Saturday, July 4, 2015

We Can Still Defeat TPP

 “When the inexcusable and anti-democratic veil of secrecy surrounding the TPP is finally lifted, and the American people see what is actually in the agreement, they are going to force their representatives in Washington to vote that deal down.”                    Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen

We lost the Fast Track fight, (because of the 13 traitorous Senate Democrats above who sided with Republicans to end debate) but TPP is far from a done deal. Once the text is released, Congress will be debating it for 90 days and the ugly truth the "corporate trade advisors" have been hiding for years will be in open view.  

TPP's unprecedented secrecy
The little we know about TPP, is thanks to Wikileaks. Members of Congress have only recently been able to see portions of the text and are not allowed to take notes, copy pages or even talk about what they read!

We will not be able to see TPP's negotiating texts until four years after it is passed, or is voted down. With TISA we will not be able to see them for five years. What are they hiding?

It is already clear from leaked texts that this is not just a trade deal (only 5 chapters out of 29 are specifically about trade) but it is rather a global power grab by multinational corporations intent on profits at the expense of the earth and our rights. 

Here is what corporate tyranny looks like
I think most Americans would shudder at the thought that multinational corporations could sue US taxpayers for laws and policies that a corporation says could reduce their "expected future profits". Under the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provision of TPP, these cases would be decided by international tribunals and the judges would be corporate lawyers whose decision would be final. No US court could override them! 

Want clean air, safe food, drinkable water, fair working conditions, labels on GMOs, fracking bans, or bank regulations to prevent another 2008 economic meltdown? TPP will give foreign corporations the right to retaliate against any such laws or regulations and sue us for billions of dollars. Think it can't happen? Unfortunately, under NAFTA and other trade agreements, corporations are already suing nations and winning ($3.5 billion has been paid out and another $14.7 billion in corporate suits are awaiting decision). TPP goes a step further than granting corporations personhood- it makes them more powerful than countries. It gives them nationhood!

"In a threat to our sovereignty and solvency, the TPP would expand the scope of policies that could be attacked. And, there would be 15,000 new foreign corporations empowered by TPP to attack US laws." Expose the TPP 

To me this is the most egregious part of TPP, but there are many other disastrous results of TPP passing- the loss of millions of American jobs (hard for us to compete with Vietnam wages at 29 cents an hour), a race to the bottom for wages and worker safety, increased costs for medicines (Big Pharma made sure patents on drugs would be extended and generics will be at risk), loss of internet freedom,  the end of Buy American policies, the forced importation of foods that do not meet our safety standards, increased environmentally destructive fracking (see the video below) and more. 

The unbridled corporate greed of "Free Trade", or a "Fair Trade" bright future? 
The good news is that a slumbering America has been awakened! Environmental groups, workers, family farmers, internet freedom advocates, people of faith and organizations for food safety and public health have all come together to fight this corporate takeover. It's about time that we started to marshal all our forces to restore democracy and to protect what is dear to us and makes America great. 

This is just the beginning of a movement to create a new paradigm of trade that protects our earth and ensures our basic human rights- our ability to live in freedom, safety and dignity. Fair Trade lifts all people to a better standard of living and ensures a viable and sustainable future for all of our children. 

TPP and its partners TISA* (Trade in Services Agreement) and TTIP (the European version of TPP) do just the opposite. They benefit the very few, the plutocratic elite, at the expense of the rest of us. This unholy triumvirate would make our lives less safe, more polluted, miserable and eventually unlivable as measures to deal with climate change would be seen as barriers to trade. We are already seeing the effects from NAFTA and TPP is NAFTA on steroids.

So let's roll up our sleeves and "Get to work!" as Ed Schultz of MSNBC says. By the way, he deserves kudos for being practically the only journalist who has covered these terrible, plutocratic deals from the beginning. We need to exert more pressure for others to follow his lead.

There are many organizations leading this fight- join them! Public Citizen, Flush the TPP, Progressive Democrats of America- TPP Media March, MoveOn, Sierra Club and more. 

Remember, Fast Track only won in the House by two votes- we can defeat final passage of TPP there. Pledge to keep up the fight hereWe can do this. We have to do this!

*Please note this article "Leaked TISA Documents Reveal Privacy Threat" was in Forbes magazine -  hardly a bastion of left-wing thinking. It's time for the "left" and "right" to come together on this! We have to go beyond labels to save our democracy. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Amnesty International Calls on Obama to Drop Charges against Edward Snowden

Claire Bernish
June 9, 2015
(ANTIMEDIAAmnesty International UK has launched a campaign and petition asking President Obama not to“punish” Edward Snowden for whistleblowing. By exposing “the sinister extent of global mass surveillance,” the organization says, he has informed the world about “human rights abuses” and should not be prosecuted as a traitor.
In light of the federal court ruling that deemed the NSA’s surveillance tactics using provisions of the Patriot Act illegal, Amnesty is calling for the charges against Snowden under the infamous Espionage Act to be dropped.
The organization also explains that its successful litigation against the UK government and its intelligence community was only possible with information revealed by the whistleblower—thus questioning the justification for such “strict charges” still remaining against him. As its statement explains,
“There are protections around whistleblowers when the information they have revealed is seen to be in the public interest. Snowden’s revelations undoubtedly brought our attention to previously unknown abuses […] The charges facing Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act are outdated and ill-equipped to deal with the circumstances of his case — and if he’s tried for crimes under the Espionage Act, he could be prevented from presenting a defense that explains his motives were in the public interest.”
Snowden’s freedom to seek asylum in countries that agree he deserves such protection is being severely hindered by the US government’s revocation of his passport and continued political pressure to force other countries into cooperating to restrict his travel.
Amnesty’s campaign vigorously urges the US to completely drop the charges, but says:
“If the US does try Snowden, President Obama should ensure that Snowden is guaranteed a fair trial, and allowed to argue that information he revealed was in the public interest and guarant[ee] him whistleblowers’ protections.”

This article (Amnesty International Calls on Obama to Drop Charges Against Edward Snowden) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Tune in! The Anti-Media radio show airs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hudson Valley Says "No" to Pilgrim Pipeline

                                                                                                                                          Photo: Jodiah Jacobs
Monday, May 18 a crowd gathered in Kingston, NY to celebrate over 50 municipal and county resolutions opposing Pilgrim Pipelines in New York and New Jersey. The Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines – NY (CAPP-NY) launched the campaign with a press conference and rally. People there were against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure throughout the Hudson Valley. They aim to stop Pilgrim Pipelines from being built, while also pressing to ban dangerous rail cars and barges carrying Bakken Shale crude oil, citing threats to rivers and streams, drinking water, climate, public health and safety, and to the regional economy.

“It’s time for us to move our regional economy towards clean energy and a bright future, away from the old, destructive, dying oil economy of the past!"
Organized with: “48 Hours of Actions for Safe Clean Energy” NJ / NY, May 16th – 18th" 

All photos by Jodiah Jacobs

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic

Photo from Our Hudson Valley Rally against TPP       B Upton

Ellen Brown,
Author Web of Debt, Public Bank Solution, President, Public Banking Institute
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." -- Article IV, Section 4, US Constitution
A republican form of government is one in which power resides in elected officials representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. In The Federalist Papers, James Madison defined a republic as "a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . ."
On April 22, 2015, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade agreement that would override our republican form of government and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person panel of corporate lawyers.
The secretive TPP is an agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries that affects 40 percent of global markets. Fast-track authority could now go to the full Senate for a vote as early as next week. Fast-track means Congress will be prohibited from amending the trade deal, which will be put to a simple up or down majority vote. Negotiating the TPP in secret and fast-tracking it through Congress is considered necessary to secure its passage, since if the public had time to review its onerous provisions, opposition would mount and defeat it.
Abdicating the Judicial Function to Corporate Lawyers
James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers:
The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. . . . "Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. . . ."
And that, from what we now know of the TPP's secret provisions, will be its dire effect.
The most controversial provision of the TPP is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) section, which strengthens existing ISDS  procedures. ISDS first appeared in a bilateral trade agreement in 1959. According to The Economist, ISDS gives foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that hurt corporate profits -- such things as discouraging smoking, protecting the environment or preventing a nuclear catastrophe.
Arbitrators are paid $600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases; and the secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any requirement to consider precedent gives wide scope for creative judgments.
To date, the highest ISDS award has been for $2.3 billion to Occidental Oil Company against the government of Ecuador over its termination of an oil-concession contract, this although the termination was apparently legal. Still in arbitration is a demand by Vattenfall, a Swedish utility that operates two nuclear plants in Germany, for compensation of €3.7 billion ($4.7 billion) under the ISDS clause of a treaty on energy investments, after the German government decided to shut down its nuclear power industry following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.
Under the TPP, however, even larger judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of "investment" it protects includes not just "the commitment of capital or other resources" but "the expectation of gain or profit." That means the rights of corporations in other countries extend not just to their factories and other "capital" but to the profits they expect to receive there.
In an article posted by Yves Smith, Joe Firestone poses some interesting hypotheticals:
Under the TPP, could the US government be sued and be held liable if it decided to stop issuing Treasury debt and financed deficit spending in some other way (perhaps by quantitative easing or by issuing trillion dollar coins)? Why not, since some private companies would lose profits as a result?
Under the TPP or the TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership under negotiation with the European Union), would the Federal Reserve be sued if it failed to bail out banks that were too big to fail?
Firestone notes that under the Netherlands-Czech trade agreement, the Czech Republic was sued in an investor-state dispute for failing to bail out an insolvent bank in which the complainant had an interest. The investor company was awarded $236 million in the dispute settlement. What might the damages be, asks Firestone, if the Fed decided to let the Bank of America fail, and a Saudi-based investment company decided to sue?
Abdicating the Legislative Function to Multinational Corporations
Just the threat of this sort of massive damage award could be enough to block prospective legislation. But the TPP goes further and takes on the legislative function directly, by forbidding specific forms of regulation.
Public Citizen observes that the TPP would provide big banks with a backdoor means of watering down efforts to re-regulate Wall Street, after deregulation triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression:
The TPP would forbid countries from banning particularly risky financial products, such as the toxic derivatives that led to the $183 billion government bailout of AIG. It would prohibit policies to prevent banks from becoming "too big to fail," and threaten the use of "firewalls" to prevent banks that keep our savings accounts from taking hedge-fund-style bets.
The TPP would also restrict capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter destabilizing flows of speculative money. . . . And the deal would prohibit taxes on Wall Street speculation, such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax that would generate billions of dollars' worth of revenue for social, health, or environmental causes.
Clauses on dispute settlement in earlier free trade agreements have been invoked to challenge efforts to regulate big business. The fossil fuel industry is seeking to overturn Quebec's ban on the ecologically destructive practice of fracking. Veolia, the French behemoth known for building a tram network to serve Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, is contesting increases in Egypt's minimum wage. The tobacco maker Philip Morris is suing against anti-smoking initiatives in Uruguay and Australia.
The TPP would empower not just foreign manufacturers but foreign financial firms to attack financial policies in foreign tribunals, demanding taxpayer compensation for regulations that they claim frustrate their expectations and inhibit their profits.
Preempting Government Sovereignty
What is the justification for this encroachment on the sovereign rights of government? Allegedly, ISDS is necessary in order to increase foreign investment. But as noted inThe Economist, investors can protect themselves by purchasing political-risk insurance. Moreover, Brazil continues to receive sizable foreign investment despite its long-standing refusal to sign any treaty with an ISDS mechanism. Other countries are beginning to follow Brazil's lead.
In an April 22nd report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, gains from multilateral trade liberalization were shown to be very small, equal to only about 0.014% of consumption, or about $.43 per person per month. And that assumes that any benefits are distributed uniformly across the economic spectrum. In fact, transnational corporations get the bulk of the benefits, at the expense of most of the world's population.
Something else besides attracting investment money and encouraging foreign trade seems to be going on. The TPP would destroy our republican form of government under the rule of law, by elevating the rights of investors -- also called the rights of "capital" -- above the rights of the citizens.
That means that TPP is blatantly unconstitutional. But as Joe Firestone observes, neo-liberalism and corporate contributions seem to have blinded the deal's proponents so much that they cannot see they are selling out the sovereignty of the United States to foreign and multinational corporations.
For more information and to get involved, visit:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Gearing Up to Stop Fast Track of TPP

                    Sign by Shirley Warren for New Paltz Women in Black in NY

We are all devastated that President Obama would be pushing a secret deal- the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP- that would allow multinational corporations to sue our federal, state and municipal governments for passing laws that protect workers, public health and the environment. According to the TPP, that has been drafted by big corporations and their lobbyists, corporations can sue because such actions could result in lower profits for them. What kind of deal puts profits above the health of the people and the planet?

The good news is that although Fast Track of TPP passed a committee in the Senate and House, most Dems in the House Com (13 out of 15) voted against it. We can still stop this democracy and sovereign-killing deal.

 I was tracking a sighting of one of our signs against TPP  (above) when I found this site that does a good job of showing all the opposition to TPP that our MSM is ignoring. Thank you to Longshore & Shipping News.

Unions ready to battle against TPP trade deal

OBAMA AND GOP: The White House boasts GOP allies in pushing for the TPP, including House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (shown here), and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka put lawmakers on notice Tuesday that votes in favor of giving President Obama fast-track authority for a pending multilateral [...]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose

A police woman removes a woman protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Capitol Hill in Washington January 27, 2015. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Excepts from an opinion piece in the Washington Post by Senator Elizabeth Warren:
The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, [...]

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Fast Track not a done deal, the people will stop it

From Truth-Out:
The corporate media are reporting that since the Republican leadership and President Obama support Fast Track trade authority, it is a done deal. And that message, also heard by countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is driving the race to finalize that agreement.
The truth is: Fast Track is not a done deal. [...]

Why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a pending disaster

TPP sign
Republicans, who now run Congress, say they want to cooperate with President Barack Obama and point to the administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, as the model. The only problem is that the TPP would be a disaster.
The TPP is a Trojan horse in a global race to the bottom, giving big [...]

Farmers Union Opposing Trans-Pacific Partnership

Two hundred and fifty Farmers Union members from across the country are in the nation’s Capital this week telling Congress to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke is heading up the state’s 25 member delegation. He says the current TPP under discussion doesn’t address the current trade deficit that’s [...]

Japan says Trans-Pacific Partnership regional free trade talks agree broadly on labour, health issues

Pacific trade talks have reached broad agreement on labour issues and sanitary and phytosanitary standards but some difficult aspects remain to be tackled, Japan’s chief negotiator said on Saturday.
Chief Japanese negotiator Koji Tsuruoka said the 12 member nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) made progress at talks in Ottawa but there was no discussion [...]

Citizens’ group concerned about secrecy around Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks in Ottawa

The Council of Canadians, a concerned citizens’ group, is sounding the alarm over what it says is too much government secrecy on a round of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks currently being held in Ottawa.
Trade officials from the 12 TPP countries are meeting behind closed doors in Ottawa from July 3-12. It’s believed at least [...]

Obama promises Trans Pacific Partnership text

The text of the Trans Pacific Partnership remains secret at the moment, but President Barack Obama intends to present it to the public in November.
According to Reuters, POTUS’ remarks were made on Friday after discussing the timeline with New Zealand prime minister John Key during a visit to Washington.
President Obama is planning a [...]

Obama and Trade: Recipe for Ripoffs

”Why is WikiLeaks rooting around for these documents and releasing them to the public? The pacts will require Senate approval, yet lawmakers have had to beg for any details about them. Based on leaks, other big concerns center around health issues. For example, some provisions would block government policies that discourage smoking. There are [...]

Ag tells White House to approve TPP without Japan

Japan has repeatedly said it will not eliminate tariffs on agricultural goods it considers “sacred” – dairy, rice, sugar, beef, pork, wheat and barley. The U.S. groups said Japan is demanding special treatment.
Frustrated with Japan’s unwillingness to strike a deal on U.S. ag imports under the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), several U.S. ag groups [...]

US lawmakers push for tough labor rules in Pacific trade deal

U.S. trade negotiators must insist on tough standards on human and workers’ rights in a Pacific trade deal spanning 12 countries, more than 150 Democratic lawmakers said in a letter to the Obama administration on Thursday.
The lawmakers, who make up three-quarters of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, urged U.S. Trade Representative Michael [...]

Japan, U.S. spur new TPP talks in Vietnam

The 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations launched a fresh round of talks Monday with expectations for progress as Japan and the United States move closer to resolving thorny bilateral issues.
Their chief negotiators began the four-day meeting in Ho Chi Minh City and will follow it up with a ministerial gathering [...]

TPPA negotiations 'put multinational profits before health'

The World Health Organization has just warned about the major risks of antibiotic resistance worldwide and said that countries must take action. Countries everywhere need to change the controls on antibiotics, keeping use for serious infection. But the TPPA agreement says that can be liable to legal action if there is a loss of [...]

Japan holds on to tariffs in TPP negotiations

With more than 80 percent of the wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest being exported, it goes without saying that trade is critical for our wheat growers. Japan –the world’s largest buyer of soft white wheat — is attempting to hold on to tariffs for five ag products in the recent Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Obama heads back to Mexico to meet his NAFTA counterparts

President Barack Obama is headed to Toluca, Mexico – hometown of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, next week for a North American summit.
A big topic of the meeting will be the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that the Obama administration is negotiating and wants to see get approval from Congress, but that has [...]