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Friday, April 17, 2015

The TPP and other Friday News

There has been massive debate and discussions about the TPP or the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. It is the largest economic treaty ever signed. Right now, it involves 12 nations including Australia. This combination of country represent more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Protests have come about in opposing the TPP. These protests exist in Tokyo, all across America, and throughout the Earth. The TPP has been negotiated in secret, which is a problem because a real deal must deal with transparency. The secret dealings of the deal will make sure that any public criticism or scrutiny will not exist readily. The deal has been so secret that the text of the agreement only cam only four years after the deal has been agreed. There are only parts and sections of the deal that has been released, because working documents have been leaked including published by the WikiLeaks people. These leaks have exposed how the rich and the powerful have conspired to make tougher the lives of the millions of people in the globe. We know that on March 25, 2015, WikiLeaks released the Advanced Investment chapter of the TPP. It describes a massive expansion of the rights of the rich and their corporations to rampage in the world. The most controversial part is the forming of an investor-sate dispute settlement or ISDS arrangement. This will give “investors” the right to sue governments if they pass laws that impede profits. A case would not be held in the country that is being sued, but in a special international court with no right of appeal. This not only grants exceptional legal rights to corporations but also erodes the basic right of countries to make their own laws. This is being used now in Quebec. The provincial government of Quebec is being sued for $250 million by U.S. based Lone Pine Resources Inc. over the government’s ban of gas fracking. Lone Pine is not suing primarily for loss income, but for the loss of “future” profits expected from fracking. This is happening via the ISDS clauses in the North Atlanta Free Trade Agreement. Another important case involves French multinational Veolia, which is suing the Egyptian government under a similar bilateral agreement for increasing the minimum wage. Egypt is also being sued by Indorama Corp. for the nationalization of a textile factory during the 2011 revolution.

Another leaked chapter of the TPP deals with concerns of intellectual property laws. The provisions would allow companies such as AOL Time Warner the right to order the shutting down of websites they claim infringe copyright, and to obtain the details of anyone who allegedly downloads that content. This will turn Internet service providers (ISP) into a police force for these companies. This violates individual rights and free expression. This has begun with the recent court victory of Dallas Buyers Club LLC against Australian ISP iiNet. The court ruled that iiNet must hand over the residential address of everyone alleged to have downloaded the movie. The TPP gives the green light for many more such cases to be heard and for strict monitoring of our Internet usage globally. This can harmed health care and access to generic medications. Medecins Sans Frontiers has referred to the TPP as "the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries." The commodification of all goods, even lifesaving drugs, means the research to develop new therapies is not driven by a desire to heal the sick. The incentive to make new discoveries is the profit associated with securing a patent. Typically, patents expire after 20 years, which then allows cheaper generic versions of these medicines to be produced. According to the Journal of the International AIDS Society, 80 percent of anti-retroviral medicines used in the developing world are generic. TPP wants this to be changed. TPP will allow pharmaceutical companies the legal right to prevent the production of generics and extend existing patents every 2 years. This would cause many lifesaving drugs to be unaffordable for people in the developing world and cause medicine to be even more expensive in the West. The draft will cause surgical procedures to be patented. Also, there has been ISDS used in previous trade agreement which sought to end natural resource and environmental policies. These trade deals have grown the power of corporations. TPP negotiations don’t involve China. So, for these reasons and others, TPP must be opposed.

People have the right to vote for who they want to. Black people have every right to vote their conscience. There are many GOP people in the Presidential race. It was the policies of austerity and massive power sent to large Wall Street banks which contributed to the economic recession that started years ago. The imperial policies since 2001 (which many Republican candidates support) have caused the disastrous situation in the Middle East from Iraq to Yemen. Neo-conservativism doesn’t work. We do know that both major parties have been responsible for the growth of income inequality in America. Also, unemployment is endemic in the system of capitalism itself. Economic growth can be done not by free market fundamentalism, but by a comprehensive approach with focuses on increasing workers’ rights, establishing living wages, and creating real investments in the community. Jeb Bush has supported mass surveillance by the NSA, the Iraq War, and he’s a neocon. Hillary Clinton armed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists who overthrew Gaddafi and caused Libya to have a massive civil war. Also, the GOP candidates will not mention that police terrorism is an epidemic in our communities. We still have the new Jim Crow as documented by Sister Michelle Alexander. We have seen the Supreme Court eviscerate sections of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. We have seen new, controversial legislation that has limited which times people can vote, etc. We have seen reactionary forces contesting even the Fair Housing Act of 1968 now. Some GOP members even oppose equal pay, immigrant rights, and women's rights. In order for us to be free, then racism, discrimination, police terrorism, the War on Drugs, imperialism, and capitalist exploitation must be eradicated in our society. We are fighting for our lives and I can’t support a reactionary Republican. I will be a political Independent. I will wait to see who I will vote for in 2016. We all feel nostalgia for that unity that existed during the 1960's and during the 1970's. I am reading about book about Memphis and the Civil Rights Movement. I read in that book about how black men and black women were fighting in an unified effort against the racist, reactionary policies of Memphis then Mayor Loeb. Back then, even the music talked about love, harmony, relationships, history, and culture. Black is Beautiful back then wasn't just a slogan, but it was a way of life. Today, we live in a crossroads. After the late 1960's, we have seen economic problems, the War on Drugs, a global recession, and other issues that have damaged some in our community. So, we have the opportunity to do something about it. Regardless, we're going to fight not only for our ancestors, but for our future descendants.

Yes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was becoming more radicalized. He was talking about civil rights and that was one thing. Yet, when he was criticizing the Vietnam War and wanted a radical redistribution of economic and political power in America, then he was a threat to the establishment. That is why the FBI illegally monitored him. He was criticizing Western imperial policies in Peru, Guatemala, Africa, Asia, and in other places of the world. His Poor Peoples Campaign wanted to occupy Washington, D.C. as a means for the poor to receive economic justice. He was right to say that it was hypocritical for a government to spend billions of dollars in an unjust war and in a program to send men into the Moon, while that money is not spent in helping the poor on Earth. Dr. Martin Luther King became more radicalized and he was murdered. His legacy and the legacy of Malcolm X live on today. Yes, my parents were Baby Boomers. They knew what that music gave to many people (which include consciousness, confidence, courage, and love for their blackness). Soul music from Motown, Stax Records (as Tennessee including Mississippi are home to so much of our rich culture beyond just music), etc. inspired a generation to stand up for blackness in a positive way. One thing that racists can't stand is for us to use independent development and to be thankful of our black heritage. They hate us, but they want to stalk us all of the time, which shows their hypocrisy (as racism is hypocrisy personified). It is very beautiful and exciting for more of us to understand who we are. The Knowledge of Self is a key part of mental liberation. Many young black people are carrying the torch that the previous generation has led. We don't want stale manna. We want the fresh manna of freedom, wisdom, and black unity. We are certainly thankful in our hearts of black people continuing the real work, so we can reach the land of milk and honey (filled with justice).

This story is complex. Nigeria has rich resources (of oil, cobalt, zinc, etc.). The Western imperialists are evil for their economic exploitation of African resources off the blood of black African workers including the black poor. Western imperialism has caused genocide, environmental degradation, cultural exploitation, economic harm, and other atrocities in the span of over five centuries (throughout the four corners of the Earth). Boko Haram terrorists are evil for their terrorism, for their patriarchal religious extremism, and for their ruthless actions against black people in general in Nigeria. Both entities should not be supported. The girls should be returned home. It is very important to realize that the Nigerian government has done a terrible job in trying to rescue the missing girls. They were once hesitant to even work with neighboring African nations in helping them out. The Nigerian people still suffer massive economic inequality. I do support civilian, independent self-defense groups who are fighting Boko Haram and who seek real reconciliation in the beautiful nation of Nigeria. I also realize that many Western oil companies have caused massive pollution in Nigeria too. You can Google that information (involving Shell). I have no problem with the hashtag (of #SaveOurGirls) per se. That’s cool. Yet, we have to address the social, economic, and political issues in Nigeria, so people in that nation can reach into its highest potential. We all feel for the families of the missing girls. We all want the girls to come home. There must certainly be unity. Regardless of the diverse creeds in Nigeria, they are part of one nation and the people deserve economic justice (not permanent, brutal occupation from Boko Haram or Africom). The solution will involve a long, comprehensive process. One solution involves a further unification of workers, religious leaders, civic groups, self-defense groups, etc. in a mobilization campaign to not only combat the terrorists, but to grow the communities of Nigeria. Od'igba. Od'abo.

By Timothy

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