The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:Leading the fight to ensure that the TPP doesn't cost jobs is none other than U.S. Senator Al Franken (D. MN):
offshore millions of American jobs,
free the banksters from oversight,
ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy,
decrease access to medicine,
flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products,
and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.
Closed-door talks are on-going between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam; with countries like Japan and China potentially joining later. 600 corporate advisors have access to the text, while the public, Members of Congress, journalists, and civil society are excluded. - Public Citizen
The 22 Senators to sign this letter include Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Robert Casey (D-Penn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).As negotiations on the latest U.S.-backed free-trade agreement resumed in Australia, U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota led a bipartisan appeal to President Obama, urging his administration to craft an deal that protects American jobs and workers’ rights worldwide.
Franken, a DFLer, joined Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine in authoring a letter to Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free-trade agreement currently encompassing 11 countries and reaching all corners of the Pacific Ocean.
The senators want Obama to ensure the new free-trade agreement is “crafted to maximize good job creation and market expansion while minimizing the incentives for further off-shoring of middle class jobs,” according to the letter.Twenty-two other senators, including Minnesota DFLer Amy Klobuchar, signed onto the letter.
The senators voice specific concern in the letter about including enforceable protections for labor rights in the TPP – a provision that has been lacking in previous free-trade agreements entered into by the U.S. - Work Day Minnesota, 12/9/12
You can read the letter and learn more from the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition here:
Josh Wise, director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition, which is closely monitoring TPP negotiations, explains that Congress has been mostly shut out of TPP negotiations. Franken's letter is the closest law makers can get to influencing these negotiations before the TPP lands in Congress for a ratification vote.
Wise has praised Franken and Senator Amy Klobuchar's (D. MN) efforts for fighting for workers rights and American jobs.“A country that denies these rights to workers is providing a hidden subsidy that keeps wages artificially lower than they otherwise would be if workers were free to organize and bargain – a subsidy that makes U.S.-based producers less cost-competitive,” the letter says. “The free exercise of fundamental labor rights is key to improving the standards of living and expanding export markets while labor suppression merely ensures that middle classes – and export markets – will be smaller than they otherwise would be.” - Work Day Minnesota, 12/9/12
Although members of Congress – and the media – have been shut out of negotiations, a handful of multinational corporations like Cargill have been included in the talks – a big reason why it is critical for lawmakers like Franken and Klobuchar to speak out, Wise added. - Work Day Minnesota, 12/9/12
You can read more about Senator Brown's bill here:
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TPP's copyright laws also has the technical and web community alarmed:
The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property EnforcementYou can read all the details here:
All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the US, this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of US copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act [DMCA]) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked US-proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that appear to go beyond current US law. - Electronic Frontier Foundation
You can sign the Electronic Frontier Foundation to lobby congress to end to these backroom negotiations:
By the way, along with TPP, Senator Franken has been busy protecting our privacy:
Franken has been able to use the subcommittee to investigate privacy issues in the technology world. The main focus has been on location tracking like the Carrier IQ phone tracking case and use of facial recognition technology. You can read about these issues here:Senator Al Franken (D-MN), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, plans to debate legislation that would require companies to obtain express consent from users before collecting, obtaining, or sharing the location data from mobile phones. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2012 would require location data handlers to disclose what information is collected and inform users about how to "revoke consent" for data collection and sharing. In a statement provided by his office, Senator Franken warned of ubiquitous "personal tracking devices" and said that "the law allows companies to collect and disclose our location information without our knowledge and consent." In the senator's fact sheet about the bill, privacy issues with the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7 are all specifically named. - The Verge, 12/5/12
Carrier IQ phone tracking:
Facial recognition technology:
Back in march, Senator Franken made a speech to the American Bar Association's Antitrust Section about how consumers are left in the dark in terms of legal protection and that market dominating companies like Facebook and Google could kill incentives to respect privacy:
"You are not their client. You are their product."Here's what Franken's bill calls for:
"The more dominant these companies become, the less incentive they have to respect your privacy." - Sen. Al Franken (D. MN) Remarks to the American Bar Association (Antitrust Section) , March 29, 2012
You can read more about Franken's bill here:While the bill would apply broadly to all location tracking services, it also specifically addresses the issue of GPS stalking, adding specific penalties for stalkers. The bill would make it a crime to "intentionally operate a stalking application" to stalk others. It would also mobilize the government to investigate GPS stalking: requiring the National Institute of Justice to study the role of geolocation information in violence against women, and law enforcement agencies to track geolocation crime complaints. - The Verge, 12/5/12
Since it's the Holidays, how about giving Senator Franken a little Chanukah gift and donate to his re-election campaign so he can continue to fight in the Senate to keep jobs in America and protect our privacy: