Newsflash:
Rep. Barbara Lee Trans Pacific Partnership TPP Disclosure Shows It Will Kill People and Internet; House Opposition Is Widespread
Saturday, 16 November 2013 02:02

TPP Disclosure Shows It Will Kill People and Internet; House Opposition Is Widespread

Written by  Yves Smit | Naked Capitalism

We wrote yesterday that this deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, already looked to be in trouble given both Congressional and foreign opposition. The Administration has conducted the talks with an unheard-of degree of secrecy, with Congressional staffers in most cases denied access to the text and even Congressmen themselves facing unheard-of obstacles (Alan Grayson reported that the US Trade Representative created an absurd six weeks of dubious delays in his case).

We posted on the New York Times news story that opposition in the House to authorization of "fast track" authority to the Administration on its pending Pacific and Atlantic trade deals was stiffening right just before a related story broke: that Wikileaks had disclosed the end of August draft of one of the critical chapters of one of the deals.

We wrote yesterday that this deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, already looked to be in trouble given both Congressional and foreign opposition. The Administration has conducted the talks with an unheard-of degree of secrecy, with Congressional staffers in most cases denied access to the text and even Congressmen themselves facing unheard-of obstacles (Alan Grayson reported that the US Trade Representative created an absurd six weeks of dubious delays in his case). But perversely, 700 corporate representatives got privileged access so they could influence negotiations. It's not hard to see whose interests are really being served in these deals.

The Wikileaks disclosure could well have struck the fatal blow to this toxic pact. As we'll see below, it may have been dead anyhow. Obama's relationship with his own party is already on the rocks as a result of Obamacare (not just the rollout but the increasing recognition that the program has more fundamental flaws), so he has limited political capital available to whip Democratic Congressmen back into line. The opposition is more deep-seated and broad-based than I had realized (for instance, 18 of the 21 ranking full committee members in the House are against it). So the TPP looked to be on the Syria incursion path. But it's hard not to believe that the Wikileaks revelations will galvanize opposition among the other prospective members of the pact. It's hard for democratic countries to agree to a deal that has been revealed will kill their citizens in order to enrich America's Big Pharma incumbents. And that statement is not an exaggeration. Wikileaks disclosed the end of August version (apparently two drafts behind current text) of the intellectual property chapter, which includes the section on drugs and surgical procedures.

The intent is to strengthen America's aggressive patent regime and require foreign countries to comply with it. For instance, the FDA considers minor changes in existing drugs, such as developing an extended release version so that a medication need be taking only once a day, to be a "new drug application" and will extend patents based on that. The draft also would severely limit the use of generics. Higher prices will restrict drug use and is certain to have adverse health consequences for some, potentially many, citizens. And although people overseas will suffer the greatest consequences, Americans will be affected as well. As Public Citizen wrote, "The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has proposed measures harmful to access to affordable medicines that have not been seen before in U.S. trade agreements," and elaborated:

TPPNotes

Another medical-industrial complex rent-extraction technique is by covering surgical methods . No, I am not making that up. See this section of an excellent discussion by Knowledge Ecology International:

An interesting example of how the US seeks to change national and global norms are the provisions in the TPP over patents on surgical methods. The WTO permits countries to exclude "diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals." The US wants to flip this provision, so that "may also exclude from patentability" becomes "shall make patents available." However, when a version of the IP Chapter was leaked in 2011, the US trade negotiators were criticized for ignoring the provisions in 28 USC 287 that eliminated remedies for infringement involving the "medical activity" of a "medical practitioner." The exception in US law covered "the performance of a medical or surgical procedure on a body." The US trade negotiators then proposed adding language that would permit an exception for surgery, but only "if they cover a method of using a machine, manufacture, or composition of matter." The US proposal, crafted in consultation with the medical devices lobby, but secret from the general public, was similar, but different from the U.S. statute, which narrowed the exception in cases involving "the use of a patented machine, manufacture, or composition of matter in violation of such patent." How different? As Public Citizen's Burcu Kilic puts it, under the US proposal in the TPP, the exception would only apply to "surgical methods you can perform with your bare hands." I'm not sure how this would work in practice, but I imagine it would be ugly. For instance, Johnson & Johnson dominates the market for replacement hips and knees. They also provide tools used to perform the surgeries on those hips and knees which surgeons need to buy (as in no one had the incentive beside J&J to make these implements, and surgeons would be unlikely to scrimp on a secondary cost when it gets billed back to the patient anyhow). So it looks as if J&J would also somehow be able to charge additional fees on each operation, say if it introduced a new hip replacement which required some change in how the hip was installed (a new surgical method). How this would be enforced is over my pay grade.

The pact in its end of August form would also, as we had discussed based on concerned raised by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, interfere with basic Internet operations. The International Business Times summarized the EFF's concerns:

Here's the text of the relevant section of the TPP's intellectual property chapter leaked Wednesday:

Each Party shall provide that authors, performers, and producers of phonograms have the right to authorize or prohibit all reproductions of their works, performances, and phonograms, in any manner or form, permanent or temporary (including temporary storage in electronic form).

The EFF wrote in a July analysis of the language — which has not been amended in the intervening months — that the provision "reveals a profound disconnect with the reality of the modern computer," which relies on temporary copies to perform routine operations, during which it must create temporary copies of programs and files in order to carry out basic functions. This is particularly so while a computer is connected to the Internet, when it will use temporary copies to buffer videos, store cache files to ensure websites load quickly and more.

"Since it's technically necessary to download a temporary version of everything we see on our devices, does that mean—under the US proposed language—that anyone who ever views content on their device could potentially be found liable of infringement?" the EFF wrote. "For other countries signing on to the TPP, the answer would be most likely yes."

Another way the TPP will harm the Internet is, similar to SOPA and PIPA, is to obligate internet service providers to act as copyright police. Now, as Dean Baker explained on Bill Moyers, if a website posts material improperly, the site owner and the host are obligated to remove it as soon as the publisher is notified (in practice, if the publisher does not comply pronto, a nastygram to the webhost will get the entire site taken down). ISPs are extremely low margin businesses. Forcing high-cost monitoring on them would lead them to increase their staffing considerably. The resulting hosting increases would force the closure of most small independent sites. The increased oversight of ordinary users (they'd be required to monitor ongoing communications for piracy, which sounds like an NSA wet dream) would also likely lead to higher access charges for consumers.

I attempted to read the draft, which was largely over my head (as in you need to know extant intellectual property provisions in order to be able to see how this treaty language stands relative to it). However, even a casual reading shows that much of the language is still under negotiation, with many passages having numerous TPP parties on each side of an issue. So the negotiations looked to be fraught even before the Wikileaks disclosure. On the US side, Rosa DeLauro and George Miller are leading the opposition to the use of fast track authority altogether. This is the key section of their letter, which already has 151 signatures: Congress, not the Executive Branch, must determine when an agreement meets the objectives Congress sets in the exercise of its Article I-8 exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade. For instance, an agreement that does not specifically meet congressional negotiating objectives must not receive preferential consideration in Congress. A new trade agreement negotiation and approval process that restores a robust role for Congress is essential to achieving U.S. trade agreements that can secure prosperity for the greatest number of Americans, while preserving the vital tenets of American democracy in the era of globalization. Twentieth Century "Fast Track" is simply not appropriate for 21st Century agreements and must be replaced. The United States cannot afford another trade agreement that replicates the mistakes of the past. We can and must do better.

Let's hope that lame duck Obama overplaying his hand on the "trade" front will indeed rouse Congress to pull back authority that it has over the years allowed the Executive to abrogate. If so, this will be an unexpected and welcome important side benefit of blocking these toxic trade deals.

Link to original article from Naked Capitalism

Read 6158 times

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Lee Campaign

Latest News from the Grayson Campaign

Latest News from the Schapira Campaign

  • Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race
    Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race

    With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.

    Written on Thursday, 09 August 2012 01:45 Read more...
  • Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    “The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:14 Read more...
  • A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira
    A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira

    Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:38 Read more...
  • David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement
    David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement

    On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.

    Written on Thursday, 17 May 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira
    Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira

    Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.

    Written on Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Union Rights Stripped

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?

    Written on Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race
    State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race

    As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.

    Written on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the ERA Petition

ERADemandButton

On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

Button-SignERAPetition

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Rep. Barbara Lee

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of