*Wanted* Dead or Alive: $100,000 for Full Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership

WikiLeaks issues bounty for secret treaty which has been negotiated by corporate executives and government officials while the global public remains in the dark

by: Jon Queally

“The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.” (Image: CD / CC BY 3.0)

There is now a bounty on the head of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the “monster” international treaty negotiated behind closed doors by government officials and corporate executives but kept secret from the global public.

The media outlet Wikileaks on Tuesday announced a campaign to raise a $100,000 cash reward for the complete text of the agreement in order to end the mystery surrounding the actual contents of the deal that involves the U.S. and eleven Pacific Rim nations.”The transparency clock has run out on the TPP,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. “No more secrecy. No more excuses. Let’s open the TPP once and for all.

“Despite unprecedented efforts by negotiating governments to keep it under wraps, WikiLeaks has been able to obtain and publish three leaked chapters of this super-secret global deal over the last two years. However, there are believed to be 26 other chapters of the deal to which only appointed negotiators, trade officials, and chosen representatives from big corporations have been given access.”Today, WikiLeaks is taking steps to bring about the public’s rightful access to the missing chapters of this monster trade pact,” the group said in a statement. “The TPP is the largest agreement of its kind in history: a multi-trillion dollar international treaty being negotiated in secret by the US, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia and 7 other countries. The treaty aims to create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country’s legislative sovereignty.

“And with the U.S. House of Representatives returning  to Washington, D.C. this week to pick up a bill that would give trade promotion authority, or Fast Track, to President Obama the call for someone to leak a complete version of the latest draft has new urgency.

Though lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have been able to review the text themselves, they are forbidden from revealing or discussing its contents. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of the staunchest opponents of TPP and Fast Track in Congress, has said: “[They] can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.

“Wikileaks says the TPP is particularly noteworthy and troubling because it may act as “the icebreaker agreement” for a series of deals – what it calls the “T-treaty triad” of TPP-TISA-TTIP – that taken together would extend corporate-friendly regulations and trade rules to 53 nations, 1.6 billion people and a full two-thirds of the global economy.

As part of its campaign to raise the necessary funds for the bounty, Wikileaks produced this video to highlight the global dangers of the TPP and the other corporate-backed treaties now under secret negotiation:And there’s no time to lose. As Dave Johnson, a fellow and campaigner at the Campaign for America’s Future, warned in a blog post on Monday, it’s “all hands on deck” for those trying to stop passage of Fast Track, TPP, and the other deals in the global pipeline:Passing fast track will mean that the TPP is most likely a done deal when it comes before Congress, even though it is still secret from the public at the time they vote to fast-track it. It also means that an upcoming “trade” deal with Europe will likely go through, whenever that happens. And on top of those, it means that future “trade” deals that we don’t even know of yet will likely be approved – even if they are set up to gut our own banking regulations.The problem here is that these deals are put together using a rigged negotiating process. Our trade negotiators tend to come out of giant, multinational corporations – particularly from Wall Street – and tend to return to them. The 600 “advisors” on the TPP are dominated by corporate representatives. Not only does this set up a corporate-favoring (therefore labor-/environmentalist-hating) mindset within the agency, it also creates an understanding that participants should “play ball” and not make waves against corporate interests if they want to obtain a lucrative corporate position after leaving government. The inevitable result is agreements that rig the game in favor of the interests of the giant, multinational corporations and their investors over the interests of the rest of us – and our government.And then Congress “greases the skids” with the rigged fast track process to get these deals passed outside of the opportunity for the public to

Source: *Wanted* Dead or Alive: $100,000 for Full Text of Trans-Pacific Partnership | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Corporate Media Accused of Parroting Fear-Mongering over Patriot Act

Privacy advocates say outlets like New York Times spread ‘government propaganda’ by publishing uncritical White House quotes

by: Nadia Prupis

The New York Times published quotes from White House officials warning against the Patriot Act sunset on Thursday. (Photo: Torrenegra/flickr/cc)With key provisions of the USA Patriot Act nearing a long-awaited expiration date, there remains one last adversary to take down in the fight for privacy rights: the corporate media.The most recent case is the New York Times, which on Thursday quoted several anonymous White House officials who warned that allowing the Patriot Act to sunset is akin to “playing national security Russian roulette” and leaves intelligence agencies in “uncharted waters…fraught with unnecessary risk.”If Congress fails to strike a deal to renew the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215 by its June 1 deadline, the officials warned that the result would “suspend crucial domestic surveillance authority at a time of mounting terrorism threats.”But as other national security experts note, the Patriot Act is far from a safeguard against terrorism. In an op-ed published last Sunday, ACLU legal deputy director Jameel Jaffer criticized the media’s choice of publishing such quotes wholesale without challenging their veracity. The “claim that the expiration of Section 215 would deprive the government of necessary investigative tools or compromise national security,” wrote Jaffer, “is entirely without support.”Jaffer continued:In a last-ditch effort to scare lawmakers into preserving unpopular and much-abused surveillance authorities, the Senate Republican leadership and some intelligence officials are warning that allowing Section 215 of the Patriot Act to sunset would compromise national security.The sunset of Section 215 would undoubtedly be a significant political loss for the intelligence community, and it would be a sensible first step towards broader reform of the surveillance laws, but there’s no support for the argument that the sunset of Section 215 would compromise national security.Several analyses, including one by the Department of Justice released just last week, have shown the surveillance allowed by Section 215 to be ineffective.

As journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept on Thursday, the Times’ reporting exemplifies “the principal weapons that have poisoned post-9/11 political discourse in the U.S.”Greenwald, who helped expose the NSA’s mass surveillance programs with the publication of whistleblower Edward Snowden’s cache of classified intelligence documents in 2013, said the media’s acceptance of White House statements is “government propaganda masquerading as a news article.””In other words,” Greenwald wrote, “it’s a perfect museum exhibit for how government officials in both parties and American media outlets have collaborated for 15 years to enact one radical measure after the next and destroy any chance for rational discourse about it.”Not all media outlets have parroted the administration’s line. The Seattle Times editorial board on Wednesday said it was “time to say goodbye and good riddance to government collection of Americans’ electronic communications data.”The Seattle Times continued:Congress should let the deadline for renewing Section 215 pass so lawmakers can continue discussing, under less pressure, how to proceed and balance the demands of national security with the protection of privacy and civil liberties.But don’t let Section 215 completely fade away. Its misuse should continue to remind Americans of the importance of standing firm on principles even in uncertain times.

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Source: Corporate Media Accused of Parroting Fear-Mongering over Patriot Act | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Threat of ‘Inevitable’ War Looms Between US and China Over Pacific Island Row

Chinese military white paper accuses US of ‘meddling’ in South China Sea

by: Lauren McCauley

Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef. (Photo: the Telegraph)

Tensions between China and United States continue to rise over the South China Sea as a Chinese government newspaper warns that war may be ‘inevitable’ if the U.S. and its allies do not back off from the heavily disputed territory.Last week, the Chinese government condemned the actions of the U.S. military after the P8-A Poseidon, the US’ most advanced surveillance aircraft, was caught spying on Chinese naval activities in the Fiery Cross Reef.The Chinese government has been accused of provoking its neighbors by actively building “artificial islands” in the Spratly archipelago, which is both a vital shipping corridor and an oil and gas rich territory, west of the Philippines. While China has claimed the right to most of the South China Sea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have competing interests in the highly-contested waters.An editorial published Sunday in China’s Global Times—which the Telegraph describes as “a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party through another newspaper”—warns that U.S. actions have been “raising the risk of physical confrontation with China recently,” and that the two countries may soon reach a “tipping point” if they are unable to compromise on their strategic purposes.The Global Times says that it is “essential that both sides should show their bottom lines to each other, and see if one can respect the other on these. For China, one bottom line is that the reclamation of these islands must be finished no matter what.””If the United States’ bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea,” the editorial concludes.On Tuesday, the Beijing government issued a white paper outlining its military strategy, in which it says that the U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific region “has caused grave concerns.””Some external countries are also busy meddling in South China Sea affairs,” the paper continues, adding that “a tiny few maintain constant close-in air and sea surveillance and reconnaissance against China.”Further, the Telegraph reports:China’s forces will no longer be limited to defence of the nation’s territory but will project its military power further beyond its borders at sea and more assertively in the air in order to safeguard its maritime possessions, the white paper states. While the air force will shift focus from “territorial air defence” to both offence and defence, the Chinese army will increase its global mobility and its artillery will improve its “medium and long-range precision strikes”, it said.Meanwhile, also on Tuesday it was reported that Japan, for the first time, will be joining the U.S. and Australia in joint military exercises around Australia this summer, which security experts say is being done to counter threats that China will impose air and sea restrictions in the Spratly island chain.

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Source: Threat of ‘Inevitable’ War Looms Between US and China Over Pacific Island Row | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community