White House So Desperate To Get TPP Approved, It Agrees To Whitewash Mass Graves & Human Trafficking In Malaysia

from the disgusting dept

At the end of last month, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), better known as “fast track” for various trade agreements, was approved after a series of back and forth procedural moves by Congress. This means that Congress no longer has the (Constitutionally-provided) power to have a say in the trade deals the administration is creating, other than a single up-or-down vote when everything is set in stone. There was, however, one tiny poison pill that Senator Bob Menendez supposedly hid in the TPA concerning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. And that was that it could not be used if the trade agreement included countries that were listed as a “tier 3 nation” by the State Department when it comes to human rights violations. Malaysia, one of the countries that is a part of the TPP, has been designated a “tier 3 nation” by the State Department for a while now, due to serious human trafficking problems.

Some trade deal supporters in Congress tried to quietly remove this provision, but failed. And that left a big Malaysia-shaped problem in front of the TPP. But, the Obama administration is nothing if not resourceful in trying to make sure the TPP gets approved and big corporations get their expanded power over national governments around the globe.

It just decided to upgrade Malaysia from a tier 3 country to a tier 2 country. Because it could. Not because of anything done by Malaysia to improve its record on human trafficking. But because it was politically necessary. The details are simply nauseating:

There is essentially zero evidence Malaysia has done anything to earn this reclassification. Just two months ago, police found 139 mass graves along the Malaysian border that contained migrant workers that had been trafficked or held for ransom.

Since the 2014 TIP report, Malaysia has actually convicted fewer smugglers. As recently as mid-April, the US ambassador to Malaysia publicly criticized the government there for not doing more to combat trafficking.

Also sketchy: the State Department’s report was actually due out last month, but was mysteriously delayed until after the whole mess with fast track was concluded. It’s almost like the State Department chose to wait until it saw whether or not this provision was included to determine what Malaysia’s status would be.

And if you want further evidence that this late decision to magically upgrade Malaysia to tier 2 wasn’t in the cards originally, how about this:

Menendez?s office said Friday that an interim report was delivered to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March on Tier 2 countries only, and Malaysia was not included.

In short, the State Department does not really think that Malaysia has improved its terrible record on human trafficking. It did not think so in March when it released an interim report. And then it made the political decision to hold off on releasing its June report until the middle of July to see how the fast track path proceeded.

Finally, rather than take this tool and use it force Malaysia to actually improve things, it gave the country a total free pass, just for the sake of finalizing TPP. I don’t care where you stand on the various other provisions of the TPP, but this sort of cynical move — where real lives are at stake — is horrifying. And it shows the “who gives a fuck, get it done” attitude of our government right now. This isn’t a theoretical issue. This is one where it’s clear that people right now are being harmed, and rather than do anything about it, the government has deliberately chosen to turn a blind eye to the problem just so it can get this questionable trade deal passed.

This, of course, also is likely to confirm the fears of many who were opposed to the TPP all along. The Obama administration and US Trade Rep Michael Froman keep insisting that the TPP has a number of features to help raise labor standards in various countries. Yet, if they’re happily willing to not just look the other way over Malaysia’s human trafficking, but to actively whitewash it, what does that say for the seriousness with which it will enforce any labor practice rules?

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Comments on “White House So Desperate To Get TPP Approved, It Agrees To Whitewash Mass Graves & Human Trafficking In Malaysia”

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94 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Well, what can we say? You have that joke of 301 report that lists perfectly good countries as some sort of potential terrorists or something because they don’t do what the MAFIAA says, you have the Patriot Act and other incredibly unconstitutional things that allow all sorts of surveillance because a bunch of psychopaths and a huge industry behind the security apparatus likes it, you see serious environmental violations because some huge oil conglomerates and other base industries pay enough for it, you have a completely broken health system and outrageously expensive medicine because some big pharma industries say so… What were we expecting from a Government that not only disregards entirely what is good for the citizenry but often holds total contempt towards said citizens?

This shouldn’t be a surprise as much as a reason for going Baltimore/Ferguson/etc on your Government. Sadly, it is happening everywhere in different clothings.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is hell bent on scuttling the Iran nuclear deal, and the administration is propping up an illegal gov’t allied with Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and fomenting WWIII with (somebody, anybody, hopefully formerly communist) Russia?!? Oh, and they prefer Israeli Zionists allied with Saudis over Iran, and they’re accusing Assad to be in league with ISIS?!?

I can’t decide if US politicos are just bought and paid for, or if they’re insane (or simply idiots), or if they have an even more twisted tune they’re singing along with which we don’t know about yet.

I doubt it can get any weirder than this. I’ve never seen anything like this mish-mash in my lifetime before this.

Jake says:

Re: Re: Well, what can we say?

If you’re serious, that’s wishful thinking at best. The federal government has a monopoly on Predator drone strikes, tanks and capet-bombing, and I can assure you they’d use it if the militia fraternity ever stoped being a sad joke. It’s harder to drum up righteous indignation about cops blowing away gun-toting rednecks than uppity n****rs.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re: Well, what can we say?

The whole “were outgunned by the government” is disingenuous at best. Look at the terrorist groups, look at your basic history. The threat of taking up arms is in and of itself a weapon. The ability to take up arms, and the will to take up arms, does and will give pause to any government. They have tanks and drones and such, true, but they are us.. we are the military, our son’s and our daughters… and it doesn’t hurt that we have 350 plus million people. Even with only small arms, we could EASILY overthrow the government in an organized uprising should we ever be required to do so. I honestly hope that never happens.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 The people taking to the streets...

Then you have a riot.

I think for a revolution to take over the national government we’d need for a nationwide riot, or organization. More likely, the rebels would take over the nation one state at a time.

Maybe, just maybe, after securing a state or two, the rebellion could negotiate terms for armistice, and maybe then the feds wouldn’t just betray the rebels and Gitmo them once they dropped their arms.

No, if a revolution is going to rise from the rage and the rampages and the riots, it’ll need a plan. It’ll need targets. It’ll need rules of engagement.

And it will need a goal. The specific changes we want to make to our state (e.g. No corporations. No lawyers. No cops. No copyrights or patents. — I’m not necessarily saying these extremes are ideal, but some set of ideals, perhaps even a rewritten constitution).

I’d think Reddit would be all over that by now.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:6 The people taking to the streets...

That’s why I continually advocate against it. If you can’t get behind ONE independent political candidate and give them enough votes to overcome Blue or Red, how in the world do you expect to have a successful revolution with a happy outcome?

What we’d actually get is a locked down police state instead of the Not-my-problem one we have now.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Carpet Bombing: One could only hope.

It would be an insurrectionist’s dream.

Orders from the lobbyists to the representatives to carpet bomb American soil just might shake some sense into the desperation of the corporations to take all the power.

Orders from the representatives to the military certainly would be regarded as madness or a mole.

Frankly, I cannot imagine, what with the degree of jingoism and hyper-patriotism utilized for social cohesion how our military ranks could hold together were they turned on US civilians. It’s a step that has historically failed in every revolution, and had been a problem during the Soviet Union when the Red Army was sent in to fix things.

And remember that at least for now, there’s a human being pulling the trigger for every drone strike. We might see a few before too many drone pilots are unable to sleep at night.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sadly, no one is voting them out. It is a depressing reality that people vote as corporate money dictates. A corporate CEO could be standing on a voter in spiked shoes, spikes driven all the way through their gut, and the voter would still vote for the person promoted by the most ads.

Watch Trump: He just called immigrants racists and murderers, but he will win the Hispanic vote because his money can buy an ad screaming, “You won’t have a job.”

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t buy this for a minute. Whenever I’ve seen people who criticize Obama called “racist,” it’s been because they said or did something racist. I’m sure that there are times when that’s not so, but they seem to be a relatively small number.

I don’t support Obama, and I have never been called racist because of it. Probably because I can articulate rational reasons for my position that have nothing to do with race.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It is actually worse than that.

The 2 party system has them only saying sweet nothings in your ears to get you to elect them while ‘The Party’ gives them their marching orders. There are ONLY 2 things for a politician to do.

Keep the people that voted them in happy balanced with the marching orders their party hands them, welcome or not. And you will find far too many party liners where their party can just do no wrong.

I am not even sure 90% of Americans even remotely realize just how corrupt the system has become. There is not even a single branch of government now that even operates within 50% of their purpose.

Judges have gone rogue an refuse to tell juries what their actual responsibilities are. The executive Branch has flat out decided to not even enforce the law in breach of its own Oath. The legislature constantly kicks the budget down the road despite that being one of their big things.

To be honest those don’t even come close to scratching the surface either. But we self-absorbed citizens just keep tromping along like we know what the fuck is going on while the vast majority of us are nothing more than sheeple feeding at the trough of Dem or Rep.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: We self-absorbed citizens...

…are expected to work harder than ever before to sustain ourselves. Most don’t have time for the news, let alone to absorb something as complicated as the TPP or why trade agreements bypass normal paths to legislation.

You’re going to find the same sheeple in any other society built. And we’ll have to find a way to make sure they get a fair shake despite themselves. Because any population can find themselves processing the undesirables into death camps. With glee, even, if it puts food on the table.

We build a civilization with the people we have, not the people we wish we had. You can’t point at human beings with human nature and say they’re responsible for this fine mess. That’s the same as giving up.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We self-absorbed citizens...

That is so true! We’re slaves to the market in the name of freedom, forever being told that if we worked more we’d get paid more. The people who say this conveniently forget that the cost of living keeps on going up while wages stay stagnant and the opportunities are being shipped overseas.

We need a freer, more fair market, not the system of walled gardens we have now. And it’s reasonable to pay taxes into a social safety net; as a wise man here on TD once said, we don’t get to choose what diseases or accidents we have.

None of those things are going to happen while we’re all divided. We need to start working together more and avoid falling into the partisan culture wars trap. Only then can we move forward into the world we want to live in.

Next time someone blows a dog whistle, don’t bark.

TPP, etc., have only got as far as they have because enough people are falling for the lie that they’re about increasing trade and that all who oppose them are either racist wingnuts or unionized liberal socialists. Let’s be encouraging these people to move away from black-and-white thinking and examine the facts on their actual merits.

We must push back against TPP because not doing so makes us part of the systems in which human trafficking and slavery are rife. If we are actively seeking to trade with people who do these things, we’re a part of the problem. TPP is about naked corporate power in a world in which natural persons are reduced to untermench and “Arbeit macht frei.” Yes, I Godwin’d the discussion but you all know I’m right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 We self-absorbed citizens...

And it’s reasonable to pay taxes into a social safety net

Uh, try collecting on that social safety net. Sorry to be the one to inform you, but you are walking a tight rope w/o a net. I know someone who was an honest, hard working, educated person who screwed up switching jobs and went into debt. Didn’t have anything left except a well used car and was told they couldn’t get assistance. Actually, they were advised to separate so his wife and kids could get assistance. Now this same office had lines set up for the illegal aliens to sign up for all sorts of programs. Yep, you guessed it, it was in CA.

If you have anything and hit hard times, there will be nobody there to help you hold on. Now if you have nothing, have always had nothing and probably always will, you can sign up for a dozen programs. Or if you cross the border illegally, you will be welcomed with open arms. But if you have something, anything you will get nothing.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Human fodder

Who knew the Amnesia video games provided such a wonderful allegory for corporate statehood?

I’m not a gamer so I don’t know about Amnesia, however I remember the original Rollerball movie, where the archivist was shocked that somehow they’d managed to lose the 13th Century and everything related to it.

Tyrants have been pulling this trick on us forever, and enough people fall for it every time for it to work every time.

Baaaaa, baaaaa, …

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: The Azteks fell to an epidemic of human sacrifice.

But yeah, hard times fell on the Aztek empire and they kept carving out human hearts until times got better.

Actually, methinks that particular scam usually runs something like this:

Poverty and crime is caused by the nations Elite draining the wealth of the nation and partying hardy behind closed castle doors, but they blame it all on the poor people by claiming that the sexual proclivities and lack of proper morality by the poor are angering the gods.

In order that the Gods be appeased and allow prosperity to return to the nation, sacrifices of young virgin boys and girls – selected by the Elite from among the poor – must be made on a regular basis, right after they’re secretly drugged into a lobotomized condition and gang raped by the Elite party-goers.

Just another of the symptoms of fascism – the cash death of civilization. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

You mean you were not surprised by them overthrowing democratic governments and replacing them with military dictatorships that are more sympathetic to the US administration? Maybe your eyes are open to the fallacy myth the USA is one of the “good guys”. There are no “good guys” especially countries that demand others do one thing or die then do that exact same thing.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: So...what now?

I assume that the TPP’s going to get signed and ratified and Malaysia will get its upgrade …

You forgot the part where Malaysia gets to continue to ignore mass murder and human trafficking with USA’s blessing. So much for being the engine of democracy, exporting freedom to the unwashed masses, all yearning to be free.

Watch out China/Russia/North Korea/Kazachstan/…! We’re coming for you next!

Chyaa, right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So...what now?

The PRC will chew through the US military as soon as they set foot on Asian soil. As it stands now, China is a regional power that could take on the entire military resources of ASEAN without breaking a sweat. And they are feeling pretty cocky right now because they know that Europe, Russia, the Middle East and India wouldn’t support the US in a war with China.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: So...what now?

There’s nothing that can be done. Yes?

Not so.

This is America.

One can still slam one’s head against a bridge abutment, living room wall, basement floor, or tree, without fear of reprisal by members of the Elite.

For that matter, one can do any of the myriad hundreds of thousands of things that will have absolutely zero effect upon the pre-ordained passing of this fascist legal scam.

Because, this is America!

Anonymous Coward says:

You have the wrong party

There is no way the Dems are beholden to corporate ‘Merica. They are the party of the people. Or are they? Let’s examine that.

1. They bow down to Hollywood
2. They are pushing this particular trade bill
3. They claim to be for the little people and want to raise min-wage, yet they allow millions of illegals in to both take jobs from ‘Mericans and to keep the labor rate low through the supply outstripping the demand.

But yea, they are for the little guy.

SolkeshNaranek (profile) says:

how to buy a president

Can there be any doubt what so ever that these grateful corporations which are going to make billions more as a result of TPP passing, will “repay” Obama after he leaves office by filling his pockets with a very high fee to appear at their functions as a speaker?

Perhaps now his desperation makes a little more “cents”.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: how to buy a president

There are no true believers in politics.

The job necessitates an attitude of 100% continuous opportunism coupled with a willingness to do anything necessary to get very wealthy, very fast.

The only thing a politician believes in, is the power of valuta and the value of power.

All else is merely a means to an end.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder what goes through their heads...

Are they purely evil people who wants to rule the world and their goals are people as slaves who exists to serve them?
Are they just greedy people who wants more and sees the world as everyone for themselves?
Are they stupid people who thinks they are creating a utopia for everyone?
I just don’t get it. I cannot think like they do and if that is the evolution of obtaining money and power, then I want neither.
To become like them is probably the scariest thing I can think of, because if I were a believer and would describe the soul, then I would describe it as what they have lost.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I wonder what goes through their heads...

Mostly number two. Most of them probably aren’t out and out deliberately evil, intentionally doing as much harm as they can, they just don’t care how much harm they do.

It’s indifferent evil, rather than deliberate. They’ll endorse slavery and mass murder not because they agree with those things, but because they don’t care about either as long as they get theirs.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Like a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

They can’t see the long game. Better for your kids to be a dictator of a banana republic than your great grandkids to be middle managers in a star-spanning utopian empire.

Quoth Gaiman:
Lucifer: Still. “Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.” Eh, little brother-killer?

Cain: Suh-certainly, Lord Lucifer. Whatever you say, Lord Lucifer.

Lucifer: We didn’t say it. Milton said it. And he was blind.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: I wonder what goes through their heads...

It’s indifferent evil, rather than deliberate. They’ll endorse slavery and mass murder not because they agree with those things, but because they don’t care about either as long as they get theirs.

Totally agree, and I’m wondering if that’s even worse. The actively cartoonishly evil types tend to get found and shot or imprisoned or some such sooner or later. The profit-seeking institutionalized indifferent evil just goes on and on.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Well... fuck.

It was supposed to be a joke you scum.

A while back when the ‘poison pill’ came up, I made a comment something along the lines of how I’d love to see the administration defend slavery if that’s what it took for them to get this ‘trade’ deal through, and while I fully expected them to try and squeeze it through anyway, I never expected them to do it this blatantly.

But, here it is, the administration admitting that slavery, mass murder, none of it is as important as pushing the TPP through. The corporations writing it have decreed that it will be implemented, and their employees in the political houses are doing exactly what their bosses have ordered, and to hell with the public.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Well... fuck.

… and to hell with the public.

And the victims. Innocent, non-combattant victims, just trying to eke out a living for themselves and their children on planet Earth, and this is the ass-holery they run into.

I’m ashamed this !@#$’s still allowed to go on. I’m incensed that the US gov’t is allowing this because campaign contributions, and corrupted politicians want to continue in office, swearing they’re doing it because America!

Sick, sick, sick.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: This IS the stuff Jefferson was talking about...

…re: tree of liberty, blood of patriots and tyrants, et. al.

The only reason we took the steps away from monarchy in the first place, such as the Magna Carta, the Social Contract, Napoleonic Law and the Bill of Rights is because we kept getting assholes in power who couldn’t think past the short game.

And people who have power like having power, so any system is always going to inch back towards tyranny again. The US is a parody of democracy. A joke of a republic.

And from here forward, it’s going to get suckier and suckier until people enough to collaborate towards a revolt are driven to do so by too much suck.

That’s going mean a lot of people suffering and dying before we get ticked off enough.

In the meantime, expect the occasional crazies that pop off to go on a bombing or a rampage shooting to increase in frequency.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This IS the stuff Jefferson was talking about...

And from here forward, it’s going to get suckier and suckier until people enough to collaborate towards a revolt are driven to do so by too much suck.

That’s going mean a lot of people suffering and dying before we get ticked off enough.

And as we see here, the people suffering and dying aren’t the ones in the US who might be driven to revolt. Here, we still have plenty of food and clean water (even in California so far), power, air conditioning, TV, internet… we’re too comfortable to revolt and they mean to keep it that way.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 To comfortable to revolt

They might mean to keep it that way, but they’re not. I think it is the apathy thing. It’s too difficult to sustain an adequate modal standard of living. Middle management are now living as teachers did in the eighties, with patched clothes second-hand furniture and two-hour commutes in cars with worn tires. Minimum wage jobs are no longer available to teenagers, but are taken by 30-year-olds trying to earn a living — and working 60 hours a week to do so. Abuse in the workplace by superiors is rampant. People don’t have the option to quit jobs when their own workplace is intolerable.

Police gunning down innocent civilians in the streets is the spark, but our elevating level of misery is going to be the festering fuel that turns it from cause to riot to cause to revolt.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This IS the stuff Jefferson was talking about...

…expect the occasional crazies that pop off to go on a bombing or a rampage shooting to increase in frequency.

Occasional Crazies?

Oh! You must mean the FBI and CIA trained internet nutters and brain injured wannabe super-villains that help maintain the War on Terror’s “public terror” here at home, by going off on fake bombing or shooting rampages, but getting caught by their law enforcement handlers at the last possible moment for that perfect photo op.

Gotcha.

For a second there, I thought ye were talking about regular; but highly pissed off Americans, doing guerilla work against the Fed – but everyone knows that Americans won’t budge from their TVs and beer, until the Thought Police finally come for them too.

Take away their cable now and you’re talking a whole nuther story of course. There’d be blood in the streets fer sure then.

steell (profile) says:

Re: List as of 2014

Don’t know where you got your list, but the following is from the State Department site.

Tier 3

Algeria
Central African Republic
Congo, Democratic Rep.Of
Cuba
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
The Gambia
Guinea-Bissau
Iran
Korea, North
Kuwait
Libya
Malaysia
Mauritania
Papua New Guinea
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Syria
Thailand

Uzbekistan
Venezuela*
Yemen
Zimbabwe

http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2014/226649.htm

Anonymous Coward says:

In some ways TPP is good, because the US has only tipped barely into civil war.
At the moment its a cold war with no shooting, but once TPP starts to get its claws into people (enforced seizure of property, money, guns etc without trial) a LOT of ppl are going to….whats the best phrase for this? oh yes…Lose their fucking minds and go batshit insane.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

In some ways TPP is good, because the US has only tipped barely into civil war.

I suspect if you polled “Dixie” states, they’d insist they never actually lost that war (“Waaaaaaah!”), and it’s still going on, and it’ll go on until they’ve won (or they’re annihilated). Cf. Texas.

“Better to take off and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

I wonder when Earth will decide to invade the USA to smite the cancer that’s been ravaging the planet for the past century. You’d think if Osama bin Laden was considered a significant threat to the US (pathetic!), even Canada should be able to pull it off (again) all by itself. Canada from the north, Mexico from the south, Europe from the east, AsiaPac from the west, and then we can all get back to living our lives in peace, sans USA as Global Cop.

Tempting.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

(Just conjecture folks. Don’t get all antsy now.)

…except all the computerized equipment would be remotely turned off when each of the assault teams reached the half way here mark, and then all their munitions would self detonate.

I still get the giggles when I think about the invasion of Iraq and the way the US made all the Iraqi computer-run defense systems detect bogus bogeys and fill the sky with ak-ak, while the US war-machine came 2 by land.

Remember; All your Hard Drive are belong to US.
And; All your Motherboard Chip are belong to US.

The US no longer fears reprisal from foreigners because, the US owns the software controls to their military hardware.

That’s why President Drones O’Bomber can assassinate anyone anywhere and never apologize to anyone, or break a sweat over retaliation.

Michael says:

WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHY BOTH PARTIES DO WHAT THEY DO?

The Council of Foreign Relations is the reason for much of it, add to that big corporate industries that can use their money to ‘vote’, and you have the destruction of the middle class in America. Read this book if you really want to put an end to your misunderstanding:

The Shadows of Power

link: https://archive.org/stream/ShadowOfPowerTheCouncilOnForeignRelationsAndTheAmericanDecline#page/n0/mode/2up

Thanks and wwake up peacefully

GEMont (profile) says:

Fascism 101: How to pick your friends.

So a country – (that assassinates people all over the world using remote controlled bombs, spies on its own population and occasionally kidnaps and tortures its citizens and foreigners for fun) – decides to whitewash the record of another nation – (that traffics in slaves by promising the world’s war and economy dispossessed, good-paying jobs) – to protect O’Bomber’s Fast Track law – (so that Hollywood and some dinosaur corporations and their billionaire owners can impose greater control over the world’s remaining wealth and prevent other nations from passing laws that prevent international profiteering and the ruination of their natural resources by international billionaires).

I don’t get it. There’s absolutely nothing surprising in any of that. Just fascist business as usual, exactly as expected.

Just because there is no honor among thieves, is no reason to think that two thieves cannot make a deal to screw over some third party for fun and profit.

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