Four Arrested So Far as Atlantans Protest Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting

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Photographs by Steve Eberhardt.stop TPP

 

(APN) ATLANTA  — Protests against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) continue in Atlanta, as negotiators from twelve countries work to finalize this latest, controversial proposal for an international free trade agreement.

 

Advocates from civil society organizations concerned with labor, the environment, health care, food, and other issues are worried about a new, free trade agreement that would further entrench corporate interests.

 

As of Friday evening, October 02, 2015, four activists have been arrested for civil disobedience.

 

On Wednesday, September 30, Zahara Heckscher, a breast cancer patient, was arrested for confronting TPP negotiators, while hooked up to an IV.

 

On Thursday, October 01, Daniel Hanley went down to the floor where negotiations were taking place and handcuffed himself to a railing.  Pictures that have surfaced of his arrest appear particularly brutal.  One of the officers was aggressive and hurt Hanley’s wrist while trying to remove the handcuffs, Hanley said.

 

Today, Friday, October 02, Nina Roark and an activist who goes by the name, “Scout,” were arrested for putting their bodies in the doorway of the meeting and refusing to leave.

 

The contents of the TPP are not being made public; however, an earlier version was leaked on WikiLeaks.

 

“Based on what we know about the TPP, this massive free trade agreement would let corporations unravel hard-won protections for health, working conditions, and the environment,” Nina Dutton, lead TPP organizer with the Sierra Club, said.

 

The TPP is being negotiated between the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam, representing nearly forty percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

“We feel that the TPP will destroy fundamental parts of life, including agriculture, and not only agriculture but medicine… that is the reason we are opposing the TPP negotiations,” Yamada Masahiko, a former Minister of Agriculture in Japan, said in an interview through an interpreter, with Atlanta Progressive News.

 

“We raised litigation against the Japanese government, on the basis that the TPP negotiation is unconstitutional,” Yamada said.  The litigation is ongoing, but has the support of more than 150 lawyers.

 

“We know from our sources on the inside that the U.S. is pushing for eight or even twelve year monopolies on the brand name biological medicines.  Monopolies of eight or twelve years means there can be no generics and no biosimilars, which are like generics, of these drugs in the countries that sign the agreement,” Heckscher said.

 

“The U.S. should stop pushing it, other countries should stay strong against it,” Heckscher said.

 

For countries that have public healthcare, like Australia and New Zealand, this means a bigger expense to treat everything from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis.

 

One of the most frequently articulated concerns from TPP opponents centers on the lack of transparency about the contents of the agreement, as well as a larger lack of accountability to the public.  

 

While pharmaceutical companies have been able to lobby to get language included beneficial to their bottom line, consumer protection and other civil groups have had no access to the negotiations.

 

“So this is a negotiation that has been done in secret, it’s never been disclosed to the public what’s in it.  When they pass it, they still will not release the text; it’s held secret for several years,” Martin O’Hanlon, President of Communication Workers of America – Canada, told APN.

 

U.S. Congress granted President Barack Obama fast-track authority over the summer of 2015, intended to ensure that Congress cannot finagle with the agreement after the U.S. trade representative has finalized the deal.

 

However, this also means Congress will only be able to give the agreement an up or down vote, without being able to review its contents.

 

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, has publicly come out against the TPP, although he supported North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during his time as Secretary.

 

“I used to believe in ‘free trade’ agreements, until I took a hard look at the numbers.  NAFTA cost U.S. workers almost 700,000 jobs.  Since the Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement, America’s trade deficit with Korea has grown more than 80 percent,” Reich stated in a Facebook post.

 

“Trade deals the fail to address currency manipulation or to effectively address labor standards — while protecting the intellectual property of global corporate investors and the financial asset of Wall Street — aren’t even about trade, since tariffs are already very low. They’re really about enhancing corporate and financial profits at the expense of American workers,” Reich stated.

 

Opponents also expressed concern about the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) aspect of the TPP, as it allows corporations to sue governments for lost profits in a tribunal outside the jurisdiction of the countries involved.

 

“Corporations from the U.S. and eleven other countries would be able to sue those governments over laws and regulations that would allegedly cut into their potential profits… Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical have already used similar rules… under other trade agreements to bring these kinds of cases against governments, but the TPP would open the door to more major corporations from more countries to attack pro-health and pro-environment laws,” Dutton said.

 

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed joined with other members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to continue to state their support for the TPP, and to encourage the negotiators to complete the deal while they are here in Atlanta.

 

“The Metropolitan Atlanta area is already the thirteenth largest exporter in the United States, but our region has a tremendous opportunity to further grow exports, grow the economy, and create jobs with the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Mayor Kasim Reed in a press release.

 

Hanley spoke with APN about the concerns he had that motivated him to participate in civil disobedience.

 

“It’s very frustrating because, for one thing, the talks are so secretive. The location was announced at the last possible minute,” Hanley, an activist affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, said.

 

“From what we know about the deals, they are expected to be extremely devastating to workers’ rights, working conditions, U.S. jobs, just like NAFTA was,” Hanley said.

 

Over 150 people attended rallies during the week, organized by Jobs with Justice.  As long as the negotiators are in Atlanta, opponents plan to keep up the pressure.

 

“I may be in the photographs, but there are tens of thousands of people behind me, and there are millions of people who will be affected negatively if this passes,” Heckscher said.

 

(END/2015)

3 comments

  • Also,a big tip off is that this wasn’t ever mentioned on any local or national tv news and mentioned only if you typed it into the site search engine of any of the local stations. Why so secret? Why won’t our senators and reps be able to read it before voting?

  • Suing the Global Corporate Economy via ‘your’ government.

    TPP; Japan; ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada paves the way for Expanding & Improving the basis of the Yamada led ‘Sword & Shield’ Counter attack Suit against the Japanese gov’t, et al. TPP & other Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’ signatory gov’ts. in Conflict of Interest.

    (CAN.) – The TPP & the other global corporate treaties/’arrangements’ provides that the signatory governments will not only be no longer able to sue corporations for not adhering to the laws of their host countries & thereby, replace the desire of American lead corporations for tort reform with tort abolishment, but the TPP will also place the signatory governments in positions of a conflict of interest in regard to their own harmless citizens who are being forced to find their own, non-governmental means of enforcing existing & future laws that have been passed by way of:
    1) the secrecy of unethical lobbyists for the benefits of their wealthy corporation clients & their shareholders, &/or,
    2) the ethical desire to compete with other countries by passing laws that protect & enhance the well-being of its citizens regarding their health care, education, worker safety, environment, transfer payments, etc.

    However, it seems that it is only recently that the harmless citizens of Japan are learning that due to Corporate Canada’s, &/or, the government of Canada’s, anxious desire to impress its TPP corporate associates, &/or, the citizens of Japan, et al, with:
    1) its unencumbered access to the natural resources that are continuing to be discovered in Canada,
    2) its ability to ‘manage’ Native Canadians in regard to accessing the aforementioned natural resources in Canada
    &
    3) et al,
    Corporate Canada, &/or, the Canadian government has misinformed its corporate associates & deprived its corporate associates of due diligence information (eg. the Canadian government, et al, is continuing to deprive Native Canadians, et al, of the information & questions in The W.A.D. Accord), which will greatly affect the costs of developing the aforementioned natural resources, and thus, as a consequence of Corporate Canada’s, &/or, the Canadian government’s actions it has given the harmless citizens of Japan, et al, the basis for:
    1) not only, suing Corporate Canada, &/or, the government of Canada, via the Canadian government,
    but, for :
    2) also expanding & improving upon Mr. Yamada’s existing suit against the Japanese government, &/or, Corporate Japan, et al, as well.
    And, thus, Corporate Canada, via their lobbyists to the Canadian government, are most anxious to escape from their liabilities by a rapid ratification of the TPP, et al.

    Therefore, the Japanese group, led by Mr. Masahiko Yamada, who are suing their government regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership on behalf of themselves & the citizens of Japan, might seriously consider suing Corporate Canada, in order to ensure that they, the harmless citizens, do not end up having to ‘contribute’ any of their tax dollars to pay for The Compensation in The W.A.D. Accord, et al, & thereby, prevent Corporate Canada from escaping its liabilities by way of the ratification of the TPP, et al.

    Furthermore, by suing Corporate Canada &/or, the government of Canada, by Mr. Yamada’s group, would enable the harmless citizens of Japan as a ‘sword’ & a ‘shield’ to prevent the government of Japan from using any of tax dollars of the harmless citizens of Japan to further punish the harmless citizens, ie. the ‘shield’ & to provide the monies necessary from the punitive damages, on an on-going basis, to continue to fight the future capricious forays & assaults against the harmless citizens’ democracy and counteract the damages to it, etc. caused by Corporate Japan, the government of Japan, et al, ie. the ‘sword’.
    Please see the reference material below: ‘The Submission’ to The Supreme Court of Canada: ‘The SHAREHOLDERS & Corporations of JAPAN, America, China, Canada, the EU, the Trans Pacific nations, et al v. the (harmless) Canadian NON shareholders, both; Native & non Native, et al’ (see; davidehsmith.wordpress.com)

    which includes:
    1) The W.A.D. Accord, 2) ‘The MERKEL (Chancellor of Germany) Letter; To Sue, or, Be Sued?’ & 3) et al.

    ‘The Submission’ also considers: 1) what is a ‘good corporate citizen’ & 2) how to make those corporations which are not good corporate citizens to conform, or, to make the corporations persona non grata.
    The letter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ‘Prime Minister Abe; You’ve been Served with; The NOTIFICATION of Pre-existing CHALLENGE to The TPP’, was sent separately.

    Please also see; ‘The Basis for Litigation & Litigation Funders; Suing the Global Corporate Economy’.
    *****
    Mr.Yamada & the citizens of Japan, I look forward to reading about your thoughts, your questions, your feelings, your improvements, etc., regarding the enclosed.

    If you should have any questions, or, problems with the enclosed questions & information, &/or, any other related material, I can be contacted via davidehsmith.wordpress.com

    David E.H. Smith
    – Researcher
    – ‘Qui tam…’

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