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This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy

This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy
Remember that referendum about whether we should create a single market with the United States? You know, the one that asked whether corporations should have the power to strike down our laws? No, I don't either. The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. The Australian government, after massive debates in and out of parliament, decided that cigarettes should be sold in plain packets, marked only with shocking health warnings. During its financial crisis, and in response to public anger over rocketing charges, Argentina imposed a freeze on people's energy and water bills (does this sound familiar?). In Canada, the courts revoked two patents owned by the American drugs firm Eli Lilly, on the grounds that the company had not produced enough evidence that they had the beneficial effects it claimed. Related:  Freedom and true DemocracyNo war of conquest, nothing to reconquer. Really?

What Snowden says Edward Snowden is the man who has been "spilling America's political secrets." Or at least, that is how I just heard him described on a cable news program. Since the former NSA contractor outed himself, I've heard him called many names by people from both official and "unofficial" spokespeople of Washington - the pundits, paid thinkers and writers who are part of that well-groomed group. For those unlucky people who can't experience the joy of watching domestic television, allow me share a few of the descriptions I've heard and read. Snowden has been called "a traitor, high school dropout, loser, slacker, and a man with messianic aspirations." So to sum it up, most of the people who have access to professional microphones are targeting him with labels that would make any human being feel like a skinny, acne covered High School freshman with lice. This has an impact beyond Snowden’s self-esteem. I can't tell you how Americans really feel about NSA surveillance.

Canada - Trade Countries and regions Canada The European Commission proposed the signature of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) to the Council of the EU in July 2016. If the Council approves the agreement, it will need the European Parliament consent for it to be finalised. If the Council ratifies the agreement, it can be provisionally applied in areas where the governments of EU Member States deem the EU to have responsibility. The national parliaments of the EU Member States would then also need to ratify CETA for the areas which fall under their responsibility to take effect. This ratification procedure follows the release of the legally reviewed CETA text in February 2016. For more details read the factsheet "Trade Negotiations Step by Step Small businesses across Europe already export to Canada, or want to do so. Trade picture In 2015 Canada was the EU's 12th most important trading partner, accounting for 1.8% of the EU's total external trade. EU-Canada: Trade in goods

MAI: Anti-Democratic International Treaty On Investment Reprinted from The Common Good, no 6, Advent 1997 MAI: Anti-Democratic International Treaty On Investment Bill Rosenberg Do we ever stop to consider what state our democracy is in? Despite colourful rhetoric, the broad policies of all five recent governments have been very similar. If there really are fewer policy choices available, the real problem is that the politicians we elect have been disempowered, and are willingly disempowering future elected representatives from making the real changes the public want. A little publicised international agreement the government is currently negotiating illustrates this point radically. Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) The international agreement I refer to deals with foreign investment. Yet the impact of the agreement, if signed, will be profound. MAI: all rights and no responsibilities The purpose of the MAI is to restrict a government’s right to regulate foreign investment. What can you do?

The democratic clock turned back Financial markets rallied last week when the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, announced he was dropping plans for a referendum on the terms of his country's bailout. Bond dealers liked the idea that the government in Athens could soon be headed by Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy think Papademos is the sort of hard-line technocrat with whom they can do business. Silvio Berlusconi's long-predicted departure as Italy's prime minister will no doubt be greeted in the same way, particularly if he is replaced by a government of national unity headed by another technocrat, Mario Monti. A former Brussels commissioner, he is seen as someone who could be relied upon to push through the European Union's austerity programme during the next 12 months, watched over by Christine Lagarde's team of officials from the International Monetary Fund. From the perspective of the financial markets, this makes perfect sense.

Blow for citizens as EU court backs privileged corporate access to EU trade talks Skip to main content Blow for citizens as EU court backs privileged corporate access to EU trade talks June 4th 2015 Dangerously legitimising the European Commission's practice of granting privileged access to trade talks to corporate lobby groups, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has today ruled (link is external) against Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) in an appeal over Commission conduct during the EU-India trade negotiations. In a decision that risks deepening the secrecy shrouding EU trade policy, the CJEU confirmed that the Commission did not violate EU access to documents rules by sharing information about the talks with big business lobbies while keeping it hidden from the public. CEO filed the original lawsuit (link is external) in February 2011 after the Commission refused to release documents - including meeting reports, emails and a letter - related to the ongoing negotiations with India. Reacting to the appeal ruling, CEO trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt said:

The crocodile tears of the complicit: Iraq and the cries against humanity - Opinion A bit over a decade ago, in that liminal political period between September 11, 2001 and the US invasion of Iraq, I attended a reading by well-known German writer and Holocaust survivor Ruth Kluger of her just-translated memoir of life in the death camps, Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. It was the height of the al-Aqsa intifada, and during the Q&A several audience members asked her about Israel's treatment of Palestinians. How could Jews, who suffered unimaginably under the Nazis, in turn oppress Palestinians? They wondered. Kluger's response, in the still heavily German accented English that has all but died out with the passing of the last of the World War II generation of German-speaking Jews, was as simple as it was profound: "The Holocaust wasn't a school," she responded. I have often thought about Kluger's remarks while travelling through the Middle East's many conflict zones. The enablers Justifying ignorance Journalists of conscience

Trade liberalisation: Canada doesn’t get any sexier than this “WORTHWHILE Canadian Initiative” is the most boring headline in history. So said Michael Kinsley, an American journalist and erstwhile contributor to these pages. The tedious title that inspired this vile slur on a worthy nation appeared above an article in the New York Times in 1986 hailing an effort to liberalise trade. Now, Canada is again proving to be a global leader in free trade—and in an exciting way. On October 18th it announced an agreement in principle with the European Union on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). More than a blessing for insomniacs, CETA is a prototype for bigger things to come, especially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now under negotiation between the EU and the United States. Bilateral trade agreements are bittersweet for those, like this newspaper, who want across-the-world liberalisation. Yet CETA illustrates how a regional deal can still work. Today Canada, tomorrow the world

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): The Terrible Plutocratic Plan Thanks to Michael Feikema and Doug Hendren for inviting me. Like most of you I do not spend my life studying trade agreements, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is disturbing enough to make me devote a little time to it, and I hope you will do the same and get your neighbors to do the same and get them to get their friends to do the same — as soon as possible. I spend most of my time reading and writing about war and peace. I’m in the middle of writing a book about the possibility and need to abolish war and militarism. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a big fan of the supposed wonders of the hidden hand of the market economy says, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. Of course, there’s nothing hidden about that fist. There is also, of course, nothing hidden about the hand of corporate trade agreements. What is hidden, in another sense, is the detailed negotiated text of the proposed TPP treaty. The TPP will push U.S. wages downward.

There Was a Class War. The Rich Won It. Real 1982 goods producing wage earner hourly wage What happens if there’s a class war and only one side bothers to show up and fight it? That’s what happened over the last thirty years. There was a class war, and the rich won. Period. It’s over, they kicked our knees out from under us, put on their steel toed boots and spent the last thirty years telling us that they were going to trickle on us and we’re going to like it and beg for more. Seems like hyperbole? So, if you’re an ordinary slob, you haven’t had a raise in over 30 years. This would be ok if the US hadn’t been getting richer, getting more productive, ever since then, but I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that, well, actually, productivity and whatnot has kept going up. Damon Silvers, whom we can thank for the wages and productivity chart, thinks it has a lot to do with a hostile anti-union environment and with the simultaneous decline of progressive taxation. So they made themselves rich. It was a death bet.

What MEPs voted today on TTIP - North East Labour Jude gives an update on today's TTIP vote in the Trade Committee of the European Parliament. We just had an important vote on TTIP in the trade committee of the European Parliament. I am writing this post to explain what was voted on today, and how this fits in the overall TTIP negotiations. Trade deals in the EU are negotiated by the European Commission, on the basis of a detailed mandate adopted by the Prime Ministers of all the 28 EU countries. TTIP is currently being negotiated. Rather than sit and wait for the end of the negotiations, the Socialist group in the European Parliament and other progressive political groups have consistently pushed for the current European Parliament to adopt a resolution to set out in advance our conditions for supporting any deal with the US. But in order to get this resolution, we need the numbers. In this context, this week, we made a great first step forward. I have made my position on ISDS clear time and again. This is not the end of our fight.

Dear George Bush and Dick Cheney, You Are Guilty of Murder: A Letter from a Dying Veteran Former Republican vice president Dick Cheney, pictured in 2011, advised his party's candidate in the upcoming US elections to pick a running mate with more experience than Sarah Palin. March 19, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. To: George W. I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership What Is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership?: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is a proposed free trade agreement that would link the world's two largest economies: the United States, which produced $15.66 trillion in 2012, and the European Union, which produced $15.7 trillion. It would give U.S. businesses greater access to the world's largest economy, which the EU became in 2007. Most people don't realize that the U.S. trades more with the EU than with China. If successfully negotiated, the TTIP would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as the world’s largest free trade area, with a combined GDP of $31.06 trillion, more than third of the world's total economic output of $88 trillion. These investments account for four million workers on both sides of the Atlantic being directly employed by the respective affiliates of U.S. or European-based companies. Pros: Some industries would benefit more than others. Cons: Obstacles:

What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you | Comment | Voices | The Independent The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a series of trade negotiations being carried out mostly in secret between the EU and US. As a bi-lateral trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. It is, as John Hilary, Executive Director of campaign group War on Want, said: “An assault on European and US societies by transnational corporations.” Since before TTIP negotiations began last February, the process has been secretive and undemocratic. But worryingly, the covert nature of the talks may well be the least of our problems. 1 The NHS Public services, especially the NHS, are in the firing line. The European Commission has claimed that public services will be kept out of TTIP. 2 Food and environmental safety 3 Banking regulations TTIP cuts both ways. 4 Privacy 5 Jobs 6 Democracy

Neo-liberal capture of the policy making process in Europe Mainstream macroeconomics has mounted a range of arguments over the years to argue against any discretionary involvement by governments or regulators in the economy. The claim is always that the ‘market’ will self regulate and weed out bad players and produce the best outcomes with the least resources each period of activity. Various fancy terms are introduced into textbooks that make these arguments seem to have scientific weight. It called on the European Commission (which is just about to change Presidency) “to tackle the persistent over-representation of corporate interests in European Commission ‘expert groups'”. ALTER-EU was formed in 2005. Two interesting research papers released by the group are: 1. 2. The 2009 Report examined the role of so-called ‘Expert Groups’, which are formed by the European Commission as consultancies to advise it on policy. Expert Groups play a significant role in the development of European legislation both through the Parliament and the Council. 1. 2.