Brigadier General: TPP is a threat to America's national security

Retired Brigadier General John Adams served for 30 years, including a stint as a military intelligence officer: in an op-ed in The Hill, he says that while he supports trade deals, the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership has almost nothing to do with trade, and will hasten America's de-industrialization, making it harder for the US military to source the materiel it needs, and making it vulnerable to price gouging by foreign powers, who might even go so far as to block America's ability to source certain vital items altogether. Read the rest

Chinese state-backed corporations beat US lawsuits with sovereign immunity

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Sovereign immunity prevents one government from using its courts to attack another, but Chinese state-backed industries are taking it to new places, arguing that sovereign immunity means that the US courts have no jurisdiction over Chinese companies whose products are harmful or whose conduct is negligent -- and US courts are buying that argument. Read the rest

Greenpeace dumps TTIP documents that show USA arm-twisting the EU

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Greenpeace has handed newspapers 240 pages of current negotiating documents from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly conducted trade deal between the USA and the EU, which has run in parallel with the notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Read the rest

The U.S. just labeled Switzerland an internet piracy haven

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Switzerland is a haven for internet piracy, the Obama Administration's global trade rep says. The European nation famous for Swiss Alps, Swiss Cheese, Fondue, and being a long-term U.S. political ally since WWII is now on America's annual intellectual property shitlist.

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Wikileaks: NSA spied on UN Secretary General and world leaders over climate and trade

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In less than an hour, Wikileaks will publish a set of TOP-SECRET/COMINT-GAMMA documents -- "the most highly classified documents ever published by a media organization" -- that document NSA spying on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, and key Japanese and EU trade reps in an attempt to gain an advantage in negotiations regarding climate change and global trade. Read the rest

Rare look at how big business defends "Investor State Dispute Settlements"

ISDSes are the most controversial element of secret trade deals like TPP and TTIP: they let giant international corporations sue countries to repeal environmental, safety and labor laws that interfere with their profitability. Read the rest

Former IMF chief economist on the problems with TPP

Tim Harford writes, "Simon Johnson is a fascinating character, former chief economist of the IMF and now scourge of bankers and lobbyists everywhere." Read the rest

TPP leak: states give companies the right to repeal nations' laws

A new Wikileaks-published leak from the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty reveals a January 2015 draft "Investment Chapter" of the agreement, where the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are set out. They allow companies to repeal nations' environmental, health and labor laws. Read the rest

Sandwars: the mafias whose illegal sand mines make whole islands vanish

Singapore's insatiable appetite for sand to use to expand its island's territory has led to a worldwide boom in illegal sand-mining, run by criminal gangs who are responsible for the destruction of entire islands in the Pacific rim. Read the rest

Stephen Harper sells Canada: China can secretly sue to repeal Canadian laws

Under the terms of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, approved by PM Harper on Friday, China can sue Canada in secret tribunals to repeal national and provincial laws that interfere with Chinese investments, including laws limiting construction of the Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. Read the rest

Canada's anti-counterfeiting bill stalled by US demand for removal of humanitarian safeguards

Michael Geist writes, "Last year, the Canadian government trumpeted anti-counterfeiting legislation as a key priority. The bill raced through the legislative process in the winter and following some minor modifications after committee hearings, seemed set to pass through the House of Commons. Yet after committee approval, the bill suddenly stalled with little movement throughout the spring. Why did a legislative priority with all-party approval seemingly grind to a halt?" Read the rest

US trade rep demands end to other nations' healthcare, privacy rules, food labelling...

Public Citizen analyzes the new Obama 2014 National Trade Estimate Report, in which the US Trade Rep demands that: Japan abolish its privacy rules and its requirement that food be labelled with its ingredients; Canada abolish its rules limited pharmaceutical patents; Malaysia get rid of its tariffs on pork and booze; Mexico nuke its junk food taxes, and more. It's great reading, and leaves little room for doubt about the neoliberal future, in which anything that's bad for corporate profits -- even if it's good for society or reflects national values -- is killed in the name of free trade. Read the rest

Tech companies to Senate Finance Committee chair Wyden: no Fast Track for TPP!

More than 25 tech companies -- including Happy Mutants, LLC, Boing Boing's parent company -- have signed onto a letter asking Senator Ron Wyden (chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) to oppose "Fast Track" for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a secretly negotiated trade agreement that allows for big corporations to trump national law, suing governments that pass regulations that limit their profits; it contains a notoriously harsh chapter on Internet regulation that will allow entertainment companies unprecedented power to surveil, censor, and control the Internet.

The US Trade Representative and the Obama administration have demanded that Congress give "Fast Track" status to the TPP, meaning that they would not be allowed to debate the individual clauses of the bill, and would only be able to vote it up or down. The treaty is likely to have lots of sweeteners that will make it hard for key lawmakers to reject it entirely, a manipulative maneuver that, combined with Fast Track, means that the treaty has a substantial chance of passing, even though it means Congress will be surrendering its power to make laws that impact on massive corporations.

Other signatories to the letter include Reddit, Techdirt, Imgur, Duckduckgo, Ifixit, Cheezburger, Automattic (WordPress), and many others. Read the rest

Canada and South Korea manage a free trade agreement without crazy copyright provisions

Michael Geist writes, "Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. The focus is understandably on tariff issues, but the agreement also contains a full chapter on intellectual property (note that the governments have only released summaries of the agreement, not the full text, which is still being drafted). The IP chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals - particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia - the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. The approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections." Read the rest

Prominent politicians and negotiators in poor countries speak out against TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a sweeping, secret global treaty that sets out many corporatist policies by which countries surrender their national interest and sovereignty in favor of corporations, who get to violate local regulations and rules and sue countries that try to enforce them. A lot of the opposition to TPP has centered on its insane copyright provisions (leaked TPP drafts have included things like mandatory border-searches of laptops and phones for pirated music and movies; as well as "three-strikes" rules like the failed French HADOPI system, whereby whole families would be disconnected from the Internet if their router was linked to unsubstantiated claims of piracy). But increasingly, the participating countries are growing nervous with the whole premise of TPP.

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Herring Wars: Attack of the Faroe Islands

Herring travel in schools billions of fish strong and, thanks the outsized role they've played in North American and European culture, they've been called the most influential fish in history. Now, threatened first by overfishing and then by the effects of climate change, international organizations have worked to set treaty limits on how many tons of the fish different countries can catch each year. The problem: The limits are more randomly applied, rather than being based on rigorous standards or rules. Now, some countries are voicing their displeasure by resisting the limits, altogether. Begun, these Herring Wars have. Read the rest

South Korea lives in the future (of brutal copyright enforcement)

The US-Korean Free Trade Agreement came with a raft of draconian enforcement rules that Korea -- then known as a world leader in network use and literacy -- would have to adopt. Korea has since become a living lab of the impact of letting US entertainment giants design your Internet policy -- and the example that industry lobbyists point to when they discuss their goals.

One of the laws that Korea adopted early was the infamous "three strikes" rule, where repeated, unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement leads to whole families being punished through restriction of, or disconnection from their Internet connections. Now the Korean National Human Rights Commission has examined the fallout from the country's three strikes rules, and called for its repeal due to high costs to wider Korean society.

Here's the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Danny O'Brien with more:

The entertainment industry has repeatedly pointed to South Korea as a model for a controlled Internet that should be adopted everywhere else. In the wake of South Korea's implementation, graduated response laws have been passed in France and the United Kingdom, and ISPs in the United States have voluntarily accepted a similar scheme.

But back in Korea, the entertainment industry's experiment in Internet enforcement has been a failure. Instead of tackling a few "heavy uploaders" involved in large scale infringement, the law has spiraled out of control. It has now distributed nearly half a million takedown notices, and led to the closing down of 408 Korean Internet users' web accounts, most of which were online storage services.

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