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Archive for April 2014

TPP Investment Map: New Privileges for 30,000 Companies?

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  Public Citizen

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens so much of what we hold dear — this secret agreement will censor our Internet, send jobs overseas, undermine environmental regulations, and remove our most basic democratic rights.

Under previous presidential administrations, the United States signed a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that grant foreign corporations extraordinary rights and protections beyond the rights of domestic companies. A little-known FTA mechanism called “investor-state” enforcement allows foreign firms to skirt domestic court systems and directly sue governments for cash damages (our tax dollars) over alleged violations of their new rights before UN and World Bank tribunals staffed by private sector attorneys who rotate between serving as “judges” and bringing cases for corporations. Using this extreme system, corporations have sued the U.S. government in foreign trade tribunals for enacting laws or regulations that “interfered” with the corporations’ expected profits.  This “interference” has included essential environmental regulations, health laws, and domestic court decisions. These cases are not just threats to domestic U.S. policies. U.S. corporations have also used FTAs to attack public interest laws abroad.

If a corporation wins its private enforcement case, the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill. Over $380 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in a series of investor-state cases under U.S. FTAs. Of the nearly $14 billion in the 18 pending claims under U.S. FTAs, all relate to environmental, energy, public health, land use and transportation policies – not traditional trade issues.

The Obama administration is currently negotiating a sweeping new FTA called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — the first FTA negotiated by the Obama administration.  Despite Obama’s many campaign promises to scale down investor-state enforcement in trade agreements, the leaked investment chapter of the TPP reveals that the Obama administration intends to expand even further the extreme investor-state model of past FTAs. If passed, the TPP would grant thousands of corporations these extraordinary rights to sue governments over public interest policies for taxpayer compensation.

Below are the maps of the locations of multinational corporations that would get these new rights if Congress would pass the TPP.  More than 6,000 corporations with nearly 30,000 corporate affiliates would be able to use these rights, including over 300 financial services companies that could challenge essential financial sector regulations through investor-state provisions. These corporations could challenge the local zoning and environmental laws of your community, so zoom in using the “+” button to see which corporations are in your city.  Click on the dots to see the names of the corporations and their industry. The color of the marker indicates the country of the parent company. The red lines on the map are the borders of the districts of the U.S. House of Representatives. Click here for a full list of companies based in TPP countries that operate in the United States, sorted by congressional district.

[read the rest (and see the interactive graphic) here]

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Wealth Inequality in America: perception and reality

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Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

References:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2…
http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealt…
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011…
http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/news/…

Written by laudyms

April 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm

AUSTRALIANS FOR COAL. What is your investment dollar doing? (a comedy)

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AUSTRALIANS FOR COAL. What is your investment dollar doing?

Writer: yannisnikolakopoulos@gmail.com
Not affiliated in any way with the links below, but it might be of interest:
http://act.350.org/signup/banksdivest…
http://www.pushyourparents.org
http://www.climatebonds.net/2014/04/w…
Actors: Anne Wilson, Peter McAllum, Will Young

Walmart: Welfare Queen extraordinaire

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Table of tax breaks and subsidies used by Walmart and the Walton family to save $7.8 billion a year.

Americans for Tax Fairness
1726 M Street NW Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20036
www.AmericansForTaxFairness.org

Read the rest of this entry »

Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic

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04/09/14  The Institute of Science in Society      roundup kills

Glyphosate’s metal-chelating activity causes bioaccumulation of toxic metals in the body, resulting in an estimated 400 000 cases in Sri Lanka and 20 000 deaths     Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

Sri Lanka is set to partially ban glyphosate-based herbicide use following a new peer-reviewed study linking it to a fatal chronic kidney disease epidemic badly affecting the country [1]. Kidney problems have been further documented in other global regions, prompting an earlier complete ban by El Salvador late last year [2]. A complete ban was initially proposed, but due to plantation sector representatives claiming a shortage of agricultural workers that would not sufficiently manage weeds without glyphosate, the government has now limited the ban to disease endemic areas [3]. Even Brazil, one of the largest growers of glyphosate-tolerant genetically modified (GM) crops has now filed a law suit by Federal Prosecutors to ban glyphosate along with 8 other dangerous pesticides [4]. It is becoming increasingly difficult for government regulators and glyphosate producers to justify the use of this herbicide when other nations are banning the chemical outright in order to protect their citizens.

Glyphosate can impact human health in a number of ways, one of which is through its potent metal chelating abilities. Indeed, glyphosate was originally patented by Stauffer Chemical Co. in 1964 (U.S. Patent No. 3,160,632) [5] for this very function. Chelating mineral ions can lead to nutritional depletion in plants and animals, which has already been shown to cause health problems in both. In the case of this kidney disease epidemic, its chelation of metals such as arsenic in the water supplies is now though to lead to their bioaccumulation in the body, resulting in kidney failure and even death, as proposed in a new study [6] by Channa Jayasumana (Rajarata University, Sri Lanka), Sarath Gunatilake (California State University, USA) and Priyantha Senanayake (Hela Suwaya Organization, Sri Lanka) published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Glyphosate has also been linked to many other health problems including cancers (see [7] Glyphosate and Cancer, SiS 62), infertility (see [8] Glyphosate/Roundup & Human Male Infertility, SiS 62), along with neurotoxicity, reproductive problems, birth defects, and other problems (see [9] Ban GMOs Now, special ISIS report). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by laudyms

April 9, 2014 at 8:41 am

Seymour Hersh on Obama’s red line (what US press forgot to tell us)

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propaganda b

Glad to hear from Hersh again, even if only thru the London Review of Books. Evidently he has been successfully muffled/censored in the US. This is quite a different story about Obama’s “red line” in Syria than you’ve heard before.

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels.

By Seymour M. Hersh April 06, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “LRB” –– – In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.

Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. Read the rest of this entry »

Global Status of GMO and Non-GMO Crops

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4/03/14   The Institute of Science in Society monsanto2

Dr Mae-Wan Ho takes you behind the latest, most blatant scientific disinformation campaign to show how GMO crops have remained a minority sector in food production and shrinking from overwhelming consumer rejection; in contrast, non-GMO sectors are rapidly taking over the global food market, the largest, agro-ecological farming, is also the most sustainable, resilient and climate friendly, and currently produces over half of the world’s food.

Scientific disinformation on GMO plumbs new depths

Scientific disinformation on GMOs is rife; more so and more blatant than any other area where science has become enmeshed with corporate profit. The battle to reclaim people’s food rights intensifies worldwide as the failures and hazards of GMOs can no longer be concealed behind the relentless propaganda. Within the past 18 months, learned societies, science journals and sundry scientist have joined the fray, spreading false claims that the scientific debate is over and GM food is proven safe, that GM crops are a great success with more miracles on the way, and needed to feed the world [1-4] (see our response to one of them [5] Scientific American Disinformation on GMOs, SiS 60).

This most recent global disinformation campaign has been carefully orchestrated. Anne Glover, a molecular biologist at St. Andrews University in Scotland, was appointed the European Commission’s first chief scientific advisor in 2012, and since then, used a series of interviews with EurActiv news network to promote GMOs. In an open letter addressed to Glover, Dr Brian John of GM-Free Cymru wrote [6]: “Your claim that there is no evidence of adverse GMO impacts is a lie.” He referred to a recent list compiled by GM Free USA [7] consisting of more than 1 400 scientific papers on various adverse health and environmental impacts of GM crops and related pesticides, and a statement signed by nearly 300 scientists declaring there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs [8] (Scientists Declare No Consensus on GMO Safety, SiS 60). And ISIS has produced our own comprehensive report on the health and environmental hazards of GMOs especially in the light of the new genetics,  recommending individuals, families and local communities everywhere to institute their own ban on GMOs [9] (Ban GMOs Now). John’s timely letter [6] was released just before Glover went on a mission to sell GMOs to Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Read the rest of this entry »