Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters:
http://www.omnicenter.org/newsletter-archive/ For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and
ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for opposition to
empire, militarism, and wars. Here is the
link to the Index: http://www.omnicenter.org/omni-newsletter-general-index/ See: Continental US Westward Expansion,
Genocide, Indigenous People of Americas,
and more. Pentagon,
It's the War Department
It's the War Department
WHO TELLS THE STORY?
“. . .the dominant interpretation of the past often enjoys its status not because of its superior historical accuracy but because of its proponents’ social power.” Karl Jacoby, Shadows at Dawn: An Apache Massacre and the Violence of History (p. 276).
“Percentage of Americans who say
China ‘can’t be trusted: 68.” (“Harper’s Index” January 2013). Where do you think that fear came from? US
encirclement of China would
not happen without the majority of people first having been persuaded by the
warriors to believe China
was an enemy, just as with Vietnam
and the “Axis of Evil.” Who’s next? --Dick
No. 3 and No. 4 at end
Contents #5 March 27, 2013
Gagnon: Oppose US/SK War Games
Public Citizen: Stop Trans-Pacific Partnership: Contact Your Congressman
Garate: Resistance to US Military Bases in
Kalikasan People’s Resistance to US Military Destruction of Environment in the
Steve Clemons, Tribute
Dick Bennett, Blowback
Conroy, et al., West Across the Pacific
and Pequots to Across the Pacific Plymouth
Abandoning Pacifism Japan
Southeast Asian Bases:
Gerson: Peace Movement and Pivot
Beifus: Transpacific Partnership (TPP)
Glazebrook: Empire Westward or Eastward?
Vitchek, Missile Test Site,
and Nuclear Testing, NYT Rev. by Mitgang Marshall Islands
Occupying E. Asia Surrounding
Reed, Ring Around
NYT Editorial, Vandenberg AFB Missile Intercept Failure
Dick, Commentary on NYT Editorial
Vandenberg Protest Case Goes to US Supreme Court
Flowers and Zeese, TPP: Trans-Pacific Partnership (see earlier newsletters)
Jones, T-PP and TAFTA
GOOGLE Search Results, VITCHEK, MISSILE
The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site, commonly referred to as the Reagan Test Site (formerly
), is a missile test
range ... Kwajalein Missile Range
U.S. maintains a strong
military presence on Kwajalein, and from here controls
amissile testing range. The clear-blue waters
surrounding the ... Marshall
US ARMY Kwajalein Atoll / Kwajalein Missile Range ( USAKA / KMR ): Military installation in the Republic of the
Primary Marshall Islands
Oct 13, 2007 - American Fiction –
Kwajalein Missile Range, Captain Yossarian And
Robert Jordan ... camera and began
snapping photos of the enormous bay which serves as a missile range for the
star wars program. .... Aloha Vitchek,. US
merln.ndu.edu › ... › Regional Policy Overviews:...
Okinawa, Transient Nuclear
Aircraft Carrier Berth, Air and Missile Defense Task Force ...... Use of Kwajalein Atoll for Missile
Programs and Land Use Development .....Andre Vitchek. ... Council on Foreign
Relations; [Jan 13] A ZEN Approach to Post-2015: Addressing the Range of Perspectives
across Asia and the Pacific
REVIEW OF DIBBLIN:
BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Rights and Wrongs In the
. Rev. Marshall Islands
Day of Two Suns:
Nuclear Testing and the
Pacific Islanders U.S.
By Jane Dibblin
Maps. 299 pages.
New Amsterdam Books. $24.95 hard cover; $12.95 paperback.
Nuclear disarmament and human rights are linked in ''Day of Two Suns,'' a cri de coeur intended to raise the reader's consciousness about the plight of the island people living near the American missile testing area in the
An even larger aim of this impassioned book is to stop nuclear testing altogether by shutting down the (a nonnuclear
test site) and thereby help to reduce the momentum of the nuclear arms race.
Considering the easing of the cold war, the great hopes for change in Kwajalein Missile
Range Eastern Europe and accelerating discussions about
disarmament, the notions expressed in ''Day of Two Suns'' for making these
Pacific islands more pacific do not seem too far-fetched.
The sail-in protests against military installations in the
are described here - often in the voices of the islanders trying to return to
their endangered homes -by Jane Dibblin, a writer for the New Statesman in and former deputy
editor of the Journal of European Nuclear Disarmament. Her book centers on the inhabitants of two atolls in the Marshalls
- Rongelap, evacuated because of radiation from postwar nuclear tests, and
Mejato, where most of the people now live and dream of returning to Rongelap
when it is considered safe from radiation and missile testing. London
States conducted nuclear tests after World War II on
Enewetak and Bikini atolls. There have been no
nuclear explosions above ground since 1963, but radioactivity remains and
almost immeasurable damage has been done to the health of the islanders. An
agreement provides for settlement of all claims arising out of the nuclear
tests on both atolls. Although the Marshall
Islands is now a sovereign republic rather than a
trusteeship, a subsidiary agreement allows the United
States continued use of . Intercontinental
ballistic missiles are launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Kwajalein Missile
Range California - without nuclear weapons -and splash down in
the forbidden Kwajalein test area.
Ms. Dibblin writes that a review of Department of Energy data revealed that people still living on Rongelap had depressed white-blood-cell counts and high levels of plutonium in their urine. The Energy Department field report said it was safe for adults but not children to return to the southern islands of the atoll; the northern islands were too ''hot'' and food could not be harvested there. ''Amazed at the idea that they should return without their children,'' the author notes, ''the people of Rongelap stayed on Mejato.''
Although the tone of ''Day of Two Suns'' is hortatory and some of its language is shrill - ''four extra islands have now been turned into pin cushions for incoming missiles for the expanded 'Star Wars' program'' - the basic facts in the book check out against recent scientific reports. A similar alarm was sounded in another book, ''
Trust Betrayed,'' by Donald F. McHenry (Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace, 1975), that remains the most informative on the subject of the use of
these islands for military purposes. Mr. McHenry, who wrote his book after
serving for 10 years as officer in charge of Dependent Area Affairs for the
State Department, questioned the justification for controlling the lives and
destinies of the people of Micronesia . Micronesia
COLD WAR II: Occupying Pacific and E. Asia to Surround
“The United States Air Force will dramatically expand its military presence across the Pacific this year, sending jets to
India, Singapore and , according to the
service’s top general in the region.”
The general is Herbert “Hawk” Australia Carlisle,
chief of U.S. Air Force operations in the Pacific. Carlisle gives a straightforward statement of US transfer of military power from the Middle
East to the Pacific and E. Asia to ring China
“just as the West did to the Soviet Union back
in the Cold War.” --Dick
EDITORIAL, The New York Times
A Failure to Intercept
Published: July 24,
2013 [also appeared in the
Democrat-Gazette 7-29-13 --Dick] Arkansas
After 30 years of research and an estimated $250 billion investment, the Pentagon’s defense program against intercontinental ballistic missiles from adversaries like
Iran and had another failed test
this month. The advanced missile interceptor launched on July 5 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in North Korea California failed to hit its target over the Pacific Ocean, the third consecutive dud. The military
has tested the ground-based midcourse defense system 16 times; only eight were
successful, the last in 2008.
Connect With Us on Twitter
For Op-Ed, follow@nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow@andyrNYT.
One might expect the record to be near perfect since the tests are rigged, conducted in what the program’s director, Vice Admiral James Syring of the Navy, calls a “controlled, scripted environment.” The Pentagon is doing a review to determine the cause of the latest failure. But whatever the cause, it is apparent that the program’s weaknesses go beyond this case.
Two studies — one by the National Academy of Sciences released in September and another by a task force of the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board in 2011 — have expressed doubts about whether the technology to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles can ever be truly reliable and whether the program is worth the cost. Some experts describe its technical core as shattered.
Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois, raised a lot of the right questions when Vice Admiral Syring testified on last Wednesday before the Senate appropriations subcommittee on defense. Mr. Durbin noted that the system’s track record “has not improved over time” and wondered how the Pentagon could be confident defenses will work when tests are conducted against intermediate range missiles but not the longest range and fastest missile, the intercontinental ballistic missile, which could reach the
Predictably, many Congressional Republicans blame the problems on President Obama and budget cuts supported by the Democrats. But experts say design flaws crept into the program during the George W. Bush administration and the problems were compounded by a rush to deploy the system before tests were run. Along with the Pentagon, many Republicans are now pushing for more missile defense tests as well as the development of 14 more ground-based interceptors (for a total of 44 at sites in
California and ) for an additional cost of $1
billion. Some lawmakers also want a new missile defense site on the East Coast
that could run as high as $3.6 billion. Alaska
The North Korean and Iranian missile programs are a threat that the
must guard against.
But it doesn’t make sense to keep throwing money at a flawed system without
correcting the problems first. United States
version of this editorial appeared in print on July 25, 2013, on page A26 of
edition with the headline: A Failure to
Intercept. New York
Commentary by Dick Bennett: Let’s ask a few questions. When does a military program fail? That depends upon its purpose. Is the program really to defend “against intercontinental ballistic missiles from adversaries like
Iran and ”? Neither countries have missiles capable of
reaching the North Korea US, and their
missiles are clearly for their own defense against our certain, devastating
nuclear missile capability (theTrident submarines off shore
of NK and , the long-range missiles from
a dozen bases). Clearly? They are two of President Bush’s “Axis of
Evil.” The third, Iran , devoid of
missile defenses or retaliation, was long ago invaded, occupied, and its
country ruined. Also, Iraq
has no nuclear weapons. Iran
So what is Vandenberg AFB doing? What are the motives of the generals and executive branch officials in rocket practice westward over the Pacific? They intend to threaten and intimidate the remaining evil nations? That has failed; NK continues to build and test successfully bombs and missiles understandably in defense. Or do US officials and generals seek to threaten the
itself, as in Orwell’s Oceania, firing off missiles toward Asia, performing
joint exercises with S. Korea, ringing , all in the name of
Do they think it would never occur to the public to ask, given the massive destruction the
possesses, why are we really firing the
missiles and expanding the bases? What internal,
military-corporate/congressional-executive Complex pressures keep such an
expensive, failed program active? Undoubtedly
populace is frightened. Safety, security
tremble the nation. The US National
Security State now extends everywhere to protect us. Each of its thousand bases are an extension
of the US ,
which the Pentagon/White House/Wall Street/Congressional brain is prepared in a
moment to defend. Build another base
immediately threatened by the trembling enemy.
The whole world trembling. US
Even comedians see the rich vein of absurdity. Not only the national
Academy of Sciences
but the pentagon’s Defense Science Board doubt whether the missiles lobbed
westward into the Pacific will ever work, but the blllions continue to flow,
and the missiles continue toward Asia. It doesn’t matter whether they work or
not. The enemies are shown who has
will, who is dominant. It’s like the
scene in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in
which a European warship is lobbing shells into the jungle. And it’s a fine jobs program: putative enemies offer no end of demand.
And an equally rich opportunity for congressional ambitions: the Republicans drum for more weapons and blame President Obama for the failures, who blame the preceding Republicans for design flaws, and both keep the war profiteers joyful.
Keep focus on the threat to US. Keep the public under tight rein without appearing to do so. Guard must be everywhere against every enemy threatening every base and household, and the New York Times/Arkansas Democrate-Gazette demands indignantly that the flawed anti-ballistic missile, built and deployed by both Parties, be repaired and then sent westward into the Pacific.
and Russia and ,
well understand that an effective intercontinental anti-ballistic missile is a
first-strike weapon, that a country possessing such a weapon can attack with
impunity. So they protest and curse and
desperately seek security against the US National Security State. China
VANDENBERG AFB PROTEST CASE TO SUPREME COURT
The Supreme Court will hear the government’s case against longtime Catholic Worker activist, Dennis Apel. Apel was convicted of violating ban and bar orders, an appeals court overturned them, and the government is trying to have them reinstated. See background article from
Independent, vandenbergwitness.org. Santa Barbara See
Desert Voices, Newsletter of
Experience for updates. Nevada Desert
3 ON TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP
Stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Global Revolt Against Corporate Domination
We are in the midst of an epic battle between the people of the world and transnational corporations. Wealthy governments and corporations are merging in a global system in which private corporations have absolute power over your life. This is a battle the people can win and when we do it will show that we can defeat corporate power on issue after issue.
The 1999 battle in
to stop the World Trade Organization (WTO) from granting increased power to
transnational corporations and the negative consequences of the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created broad public awareness about the ways that
‘free trade’ hurts people and the planet. As a result, in the past few decades,
the WTO has effectively been unable to move forward with its neoliberal
economic agenda. And the Seattle was forced to move to smaller
country-by-country trade agreements, many of which were stopped by public
The Obama administration is currently mired in an ambitious project to accomplish both the continuation of the WTO’s agenda and a restructuring of NAFTA in ways that place corporate property rights over protection of people and the environment. Using the friendly term, ‘partnership,’ the administration is negotiating a sweeping free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could potentially involve the entire Pacific Rim as well as a sister agreement with European nations. This is being done largely in secret and in a way that subverts the democratic process.
Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who now has a lucrative job in the private sector advising transnational corporations for the law firm , said that what was in the TPP, there would be no way to get it signed into law. As , if the text were made public negotiators would be walking away from the negotiations because they would be very unpopular.
The new US Trade Representative, Obama’s classmate Michael Froman who worked at CitiGroup, and the more than 600 corporate advisers involved in writing the TPP, have direct access to the text of the treaty, but members of Congress have only limited access and the public and media are excluded. Recent calls for transparency by members of Congress have been , so the extent of what we know comes from leaks.
We do know that the TPP is less about trade and more about entrenching corporate property rights. It will establish a judicial system that gives corporations greater power than sovereign nations and bypasses the democratic process. The TPP will affect the global economy so that corporations control all aspects of our lives from wages, food safety, the price of medications and our rights to clean water and air to Internet freedom and more.
The breadth of this corporate power grab may also be its downfall because it is an opportunity for solidarity. A broad coalition of organizations from the entire North
American continent in solidarity with groups in other
Pacific Rim nations are working together to demand
transparency and a democratic process for the TPP. These groups are calling for
an end to the failed model of free trade and for a new type of trade that honors
the rights of people and the planet.
in 1999 were successful in stopping the WTO meetings being held there. The next
set of meetings took place in , a place of highly restricted access, in
2001. The Doha Round still has because
the member nations have not been able to come to a consensus, particularly
because of the unwillingness of the Seattle to give up agricultural
The Trans-Pacific Partnership and it’s sister, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, known as “TAFTA”), are the Obama administration’s response to the failure of the WTO. These two treaties will aim to not only give multinational corporations all of the deregulation and legal rights they sought through the WTO, but are intended to go even further. With the inclusion of
the Obama administration will live up to its promise to renegotiate NAFTA, but
not in the way that he alluded to during his 2008 presidential campaign. Mexico
In 2008, candidate on multiple occasions that one of the first things he would do as president would be to ‘fix’ NAFTA so that there was greater protection of worker rights and the environment and so that corporations would not be able to undermine laws that are in the public’s interest. Perhaps his true intentions were by a senior economic adviser to the campaign, Austan Goolsbee, who informed the Canadian government that Obama’s rhetoric on NAFTA should be understood as “more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”
After his inauguration, Obama dropped any action on trade including negotiation of the TPP which had started under President Bush. Then he announced in late 2009 that the in trade talks with
Pacific Rim countries. Since
then, there have been 17 rounds of negotiations, and the 18 is
scheduled for this month in .
Reports from negotiators are that the Obama administration is pushing hardest
for an agreement that would strengthen corporations and increase their profits
even if it meant the people suffered. Malaysia
The general tone of the TPP negotiations is typical of the
approach to other nations when it comes to the economy. The US dominates the agenda, with
allies when needed, and bullies smaller nations into accepting provisions that
will harm their population. Civil society groups are invited to the rounds of
talks, but in reality, they do not have influence over what is included.
“Stakeholder” briefings, where civil society groups can ask questions of the
trade representatives, are a lesson in . Mostly, the inclusion of civil
society is to give the appearance of an open process. How can stakeholders
participate when the contents are secret, except for leaked sections? US
As an example of harmful policies, through leaked text it is known that the TPP gives pharmaceutical and medical device corporations the ability to their patents and prevents governments from negotiating fair prices. This keeps the price of medications and other necessary health goods high and prevents generics. Similar provisions in other free trade agreements raised the cost of medications by 20 percent or more resulting in a negative impact on public health. These provisions will make life-saving medications unaffordable and increase disease and death, particularly in poorer countries, all so that corporations can make unreasonable profits. They will also undermine top public health systems in
Japan and . Australia
Another example is the investor rights provision which will allow ‘foreign’ investors to sue a nation if their laws interfere with trade, allowing corporations to sue in trade tribunals for loss of “expected profits.” This means a corporation will be able to sue a nation if a labor, environmental or consumer protection law decreases the profits the corporation planned on making. The trade tribunal will be staffed by judges who are mainly corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their corporate jobs. Essentially the
will be giving up its national sovereignty to foreign investors, as will other
countries. United States
Will this legal right be abused? It already is. that a corporation, Lone Pine Resources which is incorporated in
is suing the Canadian government for $250 million. It passed itself off as an
American corporation in order to sue, but it is in Delaware Calgary
and does all of its business in .
Lone Pine Resources is suing because it spent money to set up a fracking
operation in Canada ,
but then a fracking moratorium was passed. Quebec
, who serves as the US Trade Representative for the Green Shadow Cabinet, agreements such as the TPP are not really about trade at all. They are designed to protect the property rights of foreign investors in a way that works outside of the traditional legal system. Corporations can make claims against governments in a way that bypasses the democratic process. In effect, this will give a corporation the power to force a country, particularly smaller countries, to change its laws. Countries will learn that they cannot pass laws in the public interest without expensive litigation.
Suppose a country has an environmental or labor protection law in place. Under the TPP, a corporation will be able to sue that country for loss of expected profits if the law means it must do things like pay higher wages, comply with work safety provisions clean up toxics in the environment or handle its waste safely. The country will then face a choice of paying millions of dollars or changing its law. Poor countries, such as
, will not really have a
choice because they cannot afford to pay an expensive fine. Vietnam
McIntyre concludes that the current free trade process is really a debate about property rights and corporations having more rights than people. Although there are labor and environmental standards in free trade agreements, McIntyre calls these a “hollow
victory” because they are very vague and there is no way to enforce them.
We can stop the TPP. There is enough experience with corporate trade agreements that we now know they can be stopped. The keys are: letting people know what is in them because their contents are unpopular; and second, getting people active to express their disapproval so the agreement becomes so unpopular no elected official wants to be tied to it.
In the past, when trade agreements were under negotiation, they were discussed in the mass media and the text of the agreements was public. The Office of the US Trade Representative published the text of agreements on their website, even as the treaty was being negotiated.
Now that many people have caught on to the fact that free trade agreements have negative consequences, transparency has ended. The current text of the TPP is only available to the trade representatives and the 600 corporate advisers who are involved in writing it. They have real-time access to the text on their computers. Members of Congress must apply to see the text and when they are granted access, it is at the ‘read and retain’ level only, and they are sworn to secrecy. This means they can view it in a private room but cannot bring staff with them or take notes or photos of the text. And the media has been almost completely silent on the TPP. Stories are just starting to be because now that more people know about the TPP, the media loses its credibility if it doesn’t report on it.
There have been requests for more transparency. Civil society groups wrote letters to the trade representatives, people signed petitions and have called for more access to the text. However, it was leaked that a was written into the TPP which “commits the countries not to declassify documents related to the negotiations for ‘Four years from entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement enters into force, four years from the close of the negotiations.’”
Senator Elizabeth Warren the candidate for US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, asking for public transparency of the text. That request has not been granted. After 8 months of negotiations and tremendous public pressure, Representative was permitted to view some of the TPP documents. His comment: “The TPP is nicknamed ‘NAFTA on steroids.’ Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it. 1) There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret. 2) This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests. 3) What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].”
Why so secret? Public awareness and pressure have prevented the completion of at least over the past decades. The keys to stopping these agreements have been public awareness and protest. , “We haven’t passed a trade agreement in Congress because when people get in the streets, it becomes politically unsavory.”
Beifus is an organizer of a of advocacy groups from
Canada, the US
who are working together to create that politically unsavory environment for
the TPP. They co-wrote a and are calling for public access to
the text and a democratic process in Mexico .
The cross-border group also works with advocates in other Washington Pacific
Rim countries in order to build solidarity.
The TPP offers a real opportunity for solidarity not just between countries that will be affected, but also between groups that are working for a : food safety, health care, internet freedom, worker rights, the environment and more. Coalitions of groups that support fair trade rather than free trade exist in the
and are expanding. US
We are involved in a campaign, organized through in cooperation with groups that have been focused on trade for years, called. The goals of are to help people see that our concerns are united by the TPP and that we can stop the TPP by working together. is an action-oriented website that provides the tool people need to organize actions locally. (Sign up on to get involved.)
Actions are designed with two initial goals: To bring greater awareness to the public about the TPP and to prevent Congress from granting the White House “” (a.k.a. Trade Promotion Authority). In July, we kicked off for solidarity visibility actions – holding signs or other creative ways to get attention and passing out literature about the TPP. In August and through the autumn, people will be encouraged to focus on members of Congress and Fast Track.
Fast Track was first passed under President Nixon in the 1970’s. It gives the president the ability to negotiate and sign trade agreements, and Congress can then vote on the treaty after it has been signed. This subverts the Constitution as , Congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Fast Track prevents the democratic process which includes the checks and balances of public hearings, expert testimony and amendments. Retiring , who consistently represents big business interests, has made it his personal mission to deliver Fast Track to President Obama.
Negotiations of the TPP were expected to wind down this fall; however, because of conflicts between the countries involved and with
Japan planning to join the talks at the July
round in ,
the process may extend into the spring. This gives us more time to educate, organize
and mobilize people, but there is still a sense of urgency. If Congress grants
the White House Fast Track, then the deal will be much harder to stop. Malaysia
It will be interesting to see what happens when
signs on. The new Prime
Minister, Shinzo Abe, ran on a platform opposing the TPP, but quickly shifted
gears after his election. He his
decision to join the talks in March, despite widespread opposition. Thousands
of people now show up to protest the TPP in Japan . Abe claims that he will
negotiate in Japan ’s
interests, but that will conflict with provisions that have already been
One of the keys to successfully stopping corporate trade agreements is for people to broaden the fissures between countries by highlighting why the agreement will be bad for their country. Protesters outside of negotiations, in the media and on the web highlighting how sections of these agreements will hurt their people make overcoming fissures between countries difficult.
If the TPP, and its sister TTIP, are prevented from going forward as intended, this could bring in a new era of fair trade that respects the rights of people and the planet. Free trade agreements have been proven to be flawed models for trade because in addition to accelerating the downward trends in worker rights and environmental protection, they also increase the
trade deficit. US
The reveal that for countries with which the
has a trade agreement, the trade
deficit increased by 440 percent. At the same time, the trade deficit decreased
slightly for countries with which the US does not have a trade agreement.
And the US
already has trade agreements that cover of
the countries involved in the TPP. US
These numbers alone should tell us that the TPP is not really about trade. It is actually a back door for corporations to get laws passed that are in their favor and that could not pass Congress under a democratic process. McIntyre refers to ‘Free Trade” as ‘De-regulated International Commerce.’ Most of the trade in these trade agreements is happening through global corporate supply chains that go wherever the resources and labor are the cheapest.
Not only does de-regulated trade harm the environment by allowing corporations to settle where environmental laws are the most lax and making new laws difficult to pass, but it leads to hundreds of thousands of jobs leaving the
The TPP is often referred to as ‘NAFTA on steroids.’ It is estimated that close
lost from the US
due to NAFTA alone. The TPP will make it easier for transnational corporations
to re-locate where , which drives down wages and
working conditions for everyone. Free trade agreements escalate wealth
inequality worldwide. US
One group of workers at a whose jobs were sent overseas visited the new paper mill and found that not only had they lost their jobs, but all of their hard-won concessions for worker rights and environmental safety were also lost in the transfer.
This is why there is an opportunity for global solidarity to stop this flawed model of trade. Important questions that must be answered going forward are why corporations are given rights that people don’t have and why corporations are not held liable for the harmful effects of mines and factories in their global supply chains. It is time to put a pause on trade agreements that further the free trade model until these and other issues are sorted out.
Fair trade coalitions are calling for sensible trade processes that are grounded in transparency and democracy. This means that all groups affected by the agreement must be involved in the negotiations in a fair and equitable way. And fair trade means that the rights of people and the planet come first, before corporate profits with people empowered to enforce those requirements.
One step in this direction is a bill introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown called “.” This act contains binding requirements for trade deals to protect food safety, the environment and workers as well as mechanisms to enforce these requirements. Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz that trade deals should follow three principles:
1. They should be symmetrical so that requirements are applied to all parties involved.
2. National interests should have higher priority than commercial interests.
3. The negotiations should be transparent.
Stiglitz warns us though that “the
is committed to
a lack of transparency.” US
Other steps are being taken at the to encourage fair trade. These include raising community awareness about the importance of fair trade, increasing local access to fair trade items and passing resolutions to affect government procurement policies.
All of these steps are important. We believe that a high priority step right now is to join together in solidarity to stop the TPP, and after we win that, to stop the TTIP. Negotiations of the are just beginning this month with the first round in
The TTIP is already in a because
of the revelation that the Washington, DC
has been spying on the EU. US
Visit . Take the . Start planning events in your community to expose the TPP. Important dates to keep in mind are the 18 round of negotiations starting on July 15 (a great time to hold solidarity actions) and the 19 round of negotiations which is expected this September somewhere in
America. We will work to mobilize a large presence at that round.
Sign up to receive email
action updates and .
This is a campaign that we can win that will place us firmly on the path to a fair trade future; and a victory on which we can build the global revolt against corporate power. Join this historic turning point in the effort to end the rule of money and transfer power to the people.
Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It's Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.
If You Thought What ALEC and the Koch Brothers Are Doing Was Bad ...
Mitch Jones, Food and Water Watch
Jones writes: "Both of these proposed trade agreements - [TPP and TAFTA] - threaten U.S. food safety rules, infringe upon public and private land with an increased push for fracking, undermine efforts to develop local food systems and increase the privatization of water systems."
Mitch Jones, Food and Water Watch
Jones writes: "Both of these proposed trade agreements - [TPP and TAFTA] - threaten U.S. food safety rules, infringe upon public and private land with an increased push for fracking, undermine efforts to develop local food systems and increase the privatization of water systems."
JIM HIGHTOWER, “THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IS NOT ABOUT FREE TRADE. IT’S A CORPORATE COUP D’ETAT—AGAINST US.” The Hightower Lowdown (August 2013).
"The less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag." -- Kin Hubbard
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In This Issue
Both Bush & Obama have kept negotiations secret about this nuclearized NAFTA
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
Both Bush & Obama have kept negotiations secret about this nuclearized NAFTA
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade. It's a corporate coup d'etat--against us!
In 2002, it was reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had told a friend an amusing tale about our man George W. Bush. It seems that the two of them and French President Jacques Chirac had gotten into an economics discussion, after which George supposedly confided to Tony that he was decidedly unimpressed with Jacques' views: "The problem with the French," Bush scoffed, "is that they don't have a word for 'entrepreneur.'"
W's head has always been a no-fly-zone for factual reality. However, what would boggle his mind even more than the fact that we Americans filched that word from the French, is the reality that government is not quite the entrepreneur-devouring ogre (Mon dieu! George, another French word!) that Bush's cartoonish dogma paints it to be. Actually, government-at-its-best can be an entrepreneur's buddy. One surprising place to see this buddyship at work is in one of the most mundane of government offices: Procurement (i.e., the Department of Buying Stuff).
Where does your mayor, school board, governor, or any other "public shopper" go to purchase fixtures, food, furniture, ferns, and whatnot? Where I live, various agencies have Buy Austin, Buy Texas, Buy American, Buy Green, Buy Sweatshop-Free, and other targeted policies that apply our tax dollars to our values. This sensible idea has swept across the country, most likely including where you live, and these agency purchases add up to a big financial boost for start-ups, independents, women-owned, and other homegrown enterprises. Rather than buying everything from Walmart or
(excuse the redundancy there)--thus shipping truckloads and boatloads of cash
out of our communities--plow that public money back into the home turf for
grassroots economic growth and the flowering of local jobs. China
Stop making sense
My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. ----President Obama, January 26, 2009 Memo to Executive branch officials
Imagine the uproar if President Obama and Congress tried to pass a bill to outlaw such "preferential procurement" policies, summarily cancelling our democratic right to decide where to make public purchases. I'd get pretty
wouldn't you? And what if they also proposed that foreign corporations in Brunei, New
and other nations must be given the right to make the sale on any and all
products purchased with our tax dollars? That'd set my hair on fire! Vietnam
The American people would never stand for this brazen affront to our sovereignty, so I can assure you that Obama and Congress will definitely NOT be proposing any such thing. Not directly, that is.
Instead, their hope is to tiptoe it around us. The nullification of our people's right to direct expenditures of our own tax dollars is but one of the horror stories being quietly packed into a political-and-economic bombshell benignly labeled TPP --the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
This thing is a supersized and nuclearized NAFTA, the 1994 trade scam rammed through Congress by Bill Clinton, Wall Street's Robert Rubin, and the entire corporate establishment. They promised that the "glories of globalization" would shower prosperity across our land. They lied. Corporations got the gold. We got the shaft--thousands of factories closed, millions of middle-class jobs went south, and the economies of hundreds of towns and cities (including
were hollowed out. (Most Mexicans got the NAFTA shafta, too. Detroit US grain traders like ADM dumped corn into ,
wiping out millions of peasant farmers' livelihoods, and thousands of local
businesses were crushed when Walmart invaded with its Chinese-made wares.) Mexico
Twenty years later, the corporate gang that stuck us with NAFTA is back, hoping to fool us with an even more destructive multinational deal. (This calls for another immortal quote from George W: "Fool me once, shame on--shame on you. Fool me--you can't get fooled again." Well, you know what he meant).
This time we really must pay attention, because TPP is not just another trade deal. First, it is massive and open-ended. It would hitch us immediately to 11 Pacific Rim nations (
Australia, Brunei, Canada,
Chile, Japan, Malaysia,
Mexico, New Zealand, Peru,
Singapore, and Vietnam), and its door would remain wide open to
lure China, Indonesia, , and other nations to come
in. Second, note that many of those countries already have trade agreements
with the Russia .
Hence, THIS AMAZING FACT: TPP is a "trade deal"
that mostly does not deal with trade. In
fact, of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade
The other two dozen chapters amount to a devilish "partnership" for corporate protectionism. They create sweeping new "rights" and escape hatches to protect multinational corporations from accountability to our governments... and to us. Here are a few of TPP's provisos that would make our daily lives riskier, poorer, and less free:
Food safety. Any of our government's food safety regulations (on pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, GMOs, non-edible fillers, etc.) that are stricter than "international standards," as most are, could be ruled as "illegal trade barriers." Then our government would have to revise our consumer protections to comply with the weaker global standards. Also, our government could no longer ban meat imports that don't meet our safe-to-eat laws, as long as the exporting nation simply claims that its inspection system is "equivalent" to ours. In addition, food labeling laws we rely on (organic, country-of-origin, animal-welfare approved, GMO-free, etc.) would also be subject to challenge as trade barriers.
Fracking. Our Department of Energy would lose its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to any TPP nation. This would create an explosion of the destructive fracking process across our land, for both foreign and US corporations could export fracked gas from
to member nations without
any DOE review of the environmental and economic impacts on local
communities--or on our national interests. It also means that most of the gas
produced by this violently polluting process will not go to us, but to foreign
users, which will raise our consumer prices and cut manufacturing growth. America
Jobs. US corporations would get special foreign-investor protections to limit the cost and risk of relocating their factories to low-wage nations that sign onto this agreement. For example, an American corporation thinking about moving a factory would know it is guaranteed a sweetheart deal if it exports to a TPP nation like
. The corporation could
skirt Vietnam 's
laws and demand compensation at an international tribunal for any government
policy or action (such as a hike in the minimum wage) that undermined its
"expected" profits. These guarantees would be strong incentives for
corporate chieftains to export even more of our middle-class jobs. Vietnam
Drug prices. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Besides artificially keeping everyone's prices high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands. The deal would also restrict the rights of our government to negotiate with drug giants to get lower consumer prices with bulk purchases, as Medicare and Medicaid do in the
Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits: The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world; it restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking (thus prohibiting Congress from reinstating the much needed Glass-Steagall firewall in our country); it could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash; and it provides a backdoor escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths. These extreme provisions would be enforceable by the banks themselves--TPP empowers them to force governments either to repeal reform laws or to compensate banks with taxpayer money for "losses" they say are caused by reforms.
Internet freedom. Thanks to public rebellion, corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into TPP. Corporate-created content, for example, would be given copyright protection for a stunning 120 years! The deal would also transform internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our "user activity," arbitrarily take down our content, and cut off our access to the internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for non-commercial, small-scale copying--like sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.
Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One especially insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry pick the profitable customers and sink the public service. Also, corporations from any TPP nation must be allowed to bid on contracts to provide public services in the
on the same terms as American corporations. US
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's superb research and activist group, Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership "a corporate coup d'etat." Indeed, nations that join must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting
sovereignty and cancelling our
people's right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent
corporate rule over us--there's no expiration date on the agreement, and no
provision in it can be altered unless all countries agree. Thus, even if
Americans voted in an election to make changes, any other TPP country could
overrule us by not agreeing. US
Well, you might think, we'll still have our courts to redress corporate misuse of TPP's provisions. Uh... no. One of the deal's chapters creates a monstrous monkey wrench called the "Investor-State Dispute Resolution" system. In this private, supra-legal "court," corporations are empowered to sue TPP governments over environmental, health, consumer, zoning, or any other public policies that the corporations claim are either undermining their TPP "rights" or diminishing--get this--their "expected future profits."
This elevates thousands of private, profit-seeking entities to the legal status of sovereign nations. Under the investor-state system, a smaller version of which was included in NAFTA and other free-trade schemes, the deck is stacked for corporate interests. Cases are decided behind closed doors by three-person international tribunals of private attorneys who often have a glaring corporate bias. The same lawyers who represent corporations in these cases routinely switch over in other cases to serve as "judges." Holy revolving door!
These "tribunalists" are not accountable to any electorate, and their decisions are final--there's no appeal to a real court. If a corporation wins a case, taxpayers of the government being sued lose, for they must pony up cash to compensate the corporation for its "loss" of profit.
At present, even before the elephantine TPP is imposed on us, corporations are demanding a total of nearly $14 billion just in cases brought under free trade arrangements that include the
. Among the current corporate
giants suing governments in investor-state tribunals are (1) Philip Morris
(Altria), attacking Australia's and Uruguay's cigarette labeling policies; (2)
Chevron, trying to avoid its liability for the gross toxic contamination of
people and nature in the Ecuadorian Amazon; (3) Eli Lilly, demanding that
Canada rewrite its patent law to give its drugs extended monopoly protection;
and (4) several European investment firms, assaulting Egypt's minimum wage law. US
Why isn't this a screaming, bold-type, take-to-the-streets, call-out-the-dogs, roll-out-the-guillotine news story and political issue? Because the corporate and political powers (apologies again for redundancy) definitely don't want us to kick up a fuss that could squirrel their little surprise, so they've thrown a suffocating blanket of secrecy over the whole process.
TPP negotiations were initiated back in 2008 by none other than President Can't-Be-Fooled-Again. (Okay, one more Bushism: "I think--tide turning. See, as I remember--I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of--it's easy to see a tide turn.") The incurious mass media, however, didn't see the story then and have since devoted zero investigative energy to it. They've accepted the official cover story that the deal is just another yawner of a trade agreement, so pay no mind--even as 17 rounds of closed-door negotiations have zipped under their radar.
Obama--who pledged in 2008 to avoid sneaky, NAFTA-style, corporate sell-outs--promptly surrendered to the global schemers once in office. Team Obama goosed up the TPP negotiating process and has gone to extremes to make it more furtive than Bush did. In 2010, all nations involved even signed a formal pledge to keep details of their deliberations from the public--and to keep documents related to the deal under cover until four years after the process is completed.
WARNING--BUCKLE UP BEFORE READING THIS: Last year, Obama's top trade rep, Ron Kirk, declared that locking out the people is necessary, because the deal's details would outrage Americans and spook Congress from rubber stamping it. In short, to win public approval of TPP, the Obamacans say they must keep it hidden from the public.
Where, you might ask, is Congress? In the dark.
Even though the Constitution says Congress has exclusive authority "to regulate commerce with foreign nations," the White House has repeatedly rejected pretty-please requests by lawmakers merely to attend negotiations as observers, and congressional leaders have not been allowed to review, much less have any meaningful input on, the draft texts of TPP's 29 chapters. (Update: In June, our progressive friend, Rep. Alan Grayson, who has been a tenacious critic of the shady process, was finally granted a peek at the full draft--though not allowed to take a copy. "It's easy to understand why [it's] been kept secret," Grayson says, confirming that "It puts corporate interests ahead of American interests.")
The corporate team
There are, however, 600 or so "outsiders" who've been welcomed inside to help write TPP. They are handpicked members of the 16 Industry Trade Advisory Committees--practically all of them corporate executives. From AT&T to Zippo Manufacturing, and from the Koch boys' empire to Walmart's billionaires, corporate powers are cheek to jowl with the government negotiators to make sure the final document serves their very special interests.
In addition, Obama has now named one of their own to replace Kirk:Michael Froman, an Obama classmate in law school and a protege ofRobert Rubin in the
administration. Post-Clinton, Froman
traipsed along with Rubin to Citigroup, which made him a Wall Street
multi-millionaire. From there, he went back to Obama in 2004 as a senate
campaign advisor and money-bagger (including introducing the rising political
star to Rubin). Now he's been brought in to wire all these connections to the
TPP sovereignty bomb. Clinton
Will the new trade representative finally apply Obama's 2009 pledge of "transparency, public participation, and collaboration" to these momentous negotiations? Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked Froman this very question in June, offering three specific suggestions for shining a little of democracy's beneficial light on the process. "Mr. Froman's response was clear," Sen. Warren later reported: "No, no, no."
Obama & Co. can shut us out of the room, but they can't consummate the deal there. While he wants to wrap up formal negotiations by October, he then has to get Congress's okay. This means imploring the same members he's been stiffing to sign
(i.e., yours and mine) to the document. America
How will he get them to do that? As Clinton and Bush did in previous free trade hustles, he'll try to use a rush-rush legislative procedure called "fast track," while TPP's boosters simultaneously envelop the public debate in a disorienting fog of corporate PR.
The White House and its corporate allies will also mount a heavy-handed lobbying campaign to shove their package into law. Yet, even with all of the above, by no means is passage assured--or likely.
Start with fast track. The very term suggests a railroad job, which is apt, for it's a little-used, anti-democratic maneuver to choo-choo a bill right over Congress. Under this procedure, Obama is allowed to sign TPP before Congress votes. Then he writes an "implementing bill" to make
laws conform to the hundreds of
pages of TPP dictates. That's what he sends to Congress, where no amendments
will be allowed and debate will be strictly limited. US
The idea is to force members to swallow the whole deal in one, hurried, up-or-down vote. However, Congress first has to authorize the White House's use of the fast track ploy--and that's very iffy. Republican leaders have shown they're unwilling to give anything to Obama. Meanwhile, congressional Democrats are not likely to grease the skids for this stinker of a deal.
The people's team
But the fundamental problem for the deal's boosters is not procedure, it's content: TPP stinks. If Americans get a whiff of it, they'll gag. Yes, corporations will put a ton of money behind TPP's passage, but even they might not have enough PR perfume to make Congress hug it.
There is also a broad, well-organized, knowledgeable, and politically experienced coalition of grassroots groups already at work to prevent this perversion of
's fundamental governing
principles. Still, many pundits will tell us that it's impossible to stop them,
because the public can't understand these complex deals. America
Baloney. First, this one is not at all complex; it's a plain old power grab by the world's moneyed elites, and people today have no interest in giving more money and power to the world's 1-percenters. Second, populist forces now opposing TPP have won many of these brawls in the past, including:
's demand for fast
track authority in 1998. Clinton
Sidetracking the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1998.
Derailing an expansion of the World Trade Organization in 1999 and again in 2010.
Defeating the Free Trade Area of the
(a 14-nation expansion of
NAFTA) in 1999. Americas
Halting such multi-nation trade deals as AFTA (Andean countries) and NAFTA-style deals with APEC (an earlier attempt at the TPP with 18 Pacific Rim Countries), SACU (Southern Africa),
and . Thailand
My message: We can do this. We The People can protect our democratic rights from this latest threat of corporate usurpation. The only way the Powers That Be can win is to keep the public in the dark about what TPP is. So now is the time for Lowdowners to sound the alarm, spread the news about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (start by sharing this article with your social networks!), and shine the light of day on their power play before it gets to Congress.
Contents #3, Nov. 25, 2012
Obama Focuses on Asia-Pacific
Burns on Panetta: Transferring Forces to
Letman (via Global Nework and VFP):
, Head of PACOM Hawaii
US Fear of
Management Chinese Port
Oceania, Western Imperialism S. Pacific
Contents #4 Encircling
, Pacific Resistance China
LaFebre, Expansion 1860-1898
Dick: Progress to Pacific
Dick: General Custer
Bardsley: US Troops to
Paik and Mander: Pacific Blowback
Space Alert! Dec. 2012
Middleton, Australian Military Connections
US and NZ: Waihopai Spybase
Vandenberg Air Force Base
Star Wars and
US WESTWARD IMPERIALISM, PACIFIC, E. ASIA