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TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

The TransPacific Partnership or TPP: Biggest 'Free Trade' (actually Corporate-Managed trade) Deal in History of the World! - Threatens Sovereignty & Democracy of USA & 11 Other Pacific Rim Nations We have March Madness and Benjamin Netanyahu winning his election in Israel, and Harrison Ford crashing his plane - - such news and excitement bleeping through our brains right now, BUT - - are you aware of perhaps the WORST thing happening on the planet right now (besides Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant still leaking 400 tons of radioactive water every day into the Pacific Ocean)? You probably have heard nothing about the TransPacific Partnership, or TPP, on your TV or radio, have you? The TPP could be approved this month of March 2015. Perhaps you did hear the phrase ‘FAST TRACK’? Which means no debate allowed on the text and provisions of the TPP, only an exclusively Yes-or-No Congressional vote being allowed on the world’s largest ‘free trade’ agreement ever concocted. In secret. Behind closed doors. No Congressional participation has been allowed. There have already been at least 24 secret meetings in the last few years and nobody is reporting anything about them to you in our two most prominent forms of mass media. Be aware that this horrible trade deal would involve 792 million people and nearly 40% of the world’s economic activity. The most frightening thing is, once it is signed, as a trade agreement the TPP’s 29 chapters of secretly corporate-written audacity can overrule any of the laws of the USA, and those laws of any of the other 11 signing nations, because a trade agreement takes precedence over domestic laws. See if you have heard about any of these outrageous facets of the TPP: Most horrible, is that corporations can challenge any law or regulation, be it federal, state or local, in secret courts or tribunals, with three men (usually it is men in the judges’ pool) usually deciding (over 90% of the time historically) in favor of the corporation, as in NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement 1994 between USA/Mexico/Canada) or WTO (World Trade Organization) ‘courts’, that whatever law or rule is challenged is ‘an illegal barrier to free trade,’ and must be changed or eliminated or the country, yes, the USA or Canada or Mexico or Australia or Peru, or Chile, or New Zealand, must pay whatever the ‘judges’ dream up could be ‘expected future profits,’ that the corporation would ‘lose’ because the law exists, and continues to exist. In these supra-legal ‘courts’ 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 their ‘expected future profits.’ Remember that the so-called ‘judges’ in these ‘courts’ are usually trade lawyers, and are judges one day, and hired advocates pleading the case of a corporate challenge the next day. Once made, these decisions are final, as the treaty supersedes national USA laws, for example. No appeal to a real court can be made. [World Bank tribunals even keep their written RULINGS SECRET! - - tribunals will be UN and World Bank conducted.] Also, No affected parties can attend these tribunals, like affected small business owners, workers, local residents, or potentially poisoned people. Only the lawyers for the corporations and those of the challenged country are allowed behind the closed doors of the tribunals. An environmental law prohibiting pollution of a river; or a local government's buy-local or buy-American regulation, could typically be challenged. ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ or ISDS, is what the process is called, that elevates a corporation to a ‘corporate state,’ as it can challenge a TPP country, via challenging its law(s). Only 5 chapters of the TransPacific Partnership or TPP are actually about tariffs and trade: ‘the other 24 [quoting thelowdown, Jim Hightower of Texas’ January 2015 issue] consist of various ways to ‘FREE’ rapacious corporations from any accountability for the havoc they wreak and from any responsibility to the world community’s common good.’ * Here are some examples of what could happen, and what is vulnerable if the TPP is passed: Food safety. Our USA food standards, our laws and rules for food safety, food contamination, are usually more strict than ‘international standards.’ But, 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 "illegal barriers to free trade," if challenged in TPP trade courts, and would have to be changed or ‘harmonized’ down to these lower international standards.** So even though 90% of Americans in poll after poll (though you probably haven’t heard about these polls on your TV or radio) reveal that we want our GMO’s [Genetically Modified Organisms] - our genetically altered corn, high fructose CORN syrup, soy, canola, cottonseed oil (in our chips, baked goods), zucchini, sugar, papaya, labelled >> NO! - you are not alone in wanting this! - - the TransPacific Partnership could lead GMO labelling laws, like those passed in Vermont and Maine, and others to follow, ruled ‘illegal barriers to free trade,” and have to be changed or eliminated or we/our government -- pay the price of ‘expected future profits’ to the corporations like Monsanto and Dow and Syngenta. Mexico's Senate unanimously backed GMO food labelling in November 2000. Within three months the USA was threatening to impose sanctions via NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement - unless the decision was reversed. Which it subsequently was. *** Also likely to be trade-court challenged will likely be our country-of-origin labelling law for meat that a 2013 Consumer Union poll found 90% of Americans also favored. If challenged, this law would have to be eliminated if we sign onto the TPP - 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. * 'Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) (or mCOOL [m for mandatory]) is a requirement signed into American law under Title X of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (known as the 2002 Farm Bill, codified at 7 U.S.C. § 1638a). This law requires retailers to provide country-of-origin labeling for fresh beef, pork, and lamb. The program exempts processed meats. The United States Congress passed an expansion of the COOL requirements on 29 September 2008, to include more food items such as fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables.[1][2] Regulations were implemented on 1 August 2008 (73 F.R. 45106), 31 August 2008 (73 F.R. 50701), and 24 May 2013 (78 F.R. 31367).' *# Seafood. '84% of the seafood we eat is imported – much of it from TPP countries. Yet, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) only inspects about 2% of our imported seafood, vegetables, spices and fruit. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office on seafood safety found that the FDA only tested 0.1% (1/10th of 1 percent) of imported seafood for drugs that may be present in imported seafood but are illegal in the U.S. because they can cause cancer, allergic reactions and antibiotic resistance. Yet, even with this inadequate system, the FDA has detained hundreds of seafood imports from TPP countries because they were contaminated. For example, in Fiscal Year 2012, the FDA detained 206 imported seafood products from Vietnam alone because of the presence of salmonella, e-coli, methyl mercury, filth and other drug residues. In 2014, the Japanese government found that shrimp imported from Vietnam had chloramphenicol, an antibiotic which causes a lethal blood disorder and is banned in the U.S.3 The TPP, by greatly expanding our seafood imports, would result in even more uninspected, untested and tainted seafood imports entering into the U.S.' **** Add onto this the effects from the Fukushima nuclear disaster's ongoing leakage of 400 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean every day since March 2011. This has to affect the chain of life in the Pacific, as the over-500 radionuclides produced by the fissioning of uranium seep into the protoplasm of fish and plants in our greatest ocean. Do not expect that if the TPP is passed, that proper monitoring will ever be done of food and life within our Pacific Ocean. *********************************************************** Outsourcing food inspections. 'Four of the key participants in TPP – the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – have agreed to privatize meat and poultry inspections by removing government inspectors from the slaughter lines and replacing them with company-paid employees. They have already deemed these privatized inspection schemes to be “equivalent” and are already accepting imports from one another using this new inspection model. These countries are setting the stage for other countries to deregulate meat and poultry inspection.' ***** *********************************************************** Then there is the internet and internet freedom: We all love how we can quickly go search the WorldWideWeb and find the information we want on almost anything: why a rooster crows [warning of danger, expressing domination] what is the weather in Austin, Texas how to treat sun poisoning We can get a simple answer in under a minute and not have to pay extra for any higher speed big media corporations want to charge. Yes, we just recently did win the battle for 'net neutrality' involving equal access to the internet for all of us. Not allowing a 'fast lane' for corporate or more wealthy users, and a lesser 'slower lane' for the rest of us, if we don't pay the exacted higher price for the faster lane. The problems with a faster lane for a higher price would be: what will happen with the 'slow lane?' Will it get slower as time passes? Will there be more and more pop-ups annoying you to 'Upgrade NOW!'? to a higher transmission speed?' Rather than just improve the technology for everyone to use equally without hoisting up the profit flag, will the corporations be more encouraged to devise other means to gouge more profits out of a media they are serving and don't really own (like TV and Radio, the corporations do NOT own the airwaves, they lease space on them). Right now the the internet is still part of the shared public commons, not yet privatized. Remember, the internet was developed by the USA government, not by corporate interlopers like Comcast and A T & T. Please know that if the TPP is approved, '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,' ** and of course, net neutrality can be challenged in TPP trade court. 'Thanks to public rebellion, corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the internet failed in Congress in 2012 to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into the TPP.' ** 'Where does your mayor, school board, governor, or any other "public shopper" go to purchase fixtures, food, furniture, ferns, and whatnot? Where Jim Hightower lives, 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 China (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.' * US Government Procurement market: $1.7 TRILLION DOLLARS!!! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 'The TPP locks in and expands privatization and deregulation of public services: by allowing multinational corporations into our public services and limiting how governments can regulate the services they provide. ALL public services would be subject to TPP trade rules: excluded until now: but transportation, water treatment, corrections, education, health care would be susceptible for privatization with signing on to the TPP. 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 US on the same terms as American corporations [i.e., receive so-called 'national treatment,' without having to follow all the regulations that USA companies must. An example is not having to have a local office inside the USA].'** 'Regulated Protections and Standards Will Be Undermined. The [various trade] agreements would restrict the ability of governments to establish new regulations, such as worker safety, consumer protections, or licensing requirements. Negotiators claim these kinds of public safety regulations limit competition and are a “barrier to entry” by foreign for-profit corporations.'****** 'Privatization will be Expanded and Locked In. TISA ['Trade in Services Agreement' - another trade agreement in a current trifecta corporate grab-bag, propped in line after the TPP, for upcoming involved-governments' approval, that includes the TPP] would bar governments from converting existing private services to publicly based, and would prevent governments from shifting privatized workers back to the public sector, even if it’s shown that the privatization effort was a failure.' ****** 'Off-Shoring the Public Sector. The “trade in cross border services” section of trade agreements forbids governments from requiring that a foreign firm set up a domestic operation to provide services. This would allow corporations in other countries to supply services to the U.S. without actually employing any U.S. workers.' ****** [Like a Chinese firm running your municipal bus system (if China enters the TPP, as expected it will, if the TPP is approved), or a Vietnamese firm running your state's prisons... or a Japanese firm privatizing your public school.] 'Municipal water systems would be vulnerable to companies like Veolia, a French-owned multinational and the largest water and wastewater privatization firm in the world. Veolia has a tainted history of doing business in the United States. Burlingame and Richmond, Calif., sued Veolia for dumping tens of millions of gallons of untreated wastewater and sewage into San Francisco Bay, and Indianapolis sued Veolia for overcharging 250,000 residents. If those local governments wanted to return their water systems to municipal control, Veolia likely could use the provisions of the trade agreements to challenge that effort.' ****** Again from Jim Hightower in thelowdown July 2014 monthly issue: '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 PO'd, wouldn't you? And what if they also proposed that foreign corporations in Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, 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! 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 Detroit) were hollowed out. (Most Mexicans got the NAFTA shafta, too. US grain traders like ADM dumped corn into Mexico, wiping out millions of peasant farmers' livelihoods, and thousands of local businesses were crushed when Walmart invaded with its Chinese-made wares.)' ** 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 America to member nations without any DOE review of the environmental and economic impacts on local communities--or on our national interests.' ** Japan, one of the TPP's original 12 countries, happens to be the 'world’s largest natural gas importer. The affect of Japan's needs, and those of other TPP nations and corporations, will mean that most of the gas produced by this violently polluting process [of fracking] will not go to us, but to foreign users, which will raise our consumer prices and those for gas and electricity, worsen the chemical laden environmental dangers from increased fracking in the USA and in the looming global environmental crisis our young people will inherit.' ******* 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 Vietnam. 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.' ** 'The US Department of Labor has cited Vietnam as only ONE of THREE countries in the world to engage in FORCED CHILD LABOR in its apparel industry; plus surveys cited unsafe working conditions in its apparel industry. All important, this is, because Vietnam is the 2nd largest exporter of apparel to the USA behind only China. Instead of suspending trade talks with Vietnam until it meets basic international standards for human and workers rights, corporations writing up TPP rules are rewarding Vietnam for bad behavior by giving it duty free access to the US market and putting our workers – especially young workers – in direct competition with sweatshop and slave labor. Besides, the corporations like Vietnam’s 52 cents/hour minimum wage (which is half of CHINA's minimum wage level). Vietnam keeps its wages so low by brutal suppression of human rights including the right to form independent unions, freedom of religion, arresting bloggers, labor and land rights activists, dissenters, those calling for peaceful democratic reform (Amnesty International, Nov 11, 2013) Corporations have already offshored 3.4 million US Service jobs in the last 2 decades. The TPP encourages more job offshoring from US call centers, computer programming, engineering, accounting, medical diagnostics and more How? Via the ‘trade in cross border services’ section of the TPP which forbids the USA or any TPP partner from requiring that a foreign firm set up a domestic operation to provide services. So the firm wouldn’t have to employ US workers.'******* When they take over your bus system or water service or your schools or prisons. Here is an example of job loss and offshoring from 'A Bad Deal For America' on the Communications Workers of America's website page 22 'Laws subject to challenge could include a call center bill previously introduced by [now-former Long Island, NY] Representative Tim Bishop. This bill would require call center workers to tell customers where they are located AND give a preference for government contracts to call center companies located in the U.S. Corporations could challenge the law based on an adverse impact on expected future profits; the prohibition against any preference given to firms located in the U.S.; or a contention that the new law represents a change in the “stable regulatory environment.” — Corporate challenges would be heard in international UN or World Bank tribunals thus bypassing our democratic legislative and judicial system. — U.S. taxpayers could be liable to pay the corporations for the alleged loss of expected future profits. Other countries that are offshore job havens can join the TPP at any time. The threat of offshoring is not limited to the 11 other countries currently in the TPP negotiations. The TPP is a “docking agreement” that allows other countries like the Philippines and even India to join in the future. The TPP already expanded to include Mexico and Canada in 2012 and Japan in 2013. The Philippines—a major destination for service sector offshoring — is preparing for TPP membership. The Philippines is an offshore haven for U.S. jobs. — The Philippines has more than 600,000 call center agents primarily serving the U.S. market. — In 2013, Capital One announced that it is setting up a call center in the Philippines that would employ 2,200 workers. Meanwhile the Tigard, Oregon call center currently operated by Capital One cut employment from 950 to 300. — In 2013, Capital One announced that it was setting up a call center in the Philippines that would employ 2,200 workers. T-Mobile moved many of these jobs to the Philippines. — In 2012, Bank of America closed call centers in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California eliminating 1,800 jobs. Bank of America operates call centers in the Philippines.' ******** Manufacturing: 'The TPP provides special benefits & rights to firms that off-shore investments and jobs!! Which reduce risks and costs usually associated with off-shoring to countries like Vietnam.' *************************************************************************** TPP WOULD BLOCK FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM TAKING ACTION TO BOOST JOB CREATION!!!! ['An ATTACK on U.S. Cities & Public Services' CWA] ************************************************************************ People of Color are big losers, especially in cities, concerning job loss and subsequent economic losses. Detroit: biggest victim of NAFTA; where people of color constitute 92.2% of population: From 1998-2012 Detroit: population 700,000, lost 111 or 20% of its auto factories, and 66,300 jobs or 50% of its jobs in auto workforce; plus $6 billion or 58% of total annual wages paid by auto sector. These factors contributed to less money in the kitty, so 32,600 public sector jobs were lost - or 20% of Detroit’s entire public sector workforce, which includes education side affects and 21,500 of those jobs. Overall for Detroit: 147,300 manufactring jobs lost, or 43% of its entire manufacturing workforce. 81 out of its 190 manufacturing plants employing over 250 workers were shut down. Cleveland similar story: 63% population (391,000) are people of color. 1998-2012: lost 82,000 of its manufacturing jobs; lost $4.5 billion of its annual wages in manufacturing, and 1,200 manufacturing establishments. Memphis, Tennessee: 70% of the 655,000 city's citizens are people of color. From 1998-2011, Metro Memphis area lost 20,000 or 36% of its manufacturing jobs, $762 million or 30% of its annual manufacturing payroll, and 289 or 25% of its manufacturing establishments. Chicago: People of color constitute 55% of Chicago’s population of 2.7 million. From 1998-2011, Chicago lost 206,000 or 35% of its manufacturing jobs, $9.3 billion in annual wages paid by its manufacturing sector, and 2,600 or 20% of its manufacturing establishments. # Seniors Beware: 'Possible Medicare and Medicaid Cuts: AARP has also warned that the TPP could undermine public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. For example, the TPP would prevent $3.8 billion in savings because it would prohibit a reduction of the period during which big drug companies have exclusive rights to biologic test data. The TPP would also allow medical device corporations to actually patent surgical methods, leading to increasing costs for Medicare and Medicaid. Consumers Union and 9 other groups stated that the TPP places the following policies at risk. Medicare Part D discounts for those who fall in the donut hole. Use of preferred drug lists by state Medicaid programs. Medicaid prescription drug rebates. Mechanisms that discourage the use of costlier treatments that are no more effective than existing treatments. Loss of Jobs and Social Security Revenue Globalization and previous trade deals have eliminated 6.8 million U.S. manufacturing and service sector jobs. This has removed $284 billion in wages from our economy resulting in an annual loss of $35 billion in Social Security revenue. The TPP will speed up this race to the bottom – after all, corporations will tend to offshore investment and jobs to countries like Vietnam which has an average minimum wage of only 52 cents per hour – just 8% of our minimum wage.' ## 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. President Obama’s recent budget proposed to shorten patent ‘exclusivity’ to 7 years, but the TPP provides 12 years during which time the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) is prohibited from approving more affordable versions of the drugs, plus bigPharm can extend existing patents each time there is even a MINOR ‘innovation’ in the drug, whether it improves the drug’s efficacy or not.. Extending the patent, delays the development 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. TPP 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 and the Veterans Administration do in the US. Also prohibited by TPP are managing drug costs with preferred drug lists, discounts and rebates to keep public health programs affordable for both patients and taxpayers. Suit in trade court today: Eli Lilly challenging Canada law that requires the firm to show that one of its drugs will work as claimed. Eli Lily is suing for $500 MILLLION in damages.' #### Health Organizations raising concerns about TPP: AARP, Consumers Union, Doctors Without Borders Doctors without Borders stated that “the TPP agreement is on track to become the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.” ##### '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; already approved in 11 European countries; which would impose a tiny tax on Wall Street transactions to tamp down speculation-fueled volatility while generating hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of revenue for social, health, or environmental causes), that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world. The TPP 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 financial institutions [by enabling corporations to sue the U.S. and other countries in private UN and World Bank tribunals for policies that would limit the size of financial institutions and safeguard against firms and banks that [could] become “too big to fail.”]. 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!!!' [from July 2014 issue] 'Undermining the use of policies that promote financial stability. The TPP could ban capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter destabilizing flows of speculative money. Even the International Monetary Fund has recently endorsed capital controls as a legitimate tool for mitigating or preventing financial crises. Undermining the ability of governments to tax Wall Street speculation. The TPP would provide big banks with a means of rolling back efforts to re-regulate Wall Street in the wake of the global economic crisis. Journalist Gretchen Morgenson neatly summarized this paradox in the New York Times, “Even as our regulators try to devise a safer financial system, our trade representatives thwart efforts to reduce risks these operations pose to taxpayers.” Wall Street could use the TPP to undermine current and future policies developed by Congress and regulators after the 2008 collapse. These laws and regulations address rampant speculation that proved so devastating to the U.S. economy during the housing bubble (2000s), the dot com bubble (1990s) and the savings and loan bubble (1980s). Domestic law must conform to the TPP. The U.S. would be bound by all the TPP’s provisions including those that impose the now-rejected model of extreme deregulation that caused and/or exacerbated the Great Recession and other economic crises. Giving Wall Street the power to sue the U.S. and other countries in UN and World Bank tribunals via the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process allows foreign corporations to initiate proceedings against a sovereign government for failure to enforce the expansive investor rights and protections contained in the agreement. There are over $38 billion in pending claims filed by corporations against sovereign governments using the ISDS provisions of U.S. trade agreements that are similar to the TPP. Undermining the ability of governments to limit private banks from using taxpayer insured deposits for their own speculative investments. The TPP would threaten the use of “firewalls” – policies that are employed to stop the spread of risk between different types of financial institutions and products. For example, the TPP could undermine the Volcker Rule which was passed by Congress as part of the Dodd-Frank bill. This rule was intended to prevent financial companies from making bets for themselves with deposits backed by taxpayers. The Investment Industry Association of Canada has called the Volcker Rule “an unprecedented breach of extra-territorial regulation… as a result, the Volcker Rule may contravene the NAFTA trade agreement.” This is no idle threat since private financial corporations could use NAFTA or the prospective TPP to challenge the Volcker Rule in international tribunals and force the U.S. to pay compensation. Promoting the unfettered flow of speculative hot money. The TPP would undermine the ability of the U.S. – and each of the other 11 countries in the TPP – to adopt and enforce measures that would in any way impinge on Wall Street’s ability to move vast amounts of speculative money into and out of countries and economic sectors “freely and without delay.” Promoting toxic derivatives. The TPP would undermine countries – including the U.S. - from banning particularly risky financial products, such as the toxic derivatives that led to the $183 billion government bailout of AIG. Economists and International Financial Institutions Agree the TPP would Promote Global Financial Instability and Wall Street Speculation. The TPP could promote global financial instability by prohibiting the very policies that would lead to financial stability – a fact recognized by international institutions and hundreds of economists. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) changed its position on capital flows so that it now recognizes that they create risks that can cause devastating financial instability – particularly waves of capital inflows that create bubbles and then waves of capital outflows that create crises. To avoid such instability, the IMF now recommends the regulation of capital flows – especially the inflows that cause speculative bubbles. 250+ economists from around the world submitted a letter in 2011 that expressed “particular concern regarding the extent to which capital controls are restricted in U.S. trade and investment treaties… [even though they] can stem the development of dangerous asset bubbles and currency appreciations.” This letter included many economists who support free trade agreements. 100+ economists from TPP nations submitted a letter explaining why the TPP should allow nations the flexibility to utilize capital controls and NOT replicate past FTA ['Free Trade' Agreement] bans on capital controls. “We are concerned that… the TPP… will unduly limit the authority of participating parties to prevent and mitigate financial crises….. Thus, we recommend that the TPP permit governments to deploy capital controls without being subject to investor lawsuits, as part of a broader menu of policy options to prevent and mitigate financial crises.” Economists at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Johns Hopkins University have demonstrated how cross-border financial flows generate problems because investors and borrowers do not know (or ignore) the effects their financial decisions have on the financial stability of a given country. Foreign investors may well push a country into financial difficulties – even a crisis. Given that constant source of risk, regulating cross-border capital flows can correct this market failure and also make markets function more efficiently. However, the TPP, by undermining such measures, would promote financial instability. Practical experience in a number of countries proves that the regulation of capital flows promotes financial stability. Malaysia, Brazil and South Korea have proven that “capital controls” actually promote financial stability. These regulations restricted the ability of financial firms to move vast amounts of capital into and out of these countries without any regard for the impact on the country’s financial stability.' ###### In summation, 'the TPP is a Backdoor Way to Impose Wall Street’s Agenda on the U.S. The TPP would provide big banks with a means of rolling back efforts to re-regulate Wall Street in the wake of the global economic crisis. Journalist Gretchen Morgenson neatly summarized this paradox in the New York Times, “Even as our regulators try to devise a safer financial system, our trade representatives thwart efforts to reduce risks these operations pose to taxpayers."' ###### Do we need another 'free trade' agreement that narrowly serves the interests of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street? Why not develop a fair trade agreement that benefits everyone and promotes financial stability? are two questions we must ask. 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 the TPP must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting US 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.' ** BECAUSE ALL 12 countries must approve ANY change in TPP rules. Also, if the USA decides to leave the TPP, as may happen to any other TPP signing-on nations, there is a so-called 'hangover' clause 'that extends the corporate rights to raid our treasuries for another decade [thereafter].' [see Jan 2015 issue, page 3] 'Why?' Jim Hightower asks, '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.' ** Plus Big Media is part of the problem. Remember, just five mega-corporations control 95% of the television channels you might not realize are NOT independent stations or channels. Also, Comcast and AT & T and Time-Warner want to get their corporate hands and feet deep into the internet, with all the greed and anti-democratic eventuations discussed above, and, yes, they depend on corporate and bank moneys to fund their surge toward ultimate Profits. 'TPP negotiations were initiated back in 2008 by none other than President Can't-Be-Fooled-Again [George W. Bush]. (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 24 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: A few years ago; Barack Obama's top trade representative, 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 the 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 [2014], our progressive friend, Rep. Alan Grayson [Democrat from Florida], 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 the 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 Ron Kirk [as USA Trade Rep]: Michael Froman, an Obama classmate in law school and a protege of Robert Rubin in the Clinton 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 (Obama) to Rubin). Now he's been brought in to wire all these connections to the TPP sovereignty bomb. 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 2014, 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. As Clinton and Bush did in previous free trade hustles, President Obama will 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 the TPP before Congress votes. Then he writes an "implementing bill" to make US 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. 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.' ** What to expect: If Americans get to open TPP's Pandora's Box via Congress actually seeing the text of the TPP (which its corporate/trade authors have not yet finished writing) it would be revoltingly rejected. But Jim Hightower foresees that '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 America'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. 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: Stopping Clinton's demand for fast track authority in 1998. 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 Americas (a 14-nation expansion of NAFTA) in 1999. 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), Malaysia, and Thailand.' ** Mr. Hightower goes on: 'My message: We can do this. We The People can protect our democratic rights from this latest threat of corporate usurpation. The only