27 June 2013


If you thought that the US legislation, known as PIPA and SOPA, were the end of democracy as we know it, wait till you start hearing more about TPP - the epitome of evil and anti-democracy. This is approaching US world dictatorship and is becoming very dangerous.

See also: Corporate Greed Part 3 and

27 NOVEMBER 2012

Subject: Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2012 01:55:29 +1100
From: kenjos
To: adam.bandt.mp@aph.gov.au
To: Adam Bandt MP, Australian Greens,
Member for Melbourne.
Copies to: Senator Penny Wong, Craig Emerson, Tanya Plibersek
From: Kendall Lovett, PO Box 1675, Preston South, Vic. 3072.
Email: kenjos at josken_net
Dear Adam,

No doubt you are aware of this proposed partnership which scares me as it must scare others like me when they learn that it proposes to give multinational drug companies power to demolish Australia's Phamaceutical Scheme (PBS) and deprive all Australians of cheaper generic alternatives to branded drugs. It would be bad enough for us but goodness knows what the poorer countries like Africa and India will do if they and other multinational industries including those in oil and power get their way.

I noticed that Australia is yet to agree to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal so I urge you to read this article and maybe help the Government to decide to join the community push against this anti-democratic agreement for the sake of all of us who depend on the PBS. Sincerely, Ken Lovett.

Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Corporate Coup.

by Andrew Gavin Marshall. (Article appeared mid-November 2012 in USA.)

Luckily for the populations and societies that will be affected by the agreement, there are public research organizations and alternative media outlets campaigning against it – and they’ve even released several leaks of draft agreement chapters. From these leaks, which are not covered by mainstream corporate-controlled news outlets, we are able to get a better understanding of what the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually encompasses.

For example, public interest groups have been warning that the TPP could result in millions of lost jobs. As a letter from Congress to United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk stated, the TPP “will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”

In other words, as promised, the TPP goes far beyond “trade.”

Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations.

The leaked documents revealed that the Obama administration “intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations,” as Obama and Kirk have emerged as strong advocates “for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.”

In other words, the already ineffective and mostly toothless environmental, financial, and labor regulations that exist are unacceptable to the Obama administration and the 600 corporations aligned with the TPP who are giving him his orders.

The agreement stipulates that foreign corporations operating in the United States would no longer be subject to domestic U.S. laws regarding protections for the environment, finance or labor rights, and could appeal to an “international tribunal” which would be given the power to overrule American law and impose sanctions on the U.S. for violating the new “rights” of corporations.

The “international tribunal” that would dictate the laws of the countries would be staffed by corporate lawyers acting as “judges,” thus ensuring that cases taken before them have a “fair and balanced” hearing – fairly balanced in favor of corporate rights above anything else.

A public interest coalition known as Citizens Trade Campaign published a draft of the TPP chapter on “investment” revealing information about the “international tribunal” which would allow corporations to directly sue governments that have barriers to “potential profits.”

Arthur Stamoulis, the executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, explained that the draft texts “clearly contain proposals designed to give transnational corporations special rights that go far beyond those possessed by domestic businesses and American citizens... A proposal that could have such broad effects on environmental, consumer safety and other public interest regulations deserves public scrutiny and debate. It shouldn’t be crafted behind closed doors.”

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a public interest organization, undertook an analysis of the leaked document on investment and explained that the international corporate tribunal would allow corporations to overturn national laws and regulations or demand enormous sums in compensation, with the tribunal “empowered to order payment of unlimited government Treasury funds to foreign investors over TPP claims.”

Even under NAFTA, over $350 million has been paid by NAFTA-aligned governments to corporations for “barriers” to investment “rights,” including toxic waste dumps, logging rules, as well as bans on various toxic chemicals.

Because let’s be clear: for corporations, such regulations and concerns over health, safety and environmental issues are perceived solely as “barriers” to investment and profit. Thus their “government” would sue the foreign government on behalf of the corporation, on the premise that such regulations led to potential lost profits, for which the corporation should be compensated.

The TPP allows the corporations to directly sue the government in question. All of the TPP member countries, except for Australia, have agreed to adhere to the jurisdiction of this international tribunal, an unelected, anti-democratic and corporate-staffed kangaroo-court with legal authority over at least ten nations and their populations.

Further, TPP countries have not agreed on a set of obligations for corporations to meet in relation to health, labor or environmental standards, and thus a door is opened for corporations to obtain even more rights and privileges to plunder and exploit. Where corporate rights are extended, human and democratic rights are dismantled.

One of the most important areas in which the TPP has a profound effect is in relation to intellectual property rights, or copyright and patent laws. Corporations have been strong advocates of expanding intellectual property rights, namely, their intellectual property rights.

Pharmaceutical corporations are major proponents of these rights and are likely to be among the major beneficiaries of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP. The pharmaceutical industry ensured that strong patent rules were included in the 1995 World Trade Organization agreement, but ultimately felt that those rules did not go far enough.

Dean Baker, writing in the Guardian, explained that stronger patent rules establish “a government-granted monopoly, often as long as 14 years, that prohibits generic competitors from entering a market based on another company’s test results that show a drug to be safe and effective.” Baker noted that such laws are actually “the opposite of free trade” since they “involve increased government intervention in the market” and “restrict competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.”

Essentially, what this means is that in poor countries where more people need access to life-saving drugs, and at cheaper cost, it would be impossible for companies or governments to manufacture and sell cheaper generic brands of successful drugs held by multinational corporate patents. Such an agreement would hand over a monopoly of price-controls to these corporations, allowing them to set the prices as they deem fit, thus making the drugs incredibly expensive and often inaccessible to the people who need them most.

As U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman correctly noted, “In many parts of the world, access to generic drugs means the difference between life and death.”

The TPP is expected to increase such corporate patent rights more than any other agreement in history. Generic drug manufacturers in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia would suffer. So would sales of larger generics manufacturers in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, which supply low-cost drugs to much of the world.

While the United States has given up the right to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations (hence the exorbitant price for drugs purchased in the U.S.), countries like New Zealand and even Canada to a lesser extent negotiate drug prices in order to keep the costs down for consumers. The TPP will grant new negotiating privileges to corporations, allowing them to appeal decisions by governments to challenge the high cost of drugs or to go with cheap alternatives. Referring to these changes, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders’ Access to Medicines Campaign stated, “Bush was better than Obama on this.”

But that’s not all the TPP threatens: Internet freedom is also a major target.

The Council of Canadians and OpenMedia, major campaigners for Internet freedom, have warned that the TPP would “criminalize some everyday uses of the Internet,” including music downloads as well as the combining of different media works. OpenMedia warned that the TPP would “force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards, and give media conglomerates more power to send you fines in the mail, remove online content – including entire websites – and even terminate your access to the Internet.”

Also advanced under the TPP chapter on intellectual property rights, new laws would have to be put in place by governments to regulate Internet usage. OpenMedia further warned that, from the leaked documents on intellectual property rights, “there can be heavy fines for average citizens online,” adding: “you could be fined for clicking on a link, people could be knocked off the Internet and web sites could be locked off.”

The TPP, warned OpenMedia founder Steve Anderson, “will limit innovation and free expression.” Under the TPP, there is no distinction between commercial and non-commercial copyright infringement. Thus, users who download music for personal use would face the same penalties as those who sell pirated music for profit.

Information that is created or shared on social networking sites could have Internet users fined, have their computers seized, their Internet usage terminated, or even get them a jail sentence. The TPP imposes a “three strikes” system for copyright infringement, where three violations would result in the termination of a household’s Internet access.

So, why all the secrecy? Corporate and political decision-makers study public opinion very closely; they know how to manipulate the public based upon what the majority think and believe. When it comes to “free trade” agreements, public opinion has forced negotiators into the darkness of back-room deals and unaccountable secrecy precisely because populations are so overwhelmingly against such agreements.

An opinion poll from 2011 revealed that the American public has – just over the previous few years – moved from “broad opposition” to “overwhelming opposition” toward NAFTA-style trade deals.

A major NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll from September of 2010 revealed that “the impact of trade and outsourcing is one of the only issues on which Americans of different classes, occupations and political persuasions agree,” with 86% saying that outsourcing jobs by U.S. companies to poor countries was “a top cause of our economic woes,” with 69% thinking that “free trade agreements between the United States and other countries cost the U.S. jobs.” Only 17% of Americans in 2010 felt that “free trade agreements” benefit the U.S., compared to 28% in 2007.

Because public opinion is strongly – and increasingly – against “free trade agreements,” secrecy is required in order to prevent the public from even knowing about, let alone actively opposing, agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And this, as U.S. Trade Representative Kirk explained, is a very “practical” reason for all the secrecy.

Part III of Marshall's investigative series on the Trans-Pacific Partnership will appear Monday 26 NOVEMBER 2012.

This article was published at NationofChange at:


All rights are reserved.

19 JUNE 2013

From Nation of Change 19 JUNE 2013

Green Shadow Cabinet Joins Critical Struggle to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Green Shadow Cabinet stands united in opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is committed to defeating this Obama administration effort to enrich and empower global corporations at the expense of people and planet.

For three years, the Obama administration has engaged in 16 rounds of secret negotiations to develop the TPP. Those negotiations have included hundreds of representatives of global corporations. The TPP negotiations have excluded representatives of the vast majority of the American people. It is a fact that the TPP is global economic policy for the 1%, at the expense of the 99%.

Today, all five branches and 81 members of the Green Shadow Cabinet begin to act in concert to not only defeat the TPP, but to show America that another government with another global economic agenda is possible. There is an alternative to the corrupt political establishment that produces economic terrors like the TPP. Our Cabinet is proof of that alternative. Daily this week, the Green Shadow Cabinet will release over a dozen statements in opposition to the TPP; these statements describe the threats posed by the TPP, and offer better alternatives. This month, our Cabinet members will begin participating in the broader movement against the TPP through actions and events across the United States and urge all Americans to join this effort. We are bringing our networks and communities into this critical struggle.


If you oppose the industrial farming practices of Monsanto, Cargill and other giant food and agribusiness corporations, with their intense use of toxic herbicides and other harmful chemicals, production of untested genetically modified food, efforts to control the seed supply and patent life, their pollution of the water, air, soil and food supply, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you oppose the actions of the big banks and financial institutions that led to the world economic crash, exploding wealth inequality, risky investments that endanger the economic future, and their ability to dominate national economies, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you are committed to protecting the rights of working people to a living wage, the right to organize, and to safe working conditions, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you favor a free and open Internet where free speech is protected and creativity and communication flourish, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you understand that healthcare is a human right and that the inflated prices of pharmaceutical drugs should not be protected by law, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you want to see the air, waters and lands protected from toxic chemicals and pollution, and know that the ecological crisis of species extinction and environmental breakdown must be reversed, then you must oppose the TPP.

If you would live in a world where local, state, and national governments are allowed to take urgent action to deal with the global climate crisis, and to implement a Green New Deal, then you must oppose the TPP.

We look forward to working with you in the coming months to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to prevent its sister trade agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, from following the same path. The first step is to stop enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, also known as “Fast Track,” that would prevent Congress from holding hearings on the TPP or amending the TPP. There must be no end-run around the Constitution, or the right of the American people to petition the government for redress.


We know that another world is possible. We are building that world every day through local governments, cooperatives, community organizations, and publicly owned financial institutions.

Those who defend corporate capitalism also understand that another world is possible, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is their attempt to foreclose our new world. The TPP gives major corporations legal personhood to sue in transnational courts dominated by judges who themselves are lawyers for major corporations. Under the TPP, corporations would be able to claim that environmental, labor, financial, health and other laws cost them profits, and to extract damages from our governments - and from us as taxpayers - if they enforce those laws.

The current administration in Washington D.C. is committed to passing the TPP and to defeating America’s grassroots movement for economic democracy. The Green Shadow Cabinet is committed to defeating the TPP, and to strengthening the U.S. democracy movement. We and our allies are the many, they are the few. Let us defend our communities and our future and stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Statement of the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States of America:

• Jill Stein, President
• Cheri Honkala, Vice President
• Patch Adams, Assistant Secretary of Health for Holistic Health
• Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Government Transparency and Accountability, Director
• Kali Akuno, Secretary of Racial Justice
• Kris Alman, Assistant Secretary of Health for Data Privacy
• Gar Alperovitz, New Economy Advisor to the President
• Marc Armstrong, Secretary of Commerce
• Ajamu Baraka, Public Intervenor for Human Rights
• Bill Barry, Workers Rights Administration, Administrator
• Roshan Bliss, Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education
• Leah Bolger, Secretary of Defense
• Steve Breyman, Environmental Protection Agency, Administrator
• Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Aid to Families and Youth, Director
• Ellen Brown, Secretary of the Treasury
• Richard Bruno, Assistant Secretary of Health for Medical Education and Training
• Shahid Buttar, Civil Rights Enforcement, Director
• Lee Camp, Commissioner for the Comedic Arts
• Olveen Carrasquillo, Assistant Secretary of Health for Health Equity
• Claudia Chaufan, Assistant Secretary of Health for System Design
• Steven Chrismer, Secretary of Transportation
• David Cobb, Commission on Corporations and Democracy, Chair
• Khalilah Collins, Public Intervenor for Social Justice
• Christopher Cox, Political Ecology Advisor to the President
• Michael Crenshaw, People's Culture Bureau, Work Progress Administration
• Maureen Cruise, Assistant Secretary of Health for Community Wellbeing
• Ronnie Cummins, Administrator, Food and Drug Administration
• Tim DeChristopher, Emergency Climate Action Coordinator
• King Downing, President's Commission on Corrections Reform, Chair
• Mark Dunlea, White House Office of Climate and Agriculture, Director
• Steve Early, Workers Power Administration, Administrator
• Robert Fitrakis, Federal Elections Commission, Chair
• Margaret Flowers, Secretary of Health
• George Friday, Commission on Community Power, Chair
• Bruce Gagnon, Secretary of Space
• Jack Gerson, Assistant Secretary of Education for K-12
• Jim Goodman, Secretary of Agriculture
• Philip Harvey, Full Employment Council, Chair
• Howie Hawkins, Full Employment Council, Vice Chair
• Kimberly King, Secretary of Education
• Charles Komanoff, Assistant Secretary for Sustainable Urban Transportation
• Bruce Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health for Clinical Mental Health
• Vance "Head-Roc" Levy, Poet Laureate
• Ethel Long-Scott, Commission on Women's Power, Co-Chair
• Sarah Manski, Small Business Administration, Administrator
• Ben Manski, White House Chief of Staff
• George Paz Martin, Peace Ambassador
• Gloria Mattera, Assistant Secretary of Health for Public Health Education
• Richard McIntyre, U.S. Trade Representative
• David McReynolds, Peace Advisor to the President
• Gloria Meneses Sandoval, Secretary of Immigration
• Richard Monje, Secretary of Labor
• Suren Moodliar, Global Democracy Programs, Director
• Jim Moran, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Administrator
• Carol Paris, Assistant Secretary of Health for Mental Health Systems
• Sandy Perry, Secretary of Housing
• Todd Price, Assistant Secretary of Education for Education Technology
• Jesselyn Radack, National Security and Human Rights Advisor to the President
• Jack Rasmus, Federal Reserve System, Chairman
• Michael Ratner, Division of Civil, Social & Economic Rights, Director
• Ray Rogers, International Labor Rights, Advisor
• Anna Rondon, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs
• Lewis Rosenbaum, Public Media Administration, Administrator
• Daniel Shea, Veteran's Affairs: Chemical Exposure
• Diljeet Singh, Assistant Secretary of Health for Women's Health and Cancer
• Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Bureau of Water Preservation, Director
• Robert Stone, Assistant Secretary of Health for Emergency and Palliative Care
• David Swanson, Secretary of Peace
• Sean Sweeney, Climate Change Advisor to the President
• Clifford Thornton, Drug Policy Agency, Administrator
• Brian Tokar, Director of the Office of Technology Assessment
• Bruce Trigg, Assistant Secretary of Health for Drug Policy
• Walter Tsou, Surgeon General
• Kabzuag Vaj, Commission on Women's Power, Co-Chair
• Harvey Wasserman, Secretary of Energy
• Rich Whitney, Office of Management and Budget, Director
• Richard D. Wolff, Council of Economic Advisors, Chair
• Ann Wright, Secretary of State
• Bruce Wright, Commission on Ending Homelessness, Chair
• Stephen Zarlenga, Monetary Authority Board, Chair
• Kevin Zeese, Attorney General

For more information please visit Greenshadowcabinet.us

21 JUNE 2013

From Nation of Change 21 JUNE 2013

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an Assault on Democracy That Will Undermine the Economy

There is a battle building between the people of the planet and transnational corporations. The battleground is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is a battle the people can win if we act in solidarity.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a global corporate coup that makes corporations more powerful than governments and undermines our national sovereignty. While the public and media are not allowed to see the text, and members of Congress only receive limited, heavily restricted access, 600 corporations have been advising the president and suggesting amendments as they have full access to the documents. This includes some of America’s worst corporate citizens:

Monsanto, Walmart, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Phiser and big Pharma, Cargill, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron among them.

The Green Shadow Cabinet is putting forward a critical, in-depth analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (see links below). Top people in their fields – movement leaders, academics, researchers and activists – are writing about specific aspects of the TPP and how it affects virtually every aspect of American life. The Green Shadow Cabinet is about half way through its analysis with more statements coming over the rest of the week and into the next two weeks. This is the type of in-depth analysis we need from people informed on the topic so that the public becomes informed and joins the campaign to stop the TPP.

Some members of Congress are making their way through the bureaucratic process that allows them to see the text, but does not allow their staff to do so, nor does it allow elected officials to make copies, take notes with paper or computer; and they are not allowed to share it with their constituents. It took Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) six weeks of negotiation with the US Trade Representative to finally got to review the text on June 17th. He was only allowed to see an edited version of the text and was not allowed to bring any staff with him.

Grayson told the Huffington Post that the Obama administration classifies the documents to prevent discussion of the contents, “They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information.” While we appreciate Grayson for going as far as he has, Members of Congress need to break the silence and share the contents with the American people.

From what has been leaked, the TPP will give corporations control over every aspect of our lives and make them more powerful than governments. This non-transparent approach to something so far-reaching is an assault on US democracy. As Senator Elizabeth Warren said when questioning the new Trade Representative:

“I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant,” Warren explained. “In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

Grayson pointed out the irony and hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s approach: “What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it. It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it's alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away.”

The movement to stop the TPP calls on the administration to be transparent about this important treaty. The administration needs to:

1. Release the text that has been agreed on.
2. Release the proposals they are making in our names.

The other essential step is for the administration to allow real democracy, to let the checks and balances of the US Constitution to be allowed to work. They should state publicly their support for transparency, checks and balances and Constitutional government by not pursuing “Fast Track” which short-circuits the Constitution and prevents Congress from doing its job.

If you want to join the campaign to stop the TPP sign up at


Below are excerpts from the statements released so far by the Green Shadow Cabinet, to get the full statement click on the headline. Visit the website for more statements in coming days. The first statement was signed by the full cabinet and it is a call for solidarity for all those concerned with economic and social justice as well as protecting the planet from ecological collapse to join together to stop the TPP.

Green Shadow Cabinet joins critical struggle to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Green Shadow Cabinet

The Green Shadow Cabinet stands united in opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is committed to defeating this Obama administration effort to enrich and empower global corporations at the expense of people and planet.

For three years, the Obama administration has engaged in 16 rounds of secret negotiations to develop the TPP. Those negotiations have included hundreds of representatives of global corporations. The TPP negotiations have excluded representatives of the vast majority of the American people. It is a fact that the TPP is global economic policy for the 1%, at the expense of the 99%.

Today, all five branches and 81 members of the Green Shadow Cabinet begin to act in concert to not only defeat the TPP, but to show America that another government with another global economic agenda is possible. There is an alternative to the corrupt political establishment that produces economic terrors like the TPP. Our Cabinet is proof of that alternative.

TPP: Global nightmare for democracy, workers rights and the 99%?

Bv Ray Rogers, International Labor Rights Advisor to the President

U.S. trade pacts must clearly protect the right of workers to organize and form unions to protect their jobs, health and safety and communities in which transnational corporations operate. It is only strong worker protections that can prevent such tragic situations from occurring that we have seen in the Union Carbide factory explosion in Bhopal, India that killed thousands in 1984; the recent tragedies in Bangladesh — the building collapse in April and the fire that killed more than a thousand workers in November, and the untold numbers in the U.S. and worldwide who have been victims of cancer alleys created by the oil, chemical, energy and agribusiness industries.

TPP, Pivot to Asia, raise war risks in Asia Pacific region

By Foreign Affairs Branch

The desire of the Bush and the Obama administrations to pass the TPP is apparently an effort to create a coalition of nations to match China’s exploding economy and increased military and political influence in the region. On Nov 12, 2011, Obama spoke before the Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum and stated that, “… we’ve turned our attention back to the Asia Pacific region.” This is being accomplished through two vehicles: the TPP and the “Pivot to Asia,” meaning a redeployment of American priorities and military forces away from Europe and the Middle East to Asia. Also in the same month, this time speaking before the Australian Parliament, Obama said: “As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.” The United States now has 320,000 troops in the Pacific region, and the Pentagon has promised there will be no reductions as troops are drawn down in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership would increase poverty

By Rev. Bruce Wright, President's Commission on Ending Homelessness

The much touted, at least by multinational corporations and some governments, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, has grave consequences for the so-called poor of the world, including those in the United States. This agreement, clouded in secrecy, has been characterized as something akin to “NAFTA on steroids!” But, what exactly does it mean for the poor and working class of the United States?

With TPP, Obama has moved from transparency to secrecy, from human rights to corporate rights

By Richard McIntyre, U.S. Trade Representative

Suppose a Taiwanese company wanted to open a factory in California to make clothing. They propose importing workers who would accept a daily wage of $10, would not spend any money in the plant to meet U.S. occupational health and safety regulations, and would be rabid in opposing workers’ attempts to meet collectively to discuss their grievances or to bargain collectively with management.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Another assault on human rights that must be opposed

By Ajamu Baraka, Public Intervenor for Human Rights

The right to have the means to sustain one’s physical life is a foundational principle of human rights. The right to work and earn a livable wage in conditions commensurate with human dignity that allow for securing adequate food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services is the basis for material sustainability and a dignified life.

The Top Secret deal between 11 countries that will affect your life

By Lee Camp, Commissioner for the Comedic Arts

You know one of the most powerful weapons the government can use against us? It’s not missiles, or gas, or propaganda, or threatening to release all the nude TSA body-scanner images of you as Christmas cards. Nope. …It’s boredom. When evil stuff is boring, mind-blowingly BORING, people don’t give a crap about it. Boring evil is the worst! People care less than Vladimir Putin at an Amnesty International convention.

The TPP is bad for business

By Sarah Manski, Small Business Administration

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are foundations of strong communities. Yet as with previous international trade agreements, small businesses are not at the table negotiating the details of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Instead, the TPP is being drafted by the representatives of more than 600 major corporations. Unlike the owners of cooperatives and community businesses, the owners and managers of big capital are unconcerned about the economic impact of trade policies on local communities and the people who live in them.

Kevin Zeese is a participant in PopularResistance.org which will be announcing a campaign to stop the TPP in the very near future; and a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet where he serves as Attorney General.


Kevin Zeese is an attorney who has been a political activist since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He works on peace, economic justice, criminal law reform and reviving American democracy. His twitter is @KBZeese. Zeese has used his law degree to work to end the war on drugs, stop the use of the military and National Guard in drug enforcement and allow the medical use of marijuana. He has filed bar complaints against lawyers in the Bush and Obama administrations who used their legal degrees to justify torture, as well as against Justice Clarence Thomas for conflicts of interests. He has also filed complaints against attorneys at Hunton and Williams who worked with the Chamber of Commerce and HB Gary Federal to target him for his work criticizing the Chamber. Zeese serves on the steering committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network. Zeese filed a complaint with the Justice Department against Rupert Murdoch and News Corp for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as well as with DOJ against Karl Rove’s American Crossroads for violating the non-profit tax laws and the federal election laws.

24 JUNE 2013

From Nation of Change 24 JUNE 2013

Trans-Pacific Partnership and Monsanto

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included. As of 2011 its 11 countries accounted for 30 percent of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

Six hundred US corporate advisors have had input into the TPP. The draft text has not been made available to the public, press or policy makers. The level of secrecy around this agreement is unparalleled. The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark while representatives of US corporations are being consulted and privy to the details.

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

There appears not to be a specific agricultural chapter in the TPP. Instead, rules affecting food systems and food safety are woven throughout the text. This agreement is attempting to establish corporations’ rights to skirt domestic courts and laws and sue governments directly with taxpayers paying compensation and fines directly from the treasury.

Though TPP content remains hidden, here are some things we do know:

• Members of Congress are concerned that the TPP would open the door to imports without resolving questions around food safety or environmental impacts on its production.

• Procurement rules specifically forbid discrimination based on the quality of production. This means that public programs that favor the use of sustainably produced local foods in school lunch programs could be prohibited.

• The labeling of foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) will not be allowed. Japan currently has labeling laws for GMOs in food. Under the TPP Japan would no longer be able to label GMOs. This situation is the same for New Zealand and Australia. In the US we are just beginning to see some progress towards labeling GMOs. Under the TPP GMO labels for US food would not be allowed.

• In April 2013, Peru placed a 10-year moratorium on GMO foods and plants. This prohibits the import, production and use of GMOs in foods and GMO plants and is aimed at safeguarding Peru’s agricultural diversity. The hope is to prevent cross-pollination with non-GMO crops and to ban GMO crops like Bt corn. What will become of Peru’s moratorium if the TPP is passed?

• There is a growing resistance to Monsanto’s agricultural plans in Vietnam. Monsanto (the US corporation controlling an estimated 90% of the world seed genetics) has a dark history with Vietnam. Many believe that Monsanto has no right to do business in a country where Monsanto’s product Agent Orange is estimated to have killed 400,000 Vietnamese, deformed another 500,000 and stricken another 2 million with various diseases.

Legacies of other trade agreements that serve as a warning about the TPP have a history of displacing small farmers and destroying local food economies. Ten years following the passage of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) 1.5 million Mexican farmers became bankrupt because they could not compete with the highly subsidized US corn entering the Mexican market.

In the same 10 years Mexico went from a country virtually producing all of its own corn to a country that now imports at least half of this food staple. Mexican consumers are now paying higher prices for Monsanto’s GMO corn. With little or no competition for large corporations Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta now control 57 percent of the commercial food market.

While the TPP is in many ways like NAFTA and other existing trade agreements, it appears that the corporations have learned from previous experience. They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

If the TPP is adopted the door will be open wider for human rights and environmental abuse. Some of the things we should expect to see include:

• more large scale farming and more monocultures;
• destruction of local economies;
• no input into how our food is grown or what we will be eating;
• more deforestation;
• increased use of herbicides and pesticides;
• increased patenting of life forms;
• more GMO plants and foods; and
• no labeling of GMOs in food.

Together these are a step backwards for human rights and a giant step towards Monsanto’s control of our food. Please pass the word to others about the TPP as most Americans are unaware of this trade agreement or its ominous effects if passed.

25 JUNE 2013

From Nation of Change 25 JUNE 2013

TPP (Trans-Pacific Pact)--the 1% Solution to Democracy--Government by Corporate Dictates

TPP...the most dangerous trade contract you never heard of...

Chances are that you've never heard of the Trans-Pacific-Pact/Free Trade Agreement, aka the TPP-FTA, and that is exactly the way the Obama administration (and its corporate bosses)-- would like to keep things. The mainstream (read: corporate), media has utterly left the American public in the dark on this skunk of a deal which surrenders our national, state and local sovereignty to corporate interests. The TPP as it is known in secretive corporate circles represents the most anti-democracy assault devised by trade representatives from some 600 corporations, including Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

The secrecy factor...hiding TPP's anti-democracy powers behind 'national security'...

The TPP-FTA (Trans-Pacific-Pact Free Trade Agreement) is the latest brainchild of the 1%. Negotiations for each round have been so secretely guarded that paramilitary teams surrounded each locale with weaponized helicopters looming overhead.

A 'weapon of mass deception' specifically engineered to surrender our representative democracy to corporate rule; the TPP has been negotiated in secret since 2008 and is now nearing completion in its 17th round.

President Obama has allowed both of his US Trade Representative(s) (first Ron Kirk and now Mike Froman); to use the illegitimate veil of 'national security', and the accompanying overclassification of information, to shut out the public and Congress from 'negotiations.'

No amount of public relations salesmanship from Obama can sell this stinker of a trade deal--once the facts hit the light of day. Ironically, the facts only surfaced--because of a leak--another whistleblower.

Leaked official documents clearly show that parties involved agreed to keep all draft and contributing documents secret, until four years after the final ratification of the agreement ( or when negotiations collapse);-- EXCEPT for the final text. During the entire length of ongoing negotiations--now in it's 17th round, Congress was locked out of any meaningful discussion or investigation, while over 600 corporate chieftains and advisors have all but scripted the entire document down to the last punctuation mark.

Congress locked out....

Congress was not only 'locked out'--it was never invited to the party. (While it's true that the USTR 'permitted' limited viewing of the texts by members of Congress--none were allowed to have expert staffers in various negotiated areas of concern, present. Furthermore, recording devices were expressly forbidden.

The deal which would surrender national, state and local sovereignty to a secret tribunal of three corporate attorneys,--excluding all but corporate interests, was blessed with impunity on the profane altar of 'national security.' Leakers would be punished as 'enemies of the state'--with a real possibility of jail time--and that threat included members of congress. Congressional leaders questioning this 'corporate coup' though few--were refreshingly forthright. Senator Ron Wyden (D) Oregon led the charge, followed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Mass. and Congressman Alan Grayson (D) Fla.

Senator Ron Wyden denied access...blew the whistle on secrecy....

Senator Ron Wyden is the reigning Chair of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, the very committee assigned jurisdiction of treaties like the TPP went on record from the floor of Congress stating how ...

...."the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations--like Halliburton, Chevron, PhaRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America--are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement."

Senator Wyden further reiterated the duty of Congress to review, regulate and ratify international trade negotiations. Wyden also countered the specious claim made by the US Trade Representative that providing access to negotiation documents would...'endanger national security,' by instructing his staff to cooperate with security needs. To quote Senator Wyden; ..."As the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, my office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations. To do that, I asked that my staff obtain the proper security credentials to view the information that USTR keeps confidential and secret. This is material that fully describes what the USTR is seeking in the TPP talks on behalf of the American people and on behalf of Congress. More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing."

Senator Wyden further reminded the president the authority granted Congress on the regulation of international trade. ..."It may be the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) current job to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of the United States, but Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress – not the USTR or any other member of the Executive Branch – the responsibility of regulating foreign commerce. It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few."

And yet to date, only a few members of Congress have gained access to the very treaty they are constitutionally assigned to regulate. Consistent with Senator Wyden's criticism--the privileged few (namely corporate lobbyists) are granted unfettered input to the very treaty which would deliver a final death blow to our economy and surrender our democracy to the whims of corporate heads.

Why the secrecy?...

If the TPP-FTA is a legitimate deal--why this unprecedented level of secrecy? Why is the US Trade Representative refusing to answer congressional inquiries? Why are US Congressmen such as Darrell Issa and Alan Grayson or Senator Ron Wyden being locked out of negotiations? As usual with this president--the facts are buried in legal jargon and double-talk. Additionally, the now historic abuse of the national security 'classification system' has reached ludicrous levels which would make Karl Rove--blush like a schoolgirl in a whorehouse.

Congressman Grayson spoke to the secrecy and the most egregious elements in the TPP itself, in a telephone interview with this reporter.

..."They (USTR) set out to do it this way, knowing full well that if they shed any light on what they were doing there would be a lot of hell to pay." (phone interview 06/21/13)

Grayson was allowed 'limited' access after some six weeks of official requests--access to negotiation texts that any member of Congress by law--had a right to review. After reviewing some very limited text Grayson spoke to the outrageous and unlawful giveaways in the TPP, and the cover-up maintained by the USTR.

..."..."I've seen an element of the current rounds..they are binding ...I will tell you that they have every reason to be concerned about them...the backlash...there would be a public backlash"..."what they said uh.. indicated was classified and they stick to appear to----the classification system by calling the shots in secret, and by threatening people with every nightmare discomfort ...including imprisonment...except for the 500 corporate lobbyists.."

Alan Grayson may be blunt--but he's honest. When asked about the effects of the TPP on our country if pushed into law--he stated frankly that

..."TPP establishes what are called ... procedures that are essentially" abrogating our democracy'... Grayson explained further that...

"...they (TPP international tribunal) replace our five step established court systems for claims against the government with an alternative system that is wired for the benefit of multinational corporations"

Grayson added that the TPP extends into matters which are not under the purview of trade relations. He added that the TPP ..."goes far beyond anything even remotely resembling trade and systematically interferes in areas such as finance, that most people would regard as having no connection ....to matters of trade." The agreement...." extends well beyond trade in a manner that systematically benefits multinational corporations to the detriment of health, safety, the right to organize, and other fundamental human rights and progressive values. "

Ironically, Grayson and the others couldn't explain why the TPP poses these dangers, as this information has been 'classified' by the USTR.

In spite of Grayson's fair and rational argument--the USTR under President Obama remains unmoved. In fact, the administration wants to finalize the TPP 'agreement' this October, pushing Congress to a simple up and down vote, consistent with corporate demands.

The rush to finalize this surrender of sovereignty...

In addition to this transfer of power from nations to corporations; the TPP negotiating teams are rushing to finalize the document before any meaningful discussion or review.

...".The TPP is poised to become the largest Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history. The twelve countries currently involved — the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — already cover approximately 40% of the global economy, and the TPP also includes a “docking mechanism” that could enable other countries to join over time. The TPP’s seventeenth major round of negotiations concluded in Lima, Peru last month, and negotiators are racing to complete their work by an October deadline set by President Barack Obama and others."

Fast Track ...and a news blackout by the corporate owned media....

The sheer fact that the SEVENTEENTH round of negotiations has been completed with no coverage in the mainstream corporate media only deepens the suspicion. President Obama is pushing Fast Track authority specifically engineered to ram through Congress a simple up or down vote on the entire finished document minus any substantive investigation or debate. 'Fast Track' dating back to the Nixon administration, denies Congress the right to study, debate or otherwise amend any piece of legislation pushed and signed off by any president. In essence, the Obama administration is abusing the Fast Track idea to demand a blank check from Congress. So, what specific powers does the proposed TPP take away from our democratically elected government and grant to an international corporate tribunal?

Powers granted to corporations via the TPP....

The TPP, if approved by the Senate and signed by Obama will nullify multiple areas of US law. It is the concrete realization of 'corporate personhood', providing the 'corporate person' in discussion--is an absolute monarch or emperor. The TPP, negotiated by corporate lobbyists and minus any substantive congressional and public oversight, grants multinational corporations a final veto over a country's laws, in multiple areas not necessarily limited to trade issues. No country, including the US will be able to enforce laws or regulations in many areas that 'impede' corporate rights. This is 'corporate personhood' writ large, abusive and sociopathic.

The highlights of the leaked TPP drafts include a triad of powers that collectively enslave any nation or state. The triad begins with the alleged corporate 'right' to challenge any law and demand taxpayer compensation for any policy which hypothetically could undermine estimated or expected future profits. This could extend to any area of law, environmental, labor, public health, food sovereignty, currency standards, financial regulations, consumer standards and even civil liberties.

Leaked draft texts further describe 'investor protections' that incentivizes additional offshoring of jobs with undisclosed 'benefits.' Any regulation of finance capital (aka Wall Street) such as banning derivatives, currency manipulation, and other 'financial weapons of mass destruction'; would be prohibited. Any member nation's ability to mitigate financial warfare via currency manipulation and deliver financial stability is neutered. 'Shock and awe' globalization is delivered to our door, in a plain, pornographic brown wrapper, courtesy of the TPP.

The TPP grants the rights of a conquering army to foreign investors and multinational corporations. The leaked text contains 26 chapters, yet only two chapters cover actual 'trade' issues, such as tariffs and quotas.

The US would be conquered, minus a single fired shot, as the USTR and Obama sign away our rights. The TPP text obligates the federal government to serve as the bully club, forcing states and local communities into conforming with this unmitigated surrender of our sovereignty.

The thousand plus page document of detailed restraints forced on federal, state and local governments is not restricted to trade. Everything from intellectual property rights, to labor issues, to public health, to environmental regulations is forced into subjugation under this legal excuse for corporate rule. Our own federal government is reduced to a mercenary force, pointing the gun to our heads. Nothing is safe. This includes public lands and resources.

TPP... a tool for stealing ever decreasing public resources....

Once again, leaked documents of the draft TPP texts reveal US property rights protections eradicated in favor of international standards (which have yet to be articulated). These mysterious international standards would be relegated to the whims of the unelected international tribunal, for which there is no right of appeal. In theory, public lands in the US could be summarily handed over to international corporate interests.

This could translate into foreign interests using the unelected tribunal to 'legally' steal US public resources such as potable water, reducing the US to a colony or vassal state. Natural resource battles over resources like water have begun in Michigan, thanks to the predecessor 'Emergency Manager' law.

Nestle vs. Ice Mountain...

Mecosta, Michigan won a ten year battle against Nestle/Ice Mountain in 2009. Concerned with excessive water diversion by the corporate titan; a grassroots group named Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) defeated Nestle in court. Nestle appealed and the appeals court ruled that MCWC won on concerns of environmental harm, but the corporate water interests of Nestle had to balance with the landowner's interests.'

This was the beginning of the end, as corporate forces realized they needed a stacked deck in the face of growing citizen grassroots/netroots mobilization. Not content to abide by a legitimate process; corporate forces pushed the Emergency Manager Act.

Michigan's 'Emergency Manager Law' the predecessor to TPP...

In March of 2011, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the 'Emergency Manager Law.' Written by corporations and corporate funded non-profits under the tutelage of the Mackinac Center; the Emergency Manager Law authorized the shredding of labor contracts, privatization of public services and the consolidation and DISSOLUTION of locally elected governments. It has been touted as 'financial martial law.'

It does not escape my attention that this 'law' would have serviced Nestle's needs quite handily. Though several thousand protesters marched against this bill; the corporate owned media ignored the uprising. The Michigan 'Emergency Manager Law' is a mini-me version of the TPP. It is ...'democracy under siege.'

Government by international corporate tribunal...

At the core of this despicable 'agreement' is the international corporate tribunal designated to be the final authority over any future disputes--at least on paper. The tribunal is to be staffed by the same corporate attorneys who service the multinational corporations. Conflict of interest is not only obvious---TPP makes it... a way of life. No right of appeal exists and deliberations are...once again...secret.

In theory, any and all laws a foreign corporation finds irritating are taken to the tribunal. The most egregious crimes against humanity---forced or slave labor, child labor, massive dumping of toxic pollutants, murders committed by subcontractors, police abuse, censorship, and the criminalization of dissent--are subjugated to a tribunal of three corporate attorneys. The 'economic royalists' would be in the driver's seat.

TPP grants the tribunal the right to set aside previous court decisions or the results of public elections. Corporate personhood is elevated to emperor and the concept of ..."consent of the governed" is reduced to a trite joke.

According to Lori Wallach at Public Citizen, these same foreign tribunals..."would be staffed by private sector lawyers who rotate between acting as "judges" and representative corporations, suing governments, posing major conflicts of interest."

Citizens Trade Campaign has legitimate solutions...

In March of 2013, watchdog group, Citizens Trade Campaign sent a letter to every member of Congress which was co-signed by over 400 additional activist groups. The letter was a stinging rebuke of the TPP and the mechanisms used by the Obama administration to ram this illegitimate treaty through--namely the abuse of the national security classification system and the Nixonian, Fast Track Authority. The letter also outlined conditions, which must be remediated and the mechanism used. It was a clarion call for accountability and transparency, which respected the right to self-govern.

Groups signing on this letter ranged from unions such as the International Brotherhood of Teamsters--to environmental groups such as Food and Water Watch--to religious groups such as the Holy Cross International Justice Office. Opponents may scream foul and claim these are 'special interest groups,' but unlike the 'special interest' corporate groups pushing the TPP--these groups are collectively fighting to reverse the global 'race to the bottom.'

Citizens Trade Campaign has identified 8 criterion which must be addressed and a separate section dealing with the eradication of Fast Track and the reform of the trade agreement negotiation and approval process.

8 Reform Measures to Ensure a Fair Negotiation and Approval Process for Future Trade Policies...

1.) ..."Prioritization of human and labor rights." Trade agreements must protect human and labor rights (including free speech, assembly, press), above the rights of investors. There should no tolerance for forced or slave labor, child labor, dangerous 'sweatshop' working conditions, or political violence used by corporate or subcontractors to suppress collective bargaining. Environmental degradation in an era of strained resources leading to resource wars should be banned. The rights of indigenous peoples to self-determined governance is to be respected.

2.) ..."Respect for local development goals and the procurement policies that deliver on them." Trade agreements should never impede or nullify the rights of local governments to promote development, which benefits and reflects the needs and preferences of environmental, social or political goals. Furthermore, all trade agreements must respect and maintain prevailing requirements for wages, environmental, labor and human rights standards, and provide policies addressing long-standing inequalities worldwide. In terms of the USA, such trade procurement policies must maintain existing "Buy American" clauses.

3.) ..."Protect food sovereignty." Farmers of each nation or local area are to receive fair compensation. Consumers have a right to access foods which are affordable and safe. Read between the lines--no GMO's cross-polluting organic crops. Any GMO's 'gracing' grocery shelves must be clearly labeled in terms of health risks, ie.-- Monsanto is out of luck. Nations have a right to restrict the dumping of crops at below market prices, or any other unfair trade practices which force family farmers off their land.

4.) ..."Access to affordable medicine." Generic drugs and treatments allow critical access to lifesaving medicine. Extending drug patents with statistically insignificant formulary tweaks, via trade agreements is a clear violation of the standards articulated in the Doha Declaration regarding access to medicine. Translation: the Doha Declaration should be respected in spirit, and the tweaking of formularies in minor cosmetic ways (which do not change the drug in any substantive and proven manner), as a vehicle to extend an existing patent or create a new one-- should be deemed fraudulent and thus forbidden.

5.) ..."Safeguards against currency manipulation." The US and other signatory governments have the right to implement measures which reverse 'trade-distorting' currency manipulation. Trade agreements must include rigorous 'rule of origin' provisions, to ensure that only nations complying with the trade agreement's rules--benefit from said agreement.

6.) ..."Space for robust financial regulations and public services." "Trade pacts should set floors, not ceilings, when it comes to the regulation of banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and other financial service providers." Translation : No language in any agreement which could be 'interpreted' as mandating deregulation or privatization of any service--public or private. Language must be 'clear and specific' on the terms of any trade agreement. No tortuous arguments using vague language which justifies the nullification of public elections. In other words, laws like the 'Emergency Manager Act', promoted by the privatizers at the Mackinac Center--would be rejected as treasonous and anti-democratic.

7.) ..."Improved consumer and environmental standards." ..."Trade agreements should set floors, rather than ceilings, when it comes to environmental, food and product safety and consumer right-to-know measures." To use the vernacular of the street---DUH.

8.) ..."No elevation of corporations to equal terms with governments." Trade agreements should never provide corporations or investors 'special powers' engineered to circumvent and nullify the domestic judiciary. Corporate challenges of domestic laws or court decisions through the use of nuisance SLAPP suits and tortuous arguments exploiting vague contract language must be outlawed.

The 'investor-state' tribunal which empowers rotating teams of three corporate attorneys to demand ..."unlimited taxpayer compensation for foreign firms" claiming a signatory nation's laws ..."undermine their expected future profits must be eliminated." Legal terms including 'investment,' 'expropriation,' and 'minimum standard of treatment,' must be more narrowly and clearly defined to ensure the rights of governments to legislate in the public interest.

This demand is key. It is a clear repudiation of the 'investor-state' and the 'investor-state' tribunal. No wiggle room here--the very core of the TPP is denounced in this simple statement. The legally concocted concept of an 'investor-state' and the mediation tribunal of corporate attorneys--is the head of the TPP snake.

This single element surrenders any nation's sovereignty and reduces it to a vassal colony.

This 'investor-state' device-- is PLANTATION POLITICS in all its ugliness. The only difference between the Nazi brown-shirted enforcers and the mediation tribunal--is the fact that the attorneys for the tribunal--probably wear Brooks Brothers.

Citizens Trade...on preventing future 'abrogations of democracy,'..

Citizens Trade Campaign and the allied 400 groups signing on to this appeal are demanding the following rigorous levels of accountability and transparency with regards to the negotiation of trade agreements.

First, all TPP draft texts must be made public. No president, including Obama should possess sole trade policymaking authority.

Secondly, Fast-Track authority must be permanently eradicated. (Fast-Track is a Nixonian relic which relinquishes Congress' 'exclusive constitutional authority' to ..."regulate commerce with foreign nations" and transfers this power to executive branch and the USTR). Under Fast-Track the executive can sign the bill or treaty in question and then force a single up-down vote on the issue.

Fast-Track strips Congress of its right to investigate, debate and amend any of the agreement's provisions. In terms of the TPP--Fast-Track is being pushed to deceive Congress into--signing away our sovereignty.

To quote Congressman Grayson...

..."there is no other area that is done this way......"I'm not only referring to negotiations but ..."no fast-track immigration bill, no fast-track for other legislation ..."we don't fast-track appropriations bills, we don't fast-track anything else...why should we fast-track the sovereignty .."the reason why they do it in secret is because our 'sell-out trade-representatives" met with other 'sell-out trade representatives" from other countries "

(Source : Phone interview 06/21/13)

Any trade agreement process must contain...

*Requirements that the USTR (US Trade Representative).." consult with all interested stakeholders," on all potential areas theoretically impacted by the proposed agreement, including (but not limited to) : pharmaceutical access, food sovereignty, currency manipulation, balance of trade, job creation or loss, expansion opportunities, environmental stewardship and human and labor rights;

* Expansion of the engagement process beginning with the TPP immediately;

*Creation of an unbiased and public process which verifies that objectives negotiated by Congress are actually present and achieved in the final document; and

*Creation of a verification process publicly certifying that any proposed agreement or provisions of the agreement, actually reflects the public interest. A congressional majority is required to certify that the agreement is in the public interest of the US.

*Finally, negotiated objectives must have been publicly witnessed and met, BEFORE the executive is granted authority to sign the agreement, binding the US to its terms.

Freshman Senator Elizabeth Warren stated the argument for transparency and public discussion, including the right of dissent-- most clearly.

"I appreciate the willingness of the USTR to make various documents available for review by members of Congress, but I do not believe that is a substitute for more robust public transparency. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States." - Sen. Elizabeth Warren



Jeanine Molloff is a veteran urban educator specializing in communications disorders. She moonlights as a political commentator on various issues including civil liberties in an age of ‘terrorism’, ecological justice, collateral damage in war zones, economic equity and education. Jeanine has published with Huffington Post, OpEdNews, FireDogLake, Counterpunch and Huffington Post Union of Bloggers. In an era of state and corporate sanctioned censorship; she believes that journalism which demands answers to the tough questions is the last remaining bulwark of democracy. Now more than ever we need the likes of I.F. Stone over the insipid voices of celebrity infotainment. Jeanine works and lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

21 June 2013


On Saturday 1 June 2013, just 2 days before Bradley Manning's trial at Fort Meade, Maryland, USA, was due to start, there were support demonstrations in many cities around the world, and one of these was in Melbourne.

Here are some of the photos taken by Ken Lovett at that demonstration:

Celebrities declare "I am Bradley" in new video

Bradley Manning Support Network. June 19, 2013

While PFC Bradley Manning stands trial at Ft. Meade, MD, pop-culture celebrities declare their support for the Army whistleblower, in a five-minute advocacy video released late yesterday. Produced by the Bradley Manning Support Network, more than 20 Hollywood actors, musicians, and other well-known leaders appear in the new video, titled “I am Bradley Manning.”

Filmmaker Oliver Stone; actors Russell Brand, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Wallace Shawn, Peter Sarsgaard; musicians Moby, Tom Morello, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters; writers Matt Taibbi, Alice Walker, Chris Hedges; and activists Lt. Dan Choi and Angela Davis, and others speak out in the short film, explaining that Manning sought to expose war crimes and inspire debate and reforms. They condemn the “aiding the enemy” charge with which the military wants to imprison him for life, arguing it criminalizes what should be recognized as whistle-blowing.

14 June 2013


As ever, the more things change............!

Gillard has raised the abortion spectre to get Abbott to take the bait and no doubt all parliamentarians will make comments and put both feet in their respective mouths.

Time will tell, but in the mean time, let's go back to 1991 - after all, that is only 22 years ago, and see what was happening in New South Wales at the time - and the heavens haven't collapsed since then anyway.

Here is an item - complete with photo - which appeared in the Sydney Sun-Herald newspaper on 8 September 1991:

Women march against Nile's abortion bill: Church protest

By Robyn Willis

Chanting "Not the Church, not the State - women will decide our fate", protesters marched through central Sydney yesterday against the Rev (sic) Fred Nile's anti-abortion bill.

The 700 men, women and children who took part in the march from the Town Hall to Sydney Hospital were showing that Australians would not tolerate restrictions on abortion, said Emma Koorey, of the Women's Abortion Action Campaign.

"It is definitely a retrograde step for women's health and the women's movement," Ms Koorey said.

In South Australia, where similar legislation to that proposed by Rev Nile has been introduced, women have been met by hostile anti-abortion nursing staff and have been forced to seek abortions interstate, she said.

Mr Nile's Procurement of A Miscarriage Bill, which would ban abortions in private clinics, is due to be debated in State Parliament on Thursday.

Joining hte opposition to the legislation is Mr Nile's own Uniting Church. The Rev Harry Herbert, general secretary of the Uniting Church's Board for Social Responsibility, has called on MPs to vote against the bill.

"Mr Nile's bill is a political stunt and out of step with community attitudes," he said.

"It is important that all politicians and members of the community realise that Mr Nile is first and foremost a politician, and therefore he speaks without the authority of the Uniting Church."


12 June 2013


Democracy as we thought it existed does not exist in the countries in which we live, and three people have between them exposed the farce of our systems of government.

The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993 Edition) defines DEMOCRACY as follows:

democracy n.[f. Gk demokratia, from as DEMOS + -CRACY.] 1. Government by the people; a form of government in which the power resides in the people and is exercised by them either directly or by means of elected representatives, a form of society which favours equal rights, the ignoring of hereditary class distinctions, and tolerance of minority views.

demos The common people of an ancient Greek state; (a personification of) the populace, esp. in a democracy.

-cracy Gk. -kratia power,rule. In or forming nouns referring to types of government or ruling class, as democracy, aristocracy, etc.

A good way to introduce this topic is with this video from Antony Loewenstein's blog dated 11 June 2013:

Assange video

Edward Snowden is the latest of the trio to hit the headlines, raising the ire of his government and of course the allies of the government of the United States, including the UK, Australia, Canada and several others. Read the comments from Regina Ip of Hong Kong and feel your blood run cold!

Prism whistleblower: Former CIA worker Edward Snowden told to leave Hong Kong or face extradition

'I am not afraid,’ says high-school dropout, as he reveals his identity from a Hong Kong hotel room

By John Hall , Tim Walker
10 June 2013
Related articles:
• William Hague: Law-abiding Britons have nothing to fear from GCHQ
• Prism scandal: William Hague faces grilling over accusations that GCHQ spied on Britons through covert US operation

Another video from Antony Loewenstein taken from the Guardian on 12 June 2013:

Video: Former CIA worker Edward Snowden on NSA Prism data-mining operation

• President Obama tries to calm fears over government eavesdropping programme mining private data from Google, Apple, YouTube and Facebook

A senior figure in Hong Kong law enforcement has suggested NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden should leave the city.

Regina Ip, a pro-Beijing legislator who was previously the city’s top security official, said Hong Kong was “obliged to comply with the terms of agreements” with the US government, which included the extradition of fugitives.

She added that, after he leaked the largest amount of classified information in the history of the US National Security Agency, she strongly recommends Snowden depart the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Ms Ip said: “It's actually in his best interest to leave Hong Kong”, adding that although she didn’t know if local administration had received an extradition request, she doubts it will happen soon.

Snowden’s exact location in Hong Kong is unknown, but he has claimed he opted to base himself there due to its “strong tradition of free speech”.

Ms Ip's statement comes after Snowden chose to make his identity public, despite the potential consequences for himself and his loved ones.

The 29-year-old employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and former CIA technical assistant, said he had never intended to remain anonymous. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden’s revelations, which he leaked initially to Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, included the existence of a growing NSA stockpile of millions of phone records from the US public. According to the top secret documents, the Agency’s Prism programme also gives it “direct access” to files from the servers of major tech companies such as Google and Facebook. This vast data mining operation is supposedly designed to anticipate and prevent terror plots.

The revelation of Snowden’s identity came after the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, said on Sunday that he had asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into the leaks, telling NBC News, “It is literally gut-wrenching to see this happening, because of the huge grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities… this is a key tool for preserving protecting the nation’s safety and security.”

The Obama administration has aggressively pursued whistleblowers such as US Army Private Bradley Manning, whose trial on charges of passing classified material to the Wikileaks website began last week, three years after his arrest. Snowden, who is now in hiding in a Hong Kong hotel room, told The Guardian, “I do not expect to see home again.”

Peter King, the Republican chairman of the House homeland security subcommittee, called for Snowden's extradition, adding “the United States government must prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”

King went on: “The United States must make it clear that no country should be granting this individual asylum. This is a matter of extraordinary consequence to American intelligence.”

The Republican head of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, said Snowden had “released just enough information to literally be dangerous”.

Snowden was brought up in North Carolina and Maryland. In 2003 he enlisted in the US Army, intending to fight in the Iraq War, but was discharged after breaking both legs in an accident during a Special Forces training programme. Snowden said he wanted to fight in Iraq because he felt an obligation to “help free people from oppression”, but that “most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone”. He was employed by the NSA as a security guard at one of its covert facilities, and then by the CIA, working on IT security. Thanks to his aptitude for computer programming, he rose quickly and in 2007 was sent to join a CIA station in Geneva.

During his Swiss posting, Snowden says he became disillusioned with intelligence work, and dismayed by the dubious activities of his colleagues. He considered turning whistleblower, but changed his mind after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, with a promise to reform the policies of his White House predecessor.

He left the CIA for his first job with a private contractor the following year, where he was placed on a military base in Japan at an NSA facility. Yet as the Obama presidency wore on without such reforms, Snowden says he became increasingly “hardened”. “You can’t wait around for someone else to act,” he said. “I had been looking for leaders, but I realised that leadership is about being the first to act.”

Until three weeks ago, Snowden worked at an NSA office in Hawaii. That was when he finished copying all of the secret documents he planned to leak to the press, and told his supervisor that he would be away from work for a fortnight while he underwent treatment for epilepsy. He told his girlfriend, with whom he shared a home, that he would be leaving for a few weeks.

As he boarded a flight to Hong Kong on 20 May, he said goodbye to “a very comfortable life” and a salary of approximately $200,000 (£129,000). Since arriving in the city, he says, he rarely leaves his hotel room, the door to which he has muffled with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He also puts a large hood over his head and laptop when typing, to prevent hidden cameras picking out his passwords. “I could be rendered by the CIA,” he claims, “I could have people come after me… That is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”

In spite of the deprivations involved, Snowden said he felt compelled to blow the whistle. “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything,” he said. “With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

A whistleblower in quotes "I will be made to suffer for my actions, [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law ... and irresistible executive powers that rule the world ... are revealed even for an instant.”

"Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA ... or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads ... That is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”

"I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made. The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more.”

"I had an authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the President, if I had a personal email.

"You don’t have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to have eventually fall under suspicion ... and then they can use this system to go back in time and ... derive suspicion from an innocent life”

The following article was in the Guardian and published by Alternet:

The Guardian / By Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg: Edward Snowden, Saving Us From the United Stasi of America

Snowden's whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an 'executive coup' against the US constitution.

June 10, 2013

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden's release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden's whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an "executive coup" against the US constitution. Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: "It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp."

For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.

The fact that congressional leaders were "briefed" on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.

Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people's privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous.

There are legitimate reasons for secrecy, and specifically for secrecy about communications intelligence. That's why Bradley Mannning and I – both of whom had access to such intelligence with clearances higher than top-secret – chose not to disclose any information with that classification. And it is why Edward Snowden has committed himself to withhold publication of most of what he might have revealed.

But what is not legitimate is to use a secrecy system to hide programs that are blatantly unconstitutional in their breadth and potential abuse. Neither the president nor Congress as a whole may by themselves revoke the fourth amendment – and that's why what Snowden has revealed so far was secret from the American people.

In 1975, Senator Frank Church spoke of the National Security Agency in these terms:

"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."

The dangerous prospect of which he warned was that America's intelligence gathering capability – which is today beyond any comparison with what existed in his pre-digital era – "at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left."

That has now happened. That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former "democratic republic" of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.

So we have fallen into Senator Church's abyss. The questions now are whether he was right or wrong that there is no return from it, and whether that means that effective democracy will become impossible. A week ago, I would have found it hard to argue with pessimistic answers to those conclusions.

But with Edward Snowden having put his life on the line to get this information out, quite possibly inspiring others with similar knowledge, conscience and patriotism to show comparable civil courage – in the public, in Congress, in the executive branch itself – I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.

Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA's surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans' and foreign citizens' privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we're trying to protect.

• Editor's note: this article was revised and updated at the author's behest, at 7.45am ET on 10 June

09 June 2013


In 2013 in Australia one person complains about an art work and the next thing there is a police raid on the Art Gallery concerned and the Gallery is closed!

We are not talking about 1984 and we are not talking about totalitarian regimes - although sometimes it is hard to tell the difference, but what happened in Melbourne during the first week of June 2013 continues to show that Australia is still firmly embedded in the 19th and early 20th centuries!

The following articles in The Age newspaper are about the censorship of a particular art work and particular gallery which have shown that wowserism, religious bigotry and total ignorance of art lie at the very heart of Australian society with no cure in sight!

Push for gallery in alleged child porn controversy to reopen

June 7, 2013
By Dewi Cooke

Artists push for St Kilda gallery to reopen a week after the seizure of artworks by police.

Artist Paul Yore. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Pressure is mounting on a St Kilda gallery in the middle of an alleged child pornography controversy to reopen its doors, one week after the seizure of artworks by police.

Artists whose work appears in the Like Mike exhibition at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts will on Saturday at 10am protest what has been described as "censorship in the arts" following the seizure of artwork allegedly depicting images of sexual acts with children's faces superimposed.

A police raid last Saturday targeted one installation, Everything's F---ed, (I presume the newspaper report edited Fucked, as if it wasn't used by every second adult and child around the English-speaking world!!) by Melbourne artist Paul Yore, however seven other artists involved in the show were not the subject of police investigation. Linden has been closed all week.

In a letter to the Linden board, co-curator Geoff Newton writes: "We demand to know why the gallery has been closed. The seizure of what has been deemed offensive material in Paul Yore's work is no longer in the gallery and therefore, we are asking for an answer to the question of why the gallery has not been reopened.

"As co curator of the exhibition I, along with the other artists, have not been satisfactorily informed of how any decisions made by Linden board and Director have justified the closure of the gallery. As far as we know the allegations against Paul Yore are as yet unproven.

We demand the gallery be reopened to allow the public to make up their own minds about Paul's work and view the exhibition in its entirety."

Earlier this week police said a 25-year-old Footscray man had been interviewed by detectives and released pending summons. A police spokeswoman said he was likely to face charges including the production and possession of child pornography.

Like Mike was part of a series of exhibitions held across Melbourne galleries in tribute to the late artist Mike Brown, the only Australian artist to be successfully charged with obscenity. Linden chairwoman Sue Foley declined to comment.


Artists rally in protest on censorship

June 8, 2013
By Thomas O'Byrne

Why is Linden Gallery still closed?

Protesters outside St Kilda's Linden Gallery question why the 'Like Mike' exhibition remains closed one week after police seized allegedly inappropriate content from artist Paul Yore's installation.

A group of Melbourne artists who have become caught up in the temporary closure of a St Kilda gallery linked to an alleged child pornography controversy say their work is being unfairly censored.

On Saturday morning a large crowd of protesters, which included St Kilda business figures, artists and local MP Martin Foley, staged a rally outside the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts calling for an end to the censorship of the gallery’s Like Mike exhibition.

Linden has remained closed since police raided the gallery more than a week ago.

Geoff Newton protesting outside the Linden Gallery, St Kilda. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

During the raid last Saturday, officers seized works by Melbourne artist Paul Yore which allegedly depicted images of sexual acts superimposed with children’s faces.

The police investigation exclusively targeted Mr Yore’s work, leaving the other artists’ work untouched. No charges have been laid.

The Linden board have refused to shed light on the gallery’s fate, despite calls from community leaders to immediately reopen the exhibition.

Although the protesters’ chants of “open up” echoed loudly down St Kilda’s Acland Street, the doors of the gallery remained firmly shut on Saturday.

The Linden Centre’s board was similarly tight lipped, with chairwoman Sue Foley refusing to comment on when the gallery would be open to the public.

Despite repeated attempts to contact the gallery’s board, Like Mike exhibition co-curator Geoff Newton told the scores of protesters on Saturday that he also remained completely in the dark regarding the gallery’s reopening. “We’ve had no answers as to why the gallery has been closed,” he said.

“The police have taken whatever [artwork] that has been in question, and therefore there is nothing left in this exhibition that could be offensive.”

Although the Linden Centre is owned by the City of Port Phillip, a council spokeswoman said an independent curator was responsible for the opening and closing of the gallery.

While the exhibition’s artists await a formal announcement from the Linden centre, State Member for Albert Park District and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts Martin Foley blamed the closure of the gallery on “ratbag complainants”.

“They speak for no one,” he said.

“To have their so-called complains blown out of all proportion and to see a gallery closed down like this a dreadful misuse of process.”

While Mr Foley said the police investigation was a separate matter, he called on the St Kilda community to stand by the gallery and its exhibition.

“From what I’ve seen online of [Paul Yore’s] work, I’ve seen just as much, if not more challenging work at some VCE art exhibitions," he said.

“Let not the law be a weapon to close down artist expression.”

The Like Mike exhibition is inspired by Mike Brown, the only Australian artist to be successfully prosecuted for obscenity.


Porn or moral panic? Modern art's quandary

June 8, 2013
By Sonia Harford

An earlier exhibit by Paul Yore at Melbourne’s Heide Museum of Modern Art in 2009. Photo: Rodger Cummins Artistic freedom and the threat of censorship are again dominating debate in the art world this week after police raided a St Kilda art gallery, seizing part of an installation. As artist Paul Yore waits to hear if he'll be charged under child pornography laws, civil liberties experts warn that whenever police consider criminal charges against an artist, the consequences are damaging.

''There is no right to not be offended,'' said Michael Stanton, vice-president of Liberty Victoria, in response to the police action at Linden Gallery last Saturday.

Police moved in when a member of the public complained that Yore's installation Everything is F---ed allegedly depicted sexual acts with children's faces superimposed on them.

Newcastle detectives seize three pictures by Melbourne artist Juan Davila from the Lake Macquarie Community Gallery at Speers Point after they were said to be offensive and indecent. Photo: Newcastle Herald

Child pornography offences in Victoria carry a prison term of up to 10 years.

''The experience with Bill Henson in 2008 suggests that police should be very careful when considering bringing such charges against an artist,'' Stanton said. (Police raided a Sydney Henson exhibition that included depictions of naked adolescents, after a complaint by child protection campaigner Hetty Johnston, but the artist was never charged.)

Stanton says he has not seen the Yore exhibit. ''But there is no doubt room for significant disagreement about whether something is pornographic or obscene, all the more so where the purpose of a work is satirical or seeking to explore issues of sexuality and commodification of bodies and images of young persons.''

Arguably we have almost learnt to live with accusations of obscenity and pornography levelled at Australian artists, such as Mike Brown and Juan Davila. Penises and naked women abound in their work, yet the courts have rarely been required. In fact, Brown is the only Australian artist to have been prosecuted for obscenity (ironically, Yore's work was part of a gallery tribute to Brown).

Yet allegations of the inappropriate use of children as subject matter can take condemnation of an artist to a whole new level. Henson, Del Kathryn Barton and Polixeni Papapetrou have been vigorously scrutinised for the images of children in their work; and their supporters' defence of artistic freedom is often a cry in the wilderness.

The Yore case highlights the concern of many in the art world that social fears about child abuse and paedophilia are being displaced onto art - where the chance of real harm occurring to a child or a viewer is unlikely and probably impossible to detect.

Yore has received strong support from his peers this week, including Jason Smith, director of Heide Museum of Modern Art, where Yore has previously exhibited.

''Paul incorporates into his work images and the material detritus of the contemporary world to propose an image of a world gone mad through consumption and gross deregulation,'' Smith says.

''In one sense, his work might be commenting on the sexualisation of young people that anyone sees on a weeknight on commercial television, which can be hair-raising.''

Juan Davila says Yore's collages clearly belong to the language and domain of art. ''Why does our society live in a moral panic?'' he said.

Davila's own work Stupid as a Painter was escorted out of a gallery in 1982, Doug Hall, former Queensland Art Gallery director, points out. Hall questions why contemporary art is singled out for attack by those purporting to represent current community standards.

''Look at Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes - we love violence as historic allegory and we like sex in all its cultural permutations, we just don't like it in contemporary [art].''

Nevertheless, at QAG he was required to follow the letter of the law when it came to controversial art. ''We might have a view about whether the law is right or wrong, but in a public institution it's irrelevant,'' he says.

Public sentiment is not the only thing at stake for institutions. In Ballarat in 2011, a photograph of a semi-naked girl by Czech Republic artist Jan Saudek was removed from the city's international Foto Biennale following a public complaint. The director at the time said he feared the implications for his gallery's funding. Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts chairwoman Sue Foley issued a brief statement this week saying the gallery, which had co-operated with the police, was ''concerned about the nature of the allegations made against Yore, however it continues to support freedom of expression that has artistic merit. Further comment would be inappropriate as the matter may soon be before the courts,'' she said. The gallery has been closed since the raid. Some art world figures are concerned that the effect of a single complaint (in the Yore, Henson and Saudek cases) can be works removed from view and galleries closed.

''One person complaining shouldn't feel they have the right to set a community standard,'' says Tamara Winikoff, executive director of peak body the National Association for the Visual Arts. ''It has an impact on the gallery and its reputation, on the artist and on all the other artists who lose their exhibition opportunity.''

Police are ''caught in the middle'' legitimately responding to a complaint, but needing to consider what is appropriate freedom of expression, she says, and they lack a set of principles to deal with such complaints. NAVA has advocated intermediary panels of artists and experts that would assess whether a work is legal and whether it is art.

There have been moves to codify the practices of artists working with children. Following the Henson controversy, the Australia Council formed a set of protocols for artists that address the depiction of children and their employment.

But Winikoff believes they were a knee-jerk reaction that ''helped to fuel hysteria''. Designed for grant recipients, they have had a wider impact, making artists more fearful of dealing with images of children, she says. ''They distract public attention from what people should be really worried about, which is genuine child porn … I would bet 100 per cent it had no impact on child porn whatsoever.''

In Liberty Victoria's view, before charges were even contemplated in the Yore case, more consultation with the artistic community and experts should have occurred.

''If the work has artistic merit, and is not mere reproductions of child pornography, then one would have to question how it could be appropriate to bring criminal charges,'' Stanton says. ''I repeat that there is no right to not be offended.''

Jason Smith believes the decision to close the gallery was too swift, and he decries the damage done to Yore's installation by police when they removed several small images.

''The work itself has been destroyed. There's a major deficiency in advocacy for the artist here, and I'm not the only person in the art world who's concerned about the organisational response to this.''

He says that while Linden included warning signs for visitors who might have been offended by images in the work, there had been little concern since for Yore's ''moral rights''.

''I wonder why the gallery didn't lead that discussion before the work was destroyed.

''The hideous issues around child pornography are quite rightly policed and long may it continue.'' However, he rejects any proposal for a formalised body to monitor the content of artists' work as ''too close to censorship.'' Yore has not spoken publicly in the past few days, but immediately after parts of his installation were removed, he said the police action was ''completely absurd''.

''The work I feel has been taken completely out of context because they're very small fragments of a collage of a much larger work that constitute literally thousands of different objects I've found in society - basically junk I've been collecting.''

Therein lies a complicating factor for any potential case against him. As a bower bird gathering objects for installations, where does this leave Yore under the law?

Says Hall: ''It becomes an entirely new invention when artists use a ready-made [object in an art work]. Its purpose is reconfigured, it puts it in a new context and all sorts of new meanings take place.''

Stanton says collage will also create significant difficulties for interpreting if any alleged child pornography offences have occurred.

With images of faces and bodies taken from different mass media sources, how can it be determined whether a child has been harmed in the work's production?

Stanton says that under Victorian legislation, there is a defence to the possession of child pornography that it ''possesses artistic merit''.

''However, there is no such defence to the charge of production of child pornography … The act of 'production' has been defined very broadly by the courts, and it would seem it extends to the creation of artistic works. It has been defined as including downloading an image from the internet.''

Where collage fits within this definition is uncertain.

He points out that Liberty Victoria recognises limits to freedom of expression such as incitement to violence, racial vilification and child pornography.

''A person could not merely place child pornography from the internet into a gallery and then claim it was art. There are limits to that right, but the boundaries between art and pornography are infamously blurred.''

Bernie Geary, Victoria's Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, is not swayed by arguments that art is a special case.

He has not seen the collage, but says combining images of children with bodies in sexually explicit poses was ''incredibly disrespectful of a vulnerable child''.

Nor is Geary sympathetic to the view of some that Yore's work is a critique and comment on the commodification of children.

''We've got huge problems around the commercial sexualisation of children. But is what [Yore] is doing in the best interests of children or is it just some philosophical jaunt? I'm not sure.''

The blurred boundaries between child pornography and art will continue to bedevil artists and the community at large, and Yore's case is timely, given the recent Victorian Parliament law reform committee's inquiry into ''sexting''.

Stanton said the committee recommended that defences to child pornography charges be standardised ''in light of the danger that sexting activity was being categorised as constituting child pornography offences. The committee did not consider the issue of artistic merit and freedom. The committee recognised that there were different defences to production and possession of child pornography''.

Many of the concerns raised by submission writers to the committee, including Liberty Victoria, noted there was a danger of overcharging people with child pornography offences ''because of the breadth of the definition at law'', he said.

In 2008, then prime minister Kevin Rudd fanned the flames on national television by describing Henson's works - which he had never seen before - as ''revolting''. While he escaped a legal case, the artist was pilloried. Winikoff, among others, believes artists are already self-censoring more than they did pre-2008.

Heide's Smith is not so sure. ''I don't see it or sense it, but I fear it,'' he says. ''Artists make us think in different ways, they are necessary in our lives and they have been for millennia … Yet we live in conservative times.''

Stanton points to the ''danger of censorship having a chilling effect on freedom of expression. Equally, there is a danger that, by fanning the flames of controversy, those who would seek to censor only end up giving more prominence to the issue [and images] in the public realm, where others may seek to capitalise on the controversy for their own ends.''


Eye of the beholder

June 9, 2013
Jeff Sparrow

We should be talking more, not less, about the blurring of lines between art and pornography.

Illustration: Matt Davidson.

The police confiscation of art from a St Kilda gallery last weekend might itself have been scripted as a performance piece, so perfectly does it illustrate the crisis of contemporary censorship.

The offending installation created by collage artist Paul Yore under the prophetic title Everything Is F---ed (Again, who censors the word "Fucked" in 2013?!)apparently features images of sexual acts, on which have been superimposed the faces of children. According to one report, Yore's work includes a ''cardboard cut-out of a child with Justin Bieber's head stuck on, urinating from a dildo into a sink''.

This anatomically improbable image could, in theory, earn Yore 10 years in jail for producing and displaying child pornography.

Ironically, the Yore exhibition was a tribute to avant-garde pioneer Mike Brown, himself successfully prosecuted for obscenity in 1966. Brown's brush with the authorities took place in an Australia in which the censor had only just legalised D.H.Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover and where Chief Censor Prowse was explaining that all horror movies were ''undesirable to the public interest''.

As late as 1972, Queensland officials quoted lyrics from the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction as an example of the ''pathetic nihilism'' against which censorship protected the populace.

The contrast between the Stones and Justin Bieber, the central figure in Yore's collage, nicely illustrates the evolution of the debate.

Back in the day, Mick Jagger spurred a sexual fantasy or two, but Bieber, with 40 million Twitter followers, rules the internet, a realm that makes possible satisfactions of which the censors of 1972 could not have dreamt. The Canadian star's notoriously obsessive fans produce vast archives of Bieberite pornography: images, videos and stories in which Justin does far more than urinate into a sink.

''By day [Bieber is] a teacher adored and loved by all,'' begins a piece of fan-fic accessible after 30 seconds with Google, ''by night nothing but a mystery.'' In this tale, we're told, the teen idol's mysterious evenings feature ''Domination, Submission, Sadism and Masochism, Bondage and Discipline, Murder, Abuse, Alcohol, Deception and Deceit''.

The seizure of Yore's work highlights the dilemma that faces the censorship regime more broadly: simply, the array of pornographic content now available renders any particular prosecution utterly arbitrary and therefore unjust.

The law in Victoria prohibits the sale of X-rated movies, rendering, in theory, the core business of the sex retailers and adult cinemas throughout the state entirely illegal. The police rarely enforce these strictures, for the simple reason that Victorians (who are, statistically, enthusiastic aficionados of porn) would be outraged if they did.

Besides, when consumers can download in seconds almost any content they desire, prosecuting the local adult shop (an institution that already seems slightly quaint) becomes as pointless as, well, raiding an art gallery over images produced without any children engaging in any kind of sex whatsoever.

The crisis of censorship relates to more than technological change. Since the 1980s, the neoliberal turn has introduced market mechanisms into every aspect of our lives, including sexuality, rendering old-fashioned censorship increasingly anomalous. The market makes, after all, no ethical judgments: at the cash register, $100 worth of smut exchanges at the same rate as $100 of biblical tracts.

That's why the old Censorship Board now goes by the name of the Classification Board, presenting its assessments not as moral prohibitions but as tools to facilitate the choices of discerning buyers.

Obviously, that's slightly disingenuous: in the absence of, say, a religiously derived notion of obscenity, consumers might wonder why official ratings should carry any more sanction than, say, reviews on Amazon, particularly since the overwhelming majority of porn in Australia never passes the censor's desk at all. Which is not to say that censorship has disappeared.

A widespread but inarticulate discontent with a market that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing provides the preconditions for regular and explosive moral panics. Think of the unfortunate Bill Henson: one minute, acclaimed for art that hung in Parliament House; the next, denounced by the PM as a menace to the nation's infants.

If such outcries usually centre on children, it's because of the conflicting pressures converging on the modern family. The career of a professional boy-man like Bieber exemplifies the corporate identification of kids as a market segment exploitable like any other, a process that breaks down older ideas of childhood dependence.

Yet, as neoliberalism dissolves the social into the individual, traditional family roles become more ideologically important, with the home offering an apparent haven from dog-eat-dog market competition elsewhere. On the one hand, we now idealise kids as innocent neo-Victorian angels; on the other, every music video shows sexed-up tween stars gyrating knowingly to the beat.

The unease of that contradiction provides obvious opportunities for demagogues and chancers.

The furore over Yore's collage seems to have been initiated by conservative activists, committed to cutting funding to the Linden Centre for Contemporary Art long before the exhibition about which they claim to be outraged.

In a similar fashion, public concern about sexual abuse of children in the NT was unwittingly channelled into draconian censorship laws applied exclusively to indigenous communities, in a direct contradiction of the Little Children are Sacred report's recommendations.

In response to raids on galleries, it's tempting to defend the work in question as art rather than porn. That's a mistake - and not simply because Brown's oeuvre (like that of so many modern artists) calls into question the distinction between the two. Too often, critics assert the privileged status of art to imply the incapacity of ordinary people to comment on the work in question, thus feeding the old stereotypes about haughty artistic elitists looking down on the public who fund them.

Actually, art should foster widespread debate on important issues - and that's precisely why Yore's exhibition should be defended.

To put it another way, we need to talk more, not less, about how sexuality plays out in the world we have created for ourselves. Such conversations matter too much to be shut down by police.

Jeff Sparrow is the editor of Overland and the author of Money Shot: A Journey into Porn and Censorship.


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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm