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Watercooler: Ahoy, 1%

6:00 pm in Watercooler by Kit OConnell

Ahoy, y’all.

I’m sure more serious TransPacific Partnership news will come to light in the next few days, but this video made me smile! Such a clever action by these activists (I believe Occupy Dallas members were involved). Paddling a boat around a suburb of Dallas might not topple the power structure, but it gets attention from the populace in a unique way.

In these times, I think popping up and surprising the 1% from all sides is key. Even when we can’t fill Union Square with 40,000 people, the rest of us need to keep acting — sharing with our friends, documenting, investigating, knocking on doors, writing, feeding the hungry, making phone calls …

I spent last night with Occupy Austin‘s Bank Action, who seem to have a renewed vision and some strong new allies in our ongoing fight to kick big banks out of Austin. We’ve got something up our sleeve for this Friday, but I’ll talk more about that when I can. Like this action, it will also involve singing.

Take any small actions lately? Hear any good music or read any good books?

Talk to me about whatever is on your mind. This is today’s open thread.

TransPacific Partnership: Darrell Issa Releases Text, Full Document Still Secret

1:08 pm in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

TPP Protest in Addison, Texas. Photo by Kit O'Connell.

Despite a petition with over 44,000 signatures, as well as recommendations by NGOs, legal experts, and congressmen, the Office of the United States Trade Representative still refuses to release the text of the TransPacific Partnership:

The first question, from Citizens Trade Campaign, was a request that text be made available to the public so that stakeholders could have more informed positions when speaking with negotiators. Weisel said that while the U.S. position is that constantly evolving TPP chapter texts cannot be released to the public.

While activists continue to work to obtain a list of those who have seen the complete text, Congressman Darrell Issa made the dramatic move to release the copyright and intellectual property portion of the agreement. Pieces of this chapter had been previously leaked, angering activists with  Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Anonymous, and supporters of an accessible, open Internet. They see the agreement as reproducing or worsening many of the more destructive portions of defeated laws like the Senate Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

In his press release, Issa said:

At a time when the American people and Internet users all around the world are rightfully wary of any closed-door negotiations that could adversely impact their ability to freely and openly access the Internet, the Obama Administration continues to pursue a secretive, closed-door negotiating process for the Trans Pacific Partnership.

My contacts suggest that this release, apparently the entire chapter on intellectual property, is more than most outside the shadowy negotiations have seen before today. The chapter is hosted on Keep The Web #Open, where the public is invited to read it and give the feedback, a process many believe should have been possible from the beginning.

Thanks to Anonymous for drawing my attention to these stories.

#TPP Wrap-up: Secret Deals Under Fire

11:05 am in Uncategorized by Kit OConnell

For a #TPP Photo Gallery, visit Kit O’Connell’s Approximately 8,000 Words

After a weekend of protest and controversy, it’s clear that the TransPacific Partnership, the secretive and far-reaching international trade deal negotiated in Addison, Texas is under fire. The more sunshine we let in, the less attractive this deal looks to world leaders.

From a direct action perspective, the highlight of the week was the major disruption caused by Yes Lab pranksters with support from Occupy Dallas. Their efforts, which included replacing the toilet paper in the hotel with special ‘TPP’ message paper, culminated in a major infiltration and the presentation of a fake “Corporate Power Tool” award to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk:

The first action began when a smartly-dressed man approached the podium immediately after the gala’s keynote speech by Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas. The man (local puppeteer David Goodwin) introduced himself as “Git Haversall,” president of the “Texas Corporate Power Partnership,” and announced he was giving Kirk and other U.S. trade negotiators the “2012 Corporate Power Tool Award,” which “Haversall’s” partner held aloft.

Citizens on Twitter from around the world bombarded political accounts in the US with demands to halt the deal:

@BarackObama We Japanese appreciate your kindness such as Tomodachi operation. But we are not happy with TPP! #TPP — tweet by ファーファ@座り込み (@saQra629)

On Saturday, I livetweeted and liveblogged from the TPP: Out of the Shadows rally. A collection of activists from around the country (and even a handful of international visitors) gathered in Addison Circle Park. The coalition, organized by the Texas Fair Trade Coalition, ranged from unions like the Teamsters to multiple Occupy groups like Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. I was dropped at the park around noon on a bus with about 40 occupiers and activists; I’d greatly enjoyed the quiet company of the National Nurses United contingent who were proud of their victory in the upcoming Chicago rally and Tom Morello concert. A lunch had been provided for some, but with no vegetarian options a few of us went in search of other food.

By the time I got back, the rally had grown to over 300 people. Red TPP balloons dotted the crowd, along with signs and banners. Occupy Austin had brought our banner from May Day, “Workers of the World: Occupy!” Anonymous supporters were even present among the crowd, a sign of the major push that movement has been making against the trade deal on social media. The only mainstream media I spotted were from Japan, but I didn’t catch which network they represented.

At about 2pm central time, we marched on the Intercontinental Hotel. This march had a permit; we were to remain on the sidewalk until we reached the roads immediately around the hotel. Teamsters assigned as parade marshals tried to enforce this, but occupiers led a surge into the streets some blocks ahead of schedule. We’d been told not to enter hotel property, even the parking lot, or risk arrest. Simple wooden barricades were placed at the entrance. A couple dozen cops were present, but none of the riot gear reported earlier in the week was visible, although dark suited federal police lurked around.

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