Mass European Protest against TTIP corporate Takeover: EU Commission Sanctions “Revolution Against Law”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has its objectors – mainly the citizens of the countries involved in what can only be seen as confirmation of a corporate takeover. Governments have confirmed that democracy is no longer a principle worth pursuing.

12/07/2014 - Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP - Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London.

12/07/2014 – Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)

Three million citizens have signed a petition voicing their opposition, of which 500,000 were from Britain alone.

One month ago at least 250,000 people marched in Berlin in protest against TTIP. Nearly 500 organisations have emerged with literally millions of followers who object to TTIP. The largest ever survey carried out by the EU Commission resulted in 97% of citizens being against TTIP in any form. All ignored.

As Rosa Pavanelli, Public Services International General Secretary puts it – “what has democracy come to when the community must rely on Wikileaks to find out what our governments are doing on our behalf”.

Various leaks only go to highlight the cat and mouse game being played by the nations negotiating TTIP that only raises further citizen concerns that secret meetings are only secret as they are not in the interests of people or individual nations.

A respected human-rights expert at the United Nations, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, says “there is a hierarchy of agreements, and at the top is the UN Charter: in case of conflict between the provisions of the UN Charter and any other treaty, the Charter prevails.” In other words, trade treaties that lead to a violation of human rights — or breach any other obligation set out in the UN Charter — are legally invalid. Most countries have signed onto human rights treaties, but “they have also entered into trade and investment agreements that hinder, delay or render impossible the fulfillment of their human rights treaty obligations.”

He goes one step further ““Allowing private arbitrators to disregard international and national law … is tantamount to a revolution against law .” The United Nations has actually called for a suspension of TTIP talks on the basis that its tactics used by multinationals in courts outside of public jurisdiction would undermine democracy and law.

The British government stance on this is well known. Their own website states “UK national income could rise by between £4 billion and £10 billion annually, with the main gains being generated by the liberalisation of non-tariff barriers.” Double speak for reducing standards to meet the common denominator and accede to corporate power.

So far, most of the opposition to TTIP has concentrated on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause which will allow US corporations to sue EU governments for any decision that could harm their profits. But there is far more to TTIP than just secret corporate courts. explains the dangers posed by the innocuously named regulatory cooperation chapter of TTIP (also commonly referred to as regulatory coherence) which could lead to a race to the bottom on key regulations in areas such as food safety and environmental protection.

Corporate lobbyists have expressed the hope that cooperation will make them so powerful that it will allow them to effectively ’co-write’ regulation with policymakers in each country, completely bypassing citizen concerns and previously enforced protection systems and laws.

GlobalJustice identifies that “to most people, regulations such as air pollution limits and food safety standards are common sense protections against dangerous threats. However, to many big businesses, these rules are just red tape or non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) which inhibit profits and are identified as such during trade negotiations. In fact, proponents of TTIP say that 80% of the supposed benefits of the deal will come from getting rid of these rules”.

It now appears that TTIP has in fact started to change previous protections in Europe without debate. For instance, the EU Commission has now dropped previous recognition of cosmetics standards. In essence, this is a serious deregulation of cosmetic ingredients and the amended paper with the TTIP agreement no longer contains a reference to “mutual recognition” of banned and authorised substances in cosmetics.

How bad is this one may ask. The EU Commission is now stating (in an attempt to put a good spin on the story) that it would accept banned chemicals in cosmetics, which would significantly risk lowering safety standards in the EU. More than 1,300 substances are prohibited in cosmetics in the EU, while only 11 are in the US. That includes lead in your lipstick.

How does the EU get away with this? While producing lipstick that contains lead would still be illegal in the EU, US companies will still be able to export it to the EU as long as it passes US safety tests.

It gets worse as it turns out that US officials have successfully used TTIP proposals to bully the EU into disregarding plans to ban 31 dangerous pesticides with ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer and infertility.

In a similar situation, the EU had previously banned the treatment of beef with certain acids being used to conceal poor and unhygienic practices common in the US. EU commission officials pressured MEP’s in stating that TTIP negotiations will be threatened if the EU ban wasn’t lifted. The pressure was great enough that MEP’s then repealed the ban.

The EU has now implemented a programme called ‘Better Regulation”. This is designed to reduce the regulatory burden and seeks to eradicate new rules on things like safe levels of chemicals. Trade unions say that Better Regulation has already been responsible for 100,000 deaths from cancer.

America, along with its ‘partners’ is designing a new world order all of its own. The TTIP agreement is as dangerous to world harmony as the cold war because that is what the agreement will become.  Its aims are clear – to create a global economic arena outside of the WTO framework. Its sees TTIP as an opportunity as part of a much wider picture as a geopolitical economic strategy against the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

These negotiations will end with 53 countries accounting for two thirds of the global economy. The treatywill create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country’s legislative sovereignty. US Senator Elizabeth Warren has said “They can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.”

The EU has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the US, where labour standards and trade union rights are lower. It has even advised EU members, including Britain to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment.

Britain’s most powerful TTIP advocate, an anti-democractic corporate public relations lobbyist masquerading as Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to “fire rocket boosters‘ under the deal without public debate on the world’s largest agreement of its type ever considered.

David Cameron went to considerable length to assure people the NHS was not part of the deal.  The government spent months trying to brush the threat of TTIP under the carpet but massive public pressure has forced the them to admit the NHS is part of the deal and therefore at threat from American corporations looking to cash-in from the multi-billion dollar health service as a profit centre.

Currently, there are around 500 cases of businesses versus nations going on around the world as a direct result of TTIP like agreements and they are all taking place before ‘arbitration tribunals’ made up of corporate lawyers appointed on an ad hoc basis, which according to War on Want’s John Hilary, are “little more than kangaroo courts” with “a vested interest in ruling in favour of business.”

John McDonnell, the UK’s shadow chancellor, has described TTIP as “toxic” and resulting in a huge transfer of powers to Brussels and corporate interests. What then if Britain leaves the EU?

TTIP has nothing to do with citizens or their rights. It is about forcing governments to see the whole of society from the single viewpoint of big business. The UN expert, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is right – this is a revolution against the law.


#protest, #protests, #ttip, #ttp

No Longer Willing to be Bullied and Fracked, How One Pennsylvania Town Fought Back

“They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water.’


In defiance of a corporate lawsuit over a proposed fracking wastewater injection well, the citizens of Grant Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening adopted the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights—a document which codifies environmental and democratic rights, and bans such drilling activity as a violation of that pact.

“The people of Grant Township spoke loud and clear: They have rights, and they will protect those rights,” said Chad Nicholson of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), who served as a consultant to the commission that drafted the charter.

Grant Township initially adopted a Community Bill of Rights in June 2014 in an effort to halt the drilling project but was overruled when a court sided with Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), which argued that the rights of the fossil fuel companies trumped those of the citizens.

CELDF explains: “In its lawsuit, PGE claimed that it had a ‘right’ to inject wastewater into the Township. PIOGA has also declared that there is ‘no constitutional right to local self-government’ or to be free from the harms associated with oil and gas production.”

However, Tuesday’s vote, which called for a “transformation of the community into a home rule Township,” now invalidates most of that court ruling, according to CELDF.

Local efforts to prohibit extraction activities, such as fracking, over concerns of its impact on air and drinking water quality have faced fierce resistance from both drilling companies and state governments. In Denton, Texas, for example, a community fracking ban wasoverturned after the state government passed a law barring such ordinances.

This has forced grassroots groups to devise increasingly creative solutions in order to maintain sovereignty in the face of what campaigners say are deep pocketed—and politically connected—corporate interests.

Nicholson notes that close to 200 communities across the U.S. have advanced some form of community rights, though many are amendments to existing charters. The Grant Township Bill of Rights is the first written entirely on the basis of asserting and protecting “the right to clean air and water, the right to be taxed fairly, and the right to local community self-government.”

“This isn’t David versus Goliath,” he added. “This isn’t just one community standing up to say ‘no.’ Grant Township is joining with communities across the country who are standing up collectively and saying to government and corporations, ‘We’re no longer willing to be fracked, poisoned, and polluted.’ They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water. Communities are saying this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change.”


#activism, #fracking, #protest, #protests

‘Worse Than We Thought’: TPP A Total Corporate Power Grab Nightmare

“Worse than anything we could’ve imagined.”


As expert analysis of the long-shrouded, newly publicized TransPacific Partnership (TPP) final text continued to roll out on Thursday, consensus formed around one fundamental assessment of the 12-nation pact: It’s worse than we thought.

“From leaks, we knew quite a bit about the agreement, but in chapter after chapter the final text is worse than we expected.”
—Lori Wallach, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

“From leaks, we knew quite a bit about the agreement, but in chapter after chapter the final text is worse than we expected with the demands of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest,” saidLori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

In fact, Public Citizen charged, the TPP rolls back past public interest reforms to the U.S. trade model while expanding  problematic provisions demanded by the hundreds of official U.S. corporate trade advisers who had a hand in the negotiations while citizens were left in the dark.

On issues ranging from climate change to food safety, from open Internet to access to medicines, the TPP “is a disaster,” declared Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now.

“Now that we’ve seen the full text, it turns out the job-killing TPP is worse than anything we could’ve imagined,” added Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America. “This agreement would push down wages, flood our nation with unsafe imported food, raise the price of life-saving medicine, all the while trading with countries where gays and single mothers can be stoned to death.”

Furthermore, Friends of the Earth (FOE) said in its response to the final text, the agreement “is designed to protect ‘free trade’ in dirty energy products such as tar sands oil, coal from the Powder River Basin, and liquefied natural gas shipped out of West Coast ports.” The result, FOE warned, will be “more climate change from carbon emissions across the Pacific.”

“President Obama has sold the American people a false bill of goods,” said FOE president Erich Pica. “The TransPacific Partnership fails President Obama’s pledge to make the TPP an environmentally sound trade agreement.”

International observers were no less critical. Matthew Rimmer, a professor of intellectual property and innovation law at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology and trade policy expert, told Fairfax Media it looks like U.S. trade officials have been “greenwashing” the agreement.

“The environment chapter confirms some of the worst nightmares of environmental groups and climate activists,” Rimmer told the news outlet. “The agreement has poor coverage of environmental issues, and weak enforcement mechanisms. There is only limited coverage of biodiversity, conservation, marine capture fisheries, and trade in environmental services.”

‘Attack Sensible Food Safety Rules’

With its provisions that tie the hands of food inspectors at international borders and give more power to biotechnology firms, “the TPP is a giveaway to big agribusiness and food companies,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch executive director. Such corporate entities, she said, want to use trade deals like the TPP “to attack sensible food safety rules, weaken the inspection of imported food, and block efforts to strengthen U.S. food safety standards.”

“The TPP food safety and labeling provisions are worse than expected and bad news for American consumers and farmers.”
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch

Last month, the Center for Food Safety outlined the top five reasons “eaters should be worried about Obama’s new trade deal.” At the top of the list was the TPP’s ability to undermine efforts to label GMO foods. “More broadly,” the Center wrote in October, “any U.S. food safety rules on labeling, pesticides, or additives that [are] higher than international standards could be subject to challenge as ‘illegal trade barriers’.”

Indeed, according to Food & Water Watch, the final text released Thursday indicates that under a TPP regime, “agribusiness and biotech seed companies can now more easily use trade rules to challenge countries that ban GMO imports, test for GMO contamination, do not promptly approve new GMO crops or even require GMO labeling.”

“The TPP food safety and labeling provisions are worse than expected and bad news for American consumers and farmers,” said Hauter. “Congress must reject this raw deal that handcuffs food safety inspectors and exposes everyone to a rising tide of unsafe imported food.”

‘Death Warrant for the Open Internet’

“If U.S. Congress signs this agreement despite its blatant corruption, they’ll be signing a death warrant for the open Internet and putting the future of free speech in peril,” stated Evan Greer, Fight for the Future (FFTF) campaign director.

“If U.S. Congress signs this agreement despite its blatant corruption, they’ll be signing a death warrant for the open Internet and putting the future of free speech in peril.”
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

Among the “several sections of grave concern” identified by FFTF are those covering trademarks, pharmaceutical patents, copyright protections, and “trade secrets.”

Section J, which addresses Internet Service Providers (ISPs) “is one of the worst sections that impacts the openness of the Internet,” according to the digital rights group, which explained further:

This section requires Internet Service Providers to play “copyright cops” and assist in the enforcement of copyright takedown requests — but it does not require countries to have a system for counter-notices, so a U.S company could order a website to be taken down in another country, and there would be no way for the person running that website to refute their claims if, say, it was a political criticism website using copyrighted content in a manner consistent with fair use.

Section J makes it so ISPs are not liable for any wrongdoing when they take down content—incentivizing them to err on the side of copyright holders rather than on the side of free speech.

‘Public Review Is Needed’

Like-minded groups in Canada, where newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been on the job for all of one day, are sounding similar alarms.

Citing concerns about how the deal would impact human rights, health, employment, environment, and democracy, the Council of Canadians on Thursday demanded a full public consultation—including an independent human rights, economic, and environmental review of the document—before Trudeau goes any further. The group expressed particular concern over investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, which allow corporations to sue states for lost profits, asking that they be excised from the deal.

“Trudeau is under a lot of pressure to adopt this deal as soon as possible, with calls already coming in from U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese President Shinto Abe,” acknowledged the Council’s national chairperson, Maude Barlow. “But a thorough public review is needed before he can establish whether the TPP is truly in Canada’s interest.”

Or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Text sources-

#activism, #protest, #protests, #ttip, #ttp, #worse-than-we-thought

Fife council latest to declare opposition to TTIP corporate pact

GRASSROOTS OPPOSITION to the EU-US corporate pact known as ‘TTIP’ is growing across Scotland with Fife council becoming the fourth to declare itself a “TTIP free zone”.001

The motion – brought to the council following an active community campaign – was endorsed by both the SNP and Labour in a move that signals growing discontent against the power grab driven by American and European corporations.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has faced opposition concerning its secret negotiations between big business, with leaked documents suggesting any deal will erode environmental, labour and food standards.

Secret corporate courts – enshrined by a practice known as the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – would risk opening the door to further NHS privatisation as corporate giants can then sue governments for not tending out public services into the private market under the guise of ensuring ‘competition’.

The motion presented to Fife council by councillor Karen Marjoram was opposed to TTIP’s secretive and undemocratic framework, the details of which have not been released despite opposition from over 3 million European citizens.

The motion was then strengthened by a Labour amendment, which supported a complete rejection of ISDS corporate courts.

Jean Kemp, an activist with St Andrews TTIP action group, was exctatic about the news: “Fife council has voted to reject TTIP in its entirety! Thank you Councillor Marjoram for proposing the motion. You did us proud.

“Councillor Marjoram’s motion was a good one and in line with SNP policy, but Councillor Judy Hamilton (Labour) tabled an amendment which strengthened the motion to a degree even we most optimistic TTIPers had not expected – no ISDS, not even ISDS-lite. Outright opposition to TTIP.

“The leader of the council will write to COSLA to express this outright opposition, to inform the Scottish Government and UK Government of Fife’s total opposition, to call on Scottish Government to publish an impact assessment, and to work with local and European campaigning bodies.”

Councillor Karen Marjoram, who brought forward the proposal, told Kingdom FM: “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations are secretive and undemocratic, all available information on this deal comes from leaked documents, and from Freedom of Information requests.

“If this assault on democracy was not enough, it’s the covert nature of these talks that causes me concern.”

Last week Scottish Labour joined the Scottish Green Party in supporting complete opposition to TTIP.

Following dedicated campaigning by community groups and Global Justice Now, all SNP MPs have signed up to oppose ISDS and the regulatory framework of TTIP. Campaigners at the party’s conference called for the party to completely oppose the deal. Activists recently travelled to London to make this case to Scottish MPs.

Fife follows Edinburgh, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire councils in opposing TTIP.

Picture courtesy of Scotland against TTIP

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#activism, #deal, #protest, #protests, #trade, #ttip, #ttp

Anti-capitalism Million Masks March held around the world

Thousands of people wearing symbolic Anonymous masks take to the streets in different European and American cities to protest against capitalism and government corruption.

The movement is organized by Million Masks March group that asked its supporters to gather at state capitals and city Halls. The marchers say they are against inequality, governments’ spying on people, police brutality and lies of the officials. In many locations protests have turned violent. In Washington people blocked traffic along the Constitution Avenue, marching to the White House and to the US Capitol

#anonymous, #capitalism, #million-mask-march, #protest, #protests

Plans to “criminalise Liverpool’s homeless” slammed by campaigners

Campaigners fear a proposed crackdown on street drinking, begging and legal highs will criminalise Liverpool’s homeless people.

Liverpool council is consulting on plans to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order in a bid to address problems around anti-social behaviour across the city centre.

But the plans have been slammed by critics who claim the order would increase the issues faced by some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Under the proposals those found street drinking, begging, touting for licensed premises, taking legal highs and placing or erecting unauthorised structures in public places – including temporary shelters – could be fined up to £1,000.

While begging is already a criminal activity, the council argues a Public Space Protection Order will be able to provide a more appropriate method of dealing with this issue.

Explaining the reasons behind the move, the consultation document said: “These are issues that have been identified by the council and the partners that we work with to address problems around anti-social behaviour.

“They have been generated from complaints and issues raised by members of the public, businesses and key stakeholders around issues of public safety. Some of these relate to long standing issues which cannot be easily resolved using the legislation currently available.”

The consultation will run until November 13 and a campaign launched on petition website has been set up to oppose the proposals.

Petition author Rebecca Cutts claimed the order would criminalise many of the city’s homeless and said: “Fining and persecuting people in [the] lowest socio-economic group, people that have to beg for money and can’t afford food, is only going to worsen the problem – not make things better.

“The orders that the council are trying to introduce directly put people at risk, but our support can stop this from happening.”001

Also concerned the proposals would prevent campaigners from setting up stalls in the city centre, Green Party leader Cllr Tom Crone said: “It’s difficult to believe that the council is proposing to implement such a draconian public control order which could have the effect of criminalising homeless people or those who are passionate about a cause.”

He has called on the city’s Labour majority to oppose the plans.

A specialist centre offering help for Liverpool’s street drinkers and homeless was set up near Lime Street over the summer. The impact of the service is currently being analysed by Liverpool John Moores University.

A council spokesman said the plans were not designed to deter political activity and added: “There is an ongoing consultation and no decision has been made. Before any decision is made all views will be taken into account.”


#campaign, #campaigners, #homeless, #protest, #protests

“Camping” On Your Own Land Is Now Illegal — Gov’t Waging War On Off-Grid Living

Across the U.S., local zoning officials are making it increasingly difficult for people to go off the grid, in some instances threatening people with jail time for collecting rainwater or not hooking into local utilities.
As zoning laws have increasingly targeted the off-grid lifestyle, many have moved to the Southwestern U.S. as an escape from overzealous zoning officials.

In Costilla County, Colorado, there has been a major influx of off-grid residents to the San Luis Valley. The combination of lax zoning regulations, cheap property, and an already thriving community of self-reliant off-grid homesteaders has led to many new residents.

The off-grid lifestyle, enjoyed by an estimated 800 people, is now being threatened as county officials have recently made moves to essentially regulate and license the lifestyle into oblivion.
Tensions boiled over during a county commissioners’ meeting in San Louis, Colorado, devolving into a shouting match between homesteaders and police. One of the major points of contention is the county’s attempt to ban camping on your own property, in an effort to force the off-grid homesteaders back onto the grid.
“We are residents who have come to live off the grid. It’s all our land.” … “These are harsh economic times. We have nowhere to go,” twenty-year resident Paul Skinner said.
“We’ve been regulated out of life,” homesteader Robin Rutan told Colorado Public Radio. “I came here because I couldn’t live by the codes [in other regions].”
The county, which requires residents to have a camping permit to live in an RV, “small house” or other camp style home, has started to simply refuse the renewal of these permits.
This is obviously a major problem for homesteaders, who often live in such accommodations while building their permanent residents.
“They started enforcing the changes before they were actually made,” resident Chloe Everhart said.
Everhart said she performed due diligence prior to buying her land, with one of the most important aspects of the plan being a 90-day camping permit. Without a 90-day permit, camping on residential plots is only allowed for 14 days per every three months.
But just as Everhart was arriving, the board of commissioners instructed the planning and zoning commission to no longer issue camping permits.
In spite of her best efforts, Everhart is now an outlaw.
County land use administrator Matt Valdez disputes the claims that the county is trying to regulate people’s lifestyles out of existence. He says that his office has discretion to deny camping permits under existing code and claims that too many new residents were habitually renewing permits meant to be temporary.
“We’re not trying to drive people off their property,” Valdez said.
Valdez said he simply wants to make sure already established rules are followed for aesthetic and safety reasons.
The vilification of people who choose to live an alternative lifestyle is extremely commonplace in modern America.
While there may be legitimate issues that need to be addressed, people have a right to use land that they own in the manner they see fit. To use the technicalities of the law to essentially evict people from land they own reeks of tyrannical overreach and oppression of personal liberty.

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#activism, #off-grid, #protest, #protests