Archive | March 28, 2015

Detroit: Your World under TPP*

Detroit: Your World under TPP*

This has happened already

There were no loud explosions nor chaos in the streets, troops did not flood the avenues and enclaves of the city. A manifesto was not distributed by air drop nor was there a state of martial law issued. A coup took place in Motown a ‘ regime change’ in the post industrial rust belt has been installed.

In the post industrial era of America political, cultural, and economic realities are unlike anything our country has experienced. The very fabric of life in this era is altered by the forces of technology and the global marketplace. Traditional platforms of interaction with elected officials has been fundamentally altered. The State has now replaced the local elected legislatures ( city councils)  and the core of power. The micro polices of local governance have been structurally altered with the micro intervention of the State into the daily operational management of the local public sector.

Into this new platform of political metrics the role of governance has been forever fundamentally altered. The ruling class in partnership with centralized State government has designed and modelled a form of governance which removes local  representatives from their  local oversight and control of the daily public sector and public services ( to include Educational districts)  and replaced them with a new direct State centered paradigm for governance.

The new global marketplace of goods and services require a new type of governance structure which is efficient and measured. This new model is driven not by consensus and policy concerns of the community,  but by mandates and financial objectives of the marketplace as defined by the central state government and the interests which influence state policy on the local cities.

Policy is no longer driven by the will of the people. What underwrites the role of political systems now is administrative platform designed and shaped by the State and those who influence the state’s decision makers. Local themes and interests no longer have standing nor social or cultural currency.

Civic principles which historically have focused on the community are now factored as economic metrics rather than civic goals. What is more important is not the percentage of voters who cast a vote but the percentage of voters that are in compliance with State driven administrative  budgets and fiscal policies. The notions of democracy and the will of the people no longer have any currency in the ‘regime change’ model being played out in Detroit.

The mandates of the central State government which are created  and orchestrated by the ruling class interests have more priority than any civil objectives. The Viceroy is tasked with defined administrative objectives none which have the people’s agenda in play.  The ‘regime change’ in Detroit has made moot concerns and notions regarding voters rights and home rule. The state has now removed the layer of local rule and replaced it with direct rule from the central governor’s office under the auspices of a Viceroy.

Into this new era of governance the city of Detroit and the nation have just experienced and witnessed a calibrated ‘regime change’ in the City of Detroit. A coup has taken place without a revolution by the people or intervention by the military. The State has inserted a Viceroy under the directives of the centralized governor to disenfranchise voting rights and  ban home rule. The Viceroy with absolute authority granted by the State now conducts  and controls all municipal business and public services contracts and affairs.

Detroit is no longer a place where public policy is underwritten by elected representatives of the people. The ‘regime changes’ in Detroit have been accomplished a coup  has transpired without a body count, political prisoners or blood in the streets. Residents live under a surreal state of martial law, staged elections with state influenced operatives as candidates for administrative public officials.

Detroit is the template of  the post industrial era in America where the global market is the policy driver and not the will of the people.


Related Topics:

Corporation vs. State: Sweeping TPP Powers Strip Sovereign*

Detroit Residents Fight to Keep Homes They Own, But Developers are Trying to Sell*

The Road that Leads from Serfdom to Detroit*

It Didn’t Stop at Detroit: For Your Water Pay Up or Die *

‘We Won’t Pay’ say Thousands of Irish to Water Privatization*

Corporation vs. State: Sweeping TPP Powers Strip Sovereign*

Corporation vs. State: Sweeping TPP Powers Strip Sovereign*

By Dave Johnson

A key section of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has been leaked to the public. The New York Times has a major story on the contents of the leaked chapter and it’s as bad as many of us feared.

Now we know why the corporations and the Obama administration want TPP, a huge “trade” agreement being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries, kept secret from the public until it’s too late to stop it.

The section of TPP that has leaked is the “Investment” chapter that includes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses. WikiLeaks has the text and analysis, and the Times has the story, in “Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S.“:

An ambitious 12-nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

The WikiLeaks analysis explains this lets firms “sue” governments to obtain taxpayer compensation for loss of “expected future profits.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

“..companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals…”

And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets, they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies collecting what they claim are “expected future profits”.

The Times’ report explains this clause also

“… giv[es] greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.”

The tribunals that adjudicate these cases will be made up of private sector (i.e. “corporate”) attorneys. These attorneys will rotate between serving on the tribunals and representing corporations that bring cases to be heard by the tribunals. This is a conflict of interest because the attorneys serving on the tribunals will have tremendous incentive to rule for the corporations if they want to continue to get lucrative corporate business.

The Corporate Influence over the TPP

Largely ignored by the media – until now – TPP has been in a negotiation process for more than five years. The TPP has 29 “chapters” covering various issues, but only five of these chapters cover what would normally be considered “trade.” It is a “docking” agreement, which means that any country in the region (i.e. China) can add themselves to the agreement just by signing on.

These negotiations have been conducted in secret, but more than 500 corporate “trade advisors” have access to text of the agreement. Many of the negotiators themselves are past (and/or likely expect to be future) corporate attorneys or executives. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, for example,

“received over $4 million as part of multiple exit payments when he left Citigroup to join the Obama administration,” according to a report, “Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks” by investigative journalist Lee Fang.

This one-sided process has been causing concern among representatives of many of the key “stakeholder” groups that have been excluded from the negotiating process. Labor unions, environmental groups, consumer groups, health groups, food-safety groups, as well as LGBT, democracy, faith, and other “stakeholders” who have been denied a seat at the TPP negotiating table have feared that the process would produce an agreement that tilts the democracy/plutocracy power balance even further in the direction of corporations and billionaires than it is now.

ISDS Tilts Playing Field to Corporations

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, speaking March 18 at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, compared the extraordinary ability of corporations to sue governments to the lack of redress when labor organizers are murdered to explain how ISDS tilts the playing field to corporations over other stakeholders:

ISDS is just a fancy way to give corporations a special legal system that circumvents democratically accountable laws and courts.

ISDS allows corporations to directly challenge almost any law or regulation based on ill-defined concepts such as “fair and equitable treatment.” In contrast, all provisions for enforcing labour rights in TPP require action by member governments—neither workers nor unions can enforce the labour rights provisions on their own even by suing in national courts.

I’m not just talking theory here. In the first three years of the Labour Action Plan in Colombia, 73 trade unionists were murdered for trying to organize workers. These are men and women just like you and me who were killed for trying to exercise their rights under the law and speak in a collective voice. That’s terrible, and yet these trade deals have been completely ineffective in addressing this injustice. And the U.S. government has taken no official “trade” action in response. Anyone with a lick of common sense can tell you that not only are these killings a human rights catastrophe, they are driving down wages and workplace standards in Colombia—and in every country that trades with Colombia.

But here’s the thing: unlike the clunky labour provisions, which require workers to wait for government action, these ISDS provisions can be used immediately by multinational firms to challenge efforts by TPP member countries to develop a modern regulatory state in key areas. ISDS tilts the playing field away from democracy, from workers and consumers, and toward big business and multinational investors.

In sum, if corporations feel they have been denied “expected” profits by a government regulation, ISDS lets them circumvent a country’s courts and go to an international corporate tribunal with their grievance. But if labour organizers are murdered, workers and their families have nowhere to go.

This shows the extent to which the playing field gets tilted. The same imbalance exists between corporate interests and the interests represented by environmental groups, consumer groups and all other non-corporate stakeholders: a special channel for corporations, a brick wall for the interests of the rest of us.

Advantage: Foreign Firms

While ISDS would give American multinational corporations tremendous powers over other governments, it places non-U.S. corporations (and, of course, non-U.S. subsidiaries of American multinational corporations) at a tremendous advantage over U.S. firms by giving only them – not U.S.-based firms – this right to challenge U.S. laws and regulations.

Global Trade Watch explains this advantage:

The TPP would grant foreign investors and firms operating here expansive new substantive and procedural rights and privileges not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law, allowing foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. policies, court orders and government actions that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms. … The text allows foreign investors to demand compensation for claims of “indirect expropriation” that apply to much wider categories of property than those to which similar rights apply in U.S. law.

TPP is the largest trade agreement in history, involving more than 40% of the world’s GDP. One way President Obama and the Chamber of Commerce sell TPP is by saying it will change everything and will rewrite the rules for doing business for the 21st century. This leak shows us that they are right about TPP changing everything and rewriting the rules. But the leak shows that the people and organizations opposing TPP were right, too, because the changes give corporations vast new powers to overrule democratic governments.

Origins Of ISDS

This ISDS mechanism originates from a time when investors in wealthy, developed countries wanted to invest in projects in unstable “third-world,” “banana-republic”-style countries, but worried that dictators or revolutionary governments could decide to seize their property – a refinery, railroad or a factory, leaving them with no recourse. So before investing, the target country agrees that in the case of disputes a tribunal is set up outside of and beyond the reach of the country’s justice system (courts where the judge is a brother or other crony of the dictator, for example), providing recourse in the event of unjust seizure of property. This would make investment less risky.

However, under agreements like TPP, these provisions apply to and override the laws of modern, stable, developed countries with democratic governance and fair court systems. The corporate representatives negotiating modern trade agreements see such democratically-run governments as “burdensome” and chaotic, introducing “uncertainties” and ““interfering” or “meddling” with the corporate order. As one supporter of these ISDS provisions put it, they protect corporations from “the waves of madness that occasionally flit through the population.”

Secret and Rushed

It is understandable that the giant, multinational corporations want TPP kept secret, and want Congress to pass “fast track” trade promotion authority that requires Congress to pass TPP within 90 “session” days after the agreement is made public. Fast track sets up a rushed process that does not give the public time to read, understand, analyze and consider the ramifications of it – never mind time to effectively organize opposition. This is because, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed out,

“supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.’ ” Warren continued:

“Think about that. Real people, people whose jobs are at stake, small-business owners who don’t want to compete with overseas companies that dump their waste in rivers and hire workers for a dollar a day—those people, people without an army of lobbyists—they would be opposed. I believe if people this country would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then maybe that trade agreement should not happen.”

Fast track also prevents members of Congress from amending (i.e. “fixing”) flaws that might be found in the agreement even in the limited time available to comprehend and analyze the agreement. With the expected massive corporate public relations campaign that will occur as the agreement comes up for a vote, this sets up a rushed process where the Congress becomes more concerned with not “killing the whole agreement” with getting it right.


Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), says the leak shows that TPP is “worse than imagined”:

“The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake-up call for our nation. Amazingly, this chapter is sealed for four years after either adoption or rejection of the TPP. Everything we read and learn makes “Fast Track” authority unimaginable. It’s secrecy on top of secrecy.

The TPP is shaping up to be an exercise in words about citizen rights that are not enforceable versus expanded corporate rights to sue governments for supposed diminishment of corporate profits. Section B of the leaked chapter documents new provisions of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), the secret tribunal process that is above national law or courts.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown released the following statement:

“It appears that the investor state provision being considered as part of TPP will still amount to a corporate handout at the expense of consumers despite the assurances of our negotiators. We need strong language to prevent multinational corporations – like Big Tobacco – from using trade agreements to challenge health and safety laws.

“It’s telling when Members of Congress and their staff have an easier time accessing national security documents than proposed trade deals, but if I were negotiating this deal I suppose I wouldn’t want people to see it either. Trade agreements should lift American workers and their counterparts abroad, rather than creating a race to the bottom.”

From the Wikileaks statement:

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch has this Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text

“The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of ‘trade’ negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive and procedural rights and privileges not available to domestic firms under domestic law.”


Related Topics:

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

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

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

New Zealand Rallies against Rothschild’s Trade Agreement*

TPP: Controlling the Worlds Food Supply*

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

TPP, TPPA Goes EPA in the Recolonization of Africa*

U. S. And Japan TPP Talks Fail Again*

Amnesty International in Spirit No Longer Exists*

Amnesty International in Spirit No Longer Exists*

By Paul Richard Harris

Amnesty International’s reputation was built on standing up for victims. While sometimes outside viewers might have thought the victims were getting what they deserved – they put themselves in stupid situations, they were inherently bad people, and so on – AI nevertheless came to their rescue. Well, they wrote stuff about coming to the rescue; they didn’t actually show up on white horses with their banners unfurled on the breeze.

But over the past week, two reports out of Amnesty cause me to question who it is that has purchased AI’s soul.

With the whole world watching, Israel unleashed a hugely disproportionate assault on Gaza last year. And in a story two days ago, AP reported:

The human rights group Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that Palestinian militants committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict by killing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians using indiscriminate projectiles.

The report comes after two other reports issued in late 2014 that accused Israel of war crimes for attacks on multi-story civilian buildings and Palestinian homes during the war.

The 50-day Gaza war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Amnesty claims that they conferred with an ‘independent munitions expert’ who told them that 13 Palestinians killed in a Gaza refugee camp died because of an errant Palestinian rocket. To be fair, Amnesty has also condemned Israel for the brutality of last year’s assault.

But the conclusion of the report accusing Gaza of war crimes is an exercise in fatuous stupidity. Essentially, it concludes that you can’t misbehave just because someone is misbehaving toward you. In other words, when Israel attacks you with highly sophisticated weaponry, you must simply stand there and take it if you can’t return fire with equal sophistication. Well, that seems pretty reasonable.

This morning I read on teleSUR that Amnesty has now sold the Venezuelan people down the river. While the actual report from AI is not public at the time of this writing, their executive summary is. As reported by teleSUR:

Amnesty International’s latest report on Venezuela calls for justice for the dozens of people killed during the unrest that shook the country a year ago, while using sleight of hand to deflect attention away from those responsible.

“The Amnesty International report documents events of February 2014 when thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets, resulting in the death of 43 people, including eight law enforcement officials,” Amnesty said in a press release accompanying the release of the report’s executive summary.

Essentially, AI is choosing to ignore how those 43 died, who caused it, and why it happened. They choose to ignore the assaults upon security forces, the barbarism of opposition renegades in Venezuela, and the underlying current of foreign money and foreign encouragement driving a handful of people to attack the government.

I’ll let teleSUR pick up the story here:

“The use of unnecessary or disproportionate force is precisely what exacerbated the wave of tragic events last year,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty’s Americas director.

The summary levels blame at both security forces and government supporters. The latter were accused of engaging in state sanctioned human rights abuses. However, Amnesty’s allegations don’t match the facts. How did those 43 people die?

At the time of the protests, the independent news organization listed a total of 40 deaths, 20 of which were deemed to have been caused by opposition barricades, or opposition violence. The deaths included people gunned down while trying to clear barricades, ambulances being blocked from hospitals by opposition groups, and a motorbike rider who was decapitated after opposition groups strung razor wire across a road. A similar death toll count by the Center for Economic and Policy Research reflected a similar consensus: while security forces were indeed responsible for a few deaths, the opposition groups were hardly peaceful. Around half the victims of the 2014 unrest were either government supporters, members of security forces or innocent bystanders.

While condemning the government for supposedly cracking down on freedom, the report shied away from any criticism of the opposition’s intentional restriction of movement through the use of barricades, widespread intimidation and attacks on government supporters, and repeated attacks on journalists ranging from state media workers and community radio stations to international media. For example, in March 2014, a mob of anti-government protesters beat journalists working for organizations such as Reuters and AFP. One photo-journalist, Cristian Hernandez, was beaten with a lead pipe, but was rescued by state security forces.

Another journalist that witnessed the beating tweeted, “They protest for freedom of expression and against censorship, and they attack photo-journalists … for no reason? Where’s the coherence?”

Unlike that witness, Amnesty chose not to question why incidents like this took place – instead preferring to turn a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses committed by anti-government groups.

Indeed, none of this is included in Amnesty’s executive summary. teleSUR did try to contact Amnesty for clarification as to whether any of this would be included in the full report, but received no reply.

There is also a conclusion reached in the teleSUR piece that rings true:

One possible explanation is that Amnesty prefers to criticize governments, rather than call out substate actors. However, this doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. On Feb. 20, 2015, Amnesty International issued a report accusing both Boko Haram and the Nigerian government of human rights abuses. Then on March 26, 2015, they accused Palestinian militants of war crimes, after also condemning Israeli forces for human rights abuses in 2014. Clearly, in many parts of the world, Amnesty is capable of critiquing both sides of a conflict – but not in Venezuela.

At first, the question of what makes Venezuela unique may seem baffling, but it all became clear after I spoke to a former Amnesty employee, who asked to remain anonymous. He explained quite simply that within Amnesty, the biggest priority isn’t human rights. It is securing funding – mostly from wealthy donors in the West.

Here at Axis of Logic we have long dismissed Human Rights Watch as a shill for corporate interests, and clearly in the pockets of several governments and lobby groups. From this point forward, I think it’s safe to say we aren’t going to be paying much attention to Amnesty International’s blathering either. It’s a shame, because the organization once appeared to stand for something noble.


Related Topics:

Humanity at the Crossroads: The Crisis in Spiritual Consciousness

Zionist Owned Guardian Told Journalist to Stay Clear of Gaza*

Occupy World: Peru Aiming to Dismantle Rothschild’s Media Monopoly*

Civil Society Groups – Who Runs Them*

Who Is Controlling The Media Talking Points?