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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Public Citizen

Couple of interesting things from Public Citizen, Obama wants to let multinational corporations run the show:

Contrary to his campaign promises, Obama's trade commission acts to give foreign corporations that operate in the United States access to foreign tribunals amongst other things. The new Trans Pacific agrement would:
  •     Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S.  boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;
  •     Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;
  •     Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and
  •     Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.
“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of TPP negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.” 

Public Citizen also reports that the FDA reform act being voted on today would block the public release of critical drug and food safety information.
"Section 812 of the Food and Drug Administration Reform Act (H.R. 5651), which will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, allows the FDA to deny the public access to information relating to drugs obtained from a federal, state, local or foreign government agency if the agency has requested that the information be kept confidential. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), however, already provides exemptions to protect against the release of many law enforcement records, confidential commercial information and trade secrets, the letter said.
“The provision would create an overly broad exemption under FOIA – with no explanation of need by the entity that wants to keep the information secret,” said Julie Murray, a staff attorney with Public Citizen. “If passed as is, the legislation could push some of the FDA’s work into the shadows.”
The provision also would allow the FDA to withhold covered information forever, even long after any need for secrecy has passed." 

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