On last week’s show we talked with Manuel Perez-Rocha about the causes of migration. One of the main reasons we discussed was Free Trade Agreements and their economic impacts. On the treaties that came up was the TPP. Well, on 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. So it is fitting that we follow up on this topic. Our interview will be with Lori Wallach of Public Citizen.
Also mentioned during the headlines last week was the CIA drone strike on Pakistan that derailed the peace conference between the Taliban and Pakistan. We referenced an article on the topic by our second guest, Gareth Porter.
More about this week’s guests:
Link mentioned during the interview: http://www.exposethetpp.org
Lori Wallach has been director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch since 1995. Wallach is an expert on the operations and outcomes of trade policies such as NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and more. She is steeped in the domestic and international politics of current trade negotiations and disputes. Wallach works closely with Congress and civil society, scholars, and activists in the U.S and developing countries to foster the growing debate about implications of different models of globalization on jobs, off-shoring, wages, the environment, public health and food safety; equality and social justice and democratically accountable governance.
Quote from Wednesday of this week: “Even before today’s WikiLeaks posting of the TPP copyright and patent text and its threats to affordable medicine and Internet freedom, House Democrats and Republicans have announced opposition to fast track authority for TPP.” The group just posted “What’s New in the WikiLeaks Text” and other breaking content.
A group of 151 House Democrats just released a letter opposing fast track authority for TPP, noting that: “For sometime, members of Congress have urged your administration to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of committees of Congress whose jurisdiction touches on the numerous issues being negotiated. [See PDF]. Similarly, yesterday, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama noting that the TPP is not simply about tariffs, but also “labor policy, food and agricultural standards, environmental concerns, patent and copyright use, and regulations impacting many service sector industries, among many others.”
Public Citizen also recently sent a letter to NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman following reports in the New York Times article “No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming NSA,” that the NSA doled out information to “customers” like the U.S. Trade Representative, as a result of its spying programs.
Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and historian who specialises in U.S. national security policy. He writes regularly for IPS and has also published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, ‘Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War’, published by University of California Press in 2005, “without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade.” He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
We will be discussing his most recent articles:
- Lavrov Reveals Amended Draft Circulated at “Last Moment”
- Drone Strike Served CIA Revenge, Blocked Pakistan’s Strategy
- Pakistan Drone Story Ignored Military Opposition to Strikes
This week’s theme is elections, no prizes for guessing why. We take a look at the history and effects of redistricting and the impact of corporate money on elections.
- The League of Dangerous Mapmakers – an interview with Robert Draper
- Obama continues Bush wiretaps and expands drone warfare – an interview with Kevin Gosztola
More about this week’s guests:
Robert Draper is a freelance writer, a correspondent for GQ and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine. Previously, he worked for Texas Monthly, where he first became acquainted with the Bush political family. He was on The Monitor last when he had just published Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush
Who’s most to blame for our divisive politics? How about the gerrymanderers quietly deciding where your vote goes. Inside the dark art and modern science of making democracy a lot less democratic. The League of Dangerous Mapmakers is the title of an article by Robert Draper in the Atlantic Magazine. The article takes a long look at how redistricting is done and by whom. Click the link to read it and tune into the show to hear Robert’s explanation.
Kevin Gosztola is a journalist for Firedoglake.com and recently wrote the piece “Obama’s Pathetic Answer to Jon Stewart’s Question on Continuation of Bush National Security Policies.” In the interview, President Obama claimed that he has set out to put legal structures in place to rein in the presidency. Gosztola argues that Obama has in fact done the opposite. Obama stated in the interview: “One of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place and we need congressional help to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making.” Gosztola retorted: “Like, the Constitution?”
Also see the new Amnesty International post: “Secret U.S. Drone Program Still Getting Away With Killing Children.” http://blog.amnestyusa.org/africa/secret-us-drone-program-still-getting-away-with-killing-children
This week’s show takes a closer look at the sharp end of the ‘War on Terror’. The people most affected by the US military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan (not to mention Iraq, Yemen and others) are seldom heard from. This week’s show tries to bring you their experiences through two interviews.
- Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence
- Junaid Ahmad is assistant professor of law at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan and is currently visiting the U.S.
More information about our guests:
Buddy Bell co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Mentioned on the air during the interview:
The electricity went out every few hours; we continued the conversation by flashlight until it came back on. At around 2am, I was provided a space to sleep on the floor. In the morning there was another communal meal with the dorm mates before Omar and a few of his friends took me for a short walk through campus, out the main gate and back home. A goodbye from one of them still echoes in my head: “I want that you write all the truth you have seen in Afghanistan.”
Junaid Ahmad is assistant professor of law at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan and is currently visiting the U.S.
Quote: “The United States launched new drone strikes on Pakistan over the weekend, causing at least a dozen deaths in the tribal area of South Waziristan. The attack on Sunday included two drones that fired missiles into a home and a car in the Wana district of the northwestern Pakistan tribal area near Afghanistan. Ten people were killed, and another ten wounded. Media reports about the attacks portrayed all of the victims as ‘suspected militants.’ This is in line with the publication last week of a detailed article in the New York Times describing how President Barack Obama determines victims for targeted assassinations and personally authorizes a number of the so-called ‘signature strikes’ — those targeted not at clearly identified ‘suspects,’ but rather at gatherings deemed to be involved in ‘suspicious behavior.’
“The report disclosed that Obama had authorized a CIA policy of classifying any combat-aged male killed in a drone attack as a ‘militant,’ in the absence of clear proof to the contrary. This approach effectively allows for the murder of any adult male in the tribal areas identified as kosher for drone strikes.
“Sunday’s attack was the seventh drone strike since the NATO summit in Chicago last month. They have included a May 24 attack on a mosque that killed 10 people during worship. A May 26 strike murdered 4 persons in a bakery where supposed militants were purchasing bread.
“The intensification of the U.S. drone attacks comes in the context of the NATO summit in Chicago last month, where the U.S. and Pakistani governments failed to come to an agreement concerning the reopening of a supply route for U.S.-NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan. The route, which goes from the Pakistani port city of Karachi to Afghanistan, was closed by Islamabad in protest over U.S. air strikes that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers last November.
“The supply lines through Pakistan were previously carrying over 30 percent of the material for the U.S.-NATO soldiers in Afghanistan and are perceived to be critically important for the withdrawal over the next two and half years of U.S.-NATO forces and their equipment.
“Also toward the end of last year, Islamabad shut down the covert Shamsi air base in Baluchistan that the U.S. relied upon to launch its drone strikes.
“Just last month, the Pakistani parliament passed a resolution stating that an end to the drone attacks will be the precondition for reopening the supply lines and calling on the United States to apologize for the killing of the 24 Pakistani soldiers. The Obama administration has rebuked both demands.
“The recent drone assaults are the most blatant expressions of American anger at Pakistan’s unwillingness to completely subordinate itself to U.S. dictate. The period after the Chicago summit has also witnessed repeated threats in Congress to halt all aid to Pakistan as well as a propaganda frenzy over a Pakistani court’s sentencing of a CIA informant who facilitated the Navy Seal raid that assassinated Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
“It should be obvious to the world by now that these ongoing drone attacks are viewed with disgust in Pakistan, and are blamed for killing thousands, mostly civilians.”
Reuters is reporting: “In a fresh challenge to the interim government’s weak authority, members of the al-Awfea Brigade occupied the airport for several hours demanding the release of their leader whom they said was being held by Tripoli’s security forces.”
This week’s show:
- U.S. Pakistan Policy “Threatening Another 9/11” – an interview with Fred Branfman
- Government and media cover up of the BP oil spill – an interview with Hugh B. Kaufman
Fred Branfman has written a dozen articles warning that U.S. policy towards Pakistan is a national security disaster, including two recent Salon pieces entitled “The Petraeus Projection, The CIA Director’s Record Since The Surge“. Branfman is best known for having exposed the CIA’s secret war in Laos.
Quote: “Short-sighted U.S. policy is creating a national security disaster in Pakistan. The U.S. policy of trying to win in tiny Afghanistan by extending its war-making into giant, nuclear-armed Pakistan — including drone strikes, cross-border raids, illegal U.S. ground assassination and forcing the Pakistani Army to wage scorched-earth offensives … threatens the greatest U.S. foreign policy disaster since its support for Iran’s Shah, including another domestic 9/11. …U.S. policy has led to an increase in the strength of militant groups in Pakistan, vastly increased the ranks of potential anti-U.S. suicide bombers in both Pakistan and the West, and increased the possibility of an anti-U.S. military coup. And, most significantly, as former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has secretly warned, it has vastly increased the possibility of materials from Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile — the world’s fastest-growing and least stable — falling into terrorist hands. U.S.-Pakistan policy, largely designed by David Petraeus, had led over 69 percent of Pakistanis — over 125 million people — to regard the U.S. as their ‘enemy,’ and is thus sowing a whirlwind which threatens disaster in coming years. The U.S. badly needs to pull out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, end the drone strikes in Pakistan, and vastly increase its economic aid to Pakistan — particularly helping to extend its electricity grid, its top domestic priority — to reduce the threat of terrorism. Present U.S. policy is vastly increasing the threat of another 9/11 on American soil.”
Branfman’s previous articles include “Unintended Consequences in Nuclear-Armed Pakistan“.
Hugh B. Kaufman
Hugh B. Kaufman is presently a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). Kaufman was a leading critic of the Federal government’s decision to use massive amounts of the toxic dispersant Corexit, on oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico after BP’s Deepwater Horizon accident on April 20, 2010. Prior to joining the EPA in the beginning of 1971, he was a Captain in the US Air Force. He helped write all the Federal laws regulating the treatment, storage, disposal, and remediation of solid and hazardous waste. For four decades he has been the EPA Chief Investigator on numerous contamination cases, including Love Canal and Times Beach.
In 1976, when he was Chief Investigator on Hazardous Sites, he came up with the idea for a major Government Emergency Response and Clean-up Program called “Superfund,” that was enacted in 1980. Beginning in 1997, he served as Chief Investigator for EPA’s National Ombudsman. In that role, he conducted numerous Federal investigations (which included public hearings) around the country on EPA’s response, clean-up, and remediation at hazardous sites. In this role, he led the investigation that uncovered the EPA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cover-up of the environmental effects of the collapse of the World Trade Center after the terrorist acts on September 11, 2001.
Mr. Kaufman is an engineer, holding both Bachelors and Masters degrees in that field from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He has testified numerous times before Congress as an expert on solid and hazardous waste and Federal response to releases of hazardous materials.
This week’s show looks at the US postal service and the War and Peace Process in Afghanistan. Our guests are Jeff Musto and Gareth Porter.
Jeff Musto is a public interest advocate and researcher for the Center for Study of Responsive Law, a non-profit founded by Ralph Nader in 1968. In this role he works on a variety of projects, including the preservation of the U.S. Postal Service by preventing further Post Office closings, service cuts, and job cuts; the benefits of a financial speculation tax and other revenue generating proposals; the expansion of the posting of government contracts online; and the impacts of the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others. Prior to his work with the Center, he worked with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. In his career as an advocate for the public interest, he has conducted research and analysis on a variety of issues, co-authored nationally released reports on government transparency and corporate tax loopholes, written works published in newspapers throughout the country, lobbied legislators, and directed grassroots citizen outreach campaigns.
Reuters reported this week that President Obama has endorsed a plan to “rescue” the Postal Service, including by reducing service one day a week.
Bloomberg reports: “A measure that may put the U.S. Postal Service under a control board, end to-the-door mail delivery and close post offices using the same process as military-base shutdowns was approved by a U.S. House panel. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and Dennis Ross, a Florida Republican, was approved today with Republican support and Democratic opposition.”
In a letter to Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Rep. Darrell Issa, Ralph Nader writes: “The deep hole of debt that is currently facing the U.S. Postal Service is entirely due to the burdensome prepayments for future retiree health care benefits imposed by Congress in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). By June 2011, the USPS saw a total net deficit of $19.5 billion … [this] deficit almost exactly matches the $20.95 billion the USPS made in prepayments to the fund for future retiree health care benefits by June 2011. If the prepayments required under PAEA were never enacted into law, the USPS would not have a net deficiency of nearly $20 billion, but instead be in the black by at least $1.5 billion.” Nader stresses that, in terms of retirees’ health benefits, the Postal Service is required to do things that “no other government or private corporation is required to do and is an incredibly unreasonable burden.”
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006. He is an historian with a PhD in South-east Asian studies from Cornell University in New York state. He was Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service in 1970 and 1971. Porter has taught international studies at City College of New York and American University and has written several books on Vietnam. He has also written on war and diplomacy in Cambodia, Korea and the Philippines. Porter has been a news analyst for IPS focusing on U.S. policy and developments in Iraq and Iran since September 2005. He has been on The Monitor several times, mostly to talk about events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This week he joins us to talk about his two most recent articles:
You can find a full listing of his stories with IPS here
Pakistan and Honduras are not countries that are often meaningfully discussed in the news. Pakistan got a lot of ‘coverage’ when we were told of the assassination of Bin Laden (regular listeners will note that many issues were raised on the show about the contradictions in the official version of the story) and Honduras got some mention when there was a coup there but very little of substance was said about what led tot he coup and who was behind it. Tonight we try to correct the lack of real analysis with this week’s guests: Sobia Ali and Dana Frank.
Sobia Ali is a software engineer who lives and works in NYC. She grew up in Abbotabad, Pakistan.
Dana Frank is a professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America. She is currently writing a book about the AFL-CIO’s Cold War intervention in the Honduran labor movement.
Quote: “President Zelaya’s return offers a brief glimmer of hope, but the ongoing repression by current President Porfirio Lobo’s military regime — now even worse than immediately after the coup — remains undiminished, as state security forces now routinely use tear gas canisters as lethal weapons, and teachers, trade unionists and campesinos in the opposition are still being assassinated with complete impunity. Lobo and Secretary of State Clinton insist that democracy has been restored to Honduras. But the reality on the ground remains terrifying, which is why over 75 Congress members are calling for a suspension of U.S. military and police aid to Honduras.”
Frank just wrote a piece titled “Ousted president’s return to Honduras doesn’t mean repression is over.” http://www.progressive.org/mpfrank052711.html