Meanwhile, In Other News …

Published on ZNet, by Paul Street, Feb 18, 2016.

… Global Investor Right Protection in the Guise of Free Trade:  

  • On February 4th, three days after the headline-holding Iowa Caucus (“Cruz Trumps Trump,” “Sanders Fights Hillary to Virtual Tie”) and five days before the New Hampshire primaries (“Trump and Sanders Win Big”), trade ministers from 12 nations including the United States met in Auckland, New Zealand to sign the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The signing took place under impressive police-state protection, with riot-ready gendarmes occupying key intersections to block large demonstrations against the regressive, authoritarian, and arch-corporatist measure.
  • The popular anger in New Zealand (and elsewhere) is quite understandable. Contrary to the neoliberal rhetoric of “free trade” and “improved standards” in which it is wrapped, the U.S.-sponsored measure isn’t really about trade. It certainly isn’t about meeting enhanced social and environmental requirements. Its real purpose is to strengthen corporations’ ability to defend and extend their intellectual property rights (drug patents, movie rights, and the like) and to guarantee that they will be compensated by governments for any profits they might lose from having to meet decent public labor and environmental (and other) specifications – something certain to discourage the enactment and enforcement of such standards. Key parts of the TPP permit foreign capital to freely and easily enter a country and for profits to be just as easily removed. The TPP would ban capital controls, which let nations block disruptive inflows of ‘hot money’ from speculative investors and then escape before the bubble they create explodes. It would also block the passage of financial transaction taxes, a method for checking speculation and for generating public revenue. The measure also legitimizes the extensive privatization of public enterprises.
  • The TPP is designed to help big multinational businesses attain special deals they would be unable to get through existing political processes, considered excessively democratic by global capital. A foreign corporation could sue and receive damages for anticipated profit losses resulting from an increase in the minimum wage (federal, state, or local) in the United States.
  • A U.S. state or Canadian province (or any other member-state jurisdiction) would have to compensate oil and gas companies for anticipated profits lost to bans on the environmentally disastrous practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
  • Big Pharma and the big corporate media firms would be granted stronger and longer-lasting patent and copyright safeguards across the “free trade” zone.
  • Big multinational banking and investment firms would have to be paid by TPP governments that want to keep their nations’ financial systems safe through responsible regulation.
  • Food, chemical, consumer goods, and pesticide industries will be able to able to limit the ability of TPP governments to impose safety and environmental regulations on the things they sell and how they make them. The giant global and U.S.-based consumer packaged goods firm Procter & Gamble (just for one example) could demand compensation from any TPP nation (including the U.S.) that dared to subject its products and workplaces to basic social and environmental rules and regulations.
  • Beneath Obama’s claim that it is about creating a “level playing field,” the TPP is about a race to the capitalist bottom, a levelling down of people’s and government’s capacity to impose limits on business behavior. Like its ugly predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s about what the New York Times calls “investor protection.”
  • Of special undemocratic significance, the TPP constructs a new legal structure that transcends the existing, nation-based legal system. Big global corporations who don’t think that American, Australian, Japanese, or Malaysian (etc.) courts can be trusted to give them a “fair deal” (translation: decisions consistent with their desired rate of profit) will be able to turn to “investor-state dispute settlement [ISDS] tribunals”: three-person corporate lawyer-staffed panels that will effectively make their own law on behalf of big business … //

… A Planet-Baking/Bakken Pipeline in the Upper Midwest: … //

… (full long text, links).
Noam Chomsky’s Endnote: … //


Negative interest rates are a ‘dangerous experiment’, warns Morgan Stanley, on Market Watch, by Sara Sjolin, Feb 18, 2016;

Sudden Death? Junk-Rated Companies Headed for Biggest “Refinancing Cliff” Ever – Moody’s, on Wolf Street, with Wolf Richter, Feb 17, 2016;

Syria conflict: Damascus remains a war zone – but some families are returning, on The Independent, by Robert Fisk, Damascus, Feb 16, 2016: in this subtle war, men of the Free Syrian Army are being allowed to rejoin the ranks of the government army they deserted on their return to the shattered neighbourhood of al-Qadam;

Teca #5: Music pours down in Lima, on Latin America Is A Country, by PABLO MEDINA URIBE, Feb 15, 2016 … (see also Kanaku & El Tigre – Bicicleta, 3.10 min, uploaded by LesterStone … and many more in autoplay – and see on es.wikipedia: Rock del Perú);

Bernie Sanders Decries Lack of Wall Street Prosecutions:
- first as video on The Real News, 12.01 min, by Sharmini Peries, Jan 6, 2016: former financial regulator (William K.) Bill Black says it’s important to reimplement the Glass-Steagall Act – but it’s not enough to prevent another financial crisis;
- second as article on New Economic Perspectives, by Devin Smith, Jan 7, 2016;

Denker des Abendlandes: Schopenhauer und Nietzsche, 28.37 min, auf BR/alphaARD, mit Lesch und Vossenkuhl, June 1, 2012;

… and this:

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