As ‘Do-Or-Die’ Talks End In Failure, Could TPP Be Derailed for Good? 

Global justice campaigners say disintegration of Maui negotiations ‘good news for people and the planet’

by: Sarah Lazare

This week’s closed-door Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in Maui, which President Barack Obama hoped would be the last round, ended Friday in failure to reach a final agreement, thereby pushing a U.S. ratification fight into the tumultuous 2016 presidential election cycle at the earliest—and raising hopes that the corporate-friendly accord could be derailed for good.

Global justice campaigners, who will now have more time to organize against the pact, were buoyed by the development, with Sujata Dey of Council of Canadians declaring on Saturday: “This stall in talks could mean the death of the deal, and a win for the public interest all over the world.”

The TPP ministers claimed in a joint statement released Friday that they have “made significant progress and will continue work on resolving a limited number of remaining issues.”

But analysts say that the ministers’ failure to close a deal strikes a significant blow against Obama’s agenda. Under the timeline set in the controversial Fast Track legislation passedin the U.S. last month, a minimum of roughly four-and-a-half months is required between the conclusion of negotiations and a yes-or-no vote in Congress, according to thecalculations (pdf) of watchdog group Public Citizen.

“This stall in talks could mean the death of the deal, and a win for the public interest all over the world.”
—Sujata Dey, Council of Canadians

“It’s good news for people and the planet that no deal was done at this final do-or-die meeting given the TPP’s threats to jobs, wages, safe food, affordable medicines and more,” said  Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, in a press statement. “Only the beleaguered negotiators and most of the 600 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests wanted this deal, which recent polling shows is unpopular in most of the countries involved.”

Friends of the Earth said on Saturday that U.S. negotiators “are trying to divert attention from this failure by claiming that an agreement concluded in Maui on the TPP environment chapter is a major success. This is incorrect.”

“Environmental chapters in recent U.S. free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Korea, and Panama are narrow in scope dealing mainly with conservation issues,” the environmental organization continued. “Not a single one of these agreements has resulted in a U.S. suit to enforce obligations to curb trade in illegally-harvested timber or illegal trade in endangered species. Now, it appears that the TPP environment chapter may be even weaker than its predecessors, and that many of its provisions will be merely aspirational and not legally binding.”

Under negotiation since at least 2008, the TPP includes the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These nations together represent 40 percent of the world’s GDP, making it poised to be the largest such deal in history.

The accord has been negotiated in near-complete secrecy, and the vast majority of what is known about its contents has been revealed through leaks. Global social movements and civil societies have raised alarm about provisions that they say dramatically expand corporate power at the expense of people and the planet.

“Only the beleaguered negotiators and most of the 600 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests wanted this deal, which recent polling shows is unpopular in most of the countries involved.”
—Lori Wallach, Public Citizen
One such measure was revealed this week when WikiLeaks published a secret letter from a TPP ministerial meeting in December 2013, which shows that the United States is pressing for the privatization of “state-owned enterprises” (SOEs).

“Even an SOE that exists to fulfill a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act ‘on the basis of commercial considerations’ and would be prohibited from discriminating in favor of local businesses in purchases and sales,” explained WikiLeaks on Wednesday. “Developing countries such as Vietnam, which employs a large number of SOEs as part of its economic infrastructure, would be affected most. SOEs continue to fulfill vital public functions in even the most privatized countries, such as Canada and Australia.”

The TPP is known to include numerous other controversial provisions, including secret corporate tribunals that allow multinationals to sue governments for loss of “expected future profits” and measures that would hike drug costs while decreasing access.

Hundreds gathered this week in Maui, where the negotiations were taking place, to protest the TPP’s “corporate assault on people and planet.”

“Behind me stands my ancestors and my ‘ohana (family),” declared protester Lorilani Keohokalole-Torio on Wednesday. “We are not aligned with people coming in and restructuring how we live. It hurts my na‘au, my gut. We are fed up, we are educated, we are empowered, and we are aligned to help this place, mother earth, regain the strength that she wants back.”

Source: As ‘Do-Or-Die’ Talks End In Failure, Could TPP Be Derailed for Good? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

 

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Outrage Spreads After Palestinian Infant Killed in Arson Attack in Occupied West Bank

Killing of 18-month-old boy and injuries to his family called ‘consequence of a culture of hate funded and incentivized by the Israeli government’ and tolerated by international community

by: Jon Queally

Outrage is rippling across the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and beyond on Friday as news spreads that an 18-month-old infant was killed and his family members severely injured after Israeli settlers allegedly firebombed their home overnight.

The infant, identified in various media outlets as Ali Saad Dawabsha, reportedly died at the scene of the fire while his family members—mother, Reham, father, Saad, and four-year-old brother, Ahmad—were airlifted to an Israeli hospital with serious injuries. The Palestinian family’s home was apparently one of two houses targeted in the village of Duma by still unknown assailants who scribbled the Hebrew word for ‘revenge’ beneath a Star of David on an outside wall.

Ibrahim Dawabsheh, a Duma resident, told Reuters he heard people shouting for help from the house and rushed to it. “I saw two masked men outside,” he said, but after going to get help and returning they had gone.

“We cannot separate the barbaric attack that took place in Duma last night from the recent settlement approvals by the Israeli government, a government which represents an Israeli national coalition for settlements and apartheid.” —Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Authority

“We found the parents outside with burns, they said there was another son in the house. We brought him out and then they said there was another boy inside, but we couldn’t reach the bedroom because of the fire. He was left inside until rescue forces came,” Dawabsheh said.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu characterized the violence as a “terrorist attack” and said “all means” would be used to bring the perpetrators to justice, rights groups joined many Palestinians in dismissing such statements as little more than rhetoric, especially amid ongoing settlement expansion sanctioned by his government and the increased displacement of those living under the occupation.

Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian Authority is holding the Israeli government “fully responsible” for the violence—thought to be a possible example of what are known as “price tag” attacks, usually carried out as a form of retribution by illegal settlers in response to curbs on settlement expansion.

“We cannot separate the barbaric attack that took place in Duma last night from the recent settlement approvals by the Israeli government, a government which represents an Israeli national coalition for settlements and apartheid,” said Erekat.

The killing of the young boy and the injuries to his family, Erekat continued, “is the consequence of a culture of hate funded and incentivized by the Israeli government and the impunity granted by the international community.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas later said he would appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into the arson attack and called on the United States and other governments to condemn the Israeli government for its ongoing policies in the West Bank.

“We are immediately preparing the file that will be submitted to the ICC,” Abbas told reporters as he also denounced the “war crimes and crimes against humanity committed each day by Israelis against the Palestinian people.”

Taking a more hardline stance, Hamas responded by declaring that what happened in Duma makes all “Israeli soldiers and settlers legitimate targets for resistance.” A spokesperson, Hussam Badran, called for popular action and said Israeli crimes can only be stopped by “comprehensive resistance in all its forms.”

Additionally, the Ma’an news agency reports that Popular Resistance Committees are now calling for a “revolution of anger” across cities, villages and streets in Palestine; while the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has called on Palestinians to “escalate resistance” against Israel and urged the Palestinian leadership to declare a state of emergency.

According to Haaretz, Israeli security officials expressed concern that the killing of Dawabsha “could spark unrest in the West Bank, and fear of rioting and disorder at Temple Mount in Jerusalem prompted restrictions on Muslim worshiper, with only those over 50 being permitted to enter the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque. Firebombs and stones were reportedly thrown in Jerusalem’s Old City, wounding one officer lightly in the early afternoon and massive police forces were being stationed in the area.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli rights group B’Tselem said in a statement that it was “only a matter of time” until tragedies like this one took place, given the behavior of settlers in the Occupied Territories and the continued tolerance and support they receive from the Israel government. Impunity for hate crimes, the group said, only “encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning’s horrific result.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there have been 120 incidents of “settler-related violence” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem so far in 2015, including 78 assaults against property and 42 attacks that resulted in injuries.

As B’Tselem points out, a vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Israeli Police did not even bother take elementary investigative actions.

The group called condemnations of the attack from Netanyahu or other Israeli officials “empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts.”

Source: Outrage Spreads After Palestinian Infant Killed in Arson Attack in Occupied West Bank | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Faced with Defunding Threat from Senate, Planned Parenthood Fights Back

As more covertly filmed videos are released and Congress considers defunding group, Planned Parenthood rallies supporters

by: Nadia Prupis

As Planned Parenthood grapples with a series of attacks against it by anti-choice forces, the political stakes are intensifying as the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate readies to vote on a measure that would strip all federal funding from the non-profit women’s health organization.

Three covertly-filmed videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donations have prompted some in Congress to renew the debate over the government’s financial support of the organization. Senate Republicans are gearing up to vote on a bill that would cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood, which already receives limited subsidies from the government and is prohibited from spending taxpayer money on abortions.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and introduced on Tuesday, states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no federal funds may be made available to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, or any of its affiliates.”

One GOP senator who was familiar with the bill said that under the new legislation, funds would be redirected to “other groups that deal with women’s health,” CNN reports.

It is unclear whether the bill would pick up enough Democratic support to surpass the necessary 60 votes. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) both criticized the bill, according to CNN.

“Look, the bottom line is, Planned Parenthood does a great job protecting women’s health,” Schumer said. “And I think, if you look at the polling data, the American people are overwhelmingly in favor of allowing Planned Parenthood to continue funding women’s health.”

The House of Representatives appears unlikely to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood before the August recess despite mounting pressure on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). And President Barack Obama would almost certainly veto any such bill, although more details on the legislation are expected to emerge this week. 

Planned Parenthood also confirmed this week that it was hit by anti-choice hackers who gained access to the healthcare nonprofit’s employee database. The organization called on the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate the attack.

“Extremists have broken laws, harassed our doctors and patients, produced hack videos and now are claiming to have committed a gross invasion of privacy—one that, if true, could potentially put our staff members at risk,” Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens said on Tuesday.

As for the battle it now faces in Congress, Planned Parenthood is rallying supporters to call on lawmakers not to be “fooled by [the] latest smear job” against the organization.

“Once again, a group of anti-abortion activists has attacked Planned Parenthood doctors, nurses, and patients with false accusations. And once again, its political allies are seizing on these accusations as an excuse to push the same dangerous agenda—ban abortion, shut down health centers and cut women off from care,” Planned Parenthood stated in a petitionto Congress circulating this week.

The petition continues:

We’ve seen all this before. First, small groups of extremists launch fraudulent claims to shut down health centers that serve millions. Then, out-of-touch politicians seize on those lies to push abortion bans, defund Planned Parenthood, and deny women access to care.

We’ve seen it before—and we’ve fought it, and we’ve won. And we won’t stop fighting this time, no matter what.

Source: Faced with Defunding Threat from Senate, Planned Parenthood Fights Back

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