Above photo: Banner made by the Maine Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT).
By Lisa Savage, www.went2thebridge.blogspot.com
On Friday, January 24 activists from CODEPINK interrupted an appearance by Senator Susan Collins at an event with the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce in Augusta. Holding a banner about the threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is intended to be fast-tracked through Congress this year, the two women chanted “Vote no on the TPP! It’s bad for Maine, and you and me!”
The TPP has been described as “NAFTA on steroids,” a reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement that cost Maine 30,000 jobs over the last 20 years.
Two women from the protest group Code Pink stand on chairs Friday at The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony in Augusta, interrupting it briefly by chanting and hoisting a sign as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is introduced. Ridgely Fuller, of Belfast, and Lisa Savage, of Solon, said they were opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. Both women were escorted out of the auditorium when they finished chanting. Staff photo by Scott Monroe
“Calling TPP a trade agreement is a bit of a misnomer,” said Ridgely Fuller of Belfast. “The TPP will allow corporations to sue us for policies including Buy Local, organic food promotion, and environmental regulation of, say, fracking. Anything which interferes with their ability to earn maximum profits. And, all disputes would be decided by ‘judges’ on leave from corporations.”
Both of Maine’s representatives in Congress have indicated they will not support fast-tracking the TPP, nor are they likely to support it even following a full and open debate of its pros and cons. Rep. Mike Michaud, currently a candidate for governor of Maine, issued a statement that read in part: “We know what happens when Congress passes this type of legislation granting fast track. Factories close, plants move overseas, and our workers are left behind. We simply can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.” Rep. Chellie Pingree’s statement on TPP claimed that “Congress should be figuring out how to create jobs here at home, not ship them overseas.”
Both of Maine’s senators have remained mum on whether or not they will support the White House attempt to push the TPP through a fast-tracked approval process without divulging its contents or allowing debate in Congress. A highly secret draft of proposed TPP provisions was released by Wikileaks in November.
Activists on Friday evening held a banner created by the Artists’ Rapid Response Team (ARRT!) which is part of the Union of Maine Visual Artists. The banner depicts the TPP as a giant octopus grabbing resources around the globe.
The TPP would govern one-third of global trade and usurp the sovereignty of citizens in its signatory nations: U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Corporations doing business in these countries could sue individuals or groups perceived as limiting their profits, for instance, by means of environmental regulations.
Blog about the event:
I have been called many things in my activist life, but last night was a first. We were called “unprofessional” repeatedly by the security guy at the Civic Center in Augusta, Maine. He also told me we had “no class.” The extent to which US citizens are cowed by fear of hurting their standing in the community would be surprising — if I weren’t a student of history, that is.
Thanks to videographer Martha Spiess for her swift work getting out this great video of our unprofessional antics last night. Martha is the kind of professional I want to be! And huge gratitude to the Artists Rapid Response Team of the Union of Maine Visual Artists for their amazing banner. Nothing says classy like fine art!
And here is some great coverage by the Kennebec Journal (see full article here), a corporate sponsor of the event and the paper of record in Maine’s capital city Augusta.
The paper is owned by the husband of Rep. Chellie Pingree, who has come out publicly against the TPP. So has Maine’s other representative, Mike Michaud, who is currently running for governor.
Sen. Angus King and Sen. Susan Collins have yet to say where they stand on the TPP.
Maine is estimated to have lost 30,000 jobs, mostly in manufacturing, since Bill Clinton pushed through NAFTA.
If signed, the TPP will make NAFTA look like small potatoes. Because under TPP, local entities will not be able to preference local potatoes and other foodstuffs without risking a lawsuit by a giant multi-national corporation. Or control their own water supply. These cases will be decidd by a special international court with judges who are recycled corporate CEOs.
Contact your own reps and senators today to oppose fast tracking TPP approval through Congress: 202-224-3121.