedish police officers responded when a fight broke out on the New York subway.

Every good cop in the country can appreciate this.

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>
<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Four Swedish police officers’ New York vacation was interrupted when a fight broke out on the subway.

The train operator called for support, and — being cops and all — they dutifully stepped in to help until local authorities arrived.

The visiting cops had to subdue the two men involved in the fight, which no doubt takes skill to do safely. But it’s how they did their job after they gained control that really impressed people.

They checked how they were feeling.

They checked them for injuries.

And amazingly, they did it without feeling the need to antagonize or intimidate either of the two men.

It was violence-free resolution.

And that is worthy of applause.

Well done, gentlemen.

I can only imagine how tough it is being a cop. It’s a dangerous gig. But these four men just showed us that it can still be guided by respect and empathy — not ruthlessness and brutality.

This video was produced by AJ+ using footage taken by Ray Casanova.

See how a group of Swedish police officers responded when a fight broke out on the New York subway.

Every good cop in the country can appreciate this.

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>
<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Four Swedish police officers’ New York vacation was interrupted when a fight broke out on the subway.

The train operator called for support, and — being cops and all — they dutifully stepped in to help until local authorities arrived.

The visiting cops had to subdue the two men involved in the fight, which no doubt takes skill to do safely. But it’s how they did their job after they gained control that really impressed people.

They checked how they were feeling.

They checked them for injuries.

And amazingly, they did it without feeling the need to antagonize or intimidate either of the two men.

It was violence-free resolution.

And that is worthy of applause.

Well done, gentlemen.

I can only imagine how tough it is being a cop. It’s a dangerous gig. But these four men just showed us that it can still be guided by respect and empathy — not ruthlessness and brutality.

This video was produced by AJ+ using footage taken by Ray Casanova.

Dante and David apply for the same job but only one gets an interview. Here’s the rest of their day.

If you’ve ever wanted a side-by-side illustration of how racism seeps into everyday situations like job hunting, driving, and even going to the doctor, this video from Brave New Films breaks it down flawlessly.

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>
<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Racism isn’t just about racial slurs. It’s much much bigger.

Many of us are aware of only one type of racism: blatant racism, like using slurs. In reality, racism’s a lot bigger — and deeper — than that.

If you don’t have time to watch the video above, here are just three surprising ways that racism takes shape in everyday life:

1. Jobs

What’s in a name? Well, for people of color with more “ethnic names” (and let’s be real, what does that even mean?), it can mean the difference between getting an interview or not. And let’s remember that there are plenty of white people with unique names, like Bristol Palin and Pilot Inspektor. The problem isn’t having a name that’s unique or hard to pronounce. The issue is that certain types of names are labeled as “ghetto” or “unprofessional” only when they’re associated with people of color. Changing one’s name isn’t the solution — changing how we view people of color and their worth is.

2. Home ownership

Although we’ve come a long way since the Jim Crow laws of the 1800s that prohibited black people from owning homes, black people and other people of color still encounter housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Project’s documentary “A Matter of Place” not only details the history of housing discrimination in the U.S., but it also includes a few undercover experiments that reveal just how pervasive the practice is.

3. Health care

One of the most shocking ways that racism infiltrates the lives of people of color happens within the health care industry. Not only do black folk and people of color struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles as a result of issues like childhood obesity, food deserts, and lack of health care coverage, studies have shown that doctors are less likely to offer advanced treatment to black patients.

But jobs, home ownership, and health care are just the tip of the systematic racism iceberg.

  • Higher car prices: Black consumers pay about $700 more for a car than white consumers.
  • Higher incarceration rates: Black folks are six times as likely to be sent to prison.
  • More police stops: Black drivers are twice as likely to be pulled over.
  • And more…

All these seemingly small things are different ways people of color face discrimination that add up to really big problems and challenges.

Even with what I know and have experienced as a black woman, thinking about this stuff often overwhelms me and makes me super depressed. Systemic racism just feels so big. And in comparison, I feel incredibly helpless and small.

But here’s the cool thing: Our voices are actually part of the solution. Educating ourselves and each other is an important first step. I mean, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know the problem exists, right? So while we still have a long way to go, thanks for taking the time to educate yourself so we can work toward equality for everyone.

Wanna dig deeper and find more ways to help? Check out this great article from Everyday Feminism: 10 Simple Ways White People Can Step Up to Fight Everyday Racism.”

Original video by Brave New Films.

Dante and David apply for the same job but only one gets an interview. Here’s the rest of their day.

If you’ve ever wanted a side-by-side illustration of how racism seeps into everyday situations like job hunting, driving, and even going to the doctor, this video from Brave New Films breaks it down flawlessly.

<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>
<span class=”redactor-invisible-space”></span>

Racism isn’t just about racial slurs. It’s much much bigger.

Many of us are aware of only one type of racism: blatant racism, like using slurs. In reality, racism’s a lot bigger — and deeper — than that.

If you don’t have time to watch the video above, here are just three surprising ways that racism takes shape in everyday life:

1. Jobs

What’s in a name? Well, for people of color with more “ethnic names” (and let’s be real, what does that even mean?), it can mean the difference between getting an interview or not. And let’s remember that there are plenty of white people with unique names, like Bristol Palin and Pilot Inspektor. The problem isn’t having a name that’s unique or hard to pronounce. The issue is that certain types of names are labeled as “ghetto” or “unprofessional” only when they’re associated with people of color. Changing one’s name isn’t the solution — changing how we view people of color and their worth is.

2. Home ownership

Although we’ve come a long way since the Jim Crow laws of the 1800s that prohibited black people from owning homes, black people and other people of color still encounter housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Project’s documentary “A Matter of Place” not only details the history of housing discrimination in the U.S., but it also includes a few undercover experiments that reveal just how pervasive the practice is.

3. Health care

One of the most shocking ways that racism infiltrates the lives of people of color happens within the health care industry. Not only do black folk and people of color struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles as a result of issues like childhood obesity, food deserts, and lack of health care coverage, studies have shown that doctors are less likely to offer advanced treatment to black patients.

But jobs, home ownership, and health care are just the tip of the systematic racism iceberg.

  • Higher car prices: Black consumers pay about $700 more for a car than white consumers.
  • Higher incarceration rates: Black folks are six times as likely to be sent to prison.
  • More police stops: Black drivers are twice as likely to be pulled over.
  • And more…

All these seemingly small things are different ways people of color face discrimination that add up to really big problems and challenges.

Even with what I know and have experienced as a black woman, thinking about this stuff often overwhelms me and makes me super depressed. Systemic racism just feels so big. And in comparison, I feel incredibly helpless and small.

But here’s the cool thing: Our voices are actually part of the solution. Educating ourselves and each other is an important first step. I mean, you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know the problem exists, right? So while we still have a long way to go, thanks for taking the time to educate yourself so we can work toward equality for everyone.

Wanna dig deeper and find more ways to help? Check out this great article from Everyday Feminism: 10 Simple Ways White People Can Step Up to Fight Everyday Racism.”

Original video by Brave New Films.

The link between cholesterol and sunshine is something that you should definitely test out.

Thanks to the folks at AsapSCIENCE, I had a lightbulb moment about cholesterol and sunshine.

I get it now!

Are you ready to feel even happier than you already did about bacon? Specifically, cholesterol?


As happy as Chandler? If not happier? Step into the light (literally) with me.

Let’s go outside!

Everyone with feelings knows that going outside makes you feel better. And science agrees!

Scientists have looked at people’s brains when they’re in nature — you’re just gonna feel better!


Manmade environments lit up the fear and stress parts of the brain, and natural environments lit up the parts of the brain that deal with stability, empathy, and love.

*pause for me to go outside right quick and do this*


…and we’re back.

You’ve been outside, though. You know how nice it is.

In addition to making you feel better in your soul, sunshine is scientifically proven to make you feel better … in your bones!

This is because your skin eats the sun.

This is the part where we talk about cholesterol. The cholesterol doesn’t have to come from bacon, but it could.

And let’s be real: It will.

Some of that cholesterol you eat goes into your skin for storage.

Weird! But here’s the cool part.

The sun converts the cholesterol stored in your skin into a form of vitamin D. This helps your body absorb calcium.

Yep, your body is like a
hypercolor T-shirt. Put it in the sun* and it becomes even better!

*In moderation, dude.

We spend so much money on things to make us feel better — around $60 BILLION on weight loss. 60 billion!

And the humble folks at Harvard are reporting that vitamin D deficiencies are shockingly common in the United States.

But … hello!

Outside!

Let’s spend some time out there.

The sun is free!

And *that’s* something to be happy about.


Take the next three minutes learning more about the outdoors here … or just go outside!

Bye! I’m going outside now.

Video by AsapSCIENCE.

Thumbnail image by Julian Stallabrass used under Creative Commons license.

That amazing mountain sun photo used courtesy of the U.S. National Parks webcam of the Great Smoky Mountains. I opened up the webcam just yesterday morning and I was greeted with that sun-through-the-clouds beauty.

The link between cholesterol and sunshine is something that you should definitely test out.

Thanks to the folks at AsapSCIENCE, I had a lightbulb moment about cholesterol and sunshine.

I get it now!

Are you ready to feel even happier than you already did about bacon? Specifically, cholesterol?


As happy as Chandler? If not happier? Step into the light (literally) with me.

Let’s go outside!

Everyone with feelings knows that going outside makes you feel better. And science agrees!

Scientists have looked at people’s brains when they’re in nature — you’re just gonna feel better!


Manmade environments lit up the fear and stress parts of the brain, and natural environments lit up the parts of the brain that deal with stability, empathy, and love.

*pause for me to go outside right quick and do this*


…and we’re back.

You’ve been outside, though. You know how nice it is.

In addition to making you feel better in your soul, sunshine is scientifically proven to make you feel better … in your bones!

This is because your skin eats the sun.

This is the part where we talk about cholesterol. The cholesterol doesn’t have to come from bacon, but it could.

And let’s be real: It will.

Some of that cholesterol you eat goes into your skin for storage.

Weird! But here’s the cool part.

The sun converts the cholesterol stored in your skin into a form of vitamin D. This helps your body absorb calcium.

Yep, your body is like a
hypercolor T-shirt. Put it in the sun* and it becomes even better!

*In moderation, dude.

We spend so much money on things to make us feel better — around $60 BILLION on weight loss. 60 billion!

And the humble folks at Harvard are reporting that vitamin D deficiencies are shockingly common in the United States.

But … hello!

Outside!

Let’s spend some time out there.

The sun is free!

And *that’s* something to be happy about.


Take the next three minutes learning more about the outdoors here … or just go outside!

Bye! I’m going outside now.

Video by AsapSCIENCE.

Thumbnail image by Julian Stallabrass used under Creative Commons license.

That amazing mountain sun photo used courtesy of the U.S. National Parks webcam of the Great Smoky Mountains. I opened up the webcam just yesterday morning and I was greeted with that sun-through-the-clouds beauty.

Her brother thought sex position jokes were funny, so she turns the joke on its own sexist self.

I want to hear more of these, STAT.

You know those “funny” sexual position jokes?

Comedian Liz Miele talks about how all those jokes have one thing in common — and then makes a few jokes of her own.

Her brother inspired these hilarious jokes, but there’s more to the story.

I had the opportunity for a little bit of a Q and A with Liz and her brother, Sam, about this experience. Here are the best parts:

Has your brother ever unknowingly said anything else a little sexist? How did you react to that?

Liz: My brother is an incredibly kind, thoughtful, smart, caring, funny, weird dude! His M.O. isn’t to hurt or offend anyone, but he’s also 21.

I think this new trend of jumping down people’s throats when they say one thing wrong is a deep disservice to all of us. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone says stuff they didn’t know would be hurtful.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone says stuff they didn’t know would be hurtful.”

The true nature of a person is what they do with that info after they are told how it made them feel or why its not OK to say. Every time I’ve been open with my brother about something he said that hurt me, he’s always listened, asked questions if he didn’t understand, apologized, and did his best the next time the issue came up. I wasn’t that mature at 21, and I know few people that open and mature now! He is an incredible person.

What was the real-life reaction to writing this set about Sam’s joke-telling?

Liz: My brother is very supportive, so he heard the very early stages when it was just a story about what had happened and one feminist sex position, and he thought it was funny and actually gave me the idea for position number two. And I thought, “Well, I have two. I’ll write one more, and I have a joke!”

I always give him credit when people ask about the joke. He’s one of the smartest, funniest people I know.

And Sam, are you more mindful now?

Sam: I dig this joke my sister wrote. I think it’s crafty and inventive, and most of all hilarious. I’m so happy to see it receive all this attention. She has been badass and funny for too long, and she is long overdue for some notoriety. I’m especially enthused that this joke in particular has received so much attention because I helped write the funniest line, which is quite the feather in my cap.

“I dig this joke my sister wrote. I think it’s crafty and inventive and most of all hilarious.”

As far as being more mindful about how people react to jokes these kinds of jokes, I’ve always been somewhat mindful of how someone is going to react to what I say. I just find people’s reactions far funnier than the joke itself, which at times gets me in trouble or spawns a brilliant joke, so I call it a win-win. Poop!

I don’t know about you, but I’d say Liz’s feminist sex jokes are even funner — and sexier — than the old ones.

An Upworthy original. Download Liz Miele’s debut comedy album “Emotionally Exhausting.” It’s great! I listened to it over the weekend.