Trade policy is amounting to be an increasinly contentious topic as the Trump administration has clearly showed its intentions to keep major TPP provisions in NAFTA. Corporations are working with the Department of Commerce to eliminate the few but significant labor and environmental protections the government enforces while members of Congress begin to campaign around trade. 2018 promises to put trade policy at the forefront as presidential elections in Mexico and mid-terms in the United States could determine the fate of North American trade agreements to come.
By PressTV - Hundreds of anti-war protesters have staged a rally against the US military presence in Germany, voicing opposition to Washington’s use of killer drones around the world. Carrying signs addressed to the US army, which read “go home” and “stop war,” the demonstrators gathered outside the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany’s southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Saturday. Slamming the US drone strikes in certain countries, the protesters called for an end to the alleged use of the air base as a satellite relay station in the drone program. “No to the killer terror drones,” read another sign carried by the protesters. Earlier this year, German media reported that Ramstein has been serving as the command center of the US drone strikes across Africa and the Middle East and that the German government is aware of the attacks.
By David Swanson in World Beyond War - By the latest count, the nuclear agreement with Iran has enough support in the U.S. Senate to survive. This, even more than stopping the missile strikes on Syria in 2013, may be as close as we come to public recognition of the prevention of a war (something that happens quite a bit but generally goes unrecognized and for which there are no national holidays). Here, for what they’re worth, are 10 teachings for this teachable moment. There is never an urgent need for war. Wars are often begun with great urgency, not because there’s no other option, but because delay might allow another option to emerge.
By Mike Gold in Radical SoapBox - You thought the banking crisis and the recession were bad? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is the latest deal the bankers, corporations and governments don’t want you to know about. But just in case you find out just how toxic it could become, they’ve made sure that voters in the EU and the US will not have any opportunity to vote on it. It’s happening behind closed doors in Brussels and Washington. The politicians and the corporations want to make sure that there is nothing ‘ordinary’ people can do to halt the progress of this capitalist and/or fascist corporatist behemoth. The essence of TTIP is that the US and EU regulatory systems should be harmonised by dismantling trade barriers. This will lead to additional trade, and we can all live happily ever after. Or more likely not.
By David Masciotra in AlterNet - The war on the poor exposes the tyrannical turn of political administration in the United States – a country committed to mutating its criminal justice system, already more criminal than just, into an apparatus of assault against its most defenseless citizens. The following laws and policies give painful illustration to America’s attack on the poor in which the impoverished receive perpetual punishment for their poverty. This compilation does not include the mile-long list of policies that harm the poor, such as difficulty acquiring health care and child care, regressive taxation, or the cost of college. The following are policies in which state governments are actively levying the legal system against the poor.
By Zachary Davies Boren in The Independent - The European Commission is making the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal even more secret, introducing a new rule that means politicians can only view the text in a secure 'reading room' in Brussels. An investigation by German news site Correct!v has revealed that the Commission is cracking down on TTIP security following a series of leaks, purportedly by EU member states who had accessed information on the deal electronically. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has said that no more reports on TTIP negotiations will be sent to Member States because of "important vulnerabilities in the last rounds of negotiations". Officials were told of this change in policy on July 24th at a meeting in Brussels in which the Commission explained that the documents had "been submitted to databases of [member states'] national parliaments" meaning that "hundreds of people have actually uncontrolled access".
By Finian Cunningham in Information Clearinghouse - America’s war on Vietnam may have officially ended 40 years ago, but the Southeast Asian country is still battling with the horrific legacy that the US military bequeathed. Yet last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry, while in Hanoi, eulogised about how the two countries are «healing» and forging a new«partnership». Kerry was speaking on the 20th anniversary of «normalising ties» between the US and Vietnam that began in August 1995, more than 20 years after the war’s end. «It took us 20 more years to move from healing to building. Think of what we can accomplish in the 20 years to come», said Kerry. The American diplomat’s blithe account of «healing to building» belies the ongoing horror for some three million Vietnamese who live with the poisonous legacy of US war on that country.
By Andrea Germanos in Common Dreams - Stay away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership protest taking place Saturday in New Zealand's largest city, the United States Consulate has warned its citizens. The Auckland action is one of over 20 that organizers have planned as part of a national day of action against the controversial pending trade deal. The Consulate's security message reads, in part: "Approximately 8,000 people are expected to attend the protest. We urge citizens to avoid the protest march route as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. We remind citizens to always exercise caution when in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations." Greens trade spokesperson Russel Norman, who is taking part in the actions, told Radio New Zealand that such fears are unfounded.
By Wikileaks - Today, Tuesday 11th August, 9:15 BST, WikiLeaks has launched a campaign to crowd-source a €100,000 reward for Europe’s most wanted secret: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Starting pledges have already been made by a number of high profile activists and luminaries from Europe and the United States, including former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, esteemed UK fashion designer and environmental campaigner Dame Vivenne Westwood, US journalist Glenn Greenwald, veteran Australian film-maker and investigative journalist John Pilger, Belarusian philosopher and theorist Evgeny Morozov, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. [Update as of Tuesday 11th August 2.30pm BST: Now joined by filmmaker Terry Gilliam and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.]
By Lee Fang in The Intercept - The United States Institute of Peace is a publicly funded national institution chartered by the U.S. government to promote international peace through nonviolent conflict resolution. But its chairman, Stephen Hadley, is a relentless hawk whose advocacy for greater military intervention often dovetails closely with the interests of Raytheon, a major defense contractor that pays him handsomely as a member of its board of directors. Hadley, the former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, was an advocate for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and more recently appeared in the media to call for massive airstrikes in Syria. Over the last year, he has called for escalating the conflict in Ukraine. In a speech at Poland’s Wroclaw Global Forum in June, Hadley argued in favor of arming the Ukrainian government in part because that would “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine.”
By Mark Schuller in NACLA - This Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the U.S. Occupation of Haiti. On July 28, 1915, U.S. Marines landed on the shores of Haiti, occupying the country for 19 years. College campuses, professional associations, social movements, and political parties are marking the occasion with a series of reflections and demonstrations. Several have argued that the U.S. has never stopped occupying Haiti, even as military boots left in 1934. Some activists are using the word “humanitarian occupation” to describe the current situation, denouncing the loss of sovereignty, as U.N. troops have been patrolling the country for over 11 years. While the phrase “humanitarian occupation” may seem distasteful and even ungrateful to some considering the generosity of the response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake, there are several parallels between the contemporary aid regime and the U.S. Marine administration.
By Alice Ollstein in Think Progress - Angry graffiti scrawled across the brightly colored buildings of San Juan tells the creditors of the world exactly where they can stick their plan to extract roughly $73 billion in debt from the struggling U.S. territory. “Puerto Rico comes first. To hell with the debt,” reads one wall. “Don’t play around with my retirement,” says the side of a major freeway. Down by the University of Puerto Rico, the walls and sidewalk are filled with laments — “Look into my unemployed face” — and calls to action: “Study and fight!” Depending who you ask in Puerto Rico, the debt crisis was caused by neo-colonial and imperialist policies from the U.S., the Puerto Rican government’s wasteful overspending and corruption, or the cadre of hedge funds that are currently profiting from the island’s woes.
By Eric Johnston in The Japan Times - As the Lower House passed controversial security bills Thursday designed to deepen Japan’s military ties with the United States, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga moved a step closer to halting work on a controversial new U.S. air base after an advisory panel found serious flaws in the approval process. In a long-expected report, the advisory panel to Onaga, who won election last November by campaigning against a Henoko replacement facility for the U.S. Marine Futenma Air Station, cited concerns about how former Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima approved a central government landfill permit for the project in December 2013. The report outlined a lack of environmental protection measures in the Henoko Bay area, and said the prefecture approved the landfill project without a sufficient explanation from the Okinawa Defense Bureau, part of the Defense Ministry.
By Paul Lewis in The Guardian - Cuba’s blue, red and white-starred flag has been raised above the country’s newly inaugurated embassy in Washington, heralding the formal restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba . The establishment of embassies in both Washington and Havana, for the first time in 54 years, marked the symbolic end to one of the last vestiges of the cold war. After more than half a century of diplomatic animosity, the world’s capitalist superpower is once again on formal speaking terms with the small, communist state to the south. Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, flew to Washington to preside over the flag-raising ceremony on Monday and met with his US counterpart, John Kerry. It was the first time a Cuban foreign minister was hosted by a secretary of state in Washington since 1958. Appearing side by side at a State Department press conference, both diplomats expressed hope that a reset between the US and Cuba would lead to significant improvements in relations between the two countries.
By Pepe Escobar in Asian Times - This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.” And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order. So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.