Posted 9 months ago on Aug. 21, 2012, 8:40 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Let's Help WikiLeaks Liberate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiating Text
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 13:40 By Robert Naiman, Truthout | Op-Ed
On September 6, negotiators will go to Leesburg, Virginia, for the latest round of secretive talks on the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" (TPP) agreement. This proposed agreement threatens access to essential medicines in developing countries, threatens environmental regulations and threatens Internet freedom. Even members of Congress and their staff have been blocked from seeing the draft text, while corporate representatives have been allowed to see it.
Americans - and citizens of the other countries that would be covered by the agreement - have a right to see what our governments are proposing to do. Parts of the draft negotiating text have been leaked. But don't we have a right to see the whole text before the agreement is signed? After the agreement is signed, if there's anything in it we don't like, we'll be told that it's too late to change it.
Just Foreign Policy is issuing a reward if WikiLeaks publishes the TPP negotiating text. Instead of getting one rich person to put up the money, we're "crowdsourcing" the reward. We figure, if many people pledge a little bit, that will not only potentially raise a helpful sum of money for WikiLeaks, it will show that the opposition to this secretive agreement is widespread.
If WikiLeaks publishes the TPP negotiating text, it will show that WikiLeaks is still relevant to citizen demands for government transparency, that publishing US diplomatic cables wasn't the end of WikiLeaks' contribution to public knowledge of government misdeeds. And it will show that the WikiLeaks campaign for government transparency isn't just about issues related to war, but extends to every area where secretive government action threatens the public interest.
This week, Ecuador granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from the threat of political persecution by the United States - as thousands of Americans had urged Ecuador to do. But the UK authorities have refused to grant Assange safe passage to Ecuador, and he remains trapped in Ecuador's Embassy. Meanwhile, the corporate financial blockade of WikiLeaks has starved WikiLeaks of resources, while the legal fight to protect Assange from the threat of extradition to the United States has drained resources.
Protecting Assange's civil liberties is crucial because it's a test case for all future whistleblowers. But it's also crucial to protect and sustain WikiLeaks, for exactly the same reason: the US government and its allies are trying to set a precedent of successful intimidation, to deter future whistleblowers. We cannot allow this precedent to stand.
By making a pledge to our reward for WikiLeaks if it publishes the TPP negotiating text, you can vote twice with one ballot: once to support WikiLeaks, and once against a secret attack on access to essential medicines, the environment and Internet freedom.
The Billionaires Bill Of Rights
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 10:32 By Dick Meister, dickmeister.com | News Analysis
Billionaire corporate interests and other well financed anti-labor forces are waging a major drive to stifle the political voice of workers and their unions in California that is certain to spread nationwide if not stopped – and stopped now.
At issue is a highly deceptive measure, Proposition 32, on the state's November election ballot, that its anti-labor sponsors label as an even-handed attempt to limit campaign spending. But actually, it would limit – and severely – only the spending of unions while leaving corporations and other moneyed special interests free to spend as much as they like.
Unions would be prohibited from making political contributions with money collected from voluntary paycheck deductions authorized by their members, which is the main source of union political funds. But there would be no limits on corporations, whose political funds come from their profits, their customers or suppliers and the contributions of corporate executives. Nor would there be any limit on the political spending of the executives or any other wealthy individuals. What's more, corporate special interests and billionaires could still give unlimited millions to secretive "Super PACs" that can raise unlimited amounts of money anonymously to finance their political campaigns.
The proposition would have a "devastating impact" on unions, notes Professor John Logan, director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University. As he says, it would likely all but eliminate political spending by unions while greatly increasing political spending by business interests and wealthy individuals. Anti-labor interests are already outspending unions nationwide by a ratio of more than $15 for every $1 spent by unions. Between 2000 and 2011, that amounted to $700 million spent by anti-labor forces, while unions spent just a little more than $284 million.
Proposition 32 would even restrict unions in their communications with their own members on political issues. That's because money raised by payroll deductions pays for the preparation and mailing of communications to union members, including political materials. Unfortunately, there's even more – much more –to Proposition 32. It also would prohibit unions from making contributions to political parties and defines public employee unions as "government contractors" that would be forbidden from attempting to influence any government agency with whom they have a contract.
That restriction applies not only to unions. It also would cover political action committees established by any membership organization, "any agency or employee representation committee or plan," such as those seeking stronger civil rights or environmental protections.
Proposition 32 seeks to weaken, that is, any membership group which might seek reforms opposed by wealthy individuals or corporations and their Republican allies. It's no wonder the measure is actively opposed, not only by organized labor, but also by the country's leading good-government groups, including Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.
Ruled innocent by judge 2 years ago, Los Angeles man remains in prison
The California Innocence Project is pushing for the release of Daniel Larsen, an exonerated man facing life in jail over a "technicality." KNBC's Michelle Valles reports from Los Angeles.
Supporters of a Los Angeles man who remains in California state prison despite being declared innocent by a federal judge delivered more than 90,000 petition signatures to the state Attorney General’s Office on Monday, calling for his release from custody.
Daniel Larsen was convicted in 1999 of possession of a concealed weapon and sentenced to 27 years to life but had the conviction overturned when a judge in 2010 found his constitutional rights had been violated.
At a press conference on Monday, Larsen’s fiancée, Christina Combs, joined members of the California Innocence Project and Brian Banks, a football star who was exonerated after serving a five-year sentence when his accuser admitted she lied about him raping her, to call for Larsen's release.
"I just need him to come home," said Combs, who recently launched the petition on Change.org. "I love him."
In the petition, Combs calls on state Attorney General Kamala Harris to officially exonerate Larsen and rescind the state’s objection to his release from prison.
The group presented thousands of signatures in boxes and signs calling for Larsen’s release.
Larsen was convicted in 1999 of possession of a concealed weapon after two police officers testified they saw Larsen toss a knife under a nearby car in the parking lot of a bar.
Supporters say Larsen was the victim of poor representation. His trial attorney reportedly failed to call as many as nine witnesses, including a former police chief who said he saw another man toss the knife.
As a result, Larsen was convicted and sentenced to 27 years-to-life in prison under California’s Three Strikes Law. He had two prior strikes for burglary.
Larsen was later ruled innocent by a federal judge, who reversed his conviction and declared that his constitutional rights had been violated.
Larsen has remained incarcerated since that ruling because the Attorney General claims that he did not present proof he was innocent quickly enough -- a legal technicality that could keep him in prison for life, according to the California Innocence Project.