perspective you are NOT likely to find

… A perspective you are NOT likely to find on any main stream corporate owned media … a perspective hard core “Romneyites” will reject out of hand without giving the information any consideration …

clip_image001Matt Taibbi on Meitt Romney’s Crooked, Dirty Game

 

September 10, 2012 http://www.alternet.org/matt-taibbi-mitt-romneys-crooked-dirty-game?akid=9388.23062.4bcQNo&rd=1&src=newsletter709802&t=14&paging=off

 

An interview with Matt Taibbi about his latest piece exposing the ugly ways Mitt Romney built his massive forture.   The following is a transcript of HuffPost Live, in which host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin interviews Rolling Store editor Matt Taibbi about his latest piece exposing the ugly ways Mitt Romney built his massive forture. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Republican White House challenger Mitt Romney has said in an interview that a Federal Reserve boost to the economy would do little to create US jobs in the short term.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: In case you didn’t know this particular factoid, both governor Mitt Romney and President Obama have each raised well over half a billion dollars in this election. Even worse, the total amount spent on this election year will surpass $2.5 billion. To me, that’s a lot of money. But a question that comes up often is why aren’t more people — more Americans, more politicians — speaking up about this. Someone who’s speaking up is Rolling Stone’s contributing editor, Matt Taibbi, who’s joining us to talk about his latest article. Matt, this is your article, thank you for joining us.

Matt Taibbi: This is how private equity deals work, and this is what most people don’t understand. When a company like Bain wants to take over a company, let’s say, like KB Toys, what they do is — it’s very similar to the process of getting one of those no-money-down mortgages — you put down a tiny amount of money, in the case of Bain, you put down about 5 percent of his own cash, $18 million. He financed the other $302 million that he got, and what he did was he went to a bank and you’re borrowing against the assets of a company you don’t own yet. So what you do is you say to the bank …

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: Which is legal.

Matt Taibbi: Which is totally legal. But what you do is you say to the bank, ‘I’m going to take over this company,’ or ‘I’m going to take over some company, and when we do that company is going to be indebted to you.’ So they borrow $300 million. With that money, and his money, you buy a controlling stake in the company that you’re trying to take over, and once you do that, the debt that you yourself took out becomes the debt of the company that you have taken over. And this is very poorly understood by most people. Now there’s the other problem, now if you’re KB Toys, you’ve borrowed $300 million and you owe the bank. And you haven’t done it to buy new equipment or open new stores or do research and development, all you’ve bought with that $300 million is …

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: Debt.

Matt Taibbi: Yes, and the privilege of being managed by Mitt Romney, that’s really all you’ve bought.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: Privilege.

Matt Taibbi: Exactly. And so now you have to cut costs, you have to tighten your belt a little bit. And the way that you deal with that is you have Mitt Romney tell you where the costs have to be cut, and whom to fire. For the privilege of doing that, they charge you another fee. So now, not only are you paying debt service, but you’re paying management fees to the PE company that could be as much as 7, 8, 9, 10 million dollars a year.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: So you lay out a case and even now I think I’m having more understanding, but what I’m not understanding — I’m understanding what Mitt Romney’s done, and you’re right to point out that it’s several companies. But I have to ask you Matt, why is this happening? We said it was legal. Why do people do this? Why do we allow this to be legal? Is it just to maximize profit at all costs?

Matt Taibbi: I think there’s a line of thinking, and look, not all private equity deals end in disaster. Sometimes they’re actually a good thing. One of the things that private equity companies do extremely well, is they’ll look at a landscape and say, ‘Here are three companies that do essentially the same thing, they’re occupying too much market space between them, let’s buy all three of them, roll them all up, eliminate the duplicate of overhead, create a new company and eliminate all that waste,’ — which is harsh because it ends up in a lot of jobs being lost. But sometimes you end up with a leaner, meaner company as the result of that. And there are plenty of success stories in private equity. But what people have to understand is that private equity companies do not exist to turn around companies. That is not their function. Their function is to make a profit for their investors and for the private equity firm, and these things are at cross-purposes.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: I feel as though Romney himself has actually been forced to outline that very thing. It is ultimately about making a profit for investors, or someone in his campaign kind of admitting that that is the intent. 

Matt Taibbi: Well, yes and no. He wrote a book called Turn Around, and he’s pitched himself as a guy who is going to turn around America because that’s what he does, is turn around companies. But that’s not really true. When you take over these companies, you have all these tools at your disposal that allow you to extract value from the company without the company succeeding. You can force them to take out a bank loan and pay you a dividend. There’s all these different things you can do.

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: So there’s multiple alternatives…

Matt Taibbi: Right. And so you can succeed in a private equity deal without turning a company around. And that’s a critical distinction that people don’t get.

WELCOME TO ROMNEY – RYAN WORLD

clip_image002… WELCOME TO ROMNEY – RYAN WORLD …

 

GOP – Republican Controlled … House renews surveillance law for 5 years

0\9-12-2012  •  AP

The House overwhelmingly renewed a surveillance law that allows the government to monitor conversations of foreign spies and terrorist suspects abroad, while requiring approval from a secret court when Americans are targeted anywhere in the world … And what you believe they get $ecret court approval before the tap your phone …  FOOL …

Wipes Story Detailing Mitt

… Why not provide readers with both unadulterated versions and allow us to digest and dissect …OOP$… corporate can’t provide full disclosure and transparency …

New York Timimagees Wipes Story Detailing Mitt Romney’s Attack On Obama

The Huffington Post  |  By Ryan Grim & Michael Calderone Posted: 09/13/2012 12:44 am Updated: 09/13/2012 9:40 am …http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/13/new-york-times-mitt-romney_n_1879529.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=091312&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

 

On Wednesday, the New York Times published a provocative story bylined by David E. Sanger and Ashley Parker, leading with the news that Mitt Romney had personally approved the blistering Tuesday night statement on the attacks in Libya and Egypt that landed his campaign in trouble.

 

But hours later, the newspaper wiped the story out and replaced it with a significantly rewritten piece bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker.

The later version, which appeared on the front page of Thursday’s paper, fleshed out the controversy with more details, but no longer included a couple key anonymous quotes from people close to the candidate, one who offered the rationale behind Romney’s decision — to call out the Obama administration for supposedly "sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks" — and another who criticized it.

 

Originally, the Times reported how a Romney "senior adviser" explained how the candidate and his team "saw what they believed was an opportunity to underscore a theme Mr. Romney had sounded often about his Democratic rival."

 

“We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath,” one of Mr. Romney’s senior advisers said on Wednesday. “I think the reality is that while there may be a difference of opinion regarding issues of timing, I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner.”

 

The later version only included the second sentence, attributing not to a "senior adviser" but "one senior strategist, who asked not to be named."

The Times also originally quoted "an adviser to the campaign who worked in the George W. Bush administration" who said that Romney “had forgotten the first rule in a crisis: don’t start talking before you understand what’s happening.” That anonymous Romney adviser, offering criticism of the candidate, is missing from the later version.

 

The later version — almost completely rewritten as a side-by-side analysis by NewsDiffs makes clear — no longer includes those quotes.

 

While it’s not uncommon for breaking news stories to go through a series of changes throughout the day, this piece appears to be atypical. Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall, who flaggedthe changes in a post Wednesday night, suggested the changes to this piece "would seem to require some explanation."

 

In an email to The Huffington Post, Baker explained why one source in the first version isn’t in the second one.

"As we reported more through the day, we found Republicans criticizing Gov Romney on the record, so why use an anonymous one?" Baker said. "There are too many blind quotes in the media and we try not to use them when it’s not necessary."

The link to the original story now takes readers to the rewritten version, which includes a list of Times journalists contributing: "Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Ashley Parker from Jacksonville, Fla. David E. Sanger, Jonathan Weisman and John H. Cushman Jr. contributed reporting from Washington, and Michael Barbaro and David W. Chen from New York."

 

UPDATE: A Times spokeswoman responds: "As reporting went on during the day yesterday, we were able to flesh out the story, add more context and get more sources on the record, which is obviously what we prefer. Having said that, we stand by the reporting in all versions of the story.

 

This post was updated to reflect that part of one quote from a "senior adviser" (in first version) attributed to "senior strategist" in later version. Also, Baker’s comment was added.

I am a war president

clip_image001

“I am a war president.” "I’m a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind," he said.  … George W. Bush

 

 

War: What America Knows Best.

 

It’s pop-quiz time when it comes to the American way of war: three questions, torn from the latest news, just for you.  Here’s the first of them, and good luck!

Two weeks ago, 200 U.S. Marines began armed operations in…?:

a) Afghanistan
b) Pakistan
c) Iran
d) Somalia
e) Yemen
f) Central Africa
g) Northern Mali
h) The Philippines
i) Guatemala

If you opted for any answer, “a” through “h,” you took a reasonable shot at it.  After all, there’s an ongoing American war in Afghanistan and somewhere in the southern part of that country, 200 armed U.S. Marines could well have been involved in an operation.  In Pakistan, an undeclared, CIA-run air war has long been underway, and in the past there have been armed border crossings by U.S. special operations forces as well as U.S. piloted cross-border air strikes, but no Marines.

When it comes to Iran, Washington’s regional preparations for war are staggering.  The continual build-up of U.S. naval powerin the Persian Gulf, of land forces on bases around that country, of air power (and anti-missile defenses) in the region should leave any observer breathless.  There are U.S. special operations forces near the Iranian border and CIA dronesregularly over that country.  In conjunction with the Israelis, Washington has launched a cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear program and computer systems.  It has also established fierce oil and banking sanctions, and there seem to have been at least some U.S. cross-border operations into Iran going back to at least 2007.  In addition, a recent front-page New York Timesstory on Obama administration attempts to mollify Israel over its Iran policy included this ominous line: “The administration is also considering… covert activities that have been previously considered and rejected.”  So 200 armed Marines in action in Iran — not yet, but don’t get down on yourself, it was a good guess.

In Somalia, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Room blog, there have been far more U.S. drone flights and strikes against the Islamic extremist al-Shabaab movement and al-Qaeda elements than anyone previously knew.  In addition, the U.S. has at least partially funded, supported, equipped, advised, and promoted proxy wars there, involving Ethiopian troops back in 2007 and more recently Ugandan and Burundi troops (as well as an invading Kenyan army).  In addition, CIA operatives and possibly other irregulars and hired guns are well established in Mogadishu, the capital.

In Yemen, as in Somalia, the combination has been proxy war and strikes by drones (as well as piloted planes), with some U.S. special forces advisors on the ground, and civilian casualties (and anger at the U.S.) rising in the southern part of the country — but also, as in Somalia, no Marines. Central Africa?  Now, there’s a thought.  After all, at least 100 Green Berets were sent in there this year as part of a campaign against Joseph Kony’s Ugandan-based Lord’s Resistance Army.  As for Northern Mali, taken over by Islamic extremists (including an al-Qaeda-affiliated group), it certainly presents a target for future U.S. intervention — and we still don’t know what those three U.S. Army commandos who skidded off a bridge to their deaths in their Toyota Land Rover with three “Moroccan prostitutes” were doing in a country with which the U.S. military had officially cut its ties after a democratically elected government was overthrown.  But 200 Marines operating in war-torn areas of Africa?  Not yet.  When it comes to the Philippines, again no Marines, even though U.S. special forcesand drones have been aiding the government in a low-level conflict with Islamic militants in Mindanao.

As it happens, the correct, if surprising, answer is “i.”  And if you chose it, congratulations!

On August 29th, the Associated Press reported that a “team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.”  This could have been big news.  It’s a sizeable enough intervention: 200 Marines sent into action in a country where we last had a military presence in 1978.  If this wasn’t the beginning of something bigger and wider, it would be surprising, given that commando-style operatives from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have been firing weapons and killing locals in a similar effort in Honduras, and that, along with U.S. drones, the CIA is evidently moving ever deeper into the drug war in Mexico.

In addition, there’s a history here.  After all, in the early part of the previous century, sending in the Marines — in Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Repubic, and elsewhere — was the way Washington demonstrated its power in its own “backyard.”  And yet other than a few straightforward news reports on the Guatemalan intervention, there has been no significant media discussion, no storm of criticism or commentary, no mention at either political convention, and no debate or discussion about the wisdom of such a step in this country.  Odds are that you didn’t even notice that it had happened.

Think of it another way: in the post-2001 era, along with two disastrous wars on the Eurasian mainland, we’ve been regularly sending in the Marines or special operations forces, as well as naval, air, and robotic power.  Such acts are, by now, so ordinary that they are seldom considered worthy of much discussion here, even though no other country acts (or even has the capacity to act) this way.  This is simply what Washington’s National Security Complex does for a living.

At the moment, it seems, a historical circle is being closed with the Marines once again heading back into Latin America as the “drug war” Washington proclaimed years ago becomes an actual drug war.  It’s a demonstration that, these days, when Washington sees a problem anywhere on the planet, its version of a “foreign policy” is most likely to call on the U.S. military.  Force is increasingly not our option of last resort, but our first choice.

Now, consider question two in our little snap quiz of recent war news:

In 2011, what percentage of the global arms market did the U.S. control?

(Keep in mind that, as everyone knows, the world is an arms bazaar filled with haggling merchants.  Though the Cold War and the superpower arms rivalry is long over, there are obviously plenty of countries eager to peddle their weaponry, no matter what conflicts may be stoked as a result.)

a) 37% ($12.1 billion), followed closely by Russia ($10.7 billion), France, China, and the United Kingdom.
b) 52.7% ($21.3 billion), followed by Russia at 19.3% ($12.8 billion), France, Britain, China, Germany, and Italy.
c) 68% ($37.8 billion), followed by Italy at 9% ($3.7 billion) and Russia at 8% ($3.5 billion).
d) 78% ($66.3 billion), followed by Russia at 5.6% ($4.8 billion).

Naturally, you naturally eliminated “d” first.  Who wouldn’t?  After all, cornering close to 80% of the arms market would mean that the global weapons bazaar had essentially been converted into a monopoly operation.  Of course, it’s common knowledge that the U.S. arms giants, given a massive helping hand in their marketing by the Pentagon, remain the collective 800-pound gorilla in any room.  But 37% of that market is nothing to sniff at.  (At least, it wasn’t in 1990, the final days of the Cold War when the Russians were still a major competitor worldwide.)  As for52.7%, what national industry wouldn’t bask in the glory of such a figure — a majority share of arms sold worldwide?  (And, in fact, that was an impressive percentage back in the dismal sales year of 2010, when arms budgets worldwide were still feeling the pain of the lingering global economic recession.)  Okay, so what about that hefty 68%?  It couldn’t have been a more striking achievement for U.S. arms makers back in 2008 in what was otherwise distinctly a lagging market.

The correct answer for 2011, however, is the singularly unbelievable one: the U.S. actually tripled its arms sales last year, hitting a record high, and cornering almost 78% of the global arms trade.  This was reported in late August but, like those 200 Marines in Guatemala, never made onto front pages or into the top TV news stories.  And yet, if arms were drugs (and it’s possible that, in some sense, they are, and that we humans can indeed get addicted to them), then the U.S. has become something close enough to the world’s sole dealer.  That should be front-page news, shouldn’t it?

Okay, so here’s the third question in today’s quiz:

From a local base in which country did U.S. Global Hawk drones fly long-range surveillance missions between late 2001 and at least 2006?

a) The Seychelles Islands
b) Ethiopia
c) An unnamed Middle Eastern country
d) Australia

Actually, the drone base the U.S. has indeed operated in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean was first used only in 2009 and the drone base Washington has developed in Ethiopia by upgrading a civilian airport only became operational in 2011.  As for that “unnamed Middle Eastern country,” perhaps Saudi Arabia, the new airstrip being built there, assumedly for the CIA’s drones, may now be operational. Once again, the right answer turns out to be the unlikely one.  Recently, the Australian media reported that the U.S. had flown early, secretive Global Hawk missions out of a Royal Australian Base at Edinburg.  These were detected by a “group of Adelaide aviation historians.”  The Global Hawk, an enormous drone, can stay in the air a long time.  What those flights were surveilling back then is unknown, though North Korea might be one guess.  Whether they continued beyond 2006 is also unknown.

Unlike the previous two stories, this one never made it into the U.S. media and if it had, would have gone unnoticed anyway.  After all, who in Washington or among U.S. reporters and pundits would have found it odd that, long before its recent, much-ballyhooed “pivot” to Asia, the U.S. was flying some of its earliest drone missions over vast areas of the Pacific?  Who even finds it strange that, in the years since 2001, the U.S. has been putting together an ever more elaborate network of its own drone bases on foreign soil, or that the U.S. has an estimated1,000-1,200 military bases scattered across the planet, some the size of small American towns (not to speak of scads of bases in the United States)?

Like those Marines in Guatemala, like the near-monopoly on the arms trade, this sort of thing is hardly considered significant news in the U.S., though in its size and scope it is surely historically unprecedented.  Nor does it seem strange to us that no other country on the planet has more than a tiny number of bases outside its own territory: the Russians have a scattered few in the former SSRs of the Soviet Union and a single old naval base in Syria that has been in the news of late; the French still have some in Francophone Africa; the British have a few leftovers from their own imperial era, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has essentially been transformed into an American base; and the Chinese may be in the process of setting up a couple of modest bases as well.  Add up every non-American base on foreign soil, however, and the total is probably less than 2% of the American empire of bases.

Investing in War

It would, by the way, be a snap to construct a little quiz like this every couple of weeks from U.S. military news that’s reported but not attended to here, and each quiz would make the same essential point: from Washington’s perspective, the world is primarily a landscape for arming for, garrisoning for, training for, planning for, and making war.  War is what we invest our time, energy, and treasure in on a scale that is, in its own way, remarkable, even if it seldom registers in this country.

In a sense (leaving aside the obvious inability of the U.S. military to actually win wars), it may, at this point, be what we do best.  After all, whatever the results, it’s an accomplishment to send 200 Marines to Guatemala for a month of drug interdiction work, to get those Global Hawks secretly to Australia to monitor the Pacific, and to corner the market on things that go boom in the night.

Think of it this way: the United States is alone on the planet, not just in its ability, but in its willingness to use military force in drug wars, religious wars, political wars, conflicts of almost any sort, constantly and on a global scale.  No other group of powers collectively even comes close. It also stands alone as a purveyor of major weapons systems and so as a generator of war.  It is, in a sense, a massive machine for the promotion of war on a global scale.

We have, in other words, what increasingly looks like a monopoly on war.  There have, of course, been warrior societies in the past that committed themselves to a mobilized life of war-making above all else.  What’s unique about the United States is that it isn’t a warrior society.  Quite the opposite.

Washington may be mobilized for permanent war.  Special operations forces may be operating in up to 120 countries.  Drone bases may be proliferating across the planet.  We may be building up forces in the Persian Gulf and “pivoting” to Asia. Warrior corporations and rent-a-gun mercenary outfits have mobilized on the country’s disparate battlefronts to profit from the increasingly privatized twenty-first-century American version of war.  The American people, however, are demobilized and detached from the wars, interventions, operations, and other military activities done in their name.  As a result, 200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia — no one here notices; no one here cares. 

War: it’s what we do the most and attend to the least.  It’s a nasty combination.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as The End of Victory Culture, runs the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

TomDispatch.com / By Tom Engelhardt | Sourced from

TomDispatch.com

Posted at September 13, 2012, 8:30am

RAMMED THROUGH

… NO CITIZEN VOTE … RAMMED THROUGH … SAME THING HAPPENED IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA … CITIZENS HAVE NO VOTE … NO VOICE … CONTENT WE REMAIN TO SIT ON THD SIDELINES DEAF, DUMB, SILENT … FOR HOW MUCH LONGER …

clip_image001Portland votes to add fluoride to its drinking water as opponents vow to stop the effort

 

Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 9:15 PM… Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012, 9:20 AM

 

By Beth Slovic, The Oregonian
Follow

The Portland City Council voted 5-0 during a raucous public meeting Wednesday morning to add fluoride to Portland’s drinking water, ending the city’s status as the only major U.S. city that hasn’t approved fluoridation. 

But opponents immediately vowed to try to thwart the effort by gathering enough signatures in 30 days to block the plan and force a public vote. 

The unanimous decision — affecting about 900,000 residents in Portland, Gresham, Tigard and Tualatin — followed a nearly seven-hour hearing Sept. 6 in which people on both sides of the issue traded statistics and made impassioned pleas. Some argued that fluoride effectively fights tooth decay, for example, while others characterized fluoridation as forced medication.

Wednesday, the typically placid council chamber occasionally erupted in disorder. Mayor Sam Adams ejected several audience members and repeatedly reminded others to remain quiet. Some held anti-fluoride signs, booed and gave the elected officials a thumbs down. One protester unfurled a white sheet from a balcony. "Public water deserves a public vote," the homemade banner read. 

Our CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) … and how’s that working out for us…

… Our CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) … and how’s that working out for us…?

 

Who’s tracking what’s going on Libya right now?

9/12/2012  •  imgur.com

Who’s tracking what’s going on Libya right now? I’d be willing to bet, if you ARE… you have not seen this yet. Check it out. 

Middle East Reporting: What’s Being Left Out?

And just where do you think you can go to obtain the truth …?

… And just where do you think you can go to obtain the truth …?

  

clip_image001What You Need to Know About a Worldwide Corporate Power Grab of Enormous Proportions

 

The corporate cabal behind a new trade agreement including Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

September 11, 2012  … What You Need to Know About a Worldwide Corporate Power Grab of Enormous Proportions

 

 

As international trade negotiators gathered this week at a posh golf resort in rural Virginia to hammer out details of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), they sought to project an image of inclusion and receptivity to public input. In reality, this high-stakes global corporate pact, now in its 14th round of discussions, is heavily guarded by paramilitary teams with machine guns and helicopters as it is developed behind closed doors under a dangerous and unprecedented veil of secrecy.

What the hell is the TPP, you may ask? While it is among the largest and potentially most important ‘free trade’ agreements the world has ever seen, one can hardly be blamed for not being familiar with it yet. The corporate cabal behind it, including names like Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

While 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access and input on the draft texts from the beginning, even high-ranking members of Congress have been denied access to the most basic content of what US negotiators are proposing in our names.

Thankfully, draft texts of the proposal have appeared on Wikileaks and the website of Citizen’s Trade Campaign. It is difficult to overstate the potential implications on the lives of people around the world if anything like the agreement in these leaked documents were to be implemented with the force of law.

The TPP is called a ‘trade agreement,’ but in actuality it is a long-dreamed-of template for implementing a binding system of global corporate governance as bold as anything the world’s wealthiest elite has attempted before. Of the 26 chapters under negotiation, only a few have to do directly with trade. The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them. The TPP essentially proposes to establish a parallel system of justice where companies can sue countries in a tribunal of judges composed of unaccountable international trade lawyers with little to no process for appeal.

This wild bastardization of the concept of justice endangers everything from affordable medicines, internet freedoms and intellectual property rights to democratically enacted labor laws and environmental protections. And that’s not to mention the massive outsourcing of middle class jobs from the US to countries like Vietnam and Brunei.

This isn’t just a bad trade agreement, it’s a wish list of the 1%—a worldwide corporate power grab of enormous proportions.

This week, in an empty warehouse on the outskirts of downtown Baltimore, a group of activists from around the US gathered to plan a spirited week of resistance to the TPP. Finally, after three years of secret negotiations, the momentum of an opposition movement is building. On Sunday, a diverse and raucous crowd of a couple hundred people descended on this exclusive golf resort to demand their voices be heard, chanting after each speaker: “Flush the TPP!”

NAFTA was the last straw that sent the Zapatistas into armed rebellion. The WTO negotiations spawned a robust and global anti-globalization movement the likes of which the world had never seen. Even after 9/11, the FTAA elicited a pushback of people power that even a fully militarized Miami police force could not completely suppress.

But near as I can tell, even though the TPP is bigger, bolder and badder than any trade agreement before it, the small group gathered this week on a grassy hillside in rural Virginia is the backbone of resistance to the TPP today.

The elements are there: a diverse coalition of wonky NGOs, social justice and trade policy experts, urban anarchists, Occupiers and suburban activists painting banners and scheming pranks—labor leaders, environmental groups and representatives from Mexico, Peru and beyond, but the scale is so far totally out of proportion to the threat we’re facing.

But this is beginning to change. Speakers at Sunday’s rally included key labor leaders from the Teamsters, and the Communications Workers of America joined with the leaders of environmental groups from the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Rainforest Action Network.

The TPP was conceived under the second Bush administration, but it has been embraced and nurtured into maturity under Obama’s watch. The widespread belief among people here opposing it is that the current Administration is in a race to finish much of the negotiations while they can bank on the fact that labor leaders and environmental and human rights advocates will shy away from challenging a democratic president in an election year. Free trade agreements are particularly unpopular in the key swing states Obama needs to win this election—making right now a crucial moment of opportunity to pull the TPP out of the shadows and leverage our combined political power to kill it before it takes root any deeper.

Stay tuned, one way or another history will be made in the coming months and the outcome will forever influence how our communities and countries relate to each other in an ever-shrinking world.

For more background and details on the TPP negotiations and content, click here.