By Eileen Goodwin for Otago Daily Times – Protesters jostled with police last night as they tried to disrupt a National Party fundraising event in Dunedin. Trans Pacific Partnership opponents hoped Prime Minister John Key would enter through the Savoy restaurant’s public entrance, but it is understood he used another door. Mr Key had earlier been guest of honour at the Otago Daily Times Class Act event at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in the Octagon. The protest started outside the art gallery, before moving around the corner to the Savoy, in Princes St. Up to 100 protesters attended, split between the venue’s Moray Pl and Princes St entrances. Protesters linked arms in an attempt to keep National Party supporters out of the restaurant. Some supporters pushed their way in.
By Flush the TPP. Now that Congress has given the President authority to Fast Track the TransPacific Partnership, US negotiators are working furiously to complete the deal. The word is that the group negotiations fell apart in Maui so negotiators are meeting in secret one-on-one to work out the final details. There is contention over sections regarding agriculture, pharmaceuticals, automobiles and intellectual property rights. Some countries are hesitant because the TPP is a bad deal for everyone except the transnational corporations and financiers who are set to line their pockets with more cash. Recently, tens of thousands of people took the streets in New Zealand with the message: “TPPA No Way, NZ Walk Away!” This is a crucial time to show greater resistance to his bad deal in the US.
By Jesse Prentice-Dunn and Ilana Solomon for the Sierra Club. For decades, crews of illegal loggers have traveled deep into Peru’s Amazon rainforest, cutting valuable hardwoods for sale on the international market while threatening indigenous communities, our environment, and the climate. Rampant corruption has plagued Peru’s forest sector, allowing timber mafias to use fraudulent documents in order to obtain permits that they use to illegally harvest timber. According to a study by the World Bank, up to 80 percent of the timber exported from Peru has illegal origins. A new documentary from Al Jazeera shows just how widespread illegal logging is in Peru and how that illegal wood is making its way to the United States.
By Lee Camp on Redacted Tonight. In his new book, Erik Loomis explains how corporations create “sacrifice zones” in which they often decimate the land and people. They do this in areas with poor minority populations because those are the people least likely to have the power to fight against it. We see this across the US but also around the world. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other rigged corporate trade treaties will make every community into a potential sacrifice zone, unless we stop them. Here’s how to protect your community: Step one is to keep the TPP from becoming law. Step two is to scream from the hills about the wrongdoing of major corporations To learn more, comedian Lee Camp breaks down both how this works and how to fight back against it on his show, Redacted Tonight.
By Ralph Nader – Welcome to the world of extreme dependency by the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, on the instabilities of small and large nations overseas. This dependency is exactly what the giant corporations further by pushing globalization, often to misname it “free trade” in order to boost Congressional and White House support for the “global economy”. Although big business won’t go so far as to advocate U.S. dependence-inducing globalized markets for oil, they are pushing for trade agreements that make the U.S. more dependent even on essentials like food and medicines. For example, 80 percent of our seafood is now imported, often through dubiously treated fish farms from China. Eighty percent of the ingredients in the medicines you take come from China and India where there are very few inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration, assuming they can gain entry visas.
By Staff for RT – Thousands of demonstrators gathered throughout New Zealand to speak out against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal on Saturday. Extra police were called in as protesters pushed through barriers in front of the country’s parliament building. Large turnouts were also reported in Christchurch, Hamilton and Dunedin. Demonstrations took place in 21 cities and towns throughout the country, according to Radio New Zealand. Auckland saw the biggest turnout, with an estimated 5,000 people calling on the New Zealand government to “walk away” from the TPP agreement. Many held placards reading “Don’t trade our needs for corporate greed,” and “Enough is enough.” Opponents in New Zealand say that many of the provisions will undermine the country’s sovereignty, giving transnational corporations huge influence over the nation’s laws and regulations.
By Andrea Germanos in Common Dreams – Stay away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership protest taking place Saturday in New Zealand’s largest city, the United States Consulate has warned its citizens. The Auckland action is one of over 20 that organizers have planned as part of a national day of action against the controversial pending trade deal. The Consulate’s security message reads, in part: “Approximately 8,000 people are expected to attend the protest. We urge citizens to avoid the protest march route as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. We remind citizens to always exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.” Greens trade spokesperson Russel Norman, who is taking part in the actions, told Radio New Zealand that such fears are unfounded.
By Isaiah J. Poole for Other Words – What’s the connection to racial unrest? Simply put, it’s the lack of economic opportunity that results when bad trade deals lead to the disappearance of good-paying jobs. Hundreds of thousands of blue-collar jobs vanished after the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, was signed in 1994. And towns like Ferguson were hit especially hard. The St. Louis metropolitan area, home to 206,000 manufacturing jobs in 1990, only had about 113,000 left by the end of 2014, according to the Labor Department. During that same period, the region saw no net growth in trade, transportation, or utility-sector jobs. “We used to have a ton of light manufacturing, light industrial jobs,” said John L. Davidson, a St. Louis banking lawyer who writes a blog about economic issues. But now, “there are no jobs out there.” The trade deal left the St. Louis region with a mortally wounded tax base intertwined with deep-seated racial bias.
By Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism -The coverage of the TPP in the media was schizophrenic, on the one hand describing it as part of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” (as in an effort to contain China’s growing hegemony), meaning it was clearly a political enterprise, an “everybody but China” deal, and on the other hand, saying that the reason Americans should support it was those miniscule trade benefits. And of course, there was nary a mention of the cost in terms of national sovereignity. What is intriguing and heartening about the Economist verdict isn’t merely that the TPP is dead. It’s that it’s so dead that for it to be revived, it would have to be in radically different form, with a much smaller group of countries. And if I read the Economist piece correctly, the “founding four” does not include Japan, which joined the negotiations late. Japan’s famously powerful farmers are not likely to sign up for a deal that encroaches on the island nation’s beef and rice lobbies. And it’s hard to see how anyone would take a Pacific political or economic pact all that seriously that did not have China or Japan as members.
By Cat April Watters in Hot Indie News – A crowd gathered at 313 E 43rd St. yesterday in NYC in front of the Malaysian Consulate to express outrage to the fact that despite the fact that Malaysian police discovered 28 suspected human trafficking camps located about 500 meters from the countries northern border AND 139 graves of trafficked persons, within weeks, Monday, July 27th, the State Department upgraded Malaysia from Tier 3 to Tier 2 on the Trafficking in Persons list in a cynical ploy to circumvent legislation prohibiting Fast Tracking of trade deals with Tier 3 nations. Malaysia is one of the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so Malaysia’s Tier 3 status would have prevented TPP from being Fast Tracked. Human rights group are outraged by the upgrade, which comes just two months after the discovery of human trafficking camps and mass graves of trafficked person in Malaysia.
By Reuters Media – Angry about Malaysia’s recent upgrade by the United States from the lowest tier on its list of worst human trafficking centers, about 40 of human rights activists held a demonstration outside the Consulate General of Malaysia in New York City on Tuesday. Last week, the U.S. upgraded Malaysia to so-called “Tier 2 Watch List” status, a move that could smooth the way for an ambitious U.S.-led free-trade deal with the Southeast Asian nation and 11 other countries. Malaysia hopes to be a signatory to Obama’s legacy-defining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would link a dozen countries, cover 40 percent of the world economy and form a central element of his strategic shift towards Asia. “In this case our government, our president, our State Department is rubber-stamping some of the worst human rights violations that we can find anywhere on the face of the Earth,” said Jamie Kemmerer of MoveOn.org.
By Shobita Parthasarathy in The Conversation – This year, July 31 marks the 225th anniversary of the first patent issued in the United States. Though the American patent system was designed initially to stimulate innovation, some citizens now argue that it’s actually hurting innovation, limiting access to technology and promoting unethical areas of research and innovation. These critics are making their voices heard through courtroom challenges, legislative hearings and even street protests. This grassroots activism might seem strange. After all, the patent system is a highly specialized technical and legal domain, seemingly of interest only to inventors seeking exclusive rights to commercialize their new technologies for a limited period of time. Why has it become such a controversial site, and what can policymakers and citizens do about it?
By Nicole L Freiner for the Conversation – Rice is one of the five sacred areas of Japanese agriculture (with pork and beef, wheat, barley and sugarcane). To many, especially those living in rural areas, it remains the primary ingredient of the Japanese identity. As one farmer here said, “without rice, there is no Japan; the culture is a rice culture, it is the most basic element.” Japan’s rice farmers have long been the backbone of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. But lately, as their numbers dwindle along with a declining population and demand for rice, this key cultural constituency seems to have lost the strength it once had to demand the government’s support. There are now around 2 million rice farmers in Japan, down from 4 million in 1990 and as many as 12 million in 1960. The US is pushing Japan to increase its duty-free imports of American rice and related products from 10,000 tons a year to 215,000 tons. The US also wants Japan to open up its lands to foreign investment.