Archive | February 9, 2015

Would 11 Asian Nations be Stupid Enough to Enslave Themselves in a Trade Deal with the U.S.?*

Would 11 Asian Nations be Stupid Enough to Enslave Themselves in a Trade Deal with the U.S.?*

By David Sirota

The trade rules of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership between the United States and 11 Asian nations would cover nearly 40% of the world economy — but don’t ask what they are. Access to the text of the proposed deal is highly restricted.

Nevertheless, at last month’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman defended the Obama administration from intensifying criticism of its refusal to release the full text of the proposed trade pact.

“We can always do better on transparency,” he said, but added that “there is no area of policy where there is closer collaboration between the executive and Congress than trade policy.”

Froman, who said his office has held more than 1,600 briefings with lawmakers over the TPP, asserted that his office also has released summaries of proposed provisions.

Yet the actual text of the agreement remains under lock and key. That represents a significant break from the Bush administration, which in 2001 published the text of a proposed multinational trade agreement with Latin American nations.

“It is incomprehensible to me that leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP, while at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge of what’s in it,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in a letter to Froman last month.

Sanders’ office confirms that congressional lawmakers are permitted to view the text of the agreement only in the Trade Representative’s office, without their own staff members or experts present. They are not allowed to take copies of the agreement back to Capitol Hill for deeper, independent evaluation.

Despite those restrictions, specific details of the agreement’s text have surfaced from unauthorized leaks — some of which appear to contradict the Obama administration’s promises.

Froman, for instance, said in Switzerland that “none of [the trade participants] want to lower our health, safety or environmental standards,” yet one of the leaks showed the U.S. proposing to empower corporations to attempt to overturn domestic regulations, while critics say another leaked provision would help the pharmaceutical industry inflate the price of medicines in poor countries.

Froman and Roberto Carvalho de Azevedo, the director-general of the World Trade Organization, were asked at the World Economic Forum why the Obama administration is concealing the TPP from the public at the same time the European Union has just published the full text of a separate proposed trade agreement with the United States. If, as the Obama administration has argued, some confidentiality is necessary for frank negotiations, was the EU wrong to publish its full proposal?

Froman suggested that nations have varying definitions of transparency.

“It is very important that as we pursue these trade negotiations we do so in a way that takes into account input from the public, from our wide range of stakeholders, our processes — in our case, Congress — we each have different ways we engage in that process,” he said.

Azevedo said: “Honestly, this is something that the participants have to solve — the degree of openness and the degree of transparency.” Negotiations require a degree of balance between transparency and secrecy, he said, “otherwise they don’t move.”

That may be true, but the question is why? Why don’t trade advance when they are made public?

Perhaps because when citizens learn the details of such trade agreements, they don’t like them — and they end up putting pressure on their leaders to back off.

Trade officials seem to think that’s a bad thing. But transparency and subsequent grassroots pressure is better than secretly negotiating a trade deal that ends up defying public will.


Related Topics:

U.S. And Japan TPP Talks Fail Again*

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Advises Reject the NWO’s TPPA*

TPP, TPPA Goes EPA in the Recolonization of Africa*

Legislators from 7 Countries Demand Release of Secret Trade Deal TPP*

TPP: Controlling the Worlds Food Supply*

A Bilateral Free Trade Agreement with U.S. a Slow Death*

New Zealand Rallies against Rothschild’s Trade Agreement*

European Central Bank Forcing Greece into Perpetual Debt*

Is the Nile Running Out of Fish?

Is the Nile Running Out of Fish?

By Laura Dean

Families have been living and fishing on the Nile for thousands of years, but many now say it’s getting harder and harder to make a living.

Um Mohamed and her family live their entire lives on their boats. They cook on a small gas stove, raise pigeons and watch a small television connected by a long cord to a plug on land or hooked up to a car battery. (Laura Dean/GlobalPost)

A man descends the steps of a jetty where feluccas — Cairo’s flat placid pleasure boats — lie docked. Anchored a little further off is a cluster of more utilitarian crafts: fishing boats.

He calls out to the small vessels nestled together in the pink and silver morning.

“They have great fish,” he says. He has come to buy.

For as long as there has been a Nile there have been fishermen who lived on it. But now, for those in Cairo at least, many say what has been a family business for generations is coming to an end.

The city of Cairo straddles the river Nile with a number of small islands in between. While sitting in traffic on a bridge in central Cairo, it is not uncommon to see a family of fishermen on their boat in the middle of the river.

“There are no fish like there were before,” says Um Mohamed, 36, who works alongside her husband. “It’s not enough to live on. It used to be enough, before we didn’t need anything from anyone.”

Um Mohamed has raised four children between two boats, each no more than 12 feet long. Born in a fishing village in Menoufia in the Nile Delta, she moved to Cairo when she was 19 to get married, to a fisherman. She has never slept a night on land.

“I’ve never seen another way of life,” she says.

But in an increasingly interconnected world, life on a boat can be isolating.

“We don’t go up,” says Um Mohamed, “except to buy food. Why would we go up?” Neither she nor her daughter has ever used the internet.

They watch a small grainy television connected by a long cord to a plug on land. Sometimes they hook the TV up to a car battery — “then we can go as far from land as we want.”

Paintings of a dove and a forest scene adorn the inside of the boat. A brown and tan carpet lines the bottom.

None of her children have been to school.

“I wanted them to have a better life than this.” She gestures around,

“but … I don’t want my daughter to marry a fisherman. There’s no future.”

Um Mohamed, originally from Menoufia in the Nile Delta, has lived in this boat with her husband since they were married 17 years ago. (Laura Dean/GlobalPost)

That is a sentiment expressed by a growing number here on the river. Her daughter, 17-year-old May, says she wants to live “above” — this is how the fishermen refer to the land.

“I’m not comfortable here,” she says. One thing she doesn’t mind though is a fish-heavy diet: “It’s our favorite food here,” she says, smiling.

There’s very little privacy. On a boat, domestic lives are lived in public space. On a vessel nearby, a young woman in a pink galabeya combs and smoothes her hair.

“We make a kind of tent in the middle of the boat and change our clothes there,” says Um Mohamed. She says there is a garden nearby and those who own it allow her and May to use the bathroom there.

Rashad Hamad, 39, also comes from a long line of fishermen. He fled his native Assiut, in Upper Egypt, 17 years ago due to violence there. He lives in a fishing community on a tiny island in the Nile in central Cairo. Unlike Um Mohamed’s family, his five children take a ferry to school every morning.

“I don’t want them to be fishermen. Fishing is not a profession. It has no future,” he says. “I didn’t go to school at all, because of that I want to educate my children.” He says his two girls are particularly good in school and dedicated to their studies.

He says that his wife used to stay at home but now, because of “the circumstances and having children in school,” she goes to the market to sell his catch.

Rashad Hamad, a fisherman, with his son. Originally from Assiut in Upper Egypt he now lives in Cairo on an island in the Nile. (Laura Dean/GlobalPost)


One of the causes of the fishermen’s woes, according to those who live on the river, is that there is simply not enough fish.

“In the 1980s there were about 400 boats registered to fish on the Nile, now there are more than 4,000,” said an official with the Authority for Fishing Resources Development who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.

“Life on the water is hard, but what are we going to do, steal?” asks Hamad.

As he talks he folds a net he has made himself out of delicate turquoise line.

On the island itself, most of which is covered in fields away from the din and dust of urban Cairo, life is quite pleasant: “We’re all like family,” he says, “we have no police here.”

But when asked about the future he sees for himself, he says, “Zero. I share one room with seven other people. What future?”

Abdu, who doesn’t live on the river himself but ferries tourists around on his sailboat, agrees.

“I wanted to be a fisherman but I couldn’t do it,” he says. “Their life is too hard.”

Um Mohamed and her daughter May in one two fishing boats owned by their family. Her husband and two sons have taken the other out fishing. They watch as sailboats, rented out by tourists, goes by at sunset. (Laura Dean/GlobalPost)


Related Topics:

Ruining the Mediterranean: Expansion of the Suez Canal*

A River Runs Through Us

Egypt: Israel to Support Sisi’s Regime*

Egypt: Israel to Support Sisi’s Regime*

Israel has provided support for Al-Sisi by authorising Egypt ‘to operate heavy weapons and introduce arms into Sinai ordinarily prohibited there according to their peace treaty’

A number of Israeli think tanks, researchers and pundits called for the Egyptian regime, led by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, to be supported to enhance its ability to confront Islamist groups.

The Institute of National Security Strategies (INSS), one of Israel’s leading think tanks, urged decision-making circles in Tel Aviv to increase military, intelligence and political assistance to Sisi’s regime so as to enable it to win over Islamists in Egypt and Sinai.

In a research paper published on its website on Wednesday entitled “Egypt’s war in the Sinai Peninsula: A Struggle that Goes beyond Egypt“, INSS stressed that it is important for Israel to employ its political and diplomatic capabilities in order to convince the United States to enhance its support for Sisi’s regime.

INSS emphasised how it is significant for Israel that Al-Sisi succeed in his campaign against militant Islamists, noting that the Egyptian regime’s failure would mean that these groups would “continue to operate directly against Israel”.

The paper provided evidence to the Egyptian army’s significant role for Israeli security interests by pointing to an incident in which a member of Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis “was killed by the Egyptians before he could carry out his plan” of bombing Israeli targets amid the latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.

The INSS paper also noted that Al-Sisi’s success in winning over Islamist militants in Egypt would weaken such groups in other countries in the region:

“The success of the Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi government in providing an effective response to the offensive by Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis and its partners will also affect the ability of other countries in the region – Libya, Yemen, Jordan and others – to contend with Salafist jihadi elements. Such success will also serve to hinder the impression of an unstoppable, threatening force created by IS [ISIS} conquests,” the paper read.

In an article published in the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, Bar-Ilan University Professor Dr Yehuda Balanga also called for increasing Israeli support for Sisi’s regime. Balanga warned that if Al-Sisi fails in his war against Wilayat Sinai, which represents the Islamic State (ISIS) group, Sinai will turn into an arena for launching war against Israel.

Balanga also wrote that if Wilayat Sinai gains momentum, it will operate against Al-Sisi in the heart of Egypt and overthrow him, which would have negative strategic implications for Israeli’s national security.

In Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse, Israeli commentator Ben Caspit wrote that Israel already provided decisive support for Al-Sisi by authorising Egypt “to operate heavy weapons and introduce arms into Sinai ordinarily prohibited there according to their peace treaty.”

He noted that Al-Sisi is serving Israeli interests by seeking to weaken Hamas and said he expected the Sisi regime to “continue to intensify” its war on Hamas “in the weeks and months to come”.

“Sisi knows that if he does not succeed in overcoming the deadly, recalcitrant terrorist elements in Sinai, it will be the beginning of the end of his regime,” Caspit wrote.


Related Topics:

Egypt Consolidates Israeli Relations*

Egyptian TV Presenter: Israelis Control Egyptian Media*

Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Livni, Reveals Israel – Egypt Pact to Strangle Hamas*

Palestine from Sovereignty to an Israeli Enclave*

Of Course Egyptian-U.S. Proposals Failed, they only represent Israel*

Egypt Seizes Newspaper that States it has Never Executed any Israeli Spy*

Egypt Begins to Import Gas from Israel*

Israel’s Latest War in the Planning Eight Years*

Egyptian Military Dissent Comes to the Surface after Assassination Attempt on Sisi*

Egypt Blocking Egyptian Humanitarian Aid to Gaza*

Jailed Egyptian Children Moved to ‘torture camp’*

Egypt: Torturing University Students*

As Actor and Singer Could be Charged for Treason, a Leak inside Sisi’s Office Take the Truth Further*

US Apache Attack Helicopters for Egyptian Junta*

Even Egyptian state-owned TV Admits to a Fraudulent Presidential Election

Members of Egypt’s Elite Admit to Planning and Financing the Coup as they Conspired to Bring Down Sisi*

European Central Bank Forcing Greece into Perpetual Debt*

European Central Bank Forcing Greece into Perpetual Debt*

By Luis R. Miranda

The European Central Bank is tightening the rope with Greece. The bank intervened yesterday in the negotiations between Athens and the Troika by threatening with the cancellation of credit to all Greek banks. This measure is meant to force Greece to request another bailout and to continue the vicious circle the ECB has mandated.

Frankfurt announced just after 9 p.m. to cut of liquidity to Greek banks beginning next Wednesday, which would mean serious difficulties to successfully close the current agreement with the government and to add an extension or a new program to continue the so-called financial rescue.

Mario Draghi is squeezing hard but not drowning the Greek banks as the lines of emergency funding are being closed. But those lines, known as ALS, are now more restrictive and more expensive than the window of the ECB. The measure of will make it even more expensive to finance the costs of the debt for both the banks and the Greek State.

In a political move of the first order, Draghi obliges the Government of Alexis Tsipras to negotiate around the clock, with the predictable market pressure. The euro dropped almost 1% in a few minutes, and Wall Street profits rose from the losses.

None of the countries that have submitted to the demands of the ECB have done so willingly and that is why it has been the ECB itself the one always pushing during the negotiations by strongly pressing on banks and governments, such as in the cases of Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece itself .

That old story repeats itself. The ECB accepted that banks placed Greek debt as collateral even though its rating is in tatters, with the excuse that Athens was protected under the umbrella of a program. That has changed.

The Government of SYRIZA refuses to ask for an extension and therefore another bailout won’t be requested either. The new government has decided to close the second aid program by refusing the conditions of creditors who want more cuts.

Athens hoped that the ECB would allow Greek banks to continue with the status quo, following a meeting between Finance Minister, Yanis Varufakis, and the heads of the European Central Bank.
But the ECB does not trust the newly elected Greek goernment and has officially closed access to liquidity “as it has been concluded that the program will not end successfully,” said a statement from Frankfurt. The Greek banking system is now at the mercy of the National Bank of Greece.

Greece hoped to finance its operations by issuing short-term debt bonds. These bonds would be purchased by Greek banks and then placed on the ECB debt balance sheet. Now, with the end of European liquidity, Greek banks will have to put the debt in the Greek Central Bank. This means Greece will be issuing and buying its own debt.

So far, the ECB limited the amount that banks could place onto its balance sheets and no decision has been made on whether to increase or reduce that amount. That technicality could end up changing everything.

If the ECB requires the central bank to restrict Greek debt, it would change Greece’s chances of surviving without a bailout or an extension.

“It is imperative that Greece and partners reach an agreement to avoid a serious problem in the coming weeks,” said analyst Kirshna Guha.

Tsipras met in Brussels with the Presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; European Council, Donald Tusk, and European Parliament, Martin Schulz, and he left with a bitter taste and heard a harsh tone about his chances of negotiating the conditions for the future of Greece.

Now, with the announcement of the ECB, the situation seems to have turned even more difficult.


Related Topics:

Cabal Rule Continues to Collapse*

A Soros «Trojan Horse» inside the New Greek Government?

Greece’s New Left Government Better be Prepared for a Battle with the Oligarchy*

Debt-ocracy: Enslaving Entire Nations and Peoples*