Spring is here, and with it comes a new campaign to hold the U.S. government accountable for its support of corporate colonialism. We’re joining allies across the U.S. and across the world to change the narrative around President Obama’s upcoming trip to Asia, during which he’ll work to finalize the TPP. Our action has helped to hold off Fast Track for now, but Obama’s visit proves that the Administration and “free trade” proponents won’t stop pushing their corporate agenda – and we can’t stop pushing against it. Help keep up the momentum for trade that puts people and the planet before profit! Check out the details of the call to action below, and join in any way that works for you. If you’ve got a local rally or event planned, be sure to let us know [email protected]
We knew that efforts to rig global trade in the favor of trans-national corporations would not stop there. The movement of movements that stopped the first version of fast track has been preparing for the next stage. The new chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), made a speech this week announcing that he was working to introduce a new version of trade promotion authority that he is propagandistically calling “smart-track,” but which sounds more like fast track in sheep’s clothing. Wyden was vague on the details, but this far into the process any fast track bill being pushed will still rig trade in favor of transnational corporations. Pushing for any form of fast track to get the unpopular Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress is a suicidal political move in an election year. The TPP is kept secret because it is unpopular, why assist the passage of something so unpopular — an agreement that will undermine jobs and income for most Americans, expand the wealth divide and increase the trade deficit. Already people are predicting the Democrats may lose their majority in the senate. Wyden’s pushing ahead on fast track for the TPP is a sure way to turn off the Democratic base and demonstrate once again the Republican-lite nature of today’s Democratic Party.
The new issue of Justice Rising is here and with it the Alliance for Democracy has launched a campaign so that communities all over the world can stand up to rigged corporate agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and say “We will not obey.” The low down is that when these secret agreements are signed, they can change our laws even down to the local level that are harmful to our communities. These changes are negotiated without our input or permission. To learn more about what you can do, join the April 22 – May 10 Stop Fast Track and the TPP Call to Action by joining the Alliance for Democracy’s campaign to Stop fast track and create municipal TPP-Free Zones at www.tppfreezones.org And read Justice Rising: “TPP: World Citizenry Takes on Corporate Global Rule” for essential background.
U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman needs a fast track bill to get some important free trade agreements to the President’s desk for signature. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it after he testified about the administration’s trade policy agenda at a House Committee hearing on Thursday. “Our focus is on the substance of the agreements,” he said. “I want to get a TPA built that has broad bipartisan support.” (TPA is Trade Promotion Authority, also known as fast track–a bill which empowers the executive to negotiate a trade agreement and limit Congress to an up-or-down vote without amendments.) Thus Froman put the spin on his political strategy: to pretend he’s not avidly pursuing fast track while Republicans do the heavy lifting. Public opposition killed TPA earlier this year, and the U.S. Trade Rep will have to address numerous complaints about the trade agreements before fast track can get back on track.
Solidarity Message from National Day of Action in New Zealand To our friends on the West Coast of the US who believe that the future belongs to the people, not to the corporations, we in New Zealand send our greetings and solidarity. To our friends in US who believe that decent work and safe food is our rights, we say your struggle is our struggle too. To our friends in US who believe that global agribusinesses cannot be allowed to control the nation’s food production, we stand alongside you. To our friends in the US who see that social responsibility and protection of the environment are giving way to greed and exploitation, we join you to demand that the needs of the people and the planet come before the profits of the corporations.
More than 25 leading tech companies and startups have joined a public letter urging Senator Ron Wyden, the newly appointed Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to firmly oppose any form of “fast track” authority for trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and to demand transparency and an opportunity for public participation in negotiations that affect Internet freedom, free speech, and the tech economy. “These highly secretive, supranational agreements are reported to include provisions that vastly expand on any reasonable definition of ‘trade,’ including provisions that impact patents, copyright, and privacy in ways that constrain legitimate online activity and innovation,” the companies write. The letter continues: “Our industry, and the users that we serve, need to be at the table from the beginning,” which has not been the case with TPP negotiations.
“Those at the top have never done better,” President Obama ruefully acknowledged in his January 28 State of the Union speech. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.” Yet, moments later, Obama heartily endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which as drafted directly reflects the demands of “those at the top” and would, if passed, severely intensify the very inequality spotlighted by the president. The TPP would provide transnational corporations with easier access to cheap labor in Pacific Rim nations and new power to trump public-interest protections—on labor, food safety, drug prices, financial regulation, domestic procurement laws, and a host of others—established over the last century by democratic governments.
Critics say TPP will enshrine corporate control of decisions previously subject to democratic processes–decisions over intellectual property, the environment,labor rights, food, telecommunications, finance and more. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has called it “the largest corporate power grab you never heard of.” He’s right. Over 14 months–from January 2013 through February 2014–TPP was never covered in any detail by ABC, CBS or NBC. It was mentioned once on NBC’s Meet the Press (2/23/14), where conservative David Brooks listed a “fast track trade deal across the Atlantic, across the Pacific” as one one several “gigantic, very good policies where there is majority support.” On CBS’s Face the Nation (2/2/14), White House chief of staff Denis McDonough touted it as a big job creator. But that’s it.
“Ambassador Froman was asked on I think it was four different areas, and each time he said it was absolutely non-negotiable from a U.S. standpoint,” [Rep. Mark] Pocan told The Huffington Post. “So then at the end, I listed those four areas to make sure I had the U.S. position right. And he said again it was non-negotiable. And then right after that, Lloyd Doggett got up and said, ‘So does that mean that if we give you fast track, you won’t send us a deal that doesn’t have that stuff in it?’ And right off the bat, the answer was, ‘I didn’t say that.’ And to me, non-negotiable is, you know, non-negotiable.”
The report, “No Fracking Way,” states that the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause would enable corporations to claim damages in secret courts or arbitration panels if they believe their profits are adversely affected by changes in a regulation or policy. Those companies could seek compensation through private international tribunals. U.S. firms or those with a subsidiary in the U.S. that invest in Europe could also use those rights to seek compensation for future bans or other regulation on fracking. The arbitrators are mainly set up for investment cases and not part of the normal judicial system, according to the report.
Cheri Honkala of the Poor Peoples Economic Campaign and Vice President of the Green Shadow Cabinet joins the host Dennis Trainor, Jr. and the Resistance Report panel (Nicole Carty (The Other 98%), Julianna Forlano (Absurdity Today) and Joel Northam (Acronym TV Contributor) – to discuss the jobs crisis in the United States, the perpetually underemployed, and the impact of a raise in the minimum wage versus a policy that guaranteed an income for all.
In 2011, when occupy encampments exploded across the United States putting the issue of the unfair economy and corruption of Wall Street on the political agenda, there was also an explosion of activist art. Beginning with the iconic image of the ballerina on top of the Wall Street Bull, art has been central to occupy and was an important reason for its powerful impact. The explosion of arts activism involves a wide variety of artistic forms: puppets, balloons, music, meme’s, posters, banners, plays, street theater, poetry, animation and light displays among others. Art has added vitality and energy to advocacy; and it reaches people at deeper emotional levels and in their hearts conveying what cannot be said with mere facts.
New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser said the ministers had made progress on outstanding issues, including market access and proposed copyright and patent rules. But he said market access for goods such as dairy products, beef and sugar remain a sticking point. “In trade negotiations there’s no such thing as a make or break meeting. What we’re going is slowly chipping away at a vast stone to get down to the kernel of a very good quality trade agreement and we’ve made very good progress, but we’re not there yet.” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said market access for agriculture in Japan remained a “significant” issue, but played down the idea that TPP talks might proceed without Japan, the second-biggest economy in the bloc, Reuters reports. The talks ended with no precise time frame to clinch the agreements and Mr Groser does not expect the ministers to meet again until at least late April.