Faryn Balyncd's Journal
Member since: Wed Nov 23, 2005, 08:15 AM
Number of posts: 4,697
Number of posts: 4,697
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TPP = NAFTA on steroids
By Jo Comerford. Wednesday, January 28 2015
Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.
It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”
Will you help spread the word about fast track and the TPP by watching and SHARING the video right now?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Thu Jan 29, 2015, 05:10 PM (8 replies)
Voting up or down without amendments may have a place in certain foreign policy negotiations that involve the constitutional duties of the executive branch.
This has been expanded over the years to trade agreements. When "Trade Agreements" were actually about lowering protective tariffs and duties, applying the "up or down" Fast Track vote was within the realm of consideration.
Now, however, with the proliferation of so-called "Free Trade Agreements" who important components involve the stealth modification of issues that are clearly the providence of Congress and the judicial system (issues such as intellectual property law radically effecting drug pricing and threatening the internet, environmental, labor, consumer safety, and labeling law, and the setting up of a "investor-state dispute settlement" tribunals exempt from appeal to the courts are perverse attacks on the constitutional duties of Congress, and on the courts.
The founders did not intend for such issues to be rammed through Congress with Congressional input & amendments banned, or for corporate controlled tribunals to bypass the judicial system as corporations intimidate government entities into abandoning their duties too protect the general welfare or face bankruptcy.
Economists have clearly demonstrated that the optimal length for patent and copyright protection for stimulating innovation is a SHORTER period than we now have after the Sonny Bono Act. Overly pro-corporate current law does need to be reformed, but inthe OPPOSITE direction from where the TPP would take it.
Passing such an abomination under deceptive duress (calling measures that ENHANCE PROTECTIVE BARRIERS a "Free Trade Agreement" that lowers barriers) is bad enough.
But doing it a way that the fine print is not known until it has been passed, and unable to be amended without unanimous consent of all foreign states, is beyond the pale.
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Jan 28, 2015, 02:35 AM (2 replies)
Calling TPP a 'Death Pact,' Health Advocates Rally Outside Secretive Trade Talks
Protesting the secret trade negotiations taking part behind its doors, activists rallied outside the Times Square Sheraton in New York City on Monday. (Photo: Jason Cone/ Twitter)
Braving snow and blizzard warnings, health, labor and environmental activists rallied outside a New York City hotel on Monday where industry leaders met with international trade representatives to commence the "final negotiations" over the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Leading the protest and carrying signs that read "Hands Off Our Medicine," protesters with health groups Doctors Without Borders and Health Global Access Project (GAP) warned that the TPP will undermine efforts to ensure access to affordable, life-saving medicines in both the United States and abroad. . . .
"The TPP would create a vicious cycle. The provisions currently proposed will allow for fracking and other practices that fuel environmental degradation and make people sick. Strengthened intellectual property rules will then prevent people from accessing life- saving medicines," said Michael Tikili, national field organizer for Health GAP, in a press statement. "Thirteen million people living with HIV depend on generic AIDS medicines and another 20-plus million are waiting line for treatment. By protecting Pharma’s bloated profits, the Obama administration is undermining its own global AIDS initiative—this isn’t a trade agreement—it’s a death pact."
. . .
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Jan 27, 2015, 10:39 PM (28 replies)
Secret TPP Negotiations—And Public Protests—To Be Held in New York City
The next round of secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations begins this Monday, January 26, and runs through the following week at the Sheraton New York Time Square Hotel in downtown Manhattan. As with many previous TPP meetings, the public will be shut out of talks as negotiators convene behind closed doors to decide binding rules that could impact how our lawmakers set digital policy in the decades to come. Big content industry interests have been given privileged access to negotiating texts and have driven the US Trade Representative's mandate when it comes to copyright—which is why the TPP carries extreme copyright measures that ignore users' rights.
Some claim that this could be the final official round of TPP negotiations. The White House and Congressional lawmakers are now hard at work to pass a law to fast track this agreement and other secretive deals through Congress to ratification. Fast Track, also known as trade promotion authority (TPA) would transfer Congress' power over trade policy to the President, by preventing them from debating or modifying the terms of trade deals after international negotiations are finalized. The countries negotiating TPP with the US are willing to give in and agree to bad copyright rules as long as they get the other gains they were promised—things like market access and lowered tariffs so they can sell their products to US consumers. But those other countries will not budge without a guarantee that the overwhelming public opposition to the agreement won't prevent its adoption in the United States. Fast Track offers that guarantee; that's one reason the White House is now desperate to pass it.
Several public interest groups are organizing a protest outside the luxury Sheraton Hotel this Monday, January 26 at noon. Many of those demonstrating will be there to oppose other provisions in the TPP, but we encourage people to be there to represent all the users around the world who will be impacted by this massive agreement's draconian policies.
If you are not in the New York area, take action now by signing this petition to Sen. Ron Wyden, calling on him to stand up for digital rights and oppose any new Fast Track bill. You can also give him your message directly by phoning his office at (202) 224-5244. . . . . If you have already signed the petition, contact your elected representatives and let them know that you want them to oppose Fast Track for TPP and any other secret deals that put users' rights at risk. . . .
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Mon Jan 26, 2015, 09:14 PM (7 replies)
The "Investor-State Dispute Settlement" tribunals, exempt-from-judicial-appeal mechanism which is at the heart of the TTIP and TTP Corporate Coup negotiations, is proving highly unpopular among rank and file Europeans:
New levels of TTIP rejection revealed by Commission’s public consultation
The extent of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s (TTIP) unpopularity across Europe was exposed today as the European Commission published the results of its largest public consultation in history. The results of the consultation, launched last year, were scheduled to be published in late 2014, but were delayed following an unprecedented number of largely negative responses.
The results of the consultation, which focused on ‘investment protection’ under the controversial trade deal, showed that of the 149, 399 responses, 97% of participants have voiced either a general rejection of TTIP or opposition to ISDS in TTIP. . . . .
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) said: “‘Investment protection’ is an innocuous sounding euphemism for corporations being able to bully governments behind closed doors for billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, so it’s little wonder that so many people across Europe are opposed to it. This public consultation has demonstrated once more the extent of TTIP’s unpopularity with European citizens."
Is it any wonder that the details of the TTIP and TTP are being kept under wraps, to the American public, and even to U. S. Senators?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sun Jan 25, 2015, 06:36 PM (2 replies)
"Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific....
The president has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them."
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Wed Jan 21, 2015, 09:57 AM (8 replies)
Espey: US deserves better transparency from TPP
Hugh Espey, A Better Iowa contributor, January 13, 2015
Soon this year, Congress will vote on whether to give President Barack Obama "fast track" authority to put in place the massive, and highly secretive, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Incoming Representatives David Young and Rod Blum, and Senator Joni Ernst, would serve the Iowans they represent — as well as the U.S. Constitution — by voting no on fast track authority. . . . . . TPP has been shrouded in secrecy from its very beginning. Aside from the 600 advisers from mostly multinational corporations, members of Congress and the American public have been kept in the dark on its contents.
The American people and those we elect to represent us deserve more than the thin promise of job creation and increased economic activity. If the TPP is so good for America and our economy, then its backers would have no need to hide behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz, pulling whatever lever is within reach. . . . . . .Unless, of course, it's all smoke and mirrors and an even bigger corporate giveaway than its predecessor, NAFTA.
We the people deserve to know more about the TPP, and how it will impact our day-to-day lives. Plus, our constitution gives Congress the "authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations," not the president. That's why Iowa's congressional delegation, especially those newly elected by the people of Iowa, need to vote no on fast track authority. It's what lots of Iowans are expecting them to do. . . .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hugh Espey, is executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
Other work by Hugh Espey:
Espey: Grassley, Ernst at odds with Iowans on tax fairness issues
Espey: Braley, Ernst worlds apart on Social Security
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 17, 2015, 11:37 PM (3 replies)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which continues the battle to prevent extreme copyright and digital privacy provisions, which could never be passed in a transparent democratic environment, from stealth passage under TPP "Fast Track", is asking our help with a petition to Sen. Wyden:
Demand an End to Secret Copyright Trade Deals
Senator Ron Wyden may hold the future of the Internet in his hands. Let's call on him to fix the secretive process that has led to trade deals carrying extreme copyright and digital privacy provisions.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Wyden is under pressure to fast track trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. But he has another option: to finally bring these deals out into the open. We call on him now to continue to stand up to big private interests and help ensure that our digital rights are protected. . . .If digital policies must be included in trade agreements, they cannot be dictated solely by the one-sided concerns of Hollywood and other corporate interests. Users need a seat at the table. Here are some crucial fixes that will help make that happen.
January 17, 2015
Dear Senator Wyden,
As constituents, consumers, and Internet users, we call on you to defend users' rights as you work to develop a new trade authority proposal. Democratic and transparent negotiating procedures are essential to protect those rights and the future of our Internet. Thus, any such proposal must include:
Easy, ongoing access to negotiating texts by all Congress members and their staff with proper security clearance and timely public release of concluded provisions following each round of negotiations;
Ongoing, up-to-date publication of detailed summaries of the USTR's specific proposals being submitted in negotiations;
Regular publication of agendas and transcripts of meetings and of all communications between USTR officials and all stakeholders, including industry groups;
Mandatory negotiating objectives that balance users' rights with those of private industry, including requirements to enact safeguards for free speech, privacy, and access to knowledge;
Congressional certification that negotiating objectives have been met before negotiations are concluded with only the pacts that have been so certified qualifying for expedited consideration;
Congressional approval of trade agreement texts before they can be signed by a president so that Congress explicitly authorizes a president to enter into a pact only after ensuring that an agreement’s contents are acceptable.
We stand opposed to any new version of trade authority that does not include these critical guarantees of transparency, inclusiveness and accountability. Additionally, provisions in current trade negotiations must not be considered closed until these transparency and oversight mechanisms have been put in place.
We Need to Stop the White House From Putting TPP and TTIP on the Fast Track To Ratification
Some background on why such common-sense restoration of democratic processes and transparency to the TPP is necessary:
How TPP Would Harm You At the Drug Store and On The Internet
A law affecting content on the Internet that was rejected by Congress shows up in a trade agreement designed to bypass and override Congress. Small, innovative companies that manufacture low-cost, generic drugs find their products blocked.
Those are examples of what is in store based on provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is now being negotiated by the United States and 11 other nations, that have been leaked to the public. The leaks appear to show that provision after leaked provision will take power away from democracy and countries and hand it to the biggest corporations. No wonder these giant, monopolistic corporations want Congress to approve Fast Track before they – and We the People – get a chance to read the agreement.
Because of these leaks we know that the TPP has an intellectual property section that will override government rules that limit the power giant corporations can wield against smaller competitors and the general public. Intellectual property (IP) is a term that covers patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, industrial designs and similar ‘intangible assets.”. . .
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 17, 2015, 01:54 PM (3 replies)
Assessing the actual effects of "Free Trade Agreements", including the effects "investor-state tribunals", on Public Interest law (including environmental protection, labor law, safety, food labeling) takes on increasing relevance when we hear supporters of TPP claim that the agreement, to which U. S. Senators, Representatives, & other citizens have been denied access, will include provisions to "protect the environment".
On January 12, a CBC.ca report on a valiant attempt by Canadian environmental activists to initiate an investigation by the North American "Commission on Environmental Co-operation" into Canada's non-enforcement of its own its own Federal Fisheries Act pertaining to tar sands tailing ponds.
Despite the well-documented history of consistent attacks upon, and weakening of environmental protection under NAFTA, this valiant attempt by Canadian environmentalists was hailed by some as an example of how NAFTA, and by extension the proposed TPP, "protects" the environment.
Before one accepts such claims (especially in regards to an agreement the details of which have been denied to U. S. Senators), perhaps we should examine the differences between the manner in which complaints by citizens and environmental groups are handled, compared to the way complaints by corporations are handled:
(1.) Corporations who feel that their projected profits are negatively impacted by pesky environmental (or labor, safety, or food labeling) regulations are empowered by NAFTA to file suit in a sovereign "investor-state tribunal" which is exempt from normal judicial appeal.
(2.) In contrast, environmental groups and other citizens are not empowered to file suit in such tribunals. Instead, the process set up by NAFTA involves an entity entitled the "Commission on Environmental Co-operation" (CEC), set up with an explicit mission to "to provide the public an outlet for environmental concerns", and which "can recommend an in-depth investigation, called a factual record, if they find there are grounds. But it has no power to compel the countries to do anything."
So before we accept promises that the secretive provisions of the TPP will "protect the environment", wouldn't it be wise to look at the actual effects of NAFTA?
This question increases the relevance of Public Citizen's meticulously documented "NAFTA’s 20-Year Legacy and the Fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership":
NAFTA’s 20-Year Legacy and the Fate of the Trans Pacific Partnership
The data compiled in this report on the outcomes of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provide an answer: 20 years of living with NAFTA has created deep default skepticism among Americans about trade agreements. Even before many Americans hear details of how the TPP would expand on the NAFTA model, NAFTA’s two-decade legacy has primed them to oppose the deal.
This is not a story about protectionism, but about lived experience. The data show that NAFTA proponents’ projections of broad economic benefits from the deal have failed to materialize. Instead,millions have suffered job loss, wage stagnation, and economic instability from NAFTA. Scores of environmental, health and other public interest policies have been challenged. Consumer safeguards, including key food safety protections, have been rolled back. And NAFTA supporters’ warnings about thechaos that would engulf Mexico and a new wave of migration from Mexico, if NAFTA was not implemented have indeed come to pass, but ironically because of the devastation of many Mexicans’ livelihoods occurring, in part, because NAFTA was implemented. NAFTA was an experiment, establishing a radically new “trade” agreement model.
NAFTA was fundamentally different than past trade agreements in that it was only partially about trade. Indeed, it shattered the boundaries of past U.S.trade pacts, which had focused narrowly on cutting tariffs and easing quotas. In contrast, NAFTA created new privileges and protections for foreign investors that incentivized the offshoring of investment and jobs by eliminating many of the risks normally associated with moving production to low-wage countries. NAFTA allowed foreign investors to directly challenge before foreign tribunals domestic policies and actions, demanding government compensation for policies that they claimed undermined their expected future profits.......
(documentation of skyrocketing corporate demands for taxpayer compensation begins on page 19, and specific documentation of attacks on environmental protections in investor-state tribunals begins on pages 21.)
The sad reality is that NAFTA set up a system in which corporations who feel that their profits are threatened by pesky environmental or labor regulations may sue in a special tribunal exempt from judicial appeal, while environmental groups and citizens may only complain to a commission set up to give an "outlet" to such citizens, but which is given no enforcement powers.
What can we realistically expect from the TPP, negotiated behind closed doors, the details of which are known to corporations but not United States Senators and Representatives?
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Tue Jan 13, 2015, 08:00 PM (4 replies)
Do You Think Products Made in China Should Be Called ‘US Exports’?
by William Greider
If not, we must stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership before it does more damage to our country.
(Full article requires subscription)
Posted by Faryn Balyncd | Sat Jan 10, 2015, 12:16 AM (3 replies)