Dean Baker reminds us that the Trans-Pacific "Partnership" "free" trade pact "has little to do with trade" and more to do with "putting in place a pro-business regulatory structure." You see, tariffs aren't so much a "free trade barrier" anymore, but those pesky clean air and clean water and antitrust and fair use laws are, to the corporatists who drafted the pact -- not that they'll come out and say so, of course, since you'll want to punch them in the nose if they do. Rather, they'll use more scare numbers -- 18,000 OF TEH TARIFFZ DESTROYED!!!!, including the infamous Brunei ski boot tariff, a stain on civilization's honor since time immemorial.
Vulture capitalists -- those extraordinary folks who buy up a nation's defaulted debt for pennies on the dollar in order to extort vast sums governments can't pay without selling off public services -- have reached a "deal" with the new Argentine government. The shame of it is that Argentina actually did pretty well after its 2002 default, mainly by refusing to cave to outlandish creditor demands, but then 2009 hit, you remember that, and then another bad spell helped put a right-wing government in, one more willing to cave to folks like Paul Singer, until recently a Marco Rubio man and now standing to make nearly four times what he "invested." A certain American judge and a certain Obama Administration cabinet agency were also no help to good Argentinians.
In an unexpected development, the Department of Justice has apparently backed down in its fight to get Apple to create a key the FBI can use to unlock any encrypted cell phone. Sadly, not because they realized they were wrong, but because they think they can unlock the phone of the San Bernardino shooter another way -- hopefully a way that protects the privacy of the masses, though I'm not holding my breath. This "other way" might also fail, which means we'll be back to square one. We'll likely know in about two weeks' time.
Annalee Newitz, writing at ArsTechnica, describes Facebook's attempt to "establish an ethnic affinity," though not of course an actual ethnicity, to its users. Not to racially profile, but to make money, and praise the Lord it's only about making money! Also, like so many things in this Brave New World, this sort of marketing isn't opt-in: "(e)ven when a Facebook user says they like #BlackLivesMatter, they don't feel like asking to opt in to an ethnic identity," Ms. Newitz says, "it's just one of many interests that define that person." I wonder what "ethnic affinity" Facebook projects onto my newsfeed's endless stream of death notices and music videos.
Finally, Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall takes us in his wayback machine to the antics of southern California's Wally George, a right-wing TV host who presaged so many right-wing talk radio and cable news blowhards -- and Donald Trump. Helmet hair, limp liberals, wrestling-style bombast, security throwing guests out -- sound familiar? Of course I remember Morton Downey, Jr. gaining a similar following in the late 1980s with a similar act. Happily, "digging right-wing blowhards who yell and scream and throw things, ironically or maybe not" is one of the many childish things I've put away.