Global Super Court

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Read any one article of this tremendous 4-part series on the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) “Global Super Court” and then make the case for supporting the mis-named “trade deals” being huckstered by the global power elite. The issue isn’t about trade, growth, jobs or environmental “side agreements.” The issue is democracy/self-governance/self-determination/sovereignty. It always has been ever since these provisions have been buried inside the NAFTAs, TPPs and other corporate rule agreements. Way past time to re-frame the discussion.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/globalsupercourt

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Corporate Power Prevails over People Power on Fast Track

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The Senate voted today 60-37 to support Fast Track.

If there was ever any sliver of doubt that Congress on issues that really matter to the power elite represents the public over corporations, it should end. Corporate power prevailed over people power.

There was no public outcry supporting Fast Track…and the mis-named “trade” negotiations behind them. No mass rallies. No bottom up organized call-in days. Not even any “astro turf” phony front groups bankrolled by corporate interests promoting it. Just power politics of the all-too-common variety — featuring swarms of lobbyists and, no-doubt as in the House based on public records, political campaign investments “contributions” to Senators.

Call it Exhibit # (fill in any four, may even five, digit number here) of how our government isn’t broken, but instead fixed.  It will only get unfixed when there’s much more mass education and organizing to address the rigged ground rules favoring big money and corporate interests over those of real people.

On the positive side, our efforts will become in one respect easier. We’ll need to waste far less time challenging the “we live in a functioning democracy” propaganda that has mesmerized far too many.

After Obama signs Fast Track, then comes the individual expanded corporate rule treaties: TPP, TTIP and TISA. Born of secret negotiations (to the public and media that is, but not to the corporate consultants), there may be opportunities to lift up the essence of each of them — the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) resolution process with their corporate attorney-dominated “Tribunals.” The opportunities for us to raise the contradictions between how our representative talk about “democracy/sovereignty/self-determination” and how the ISDS trumps “democracy/sovereignty/self-determination” to benefit corporate profits will be there.

If nothing else, these will be teachable moments. May we take full advantage of them.

This is also further underscores why we need a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech, ala Move to Amend. With no political potency from major corporations, Fast Track doesn’t even get a congressional hearing, let alone a vote, let alone passage.

Onward!

House Votes NO on Fast Track

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People Power Prevails! At least for now.

Thanks to everyone for calling, emailing, texting, twittering, face booking, and/or visiting your Representative. People power prevailed over corporate power.

House Rejects Trade Bill, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/13/us/politics/obamas-trade-bills-face-tough-battle-against-house-democrats.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2

While many activists and in Congress cast Fast Track and the international agreements connected to them principally about “trade” and/or “jobs,” the core issue has always been about governance — specifically self-determination, self-rule, right to decide, sovereignty, democracy — whatever you want to call it.

That’s the emphasis in the letters we sent yesterday to several NE Ohio House members, urging them to oppose Fast Track.

Read the letters here.

Seen through a “democracy” prism, Fast Track can’t be made acceptable by simply adding a few more protections to workers here or decreasing a trade barrier or two there — since at its core Fast Track is about decreasing citizen power and increasing corporate power by challenging democratically enacted laws and regulations.

This is essential to remember if and when the next version of Fast Track is introduced.

In the meantime, thank you for doing your part to achieve this grassroots victory!

NEO AFSC June 12, 2015 Podcast

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Listen to podcast here

We summarize last week’s activities; share upcoming events for next week; and comment  on only 1 issue: the vote today on Fast Track legislation in the US House of Representatives. We do so to emphasize its importance and to underscore the urgency of taking immediate action – to call your Congressperson asking them to vote NO. The toll free # is 888-804-8311.

Letter to Congress: NO on Fast Track

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Here’s a letter the Northeast Ohio AFSC sent today to U.S. Reps David Joyce and Jim Renacci urging them to vote NO on Fast Track. The vote is tomorrow (Friday). If you haven’t done so yet, please contact your Congressperson. If you have done so, thank you! Please do so again.

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The Northeast Ohio AFSC, representing 1500 supporters across the region, respectfully urges you to vote NO on any Fast Track legislation that would increase the likelihood of any vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), or any any other international agreement.

Fast Track is antidemocratic. It handcuffs your Congressional constitutional power and authority to “check and balance” the power and authority of the Executive branch by limiting your ability to review, discuss, debate and amend any international agreement. Why would any Congressperson, entrusted to represent We the People, willingly relinquish this power and authority to unelected corporate representatives, thus weakening democracy itself? History has shown that freedoms lost are quite costly and difficult to recover.

Fast Track is simply not needed as a prerequisite for a Congressional vote on the TPP, TTIP, TISA or any other international agreement. The fact that the administration so desperately wants and needs Fast Track is telling. It sends a crystal clear message to the American public that these super secret misnamed “trade” agreements developed with the consultation of hundreds of transnational corporations are harmful to workers, consumers, communities, the environment and democracy itself. It indicates that these agreements, which are actually mostly about gutting democratically enacted laws and regulations, cannot pass on their own if the public, media and Congress have a legitimate opportunity to research, understand, discuss and communicate their views on these secret negotiations . Virtually everything the public and media know about these proposed agreements is only due to leaked documents, which include provisions in the case of the TPP an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) process creating unaccountable and pro-corporate “tribunals” with the power to overrule national laws and regulations passed by legislatures and/or upheld by courts.

Fast Track is a gift to transnational corporations. It’s an affirmation that negotiating secret international agreements (to the public that is, but not transnational corporations) than harm workers, consumers and the environment are legitimate. And it’s an exponentially further decline in the ability of citizens to govern themselves — citizens who already feel their political voices are not being heard by politicians who respond to the interests of corporate entities and the super rich.

Fast Track is not ultimately about Democrats vs Republicans, “free” trade vs “fair” trade, or protecting jobs vs expanding growth. These are secondary concerns, if not outright distractions. The core concern underlying each of these proposals is the right to political self-determination, to democracy itself. If you feel citizens and their elected representative, not corporate entities, should possess the fundamental right to determine the laws, statutes and regulations in our municipalities, states and nation itself, then you will vote NO on Fast Track.

Make 1 Call to Stop Fast Track, TPP, TTIP and now TISA

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We have a chance to stop Fast Track in its tracks. The U.S. House of Representatives, which is far more skeptical of the legislation, plan to vote on Fast Track this week. Please call ASAP your U.S. Representative now at 1-888-804-8311 and urge him or her to vote NO on Fast Track. Find your representatives at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Fast Track is the proposed legislation that limits Congressional discussion, debate and amendments on secret so-called “trade” agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) – a super secret and anti-democratic deal that will adversely affect every single citizen and person in the US and other nations.

TISA background pieces

When Opposing Fast Track, Don’t Forget TISA
https://createrealdemocracy.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/when-opposing-fast-track-dont-forget-tisa/

WikiLeaks Strikes Again: Leaked TISA Docs Expose Corporate Plan For Reshaping Global Economy
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/03/wikileaks-strikes-again-leaked-tisa-docs-expose-corporate-plan-reshaping-global

Wikileaks Drops Another Damning Trove Of Secret Trade Deal Documents
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/03/wikileaks-secret-trade-deals_n_7504548.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

TISA would deregulate financial industries and challenge laws on almost every service sector if an internationally traded service is involved.

TPP, TTIP and TISA aren’t in the end about trade (be it free or fair) at all…or about jobs. They are primarily about governance, the right to decide, self-determination, self-rule, sovereignty, democracy. Should We the People and those we elect have the power and authority to establish laws and regulations protecting consumers, workers, communities, and the environment or should multinational corporations?

The leaders of multinational corporations and public officials who are doing their bidding are pushing Fast Track hard. They know the TPP, TTIP and TISA could not pass on their own if the pubic and Congress could read, discuss and debate them.

THAT’S WHY WE MUST STOP FAST TRACK.

Please call ASAP your U.S. Representative now at 1-888-804-8311 and urge him or her to vote NO on Fast Track. Find your representatives at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Thank you!

When Opposing Fast Track, Don’t Forget TISA

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A incorrect impression is that Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) are one in the same.  They are not.

Fast Track is the set of terms or rules governing how Congress can discuss, debate and decide the TPP — the so-called “trade agreement” that will give transnational corporations the authority to overturn local, state and national democratically-enacted laws protecting workers, consumers and the environment.

Fast Track terms include limiting duration of debate, limiting the debate itself and preventing Congress from introducing any amendments. These terms not only apply, however, to the TPP, but to all so-called trade deals that come before Congress while Fast Track is in effect. This is likely to be several years. Lining up, like backed up airplanes at a busy airport, are other international agreements.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (or TTIP) agreement is one. It’s the European equivalent of the TPP in terms of addressing not just trade issues, but issues of worker, consumer and environmental laws and regulations that transnational corporations seek to gut.

Another agreement is one you may not have heard of. It’s called the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA.

TISA a treaty between 24 parties, including the US and the European Union – or a total of 50 countries that make up 68% of the world’s trade in services. TISA aims to “liberalize” the trade in services – a sanitized word for abolishing. The specific services include banking, health care and transport – among others. Like the TPP, TISA has been negotiated in secret

Wikileaks last year released a classified draft of the financial services portion of the agreement. According to Wikileaks,

“The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multi-nationals – mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt – into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers…The leaked draft also shows that the US is particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow, which would allow uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data.”

Additionally, the current draft also includes language inferring that, upon the finishing of negotiations, the document will be kept classified for five full years.

Despite the complete failure of sufficient financial regulations to prevent the 2007-2008 global financial collapse, TISA proposes even less financial regulation and would have the power to trump existing national financial regulations.  It would be an immense aid to the Too Big to Fail banking corporations, which is why the banking industry, the #1 sector that politically contributes/donates to federal elected officials, wants it. Public pension funds, for example, could be challenged as “monopolies.” Effort to regulate casino-like financial derivatives could be challenged a financial “barriers.” Basically ANY public proposal to limit in any way the private financial sector would be in violation of TISA.

Fast Track, which passed the Senate last Friday, is more than the TPP — which is bad enough. In some respects, specifically related to banking corporations, TISA may actually be worse. Yet Fast Track would permit all international agreements dealing with trade to be railroaded or steam rolled through Congress with little discussion and debate and no amendments.

TISA is another reason to oppose Fast Track. It’s another reason to call your Congressional Representatives.