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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

November 7, 2015

Trade agreements and the corporate war on democracy

Our focus is on the corporate rights treaties that are misleadingly sold as trade agreements. In particular, the spotlight is on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiated in secret, and now scheduled to be rubber-stamped by national governments on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The TPP is best understood as a major milestone in the long-term war waged by the corporate elite against any form of democracy. It gives corporations the power to block any environmental protections or health and safety legislation that could be interpreted as interfering with a corporation’s ‘right’ to make a profit by doing whatever it wants. It will significantly undermine efforts to fight climate change by giving corporations the power to block laws that would prevent fracking, tarsands extraction, coal mining, etc. Food safety protections are similarly attacked: banning GMO crops or imports, or even required GMO labelling, becomes a restraint of trade. Internet advocacy groups are calling the TPP a ‘death warrant for the Open Internet” because, in the name of ‘copyright protection’, it gives corporations the power to force Internet Service Providers to take down websites, even in other countries, that are allegedly infringing copyright.

As always, people are fighting back and will continue to fight back. That requires organizing: as an article by Al Giordano reminds us, “Nothing is ever won without organizing.” Also in this issue, we remember Bhaskar Save, a farmer in India who developed organic farming methods on his own farm which have gained worldwide admiration.

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TPP worse than we thought

Topic of the Week: International Trade Agreements

The name of our topic of the week is more than a little misleading, since so-called “trade agreements” have little to do with trade. The very word “trade” is a misnomer when an ever-increasing proportion of economic activity consists of intra-corporate transfers within multinational corporations which have off-shored their production to low-wage jurisdictions in many different countries. These “trade agreements” are in fact best understood as corporate rights and investor rights treaties whose purpose is to prevent governments from doing anything that might inhibit corporate freedom of action or impact corporate profits. Connexions features a selection of resources which explore the real meaning of international trade agreements. Explore them here

Stop TPP

This Week on Connexions.org

All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared

The Transatlantic and Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnerships have nothing to do with free trade. “Free trade” is used as a disguise to hide the power these agreements give to corporations to use law suits to overturn sovereign laws of nations that regulate pollution, food safety, GMOs, and minimum wages. Read more

Keywords: Intellectual Property - Trans-Pacific Partnership

TPP Worse than we thought

'Worse than we thought:' TPP a total corporate power grab nightmare

On issues ranging from climate change to food safety, from open Internet to access to medicines, the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) is a disaster. While the text is full of handouts to the fossil fuel industry, it doesn’t mention the words climate change once. What it does do, however, is give fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground. If a province puts a moratorium on fracking, corporations can sue; if a community tries to stop a coal mine, corporations can overrule them. In short, these rules undermine countries' ability to do what scientists say is the single most important thing we can do to combat the climate crisis: keep fossil fuels in the ground. Read more

Keywords: International Trade Agreements - Trans-Pacific Partnership

Stop TPP

TTIP – The Corporate Empowerment Act

The Transatlantic and Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnerships have nothing to do with free trade. “Free trade” is used as a disguise to hide the power these agreements give to corporations to use law suits to overturn sovereign laws of nations that regulate pollution, food safety, GMOs, and minimum wages. Read more

Keywords: International Trade Agreements - Trans-Pacific Partnership

El Salvador mining protest

Salvadorans Warn Canadians about World Bank's Kangaroo Court

Salvadorans fighting against a Canadian mining multinational discuss how secretive international tribunals allow corporations to override elected governments and impose projects that threaten the environment and health of local populations. Read more

Keywords: International Trade Law - Investor Protection

Rohingya Refugees
Slavery, Genocide, Abuse: The Dark Side of Asia's 'Tiger Economies'

From declining worker protections to violent labour trafficking and ethnic cleansing, the dark underbelly of Southeast Asia's “tiger economies” is on full display this year. Read more

Keywords: Ethnic Cleansing - Southeast Asia

Agroecology as a Tool for Liberation: Transforming Industrial Agribusiness in El Salvador

“We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers' social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers.” Read more

Keywords: Agriculture/Ecology - Organic Agriculture

Karl Marx Workers of the World Unite


Nothing is ever won without organizing

All organizing begins with the telling of a story. When we listen carefully to somebody’s story, we learn what motivates him, what she is passionate about. Listening is the first skill and duty of a community organizer. Before we can get somebody to do something, we have to learn what he and she want, which is usually different than what we presumed they wanted. Read More

Keywords: Organizing for Social Change - Organizing

Bhaskar Save

People’s History

The Passing of Bhaskar Save: What The ‘Green Revolution’ Did for India

Bhaskar Save farmed on 14 acres of land in Gujarat, India. Using traditional methods, he demonstrated on his farm that yield is superior to any farm using chemicals in terms of overall quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency and economic profitability. Save, who emphasized self-reliance at the farm/village level was an inspiration for generations of farmers. Bhaskar Save died on October 24 at the age of 93. Read more

Keywords: Organic Agriculture - Sustainable Agriculture

Nelson Mandela

From the Archives

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

Featuring a selection of materials from the Nelson Mandela Archive, which is in the process of being digitized. Read more

Malcolm X

Newly discovered Malcolm X tapes

The folks at the Freedom Archives in San Francisco recently stumbled across a couple of unmarked reels that turned out to contain Malcolm X speeches and interviews. Ranging from his time as a Minister in the Nation of Islam to a couple months before his death in February 1965, these reels offer a wonderful opportunity to hear Malcolm at different points in his political development. Read more

Corporate Watch
Website of the Week: Corporate Watch

A radical research and publishing group supporting activism against large multinational corporations. www.corporatewatch.org

Keywords: Corporations - Transnational Corporations

Killing the Host
Book of the Week: Killing the Host

By Michael Hudson

Economist Michael Hudson exposes how finance, insurance, and real estate (the FIRE sector) have seized control of the global economy. The FIRE sector is responsible for today’s extreme economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the “real” economy of labour and production. Hudson shows in vivid detail how the Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy, and plunged the U.S., Irish, Latvian and Greek economies into debt deflation and austerity. Killing the Host describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes punishing austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class. Read more

Keywords: Austerity - Finance Capital

Birdie & dog
Film of the Week: Birdie

Birdie, who sleeps in trees and sells fruits and vegetables on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, loves the two abandoned dogs he now lives with. In Heloisa Passos’ film, Birdie reads the minds of his two best canine friends. See

Keywords: Dogs - Homelessness

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This issue was edited and produced by Ulli Diemer.


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