Oct. 16 – Tonight, it seems as if both political parties have come to an arrangement regarding the government shutdown, and most of the country would agree with me that the government “turn-on” is a wonderful thing: It has, at the very least anyway, made the nation breathe a sigh of relief as there is a much smaller chance of food riots and class warfare now compared to 15 days ago.
As most of the mainstream – as well as the alternative – media continued to cover this very important issue, another deal was being made: An “expansive” free-trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. It involves the unholy alliance between the Americas and Australia/Brazil/a few other countries, and creates new guidelines for everything from “food safety to fracking, financial markets, medical prices, copyright rules, and internet freedom”.
Now, who does it sound like will be in charge of the United States if this agreement is made? Certainly not the U.S. Congress, or the states themselves. No, this beast of an arrangement puts the very people in charge of our country that we’ve been fighting ideologically against for decades: They’d love nothing more than to see us burn.
The best part: No one can read the actual negotiations. They’re secret, and with “highly-limited congressional oversight”! Sounds like an awesome deal to me!
According to WND:
In February, the Open the Government organization sent a letter to Obama blasting the lack of transparency surrounding the TPP talks, stating the negotiations have been “conducted in unprecedented secrecy.”
“Despite the fact the deal may significantly affect the way we live our lives by limiting our public protections, there has been no public access to even the most fundamental draft agreement texts and other documents,” read the letter.
The missive was signed by advocacy groups such as OpenTheGovernment.org, Project On Government Oversight, ARTICLE 19 and the Global Campaign for Freedom of Expression and Information.
The groups warned issues being secretly negotiated include “patent and copyright, land use, food and product standards, natural resources, professional licensing, government procurement, financial practices, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, and other service sector regulations.”
The White House is seeking “trade promotion authority”, which would bypass congress completely and “fast-track” the TPP’s approval by requiring congress to vote on within 90 days and without any amendments.
Freaked out enough yet? Well, wait…it gets better: Obama gets to sign the agreement before Congress can even vote on it, and they only get a post-facto (after the fact) vote.
Of course, a few lawmakers have spoken out about the talks:
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., recently proposed legislation requiring the White House to disclose all TPP documents to members of Congress.
“The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” said Wyden.
And to top it all off, Obama has so far refused to hand over a copy of the draft agreement to Congress! If this isn’t an impeachable offense, I really don’t know what is! However, congress is so freaked out about the debt limit/government shutdown – or at least seemingly so – that these talks have largely gone unnoticed by C-SPAN, and been all but ignored by the mainstream and alternative media world.
Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch recently wrote, in a New York Times op-ed piece:
The TPP is “more than just a trade deal,”
“Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas. The others impose parameters on nontrade policies. Existing and future American laws must be altered to conform with these terms, or trade sanctions can be imposed against American exports.”
They’re not just coming after your businesses, folks. They’re going to make necessary medications costlier than you ever could’ve imagined:
“Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as ‘advisers,’ have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal.”
Amnesty International USA has warned the draft provisions related to pharmaceuticals “risk stifling the development and production of generic medicines, by strengthening and deepening monopoly protections.” Another leak has revealed that it would grant more incentives to relocate manufacturing offshore.
It would also, according to Jim Hightower, incorporate elements eerily similar to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act):
[The deal would] “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.”
The EFF argued that the TPP would “restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector”, and warned that it would “rewrite global rules on intellectual property enforcement.”
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