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Everyone but China TPP Trade Deal …

2013/11/30 2 comments

… Threatens Sovereignty and Public Ownership

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese interviewed

by Paul Jay, Senior Editor

The Real News Network (April 09 2013)

PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a new trade agreement that President Obama and his administration is leading the charge on, well, critics say this agreement – right now, at any rate – is a lot of Asian countries but China. And people are calling it everybody but China agreement so far, at any rate. It also, critics say, is going to increase corporate rights and decrease sovereign rights.

Now joining us are two people who’ve been very active on this whole question. First of all, Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician from Baltimore who advocates for a single-payer health-care system, but she’s been very active on the TPP issue.

And Kevin Zeese. He’s codirector of It’s Our Economy, an organization that advocates for democratizing the economy. He’s an attorney and was one of the original organizers of the national occupation of Washington.

Thank you both for joining us.

KEVIN ZEESE, CODIRECTOR, IT’S OUR ECONOMY: Glad to be here.

MARGARET FLOWERS, CODIRECTOR, IT’S OUR ECONOMY: Thank you for having us.

JAY: So, Kevin, kick us off. TPP is what and matters why?

ZEESE: The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been in sixteen rounds of negotiations over three years, pretty much in secret except for the 600 corporate advisers that have been working with the Obama administration to develop the terms. And it’s called a trade agreement, but it’s really much more than that. If you care about internet privacy, if you care about health care, financial regulation, labor rights, the environment, all these issues will be affected by the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they’ll give corporations more power than governments to control these issues, because profits will be the ultimate goal, much more important than people’s necessities or protection of the planet.

JAY: Which is a character of most of the free trade agreements, so-called free trade agreements, even NAFTA and some of the other ones that have been done.

FLOWERS: Right.

JAY: Dig into parts of the agreement, Margaret, that concern you most.

FLOWERS: One of the things that’s unique about this agreement is that it has something called a docking agreement. So the intention is that this may be the last trade agreement that is ever agreed to, that it may become the template for the rest of the world trade and that other countries will then dock onto it. But they have to agree to everything that’s already been negotiated.

And where there are about 26 chapters, what we know is what has been leaked. Out of those 26 chapters, only about five of them have to do with traditional trade. So what we see in this agreement is that it’s not really about trade; it’s about creating a backdoor for corporations to get some of the changes that they want. So deregulation of the financial industry, longer patent protections for the pharmaceutical industries, internet privacy restrictions, you know, these are the things that these corporations have wanted to get but they haven’t been able to so far, and this is a vehicle for doing that.

JAY: I mean, it’s interesting. I think one of the things that TPP would do, it would prevent – if Cyprus, for example, was actually one of these countries that agreed, they couldn’t have introduced capital controls that would have stopped money leaving Cyprus when they were trying to control their banks.

ZEESE: Under the TPP, money can go into and out of countries without much control by the government. So the corporations, the big banks, will have much more control over the capital controls of a country than the country will. And if a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent public interests, they could be sued.

JAY: By individual corporations.

ZEESE: By individual corporations in a trade tribunal, which is a three-person tribunal. Most of the judges will be corporate lawyers on leave from their corporate job, putting on their robe and being a judge, deciding in favor of the corporation, no doubt, and then going back to their corporate job. And what they’re suing for is the potential loss damages, not actual damages. But we planned on making money here. Here’s how we were going to do it. We were going to – now you – we’re going to lose $10 million because of you. The country then has to pay $10 million in damages for a labor agreement, a finance agreement, consumer protection, environmental protection. Whatever it is the country wants to do, it can be stopped by a corporation suing a trade tribunal.

FLOWERS: I think an excellent example of that is what’s happening with Canada. Right now there’s a company in the US called Lone Pine Industries that wants to frack in an area of Canada that’s banned fracking.

ZEESE: Under the Saint Lawrence River.

FLOWERS: So they’re suing the Canadian government for $250 million for loss of expected profit.

JAY: Now, some of this mechanisms already exist under WTO agreements and other trade agreements. Some people have pointed out that one of the important things about this agreement is in fact that it’s everybody but China, that this seems to be part of this Asian pivot of the Obama administration to kind of reestablish the United States in Asia and make America trade the center of activity, not so much China, which seems like a King Canute facing – stopping the waves or whatever it was.

ZEESE: It really puts China in a lose-lose situation. It’s not a coincidence this is happening at the same time that Obama’s moving sixty percent of the Navy into the Asian waters, the Asian pivot, which is a military pivot. This is an economic pivot. And it’s a lose-lose for China either way. If they’re excluded from the agreement, which is the current status, then they are out of a lot of trade going on in their own backyard. If they’re included, then they’re stuck with these trade tribunals in their neoliberal, privatization, anti-government, opposed to state-owned enterprises model, and the Chinese economy is based on the state-enterprise model approach. And so they would be able to be taken to court by these – in these tribunals and have their economy totally changed by corporations. So either way, China loses.

Now, the good news is – in my view, at least, because I’m opposed to the TPP – the good news to me is that Japan said when they were joining the TPP that the higher priority for them is negotiation with Korea and China. That triangle to them is much more important than the TPP. And I think that’s the right move for all these Asian countries.

China’s the up-and-coming economy. We’re going to be struggling for a long time. It makes much more sense for that to happen.

So I don’t really understand why a lot of these countries even are considering the TPP. It’s going to undermine their economies. It’s certainly not going to be good for our economy. The history of these trade agreements is not good for the US economy.

JAY: I mean, how might it affect some of the countries that are signing on?

FLOWERS: Well, I mean, one of the – is the tribunal, of course. So if Vietnam wants to have some sort of worker rights, you know, minimum wage or something like that, and a corporation says that, you know, that’s going to cause them to lose expected profits, and they would sue Vietnam, Vietnam doesn’t have the resources to handle that kind of a case.

JAY: One of the big issues seems to be intellectual copyright, and particularly pharmaceuticals. So I suppose a lot of it has to do with the sort of generic drug making that was going on in India. They want to stop it in India, but they also don’t want it to spread to other countries.

FLOWERS: This is of huge concern, because right now it looks like what they’re trying to do is give the pharmaceutical corporations a twenty-year patent. But in addition to that, if there’s any kind of change in the medication, a new indication, a new formulation of it, that twenty-year patent starts over again. So it delays the time to generics being allowed to be on the market. And that means – for these lower-income countries, it really means that they won’t have access to life-saving medications. This is a huge issue.

ZEESE: And it threatens not just the low-income countries. Japan, according to the World Health Organization, has the number-three ranked health-care system in the world. If the pharmaceuticals are allowed to keep these ongoing evergreen patents, their prices for their health-care system is going to go way up because the medications are going to go way up. And there’s even talk about – and doctors in Japan have said this – they’re worried that this agreement will threaten their health-care system. They don’t want people being stuck like we are coming to a doctor’s office and saying, what kind of insurance do you have? They don’t want to have that in Japan.

JAY: And it’s going to, again, slow down the creation of generic drugs, because the patents go on and on.

ZEESE: Exactly. So prices of health care, public health care will go up.

JAY: Yeah, which is clearly – I mean, we’ve talked about this in earlier interviews. I mean, pharma and the power of pharma in the United States is one of the biggest cost factors for why health care costs so much in the United States. And this new health-care plan did nothing, really, to control pharma.

FLOWERS: Correct. Right. Yeah.

JAY: So if you go back to, then, what you were saying earlier, Kevin, I wonder if TPP really does come to pass. I mean, is this kind of almost a propaganda show, in a way, that you get all these countries at the table and they all kind of play along, but if in the end this is going to wind up confrontationally with China, it’s hard to imagine why any of these Asian countries would get into that position?

ZEESE: Well, the Obama administration’s very serious about it. They are not playing along. They’re not just mouthing words. They’re not [incompr.] They want this to pass. This is a major gift to the transnational corporations from President Obama, his outgoing gift to them. I’m sure it’ll be great for his fundraising for the Obama library and presidential center.

But this agreement can be stopped. I think that’s the most important thing.

People did not like NAFTA, and this is NAFTA on steroids. People do not like the WTO, and this is WTO on steroids. This is a global corporate coup no matter what issue you care about, whether it’s wages, jobs, protecting the environment, stopping the use of coal, stopping fracking. You pick the issue. This issue is going to adversely affect it. So every activist in this country should be working right now helping to stop the TPP.

JAY: And what’s the timeline?

ZEESE: And the key thing on stopping the TPP is two things. First, this summer Obama’s pushing hard for a fast-track provision which essentially gets Congress out of it. It allows him to push forward without Congress [incompr.] the agreement, write the legislation to put the agreement into effect. Congress gets an up-or-down vote. No debate, no hearings, no nothing. And it keeps the people out, too. So the first battle is stop fast-track. So everyone’s got to tell their member of Congress and Senate no to fast-track.

Second, in October we expect we’ll start to see this come to the Congress, if it gets that far, for passage. And that’s going to be a key fight. We’re going to have to have a no vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or we’re going to look back at this global corporate coup that occurs in the Obama administration the way we’re looking back now on corporate personhood in the 1880s and 1890s. It’s that kind of a major shift in creating a whole new system of laws that’s going to empower corporations for generations to come.

JAY: Alright. Well, we’ll come back to this as the legislation heads maybe towards Congress. Thanks, Kevin. Thanks, Margaret.

FLOWERS: Thank you for having us.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

_____

Kevin Zeese is co-director of It’s Our Economy, an organization that advocates for democratizing the economy. He’s also an attorney who is one of the original organizers of the National Occupation of Washington, DC. He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including for state legislative offices in Maryland, governor of California and US president, where he served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004. He ran for the US Senate in 2006 and was the only person ever nominated by the Green Party, Libertarian Party and Populist Party. His twitter is @KBZeese.

Dr Margaret Flowers is a pediatrician from Baltimore who advocates for a national single payer health system, Medicare for all. She is an organizer of October2011.org/Occupy Washington, DC and co-director of ItsOurEconomy.us.

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=9985

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Trans-Pacific Partnership and Monsanto

by Barbara Chicherio

Nation of Change (June 24 2013)

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food.  The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included.  As of 2011 its twelve countries accounted for thirty percent of the world’s agricultural exports.  Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam.  Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

Six hundred US corporate advisors have had input into the TPP.  The draft text has not been made available to the public, press or policy makers.  The level of secrecy around this agreement is unparalleled.  The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark while representatives of US corporations are being consulted and privy to the details.

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP.  Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text.  This agreement is attempting to establish corporations’ rights to skirt domestic courts and laws and sue governments directly with taxpayers paying compensation and fines directly from the treasury.

Though TPP content remains hidden, here are some things we do know:

* Members of Congress are concerned that the TPP would open the door to imports without resolving questions around food safety or environmental impacts on its production.

* Procurement rules specifically forbid discrimination based on the quality of production. This means that public programs that favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs could be prohibited.

* The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed.  Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food.  Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs.  This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia.  In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs.  Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.

* In April 2013, Peru placed a ten-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants.  This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru’s agricultural diversity.  The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn.  What will become of Peru’s moratorium if the TPP is passed?

* There is a growing resistance to Monsanto’s agricultural plans in Vietnam.  Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated ninety percent of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam.  Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another two million with various diseases.

Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies.  Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.

In the same ten years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple.  Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn.

With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.

While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience.  They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

If the TPP is adopted the door will be open wider for human rights and environmental abuse.  Some of the things we should expect to see include:

* more large scale farming and more monocultures;

* destruction of local economies;

* no input into how our food is grown or what we will be eating;

* more deforestation;

* increased use of herbicides and pesticides;

* increased patenting of life forms;

* more GMO plants and foods; and

* no labeling of GMOs in food.

Together these are a step backwards for human rights and a giant step towards Monsanto’s control of our food.

Please pass the word to others about the TPP as most Americans are unaware of this trade agreement or its ominous effects if passed.

_____

This article was published at NationofChange. All rights are reserved.

http://www.nationofchange.org/trans-pacific-partnership-and-monsanto-1372074730

Categories: Uncategorized

Monsanto, the TPP and Global Food Dominance

2013/11/29 2 comments

Putting Profits Before Populations

by Ellen Brown

The Web of Debt Blog (November 26 2013)

“Control oil and you control nations”, said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.  “Control food and you control the people”.

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

Profits Before Populations

Genetic engineering has made proprietary control possible over the seeds on which the world’s food supply depends. According to an Acres USA interview {1} of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells {2}, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.

The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare {3} as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked {4} the US LAST out of seventeen developed nations for overall health.

Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets {5} are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries – including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia – GMOs are totally or partially banned {6}; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.

A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.

Roundup’s Insidious Effects

Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels – by up to fifty times – in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in food are set to rise 100 to 150 times {7} if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical {8}, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.

Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.

According to researchers Samsell and Seneff {9} in Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality {10} (Entropy, April 2013):

Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology … Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

More than forty diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research {11} finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before”. Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.

Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society {12}:

Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case … [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.

Politics Trumps Science

In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.

In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation {13}, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protege Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives”, not needing any special testing.

Jeffrey M Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms {14} that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:

In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.

Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda, widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result {15}. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.

In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs {16} (2012), Dr Bruce Lipton warns,

We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet … Human behavior is undermining the web of life.

The TPP and International Corporate Control

As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio {17} in Nation of Change:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history …

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

… They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network {18}, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup”. He warned:

No matter what issue you care about – whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment … this issue is going to adversely affect it …

If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued …

Return to Nature: Not Too Late

There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, forty percent of Russia’s food was grown on dachas {19} (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over eighty percent of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost eighty percent of the potatoes and nearly fifty percent of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre {20}, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series (2008):

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent {21} of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction”. But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.

Links:

{1} http://www.organicconsumers.org/artman2/uploads/1/May2011_Huber.pdf

{2} http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients

{3} http://pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0006_health-care-oecd

{4} http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/new-health-rankings-of-17-nations-us-is-dead-last/267045/

{5} http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/08/what-are-gmos-and-why-should-i-care

{6} http://www.thenation.com/blog/176863/twenty-six-countries-ban-gmos-why-wont-us

{7} http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Why_Glyphosate_Should_be_Banned.php

{8} http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/move-over-round-up-usda-approves-2nd-gen-gmos-that-can-withstand-even-deadlier-herbicide-09012013

{9} http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416

{10} http://www.mdpi.com/journal/entropy/special_issues/biosemiotic_entropy

{11} http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11150351

{12} http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Why_Glyphosate_Should_Be_Banned_PDF.php

{13} https://store.globalresearch.ca/store/seeds-of-destruction/

{14} http://www.responsibletechnology.org/posts/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/State-of-the-Science-of-GMO-Health-Risks-sm-.2013.pdf

{15} http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/us-birthrates-plummet-by-310000-babies-responsible-economic-planning-or-shadow-depopulation-07102013

{16} http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6OxbpLwEjQ

{17} http://www.nationofchange.org/trans-pacific-partnership-and-monsanto-1372074730

{18} http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=9985

{19} http://naturalhomes.org/naturalliving/russian-dacha.htm

{20} http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/in-1999-35-million-small-family-plots-produced-90-of-russias-potatoes-77-of-vegetables-87-of-fruits-59-of-meat-49-of-milk-way-to-go-people/

{21} http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_farming_by_country

_____

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute (http://publicbankinginstitute.org/), and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt (2007). In The Public Bank Solution (2013), her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally.  Her 200-plus blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

http://ellenbrown.com/2013/11/26/monsanto-the-tpp-and-global-food-dominance/

Categories: Uncategorized

How the US Media Would Cover Thanksgiving …

… if It Were in Another Country

by Joshua Keating

Slate (November 27 2013)

The World: How It Works

If It Happened There … America’s Annual Festival Pilgrimage Begins

The long journey home

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

This is the fourth installment of a continuing series {1} in which American events are described using the tropes and tone normally employed by the American media to describe events in other countries.

WASHINGTON, DC, United States – On Wednesday morning, this normally bustling capital city became a ghost town as most of its residents embarked on the long journey to their home villages for an annual festival of family, food, and questionable historical facts. Experts say the day is vital for understanding American society and economists are increasingly taking note of its impact on the world economy.

The annual holiday, known as Thanksgiving, celebrates a mythologized moment of peace between America’s early foreign settlers and its native groups – a day that by Americans’ own admission preceded a near genocide of those groups. Despite its murky origins, the holiday remains a rare institution celebrated almost universally in this ethnically diverse society.

During the holiday, more than 38.4 million Americans {2} will make the long pilgrimage home, traveling an average of 214 miles over congested highways, often in inclement weather. The more prosperous citizens will frequently opt for the nation’s airways, suffering through a series of flight delays and missed airline connections thanks to the country’s decaying transportation infrastructure and residual fears of foreign terrorist attacks.

The “pardoning” of a turkey is a sop to animal rights activists made somewhat moot by the fact that the country’s president simply dines on a different turkey.

Once home, the holiday’s traditions encourage Americans to consume massive quantities of food centered around the turkey, a flightless – and some would say tasteless – bird native to the American continent. All in all, 46 million {3} of these animals will be slaughtered for the feast, nearly twenty percent of those raised each year. The average American will consume an almost unbelievable 4,500 calories {4}, despite ongoing warnings about dangerous obesity rates nationally.

Virtually the only break from the eating comes when Americans gather around the television to watch a special presentation of football, the country’s most popular sport. If the brutal violence of the game seems at odds with the holiday’s emphasis on thanks and good will, no one seems to mind.

Though rooted in America’s ancient history, the celebration of Thanksgiving today also reflects the transforming values of American society. One relatively recent tradition is the head of state’s public “pardoning” of a turkey {5} – a sop to animal rights activists made somewhat moot by the fact that the country’s president simply dines on a different turkey. To outsiders, it can also seem like a somewhat macabre gesture since the United States is one of the last developed countries to employ the death penalty for humans.

Traditionally, the Friday and weekend {6} following Thanksgiving have been set aside for another American institution – intense consumer activity and bargain shopping. (The availability of deeply discounted goods is increasingly beginning even sooner, sometime on the holiday itself, angering some purists.) More than $59 billion will be spent over these days, though the exact figure will be watched closely by economists looking for clues about the country’s national mood and economic well-being. The event is known as “Black Friday”, though contrary to popular belief, this is not due to the injuries and deaths {7} that periodically occur during retail stampedes.

In recent years, some experts have questioned whether the hidden costs of the Thanksgiving holiday have become excessive; whether the celebration is worth its massive environmental impact and the increased health risks due to traffic accidents and overeating. Still, the majority of the population holds fast to these pastimes. For them, they are part of a rare, quintessentially American tradition in a modernizing society that finds itself increasingly under the influence of the outside world.

Links:

{1} http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/11/21/if_it_happened_there_how_would_we_cover_the_nuclear_option_if_it_happened.html

{2} http://www.examiner.com/article/thanksgiving-2013-facts-and-recipes-9-festival-pumpkin-patch-rolls

{3} http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/21/living/thanksgiving-by-the-numbers

{4} http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/sports/localsports/1022227-457/average-american-consumes-4500-calories-on-turkey.html

{5} http://www.whitehousehistory.org/history/white-house-facts-trivia/facts-thanksgiving-turkey-pardoning.html

{6} http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/25/pf/black-friday-sales/

{7} http://www.usnews.com/photos/10-violent-black-friday-shopping-injuries-deaths

{8} http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/813966

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2013/11/27/if_it_happened_there_how_the_u_s_media_would_cover_thanksgiving_if_it_was.html

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The Inconvenient Truth …

2013/11/29 1 comment

… Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

by Han-Yi Shaw

The New York Times (September 19 2012)


Diaoyu Island is recorded under Kavalan, Taiwan in Revised Gazetteer of Fujian Province (1871).

I’ve had a longstanding interest in the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the subject of a dangerous territorial dispute  between Japan and China. The United States claims to be neutral but in effect is siding with Japan, and we could be drawn in if a war ever arose. Let me clear that I deplore the violence in the recent anti-Japan protests in China:  the violence is reprehensible and makes China look like an irrational bully. China’s government should rein in this volatile nationalism rather than feed it. This is a dispute that both sides should refer to the International Court of Justice, rather than allow to boil over in the streets. That said, when I look at the underlying question of who has the best claim, I’m sympathetic to China’s position. I don’t think it is 100 percent clear, partly because China seemed to acquiesce to Japanese sovereignty between 1945 and 1970, but on balance I find the evidence for Chinese sovereignty quite compelling. The most interesting evidence is emerging from old Japanese government documents and suggests that Japan in effect stole the islands from China in 1895 as booty of war. This article by Han-Yi Shaw, a scholar from Taiwan, explores those documents. I invite any Japanese scholars to make the contrary legal case.

– Nicholas Kristof

 

_____

 

Japan’s recent purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has predictably reignited tensions amongst China, Japan, and Taiwan. Three months ago, when Niwa Uichiro, the Japanese ambassador to China, warned that Japan’s purchase of the islands could spark an “extremely grave crisis” between China and Japan, Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro slammed Niwa as an unqualified ambassador, who “needs to learn more about the history of his own country”.

Ambassador Niwa was forced to apologize for his remarks and was recently replaced. But what is most alarming amid these developments is that despite Japan’s democratic and pluralist society, rising nationalist sentiments are sidelining moderate views and preventing rational dialogue.

The Japanese government maintains that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory under international law and historical point of view and has repeatedly insisted that no dispute exists. Despite that the rest of the world sees a major dispute, the Japanese government continues to evade important historical facts behind its unlawful incorporation of the islands in 1895.

Specifically, the Japanese government asserts, “From 1885 on, our government conducted on-site surveys time and again, which confirmed that the islands were uninhabited and there were no signs of control by the Qing Empire”.

My research of over forty official Meiji period documents unearthed from the Japanese National Archives, Diplomatic Records Office, and National Institute for Defense Studies Library, clearly demonstrates that the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885.

Following the first on-site survey, in 1885, the Japanese foreign minister wrote, “Chinese newspapers have been reporting rumors of our intention of occupying islands belonging to China located next to Taiwan … At this time, if we were to publicly place national markers, this must necessarily invite China’s suspicion …”

In November 1885, the Okinawa governor confirmed “since this matter is not unrelated to China, if problems do arise I would be in grave repentance for my responsibility”.

“Surveys of the islands are incomplete” wrote the new Okinawa governor in January of 1892. He requested that a naval ship Kaimon be sent to survey the islands, but ultimately a combination of miscommunication and bad weather made it impossible for the survey to take place.


Letter dated May 12 1894 affirming that the Meiji government did not repeatedly investigate the disputed islands. Japan Diplomatic Records Office.

“Ever since the islands were investigated by Okinawa police agencies back in 1885, there have been no subsequent field surveys conducted”, the Okinawa governor wrote in 1894.

After a number of Chinese defeats in the Sino-Japanese War, a report from Japan’s Home Ministry said “this matter involved negotiations with China … but the situation today is greatly different from back then”. The Meiji government, following a cabinet decision in early 1895, promptly incorporated the islands.

Negotiations with China never took place and this decision was passed during the Sino-Japanese War. It was never made public.

In his biography Koga Tatsushiro, the first Japanese citizen to lease the islands from the Meiji government, attributed Japan’s possession of the islands to “the gallant military victory of our Imperial forces”.

Collectively, these official documents leave no doubt that the Meiji government did not base its occupation of the islands following “on-site surveys time and again”, but instead annexed them as booty of war. This is the inconvenient truth that the Japanese government has conveniently evaded.

Japan asserts that neither Beijing nor Taipei objected to US administration after World War Two. That’s true, but what Japan does not mention is that neither Beijing nor Taipei were invited as signatories of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, from which the US derived administrative rights.

When Japan annexed the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 1895, it detached them from Taiwan and placed them under Okinawa Prefecture. Moreover, the Japanese name “Senkaku Islands” itself was first introduced in 1900 by academic Kuroiwa Hisashi and adopted by the Japanese government thereafter. Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China, both sides adopted the 1945 administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited “Senkaku Islands” were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. This explains the belated protest from Taipei and Beijing over US administration of the islands after the war.


Report dated August 12 1892 from navy commander affirming the islands were not fully investigated. Source:  Library of The National Institute for Defense Studies.

The Japanese government frequently cites two documents as evidence that China did not consider the islands to be Chinese. The first is an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory.

Neither Beijing nor Taipei dispute that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands – along with the entire island of Taiwan – were formally under Japanese occupation at the time. However, per post-World War Two arrangements, Japan was required to surrender territories obtained from aggression and revert them to their pre-1895 legal status.

The second piece evidence is a Chinese map from 1958 that excludes the Senkaku Islands from Chinese territory. But the Japanese government’s partial unveiling leaves out important information from the map’s colophon: “certain national boundaries are based on maps compiled prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)”.

Qing period (1644-1911) records substantiate Chinese ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands prior to 1895. Envoy documents indicate that the islands reside inside the “border that separates Chinese and foreign lands”. And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.

The right to know is the bedrock of every democracy. The Japanese public deserves to know the other side of the story. It is the politicians who flame public sentiments under the name of national interests who pose the greatest risk, not the islands themselves.

Update: The author would like to include an updated image of the Qing era documents that recorded, “Diaoyutai Island accommodates ten or more large ships”, as mentioned in his blog post.


Record of Missions to Taiwan Waters (1722), Gazetteer of Kavalan County (1852), and Pictorial Treatise of Taiwan Proper (1872). National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.

_____

Han-Yi Shaw is a Research Fellow at the Research Center for International Legal Studies, National Chengchi University, in Taipei, Taiwan.

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/the-inconvenient-truth-behind-the-diaoyusenkaku-islands/?_r=0

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Salt Lake TPP Talks End …

2013/11/28 1 comment

… with Growing Pressure to Announce “Deal” at December TPP Ministerial, but No
Resolution of Major Controversies

by Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Naked Capitalism (November 25 2013)

A week of intense TPP negotiations, marked with increasingly heavy-handed US tactics, came to an end late Sunday night in Salt Lake City, Utah. Negotiators working on the twelve TPP chapters not yet completed were instructed to narrow disagreements to matters that the chief negotiators or trade ministers will decide. At least three chapters – those covering intellectual property, state owned enterprises and medicine-pricing formularies – did not reach this target. Talks on the controversial intellectual property chapter were extended and will continue for at least two more days.  There was no discussion of disciplines to counter currency manipulation despite 230 House and sixty Senate GOP and Democrats demanding such terms.

In Salt Lake City, TPP chief negotiators prepared a long list of final trade-offs and decisions for trade ministers who will meet from December 7th to 10th in Singapore. Many TPP country governments are billing the Singapore Ministerial as the ‘end game’ of negotiations. The intensity of efforts at Salt Lake City demonstrated that the United States is desperate that its latest end-of-year deadline for TPP’s completion not be missed like three past deadlines.

Claims that a final TPP deal is close seem incredible, given that it appears that the most  politically sensitive issues that have arisen in three years of talks remains unresolved.  Controversy is growing in many TPP nations about demanded trade-offs relating to medicine prices, Internet freedom, financial regulation and other sensitive non-trade matters. Plus, Congress’s bottom lines – from disciplines against currency cheating and subsidies on state owned enterprises to enforceable labor and environmental standards – remain unachieved.

The tone and intensity of these latest talks was different than previous rounds, however. US officials started to roll back from some long-held positions, perhaps because the administration knows it is in a race against time.  Opposition in Congress and in various TPP countries is growing as more details leak about TPP’s terms.

The apparent goal for trade ministers meeting in Singapore is to make broad trade-offs on market access and the most controversial policy issues that have been deadlocked and agree on “landing zones” for what they want in a final deal.  By withholding any actual agreement text  from the public and press, they hope to announce these arrangements as a “final” deal so that there is wide press coverage that creates a sense of inevitability while negotiations continue.

Inconvenient Questions As Governments Push for a TPP “Deal” in Singapore:

* Negotiations on sensitive Market Access issues

— How will the US even negotiate market access terms on autos, agriculture and other sensitive issues with Japan without having sealed its bilateral agreement with Japan that it says is a condition for the country being included in a final TPP?

— A supermajority in the US Congress has said TPP must include currency disciplines, but the issue has apparently not even been raised to date. What is the plan?

— Japan’s parliament has listed five “sacred” commodities – rice, beef and pork, wheat and barley, sugar and dairy – that it demands be excluded from TPP rules zeroing out tariffs. Will the US reverse its insistence that all sectors be liberalized?

— The rules of origin have not been agreed for sensitive sectors such as apparel/textiles, autos and more, so how can final deals be reached on tariff-cutting?

— If the US provides new market access on dairy and sugar, will it be commercially significant or only small tariff-rate quotas designed to be used by demandeur countries as political optics to “show” gains?

* Deadlock over enforceability of labor and environment chapter

— Because it is a congressional red line, the US has insisted on labor and environmental standards that are enforceable on equal terms with the pact’s other provisions. Most TPP countries oppose enforceable labor and environmental standards altogether.  How will this be resolved?

— Further, additional issues in the environment chapter remain unresolved. Any rollback from past US FTAs could doom TPP in Congress, so what is the status?

* Deadlock over the State Owned Enterprises (SOE) text

— There still is not agreed text for this chapter, but did the countries finally agree on a definition of what is a state owned enterprise?

— Given that discussions of actual text have only just begun, how can Ministers make high-level decisions on this chapter in Singapore in twelve days?

— The US demands disciplines on SOEs that forbid the use of government resources to subsidize SOE activities within TPP nations. A sizable bloc of nations opposes this. A bipartisan supermajority in the US Congress has indicated that it will oppose TPP unless it includes the US version of rules, so how will Ministers handle this issue given other TPP countries have numerous SOEs?

* IP chapter patent rules and medicine pricing rules both deadlocked

— The US proposal that would deliver on Big Pharma’s demands for extended patents, data exclusivity and other monopoly powers that raise medicine prices continues to face opposition by most other TPP countries. What is the plan to resolve this after four years of deadlock? Is the US giving up on Big Pharma’s demands or did other countries trade away their medicine pricing policies?

— In another chapter, an Annex cynically dubbed “Annex on Transparency and Procedural Fairness for Healthcare Technologies”, would allow drug firms to challenge medicine formulary reimbursement and pricing decisions. Did the US finally give up on this or did other countries agree to allow Big Pharma to challenge the decisions of doctors and pharmacologists who determine what medicines will be included on the formularies of countries’ healthcare systems?

* Impasse on Copyright Rules

— Hollywood and recording industry-inspired proposals to limit internet freedom and access to educational materials, to force internet providers to act as copyright cops, and to cut off peoples’ internet access have triggered public outrage and led to deadlocks on key TPP provisions. Are these issues suddenly on a path to resolution? How?

—  Also there has been entrenched disagreement about whether copyright should be able to keep works of art and literature out of the public domain seventy years after death of the author, Was this resolved, and, if so, how, given it would require rewrites of most TPP nations domestic laws?

* United opposition to the US demand that TPP ban the use of capital controls

— With the IMF now endorsing the use of capital controls as ways  to avoid floods of speculative capital that cause financial crises, it is not surprising that there is united opposition to the unbending US demand that TPP include a ban on countries’ use of various common-sense macro-prudential measures, including capital controls and financial transaction taxes. How will this be resolved?

* Deadlocks over aspects of controversial “investor-state” private corporate enforcement of TPP

— Australia’s new conservative government has reiterated that it will not be bound to the investor-state enforcement system, which elevates individual corporations to equal status with sovereign nations in order to enforce privately a public treaty by demanding compensation from governments before panels of private-sector attorneys for government actions that undermine expected future profits. This is long-established Australian policy. Also, Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party parliamentary majority has set as a condition for Japan’s TPP participation that the deal not include investor-state enforcement. The US insists all countries be bound. Now what?

—  Other TPP nations oppose the US demand that government natural resource concession, private-public-partnership utility management contracts and procurement contracts be subject to such extra-judicial processes. How will this and a set of other deadlocked issues be suddenly resolved in Singapore after disagreements for the last four years?”

http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/2013/11/salt-lake-tpp-talks-end-with-growing-pressure-to-announce-deal-at-december-tpp-ministerial-but-no-re.html

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The Dying Dollar

Federal Reserve and Wall Street Assassinate US Dollar

by Paul Craig Roberts

Institute for Political Economy (November 22 2013)

Since 2006, the US dollar has experienced a one-quarter to one-third drop in value to the Chinese yuan, depending on the choice of base.

Now China is going to let the dollar decline further in value.  China also says it is considering undermining the petrodollar by pricing oil futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in yuan. This on top of the growing avoidance of the dollar to settle trade imbalances means that the dollar’s role as reserve currency is coming to an end, which means the termination of the US as financial bully and financial imperialist.  This blow to the dollar in addition to the blows delivered by jobs offshoring and the uncovered bets in the gambling casino created by financial deregulation means that the US economy as we knew it is coming to an end.

The US economy is already in shambles, with bond and stock markets propped up by massive and historically unprecedented Federal Reserve money printing pouring liquidity into financial asset prices.  This month at the IMF annual conference, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said that to achieve full employment in the US economy would require negative real interest rates.  Negative real interest rates could only be achieved by eliminating cash, moving to digital money that can only be kept in banks, and penalizing people for saving.

The future is developing precisely as I have been predicting.

As the dollar enters its death throes, the lawless Federal Reserve and the Wall Street criminals will increase their shorting of gold in the paper futures market, thereby driving the remnants of the West’s gold into Asian hands.

PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves

by Bloomberg News (November 20 2013)

The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policymakers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.

“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”, Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting.

Copyright (c) 2013 PaulCraigRoberts.org. All rights reserved.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/11/22/dying-dollar-paul-craig-roberts/

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