WARNING Industry Powers With Access To TPP Plans Lavish Money On Congress RT January 19, 2014
Operatives of top global corporations, which spend great amounts of cash to lobby Congress, are also part of a small group in the US outside the Obama administration that can access working plans on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. According to data analyzed by government transparency advocate MapLight, current members of Congress received around US$24 million in the last ten years from organizations represented on an exclusive industry board, created and staffed by Congress. This board has inside access – such as not even granted to members of Congress, much less the public – to the highly-secretive negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which promises to give powerful industry players more clout over global trade rights. The United States is currently in negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim nations on the lucrative trade pact known as theTrans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which aims to liberalize trade among the signees. Among the contentious issues in the TPP is that the agreement stipulates new powers for multinationals that would allow them to challenge country laws in privately run international courts. Washington has endorsed such powers in previous trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but conditions in the TPP could grant multinational more powers to challenge a wider range of laws. Under NAFTA several companies including Dow Chemicals and Exxon Mobil have sought to overrule regulations on fracking, oil drilling, and drug patents. “The United States, as in previous rounds, has shown no flexibility on its proposal, being one of the most significant barriers to closing the chapter,” said a memo from one of the participating countries obtained by the Huffington Post. Ultimately, the pact would give corporate entities much more influence over commerce, elevating “individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations,” consumer rights advocate Public Citizen says on its website. Thus far in the multi-year negotiations of TPP, a small cadre of people have
had open access to the working documents involved in the various sections of the trade pact. On the contrary, members of the US Congress, for example, must visit the offices of the United States Trade Representative to review the provisions. They are not allowed to bring anyone with them, nor can they make copies of any documents pertaining to the working agreement. Yet aside from those in the Obama administration, only members of the United States Trade Representative’s advisory system, including the 18-member Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (ITAC-15), can freely access TPP negotiation documents on intellectual property. Members of the ITAC-15 include representatives from companies like GE, Cisco Systems, Yahoo, Verizon, AT&T, and Johnson & Johnson, and entities such as the Recording Industry Association of America, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The ITAC-15 does not include public advocacy organizations, academics or any non-industry experts. The industry trade advisory system was created and staffed by members of Congress. In fact, the ITAC15 is made up of several top political spenders that have offered millions of dollars to influential Congress members in recent years, data organized by MapLight shows. MapLight found that – from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2012 – the 18 organizations that have representatives on the ITAC-15 gave almost $24 million to current members of Congress in that time period via political action committees, among other avenues that are legally required to be disclosed. AT&T has given over $8 million to current members of Congress, more than any other ITAC-15 entities. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has been given $433,350 from ITAC-15 organizations, more than any other individual in Congress. Congressional Democrats have gotten $11.4 million from the organizations, while Republicans have received $12.6 million. A handful of Congress members sponsoring legislation that would give the Obama administration more power over the congressional process of approving TPP – barring amendments to the pact, for example – have received a total of $758,295 from the ITAC-15 groups. These members include: Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus ($140,601), Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch ($178,850), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp ($216,250), House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Devin Nunes ($86,000), and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions ($136,594). Meanwhile, a new report released this week showed that US corporations spent $185 million in 2012 alone via nonprofit groups that are not legally required to divulge either their sources of funding or how they spend that money. “Ranking among the biggest donors are energy giant Exelon Corp., health insurer WellPoint Inc. and technology titan Microsoft Corp.,” the Center for Public Integrity said in its findings. “The millions of dollars in corporate expenditures highlighted by the Center for Public Integrity’s research flowed to more than 1,000 politically active nonprofits, from major trade associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to pro-business alliances such as the Fix the Debt Coalition.”
In Fullerton, No First Amendment Right To Peaceably Assemble Adan Salazar Infowars.com January 19, 2014
Undercover agents kidnap peaceful citizen journalists, demonstrators Paramilitary forces decked out in riot gear met hundreds of peaceful demonstrators convening on the streets of Fullerton, California yesterday, arresting citizens who filmed at the site where 37-year-old homeless man Kelly Thomas was brutally savaged to death by no less than six officers. Until then, police had cooly ignored protesters as they jammed the streets in objection of a verdict last Monday, which acquitted the two officers who chiefly instigated the beating that led to Thomas’ eventual death. Protesters also called for the resignation of Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes. Moments before several demonstrators were taken into custody, police had issued a dispersal order, calling the group an “unlawful assembly.” (In fact, the right to peaceably assemble is one of the freedoms expressly enshrined in the First Amendment.) The order supposedly stemmed from reported protester violence on a CBS-2 cameraman. “The
reporter sought shelter in the news van as several people surrounded the vehicle,” reported The Los Angeles Times, after which police began arresting people who refused to leave. Additionally, police declared protesters were impeding traffic, claims OC Weekly writer R. Scott Moxley directly refutes. “Revealingly, the police complained that protesters were blocking traffic, but–in truth–it was the cops (armed with military-style weapons) who completely shutdown the street,” Moxley wrote, documenting the events in real time. “We have bent over backward today to allow them to protest, hoping to keep it peaceful,” Fullerton Police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said in a soundbite picked up by the L.A. Times. One protester who was broadcasting a live stream of the events via U-stream, was also taken into custody as soon as night fell. In the final two minutes of her last upload (below), activist PMBeers can be heard complaining of her arrest as silhouettes of police haul away demonstrators in unmarked vehicles. READMORE
Nobama Says Racial Animus Blunts Approval, New Yorker Reports Brian Wingfield Bloomberg January 19, 2014
President Barack Obama said that racial tensions may have softened his popularity among white voters within the last two years, according to a story posted on the New Yorker magazine’s website today.
“There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” Obama said in the article by David Remnick, appearing in the magazine’s Jan. 27 edition. “Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black president,” Obama said in his most direct comments on how race has affected his political standing since he’s been in office. Obama’s second term has been marked by controversies including a partial government shutdown in October, revelations that the National Security Agency has gathered personal mobile phone data and the troubled rollout of health-insurance expansion. Obama’s approval rating among all voters is 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 53 percent, according to a Gallup Poll conducted Jan. 14-16. In the 2012 presidential election, Republican candidate Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote, compared with Obama’s 39 percent, according to exit polling by a consortium of major news outlets. Obama won 43 percent of the white vote in 2008 against 55 percent for opponent John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona.
Obamacare Blamed “Poll after poll makes it very clear that Obamacare and other job-killing policies are the reason” for the president’s decline in popularity, Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer said in a phone interview today. Obama offered reflections on a variety of subjects in the New Yorker story, including his view about the dangers of playing professional football, which has been the subject of media scrutiny over players’ head injuries. “I would not let my son play pro football,” the article quotes Obama, the father of two daughters, as saying. When asked by Remnick how those dangers squared with his enjoyment of the game as a spectator, Obama said professional players are aware of the inherent risk in playing a full-contact sport.
Like Smokers “They know what they’re buying into,” Obama said. “It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?” Obama acknowledged that reports of U.S. surveillance programs, including allegations that the government tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, had created a “breach of trust,” Remnick reported. Obama said he also assumes others are trying to spy on him, and for this reason he doesn’t have a phone, according to The New Yorker. He said, “there are European governments that we know spy on us, and there is a little bit of Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’ -- shocked that gambling is going on,” the magazine quoted him as saying, referring to the actor who played the police captain in the 1942 movie.
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