Stop the Secrecy!! Sign the Petition!

STOP FAST TRACK!

OCV joined other Coachella Valley activists to protest Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or any so-called trade agreements) on Friday, January 31, 2014, the Intercontinental Day of Action.

Recently Senators Harry Reid and Ron Wyden came out in opposition to Fast Track, but we are not out of the woods yet because the real fight is in the House of Representatives and we need to keep pressuring members of Congress until we have a solid 240 representatives in the House committed to opposing Fast Track.

So keep calling as many members of Congress as you can!  See www.stopfasttrack.com for the organizations working to defeat Fast Track, www.flushthetpp.org for more information, and http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2013/11/22/house-members-speaking-fast-track/ for which representatives are on the “thank” vs. “spank” list.

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Occupy Coachella Valley to Protest Fast Track of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Intercontinental Day of Action

OCV will join other Coachella Valley activists Friday in an Intercontinental Day of Action in solidarity with protesters around the world who are determined to stop the TPP.  The action coincides with the 20-year anniversary of NAFTA and an important conference in Mexico City on NAFTA’s catastrophic impact and tragic economic and social consequences in Mexico, Canada, and the US.

This is an urgent action because the US Congress will vote any moment on Fast-Track legislation that would rush the 12-country (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) Trans-Pacific Partnership deal through without any debate or Congress even knowing what is in it!  We are urging every representative in Congress to VOTE NO ON FAST TRACK!

WHEN: Friday, 31 January 2014, 11:00am

WHERE: Intersection of Hwy 111 and Washington, La Quinta 92253

WHAT: Participants will parade over-sized banners around the busiest intersection in the Coachella Valley to make drivers-/passers-by aware of the imminent dangers to all aspects of our lives should the Fast-Track pass and the TPP go through.

WHY:  The pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) expands our currently pro-corporate regime across this hemisphere and the Pacific Ocean.  Leaked texts prove the TPP is a corporate bill of rights of, for, and by corporations and their allies on the US Trade Commission, exclusively, that threatens to:

  • Offshore good-paying jobs to low-wage nations and under-cut working conditions globally
  • Create new tools for attacking environmental and consumer safety policies
  • Undermine global economic stability by deregulating banks, financial markets on Wall Street
  • Grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations,and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems
  • Institute longer patents that restrict access to affordable, generic medications, thereby driving up the costs of medicine
  • Enact copyright policies that restrict freedom on the Internet
  • Undermine “Buy American” and “Buy Local” government purchasing programs

Similar corporate power grabs have been defeated: The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), the Millennial Round of the World Trade Organization, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) all died when people stood up and said NO!  There’s no reason we can’t do it again with the TPP.

Please bring (home-made) signs: “NO FAST TRACK!” “STOP the TPP!”  “TPP = GLOBAL CORPORATE RULE!” “NO MORE NAFTAS!”  Bring water, hat, and shades, in case it gets warm.

For information on Fast Track and the TPP, please go to: www.flushthetpp.org , www.stopfasttrack.org  www.stopthetpp.org

Please RSVP at: http://civic.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/140654

Intercontinental Day of Action

Actions protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Fast Track, and global corporate rule will be taking place this week, culminating in an Intercontinental Day of Action on Friday, January 31.  Visit  http://www.tradejustice.ca/tpp/jan31/ and also http://www.flushthetpp.org/ and http://www.stopfasttrack.com/  for more information on actions worldwide.  The Light Brigade will be out in San Diego–see https://mapsengine.google.com/map/u/0/edit?mid=zignUCNQn0qw.k48PQyQtfAm4 and https://www.facebook.com/events/257586751072513/for more information.

Call Congress this week at 202-225-3121 to urge all representatives to vote NO ON FAST TRACK! For a list of who to call go to: http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/blog/2013/11/22/house-members-speaking-fast-track/

An Open Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein

I am extremely disappointed by your response to my email urging you to oppose both the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement and Fast Track.

You said that you “…carefully review each free trade agreement that comes before [you] to ensure that the best interests of American workers and businesses are served,” but my understanding is that the TPP has not come before you to review; the only reason either of us knows anything about the contents of the TPP is that five of its 29 chapters were leaked.  Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Subcommittee on International Trade, was denied access to any of the drafts of the TPP text.  After introducing legislation to force the issue, he finally got access but his staff experts did not and he was forbidden to reveal what he’d read.  To my knowledge, contrary to the 2002 law requiring the Administration to share trade documents with all members of Congress, only Representative Alan Grayson and a small number of other members of Congress have been allowed access to it and they, too, had to swear to keep its contents secret.

The TPP was written behind tightly-locked doors by corporations for the sole purpose of increasing their profits.   If it were true that you have reviewed the TPP, you, as a representative of the people and defender of the Constitution, would have to oppose it, since clearly it would adversely impact “the U.S. economy, human rights, labor rights, and environmental standards” and much more: it would negatively affect, if not destroy, our legal system, (the remains of) our non-profit penal system, banking regulations, “buy American” practices, the job market, wages, efforts to decrease the income gap,1 public services, our non-privatized social safety net, consumer standards, our should-be-single-payer-healthcare-for-all system, medicine, food safety, intellectual property, our efforts toward peace, equal rights for women2, our quality of life, our very democracy, and the habitability of Mother Earth Herself.  I believe that the only reason you still support the TPP is that you are a staunch corporatist who values profits over people.  [By the way:  1 You are among the wealthiest elected officials in DC, aren’t you?   2 How much longer do women have to be taken for granted as second-class citizens?!  Why aren’t you pushing for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment?]

Multi-national corporations have long sought to successfully sue countries for lost future profits, and this is precisely what they would achieve through provisions in the TPP.  So, when you said that you will “ensure that trade negotiations are conducted in the best interests of the American worker and U.S. industry” (which sounds a lot like your job description), it is not what you actually do.  It’s much closer to the truth, Senator, to admit you will continue to ensure corporate interests, as they are ultimately the same as your own.  If it were true that you have been in on the negotiations, it would not have been as an Executive Branch Trade Representative or a representative of one of the five non-corporate Delegates; it could only have been as a corporate stakeholder on behalf of one of the 600 corporations participating in composing and negotiating the TPP.  That Congress does not consider it a ‘conflict of interest’ to vote on corporate-related legislation while financially benefitting from it personally (essentially, lobbying for them) is an enormous outrage!  It’s only common sense that in such situations, for all three branches of government, recusal should/would be de rigueur.

It has been well over a year since, as an independent stakeholder on behalf of Mother Earth, I went to the round of Negotiations in San Diego.  I had a 10-minute tete-a-tete with Barbara Weisel, US Chief Negotiator, during which she adamantly denied each and every point I made.  For example:  given the unfortunate tradition of previous free trade agreements, I asserted that “jobs would be outsourced.”  “That’s not true,” she contended.   I also informed her that Sen Wyden had just informed the media that he had been denied access to the TPP.  “That’s not true,” she retorted.  “He [had] never asked to see it.  If he had, I would have personally delivered a copy to him.”  Essentially, she had been accusing me repeatedly of lying; but I was more shocked when, in so many words, she called Senator Wyden a liar!

After that very troubling, absurd, and unproductive exchange with the US Chief Negotiator, I sent you and Senator Boxer a request for current drafts of the TPP text.  I knew that neither of you had seen anything as yet, other than what had been leaked; but I wanted you to know that the public was not uniformly ignorant about and/or disinterested in the insidious effort, ongoing, to legitimize a global corporatocracy* by means of yet another, far worse “free” trade agreement.

When you said that you “do not believe that… past trade agreements have resulted in any loss of U.S. political independence or sovereignty,” I wondered why you would believe otherwise, since your job has not been outsourced, your retirement stash has been growing steadily, you have not been foreclosed upon, and you have not suffered from US war-mongering, inter alia.   The public is well aware, even if you are not, of the drastic consequences of NAFTA.  So, please Senator, for the sake of millions of Americans who have suffered enormously from its consequences, please do not repeat that [NAFTA] hasn’t “resulted in any loss of U.S… independence or sovereignty.”

As for the “Fast Track” that expired on 05.01.07: our Constitution specifically empowers Congress with trade authority to regulate commerce and legislate trade agreements.  It is absolutely not the constitutional responsibility of Congress to “[provide] the President with Trade Promotion Authority,” or to cede any other constitutionally-mandated powers and duties that we pay Congress to perform!  Frankly, Senator, I am horrified by your cavalier disrespect and/or blatant disregard for, and/or gross misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution and the Legislative branch provisions therein in particular!

Once again, I urge you to oppose Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.  And I would appreciate your demanding that the Administration make a copy of or a link to the current draft of the TPP FTA available to you, and that you will, in turn, make it available to me and the general public.  As a politically progressive activist, I will do everything I can to thwart a global fascist corporatocracy* and to protect Mother Earth.  Only through robust oversight and public participation can we forge a new national and global consensus on FAIR trade policy that works for all.

Carolyn E. Krause, Occupier

* an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests that put profit of the corporate elite over the productivity and needs of people or the preservation of the environment and sustainability.  It is in stark contrast to a socialist economic system which is based on cooperative management of the economy and the production of goods and services to directly satisfy economic demand and human needs and where objects are valued based on their utility

“Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini

TPP Shackles We the People & Democracy

TPP Action3 12-3-13In an action depicting corporate global rule symbolized by a corporate “king” twirling the world around on a string with one hand and dragging behind a jailed “We the People” and “democracy,” followed by a funereal procession of mourners dressed in black singing a TPP dirge and holding tombstones decrying the death of democracy, jobs, clean air, clean water, education, Internet freedom, medicine, and free speech.  Participants in the action spoke to passersby and handed out TPP information fliers in order to educate the public about this serious worldwide threat to the 99% and everything we hold dear.

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 CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS AND INSIST THAT THEY OPPOSE FAST TRACK OF THE TPP, THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY!!

BREAKING NEWS: LEAKED TPP DOCS!

This morning Wikileaks leaked the Intellectual Property Rights Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership today, which revealed that the secretive  agreement will negatively affect Internet freedom, copyright law, biological patents, access to medicine, and civil liberties.

Please view the documents here: Wikileaks-secret-TPP-treaty-IP-chapter              and spread the word!

Analysis of the TPP intellectual property chapter on access to medicines:
MSF/Doctors Without Borders’ Release and Memo on How the Trans-Pacific FTA Undermines Access to Medicines

Public Citizen’s Memo on Obama Administration Backtracking from Bush Era Access to Medicine Commitments

MSF/Doctors Without Borders’ White Paper “Trading Away Health”

Public Citizen’s Access to Medicine Analyses Comparing TPP Proposals with Existing Laws and Trade Pacts

The Global Treatment Access Group Paper on the TPP and Access to Medicines

For analysis of the updated TPP intellectual property chapter see:
Public Citizen Memo “What’s New in the Wikileaks TPP Text?”

End Corporate Rule & Legalize Democracy!!

Practical Activism in 2013: One Occupier’s View

Below is a presentation one of OCV’s occupiers gave regarding his view of the current practice of activism and the Occupy Movement at a recent VFP Memorial Day luncheon.

“I am happy to report that, despite non-stop media coverage to the contrary, Occupy is alive and kicking and more effective than ever.  And, despite nationwide coverage of five people in funny hats in front of the IRS building, the Tea Party isn’t.”

“As activists, we must also be pragmatists.  We have to step back and ask ourselves, from time to time:  “Are we being effective?  Is our message being heard?  Are we making the positive changes that we want?  If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is often no.  Times have changed but many us have not.  Many of us are still stuck in the 60s.  We assume that marching and carrying signs is enough.  If we are honest, however, we must admit that we need to go back to the drawing board and update our tactics.”

“A little background.  I am one of those 60s activists.  I helped to organize the first Wall St. demonstration to protest the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The NY Times called it the “Wall St Massacre”.   Was it a successful action?  By 60s standards, maybe so. We broadcast our message through major media. Would it work now?  Probably not.  Bloomberg would have the area in front of Treasury kettled off and protestors would be forced to a “free speech zone”. If they resisted, NYPD would wait until midnight and, then with the coordination of Homeland Security, would arrest the protestors with media denied access to the arrests.  There would be little mention of the arrests on the corporate media and America would tune out to watch reality shows and Dancing with the Stars.” 

“Can’t happen here? It did happen here. These same tactics were used to falsely arrest 7,000 Occupy activists nationwide, with little outrage; ninety five % of the charges were later dropped, but it didn’t matter.  The Constitution had been shredded, the activists demoralized, and the American public remained largely unaware of the erosion of their civil rights. Police response to activism has changed since the 60s.  The Patriot Act and the NDAA have created the possibility of a paramilitarized police presence.” 

“So how do activists respond in 2013?” 

1) “Always accept the precepts of Gene Sharp* (handout) and base all direct action on non-violence. The only sensible behavior against overwhelming force is non-violence.  Your rock is meaningless against an Apache helicopter or a drone and will be used as justification for violence on the part of the State.”

2) “Make sure that your direct actions are meaningful, by targeting a social, political, economic or environmental injustice that has local relevance.”

3)  “Become more of an expert on the subject than the groups causing the injustice.”

4) “Have a practical solution that can be presented to the public in direct action.”

5) “Use local media and the Internet to magnify your message.  Prepare professional press releases, videotape, blog, get creative and dramatize, write/perform songs, post on social media and YouTube, but frame the narrative, have a well-prepared message and spokespeople to give interviews.”

“As illustration of these 5 rules of effective activism, I offer you the Direct Action Committee Report presented at yesterday’s General Assembly:”

             DIRECT ACTION COMMITTEE REPORT 5/26/13

1)   Prior consent: 

a) Co-sponsor David Cobb speech on “Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule” at Crystal Fantasy 6/12 with Move-to-Amend.

b) Pass out brochures DHS Saturday, ABC, Kmart, Vons & Staters. 

c) Financial support for VFP luncheon.

2)   VFP luncheon. Noon, Monday, May 27

3)   A Better City for DHS.  Brochuring.  (Report Chuck, Bob, Rosie)

4)   Stonewall Democratic meeting (report Tracy)

5)   Occupy Dept. of Justice, D. C. mortgage action (report Deb)

6)   Drones (report Steve F.)

7)   Food not Bombs Monsanto action.  (Report from Carolyn, Tracy?)

8)   DSUSD work action (report Gabrielle)

9)   OurWalmart action.  La Quinta, Thursday 5/30 at 5 pm.

*For Gene Sharp’s precepts on non-violence, click on this link: 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action

For more information on Gene Sharp, see his book, “From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation,” widely disseminated and used during the Arab Spring, pdf available at this link: From Dictatorship to Democracy  or go to http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations9173.html

Townhall with Congressman Raul Ruiz: One Occupier’s Impressions

I recently went to a town hall meeting in Banning that Ruiz was scheduled to attend.  I had been alerted to it by an email from the progressive caucus in Congress who were wanting people to go and ask representatives to sign on to the pledge to vote against any cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  So I went in order to do that and to bring up two other pressing issues, even though it was raining cats and dogs and I still had to get my trash out.

Ruiz began the meeting by telling a little “story” about his “humble beginnings,” then opened up the discussion for the city councilmembers, then to the audience.  Several people spoke up about the social safety net, jobs, VAWA, etc. (and one crazy individual who urged him to vote for the Keystone Pipeline of all things (!) at which I groaned audibly). I had my hand up for a long time but he ended the discussion with only two of us waiting to be called upon.

I had chimed in earlier with regard to the social safety net letting him know I had a letter for him to sign pledging that he would vote against any cuts to SS, Medicare, or Medicaid, to which he was dismissive, offering to “shake our hands” and “look us in the eye” instead of signing a pledge, so I think he was trying to avoid being pressed on it or any issue because he rather pointedly skipped over me, choosing instead to spend the remaining time telling another anecdote from his childhood about a mango and how it “taught (him) an important lesson.” I was a little too annoyed to pay much attention, so the lesson was lost on me–something self-congratulatory about how unselfish he is. . . (though obviously not when it comes to self-promotion over hearing from his constituents).

At the end of the meeting, I walked up and said, “Since you didn’t let me speak I am leaving you these documents” and he made excuses about time constraints, asking me what organizations I was with.  I answered “several” mentioning the email alert as well as Occupy, at which he took almost a visible step backward and directed me to leave my papers with his Head of Staff, Greg Rodriguez, who took down my name and email address.  The documents consisted of that pledge letter, along with the question I was going to ask regarding the TPP letting him know I am outraged at the way our government and  the corporations have been conducting negotiations in secret, urging him to get the TPP documents and look at them, along with a copy of the “We the People Amendment” which has just been introduced into congress—the one we need to get behind because it is the one that MTA has sponsored which addresses both corporate “personhood” and money as “speech.”

I don’t have much confidence in Ruiz—I first met him at a fundraiser when he was running for office and I find him self-aggrandizing and evasive and my experience at this townhall meeting confirmed this impression.  Hopefully he will come through on issues like Social Security, corporate “personhood,” and the TPP, but personally I don’t think he is much of a leader–I think he will roll over to whatever the White House wants in the end.  I get the strong vibe that he doesn’t want to be associated with anything too “controversial;” if he was that slippery with regard to making a firm commitment about Social Security to a room full of older adults, I think he would have been speechless regarding the TPP.

We will have to make sure he really feels the pressure and see how he votes—hopefully he won’t turn into another Joe Baca/Barack Obama who says one thing and does another.  I’m glad at least he voted for VAWA, but WE NEED TO LET HIM KNOW HE NEEDS TO JOIN THE PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS along with Grayson, Mark Takano, Raul Grijalva, and the few others who have spine enough to take on not only the Republicans but the White House over issues that count.