Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's Not Get Punked By The Neoliberals Again - With the "Trans-Pacific Partnership"

Someone asked maybe a month ago, in an unpublished comment, why I always depict the Neoliberals like a mutant bat-rat type creature with feral eyes, grasping a pile of money. Well, because that is how I image these types: money-grubbing, feral ratty bats that could give a damn about the rest of us, so long as they get the corner on their mythical "free market". (Which is in fact a coercive market for the 99%)

And, of course, one must always keep one eye open for these rats - say like the 'Fix the Debt' bunch, and any new initiative they try to slink by us. Since they're rats, they will try anything ....from bamboozling bollocks about "benefits" to over the top PR (such as applies to fracking). They never miss a beat.

Now, thanks to  Wikileaks (why not our precious mainstream media? ) we have learned about the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership, another way to screw with us like the earlier GATT and NAFTA.

According to the Guardian, WikiLeaks has released the draft text of a chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, a multilateral free-trade treaty currently being negotiated in secret by 12 Pacific Rim nations. The full agreement covers a number of areas, but the chapter published by WikiLeaks focuses on intellectual property rights, an area of law which has effects in areas as diverse as pharmaceuticals and civil liberties.

Negotiations for the TPP have included representatives from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, and Brunei, but have been conducted behind closed doors. Even members of the US Congress were only allowed to view selected portions of the documents under supervision. Peter Bradwell, policy director of the London-based Open Rights Group says:

"We're really worried about a process which is so difficult for those who take an interest in these agreements to deal with. We rely on leaks like these to know what people are talking about,"

He adds:

"Lots of people in civil society have stressed that being more transparent, and talking about the text on the table, is crucial to give treaties like this any legitimacy. We shouldn't have to rely on leaks to start a debate about what's in then."


The 30,000 word intellectual property chapter contains proposals to increase the term of patents, including medical patents, beyond 20 years, and lower global standards for patentability. It also pushes for aggressive measures to prevent hackers breaking copyright protection, although that comes with some exceptions: protection can be broken in the course of "lawfully authorized activities carried out by government employees, agents, or contractors for the purpose of law enforcement, intelligence, essential security, or similar governmental purposes".

WikiLeaks claims that the text shows America attempting to enforce its highly restrictive vision of intellectual property on the world – and on itself. "The US administration is aggressively pushing the TPP through the US legislative process on the sly," says Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, who is living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London

Is this Assange torqued because he has to hole up in an embassy in London? Is he just venting because of the extent to which his operation has been downsized?  Not so fast.

Thomas Hartmann, writing on the blog today observes:

" This week, Americans got a peek behind the curtain of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and what we found is frightening. On Thursday, Wikileaks published a complete draft of the “intellectual property rights” chapter of the TPP, and it poses a serious risk to free speech and information access. The document contains proposals that would change copyright and patent laws, so-called fair use practices, and the liabilities for alleged violations.

The provisions would stifle innovation, creativity, and information sharing, all under the guise of protecting intellectual property. And, many of the proposed changes are being suggested by US negotiators. Opposition to these restrictive policies is coming from other nations, like Canada, Chile, Malaysia, and New Zealand."

If an informed citizenry is the basis for democracy, why are we being kept in the dark? Perhaps because we no longer have a democracy  but a corporatocracy! If we really are a democracy then we need to heed Hartmann's words:

"Unions, civil rights advocates, environmental activists, and many other groups are demanding that the details of the TPP are made public. Before this massive trade deal is signed, Americans have the right to know what it contains, and the right to demand that our elected leaders say “No” to the TPP. -"

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