“If you pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we will not obey,” defiant activists’ message to Washington

Among their actions, activists are organizing municipalities to pass TPP-Free Zone laws

No 904­­ Posted by fw, November 6, 2013

“We are in a time of transformational change. The opportunity is here to reverse the destruction wrought by rigged corporate trade agreements and to demand trade that is fair and promotes sustainable practices. There is no reason trade cannot improve the lives of workers and people around the world, as well as protect the planet from the rapacious destruction of corporate greed. We need to insist that people and the planet come before profits. It is up to us to make this transformation a reality. To do so we must build a broad-based, movement of movements that sends a clear message to Washington, DC: ‘If you pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we will not obey.’”Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Click on the following linked title to read the complete text of this long article. Alternatively, below is an abridged version with added subheadings and text highlighting to facilitate browsing.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: “We Will Not Obey”; Building a Global Resistance Movement by Kevin Zeese and Margaret FlowersTruthout , November 6, 2013

Message to Washington — “If you pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we will not obey.”

We are in a time of transformational change. The opportunity is here to reverse the destruction wrought by rigged corporate trade agreements and to demand trade that is fair and promotes sustainable practices. There is no reason trade cannot improve the lives of workers and people around the world, as well as protect the planet from the rapacious destruction of corporate greed. We need to insist that people and the planet come before profits.

It is up to us to make this transformation a reality. To do so we must build a broad-based, movement of movements that sends a clear message to Washington, DC: “If you pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we will not obey.”

Obama wants secret TPP deal completed by end of this year

The Obama administration has made it a priority to have the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) completed by the end of the year. The TPP is the largest trade agreement negotiated since the World Trade Organization (WTO). It covers 12 countries so far and includes provisions that reach beyond issues of trade. The full contents of the TPP are unknown because it has been negotiated with unprecedented secrecy; however, it is clear from what has been revealed that the TPP gives transnational corporations the power to alter our laws down to the local level to enhance and protect their profits.

Grassroots pressure is on Congress to not give Obama Fast Track negotiating authority

To pass the TPP, Obama is seeking Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority from Congress, which would give the president the ability to negotiate and sign the agreement before it is presented to Congress for a limited debate and an up-or-down vote without amendments. Fast Track, which has been used to pass other undesirable trade deals like the WTO and NAFTA, would prohibit a transparent and democratic process. Without Fast Track, it would be more difficult to pass the TPP.

At present, with the help of grass-roots pressure, momentum is growing in Congress to stop Fast Track. Many elected Republicans and Democrats are signing on to letters stating that they refuse to give up their constitutional responsibility to regulate trade between nations. However, as corporate lobbyists descend on Congress, that momentum could change.

Activists busy organizing communities to pass TPP-Free Zone laws, and strengthening ties with global community

To ensure that Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership do not become law, we need to continue to build grass-roots pressure. In addition to contacting Congress, activists are organizing to pass local laws saying their community will not obey the TPP because it is being passed in secrecy, without their consent and taking away their ability to legislate for the benefit of their community. And activists are strengthening their ties with the global community by coordinating efforts to stop the TPP and other toxic agreements such as the WTO and the new Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as TAFTA, which started being negotiated in July.

Alliance for Democracy takes leading role in movement to stop TPP and other toxic agreements

Alliance for Democracy member Ruth Caplan, who has been active in movements that stopped previous trade agreements and facilitated the creation of an alternative “General Agreement for the New Economy,” recently told us, “It is time to build a democratic movement of resistance. This starts from the grass roots, in the communities where we live.” She urges opponents of the TPP to work with their local governments – city, town and county – to pass TPP-Free Zone laws.

As Caplan emphasizes, “This is not, ‘Please, Congress, do the right thing,’ but language of resistance. We need to say, ‘If you create this secretly negotiated corporate trade agreement and it is a rubber-stamped by Congress, we will not obey.’ “

The Alliance for Democracy web site has information to help activists work with local elected officials to do this. In addition to providing model municipal laws that can be edited to fit the needs of the community, they provide the best arguments for making the case to local officials.

Dane County and Madison, WI and Berkeley, CA passed anti-TPP resolutions

Dane County and the city of Madison, Wisconsin, recently passed resolutions opposing the TPP; and Berkeley, California, is in the process of considering one. David Newby of the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, who was a key player in passing the Wisconsin resolutions, said:

“What was most powerful with local officials was the realization that these trade agreements change federal law to conform to the agreement. That would mean the elimination of Buy America or Buy Local in terms of government procurement. … TPP limits the ability to pass ordinances which benefit the people of Dane County or the City of Madison.”

TPP would undermine local laws that protect food sovereignty, health care, Internet freedom, worker rights, the environment, human rights and more

Caplan points out that more specifically the TPP would undermine local laws such as those that protect food safety, worker rights and the environment.

Under TPP rules, corporations could sue governments if laws interfered with their profits

In addition to requiring that laws conform to provisions within the TPP, corporations would be allowed to sue governments in the trade tribunal if laws interfere with their profits. Governments could not represent their interests before the tribunal or appeal adverse decisions. This would be a tremendous loss of sovereignty.

In TPP-Free Zones, local ordinances would take precedence over secretly negotiated trade deals

The TPP-Free Zone would say to Obama and Congress that communities will not allow secretly negotiated trade deals to undermine the ability of local governments to legislate. Caplan explains that just as some communities are challenging the idea that corporations have the constitutional rights of humans, this is an approach of “taking on settled law. It is taking on what these corporations think they have already won.”

The campaign to pass TPP-Free Zone laws serves other purposes as well. It is an opportunity to reach out to local advocacy groups and educate them about the TPP. And it provides a way to break through the media blackout of the TPP by approaching local media.

Anti-TPP movement learning from tactics used successfully in 1990’s campaign against transnational corporate deal

A similar campaign that included resolutions in the US, Canada, Australia, Asia and Europe was a key ingredient in stopping the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in the mid-1990s. When the draft MAI was released in 1997, broad opposition that included labor, environmental, human rights and other civil society groups developed quickly. And by October 1998, the MAI was dead. The overall approach was called the “Dracula Strategy,” i.e. that exposing the agreement to the light of day would kill it. Many of the same arguments being made against the TPP were also made against the MAI.

Caplan describes the defeat of the MAI as the first global movement against corporate trade deals and with success “the movement felt its power. It taught that active citizens working together can overcome transnational corporate power and defeat them.” It helped to build the momentum to stall the WTO in the Seattle protests of 1999. Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign, who has been working against corporate trade agreements since the 1999 Seattle protests, reminds us that past trade agreements have been stopped by a “movement of movements.” And that is what is happening now with the TPP because it affects so many different issues: food sovereignty, health care, Internet freedom, labor, the environment, human rights and more.

Key to success of a movement of movements – Groups must be absolutely united in their opposition

For the movement of movements to be successful in stopping rigged corporate trade agreements, the groups that are working together must be united in their opposition. If some members of the movement seek compromise to protect only their own interests, the movement of movements is weakened.

It would be disastrous if some group decided to support the TPP if it contains language to protect its constituency. For example, if labor seeks language that allows workers to organize unions or that protects workers in other ways, this approach would be short-sighted because such language has been included in past agreements and is not enforceable. And there may be other aspects of the agreement that could cause harm. For instance, even with the right to organize, if the agreement further deregulates banks, as the TPP does, this could lead to another economic crisis, which would cause greater unemployment and financial hardship for workers.

Language within TPP is designed to maximize corporate interests. And tribunal process excludes governments and citizens

Similarly, the international trade tribunal makes language to protect the environment, workers or consumers moot. These tribunals are rigged for the corporations. Past cases in similar tribunals have cost tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. Imagine what would happen if an oil and gas corporation sues a community that bans fracking or pipelines for millions of dollars. Rather than risk this expense, governments may feel forced to repeal their laws.

The trade tribunal will rely on corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their jobs to serve as judges, i.e. the corporate lawyer will serve on the tribunal, make a ruling and return to the corporation. This creates a kangaroo court system that favors transnational corporations. Representatives from the government and civil society will not have any standing to participate in this litigation. And there is no mechanism for appeal. Under a system like this, language in the TPP that sounds good will in fact be rhetoric that is unenforceable.

And we can expect that language within the TPP already has been designed to maximize corporate interests. Anyone who has negotiated a contract or detailed legislation knows that a few words can change the entire meaning of a law or contract. For the past three and a half years, the TPP has been negotiated with the assistance of more than 600 representatives of transnational corporations or their trade associations. They have had direct access to the text so they could offer specific changes to it.

Any input from civil society groups is strictly controlled so as to give illusion of participation

On the other hand, civil society groups have been largely excluded from the process, being permitted to speak at meetings, but not to amend the text. Their involvement has been controlled to give the illusion of participation so that the office of the US trade representative can say that the process was inclusive while, in fact, civil society has had no impact on the agreement.

The TPP creates a real dilemma for some groups because it is being pushed by a Democratic administration and large labor and environmental groups and other advocacy groups closely allied with the Democratic Party. In the past, some of these groups have provided cover to pass laws that favor corporate interests in return for some sort of concession. This allows terrible laws to pass, and only later do these groups find out that the bone they have been thrown has no meat on it.

Colombia Free Trade Agreement promised protection for workers but conditions have since worsened

This happened with the recent Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Language was added to protect workers, but conditions for workers actually have deteriorated. Hundreds of thousands of workers and small farmers are protesting because their livelihoods are being destroyed by so-called free trade.

Civil society groups must stand in solidarity to stop TPP

There is no need to compromise. It is imperative that civil society groups stand in solidarity to protect all of the people. We can stop these trade agreements. At least 14 other corporate trade agreements have not been completed because of widespread public opposition.

Public Citizen’s proposed Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act promises a model for reform

And once the TPP is stopped, we must continue to work together for fair and sustainable trade. One model for that is the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act, which also includes renegotiation of the WTO and NAFTA.

Global Day of Action against Toxic Trade called for on December 3, 2013 in Bali, Indonesia

An opportunity is coming up soon to stand in solidarity with people all over the world and simultaneously build momentum to prevent Fast Track from being passed in Congress this year.

On December 3, 2013, the next round of WTO meetings will take place in Bali, Indonesia. That will be followed by a ministerial round of TPP negotiations in Singapore, on December 7. The final week in Congress prior to the winter recess starts December 9.

A coalition of more than 90 organizations and social movements in Asia has called for a global day of action against the WTO and other toxic trade agreements on December 3. This coalition writes with a real sense of urgency because its members are experiencing the effects of displacement, loss of livelihoods and loss of lives caused by the current economic system that exploits people and the planet, depletes resources and causes climate change.

Organizations in the United States are joining that call to action and are planning to hold rallies in public places at noon December 3. The emphasis in the United States will be around jobs because the holiday times are difficult for those who are unemployed and underemployed. Our message is that we must stand in solidarity to end the race to the bottom in jobs and wages. As long as there are places where people are allowed to be exploited and transnational corporations are free to move their facilities to places with the cheapest labor and fewest regulations, we are all vulnerable to declining wages and human rights abuses.

The US call to action states, “We will not obey secret deals made by transnational corporations that defy public interests and desires and destroy hard-won protections of people, workers and the environment. We demand the rights of all people to live with dignity, to meet their basic needs and to build a 21st century sustainable green economy.”

Following the day of action, grass-roots activists all across the nation will continue to monitor Congress closely and do what is necessary to keep Congress from passing Fast Track and signing the TPP into law. A Rapid Response Toolkit is being prepared for use in the case that a Fast Track bill passes in committee in Congress and is sent to the floor for a vote. Visit FlushtheTPP.org for more information.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480-AM Washington, DC, and on Economic Democracy Media and on UStream.TV/ItsOurEconomy; co-direct It’s Our Economy; and are organizers of PopularResistance.org. To hear the Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers interview, The Growing Effort to Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with guests David Newby of the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, Ruth Caplan of the Alliance for Democracy and Arthur Stamoulis of Citizens Trade Campaign click here.

SEE ALSO

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I claim no ownership of such materials. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

SHOCKER — Governments shaft citizens – Secret sellout to corporations in monstrous assault on democracy

New trade rules surrender control to corporations to sue governments, overrule parliaments, undermine citizen rights

No 903­­ Posted by fw, November 5, 2013

“Investor-state rules could be used to smash any attempt to save [national health care] from corporate control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground. These rules shut down democratic alternatives. They outlaw left-wing politics. This is why there has been no attempt by our government to inform us about this monstrous assault on democracy, let alone consult us.”George Monbiot

Try to wrap your mind around the implications of this shocking piece by George Monbiot. Read his original article by clicking on the flowing title. Or read below a slightly modified version with added subheadings, minor formatting changes, inline citations in place of endnotes, and text highlighting.

George Carlin may have said it first, undoubtedly, he said it best in his American Dream rant — “You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything.”

A Global Ban on Left-Wing Politics by George Monbiot, www.monbiot.com, November 4, 2013

That’s what the new rules being smuggled into trade agreements are delivering.

Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don’t either. Mind you, I spent ten minutes looking for my watch the other day, before I realised I was wearing it. Forgetting about the referendum is another sign of ageing. Because there must have been one, mustn’t there? After all that agonising over whether or not we should stay in the European Union, the government wouldn’t cede our sovereignty to some shadowy, undemocratic body without consulting us. Would it?

New trade rules would grant big business authority to “sue the living daylights out of governments”

The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

“Investor-state dispute settlement” is mechanism already being used to kill regulation protecting people and planet

The mechanism is called investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.

Here are four recent examples

  • Tobacco company asks tribunal to award it vast sum in compensation for loss of intellectual property decision — The Australian government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with shocking health warnings. The decision was validated by the Australian supreme court. But, using a trade agreement Australia struck with Hong Kong, the tobacco company Philip Morris has asked an offshore tribunal to award it a vast sum in compensation for the loss of what it calls its intellectual property.
  • Foreign utility companies force Argentina to pay over $1b for governed freeze on energy and water bills – During its financial crisis, and in response to public anger over rocketing charges, Argentina imposed a freeze on people’s energy and water bills (does this sound familiar?). It was sued by the international utility companies whose vast bills had prompted the government to act. For this and other such crimes, it has been forced to pay out over a billion dollars in compensation.
  • Canadian mining company suing El Salvador for $315m for refusing to permit gold mine that threatened to contaminate water —  In El Salvador, local communities managed at great cost (three campaigners were murdered) to persuade the government to refuse permission for a vast gold mine which threatened to contaminate their water supplies. A victory for democracy? Not for long perhaps. The Canadian company which sought to dig the mine is now suing El Salvador for $315m – for the loss of its anticipated future profits.
  • Eli Lilly suing Canadian government for $500m for revoking two drug patents — In Canada, the courts revoked two patents owned by the US drugs firm Eli Lilly, on the grounds that the company had not produced enough evidence that they had the beneficial effects it claimed. Eli Lilly is now suing the Canadian government for $500m, and demanding that Canada’s patent laws are changed.

New rules embedded in treaties are enforced by corporate controlled panels that meet in secret hearings

These companies (and hundreds of others) are using the investor-state dispute rules embedded in trade treaties signed by the countries they are suing. The rules are enforced by panels which have none of the safeguards we expect in our own courts. The hearings are held in secret. The judges are corporate lawyers, many of whom work for corporations of the kind whose cases they hear. Citizens and communities affected by their decisions have no legal standing. There is no right of appeal on the merits of the case. Yet they can overthrow the sovereignty of parliaments and the rulings of supreme courts.

Tribunal judge admits his amazement at sovereign states agreeing to investment arbitration

You don’t believe it? Here’s what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work. “When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.”

Citizens have no rights in a privatized justice system for global corporations

There are no corresponding rights for citizens. We can’t use these tribunals to demand better protections from corporate greed. As the Democracy Centre says, this is “a privatised justice system for global corporations.”

“Democracy, as a meaningful proposition, is impossible under these circumstances” says Canadian gov official

Even if these suits don’t succeed, they can exert a powerful chilling effect on legislation. One Canadian government official, speaking about the rules introduced by the North American Free Trade Agreement, remarked, “I’ve seen the letters from the New York and DC law firms coming up to the Canadian government on virtually every new environmental regulation and proposition in the last five years. They involved dry-cleaning chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, patent law. Virtually all of the new initiatives were targeted and most of them never saw the light of day.” Democracy, as a meaningful proposition, is impossible under these circumstances.”

US and European Commission seek to replace sovereign courts with “closed, corrupt system”

This is the system to which we will be subject if the transatlantic treaty goes ahead. The US and the European Commission, both of which have been captured by the corporations they are supposed to regulate, are pressing for investor-state dispute resolution to be included in the agreement.

The Commission justifies this policy by claiming that domestic courts don’t offer corporations sufficient protection because they “might be biased or lack independence.” Which courts is it talking about? Those of the US? Its own member states? It doesn’t say. In fact it fails to produce a single concrete example demonstrating the need for a new, extra-judicial system. It is precisely because our courts are generally not biased or lacking independence that the corporations want to bypass them. The EC seeks to replace open, accountable, sovereign courts with a closed, corrupt system riddled with conflicts of interest and arbitrary powers.

These rules shut down democratic alternatives, outlaw left-wing politics

Investor-state rules could be used to smash any attempt to save the NHS [National Health Service] from corporate control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground. These rules shut down democratic alternatives. They outlaw left-wing politics.

This is why there has been no attempt by our government to inform us about this monstrous assault on democracy, let alone consult us. This is why the Conservatives who huff and puff about sovereignty are silent.

Wake up people, we’re being shafted.

SEE ALSO

 

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog, Citizen Action Monitor, may contain copyrighted material that may not have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I claim no ownership of such materials. Such material, published without profit, is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues. It is published in accordance with the provisions of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada ruling and its six principle criteria for evaluating fair dealing.

Obama pushing secretive TPP agreement that would corporatize 40 percent of global economy

Trans-Pacific Partnership would handcuff domestic governments of all member countries, including Canada

No 871 Posted by fw, October 04, 2013

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is often referred to by critics as “NAFTA on steroids,” and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people — about a third of world trade and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from Congress, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure. ‘This is not mainly about trade,’ says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. ‘It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations.’”Democracy Now

Click on the following linked title to see the interview with Lori Wallach and read the complete transcript. An embedded version of the 12:21-minute video is below accompanied by an abridged transcript with added subheadings and text highlighting.

A Corporate Trojan Horse: Obama Pushes Secretive TPP Trade Pact, Would Rewrite Swath of U.S. Laws, Democracy Now interviews Lori Wallach, October 4, 2013

ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT

Lori Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

TPP would handcuff domestic governments of all member countries including Canada

Lori Wallach – One of the most important things to understand is it’s not really mainly about trade. I guess the way to think about it is as a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters either handcuff our domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, or establishing new powers for corporations.

For instance, there are the same investor privileges that promote job offshoring to lower-wage countries. There is a ban on Buy Local procurement, so that corporations have a right to do sourcing, basically taking our tax dollars, and instead of investing them in our local economy, sending them offshore. There are new rights to, for instance, have freedom to enter other countries and take natural resources, a right for mining, a right for oil, gas, without approval.

And then there’s a whole set of very worrisome issues relating to Internet freedom. Through sort of the backdoor of the copyright chapter of TPP is a whole chunk of SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, that activism around the country successfully derailed a year ago. Think about all the things that would be really hard to get into effect as a corporation in public, a lot of them rejected here and in the other 11 countries, and that is what’s bundled in to the TPP. And every country would be required to change its laws domestically to meet these rules. The binding provision is, each country shall ensure the conformity of domestic laws, regulations and procedures.

Now, the only reason I know that level of detail is because a few texts have leaked, and I have been following the negotiations and grilling negotiators from other countries to try and find between the lines what the hell is going on; otherwise, totally secret.

Why all the secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations? What is the corporatocracy trying to keep from the people and their elected reps?

What’s really important for people to know—and this gets to what you started out with about Fast Track — Congress has exclusive constitutional authority over trade. It’s kind of like the Boston Tea Party hangover. After having a king just impose tariffs, in that case on tea, the founders said, “We need to put all things about trade, international commerce, in the hands of Congress, the most diffuse part of the elected representation, not the executive, the king.” So Congress has all this authority. They’re supposed to be exclusively in control. But until this June, they were not even allowed to see the draft text.

Members of US Congress can look at but can’t talk about TPP draft text

And it was only after a big, great fuss was kicked up by a lot of members—150 of them wrote last year—that finally members of Congress, upon request for the particular chapter, can have a government administration official bring them a chapter. Their staff is thrown out of the room. They can’t take detailed notes. They’re not supposed to talk about what they saw. And they can, without staff to help them figure out what the technical language is, look at a chapter. This is in contrast to, say, even what the Bush administration did. The last time we had one of these mega-NAFTA expansion attempts was the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And in that instance, in 2001, that whole draft text was released to the public by the U.S. government on the official government websites.

“TPP would rewrite wide swaths of our laws”

This would rewrite wide swaths of our laws. And again, it’s So, this is extraordinary secrecy, and members of Congress aren’t supposed to tell anyone what they’ve read. So, for instance, you know, Alan Grayson, who was one of the guys who helped to get the text released, Alan Grayson said, “I can tell you it’s very bad for the future of America. I just can’t tell you why.” That’s obscene.

So, if we have this agreement in effect, for instance, it would be a big push for fracking. Now you would say, “Why fracking?” Because it doesn’t allow us to have bans on liquid natural gas exports. Or, if this were in effect, we couldn’t ensure the safety of the food we feed our families. We have to import, for instance, fish and shrimp that we know, from the limited inspection that’s done, is extremely dangerous from certain kinds of growing ponds that are contaminated, etc., in some of the TPP countries. Or, for instance, some of the financial reforms where the banksters were finally regulated would be rolled back. All of this, and it would be privately enforceable by certain foreign corporations.

TPP would set a huge limit on free Internet activities by criminalizing them

The Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] was a vehicle basically to take away some of our rights on the Internet. It would have criminalized what they call inadvertent, small-scale, non-commercial copying. And the example would be, for instance, Juan, I had you over to dinner. You liked the recipe I had. I happened to have taken it for $2 I paid for it off of a paid website. And you said, “Lori, can you send me that recipe?” And, of course, I said, “Yeah,” and I sent it to you. That is officially a copyright violation. I should say, “You have to go pay $2 and get it yourself, Juan.” But, in fact, it’s small-scale. I didn’t sell it. It’s not commercial. I didn’t send it to a lot of people.

That kind of activity, under SOPA, as well as any number of things we do all the time—making a copy, or like a buffer copy that our computer would make to look at a video, or breaking a digital lock—for instance, if we bought software, but we wanted to run it on Linux—all of those things would be considered criminal activities. We’d face huge fines, and our carriers—Google, etc.—would have to take us off of service, to black us out. So, a huge limit on Internet freedom.

That whole mess was defeated in Congress in a wonderful citizen uprising. A chunk of that is now stuck in the copyright chapter of SOPA—of TPP. So, they call TPP “son of SOPA.” In a lot of countries around the TPP region, citizens have fought to have good laws that actually provide them access and don’t allow that kind of control. So, that is a chunk. To give you an idea of how varied the problems are, that’s a chunk of what is in there.

Obama wants to Fast Track the TPP process – meaning, he wants Congress to delegate its authority over trade agreements to him

Now, the thing about that Fast Track you mentioned, Fast Track is not in effect. Fast Track is an extraordinary delegation of Congress’s authority. So if we don’t want unsafe food, offshore jobs, SOPA, SOPA, SOPA, limits on Internet freedom, the banksters getting rolled back into deregulation, we have to make sure that Congress actually maintains its constitutional authority to make sure that before this agreement can be signed, it actually works for us. Fast Track is a delegation of authority. President Obama has asked for it, but it only happens if Congress gives it to him.

Obama the candidate promised to replace the NAFTA model – Obama the president is doubling down on the NAFTA model

The whole approach of the Obama administration has really been, I don’t know, some combination of heartbreaking and infuriating, because when he was a candidate, President Obama promised he would replace the NAFTA model, and instead they’ve doubled down.

Under TPP, corporations would be empowered to sue governments in tribunals presided over by corporate attorneys

The tobacco issue is one of those that’s the most gruesome. So, the TPP includes the very controversial investor-state system, which empowers individual corporations to directly sue governments—not in our courts, but in extrajudicial tribunals where three corporate attorneys act as “judges,” and these guys rotate between being the judge and being the guys suing the government for the corporation. They’re empowered to give unlimited cash damages from us, the taxpayers, to these corporations for any government action—a regulatory issue, environment, health, safety—that undermines the investor’s expected future profits.

Under TPP, member countries would be handcuffed from being able to regulate health-related tobacco legislation

Under that system, big tobacco companies have been attacking health regulations. And famously—infamously—these kinds of investor-state cases have extracted billions of dollars and undermined important laws. So, Philip Morris has used this to attack Australia, one of the TPP country’s plain-packaging-of-cigarette laws. So, a lot of the TPP countries are very worried that they would be basically handcuffed from being able to regulate for health around tobacco. So, the U.S. originally was going to offer an exception. Big tobacco came in and basically won the day. The U.S. pulled away what was a medium exception, put in something that’s really worse than nothing, and then Malaysia came in and actually offered a real exception, which the U.S. is opposing—just like the U.S. is opposing an exception to maintain financial regulations for prudential reasons, just like the U.S. is opposing a real exception to those investor tribunals with respect to health and the environment. It’s incredibly depressing.

“Enough!” say other countries, beginning to stand up to U.S. corporate-inspired demands

The only good news is a bunch of the other countries have basically said, “Basta! We are not going to roll back these things.” So the reason there isn’t a deal is because a lot of the other countries are standing up to the worst of these U.S. corporate-inspired demands.

For more TPP information, check out these websites –

You can see the whole lay of this at ExposeTheTPP, www.exposethetpp. There are fact sheets on each of the ways, each aspect of your life the TPP could affect. And if you want to get down into the weeds and have long papers explaining and/or information from other countries, you can go to tradewatch.org. Between those two sets of information, you’ll see there’s almost no part of your life or the things you care about that this agreement couldn’t undermine. And again, trade is the least of it.

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