By Lee Camp in Redacted Tonight. Washington, DC – Following a week of impressive Supreme Court decisions, many are saying Obama’s legacy is secure. But is it really? Has all of America forgotten about the war on whistle blowers, the war on immigrants, the war on drugs, war on privacy, and the war on civilians living underneath drone aircraft? This not mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the continuing pillaging by Wall Street. So how exactly is Obama’s legacy secure? Well, sometimes it takes a comedy show to break all this down.
By Michael Grunwald in Politico – A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law. The draft text includes provisions that could make it extremely tough for generics to challenge brand-name pharmaceuticals abroad. Those provisions could also help block copycats from selling cheaper versions of the expensive cutting-edge drugs known as “biologics” inside the U.S., restricting treatment for American patients while jacking up Medicare and Medicaid costs for American taxpayers. “There’s very little distance between what Pharma wants and what the U.S. is demanding,” said Rohit Malpini, director of policy for Doctors Without Borders.
Interview with Walden Bello by John Tarleton in Indypendent – The TPP is not really about trade. It’s a really big push to deepen and solidify U.S. corporate control over every sphere of life. For people in the United States, the greatest concern is that the TPP will promote the export of jobs and will have a very negative impact on the environment because corporations as much as possible will try to weaken environmental laws in all of these countries. On our side of the Pacific, the great concern is that our governments are going to lose their power because Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms will give corporations the right to sue states that interfere with their push for profitability. These cases would be heard in secret tribunals staffed by corporate lawyers that will have the power under the TPP to overrule national laws.
Interview with Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers by Joan Brunwasser in OpEdNews – The Congress will receive it for 60 days before the Fast Track clock starts counting, then there will be additional time for the House to debate and vote followed by the Senate. So we will have several months to educate, organize and mobilize people. This is likely to occur in the Fall, some estimate the likely time will be November. We will know more about the exact dates as we see when the negotiations are finalized. The key thing about that timing is the election season. Anytime after Labor Day is considered the re-election season for members of Congress. This puts them more on edge, more concerned about the voters. As we saw in the Fast Track vote, only the minimum number would take the risk of voting for Fast Track. Elected officials concern with public opinion, and fear of a populist revolt, will be an even greater concern in the fall.
By Rivera Sun – In our real lives, we are witnessing the advance of the corporate coup. The latest slurry of acronyms (TAA, TPA, FTA, TPP, TTIP) spells out the coded story of the rise of corporate power over living, breathing people. The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is still shrouded in secrecy, but one detail we know from leaked text is that a transnational trade tribunal will have the authority to overturn local, state, and federal laws as barriers to trade. Gone is our right to clean water and air. (China doesn’t have them, so neither should US citizens – such regulations hamper corporations’ ability to compete.) Gone is the dream of living wages (third world nations don’t have them, and neither should Americans – it gets in the way of corporations finding cheap labor).
By Ralph Nader – The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a global corporate noose around U.S. local, state, and national sovereignty – narrowly passed a major procedural hurdle in the Congress by gaining “fast track” status. This term “fast track” is a euphemism for your members of Congress – senators and representatives – handcuffing themselves, so as to prevent any amendments or adequate debate before the final vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – another euphemism that is used to avoid the word “treaty,” which would require ratification by two-thirds of the Senate. This anti-democratic process is being pushed by “King Obama” and his royal court. Make no mistake. If this was only a trade treaty – reducing tariffs, quotas, and the like – it would not be so controversial.
By Sarah Anderson in Nation of Change – I tried to stay emotionally distanced from this one. It didn’t work. When the White House and Republican leaders got the votes they needed in the Senate to advance “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority on Tuesday, June 23, it was crushing. All observers agree that fast track will soon become law, making it easier for President Barack Obama to pass the controversial trade pacts in the works with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union. That will be a serious setback to the movements for the environment, labor rights, and affordable pharmaceuticals, among others. But after observing painful trade votes for more than 20 years, this one left me feeling that opponents should be holding their heads higher than ever before as they regroup for the next phase of the fight. Here are a few reasons why:
By Storm Clouds Gathering – Under the TPP, if a country passes a law to protect its citizens or reduce pollution in a particular sector, a multinational corporation which is affected by that law can take that country to a tribunal. The ruling will be legally binding. It doesn’t matter what people voted for. An example of what this will look can be found in Uruguay, which has been sued by the Philip Morris tobacco company. You see, Uruguay passed a law requiring particularly aggressive warning labels on cigarettes. These warning labels have been very effective. Smoking in Uruguay has declined by about 4 percent annually. Obviously that’s bad for business.
Health care will take a large step toward becoming a privilege for those who can afford it rather than a human right under the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Government programs to hold down the cost of medications are targeted for elimination in the TPP, which, if adopted, would grant pharmaceutical companies new powers over health care. This has implications around the globe, as such rules could become precedents for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and Trade In Services Agreement, two other deals being negotiated in secret. The U.S. Congress’ failure to pass “fast-track” authority in the past week has thrown a significant roadblock in the path of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but by no means has this most audacious corporate power grab been defeated.
By Kevin Zeese and Paul Jay in The Real News – We’re basically at the stage of dealing with giving the President trade promotion authority, which we call fast track because it means Congress has a very cursory role. They just debate it on the two floors. No amendments, an up or down vote, if the President has that power. They also had to pass a separate piece for labor assistance called TAA, which was to provide assistance to workers who lose their job because of trade. So this is all procedural. This is how they’re going to approach the trade issue. They could have approached it without fast track. Had committee hearings, had expert witnesses, took testimony, debated in committee rooms, taken citizen input, had a floor debate, amendments on the floor.
By Margaret Flowers in Popular Resistance. In the days leading up to the Fast Track votes in the Senate, the activist community mobilized in an amazing way. Actions were held across the country, particularly focusing on the fourteen Democratic Senators who supported Fast Track in the last round. On June 23, the Senate held a procedural vote on the Fast Track bill that just reached the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. This clears the way for the final vote which is expected to pass easily. Of the 14 Democrats who supported Fast Track previously, all but one voted to advance the vote.
By Staff of Popular Resistance. Note: Forty three members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the members of the US House of Representatives last week urging them to oppose Fast Track. They highlighted the broad reach of the treaties currently under negotiation and the importance of exploring their full impacts on their constituents before moving ahead on them. Like the US Congress, members of the EU Parliament have been excluded from the secret negotiations with limited access to the text. Unlike the US Congress, they do not have a choice whether they Fast Track the treaties or not. They advise the US Congress not to cede their power to provide checks and balances to the executive office. This week, the parliamentarians decided to publish their similar letter to the US Senate as an open letter for all to read. Here it is:
By Paola Casale in Op-Ed News. Next week will be the key votes in the US Senate on Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. See here on what you can do to stop it. The article below shows the kind of corruption we are up against. It covers the US House of Representatives where a vote was held last week. The vote was 218 in favor of TPA. That is the exact number for a majority in the US House of Representatives (10 did not vote in the House). The battle over TPA has become a conflict between people and money. The people won in the House two weeks ago but than the Republican leadership working with President Obama manipulated the rules for a re-vote. But rather than a re-vote they came up with a scheme to avoid a re-vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance which they lost in the House and stopped TPA from becoming law. They created a convoluted process that now looks on the verge of success that will make it very hard to stop the Obama trade agreements that will dramatically shift power to corporations over the global economy and all levels of US government.