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Blog Posts: Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

March 21st, 2014

Five Ways You Can Make a Splash On World Water Day

By Katherine Cirullo

Water is life. Water is also a limited resource that’s under high demand. Here at Food & Water Watch, we’re fighting a global battle to protect the right to safe, clean, affordable water for everyone now, and for years to come. It’s a battle that we care deeply about and it pervades many of the issues we work on. That’s why tomorrow, on World Water Day, we’re inviting you to dive in and join us in the fight to promote sustainable water management, protect the human right to water and prevent the impending global water crisis. Here are five ways you can take action on World Water Day.

1. Add these two inspirational gems to your spring reading list: Blue Future and Ogallala Road. These profound, yet comprehensive books offer unique perspectives on the past and future of the water crisis:

Blue Future: Protecting Water For People and the Planet Forever by internationally best-selling author and Food & Water Watch Board Chair, Maude Barlow, exposes the handful of corporate players whose greed is impeding the human right to water. The latest in Barlow’s best-selling series, Blue Future lays out the obstacles ahead in this looming water crisis, as well as the many victories that have been won by communities in the fight to protect their right to water.

Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning by Julene Bair is a powerful personal history of her family’s western Kansas farm located on the Ogallala Aquifer. In the narrative, Bair reveals the struggles she grappled with when watching her family switch from dry-land farming to unsustainable irrigation. The story is a telling glimpse into one aspect of the world’s water saga. Visit her website for book events and appearances.

2. Encourage your classmates to kick the bottled water habit and to take back the tap! Be the force of change on your college campus by joining this year’s Tap-A-Palooza contest: Read the full article…

March 11th, 2014

A Secret Trade Deal is Threatening Our Safety

 

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By Jim Walsh

Don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This controversial trade deal has been negotiated mostly behind closed doors, and the text of the agreement was only recently made available to Congress. Even now that the text is available, members of Congress still have to jump through a few hoops to gain access. Over 600 multinational corporations have been made “special advisors” for the purpose of assisting our trade representatives draft the deal, and everything we know about the contents of the TPP is from leaks.

Inside the trade deal, known as the TPP, is a provision that will allow companies to challenge — as illegal trade barriers — any government policies that purportedly infringe on corporate profits.  In short, a corporation could sue federal, state and local governments if it believes that a law or regulation will negatively impact its bottom line. This is scary in all sorts of ways.

Companies could challenge local laws that prohibit or delay the environmentally dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) for natural gas. Already a company incorporated in Delaware is challenging Quebec’s fracking moratorium under a similar investment provision under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Read the full article…

January 29th, 2014

President Obama’s Legacy to Corporations?


By Wenonah Hauter

Did you see President Obama’s State of the Union last night? While the President had an optimistic tone, again and again, I saw the same theme of giving more power to corporations at the expense of the people.

Last night, President Obama told us once again that he wants to fix income inequality in this country. He even announced a minimum wage increase for government contractors, which is one step in the right direction… but if he’s serious about better pay for ordinary Americans, he shouldn’t be pushing for trade deals that will bolster corporate profits and let corporations move jobs overseas, not to mention taking away communities’ rights to protect themselves from corporate abuses.



If he succeeds, these deals (including the Trans-Pacific Partnership) would lead to more imports of potentially unsafe foods and the export of fracked gas. It would put corporate profits ahead of people’s health and safety. Let President Obama know you’re disappointed that he’s supporting trade deals that put corporations above communities.



When it comes to fracking, President Obama’s State of the Union speech touted his “all of the above” energy plan as a success, even though his administration has repeatedly scuttled investigations into the damaging impacts of fracking, like water contamination. He also said he doesn’t want to leave our children with the impacts of climate change, but fracking hurts communities and it’s not a solution to our energy woes or the climate crisis.

 Even though President Obama said he wants to protect our pristine public lands, his administration is still considering opening them up to more oil and gas fracking. Send President Obama a clear message: it’s past time that he changed his mind on fracking.



President Obama mentioned the debate over the proper size of our government. We can’t let that debate compromise the safety of our food by cutting funding that the USDA needs to properly inspect our poultry. In the State of the Union, he spoke about his interest in streamlining the government, but he’s doing so at the expense of our health and safety when he lets the meat industry do their own safety inspections. That’s letting the fox guard the henhouse, and it’s no way to keep our food safe.

Please take a minute to let the President know that you want him to put the health and safety of American communities ahead of corporate profits. Let’s send a strong message to President Obama after his State of the Union speech.

January 21st, 2014

It’s Time to Get the Money Out of Politics, And Put the People Back In

By Mitch Jones

Four years ago today the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Citizens United case. The case had three major components that, taken together, have made it nearly impossible to keep corporate money out of politics. First, it found that free speech rights are about the speech, not the speaker (in other words, it doesn’t matter who’s speaking, but that speaking is taking place.) Second, the case reconfirmed the notion of corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is a constitutional doctrine dating back to the mid 19th century, but Citizens United reconfirms the constitutionality of it. Finally, the case finds that since political speech is the most important First Amendment right, constraint of free speech must meet strict scrutiny. Citizens United basically allowed corporate financing of elections to be protected as free speech.

It was an outrageous ruling that unleashed a flood of money in our political system. Read the full article…

January 15th, 2014

And Now Introducing Our Corporate Branch of Government…

The TPP is Real, It’s Happening Now, and We All Need to Call Our Congressmen

By Rich Bindell

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Not that you had any reason to doubt our opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but now you know we’re not crying wolf on the destructive potential of the controversial and largely secretive global trade deal the Obama administration is trying to push through Congress. Thanks in part to leaked documents shared by WikiLeaks, The New York Times reported today on the environmental chapter of the TPP, along with the reaction from several environmental groups who have also been closely following the progress of the trade deal.

The New York Times focused mostly on the environmental chapter of the leaked documents. They wrote, “As it stands now, the documents…show that the disputes could undo key global environmental protections.” Yes. But that’s merely one small aspect of the TPP that’s threatening.

We regard every single chapter of the TPP as unacceptable according to the standards and rights of American citizenship and Democracy, as the trade deal would lead to increased gas exports and potentially dangerous food imports, while simultaneously undermining our domestic laws and increasing the financialization of nature. Free trade agreements have already proven how they can disenfranchise American workers, undermine domestic policies and even interfere with attempts to use sensible economic development to help developing countries grow their economies.

But the TPP would take this even further. It will harm working families by increasing our reliance on imported food instead of furthering our trust in sustainable, locally grown food production. It will wreak havoc on the environment by increasing the production and exportation of liquefied natural gas from fracking that has already contaminated our air and water. It would even challenge our right to know if the ingredients in our food have been genetically modified.

But the most frightening aspect of the TPP might be the authority it grants corporate entities to undermine local sovereignty. Many decisions about public health, infrastructure and the environment that are currently made by our local city councils or county governments using the democratic process could actually be overturned by international corporate tribunals. Why? Because if your town votes to ban water privatization or fracking, for example, that decision might challenge the financial interests of a multinational corporation. Tragically, the TPP would allow financial interests to dictate how we manage public resources or dismantle the system of local, state and even federal protections we currently have in place to regulate food and water.

Right now, President Obama is seeking Fast Track authority to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the U.S.- EU Free Trade Agreement through Congress, which is why we should all pay close attention. The TPP would affect all of the issues we work on here at Food & Water Watch—from food safety, seafood imports and GMO labeling, to water privatization, water pollution and fracking—which is why it’s so critical that you get involved now by contacting your member of Congress to tell them to oppose this potentially devastating trade fiasco.

January 10th, 2014

Fast Track, the TPP, and Our Fight

Which Side Are You On?

By Mitch Jones

Fast Track must be defeated!

I’m not engaging in hyperbole when I say that, of all the political fights I’ve engaged in over the years, this is the most important one. By a long shot.

The late Margaret Thatcher was famous for saying, “There is no alternative.” What she meant was there is no alternative to the anti-environment, anti-public health, anti-safe food, anti-clean water de-regulatory agenda. No alternative to the privatization of basic services. No alternative to replacing a high wage manufacturing economy with a low wage service economy. No alternative to putting finance in the drivers’ seat of our economy and our governments. No alternative to the neo-liberal agenda of hyper-individualism and the denial of the existence of society.

But, of course, she was wrong. There is an alternative. I know there is because everyday moms and dads, working folks who don’t have the privilege of being paid to fight this fight like I do, give up their weeknights and their weekends to make that alternative real. Against all odds they pass referenda to stop fracking in Colorado of all places. They beat back water utility privatization in Ft. Worth! They pass bills to label GMOs. They pass local living wage laws. And so much more. We know the alternative is possible.

But the people who thrive in the world created by “free trade” know it, too. And that’s why they are trying desperately to enact their agenda in the form of global trade agreements that contain provisions that will allow corporations to challenge federal, state, and local laws and regulations enacted democratically – but against their narrow financial interests. The biggest of these deals being negotiated right now is the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. And, just today, legislation was introduced that would let the Obama administration push that deal through Congress on a “fast track” with no chance for amendments, no opportunity for real debate. And, what’s almost worse, the deal is being negotiated in secret. Neither you nor I can see the text being negotiated in our names.

If you want to know what this “free trade” agenda has done to our economy just look around. Wages have been stagnant for 40 years. Manufacturing jobs have fled abroad. More and more wealth has accumulated in fewer and fewer hands. Our economy is broken and it is broken because of this agenda.

In short, if we lose this fight it makes all our work harder.

This is a “which side are you on?” moment.

And this isn’t a partisan issue. I’m proud to say that some of our best allies in this fight are conservative – even tea party Republicans.

I want to take back the idea that “there is no alternative” and put it to good use. Because, there is no alternative to losing this fight. There just isn’t.

So, if you haven’t done it already please email, call, and tweet at your Member of Congress and tell them to vote no on fast track.

January 7th, 2014

Preparing to Oppose the TPP in 2014

By Rich Bindell

In case you missed it, The Nation gave a nice little nod to Food & Water Watch in its “2013 Progressive Honor Roll.”

Here’s the excerpt…

MOST VALUABLE EDUCATION OF CONGRESS: PDA’s “Letter Drops”

Working with Food & Water Watch (on fracking), Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (on the Trans-Pacific Partnership) and US Labor Against the War (on intervention and Pentagon spending), Progressive Democrats of America has organized monthly “Educate Congress” interventions. Activists have dropped by as many as 250 congressional district offices in a single day to deliver letters and talk with representatives and staffers.

“Instead of lobbyists, members of Congress are hearing from constituents who want to talk about economic and social justice, environmental justice and peace,” says PDA director Tim Carpenter.

Now, before you go back to catching up from your winter break, let’s take a moment to see where we are with the timeline for the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Read the full article…

January 2nd, 2014

Starting the Year Off Right

By Briana Kerensky

With the holiday season finally rolling to a close, it’s time to see if we can make good on our New Year’s resolutions. Getting healthy; spending more time with our families; being more productive at the office; these are all things we promise ourselves when the ball drops.

Here at Food & Water Watch, we’ve made our own resolutions. But as always, we need a little help from you to make sure we can achieve them. Here are some of the urgent priorities we’ll be focusing on early this year that will be crucial to win if we want to protect our essential resources—and our democracy. Read the full article…

December 12th, 2013

Krugman Misses the TPP Forest for the Tariff Trees

By Mitch Jones

In a new blog post Paul Krugman claims he hasn’t, “seen anything to justify the hype, positive or negative,” about the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

His argument basically boils down to this claim: “most conventional barriers to trade — tariffs, import quotas, and so on — are already quite low, so that it’s hard to get big effects out of lowering them still further.”

While this is largely true, the problem with the TPP isn’t really the tariffs and quotas, although nearly 80 tariffs lines for seafood will be reduced or eliminated by the deal. After all, of the 29 titles in the deal, only a handful are said to deal with these issues. So, while Dr. Krugman is “having a hard time figuring out why this deal is especially important,” it may be because he has been focusing on the wrong areas. Read the full article…

December 9th, 2013

TPP: No Wonder They Want to Keep it Secret

By Mitch Jones

The latest leaks related to the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations show why the administration is so eager to keep them secret: on every issue the U.S. is siding with corporate interests and against the interests of our families and communities.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the latest leak is the lengths to which the U.S. is going to implement Investor State Dispute System, or ISDS. The ISDS is the part of the deal that would allow foreign corporations to sue federal, state and local governments in an international trade tribunal if the corporation thinks it’s “free trade” rights are being undermined by laws and regulations designed to protect families and communities.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, here’s another way to look at it: the U.S. is fighting hard to make sure corporations can sue your city or state if they feel your laws are hurting their profits. It’s outrageous! Read the full article…

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