Daily Archives: November 8, 2015

TPP: The Most Brazen Corporate Power Grab in American History – Chris Hedges

A 2014 protest in Tokyo against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. (Shizuo Kambayashi / AP)

The release Thursday of the 5,544-page text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a trade and investment agreement involving 12 countries comprising nearly 40 percent of global output—confirms what even its most apocalyptic critics feared.

“The TPP, along with the WTO [World Trade Organization] and NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], is the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” Ralph Nader told me when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws.”

The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.

These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.

The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.

(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Democrats Request a DOJ Investigation Into ExxonMobil

By Rebecca Leber @rebleber

California Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested a Department of Justice investigation into ExxonMobil on Wednesday, writing that the company’s behavior “is similar to cigarette companies that repeatedly denied harm from tobacco and spread uncertainty and misleading information to the public.” There have always been pronounced parallels between the tobacco and oil industry—both working to undermine regulatory action that could hamper profit—but a federal investigation may mean they share the same fate, as well.

In 1999, the DOJ investigated and eventually sued big tobacco for spreading misleading evidence about the connection between cigarettes and cancer. The companies violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and faced repercussions for lying to the public about science. Now, Congressmen Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier of California say it could be Exxon’s turn.

“We ask that the DOJ similarly investigate ExxonMobil for organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public,” they wrote, according to a letter provided to the New Republic. “We request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, shareholder protection, or other laws.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
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Hillary Clinton Calls for Federal Investigation of Exxon

http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/29/hillary-clinton-exxon/

350 Action

Jason Kowalski, 350 Action | October 29, 2015 4:16 pm |
In response to a question posed at White Mountains Community College in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Exxon: “Yes, yes they should … there’s a lot of evidence they misled people.”

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

The inside story of how the Keystone fight was won

By Ben Adler on 6 Nov 2015

Everyone is talking about President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, but he’s not actually the hero of the story. The Keystone decision is the culmination of a startlingly successful grassroots activist campaign that defied the odds and convinced the Obama administration to change course against building a major piece of fossil fuel infrastructure. Here’s how it came together, as recounted by a few of the key players.

Pipeline company TransCanada first submitted its application to build Keystone XL (KXL) in 2008, and it was expected to quietly cruise to State Department approval even if Obama won the White House. In 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, in a comment that has since become infamous, “we are inclined to” approve it. A previous Keystone pipeline (without “XL” in its name), which goes from Alberta to Illinois, had overcome resistance from environmentalists and indigenous communities in both the U.S. and Canada and been completed in 2010.

The climate movement was still in its early stages at that time, years away from organizing rallies that would bring out 40,000 people in D.C. in 2013 and nearly 400,000 in New York in 2014. Public acceptance of climate science, following the recession and the birth of the Tea Party, was at a nadir in 2010. No one expected that Obama, who had clearly articulated an “all of the above” energy strategy, was likely to be swayed by a campaign against KXL — not even the activists themselves.

And yet, uphill though the struggle would be, some organizers thought the issue had real appeal. It was tangible and easy to understand in a way that power plant regulation is not. And it would not require cooperation from Congress — it was ultimately up to Obama and Obama alone. All they needed to do was convince the president to take their side.

In 2011, when 350.org, the climate action group that would become widely identified with the anti-KXL campaign, glommed onto the issue, there were two groups of activists already working on it: locals from affected communities along the proposed pipeline route, such as ranchers, farmers, and Native Americans, and environmental wonks in Washington, D.C.

(read more).

Global Climate Change
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Environment Justice

Is Capitalism Killing White Middle-Aged Americans?

The death rate among white middle-aged Americans is rising. Drug and alcohol use that results in death from either poisoning or chronic disease, as well as increased self-extermination, point to social pathologies fostered by government policies. (photo: Suzanne Toro/Getty Images)

By David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America, 07 November 15

Among middle-aged white Americans, the death rate is rising even as the rest of the world enjoys longer life spans

he death rate among white middle-aged Americans is rising at an alarming rate, even as death rates for all other Americans are falling. The increase is concentrated among whites with meager educations and is “largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis,” according to two Princeton University scholars, one of whom was just awarded the Nobel in economics.

Their findings should awaken Americans to the price we pay for pursuing economic policies that enrich the few at the expense of the many.

Drug and alcohol use that results in death from either poisoning or chronic disease, as well as increased self-extermination, point to social pathologies fostered by government policies that favor moving jobs offshore, reducing wages, restricting access to health care and enabling age discrimination in hiring.

Macabre data

There is good reason to think worsening economic conditions are at the heart of what the Princeton economists — Anne Case and Angus Deaton, the new Nobel laureate — found by simply analyzing published mortality data.

Case and Deaton, who are married, found “declines in self-reported health, mental health and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress,” according to their paper published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

We’ll return to that in a moment, but first, let’s get a handle on the enormity of this macabre trend among middle-aged white Americans.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

350.org – The Plan through Paris

When world leaders meet in Paris this December, we need a signal that the age of fossil fuels is coming to an end.

So far, however, commitments from world governments just aren’t adding up — even after the two hottest years in history, and at a moment when renewable energy is becoming a revolutionary economic force that could power a just transition away from fossil fuels.

The solutions are obvious: we need to keep at least 80% of fossil fuels in the ground, finance a just transition to 100% renewable energy, and make sure communities on the front lines of climate change have the resources they need to respond to the crisis. This could be a turning point — if we push for it.

Here is 350’s plan for what we call “The Road Through Paris”: the plan to grow our movement and hold world leaders accountable to the action we need. And it’s the road through Paris, not the road to Paris, because our work won’t be done in December. No matter what happens at the summit, this will continue to be true: Politicians don’t lead movements — people do.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice