Remember the Keystone XL pipeline? We’re ALL being sued!

confused_lIt would have brought a million barrels of toxic tar-sands sludge oil across the length of our nation, through wetlands and communities. President Obama wisely rejected it.

Only now you and other American taxpayers may have to pay for that common-sense decision.

TransCanada is demanding that American taxpayers pay them $15 billion in compensation. They’re using the “investor-state dispute system” that’s in NAFTA – just like the one in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

It allows corporate polluters to attack our environmental and safety laws in private courts stacked in their favor. These companies think protecting clean air and water is a trade barrier. If TPP passes, they will be able to sue any time we manage to pass not just environmental legislation, but anything they believe might hurt their bottom lines. And we’ll be on the hook when they win in their sham corporate-biased dispute system established by the TPP.

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TPP—A Means of Surrendering Our National Sovereignty

The details are out on the the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and critics say the trade deal is worse than they feared. The TPP’s full text was released Thursday, weeks after the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations—a group representing 40 percent of the world’s economy—reached an agreement. Activists around the world have opposed the TPP, warning it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. Congress now has 90 days to review the TPP before President Obama can ask for an up-or-down vote.  Take the time to learn more about this treaty and then weigh in with your representation in the Congress (both Houses) as to your thoughts.  You can find a PDF version of the actual text of the various chapters here, and a slightly more Internet-friendly glossed over-version of what proponents of the TPP want you to know on Medium.

More video:

After Years of Backroom Secrecy, Public Will Finally Get to See Full TPP Text

Legislative clock starts ticking as Obama administration prepares to release text of pro-corporate trade deal

— by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams staff writer

Protesters have long decried the lack of transparency around TPP negotiations. (Photo: SumofUs/flickr/cc)

After being shrouded in secrecy for years, the full contents of the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will soon be brought into the sunlight.

According to Kevin Collier at Daily Dot, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said the text will be made available to the public at large in approximately 30 days—on or around November 7.

“[We] look forward to having it released as soon as possible,” Froman said in a press call Wednesday that was embargoed until Thursday morning. “We’re shooting to do it within the 30 days following the completion of the negotiations.”

Under the terms of the Fast Track legislation passed earlier this year, lawmakers will not be able to amend or filibuster the pro-corporate “trade” deal that was completed this week.

President Barack Obama must wait at least 90 days after formally notifying Congress of the deal before he can sign it and send it to Capitol Hill, and the full text of the agreement must be made public for at least 60 of those days. Congress gets to spend the first 30 days of that time privately reviewing the documents and consulting with the administration.

As Kelsey Snell wrote for the Washington Post, that 60-day public comment window “will provide critical insight into how much popular support the deal may receive. A poor reception during the public phase could make it difficult for Obama to rally support when it comes time for Congress to vote.”

Snell continued:

The next step will be for the U.S. International Trade Commission to conduct a full economic review of the deal. The agency has up to 105 days to complete that work but the process could take much less time.

Once the implementing bill is introduced in the House and the Senate, Congress has a maximum of 90 days to approve or disapprove the trade deal but can move much more quickly.

However, Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach has pointed out (pdf) that 2016 election politics may imperil the deal. “The intense national battle over trade authority was just a preview of the massive opposition the TPP will face given that Democratic and GOP members of Congress and the public soon will be able to see the specific TPP terms that threaten their interests,” she said (pdf) on Monday.


This work from “Common Dreams” is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

The US and Cuba

— by President Barack Obama, White HouseWhiteHouse

Yesterday, after more than 50 years, we began to change America’s relationship with the people of Cuba.

We are recognizing the struggle and sacrifice of the Cuban people, both in the U.S. and in Cuba, and ending an outdated approach that has failed to advance U.S. interests for decades. In doing so, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries.

I was born in 1961, just over two years after Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, and just as the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with that country.

Our complicated relationship with this nation played out over the course of my lifetime — against the backdrop of the Cold War, with our steadfast opposition to communism in the foreground. Year after year, an ideological and economic barrier hardened between us.

That previous approach failed to promote change, and it’s failed to empower or engage the Cuban people. It’s time to cut loose the shackles of the past and reach for a new and better future with this country.

First, I have instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations that have been severed since 1961. Going forward, we will re-establish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will once again visit Cuba.

Second, I have also instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism — a review guided by the facts and the law. At a time when we are focused on threats from ISIL and al Qaeda, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces terrorism should not face such a sanction.

Third, we’ll take steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to — and from — Cuba. These steps will make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba. They will make it easier for Americans to conduct authorized trade with Cuba, including exports of food, medicine, and medical products to Cuba. And they will facilitate increased telecommunications connections between our two countries: American businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.

Learn more about the steps we’re taking to change our policy.

These changes don’t constitute a reward or a concession to Cuba. We are making them because it will spur change among the people of Cuba, and that is our main objective.

Change is hard — especially so when we carry the heavy weight of history on our shoulders.

Our country is cutting that burden loose to reach for a better future.

Did I Just Lose Two for Two with Rep. Mark Amodei?

On December 5th, I sent an email to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2) regarding my concerns as to “fast-tracking” the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently being negotiated in secrecy behind closed doors:

VLRI view the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a secret “trade” deal being negotiated behind closed doors by the governments of a dozen countries (including ours) colluding with corporate interests.  And, as I currently understand its terms, it could devastate the internet freedom we’ve grown to love and use to complete many transactions we currently enjoy living in rural areas.  But even worse, unsafe foods and products could pour into our country while we’re powerless to stop them. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

My greatest concern is that it is being set up for the “fast-track,” which would short-circuit the typical legislative process when trade deals like the TPP come up for a vote.  Fast-track trade authority would allow ANY president to sign a trade deal before Congress has had an opportunity to review or approve it. Then, that president could send it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Fast track would mean there would be no meaningful hearings, limited debate and absolutely no amendments to the deal. Plus, there would be tremendous pressure on Congress to rubber-stamp whatever that president signs.

It’s the job of Congress to fully vet trade deals and ensure they work for everyone, not just giant corporations. Authorizing “fast tracking” would be a deeply irresponsible abdication of responsibility by Congress when we know the TPP is coming down the pike, especially when we know the consequences of the TPP could be disastrous.

The Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority over trade. But, my understanding is that the text of the TPP is considered so highly classified that even members of Congress have been given only extremely limited access to it. The little that we do know about the deal has come from drafts of some of its chapters that have been leaked.

The United States of America is a DEMOCRACY, not a CORPORATOCRACY. I urge you to oppose ANY AND ALL “fast-track” measures that would allow Congress to abdicate its role in assuring trade policies such as the TPP are truly appropriate trade policy for the PEOPLE of our nation.

Today, I got his response in my inbox:

AmodeiThank you for contacting me regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

As you know, the United States is currently in negotiations on the TPP trade agreement, which would promote trade with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Advocates for membership contend the TPP would facilitate trade and investment of U.S. made products, while promoting intellectual property rights, increasing transparency, and reducing government corruption. Those opposed argue that the TPP will impact our nation’s ability to compete in a global market.

As a Member of Congress, it is among my highest priorities to work hard for Nevada’s economy and promote job growth within the state. In this time of economic uncertainty in the world market, the United States and our workers cannot be left behind. Free and fair trade can help promote peace and security, as well as create important new economic opportunities and jobs for American businesses and workers. It is imperative for U.S. companies to have access to consumers throughout the world and that we fight to open up foreign markets to ensure Americans have equal access to foreign markets. Furthermore, it is important the global markets which U.S. companies compete in are as open as our own here at home.

Isolating our markets from the world will only hinder job growth and cause the United States to slip as the world’s economic leader. Consequently, it is also my intention to support other agreements that will bring the United States closer to a duty-free hemisphere. I believe that free markets encourage job growth at home. Congress has the responsibility to ensure the United States and its workers have access to emerging markets that will allow us to remain a leading force in the world market.

At the same time, we cannot have free trade unless it truly a mutual benefit for all participating nations. I understand the need to protect working American families from the adverse effects of new free trade agreements. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor these agreements and the effect that this agreement will have on the American those people under our partnerships. As Congress exercises review and oversight authority in this matter, I will certainly keep your concerns in mind.

I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to apprise me of your opinions and hope that you will contact me again should you have any further comments or concerns. If you would like additional information on my activities in the House, please visit my website, www.Amodei.house.gov or connect with me on facebook.com/MarkAmodeiNV2 and twitter.com/MarkAmodeiNV2.

In closing, please know that I consider it a privilege to serve and represent you and your family in Congress.

Sincerely, MarkAmodeiSignature

Given the GOP’s propensity to “fast-track” everything for corporate advantage over the commoners, and that Rep. Amodei seiously toes the GOP line, somehow, I don’t feel all that confident that Rep. Amodei “will certainly keep (my) concerns in mind.”

Oh Say Can You See Through the Frackers’ Big Lie?

The surge in fracked gas is headed for export and won’t boost the nation’s energy independence.

— by Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Big Oil’s frackers are wrapping their shameless profiteering in our flag.

In shale fields across the country, you’ll see fracking rigs festooned with Old Glory, and they even paint some of their rigs red, white, and blue.

This ostentatious patriotic pose is part of the industry’s cynical PR campaign to convince you and me that its assault on our health, water, air, and economic future should be mindlessly saluted, rather than questioned.

Energy Independence! ” is their deafening cry. The so-called shale gas boom, they proclaim, will free America from dependence on foreign producers.

This Fourth of July, can you sing “Oh say can you see through the frackers’ big lie”?

Joel Dyer, editor of the Boulder, Colorado Weekly, has peeked behind their-star spangled curtain. The investigative digger uncovered what he called “one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on America.”

Far from independence, we’re going to get the pollution — while foreigners take the energy. The gas extracted from our fractured land is destined for export. How do we know that?

First, because the industry and its government enablers admit it in their internal communications. Second, guess who’s paying for the fracking of America?

Dyer cites reports by Bloomberg news that China has pumped $5.5 billion into the U.S. drilling boom — not only so it can export the energy back to their people, but especially so the Chinese can “redeploy the best U.S. practices and technologies” back to China.

Other foreign investors fracking us hail from Japan ($5 billion invested so far), India ($3.5 billion), France ($4.5 billion), as well as South Korea, the UK, and Norway.

Norway? Come on, America — don’t let the profiteers wrap you up in our own flag. It’s the Fourth of July — let’s rebel!


OtherWords

columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org.  Photo Credit: www.citizenscampaign.org


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