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Reprinted from Paul Craig Roberts
I admire David Ray Griffin for his wide-ranging intelligence, his research skills, and for his courage. Dr. Griffin is not afraid to take on the controversial topics. He gave us 10 books on 9/11, and anyone who has read half of one of them knows that the official story is a lie.
Now Griffin has taken on global warming and the CO2 crisis. His book has just been published by Clarity Press, a publisher that seeks out truth-telling authors. Griffin’s book is a hefty 424 pages plus 77 pages of footnotes documenting the information that he presents. Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive The CO2 Crisis? is no screed. The book is a carefully researched document.
Readers often ask me to write about global warming, chemtrails, vaccines, and other subjects beyond my competence. However, I can see that Griffin has made a huge investment in researching climate change. His book provides a thorough account under one cover.
Griffin concludes that civilization itself is at stake. His evaluation of the evidence is that humans have about three decades to get CO2 emissions under control, and he sees hope in the agreement between Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping that was announced on November 11, 2014.
Griffin argues that instead of rushing to their own destruction like lemmings, the human race must accept the moral challenge of abolishing the fossil-fuel economy. He makes the case that clean energy permits most of modern society’s way of life to continue without the threat posed by ever rising emissions.
Nuclear energy is not among clean energy sources — just look at the ongoing radiation pollution from Fukushima. Griffin is correct in the way he has framed the issue. It is a moral challenge.
The planet is being polluted with many forms of wastes.
Our foods are also polluted. On one hand our food is polluted with herbicides and on the other hand by antibiotics. And then we have hormones and pesticides. The World Health Organization has concluded that the glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup, a herbicide widely sprayed on GMO food crops, is a likely causes of cancer in humans and animals.
Glyphosate, which is also believed to be exterminating honey bees and Monarch butterflies, is now present in 75 percent of air and rain samples. Some time ago I reported on a microbiologist who wrote to the US Secretary of Agriculture about extensive findings by independent scientists that glyphosate has serious adverse effects on animal life and on animal and human fertility and on the ability of soil to produce nutrition in food crops. The scientist pointed out that the US government’s clearance of glyphosate rested entirely on the industry’s own studies of its safety and that these “studies” are not substantiated by independent scientists. He pointed out that not only are the studies done by scientists employed by Monsanto, but also many agricultural science university faculties are dependent on research funds from the chemical industry and thereby do not have an independent voice.
(On a French TV show a Monsanto representative claimed Roundup was safe enough to drink, but turned down the offer from the show’s host to demonstrate by drinking a glass by exclaiming “I’m not stupid!”
Martha Rosenberg writing in CounterPunch reports that 70 percent of all antibiotics are fed to livestock because it produces weight gain and saves money on feed costs. Ninety-three percent of doctors are concerned about the meat industry’s excessive use of antibiotics, and independent scientists have definite evidence that the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is due to the use of antibiotics as animal feed.
Scientists at the University of Iowa found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 70 percent of farmed hogs. A Consumer Reports investigation found that US meat, regardless of the meat’s source, is full of “pathogens, commensals, and antibiotic resistant bacteria.” Pork tested contained five resistant bacteria strains.
The Food and Drug Administration, severely weakened by Republicans, cannot stand up to Big Meat. Rosenberg reports that “when the FDA tried in 2008 to ban farm use of cephalosporins (antibiotics like Cefzil and Keflex) because they are needed for pneumonia, strep throat, and other serious human conditions, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork, and cattle industries and the animal Health Institute stormed Capital Hill.”
Congress responded to the campaign donations, not to the health and safety of the American people. The Animal Health Institute consists of the drug companies who make profits selling 70 percent of their production to meat, egg, and milk producers. The members of the “health” institute are Abbott, Bayer Healthcare, Elanco/Lilly, Merck, Boehringer, Ingelheim Vetmedica, Novartis, etc.
In other words, profits come far ahead of public health. As the drug companies have more or less stopped the development of new antibiotics, the protection antibiotics provide against infections is rapidly fading.
The horror goes on. During a time of severe drought in the western US, with California reportedly left with one year’s supply of water, the fossil-fuel fracking industry is polluting the remaining surface and ground water.
All of these activities — use of antibiotics as animal feed, use of GMO herbicides, fracking — are profitable because they impose huge external costs on the environment and on third parties who are not participants in the profits gleaned by externalizing the costs of production. And this brings us back to Griffin’s important book.
Griffin makes the point that the external cost imposed on the climate by fossil-fuel use is the source of the life-threatening crisis that humanity confronts. Capitalists make money by exploiting labor and by externalizing the costs of the wastes produced by the productive process by imposing the wastes on the environment. It is the short-term time horizon of production organized by selfish private interests focused on quarterly profits that is destroying the livability of the earth.
Almost every economist on earth will rise up in opposition to that true statement, because they are brainwashed in the neoliberal ideology that masquerades as economic science, but in fact is nothing but an apology for capitalist exploitation of labor and the earth.
I happened to be one of Ronald Coase’s graduate students the year he published his famous article on “The Problem of Social Cost” (external costs) for which, together with his article, “The Theory of the Firm,” he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. In theory, externalities can be internalized into the process of production so that the producer bears all the costs if all inputs and waste products are subject to property rights. But no one owns the atmosphere, the oceans, the rivers and streams. They remain “common property” and thus are dumping grounds for waste disposal.
Governments, despite pressure from corporations, have realized that pollution is a problem, and governments have imposed some regulation. The regulation raises some costs to corporations, but the regulation is insufficient to halt very much of the externalization of the cost of production. In economic terms, this is the crisis that David Ray Griffin presents to us.
Capitalism’s pursuit of profit is destroying life on earth.
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here. His latest book, How America Was Lost, has just been released and can be ordered here.
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
March 25, 2015
31 non-governmental organizations in the world released a statement to oppose the Construction of a New Military Base at Henoko and call on the Japanese Government to listen to the voices of Okinawan people and stop the construction.
Please sign the petition to save Henoko. We call for your support to demand. Signatures will be collected untill the April 12, 2015 and be submitted to the Government of Japan and U.S.
Joint Urgent Statement of NGOs Opposing the Construction of a New Military Base at Henoko
Oura Bay in Henoko, Okinawa –There are beautiful coral reefs that have formed over a long period of time.
At this very moment, Japanese government is forcing through a plan to build a new military base at Henoko coastal marine habitat with richness of biodiversity, and being destroying.
The Candidates opposed to build the new base were elected at the mayoral election at Nago City, the Nago City Council Election, the Okinawa Gubernatorial election and House of Representatives election last year. The voice of people in Okinawa, “Do not need new base in Henoko”, has been made clear through the results of these elections.
However, Prime Minister Abe has refused to even meet with Okinawa Governor Onaga who was elected by the people of Okinawa opposing to the building of the new base. This procedure of the Prime Minister is completely unacceptable action in term of the democratic country. The Governor is requesting a suspension of the construction works but he is being completely ignored.
74% of all US military bases located in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, and 18% of the terrestrial area is occupied by US military bases. This situation in Okinawa violates the rights of citizens that are guaranteed by the Japanese constitution. It is extremely problematic that the opinion of the people is being ignored with unrespect for the environment, human rights and peace, and the construction forcibly going ahead.
The Japanese government restarted survey boring the sea bottom of some points at Henoko coastal area on March 12 towards to start the main construction work in August. Furthermore, work to construct a giant “temporary wharf” (maximum width 25 meters, length 300 meters) is going to build due to the reason of necessary survey. Also giant concrete blocks were dropped onto the sea bed, crushing corals and seaweed, and it has been observed affecting the rich coral reef ecosystem with no longer seen coming Dugong to feed since last September.
Many people in Okinawa and from all over Japan are gathering in Henoko, on the ocean and in front of the gates of Camp Schwab to protest against construction of the base every day.
We strongly oppose to construct new Henoko base in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, and demand suspend the construction of both Japanese and US governments to protect the precious ecosystem of Henoko, Oura coastal area based on the will of the people that has been made clear in Okinawa.
Will Red Meat Kill Me?
There’s been a lot of press about a new study that shows eating red meat raises your risk of death. What’s your take? Should I cut out red meat altogether?
Answer (Published 3/23/2012)
|“Red Meat Consumption and Mortality” from the Harvard School of Public Health, published online March 12, 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, ignited something of a media firestorm. Headlines proclaimed, “Scientists warn red meat can be lethal” and “Red meat is blamed for one in 10 early deaths,” based mostly on the study’s conclusion that each additional serving of red meat consumed daily was associated with a 13 to 20 percent increased risk of “all-cause mortality.” The researchers suggested that almost one in 10 of the deaths of the study participants could have been prevented if they had kept their red meat intake under a half-serving daily.
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It’s an interesting study, but there are some important facts to consider:
My take: I don’t believe anyone needs to eat red meat to be healthy. We can get the protein and essential fatty acids we need from other sources, such as wild-caught, cold-water fish; free-range, omega-3 rich eggs; and tofu, beans and nuts.
If you do eat red meat, less is better than more, andgrass-fed, grass-finished beef offers a far better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile, along with fewer contaminants and less fat.
At the same time, the superficial modern-media takeaway and “crisis headline”- red meat is lethal – is highly suspect. Human beings have a long evolutionary history of consuming meat from healthy, foraging four-legged animals, so it is unlikely that this practice is extraordinarily hazardous to health.
Conversely, we have a very short evolutionary history of eating highly processed and unnatural foods, especially industrial beef and pork, refined sugars and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Being sedentary, smoking, and avoiding fruits and vegetables are also rather recent widespread human behaviors for which we are poorly adapted. I believe that these lifestyle habits – rather than eating red meat per se – are likely to be the true causes of increased mortality.
A far more useful study would be one that compared the health of active, nonsmoking, normal-weight, fruit-and-vegetable eating people, divided into groups depending on whether they get most of their protein from:
I suspect that members of all three groups would show significantly lower “all-cause mortality” than that of most Americans and that the fish-eating group would have the lowest risk by a narrow margin. But we won’t know if that’s true until such a study is actually conducted.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, issued a report on March 20, reviewing five different herbicides and insecticides and their possible carcinogenicity. Experts in Lyon, France met earlier this month to do a comprehensive review of 15 different peer reviewed studies from the past three decades. Of the five, two were classified as “possibly” carcinogenic to humans and three were deemed “probably” the cause of certain types of cancer in humans.
One of the three labeled probably carcinogenic was glyphosate, a main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. For the IARC to label an agent “probably” carcinogenic, there has to be sufficient and convincing evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. Agents labeled as “possibly” carcinogenic lack sufficient data to determine if it causes cancer in people.
Glyphosate is an herbicide with the highest worldwide use and can be found in 750 different products. Developed in 1970 by Monsanto to kill weeds that would harm crops, its use has been dramatically increased since the creation of “genetically-modified organism” crops that can resist the chemical. These GMO products, also developed by Monsanto, are labeled “Roundup Ready,” a reference to the brand name under which the company sells the herbicide. It is primarily used on GMO soybean and corn crops.
The chemical has also been detected in the blood and urine of workers, which indicates absorption after exposure. Glyphosate metabolizes into a different chemical structure in soil, and that same chemical structure has also been detected in blood after poisoning, suggesting that there is additional metabolizing in humans. Studies have also shown evidence of chromosomal damage in vitro, and the people in communities where there has been spraying.
Immediately after the report, Monsanto issued a statement saying their scientific data did not support the IARC’s conclusion. They point out that the United States Environmental Protection Agency has deemed glyphosate safe and allowed for an increase in the amount used. While their rapid and aggressive response is not surprising, it shows real fear. While farmers have stated that they need the herbicide to save crops, if it is deemed an occupational hazard, it could prompt further regulatory oversight. Farmers might also seek alternatives, affecting the company’s bottom line. Furthermore, activists have pushed for the labeling of GMO foods to include known health risks. IARC’s report gives additional support for these efforts.
Monsanto is demanding a meeting with WHO and IARC officials, as well as a retraction of the report. IARC officials have yet to respond, but did issue a statement with the report outlining their evaluation process. They noted that their report provides “scientific evaluations based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature.” The independent body says it is the responsibility of individual governments to “recommend regulations, legislation, or public health intervention.”
Patrick Moore, a lobbyist for Monsanto, was recently asked in an interview on French television if he thought that glyphosate was safe for humans. He boldly stated that it was safe to drink, but refused to do so when offered a glass of “Roundup.”
In still other news on glyphosate, a study published in mBio shows that bacteria exposed to glyphosate based and other herbicides can become antibiotic resistant. Finally, glyphosate kills beneficial gut bacteria, and wipes out delicate beneficial microflora that helps protect us from disease. Harmful pathogens like Clostridium botulinum, Salmonella, and E. coli are able to survive glyphosate in the gut, but the “good bacteria” in your digestive tract, such as protective microorganisms, bacillus and lactobacillus, are killed off. Monsanto knows this because it originally registered its patent for glyphosate’s use as an anti-microbial agent.
With the advent of Roundup Ready GMO crops, now farmers do not have to spray just the weeds to kill them. They spray their entire farms with the poison, which means that consumers are consuming higher levels of the stuff. This has increased Monsanto’s profits, and tightened its hold on the goal of controlling the world’s food supply. The chemical lobby of the big industrial chemical companies control the EPA, so it was easy to get them to lift their restrictions of the levels we are allowed to tolerate from 200 parts per million to 6,000 parts per million in 2013. It is time for them to stop allowing us to be fed cancer causing chemicals and telling us that they are safe. Sign the petition now to ask the EPA to immediately suspend Roundup herbicide. Send a five billion dollar message to Monsanto now by signing the petition. Just click here.
Kenneth Eade (www.kennetheade.com) is the best-selling author of “Bless the Bees: The Pending Extinction of our Pollinators and What You Can Do to Stop It,” and the children’s counterpart, “A, Bee, See: Who are our Pollinators and Why are they in Trouble,” as well as the first GMO Thriller, “An Involuntary Spy.”
(Article changed on March 28, 2015 at 07:01)
(Article changed on March 28, 2015 at 07:25)
(Article changed on March 28, 2015 at 15:22)
Take action — click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Tell the EPA to Suspend Glyphosate use
|Kenneth Gordon Eade is an American environmental activist, author and lawyer, best known for his legal and political thrillers. Eade’s first bestseller on Amazon.com was “An Involuntary Spy,”a fictional spy thriller that critics have said has (more…)|
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.|
|Gov’t Report: Plutonium at 1,000,000 Bq/m3 was detected in ocean off Fukushima — “Contaminated waters will be transported rapidly to east” across Pacific — This is “the most important direct liquid release of artificial radioactivity into sea ever known” — Scientists: “Remember, its not just cesium that’s released”
Posted: 27 Mar 2015 09:37 AM PDT
The lies that killed people at Three Mile Island 36 years ago on March 28, 1979 are still being told at Chernobyl,Fukushima, Diablo Canyon, Davis-Besse … and at TMI itself.
As the first major reactor accident that was made known to the public is sadly commemorated, and as the global nuclear industry collapses, let’s count just 36 tip-of-the iceberg ways the nuclear industry’s radioactive legacy continues to fester:
1. When about half of TMI’s fuel melted on March 28, 1979, the owners, industry and regulators all denied it, and continued to deny it until robotic cameras showed otherwise.
2. Early signs that such an accident could happen had already surfaced at the Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio, which was also manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox. TMI’s owners later sued Davis-Besse’s owners for not warning them about what had happened.
3. When TMI’s radiation poured into the atmosphere the industry had (and still has) no idea how much escaped, but denied it was of any significance even though stack monitors failed and dosimeters in the field indicated high releases (plant owners claimed they were “defective”). Only due to the work of the great Dr. Ernest Sternglass, recently departed, was public attention turned to the potential harm this radiation could do.
4. When animals nearby suffered mass mutations and death, the industry denied it. When the plague was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Baltimore News-American, the industry denied the damage could be related to radiation.
5. Industry “experts” assured the public radiation doses to downwinders were similar to a single x-ray, but ignored well-established findings from Dr. Alice Stewart and others that a single x-ray to a pregnant woman could double the chances of childhood leukemia among her offspring.
6. Industry “experts” ignored the reality that radioactive fallout can come down in clumps rather than spread evenly, and scoffed at findings from neighborhood surveys done by Jane Lee, Mary Osbourne and others showing major outbreaks of cancer in certain downwind neighborhoods.
7. When humans nearby were born with Down’s Syndrome and other mutations, and then adults began dying, the industry denied it, then denied any connection to TMI, but then did pay at least $15 million in out-of-court settlements to affected families on condition they not speak about it in public.
8. When Chernobyl exploded in 1986, Soviet officials said nothing as massive clouds of radiation poured across Europe and into the jet stream that would carry it to the U.S. within 10 days.
9. The U.S. government did nothing of sufficient scale to monitor Chernobyl’s radiation as it came here, and did nothing to warn the public to avoid milk and other foods that might concentrate that radiation, and has repeated that behavior in the wake of Fukushima.
10. A massive bird die-off at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore came with the arrival of the Chernobyl cloud and was documented by resident ornithologist Dr. Dave DeSante, whose findings were ignored by the government; soon thereafter, DeSante lost his job.
11. Chernobyl’s radiation was tracked all across Europe where it continues to irradiate plants, animals and humans. The most credible study of Chernobyl’s human death toll put it at 985,000 in 2010.
12. Chernobyl still seethes with radiation, but the massive, hugely expensive movable sarcophagus meant to cover it is not yet in place.
13. When fire runs through the wooded areas around Chernobyl, massive quantities of radiation are re-released into the atmosphere.
14. Fifteen Soviet-era reactors remain operable in Ukraine, much of which is now a de facto war zone, raising serious doubts about what will happen to them and the rest of the downwind human race.
15. The Japanese government was repeatedly and passionately warned by thousands of citizens for more than 40 years that putting reactors in a tsunami zone surrounded by earthquake faults was not a good idea. They were dismissed as “alarmists” and repeatedly assured that the reactors at Fukushima and elsewhere around Japan could come to no harm.
16. Despite repeated public protests, when Fukushima Dai’ichi was built an 85-foot-high bluff was taken down so units 1 through 4 could operate more cheaply at sea level; as widely predicted, they were massively flooded on March 11, 2011.
17. Critical backup batteries meant to keep the reactor cores cool in case of melt-downs were placed in basements which were thoroughly flooded when the tsunami hit Fukushima. Workers later frantically took batteries from nearby parked cars to try to power up the stricken cooling systems and other critical components.
18. The exact whereabouts of the melted cores from Fukushima Units 1, 2 and 3 remain unknown.
19. After a half-century of industry assurances that American reactors could not explode, four General Electric reactors blew up at Fukushima.
20. By estimate of Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, some 30 times as much Cesium 137 has been released at Fukushima as was released during the bombing of Hiroshima.
21. Some 300 tons of radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every day.
22. Thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods remain scattered around the Fukushima site; thousands are also still suspended in damaged spent fuel pools 100 feet in the air atop weakened buildings above shattered, melted reactors.
23. A petition signed by more than 150,000 people demanding that Fukushima be taken over by the world community was submitted to the United Nations on November 7, 2013, but has yet to receive a response of any kind.
24. Fukushima is still owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power, which built it despite massive public opposition and continues to mismanage it while turning the “clean up” into a profit center, with a labor force thoroughly infiltrated by organized crime.
25. Like Fukushima, California’s Diablo Canyon reactors were built despite huge public protests, and sit in a tsunami zone surrounded by earthquake faults whose potential seismic power exceeds Diablo’s structural capacities, according numerous experts, including NRC official Dr. Michael Peck, who worked at Diablo for the commission.
26. A continual stream of revelations indicate illegal collusion on safety and other issues at Diablo between its owners, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as the California Public Utilities Commission.
27. Diablo’s owners almost certainly violated regulatory requirements and the law in using components within the reactors that were not tested to meet seismic standards.
28. Earthquakes have already damaged at least two U.S. reactors, at Ohio’s Perry site and at North Anna, Virginia (that quake also damaged the Washington Monument in our nation’s capital).
29. Public money designated for use by PG&E to upgrade piping systems was diverted to executive bonuses, according to theLos Angeles Times. In 2010 unrepaired gas lines, which were known to have been deteriorating for a decade, blew up in San Bruno, killing eight people and doing millions of dollars in damage. Such a disaster at Diablo Canyon could kill countless thousands and do untold damage to the national economy and global ecology.
30. Diablo Canyon’s once-through cooling system violates state and federal water quality regulations by dumping huge quantities of hot, radioactive liquid into the Pacific, killing billions of marine creatures while unbalancing the ocean ecology and contributing to climate chaos.
31. Like most other old U.S. reactors, Ohio’s Davis-Besse is literally crumbling, with the concrete in its safety shield being pulverized by continual freezing, yielding ever-growing holes in the structure.
32. Like most other old U.S. reactors, Diablo Canyon, Davis-Besse, five reactors in Illinois and many more cannot compete in electricity markets against wind power, solar panels, other renewable sources or increased efficiency, and would shut down were it not for massive public subsidies.
33. Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission is being asked by FirstEnergy, Davis-Besse’s owner, for subsidies amounting to more than $3 billion to keep open that decrepit reactor, which opened in 1978, and the Sammis coal burner, which is even older.
34. Wisconsin’s Kewaunee reactor has shut for purely economic reasons despite being fully amortized and having no apparent outstanding maintenance or engineering crises.
35. California’s San Onofre reactors were shut in part due to violations of licensing requirements that are mirrored at both Diablo Canyon and Davis-Besse, where shut-downs could be required by law. Let’s hope …
36. As we commemorate this tragic anniversary, we must note that this list of reactor nightmares could go very very far past 36. But let’s hope it doesn’t take that many more years to realize the folly of this failed technology.
In honor of the many many victims of Three Mile Island, and of the great Dr. Sternglass and so many dedicated experts and activists, we must turn this sad litany into the action needed to shut down ALL the world’s reactors so we don’t have to experience this nightmare yet again.
The lives we save will be our own … and those of our children … and theirs …
Harvey Wasserman reported directly on TMI’s death toll from central Pennsylvania. He co-wrote KILLING OUR OWN: THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION.
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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 onthe tribunals and representing corporations that bring cases to be heard bythe 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 labor rights in TPP require action by member governments—neither workers nor unions can enforce the labor 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 Labor 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 labor 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 labor 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 per cent 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.”
|Life Arts 3/26/2015 at 12:56:08|
Review of Recollection of Things Learned
By Gaither Stewart
OpEdNews contributor Gaither Stewart is a man of passions. In The Europe Trilogy he shared with us his passion for international espionage and intrigue. In Voices from Pisalocca he shared his passion for village life in his adoptive country, Italy. In The Fifth Sun he shared his passion for Native-American mythology. Now in Recollection of Things Learned he shares his passion for socialism, both the complexity of its theory and the clash of its praxis.
In his new book, Stewart shows how capitalism inevitably divides humanity through wars, racism, sexism, and class antagonism. He defines the key aspects of socialism and gives us an historical overview of its development, including critiques of the attempts to achieve it. He presents socialism not as an idealistic panacea but as a sensible process of overcoming humanity’s divisions and building economic and social democracy, where the resources and productive capacity of the world belong to its people, who use them to meet human needs rather than to generate private profits for a few owners. He argues convincingly that reforms can never achieve this goal; the system must be overthrown, and that requires revolution.
Stewart inspires us that, yes, this can be done and we are the ones to do it. He calls us to revolution in prose that is clear, graceful, and always impassioned. Recollection of Things Learned is an excellent guide to understanding our times … and changing them.
I’ll wager his closing words will resonate with you for quite some time:
“Planet Earth is amok. We live in a world in which, despite frequent invocations of democracy, corrupt plutocrats and their shills control real power in most parts of the globe. The reality of the true situation of social man is however concealed and obfuscated by disinformation, propaganda and blatant lies so that the 99% remain in chains and in a state of unawareness….
“Equality has become the major criterion between the rich and the poor, between the Right and the Left. The Left, though in disarray, struggles for equality. The greedy Right in its drive for endless accumulation strives for ever more inequality. Right and Left are therefore at permanent war.
“The social-political-economic war between the two classes of rich and poor, of Right and Left, has been going on since the emergence of private property many civilizations ago. Since the poor are getting poorer and endless war is so good for business, war is destined to continue until the day the 99% rise up and crush the entire system of the 1% and create from the bottom up a new form of society.”
|William T. Hathaway’s new book, Lila, the Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old Indian girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing (more…)||
|The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.|
|General News 3/26/2015 at 11:39:59
Here it is, for the world to see.
This is an advanced January 2015 version of the confidential draft treaty chapter from the Investment group of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks between the United States, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei Darussalam. The treaty is being negotiated in secret by delegations from each of these 12 countries, who together account for 40% of global GDP. The chapter covers agreements on investments from one TPP nation to another, including empowering foreign firms to “sue” other states’ governments, as well as regulations around investor-state dispute settlements and tribunals. This document was prepared by TPP investment chapter negotiators in advance of the informal round of negotiations held in New York City 26th January to 1st February, 2015
Global Trade Watch has just provided an analysis of the leaked text via email (and now on its website more details):
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. This includes:Foreign investors would be empowered to challenge new policies that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms on the basis that they undermine foreign investors’ “expectations” of how they should be treated. This includes a right to claim damages for government actions (such as new environmental, health or financial policies) that reduce the value of a foreign firm’s investment (what the leaked text calls “indirect expropriation”) or that change the level of regulation a foreign investor experienced under a previous government (a violation of what the text calls a “minimum standard of treatment” for foreign investors).
The leaked TPP text largely replicates the “minimum standard of treatment” language found in previous U.S. pacts that tribunals have used to issue some of the most alarming ISDS rulings. Tribunals often have broadly interpreted this vague “right” to fabricate new obligations for governments that do not actually exist in the texts of ISDS-enforced pacts, such as “not to alter the legal and business environment in which the investment has been made.” Due to such expansive interpretations, the “minimum standard of treatment” obligation has been the basis for three of every four ISDS cases “won” by the foreign investor under U.S. pacts.
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. To the limited extent that “indirect expropriation” compensation is permitted in U.S. law, it is generally available only for government actions affecting real property (i.e. land). But the leaked text would allow foreign investors to claim “indirect expropriation” if government regulations implicate their personal property, intellectual property rights, financial instruments, government permits, money, minority shareholdings or other forms of non-real-estate property.
Foreign corporations could demand compensation for capital controls and other macro-prudential financial regulations that promote financial stability. This obligation restricts the use of capital controls or financial transaction taxes, even as the International Monetary Fund has shifted from opposing capital controls to officially endorsing them as legitimate policy tools for preventing or mitigating financial crises. Proposed provisions touted as “temporary safeguards” for capital controls would fail to protect many standard forms of capital controls, including those successfully used by TPP governments in the past to ward off financial crises.
The leaked text could newly allow pharmaceutical firms to use TPP ISDS tribunals to demand cash compensation for claimed violations of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rules regarding the creation, limitation or revocation of intellectual property rights. Currently, WTO rules are not privately enforceable by investors. But the leaked TPP investment text could empower individual foreign investors to directly challenge governments over policies to ensure access to affordable medicines, claiming that they constitute TPP-prohibited “expropriations” of intellectual property rights if ISDS tribunals deem them to violate WTO rules.
There are no new safeguards that limit ISDS tribunals’ discretion to create ever-expanding interpretations of governments’ obligations to foreign investors and order compensation on that basis. The leaked text reveals the same “safeguard” terms that have been included in U.S. pacts since the 2005 Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA tribunals have simply ignored the “safeguard” provisions that the leaked text replicates for the TPP, and have continued to rule against governments based on concocted obligations to which governments never agreed. The leaked text also abandons a safeguard proposed in the 2012 leaked TPP investment text, which excluded public interest regulations from indirect expropriation claims, stating, “non-discriminatory regulatory actions ” that are designed and applied to achieve legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the protection of public health, safety and the environment do not constitute indirect expropriation.” Today’s leaked text eviscerates that clause by adding a fatal loophole that has been found in past U.S. pacts.
Most TPP countries, including the United States, have decided to expose decisions regarding the approval of foreign investments to ISDS challenge. Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand have reserved the right to pre-approve foreign investors. But the United States took no exception for reviews by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States of planned foreign investments to determine whether they pose threats to national security.
The amount that an ISDS tribunal would order a government to pay to a foreign investor as compensation would be based on the “expected future profits” the tribunal surmises that the investor would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking as violating the substantive investor rights granted by the TPP.
The text would submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of World Bank and United Nations tribunals. All TPP nations have agreed to be so bound with the potential exception of Australia, which has indicated that it might do the same, “subject to certain conditions.”
None of the structural biases or conflicts of interest inherent in the ISDS system would be remedied. TPP ISDS tribunals would be staffed by highly paid corporate lawyers unaccountable to any electorate or system of legal precedent. They still would be allowed to rotate between acting as “judges” and advocates for the investors launching cases against governments. Corporations launching cases would still directly select one of the “judges.” The text includes no requirements for tribunal members to be impartial, reveal conflicts of interest or recuse themselves in instances of direct conflict. There is no internal or external mechanism to appeal the tribunal members’ decisions on the merits, and claims of procedural errors would be decided by another tribunal of corporate lawyers. The leaked text provides tribunals with discretion to determine the amount of compensation governments must pay investors and the allocation of costs, such as the tribunal members’ fees. A proposal that appeared in the 2012 leak of the text to standardize hourly fees for tribunal members at the lower end of the range of fees currently paid (about $375 per hour, compared to the $700 per hour that some tribunal members receive) has been eliminated.
An overreaching definition of “investment” would extend the coverage of the TPP’s expansive substantive investor rights far beyond “real property,” permitting ISDS attacks over government actions and policies related to financial instruments, intellectual property, regulatory permits and more. Proposals in the 2012 leak of the text that would have narrowed the definition of “investment,” and thus the scope of policies subject to challenge, have been eliminated. Also omitted is a proposal from the earlier leaked version that would not have allowed ISDS cases related to government procurement, subsidies or government grants.
An overreaching definition of “investor” would allow firms from non-TPP countries and firms with no real investments to exploit the extraordinary privileges the TPP would establish for foreign investors. Thus, for instance, one of the many Chinese state-owned corporations in Vietnam could “sue” the U.S. government in a foreign tribunal to demand compensation under this text.
The leaked text reveals that U.S. negotiators are still pushing, over the objection of most other TPP nations, to empower foreign investors to bring to TPP ISDS tribunals their contract disputes with TPP signatory governments relating to natural resource concessions on federal lands, government procurement of construction for infrastructure projects, as well as contracts relating to the operation of utilities. (In the leaked chapter, text that is not yet agreed upon appears in square brackets; Public Citizen has seen a version of the text that lists which countries support various proposals.)
More from Global Trade Watch:
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.The leaked text would empower foreign firms to directly “sue” signatory governments
in extrajudicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals over domestic policies
that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms that foreign firms claim violate their new substantive investor rights. There they could demand taxpayer compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use and other policies and government actions they claim undermine TPP foreign investor privileges, such as the “right” to a regulatory framework that conforms to their “expectations.”
The leaked text reveals the TPP would expand the parallel ISDS legal system by
elevating tens of thousands of foreign- owned firms to the same status as sovereign governments, empowering them to privately enforce a public treaty by skirting domestic courts and laws to directly challenge TPP governments i n foreign tribunals.
And remember why this is important:
Foreign corporations have used these claims to attack tobacco, climate, financial, mining, medicine, energy, pollution, water, labor, toxins, development and other non-trade domestic policies. Under U.S. “free trade” agreements (FTAs) alone, foreign firms have already pocketed more than $440 million in taxpayer money via investor-state cases. This includes cases against natural resource policies, environmental protections, health and safety measures and more. ISDS tribunals have ordered more than $3.6 billion in compensation to investors under all U.S. FTAs and Bilateral Investment Treaties
(BITs). More than $38 billion remains in pending ISDS claims under these pacts, nearly
all of which relate to environmental, energy, financial regulation, public health, land use and transportation policies. Even when governments win cases, they are often ordered to pay for a share of the tribunal’s costs. Given that the costs just for defending a challenged policy in an ISDS case total $8 million on average, the mere filing of a case can create a chilling effect on government policymaking, even if the government expects to win. [emphasis added]
By the way, the screams and groans you just heard are coming from the White House and TPP supporters because when the elite New York Times–which has always flogged so-called “free trade” and treated opponents of such deals as backward people–writesthis, this deal is sinking fast:
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 hurts 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.
Backers of the emerging trade accord, which is supported by a wide variety of business groups and favored by most Republicans, say that it is in line with previous agreements that contain similar provisions. But critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that the planned deal widens the opening for multinationals to sue in the United States and elsewhere, giving greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.