Oct 192016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

119023

During most of the past two decades Washington has aggressively launched military and economic wars against at least nine countries, either directly or through its military aid to regional allies and proxies. US air and ground troops have bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

More recently Washington has escalated its global economic war against major economic rivals as well as against weaker countries. The US no longer confines its aggressive impulses to peripheral economic countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southern Asia: It has declared trade wars against world powers in Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Gulf states.

The targets of the US economic aggression include economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Donbas region of Ukraine.

There is an increasingly thinner distinction between military and economic warfare, as the US has frequently moved from one to the other, particularly when economic aggression has not resulted in ‘regime change’ – as in the case of the sanctions campaign against Iraq leading up to the devastating invasion and destruction.

In this essay, we propose to examine the strategies and tactics underlying Washington’s economic warfare, their successes and failures, and the political and economic consequences to target nations and to world stability.

Washington’s Economic Warfare and Global Power

The US has used different tactical weapons as it pursues its economic campaigns against targeted adversaries and even against its long-time allies.

Two supposed allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by the Obama Administration and US Congress via ‘legal’ manipulations aimed at their financial systems and overseas holdings. This level of aggression against sovereign powers is remarkable and reckless. In 2016 the US Justice Department slapped a $14 billion dollar penalty on Germany’s leading international bank, Deutsche Bank, throwing the German stock market into chaos, driving the bank’s shares down 40% and destabilizing Germany’s financial system. This unprecedented attack on an ally’s major bank was in direct retaliation for Germany’s support of the European Commission’s $13 billion tax levy against the US-tax evading Apple Corporation for its notorious financial shenanigans in Ireland. German political and business leaders immediately dismissed Washington’s legalistic rhetoric for what it was: the Obama Administration’s retaliation in order to protect America’s tax evading and money laundering multinationals.

The chairman of the German parliament’s economic committee stated that the gross US attempt to extort Deutsche Bank had all the elements of an economic war. He noted that Washington had a “long tradition of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to a trade war if it benefits their own economy” and the “extortionate damages claim” against Deutsche Bank were a punitive example. US economic sanctions against some of Germany’s major trade partners, like Russia, China and Iran, constitute another tactic to undermine Germany’s huge export economy. Ironically, Germany is still considered “a valued ally” when it comes to the US wars against Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which have driven millions of refugees to Europe creating havoc with Germany’s political, economic and social system and threatening to overthrow the government of ‘ally’ Angela Merkel.

The US Congress launched an economic-judicial war against its closest ally in the Gulf region when it approved legislation granting US victims of Islamist terrorism, especially related to the attacks on September 11, 2001 the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seize its overseas assets. This included the Kingdom’s immense ‘sovereign funds’ and constitutes an arbitrary and blatant violation of Saudi sovereignty. This opens the Pandora’s Box of economic warfare by allowing victims to sue any government for sponsoring terrorism, including the United States! Saudi leaders immediately reacted by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of assets in US Treasuries and investments.

The US economic sanctions against Russia are designed to strengthen its stranglehold on the economies of Europe which rely on trade with Russia. These have especially weakened German and Polish trade relations with Russia, a major market for German industrial exports and Polish agriculture products. Originally, the US-imposed economic sanctions against Moscow were supposed to harm Russian consumers, provoke political unrest and lead to ‘regime change’. In reality, the unrest it provoked has been mainly among European exporters, whose contracts with Russia were shredded and billions of Euros were lost. Furthermore, the political and diplomatic climate between Europe and Russia has deteriorated while Washington has ‘pivoted’ toward a more militaristic approach.

Results in Asia have been even more questionable: Washington’s economic campaign against China has moved awkwardly in two directions: Prejudicial trade deals with Asian-Pacific countries and a growing US military encirclement of China’s maritime trade routes.

The Obama regime dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to promote the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) among a dozen regional governments, which would blatantly exclude China, Asia’s largest economic power. In a slap to the outgoing Obama Administration, the US Congress rejected his showpiece economic weapon against China, the TPP.

Meanwhile, Obama ‘encouraged’ his erstwhile ‘allies’ in the Philippines and Vietnam to sue China for maritime violations over the disputed ‘Spratly Islands’ before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Japan and Australia signed military pacts and base agreements with the Pentagon aimed at disrupting China’s trade routes. Obama’s so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a transparent campaign to block China from its markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific countries of Latin American. Washington’s flagrant economic warfare resulted in slapping harsh import tariffs on Chinese industrial exports, especially steel and tires. The US also sent a ‘beefed up’ air and sea armada for ‘joint exercises’ along China’s regional trade routes and its access to critical Persian Gulf oil, setting off a ‘war of tension’.

In response to Washington’s ham-fisted aggression, the Chinese government deftly rolled out the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with over fifty countries eagerly signing on for lucrative trade and investment deals with Beijing. The AIIB’s startling success does not bode well for Obama’s ‘Pivot to Pacific Hegemony’.

The so-called US-EU-Iran accord did not end Washington’s trade war against Tehran. Despite Iran’s agreement to dismantle its peaceful uranium enrichment and nuclear research programs, Washington has blocked investors and tried to undermine trade relations, while still holding billions of dollars of Iranian state assets, frozen since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nevertheless, a German trade mission signed on a three billion trade agreement with Iran in early October 2016 and called on the US to fulfill its side of the agreement with Tehran – so far to no avail.

The US stands alone in sending its nuclear naval armada to the Persian Gulf and threatens commercial relations. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the longstanding enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic, has agreed to a cooperative oil production arrangement at a recent OPEC meeting.

Washington’s declaration of economic warfare against two of its most strategic powerful allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia and three rising competitor world powers, has eroded US economic competitiveness, undermined its access to lucrative markets and increased its reliance on aggressive military strategies over diplomacy.

What is striking and perplexing about Washington’s style of economic warfare is how costly this has been for the US economy and for US allies, with so little concrete benefit.

US oil companies have lost billions in joint exploitation deals with Russia because of Obama’s sanctions. US bankers, agro-exporters, high-tech companies are missing out on lucrative sales just to ‘punish’ Russia over the incredibly corrupt and bankrupt US coup regime in Ukraine.

US multi-national corporations, especially those involved in Pacific Coast transport and shipyards, Silicon Valley high tech industry and Washington State’s agro-export producers are threatened by the US trade agreements that exclude China.

Iran’s billion dollar market is looking for everything from commercial airplanes to mining machinery. Huge trade deals have has been lost to US companies because Obama continues to impose de facto sanctions. Meanwhile, European and Asian competitors are signing contracts.

Despite Washington’s dependence on German technical knowhow and Saudi petro-dollar investments as key to its global ambitions, Obama’s irrational policies continue to undermine US trade.

Washington has engaged in economic warfare against ‘lesser economic powers’ that nevertheless play significant political roles in their regions. The US retains the economic boycott of Cuba; it wages economic aggression against Venezuela and imposes economic sanctions against Syria, Yemen and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. While these countries are not costly in terms of economic loss to US business interests, they exercise significant political and ideological influence in their regions, which undermine US ambitions.

Conclusion

Washington’s resort to economic warfare complements its military fueled empire building.

But economic and military warfare are losing propositions. While the US may extract a few billion dollars from Deutsch Bank, it will have lost much more in long-term, large-scale relations with German industrialists, politicians and financiers. This is critical because Germany plays the key role in shaping economic policy in the European Union. The practice of US multi-national corporations seeking off-shore tax havens in the EU may come to a grinding halt when the European Commission finishes its current investigations. The Germans may not be too sympathetic to their American competitors.

Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not only collapsed, it has compelled China to open new avenues for trade and cooperation with Asian-Pacific nations – exactly the opposite of its original goal of isolating Beijing. China’s Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) has attracted 4 time more participants than Washington’s TPP and massive infrastructure projects are being financed to further bind ASEAN countries to China. China’s economic growth at 6.7% more than three times that of the US at 2%. Worse, for the Obama Administration, Washington has alienated its historically most reliable allies, as China, deepens economic ties and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.

Iran, despite US sanctions, is gaining markets and trade with Germany, Russia, China and the EU.

The Saudi-US conflict has yet to play-out, but any escalation of law suits against the kingdom will result in the flight of hundreds of billions of investment dollars from the US.

In effect, Obama’s campaign of economic warfare may lead to the infinitely more costly military warfare and the massive loss of jobs and profits for the US economy. Washington is increasingly isolated. The only allies supporting its campaign of economic sanctions are second and third rate powers, like Poland and current corrupt parasites in Ukraine. As long as the Poles and Ukrainians can ‘mooch’ off of the IMF and grab EU and US ‘loans’, they will cheerlead Obama’s charge against Russia. Israel, as long as it can gobble up an additional $38 billion dollars in ‘aid’ from Washington, remains the biggest advocate for war against Iran.

Washington spends billions of US tax-payer dollars on its military bases in Japan, Philippines and Australia to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Its allies, though, are salivating at the prospect for greater trade and infrastructure investment deals with China.

Economic warfare doesn’t work for the Washington because the US economy cannot compete, especially when it attacks its own allies and traditional partners. Its regional allies are keen to join the ‘forbidden’ markets and share in major investment projects funded by China. Asian leaders increasingly view Washington, with its ‘pivot to militarism’ as politically unreliable, unstable and dangerous. After the Philippine government economic mission to China, expect more to ‘jump ship’.

Economic warfare against declared adversaries can only succeed if the US is committed to free trade with its allies, ends punitive sanctions and stops pushing for exclusive trade treaties that undermine its allies’ economies. Furthermore, Washington should stop catering to the whims of special domestic interests. Absent these changes, its losing campaign of economic warfare can only turn into military warfare – a prospect devastating to the US economy and to world peace.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Nov 132013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* IT’S BUSINESS THAT REALLY RULES US NOW

Lobbying is the least of it: corporate interests have captured the entire democratic process. No wonder so many have given up on politics

By George Monbiot, The Guardian

equal-protection1

It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.

The political role of business corporations is generally interpreted as that of lobbyists, seeking to influence government policy. In reality they belong on the inside. They are part of the nexus of power that creates policy. They face no significant resistance, from either government or opposition, as their interests have now been woven into the fabric of all three main political parties in Britain.

Most of the scandals that leave people in despair about politics arise from this source. On Monday, for instance, the Guardian revealed that the government’s subsidy system for gas-burning power stations is being designed by an executive from the Dublin-based company ESB International, who has been seconded into the Department of Energy. What does ESB do? Oh, it builds gas-burning power stations.

On the same day we learned that a government minister, Nick Boles, has privately assured the gambling company Ladbrokes that it needn’t worry about attempts by local authorities to stop the spread of betting shops. His new law will prevent councils from taking action. […]

READ @ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/11/business-rules-lobbying-corporate-interests?CMP=fb_gu

—————————————————————–

* BANKOCRACY: FROM THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC TO MARIO DRAGHI AND GOLDMAN SACHS

By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

debt-mountain-cartoon-525x330

From the 12th century to the beginning of the 14th, the Knights Templar, present in much of Europe, had become the bankers for the powerful and had taken part in the financing of several crusades. At the beginning of the 14th century, they were the main creditors of the King of France, Philip the Fair. Faced with a debt burden that was straining his resources, Philip the Fair eliminated both his creditors and his debt by demonising the Knights Templar, accusing them of many crimes |1|. Their Order was outlawed, the leaders executed and its assets seized. Its army (fifteen thousand men, including one thousand five hundred knights), its patrimony and its credits to rulers failed to protect it from the power of a State set on eliminating its main creditor.

During the same era (11th – 14th centuries) Venetian bankers were also financing the Crusades and lending money to the powerful of Europe, but they manoeuvred much more deftly than the Knights Templar. In Venice, they took control of the State by founding the Venetian Republic. They financed the transformation of the Venetian city-state into a veritable empire including Cyprus, Euboea (Negroponte) and Crete. They made use of a clever strategy to gain lasting wealth and guarantee reimbursement of their credits: they decided to drive the Venetian state into debt towards the banks they owned. They were the ones who set the terms of the loan contracts, as they were at once bank owners and rulers of the State.

While Philip the Fair had an interest in physically ridding himself of his creditors to be free from the debt burden, the Venetian State reimbursed the debt to bankers in cash. The latter came up with the idea of creating public debt titles that could circulate between banks. This was a step towards the establishment of financial markets |2|. This type of loan is the precursor to the major form of State debt as we know it in the 21st century.

Today, seven centuries after Philip the Fair crushed the Knights Templar, the bankers of Europe, just like their Venetian or Genovese forebears, clearly have nothing to fear from governments. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Nouvelle-traduction-Bancocratie-de

—————————————————————–

* PONZI AUSTERITY: A DEFINITION AND AN EXAMPLE

By Yanis Varoufakis, yanisvaroufakis.eu

austerity-george-osborne-desktop

For a while now I have been arguing that Europe’s policies for reducing the public debts of fiscally stressed member-states can be described as a Ponzi austerity scheme. In this post I attempt precisely to define ‘Ponzi austerity’.

Ponzi growth

Standard Ponzi schemes are based on a sleight of hand that creates the appearance of a fund whose value grows faster than the value that has come into it. In reality the opposite is true, as the scheme’s operator usually helps himself to some of the incoming capital while the scheme is not managing to create new capital with which to replenish these ‘leakages’, let alone pay the returns it promises. The appearances of growth that does not really exist is, of course, the lure that brings into the scheme new participants whose capital is utilised by the Ponzi scheme’s operator to maintain the facade of genuine growth.

Ponzi austerity

Ponzi austerity is the inverse of Ponzi growth. Whereas in standard Ponzi (growth) schemes the lure is the promise of a growing fund, in the case of Ponzi austerity the attraction to bankrupted participants is the promise of reducing their debt, so as to liberate them from insolvency, through a combination of ‘belt tightening’, austerity measures and new loans that provide the bankrupt with necessary funds for repaying maturing debts (e.g. bonds). As it is impossible to escape insolvency in this manner, Ponzi austerity schemes, just like Ponzi growth schemes, necessitate a constant influx of new capital to support the illusion that bankruptcy has been averted. But to attract this capital, the Ponzi austerity’s operators must do their utmost to maintain the façade of genuine debt reduction.

Ponzi austerity’s inventor: The Eurozone’s great and good

Ponzi growth has been around for yonks. But it took the collective wisdom of Europe’s great and good to create the first Ponzi austerity scheme. The Greek, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish and Cypriot loan agreements were the first ever examples of such a scheme. Bankrupted states, in a death embrace with bankrupted banking sectors, were forced to take in ever-increasing capital inflows (from the IMF, from the ECB, from the EFSF-ESM, shortly under the ECB’s OMT threat) on condition of belt-tightening austerity. As the scheme progresses, more capital is coming into it, debt-to-GDP ratios actually grow (just as in Ponzi growth schemes the value of the total fund is depleted) and, therefore, even more outside capital has to be brought in in order to maintain the pretense. […]

READ @ http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2013/11/08/ponzi-austerity-a-definition-and-an-example/

—————————————————————–

* A FULL-FRONTAL ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES

We are in the dark about treaty that would let rapacious companies subvert our laws, rights and national sovereignty.

By George Monbiot, The Guardian

transatlantic-corporate-bill-of-rights-300x140

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 10 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?

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.

The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/full-frontal-assault-democracy-europe-and-united-states?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

—————————————————————–

* ENOUGHNESS: RESTORING BALANCE TO THE ECONOMY

Source: firstpeoples

How we see the world determines how we act. Western thought sees us at war with each other over resources. Indigenous philosophy, we are all related as individuals in balance with nature. Watch ENOUGHNESS: Resorting Balance to the Economy and learn more at www.FirstPeoples.org. Share on Facebook and Twitter using #ENOUGHNESS.

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPVrr44KHI

—————————————————————–

* HOW ECONOMIC GROWTH HAS BECOME ANTI-LIFE

An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

By Vandana Shiva, CommonDreams

'Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine'. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

‘Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine’. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

In the same vein, evolution has gifted us the seed. Farmers have selected, bred, and diversified it – it is the basis of food production. A seed that renews itself and multiplies produces seeds for the next season, as well as food. However, farmer-bred and farmer-saved seeds are not seen as contributing to growth. It creates and renews life, but it doesn’t lead to profits. Growth begins when seeds are modified, patented and genetically locked, leading to farmers being forced to buy more every season.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is a recipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995. […]

READ @ https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/01-2

Nov 062013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* HOW ECONOMIC GROWTH HAS BECOME ANTI-LIFE

An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

By Vandana Shiva, CommonDreams

'Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine'. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

‘Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine’. (Photograph: Joe McNally/Getty)

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobilise resources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities.

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

In the same vein, evolution has gifted us the seed. Farmers have selected, bred, and diversified it – it is the basis of food production. A seed that renews itself and multiplies produces seeds for the next season, as well as food. However, farmer-bred and farmer-saved seeds are not seen as contributing to growth. It creates and renews life, but it doesn’t lead to profits. Growth begins when seeds are modified, patented and genetically locked, leading to farmers being forced to buy more every season.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is a recipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995. […]

READ @ https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/01-2

—————————————————————–

* THE TOP SECRET TRADE DEAL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

Source: Moyers and Company

A cornerstone of President Obama’s plan to create more American jobs is a new agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), referred to by some as “NAFTA on steroids.” While negotiations are being carried out in secret and very little about the terms has been leaked, enough is known to worry about its possible effect on trade unions and our copyright and patent laws, not to mention environmental, health and safety regulations.

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill discusses the TPP with two perceptive observers of the global economy. Yves Smith is an expert on investment banking who runs the Naked Capitalism blog, a go-to site for information and insight on the business and ethics of finance. Dean Baker is co-director of the progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.

VIDEO @ http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-the-top-secret-trade-deal-you-need-to-know-about/

—————————————————————–

* WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THEY TOLD US THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT IS OVER?

By Michael Collins, The Agonist

Space-Earth-Cool-Pictures-HD-Wallpaper

According to a leaked draft of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), the world as we know it is over.  The report presents substantial and well documented predictions of global suffering and massive social disruption resulting from the impact climate change on the water supply, food, and natural resources, and successively mounting human loss.  (Image 11/2013 eclipse)

Oddly enough, the recipient of the leak, the New York Times, acted like it was a story about the “food supply.”  In fact, the totality of the draft  makes it clear that we’ve gone too far for too long to avoid the dire consequences of man made climate change.

The documented risks presented include (Climate Change 2014:  Impacts, Adaptations, Vulnerability, IPCC, here or here, pp. 6 & 7):

Food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability;

Death injury and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones … due to sea level rise, coastal flooding and storm surges;

Severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding;

Systemic risk due to extreme events leading to break down of infrastructure networks and critical services;

Loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient drinking and irrigation water and lower agricultural productivity particularly in poorer regions; and,

Loss of marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the services and livelihoods that they provide

What’s left? […]

READ @ http://agonist.org/told-us-world-know/

—————————————————————–

* COULD THE ENTIRE PACIFIC FISHERY BE TAINTED BY FUKUSHIMA

80,000 gallons per day of radioactive water, for 942 straight days, dumped into the Pacific — and counting.

By John LaForge, Alternet

susanne_posel_news_-radioactive-seawater-map71

Distracting the public from the 300 tons of highly radioactive water (80,000 gallons) spreading into the Pacific Ocean every day from the triple reactor melt-through at Fukushima-Daiichi, is news of the plan to build an underground “ice wall” to damn up the poisoned water before it leaks to the sea. The project is reportedly a better plan than the failed concrete wall that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) first decided to build.

This frozen finger-in-the-dike won’t be completed until 2015, and it will then fail. Even if it were to work as planned, there is a risk of reversing the water flow, forcing highly radioactive water to seep out from the reactor buildings to the aquifer. Meanwhile, nothing is slowing the relentless radioactive contamination of the Pacific — the world’s largest ocean which covers about a third of Earth.

What we’re being distracted from is the threat to the fishery caused by Fukushima’s ongoing radioactive gusher. At least 300 tons of cesium- and strontium-contaminated water is still spewing into the Pacific every day. Tepco admitted in August that this massive carcinogenic hemorrhage has been going on since March 11, 2011. It amounts to about 85 million gallons — 80,000 gal. per day, for 942 days, dumped into the Pacific — and counting. […]

READ @ http://admin.alternet.org/environment/fukushimas-radiation-gusher-could-entire-pacific-fishery-be-tainted?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

—————————————————————–

* CRITICAL THOUGHT

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OLPL5p0fMg#t=191

—————————————————————–

* CANCELING DEBT OR TAXING CAPITAL: WHY SHOULD WE CHOOSE

By Thomas Coutrot, Patrick Saurin, Eric Toussaint, CADTM

On the occasion of the publication of two major works, Le Capital au XXIe siècle and the French translation of Debt The First 5000 Years, Mediapart organized a meeting between the authors, namely Thomas Piketty and David Graeber. It is available on the Mediapart website |1|.

7210615616_13620b0d4a_z

How can we escape the snare of the debt? This crucial question that was raised at the start is also at the core of our activist actions and deliberations. We have therefore wished to carry on this fruitful exchange through the following collective text, which comments on and questions the respective points of view and arguments which the two authors put forward.

Cancelling the debt or taxing capital?

Piketty and Graeber’s dialogue revolves around the respective merits of taxing capital and canceling public debt. Relying on an extensive historical and anthropological erudition Graeber stresses the fact that canceling all or part of public or private debts has repeatedly occurred in the history of class struggles over the past 5,000 years. Considering that debt is a central instrument in capitalist domination today, he does not see why it should be any different in the coming years.

Piketty considers that the burden of the debt can be significantly relieved through taxing large fortunes, this would be socially more appropriate since it would not hit the small savers who are holders of a large part of public debt (via mutual funds run by banks and insurance companies).

Though it was not made explicit by either of the two, we can probably trace their different approaches to different political and philosophical assumptions. Belonging as he does to an anarchist tradition Graeber sees cancellation as preferable because it does not rely on the action of a national State and even less on some supranational institution: it can result from the debtors’ direct action (see the ‘strike debt’ project |2| put forward by Occupy Wall Street), or from popular pressure on governments. Piketty, who belongs to a social-democrat tradition, sees a global taxation of capital as a necessary move and national tax measures taken by reformist governments as a first step forward.

In the light of the two authors’ arguments, we suggest that there is no need to choose between taxing capital and cancelling debts. The two measures can and should be carried out simultaneously. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Cancelling-debt-or-taxing-capital

Aug 072012
 

 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* MONSANTO TO GET IMMUNITY FROM FEDERAL LAWS?

Source: RT

The United States is experiencing its worst drought since the 1950’s, but that’s not the only thing affecting your food supply these days. A new bill, the so-called ‘Monsanto Rider’ was snuck into the 2013 agricultural appropriations bill. The bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture to grant temporary permits to corporations who want to develop GMO crops. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association joins RT’s Liz Wahl to discuss the ‘Monsanto Rider’.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3OUJeVOyZY&feature=youtu.be

—————————————————————–

* SECRET TRADE PACT YIELDS SOVEREIGNTY TO CORPORATIONS

By Bill Knight, Economy in Crisis

The lack of coverage of the Trans Pacific Part­nership (TPP) is mostly because of the secrecy in which it’s being written. (Of course, that’s an expla­nation, not an excuse.)

The possible results of another “free” trade agreement – as opposed to “fair” trade deals protecting national sover­eignty, labor rights and the envi­ronment – could range from more closed factories like Maytag in Galesburg, to more despoiled lands and lives.

Text of some of the proposal recently was disclosed by the Citizens Trade Campaign, and it shows TPP would ensure strong rights for investors but weak protec­tions for the envi­ronment, labor, and national sovereignty.

“Foreign corpo­ra­tions will be allowed to feast like termites upon America’s natural resources, trash our envi­ronment and public health, violate our rights as American citizens and make us pay them if we try to protect ourselves,” said Brian Moench, a Utah physician and member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The TPP includes the United States and Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and Canada, Japan and Mexico are expected to be invited.

“While the public has no access to the full text, 600 repre­sen­ta­tives from lobby groups like the American Petroleum Institute and corpo­ra­tions like Johnson & Johnson do have access, and nego­tiators seek those repre­sen­ta­tives’ advice,” according to reporter Cynthia Phinney, a past repre­sen­tative on the Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission. […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/secret-trade-pact-yields-sovereignty-to-corporations

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: The 1% Strike Back Against Occupy Movement @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715

—————————————————————–

* THE 5 MOST BLATANTLY CORRUPT INDUSTRIES IN THE WORLD  … AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

By Noah Bonn, TruthTheory

Corruption is everywhere, but nowhere is it so blatant and so deep-seated as in the 5 following industries: Banking, Energy, Agriculture/Biotech, Media, and Healthcare.

Conspicuously missing from this list, of course, is politics.

The reason that politics was not included is because political corruption is very rarely confined to the political arena. It is almost entirely the result of financial lobby and backing, so I decided to focus on the industries behind the issue, rather than the politicians themselves.

Hopefully you will find this article eye-opening, as well as empowering in your effort to affect change today.

1) Banking – Did you know:

All money comes into circulation through an interest-based loan from either the Federal Reserve or another private bank.

As a result, there is more debt than money in our economy. This is not due to irresponsible lending, but is inherent to the mechanics of all fiat currency.

Every time a loan is repaid, interest (wealth) is transferred from the working class to the ownership class. Structural class-ism is therefore built directly into the system. Again, it is not simply a result of greedy people within the system- it is a reality upon which the entire concept of banking is predicated. […]

READ @ http://truththeory.com/2012/05/24/the-5-most-blatantly-corrupt-industries-in-the-world-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

—————————————————————–

* THE SCIENCE OF GENOCIDE

By Chris Hedges, OpEdNews

On this day in 1945 the United States demonstrated that it was as morally bankrupt as the Nazi machine it had recently vanquished and the Soviet regime with which it was allied. Over Hiroshima, and three days later over Nagasaki, it exploded an atomic device that was the most efficient weapon of genocide in human history. The blast killed tens of thousands of men, women and children. It was an act of mass annihilation that was strategically and militarily indefensible. The Japanese had been on the verge of surrender. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had no military significance. It was a war crime for which no one was ever tried. The explosions, which marked the culmination of three centuries of physics, signaled the ascendancy of the technician and scientist as our most potent agents of death.

“In World War II Auschwitz and Hiroshima showed that progress through technology has escalated man’s destructive impulses into more precise and incredibly more devastating form,” Bruno Bettelheim said. “The concentration camps with their gas chambers, the first atomic bomb … confronted us with the stark reality of overwhelming death, not so much one’s own — this each of us has to face sooner or later, and however uneasily, most of us manage not to be overpowered by our fear of it — but the unnecessary and untimely death of millions. … Progress not only failed to preserve life but it deprived millions of their lives more effectively than had ever been possible before. Whether we choose to recognize it or not, after the second World War Auschwitz and Hiroshima became monuments to the incredible devastation man and technology together bring about.”

The atomic blasts, ignited in large part to send a message to the Soviet Union, were a reminder that science is morally neutral. Science and technology serve the ambitions of humankind. And few in the sciences look beyond the narrow tasks handed to them by corporations or government. They employ their dark arts, often blind to the consequences, to cement into place systems of security and surveillance, as well as systems of environmental destruction, that will result in collective enslavement and mass extermination. As we veer toward environmental collapse we will have to pit ourselves against many of these experts, scientists and technicians whose loyalty is to institutions that profit from exploitation and death. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=154027

—————————————————————–

* DON’T TAKE OUR CHILDREN’S MONEY!

Source: youtube

Join PDA Chicago as we stand with the Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign this Wednesday, August 8, to protest public tax money going to corporate welfare. More information on Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign on their Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/ChicagoTeachersSolidarity

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11nv1F46I_M&feature=player_embedded#!

—————————————————————–

* ANTI-OCCUPY LAW ENDS AMERICAN’S RIGHT TO PROTEST

By Paul Samakow, Washington Times

[…] The law “improves” public grounds by forcing people – protestors – elsewhere. It amends an older law that made it a federal crime to “willfully and knowingly” enter a restricted space. Now you will be found guilty of this offense if you simply “knowingly” enter a restricted area, even if you did not know it was illegal to do so. The Department of Homeland Security can designate an event as one of “national significance,” making protests or demonstrations near the event illegal.

The law makes it punishable by up to ten years in jail to protest anywhere the Secret Service “is or will be temporarily visiting,” or anywhere they might be guarding someone.  Does the name Secret tell you anything about your chances of knowing where they are?  The law allows for conviction if you are “disorderly or disruptive,” or if you “impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”  You can no longer heckle or “boo” at a political candidate’s speech, as that would be disruptive.

After you swallow all of this and correctly conclude that it is now very easy to be prosecuted for virtually any public protest, you should brace yourself and appreciate that it is even worse. Today, any event that is officially defined as a National Special Security Event has Secret Service protection. This can include sporting events and concerts.

The timing of the law was not coincidental. The bill was presented to the Senate, after House passage, on November 17, 2011, during an intense nationwide effort to stop the Occupy Wall Street protests. Two days before, hundreds of New York police conducted a raid on the demonstrators’ encampment in Zucotti Park, shutting it down and placing barricades. […]

READ @ http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/leading-edge-legal-advice-everyday-matters/2012/aug/1/i-object-i-disagree-can-i-now-say-so-publicly/

—————————————————————–

* WAKE UP! HUNDREDS OF TANKS MOVING IN CALIFORNIA COMING THROUGH BURBANK

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkYfSXy7XGo&feature=share

—————————————————————–

* PUSSY RIOT v. PUTIN: A FRONT ROW SEAT AT A RUSSIAN DARK COMEDY

By Julia Ioffe, The New Republic

On the morning of February 21, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich walked up the steps leading to the altar of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, shed their winter clothing, pulled colorful winter hats down over their faces, and jumped around punching and kicking for about thirty seconds. By evening, the three young women had turned it into a music video called “Punk Prayer: Holy Mother, Chase Putin Away!” which mocked the patriarch and Putin. (“The head of the KGB is their patron saint,” they sang, by turns shrieking and imitating a church choir.)

The video went viral: it was two weeks before the election and Putin, facing a wave of unprecedented protests, was feeling shaky. Three days later, a warrant was issued for the girls’ arrest. According to their indictment, their trial promised to be a decisive moment in the history of Christianity; officially, they were being tried for hooliganism, but the mumbling prosecutor clarified that they stood accused of “insulting the entire Christian world.”

Last week, on the day before the trial began, Petr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova’s husband, and I met for coffee. We talked about Derrida and post-modernism, the construction of gender and about performance art, but also about international press coverage of the Pussy Riot case and the growing list of Western musicians—Franz Ferdinand, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting—who had spoken up for the young women. “The state is doing everything to heat up attention for the case,” Verzilov said. “Someone’s putting on a show, as if, God forbid the New York Times doesn’t write about it.” […]

READ @ http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/105846/how-punk-rock-show-trial-became-russias-greatest-gonzo-artwork

Jul 312012
 

By greydogg, 99GetSmart

* WORLD NAKED BIKE RIDE CHICAGO 2012

Source: youtube

READ @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N48-YbRyIU&sns=fb

—————————————————————–

* EXTREMISM NORMALIZED

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal. Here are several examples from the last couple of days illustrating that same dynamic; none seems overwhelmingly significant on its own, but that’s the point:

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.

Isn’t it amazing that the first sentence there (“I respect the vice president”) can precede the next one (“He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not”) without any notice or controversy? I realize insincere expressions of respect are rote ritualism among American political elites, but still, McCain’s statement amounts to this pronouncement: Dick Cheney authorized torture — he is a torturer — and I respect him. How can that be an acceptable sentiment to express? Of course, it’s even more notable that political officials whom everyone knows authorized torture are walking around free, respected and prosperous, completely shielded from all criminal accountability. “Torture” has been permanently transformed from an unspeakable taboo into a garden-variety political controversy, where it shall long remain. […]

Guests: Jane Hamsher, founder of Firedoglake and Glenn Greenwald, from Salon

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.salon.com/2012/07/31/extremism_normalized/

—————————————————————–

* POLICE HARASS, ASSAULT AND ARREST PROTESTERS IN ANAHEIM

By Political Fail Blog

Anaheim, CA July 29, 2012

Anti-police violence activists take to the streets after over a week of heated protests against police involved shooting deaths in the community.

PFB on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/PFailBlog
PFB on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/politicalfailblog
PFB on the Web: http://www.politicalfailblog.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS3yiqu7inA&feature=youtu.be

—————————————————————–

* THE MOST IMPORTANT TRADE AGREEMENT THAT WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT

By David S. Levine, Economy in Crisis

[…] TPP is misleadingly labeled as a trade agreement, making it seem like a relatively narrow and limited agreement involving traditional topics like tariffs and exchange of goods—the sort of government-to-government discussions that seem too esoteric to have much impact on the everyday citizen. It is, in fact, much more than that. As explained by the USTR, TPP is an “ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that reflects U.S. priorities and values.” President Obama, who announced the goal of creating TPP in November 2009, has said that TPP will “boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people, which is my No. 1 priority.” That sounds pretty important—and more than a little vague. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it beyond those platitudes.

Here’s what we think we know. Based upon the leaks that have occurred, it seems that an enacted TPP would require significant changes in U.S. and/or other signatory countries’ laws.  It would curb public access to vast amounts of information in the name of combating intellectual property infringement (or piracy, depending on your choice of words). The owner of the copyright in a song or movie could use a “technological protection measure”—what are often called “digital locks”—to prevent your access to it, even for educational purposes, and regardless of whether the owner had the legal right to do so. Your very ability to read this article, with hyperlinks in it, could be affected by TPP. So, too, might your access to works currently in the public domain and available free of charge. And these concerns are only related to the intellectual property rights chapter of TPP. There are apparently more than 20 chapters under negotiation, including “customs, cross-border services, telecommunications, government procurement, competition policy, and cooperation and capacity building,” as well as investment and financial services. Technically, TPP would only take effect in the 10 negotiating countries: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. Mexico joined recently, and Canada and Japan may soon follow. But in reality, it would also affect citizens of any nations that interact with at least one of those 10—which means even the shut-off North Korea might feel its influence.

Sadly, even the above involves a fair amount of conjecture and speculation, rather than verifiable fact. This procedural bottleneck, fueled by a dogged adherence to a belief in 20th-century-style secrecy, requires direct engagement, even if that engagement is flawed and wildly inefficient. So, on July 2, I traveled to San Diego to take part in an experimental, bizarre, new, and terribly important civic duty: being among a fraction of the nearly 300 “registered stakeholders” to speak to the negotiators attending the 13th round of negotiations of the TPP—even though none of us had any clue what was really going on.

The only thing that I knew with certainty was that I didn’t know much about what was happening in the TPP negotiations, and therefore I couldn’t offer much in the way of substantive questions and input, which was the point that I wanted to make to the negotiators. Other than “cleared advisors”—primarily industry representatives—no one outside the inner circle knows what is currently being negotiated in TPP. Most members of Congress do not even know what is in TPP. Indeed, the last publicly available text of TPP’s intellectual property chapter is a leaked version dated Feb. 10, 2011. Nonetheless, the goal of the “stakeholder engagement event,” as the TPP “Welcome Stakeholders!” packet explained, was to provide an “open and productive forum.” Yet the public knows more about the aggregate numbers of nuclear warheads the United States and Russia have deployed on intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty than it does about U.S. negotiating positions in TPP. Thus, on “openness,” the TPP negotiators and USTR have failed. […]

READ @ http://economyincrisis.org/content/the-most-important-trade-agreement-that-we-know-nothing-about

RELATED POST:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: The 1% Strike Back Against Occupy Movement @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715

—————————————————————–

* SO WHAT’S THIS PIRATE PARTY YOU KEEP HEARING ABOUT?

By Smari McCarthy, Informative Activist

 What’s in a name?

[…] So what’s with the name? I don’t know, really. I’m as confused as you are. Nobody criticises the “Progressive Party” for being one of the least progressive and most repressive parties in Icelandic politics. Nobody criticises the “Independence Party” for fostering a culture without independent thought. The Liberal Party is full of social conservatives and the Left-Greens have an alarming number of fascists. And “Samfylkingin”? Give me a break. Political parties in Iceland have a long history of adopting the most oxymoronic names – or at least the most moronic names – they can come up with. With one exception.

We didn’t choose to go with “Sjóræningjaflokkurinn” because it doesn’t sound cool. Also, we don’t condone theft, only piracy. The law of the sea is quite clear in it’s Article 101 definition, and it does not apply to us.

“Píratapartýið” however came up during a meeting where we had been talking about the ways in which words keep being misappropriated and reappropriated. In Icelandic, the word for “casino” is “spilavíti” – literally “game hell”. The word for drugs is “eiturlyf” – literally “poison medicine”. Icelandic is very direct about its meanings – the language is very actively used as a tool of political manipulation. The current favorite is to stick the word “meint” (alleged) in front of anything – a similar thing is happening in English. It’s a dampening word which makes all certainty go away. The people at that meeting rather enjoyed challenging this tyranny of language, so we decided to use “Pírat”, which is very much not an Icelandic word (and is, as is rightly pointed out, meaningless), conjoined with “Partý”, which means the fun kind of party but not the political type of party. The name might still change, pending election from our members, although honestly I haven’t heard any good counterproposals.

Frankly, I really enjoy the fact that the best people can fling at us is that we have a silly name (oh noes!). A foreign name (gasp!). A name that doesn’t fit acceptable political doctrine (shame!) or befit an organization bent on gaining power (take a hint!). If they can’t find anything better to complain about…

Oh by the way, here’s some Shakespeare:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

[…]

READ @ http://www.smarimccarthy.is/2012/07/so-whats-this-pirate-party-you-keep-hearing-about/

Jul 022012
 

 

* PROTESTERS KETTLED AND ARRESTED AT OCCUPY NATIONAL GATHERING  

Source: #NatGat

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOugpD_ivD8&feature=youtu.be

—————————————————————–

* U.S. BUILDING AFGHANISTAN A HUGE $92 MILLION MILITARY HEADQUARTERS

By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post

The United States is spending $92 million to build Afghanistan a new “Pentagon,” a massive five-story military headquarters with domed roofs and a high-tech basement command center that will link Afghan generals with their troops fighting the Taliban nationwide.

But when Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak asked for a bigger office in the building — a change that would cost about $300,000 — he got a firm “no.” Such changes cost time and money, U.S. military officials said, and in Afghanistan, both are in ever-shorter supply. […]

READ @ http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/07/01/4072462/us-building-afghanistan-a-huge.html

—————————————————————–

* TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS, A CORPORATE COUP IS UNDERWAY

The highly secretive pact, dubbed “NAFTA on steroids,” is so invasive it would even limit how governments can spend tax dollars.

By Lori Wallach, AlterNet

Have you heard about the small U.S. government agency engaged in years of closed-door negotiations that could undermine the Obama administration’s declared goals of creating jobs, reregulating the financial sector and lowering healthcare costs?

With the direct participation of 600 corporations and shocking levels of secrecy, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is rushing to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Branded as a trade agreement (yawn) by its corporate proponents, TPP largely has evaded public and congressional scrutiny since negotiations were launched in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration.

But trade is the least of it. Only two of TPP’s 26 chapters actually have to do with trade. The rest is about new enforceable corporate rights and privileges and constraints on government regulation. This includes new extensions of price-raising drug patent monopolies, corporate rights to attack government drug formulary pricing plans, safeguards to facilitate job offshoring and new corporate controls over natural resources. […]

READ / AUDIO @ http://www.alternet.org/news/156059/trans-pacific_partnership:_under_cover_of_darkness,_a_corporate_coup_is_underway

RELATED POST:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: The 1% Strike Back Against Occupy Movement By aquabuddha @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715

—————————————————————–

* PENA NIETO WINS MEXICO PRESIDENTIAL VOTE

Source: Aljazeera

Enrique Pena Nieto, the young face of Mexico’s oldest political party, looks to have been chosen to lead his country out of arguably the most turbulent period in its history since the Mexican Revolution.

Pena Nieto’s PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years until losing in 2000, has staged a comeback since the candidate was chosen.

The challenges facing any new president are enormous, including reducing poverty and combating the corruption and violence of organised crime.

But exit polls appear to show that there are enough Mexicans who believe Pena Nieto when he says his victory is not a regression to the past, but a transition to a new, less violent and more democratic era.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5YP8B8bb1Y

—————————————————————–

* BOEHNER APPEALS DOMA CASES TO SUPREME COURT

By Chris Johnson, Washington Blade

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) attorneys on Friday formally appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeals court decision determining the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told the Washington Blade on Friday afternoon Republicans had notified Democratic leadership that House counsel filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The court ruling that was appealed was the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the cases of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, which was filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services. On May 31, the appellate court issued a decision that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional as a result of both cases. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/06/29/breaking-boehner-appeals-doma-cases-to-supreme-court/

—————————————————————–

* CRITICAL THINKING FOR DUMMIES

By digby, Hullabaloo

[…] The 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, adopted June 9 at the state convention in Forth Worth, seems to take a stand against, well, the teaching of critical thinking skills. Read it for yourself:

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. […]

READ @ http://digbysblog.blogspot.cz/2012/06/critical-thinking-for-dummies.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Jun 142012
 

By aquabuddha, 99GetSmart

Democracy Now! aired an interview with Lori Wallach of Citizenstrade.org. She exposes the leaked draft of the secretive trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). The newly leaked TPP draft is described by Citizens Trade Campaign as containing Special Rights for Corporations.

Only 600 corporate advisers have seen the text of this agreement, while Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Senate Trade Committee, has been denied access to the text of the agreement for 2 ½ years. Essentially, this new trade deal, which has been kept secret from the public as well as our elected officials, would give corporations complete control over our government.

According to Citizens Trade campaign, “The new texts reveal that TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.”

Fire Dog Lake notes:

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.”

Lori Wallach, in her interview with Democracy Now!, explained that corporations will have the ability to sue any government for not allowing them to pollute, for example. Lawsuits will be decided upon by a secretive tribunal made of three corporate attorneys.

In essence, the TPP will undermine the national sovereignty of any nation that signs the agreement.

Lori Wallach states:

“It’s been branded as a trade agreement but it’s really enforceable global corporate governance. It requires any signatory country to confirm its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to 26 chapters of comprehensive rules, only two of which have to do with trade. The other 24 chapters sets forth a whole new corporate set of rights that handcuffs governments and limits regulations.”

“The new rights give foreign corporations the right to privately enforce this public treaty and sue our government, raiding our treasury over the costs of complying with policies that all US companies have to comply with.”

“This isn’t just a bad trade agreement, it’s the 1 percenters power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

“Across all of the countries involved, their citizen movements are saying, ‘This is not in our name. We do not need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability’.  This agreement is the antithesis”.

“Nothing the public interests groups have said is reflected in the agreement. The US position on the agreement is the most extreme. It’s even blocking countries involved having the ability to use financial regulations, financial stability.”

It was also leaked that those involved in writing the agreement had to sign a secrecy agreement which prevents any of the text of the agreement to be known to the public until four years after its complication.

Wallach goes on to explain, “These agreements are not about trade, they are like cement. Once the cement dries on these agreements, you can’t change the rules unless all the other countries involved agree to amend the agreement. What we are talking about here with this leak chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them with no conflict of interest laws. The US and other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court. These three random attorneys would have the right to order the US government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who a. claim regulatory costs that need to be refunded or b. claim they aren’t being treated well enough, regardless if the exact same policies apply to all of us.”

The 8 nations currently involved are Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam and the US. Malaysia has just joined. However, the TPP is being left as an open ended agreement that any country can agree to join in the future. Wallach goes on to state, “It could very well be the last trade agreement that is negotiated … once it’s done, any other country can join … it’s an agreement that can ultimately have the entire world in it, as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions.”

Wallach concludes, “It is not an exaggeration to say the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time the Occupy Movement and other movements around the globe are demanding more power and control. This is the fight back. This is locking in the bad old way, plus.”

The TPP would get rid of existing laws but also prevent new progressive laws from being implemented in the future. The agreement will allow NAFTA style offshoring and give corporations patent control over medicines and seeds. Countries will not be able to ban risky financial services or issue regulations. It also meddles with how local tax dollars are spent. Cities and activists will not be able to pass laws that provide a “local preference” for locally made products or “Buy American”.

The good news is that we still have time to stop this agreement. There is another TPP meeting scheduled during the July 4th weekend.  According to Wallach, the Obama Administration hasn’t been made aware of the text of the agreement because of the secrecy of the negotiations. So its time the Occupy Movement and others make the Obama Administration aware that this secret trade agreement needs to be scrapped if he hopes to be re-elected in November.

Plan of Action:

Lori Wallach has written extensively on the TPP at the Huffington Post, if you want to learn more. Follow Lori Wallach on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/PCGTW

Educate your friends and family about the TPP by sending them this article and Public Citizens You Tube video.

Tweet the official White House Twitter Account at www.twitter.com/blog44.  Contact the White House directly.

Submit comments online to the White House. Write or call the White House.  Create a petition at White House.gov.

Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative requesting they investigate the private nature of these meetings and block the passage of the TPP.

Get politically active at the local political party of your choosing. Inform local party officials to take action against the TPP. Help select candidates that would block the TPP or help write the party platform that would deny its passage.

If you live in one of the 8 countries involved in this agreement, contact your government officials.

Join your local Occupy Movement camp. Find out more information at occupii.org or occupywallst.org

Organize a Protest at the next TPP Meeting:

The next negotiation round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will take place in San Diego, California from July 2-10, 2012. USTR will be hosting a Direct Stakeholder Engagement event on Monday, July 2, 2012. This event will provide stakeholders the opportunity to speak directly and one-on-one with negotiators, raise questions, and share their views.  We tried this format at the last round in Dallas, and most stakeholders expressed their preference for this one-on-one engagement.  Some stakeholders said they would like the opportunity to make presentations to negotiators as in earlier negotiating rounds and we will accommodate these requests.  In addition, there will be a stakeholder briefing on July 3. The negotiation round venue and registration information will be posted shortly.

Related articles and links: