In addition to our Democracy Convention video of Earth Democracy sessions, there are also recordings of Debra White Plume speaking at the closing convention, a panel discussion on civil rights and African-American men, and interviews with Medea Benjamin and Dane County supervisor Leland Pan online here. Definitely worth checking out!
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Gasland director Josh Fox supports the Global Frackdown from the banks of the Brazos River, in Parker County, Texas. Despite drought conditions, Parker County uses more than 30% of its available water for fracking. Take a look at where the banks of the Brazos are (not to mention the boat launch) and figure out for yourself whether that's the best possible use for an irreplaceable resource.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Sandra Spargo, who has organized a strong campaign in Anacortes, WA, against what would be the largest water bottling plant in the country, has written this letter to the Anacortes City Council asking to formally terminate the agreement. Termination would prevent Tethys, which has backed out of the project, from transferring their end of the agreement to another bottling corporation.
In her letter, Sandra notes that the city's deal with Tethys was made without citizen input, with voters getting just one day's notice on the council vote, and without opportunity for public hearings. The backroom nature of the agreement has led to a need for a fresh start, she asserts.
"Now is the time to rekindle citizen trust, guaranteeing no loophole that will carry mistrust and fear and continue to paralyze our town," she writes. This is an election year, and hopefully a refocus on "the people's business" will lead the council to shut the door on the possibility of massive water takings from the Skagit River.
Monday, September 16, 2013
This short paper from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund outlines attacks on the initiative petition process by pro-fracking forces opposing community rights ordinances. While the paper focuses on Ohio and hydrofracking, this tactic could conceivably be used anywhere where voters organize to control corporate misdeeds through direct-democracy ballot questions.
Few municipalities have the right of initiative petition, so protecting the laws already on the books is doubly important. This November, Ohioans will be convening a founding convention of the Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN), with the goal of rewriting the state constitution so that it recognizes the right of towns and cities to self-governance. Similar networks already exist in New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania.
In advance of TPP-style talks between the US and EU, corporations are already filing "wish lists" to ditch pesticide and food standard regulations and set up the same "investor-state resolution" mechanisms found in NAFTA and TPP. In this New York Times article Public Citizen's Lori Wallach notes: “What they [multinationals] consider trade irritants, we consider the most important consumer, health, environmental, privacy, financial stability safeguards on either side of the Atlantic." Gutting regulations is "an effort to achieve through trade what that they could not achieve through democratic processes domestically.”
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Tethys Enterprises has given up efforts to build a massive water bottling plan in Anacortes. Kudos to Sandra Spargo for years of diligent watchdogging and organizing through Defending Water in the Skagit River Basin. Sandra brought in some of the area's most outstanding experts on siting, transportation, and water supply issues. Thanks and congratulations to all the Defending Water board members in Anacortes, and to the many people in the community who attended hearings and events, and raised questions about the environmental and community impacts of this project. You can read press releases from Steve Winter, CEO of Tethys Enterprises, and the mayor of Anacortes here.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
|Taking to the streets in|
Madison WI to derail fast-track
and the TPP
If you are not yet familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now is the time to find out. TPP is a massive trade pact being negotiated between the United States and 12 or more Pacific Rim countries including Japan. It is being written by and for the transnational corporate elite and is cloaked in extreme secrecy. No member of Congress has been allowed to participate in the negotiations, yet President Obama wants Congress to approve the TPP under Fast Track authority which would only allow for an up or down vote on this corporate-negotiated trade deal.
Like other free trade agreements, TPP’s provisions will trump local, state and federal laws and regulations whenever they interfere with “free” trade—free, that is, for corporations, but very costly for the rest of us. Like with NAFTA and CAFTA, the TPP’s investor provisions would privilege the “right” to profit—even the right to anticipated future profits—over democratic decision-making.
From leaked text and previous trade agreements, it is clear that the TPP would --
• Undermine financial industry regulations needed to prevent another meltdown
• Restrict free use of the internet
• Greatly expand copyright protection
• Dismantle “Buy Local” and “Buy American” preferences which promote local business
• Restrict use of cheaper generic drugs
• Challenge food safety regulations including GMO labeling
• Delay action on climate change, if not prevent it outright
• Prevent government limits on the export of fracked natural gas, as well as coal and water
• Allow the U.S. and countries to be sued by foreign corporations for lost profits as a result of laws and regulations, even those protecting health and the environment
Yet, labor, environmental, health care, internet/free press, climate justice, green energy and democracy organizations have been excluded from the negotiations. They cannot see the text, nor comment on it despite the impact of the TPP on all these issues.
We know that most members of Congress are bought lock, stock and barrel by the corporations and Wall Street. So while we must raise our voices against Congress agreeing to fast track the TPP, we must not end our advocacy at their doorstep. We must take our resistance to a world ruled of, for and by the corporations right to our doorstep, right to where we live. We must assert our right to self-governance, to a nation of, for and by the people.
How can we do this? Many communities across the country have passed rights-based laws, establishing their right to self-governance, asserting their right to a clean and safe environment, establishing the rights of nature to thrive as ecosystems, and denying corporations the right to use the US Constitution or state constitutions to challenge these fundamental rights.
Now it is time to assert our right to a local economy, free of rules negotiated in secret, without our consent, by transnational corporations for their own benefit. It is time to say we will not abide by decisions reached by secret trade tribunals which will impact our health and safety when we do not even have a right to be represented. It is time to pass local laws to create TPP Free Zones.
It is time to build a democratic movement of resistance. It is time to start right where we live, in our own community. It is time to say to President Obama and to the corporations which are sitting at the negotiating table
“If you, our unelected representatives, create this corporate-driven monstrosity and then go to Congress and get a rubber stamp, WE WILL NOT OBEY.”
We will be following in the footsteps of the successful resistance to an earlier trade agreement, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. This was the first global mobilization against a proposed trade agreement and an important part of the campaign was organizing locally. In the U.S. and Canada, some municipalities declared themselves to be MAI Free Zones. The MAI was defeated in 1998.
We must organize to defeat the TPP and if it is not defeated, then we can do no other than say “We will not obey.”
For information on creating a TPP-Free Zone, see this page on the AfD website.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Jessica Desvarieux of The Real News talks to Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch about why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about traditional trade regulations such as tariffs, but all about expanding corporate rights and privileges. Learn about the few sections of the TPP that have been leaked to the public, why negotiations and content of the agreement are being kept secret, and what a signed agreement would mean for food safety, internet freedom, drug costs, and other basic components of public health and economic justice.