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UPDATED TO ADD THIS IMPORTANT SNIPPET:
After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a
leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public
Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim
nations – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore
and Vietnam – are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months.
WED MAR 25, 2015 AT 04:30 PM PDT
BREAKING: WikiLeaks Leaks TPP Draft!!!
Here it is, for the world to see.
This is an advanced January 2015 version of the confidential draft treaty chapter from the Investment group of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks between the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam. The treaty is being negotiated in secret by delegations from each of these 12 countries, who together account for 40% of global GDP. The chapter covers agreements on investments from one TPP nation to another, including empowering foreign firms to "sue" other states' governments, as well as regulations around investor-state dispute settlements and tribunals. This document was prepared by TPP investment chapter negotiators in advance of the informal round of negotiations held in New York City 26th January to 1st February, 2015
Global Trade Watch has just provided an analysis of the leaked text via email (and now on its website more details): http://citizen.org/documents/tpp-investment-leak-2015.pdf
The TPP would grant foreign investors and firms operating here expansive new substantive and procedural rights and privileges not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law, allowing foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. policies, court orders and government actions that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms. This includes:
§ Foreign investors would be empowered to challenge new policies that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms on the basis that they undermine foreign investors’ “expectations” of how they should be treated. This includes a right to claim damages for government actions (such as new environmental, health or financial policies) that reduce the value of a foreign firm’s investment (what the leaked text calls “indirect expropriation”) or that change the level of regulation a foreign investor experienced under a previous government (a violation of what the text calls a “minimum standard of treatment” for foreign investors).
§ The leaked TPP text largely replicates the “minimum standard of treatment” language found in previous U.S. pacts that tribunals have used to issue some of the most alarming ISDS rulings. Tribunals often have broadly interpreted this vague “right” to fabricate new obligations for governments that do not actually exist in the texts of ISDS-enforced pacts, such as “not to alter the legal and business environment in which the investment has been made.” Due to such expansive interpretations, the “minimum standard of treatment” obligation has been the basis for three of every four ISDS cases “won” by the foreign investor under U.S. pacts.
The text allows foreign investors to demand compensation for claims of “indirect expropriation” that apply to much wider categories of property than those to which similar rights apply in U.S. law. To the limited extent that “indirect expropriation” compensation is permitted in U.S. law, it is generally available only for government actions affecting real property (i.e. land). But the leaked text would allow foreign investors to claim “indirect expropriation” if government regulations implicate their personal property, intellectual property rights, financial instruments, government permits, money, minority shareholdings or other forms of non-real-estate property.
· Foreign corporations could demand compensation for capital controls and other macro-prudential financial regulations that promote financial stability. This obligation restricts the use of capital controls or financial transaction taxes, even as the International Monetary Fund has shifted from opposing capital controls to officially endorsing them as legitimate policy tools for preventing or mitigating financial crises. Proposed provisions touted as “temporary safeguards” for capital controls would fail to protect many standard forms of capital controls, including those successfully used by TPP governments in the past to ward off financial crises.
· The leaked text could newly allow pharmaceutical firms to use TPP ISDS tribunals to demand cash compensation for claimed violations of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules regarding the creation, limitation or revocation of intellectual property rights. Currently, WTO rules are not privately enforceable by investors. But the leaked TPP investment text could empower individual foreign investors to directly challenge governments over policies to ensure access to affordable medicines, claiming that they constitute TPP-prohibited “expropriations” of intellectual property rights if ISDS tribunals deem them to violate WTO rules.
· There are no new safeguards that limit ISDS tribunals’ discretion to create ever-expanding interpretations of governments’ obligations to foreign investors and order compensation on that basis. The leaked text reveals the same “safeguard” terms that have been included in U.S. pacts since the 2005 Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA tribunals have simply ignored the “safeguard” provisions that the leaked text replicates for the TPP, and have continued to rule against governments based on concocted obligations to which governments never agreed. The leaked text also abandons a safeguard proposed in the 2012 leaked TPP investment text, which excluded public interest regulations from indirect expropriation claims, stating, “non-discriminatory regulatory actions … that are designed and applied to achieve legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the protection of public health, safety and the environment do not constitute indirect expropriation.” Today’s leaked text eviscerates that clause by adding a fatal loophole that has been found in past U.S. pacts.
· Most TPP countries, including the United States, have decided to expose decisions regarding the approval of foreign investments to ISDS challenge. Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand have reserved the right to pre-approve foreign investors. But the United States took no exception for reviews by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States of planned foreign investments to determine whether they pose threats to national security.
· The amount that an ISDS tribunal would order a government to pay to a foreign investor as compensation would be based on the “expected future profits” the tribunal surmises that the investor would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking as violating the substantive investor rights granted by the TPP.
· The text would submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of World Bank and United Nations tribunals. All TPP nations have agreed to be so bound with the potential exception of Australia, which has indicated that it might do the same, “subject to certain conditions.”
· None of the structural biases or conflicts of interest inherent in the ISDS system would be remedied. TPP ISDS tribunals would be staffed by highly paid corporate lawyers unaccountable to any electorate or system of legal precedent. They still would be allowed to rotate between acting as “judges” and advocates for the investors launching cases against governments. Corporations launching cases would still directly select one of the “judges.” The text includes no requirements for tribunal members to be impartial, reveal conflicts of interest or recuse themselves in instances of direct conflict. There is no internal or external mechanism to appeal the tribunal members’ decisions on the merits, and claims of procedural errors would be decided by another tribunal of corporate lawyers. The leaked text provides tribunals with discretion to determine the amount of compensation governments must pay investors and the allocation of costs, such as the tribunal members’ fees. A proposal that appeared in the 2012 leak of the text to standardize hourly fees for tribunal members at the lower end of the range of fees currently paid (about $375 per hour, compared to the $700 per hour that some tribunal members receive) has been eliminated.
· An overreaching definition of “investment” would extend the coverage of the TPP’s expansive substantive investor rights far beyond “real property,” permitting ISDS attacks over government actions and policies related to financial instruments, intellectual property, regulatory permits and more. Proposals in the 2012 leak of the text that would have narrowed the definition of “investment,” and thus the scope of policies subject to challenge, have been eliminated. Also omitted is a proposal from the earlier leaked version that would not have allowed ISDS cases related to government procurement, subsidies or government grants.
· An overreaching definition of “investor” would allow firms from non-TPP countries and firms with no real investments to exploit the extraordinary privileges the TPP would establish for foreign investors. Thus, for instance, one of the many Chinese state-owned corporations in Vietnam could “sue” the U.S. government in a foreign tribunal to demand compensation under this text.
· The leaked text reveals that U.S. negotiators are still pushing, over the objection of most other TPP nations, to empower foreign investors to bring to TPP ISDS tribunals their contract disputes with TPP signatory governments relating to natural resource concessions on federal lands, government procurement of construction for infrastructure projects, as well as contracts relating to the operation of utilities. (In the leaked chapter, text that is not yet agreed upon appears in square brackets; Public Citizen has seen a version of the text that lists which countries support various proposals.)
More from Global Trade Watch:
The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of “trade” negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive and procedural rights and privileges not available to domestic firms under domestic law.
The leaked text would empower foreign firms to directly “sue” signatory governments
in extrajudicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals over domestic policies
that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms that foreign firms claim violate their new substantive investor rights. There they could demand taxpayer compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use and other policies and government actions they claim undermine TPP foreign investor privileges, such as the “right” to a regulatory framework that conforms to their “expectations.”
The leaked text reveals the TPP would expand the parallel ISDS legal system by
elevating tens of thousands of foreign- owned firms to the same status as sovereign governments, empowering them to privately enforce a public treaty by skirting domestic courts and laws to directly challenge TPP governments i n foreign tribunals.
MORE - get reading folks:
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 07:43 PM (286 replies)
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 07:11 PM (0 replies)
Secret intelligence files held by Yemeni security forces and containing details of American intelligence operations in the country have been looted by Iran-backed militia leaders, exposing names of informants and plans for U.S.-backed counter-terrorism operations, U.S. officials say.
U.S. intelligence officials believe additional files were handed directly to Iranian advisors by Yemeni officials who have sided with the Houthi militias that seized control of the capital of Sana last September and later toppled the U.S.-backed president.
For American intelligence networks in Yemen, the damage has been severe. Until recently, U.S. forces deployed in Yemen had worked closely with President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government to track and kill Al Qaeda operatives, and President Obama hailed Yemen six months ago as a model for counter-terrorism operations.
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 07:02 PM (0 replies)
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 03:43 PM (38 replies)
"It comes down to the same thing, with you and Brian," Letterman said near the end of the interview, referencing Williams, whom he called a friend.
"Trust is the residue of both positions," he went on. "So people must trust you to the same degree — they might disagree with you — but they must trust you the same way they trust Brian Williams."
"I've been on the air 19 seasons, 15 years at number one," O'Reilly answered. "Our ratings now are as high as they've ever been, so I think they do trust me and I'm glad they do."
truth does not matter, it's all about "the ratings"
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 03:33 PM (4 replies)
An Open Letter to Museums from Members of the Scientific Community
March 24, 2015
To Museums of Science and Natural History:
As members of the scientific community we devote our lives to understanding the world, and sharing this understanding with the public. We are deeply concerned by the links between museums of science and natural history with those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science.
Museums are trusted sources of scientific information, some of our most important resources for educating children and shaping public understanding.
The Code of Ethics for Museums, adopted in 1991 by the Board of Directors of the American Alliance of Museums, states:
“It is incumbent on museums to be resources for humankind and in all their activities to foster an informed appreciation of the rich and diverse world we have inherited. It is also incumbent upon them to preserve that inheritance for posterity.”
“Museums are grounded in the tradition of public service. They are organized as public trusts, holding their collections and information as a benefit for those they were established to serve…Museums and those responsible for them must do more than avoid legal liability, they must take affirmative steps to maintain their integrity so as to warrant public confidence. They must act not only legally but also ethically.”
We are concerned that the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation, and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution.
For example, David Koch is a major donor, exhibit sponsor and trustee on the Board of Directors at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the American Museum of Natural History. David Koch’s oil and manufacturing conglomerate Koch Industries is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Mr. Koch also funds a large network of climate-change-denying organizations, spending over $67 million since 1997 to fund groups denying climate change science.
When some of the biggest contributors to climate change and funders of misinformation on climate science sponsor exhibitions in museums of science and natural history, they undermine public confidence in the validity of the institutions responsible for transmitting scientific knowledge. This corporate philanthropy comes at too high a cost.
Drawing on both our scientific expertise and personal care for our planet and people, we believe that the only ethical way forward for our museums is to cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.
1. James Hansen, Climatologist; former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
2. James Powell, Geochemist; former President of the Franklin Museum of Science and former President and Director of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum.
3. Bob Corell, Climatologist; Head of US Office for the Global Energy Assessment; former Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation.
4. Kevin E Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Lead Author 2001 and 2007 IPCC report which won a Nobel Prize.
5. Danny Harvey, Professor of Geography and Climatology, University of Toronto, IPCC Convening Lead Author and Lead Author; Deputy Editor of Climatic Change.
6. Eric Chivian, founder and Director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
7. Henry Pollack, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at the University of Michigan. Advisor to the National Science Foundation, IPCC member.
8. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology; Director, Earth System Science Center, The Pennsylvania State University.
9. Joseph J. Romm, Physicist, Climatologist; former Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy; founder and editor of Climate Progress.
10. George Woodwell, Ecologist; Founder and Director Emeritus, Woods Hole Research Center.
11. Calvin B. DeWitt, Environmental Scientist, Co-founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network, President of the Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists, and Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
12. Dr Stuart Parkinson, Climatologist; Executive Director, Scientists for Global Responsibility, UK
13. Jason Box, Climatologist, Professor of Glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Co-author of 2007 IPCC report which won a Nobel Prize.
14. Mike MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute.
15. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, University of Queensland, Australia
16. Robert R. Janes, Ph.D. , Archaleologist, Museologist, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Museum Management and Curatorship
17. Matt Lappe, Paleoclimatologist, Environmental Hydrologist, Executive Director, Alliance for Climate Education.
18. Greg Laden, Paleoanthropologist, Independent Scholar, Writer at National Geographic Scienceblogs.
19. Sarah Kornbluth, Biologist; Affiliate of Bee Database Project, American Museum of Natural History and Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers University
20. Dr Simon L Lewis, Reader, Global Change Science, at University College London and University of Leeds.
21. Roger Fouquet, Principal Research Fellow, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
22. Brad Johnson, Science writer; MS geosciences, MIT
23. Emmanuel Vincent, Assistant Project Scientist at the University of California, Merced
24. Jonathan Oppenheim, Professor of Quantum Theory, University College London. Royal Society Research Fellow in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.
25. David Webb; Emeritus Professor; Previously Professor of Engineering, Leeds Metropolitan University
26. Dr Martin Zaltz Austwick, Physicist, University College London
27. Scott A. Mandia, Asst. Chair /Professor – Physical Sciences, Suffolk County Community College
28. Mona Mehdy, Molecular biologist, faculty at University of Texas at Austin
29. Judith S. Weis, Professor Emerita, Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University
30. Jonathan Tunik, Former Evaluation Studies Associate for the American Institute of Physics.
31. Aerin Jacob, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Applied Conservation Science Lab, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
32. Shaun Lovejoy, Professor of Physics, McGill University, Canada, formerly at the Climate Diagnostics Centre of NOAA
33. Lindy Weilgart, Professor of Biology, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada
34. Dr. Sophie Levina, MD, PhD and Doctor of Medical Sciences.
35. Dr. Susan Spencer, Solar Scientist, Founder/President of ROCSPOT.org
36. Erika Crispo, PhD, Evolutionary Ecologist and Biologist, Pace University, NYC
37. Lucky Tran, PhD, Biologist, University of Cambridge
38. Damian Alexander Stanley, Ph.D., Neuroscientist, California Institute of Technology
39. Hanah Chapman, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College, CUNY
40. Dr. John Abraham, University of St. Thomas, School of Engineering
41. Mark Mason PhD, former primate evolution researcher, UC Berkeley
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 09:12 AM (15 replies)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blamed Al Gore in a speech for the fact that “people of my party are all over the board” when it comes to thinking climate change is real.
Said Graham: “I said that it’s real, that man has contributed to it in a substantial way. But the problem is Al Gore’s turned this thing into religion. You know, climate change is not a religious problem for me, it’s an economic, it is an environmental problem.”
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 08:55 AM (11 replies)
Posted by kpete | Wed Mar 25, 2015, 08:40 AM (5 replies)
Automatic voter registration sought in California
BY JEREMY B. WHITEJWHITE@SACBEE.COM
03/24/2015 1:24 PM 03/24/2015 2:17 PM
Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote under legislation Secretary of State Alex Padilla is exploring.
“If government knows who’s here, who’s 18, who’s a citizen, why go through hoops?” Padilla said in an interview. “Let’s just register folks automatically.”
The proposal follows Oregon’s new, first-in-the-nation policy sending ballots to every citizen who has made contact with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Padilla was elected to his post last year after a campaign in which he vowed to expand California’s often-miniscule voter participation rates. In addition to the many voters who stay home on Election Day, Padilla’s office estimated that nearly 7 million people eligible to vote have not signed up to do so.
Since federal law already requires Department of Motor Vehicles offices to give customers the option of registering, Padilla said, it would be logical to make the registration automatic. Other state agencies that retain information showing eligibility could potentially perform the same function, he said, and the law would ideally allow people to opt out.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article16200185.html#storylink=cpy
Posted by kpete | Tue Mar 24, 2015, 06:17 PM (1 replies)