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The People Can Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership

November 14th, 2013

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Time to end the failed experiment with rigged corporate trade and put in place fair trade for the people and planet before profits

Momentum is growing in the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yesterday, the TPP was dealt two blows. Each could be lethal but the TPP, and its Atlantic counterpart, called TAFTA, are not dead yet. It is time for the movement of movements that formed to oppose the TPP to stand in solidarity, defeat these agreements and end the era of rigged corporate trade.

To get involved in the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership visit http://www.FlushTheTPP.org.

Yesterday’s first blow came from Wikileaks, showing once again that when government works in secret with big corporations, exposure by whistle blowers is critical to changing the corrupt direction of government and the economy. Wikileaks published the full text of the intellectual property chapter; the leaked document included the positions of all the parties. It will take time for all the corporate rigging in this lengthy document to be understood, but already it is evident that Internet freedom will be curtailed, access to healthcare will become more expensive and access to information will be undermined.

This is not the first leak of TPP text. Previous leaks are consistent with the Wikileaks leak – enhanced corporate power that puts profits before the needs of the people and the protection of the planet. The Wikileaks release shows that the United States is by far the most aggressive advocate for trans-national corporate interests, often isolated in pushing for harmful policies.

The second blow came from members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In recent days, several letters were sent to President Obama opposing Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. Fast Track undermines Congress’ responsibility under the Commerce Clause to regulate trade between nations by allowing the president to sign the agreement before Congress even sees it. The letters made public on November 13th demonstrate broad bi-partisan opposition to Fast Track with 179 Members signing at least one of the three letters.

A letter spearheaded by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) garnered the support of three-quarters of House Democrats with 151 Members telling President Obama they oppose Fast Track, writing:

    “we will oppose ‘Fast Track’ Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative stages of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.” Important leaders of the Democratic Party signed the letter including 18 out of 21 Ranking Members who would chair committees if the Democrats were in the majority. This means that to pursue Fast Track authority, President Obama will need to challenge three-quarters of his own party.

But, that is not all. In another letter, organized by Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and signed by 12 of the 16 Democratic Party members of the Ways and Means Committee, which is primarily responsible for Fast Track legislation, members expressed opposition to Fast Track unless it was radically different from previous grants of authority. The letter says it “cannot just be an extension of earlier trade promotion authorities. Any new proposed TPA must . . . ensure Congress plays a more meaningful role in the negotiating process.”

And, the opposition is bi-partisan. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) drafted a letter signed by 23 Republicans. The Republican letter emphasized that Congress has the “exclusive authority to set the terms of trade.” Further, “The Founders established this clear check and balance to prevent the president from unilaterally negotiating with foreign nations and imposing trade policies that Congress would deem to be against the national interest.” They write that they refuse to “cede our constitutional authority to the executive” through Fast Track.

These are just the latest problems in the quest for Fast Track, indeed a bill has yet to be introduced. The previous US Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, said in 2012 “We’ve got to have it.” He wanted the authority by the end of 2012. In April, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) promised Obama Fast Track by June of 2013. The broad bi-partisan opposition announced this week shows that winning Fast Track has very little support in Congress. In fact, the letters may be the death knell for such legislation.

The Wikileaks documents show there is a lot of division among the negotiating nations with important disagreements on key aspects of the text. Without Fast Track to guarantee passage of the TPP, these nations will be even less likely to agree to demands by the U.S. Further, Asian countries are negotiating their own competing agreement, which does not include the United States but, unlike the TPP, does include China.

To get involved in the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership visit http://www.FlushTheTPP.org.

Latin American countries are also speaking out against the TPP. Earlier this year, Rodrigo Contreras, Chile's lead TPP negotiator quit to warn people of the dangers of the TPP - highlighting how big financial institutions will dominate their governments and how the TPP “will become a threat for our countries: It will restrict our development options in health and education, in biological and cultural diversity, and in the design of public policies and the transformation of our economies. It will also generate pressures from increasingly active social movements, who are not willing to grant a pass to governments that accept an outcome of the TPP negotiations that limits possibilities to increase the prosperity and well-being of our countries.” And, recently the Parliament of Perupassed a resolution “requesting that the government open a 'public, political, and technical debate' on the binding rules being negotiated in the TPP.”

In the United States, cities and counties are beginning to pass TPP Free Zones, saying they will not obey the TPP if it becomes law. These local governments are concerned with provisions that would not allow them to give preference to buying local, buying U.S. made goods or other provisions that undermine their sovereignty.

In addition to opposition in the U.S. government and foreign governments, a mass citizen uprising is developing against the TPP. There have been large protests in many of the countries involved in the negotiations as well as in the United States. The night before the Wikileaks documents were released, 13 cities did visibility protests opposing the TPP in light shows. In September we joined with activists in Washington, DC in a series of protests, including covering the office building of the US Trade Representative in banners to expose their secret trade agreement. Protests are scheduled for Salt Lake City, UT on November 19th where lead negotiators from 12 countries will hold meetings. A global day of protest is planned for December 3 against not only the TPP but also the WTO and all toxic trade agreements.

The TPP is running into resistance in Congress, local governments and among Pacific nations in Asia and Latin America; and by people who oppose the agreement all over the world. This is part of a growing movement of movements – all of the movements impacted by corporate trade, e.g. labor, environmental, Internet freedom, healthcare, food sovereignty, immigrant’s rights, banking regulation – are joining together to defeat it.

The people are winning. Fourteen trade agreements have been stopped in the last 14 years and as Tom Donohue of the US Chamber of Commerce wrote this week “the WTO has not concluded a single new multilateral trade agreement since it was created in 1995.” Mass protest against rigged corporate trade agreements can end the experiment in trade that puts profits ahead of the people and planet.

We are on the verge of defeating Fast Track. It is important that we keep the pressure on Congress. Neither the TPP nor TAFTA will become law if people learn what is in them and Congress fulfills its constitutional responsibility to review their impact. Denying the President Fast Track is the essential step to defeat both of these agreements.

Once we defeat Fast Track and prevent TPP and TAFTA from becoming law, we need to remain in solidarity and work to transform trade so it becomes “fair” trade that puts the necessities of the people and the protection of the planet first. The people will have firmly established that they will not tolerate rigged corporate trade deals. If corporations want to see trade between nations, they need a new approach – transparent, participatory and fair – with new goals of serving the people and planet.

To get involved in the campaign to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership visit http://www.FlushTheTPP.org.

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Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are participants in PopularResistance.org; they co-direct It’s Our Economy and co-host Clearing the FOG shown on UStream TV and heard on radio. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8.

@KBZeese
Shift Wealth:Economic Democracy
Its Our Economy
(www.ItsOurEconomy.US)
Build power and resistance
Popular Resistance
(www.PopularResistance.org)
Democratize the Media
Clearing the FOG (Forces of Greed)
Radio (http://www.ClearingTheFOGRadio.org)
Video (http://www.ustream.tv/itsoureconomy)

Tell Congress: No War in Syria!

September 10th, 2013

Link: http://congress.org/contact/

His war plans were delayed. They're not deterred. They're not halted. Obama plans aggressive war on Syria. He does so with or without Security Council and/or congressional approval.

Syria's government had nothing to do with August 21's chemical weapons attack. Obama, Kerry and other administration officials know it.

They lied claiming otherwise. Clear evidence proves otherwise. Insurgent terrorists used them multiple times. They used them on August 21 in Ghouta.

Western-enlisted death squads bear full responsibility. Clear evidence proves it.

Obama's on track for more war. He plans lawless aggression. He does so based on lies. All wars are based on them. This time's no different.

Waging war on Syria constitutes lawless aggression. International law is clear and unequivocal.

No nation may attack another except in self-defense. It can only do so when the Security Council acts. It has final say.

Presidents have no authority to wage war unilaterally. The Constitution's Article I, Section 8 affords warmaking powers solely to Congress.

America's only threats are ones it creates. Waging war has nothing to do with national security. It's solely for unchallenged world dominance.

America's a global menace. It threatens humanity's survival. Obama represents the worst of rogue leadership. He's a war criminal multiple times over. Stopping him matters most.

Contact congress and tell them to vote against this illegal and unjust war in Syria.

Text From the article: Obama Intends Lawless Aggression on Syria, by Stephen Lendman

Warren Burger and Bradley Manning "The very least one should expect from elected officials is the truth.”

August 6th, 2013

Link: http://org.credoaction.com/petitions/how-much-time-would-you-serve-for-bradley-manning

by Charlotte Scot

More than 3200 of us will proudly serve Pfc. Manning’s sentence

My Great Grandmother’s sister had a son named Warren Burger. Indeed he was the same Warren Burger who became Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Richard Nixon.

When it came time for the Supreme Court to determine whether President Nixon must turn over his secret tape recordings, I admit I was nervous. I remember standing in the Laurel Canyon store in Los Angeles when the verdict came across the radio. I over-reacted by jumping and screaming and dancing about the store like a lunatic I was so relieved Cousin Warren has done the right thing.

Years later when I was in Washington working for President Carter I went to the Court to have tea with my cousin. I asked him how he had reached the decision to make President Nixon turn over the tapes? He answered in a flash, “Our President didn’t tell the truth. The very least one should expect from elected officials is the truth.”

I thought of that today when the Judge reduced the potential sentence of Pfc Bradley Manning to 90 years.

Have our values changed so much that we now send people to prison for being honest? Is it acceptable for the government to lie to its citizens about how foreign policy is conducted, and that they are spying on us? It comes down to the government can lie to us, and if someone tells the truth about their lies they can be sent to jail for life.

In the past five days more than 3,200 people have come forward to sign the petition, "I will proudly serve part of Bradley Manning's sentence." It is good to see so many standing with Manning in this difficult time for him. Obviously, I am not alone in seeing the sad irony of our times.

You can still sign on. This could be the beginning of a SHEEPLE STAMPEDE!

http://org.credoaction.com/petitions/how-much-time-would-you-serve-for-bradley-manning

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Charlotte Scot, Old Lyme, CT

from: @KBZeese
Shift Wealth: Economic Democracy
Its Our Economy
(www.ItsOurEconomy.US)
Build power and resistance
Popular Resistance
(www.PopularResistance.org)
Democratize the Media
Clearing the FOG (Forces of Greed)
Radio (http://www.ClearingTheFOGRadio.org)
Video (http://www.ustream.tv/itsoureconomy)

Stop Watching Us

June 21st, 2013

Sign the Petition stopwatching.us

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to express our concern about recent reports published in the Guardian and the Washington Post, and acknowledged by the Obama Administration, which reveal secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on phone records and Internet activity of people in the United States.

The Washington Post and the Guardian recently published reports based on information provided by an intelligence contractor showing how the NSA and the FBI are gaining broad access to data collected by nine of the leading U.S. Internet companies and sharing this information with foreign governments. As reported, the U.S. government is extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person's movements and contacts over time. As a result, the contents of communications of people both abroad and in the U.S. can be swept in without any suspicion of crime or association with a terrorist organization.

Leaked reports also published by the Guardian and confirmed by the Administration reveal that the NSA is also abusing a controversial section of the PATRIOT Act to collect the call records of millions of Verizon customers. The data collected by the NSA includes every call made, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and other "identifying information" for millions of Verizon customers, including entirely domestic calls, regardless of whether those customers have ever been suspected of a crime. The Wall Street Journal has reported that other major carriers, including AT&T and Sprint, are subject to similar secret orders.

This type of blanket data collection by the government strikes at bedrock American values of freedom and privacy. This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.

We are calling on Congress to take immediate action to halt this surveillance and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's and the FBI's data collection programs. We call on Congress to immediately and publicly:

  • Enact reform this Congress to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, the state secrets privilege, and the FISA Amendments Act to make clear that blanket surveillance of the Internet activity and phone records of any person residing in the U.S. is prohibited by law and that violations can be reviewed in adversarial proceedings before a public court;
  • Create a special committee to investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying. This committee should create specific recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to end unconstitutional surveillance;
  • Hold accountable those public officials who are found to be responsible for this unconstitutional surveillance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sign the Petition stopwatching.us

March Against Monsanto, May 25

May 11th, 2013

Link: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

Why Do We March?

On May 25, activists around the world will unite to March Against Monsanto.

  • Research studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-modified foods can lead to serious health conditions such as the development of cancer tumors, infertility and birth defects.
  • In the United States, the FDA, the agency tasked with ensuring food safety for the population, is steered by ex-Monsanto executives, and we feel that’s a questionable conflict of interests and explains the lack of government-led research on the long-term effects of GM products.
  • Recently, the U.S. Congress and president collectively passed the nicknamed “Monsanto Protection Act” that, among other things, bans courts from halting the sale of Monsanto’s genetically-modified seeds.
  • For too long, Monsanto has been the benefactor of corporate subsidies and political favoritism. Organic and small farmers suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.
  • Monsanto's GM seeds are harmful to the environment; for example, scientists have indicated they have contributed to Colony Collapse Disorder among the world's bee population.

What are solutions we advocate?

  • Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
  • Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
  • Repealing relevant provisions of the US's "Monsanto Protection Act."
  • Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
  • Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.
  • Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto's secrets.
  • Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won't take these injustices quietly.

We will not stand for cronyism. We will not stand for poison. That’s why we March Against Monsanto.

Subscribe to get March Against Monsanto updates!

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

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Originally Posted by Emilie Rensink

U.S. Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!

February 6th, 2013

March and Rally at the White House
Saturday, April 13
Assemble at 12 noon
Lafayette Park - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

The targeting of Africa and its vast natural resources by the Pentagon and CIA is in full swing.

Having killed thousands of people through U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa, the U.S. government is now putting all of Africa in the crosshairs.

The Pentagon is establishing a drone base headquarters in Niger and a network of drone bases throughout the continent.

In late December 2012, the United States announced a plan to send military missions to as many as 35 countries on the African continent.

After engaging in centuries of colonial plunder and the kidnapping of millions into slavery, the U.S. and European powers are bringing a new wave of militarism to Africa.

Under the guise of “fighting terrorism” or “saving civilians,” the United States, France and Britain are invading and bombing African countries.

Now they will step up their campaign of killing African people by the employment of Pentagon and CIA drone aircraft located in a network of bases being established by the Pentagon throughout the continent.

The U.S. functions as a death squad government, permitting the president and military leaders to create secret “kill lists” of people who have been selected for assassination. There is no due process, no trial, no evidence – the individuals are selected to be murdered and they are killed, and many civilians who are nearby also die. Drones are the weapon of choice.

Over 3,000 people have been murdered by U.S. drone strikes in the last few years, including a large number of children among the many civilians who have been slaughtered by these robotic killing machines.

Sitting in offices thousands of miles away from their targets, U.S. operators routinely decide to “push the button” and kill their unsuspecting targets on the ground with hellfire missiles fired from unseen drone aircraft. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, villagers have staged mass protests against drone strikes after their kids were incinerated while they were collecting firewood or farming in nearby fields.

In the 19th century, it was a common tactic of imperialists to use gunboats to move around the world and assert their will, answering challenges to their authority with bullets and cannon shot. The use, or threat of the use, of naval force was used by Britain, the United States and other imperialist nations to force exploitative terms of trade and political accommodations on various political entities around the world.

The United States government’s drone program serves the same general purpose as gunboat diplomacy. It enables the United States to extend its military power over any country that lacks the ability, or will, to shoot down the aircraft.

Join us at the White House for a march and rally on Saturday, April 13 to let the world know that the people of this country are demanding “Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!”

Initial endorsers:

  • ANSWER Coalition
  • Cynthia McKinney, former Congressperson
  • Akbar Muhammad, International Rep. of Nation of Islam
  • Revival of Pan Africanism Forum
  • CRI-Panafricain
  • Democratic Union of Gambian Activists - D.C.
  • Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
  • Nisa Muhammad, writer Final Call newspaper
  • Jared Ball, radio host, WPFW (Pacifica)
  • Rev. Graylan Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ
  • Imam Mahdi Bray, Freedom Coalition
  • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund
  • American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)
  • Peta Lindsay, Party for Socialism and Liberation
  • Haiti Liberte
    and others.

Endorse the April 13 action now!

The April 13 “U.S. Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!” March and Rally at the White House takes place during a nationwide month of action opposing drones that also includes National Days Against Drones Actions in San Diego April 4-7 and the Ground the Drones, End the Wars weekend of education and action in Syracuse, N.Y., April 26-28. Details

Please donate to help the April 13 March and Rally at the White House

Please help us cover the many costs of the April 13 mobilization by making an urgently needed donation right now.

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