Tagged: globalization


Is there a way to get lots of attention for something boring, secretive, and highly wonkish, with an acronym that sounds like stuff you wipe your butt with? The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is yet another nasty trade deal being forced on the world by US trade reps under the influence of corporate lobbyists, and an anonymous organization sought the help of the Yes Lab to stir up some media interest. Together we cooked up a comic microphone hijacking and rogue awards ceremony which honored US Trade Representatives in Dallas for their tireless work against the 99 percent. The resulting video and press release caused quite a stir.

Selected Press:

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On July 6, 2001, an email arrives at GATT.org from a television producer with CNBC Marketwrap Europe. The producer wants a representative of the WTO to debate an “anti-globalization” activist (possibly Naomi Klein) live in front of millions of TV viewers. The date: July 19th, the eve of the G8 protests in Genoa.


Andy and Mike are already in Paris, where Andy lives and works full-time; they are preparing to drive to Genoa to attend the protests. It is decided that Andy will go on the air from CNBC's Paris studio, linked by satellite to the main studio in London. Good: should Naomi want to punch him in the nose for the nasty things he’s going to say, she will be more than an arm’s length away.


On July 19, 2001, Andy dons his somewhat threadbare business suit and tries to look as mean and serious as possible. Unlike “Dr. Andreas Bichlbauer,” who smiled and laughed politely in Salzburg, “Granwyth Hulatberi” is more agitated, without a hint of joviality. Andy finds the TV studio and strides purposefully in. The technicians put a microphone on his tie and an earpiece on his ear. Andy sits in front of the camera. The open window behind him frames the Arc de Triomphe, a perfect symbol for the unabashed arrogance he feels welling up in his breast.


The cameras roll. “Granwyth” is live on CNBC’s European Marketwrap Europe, along with host Nigel Roberts, activist Barry Coates from the World Development Movement (Naomi Klein couldn’t make it), and the other guest: Vernon Ellis, the International Chairman of Andersen Consulting.


Ellis seems to be on his own planet: “I do believe that multinational corporations can be good for business,” he responds when asked whether the protesters might have a point.


Unlike Ellis, “Granwyth” doesn’t have anything to hide, so he explains what the WTO has in mind for people like Barry. With privatized education, Barry’s children won’t think the way Barry does. They will understand why free trade is good, and they will honor great thinkers like Darwin and Milton Friedman instead of Robespierre and Abbie Hoffman.


Andy does agree with Barry’s simple facts: dire reports of growing poverty in the world are of course correct. But Coates and the other protesters don’t understand the theories well enough. Markets are still the answer no matter what the cost. For example, a market in human rights violations can allow countries that want to abuse people to buy “Justice Vouchers” from those who don’t. Might makes right, Andy concludes: the rich are right because they have power, and the poor are wrong because they don’t.


In London, Barry Coates can barely contain himself, rolling his eyes in disbelief and almost losing his composure each time Andy opens his mouth. Despite this, Coates manages to respond articulately and patiently, explaining how the WTO is making the poor poorer and the rich richer.


Andy leaves the studio and rushes to catch the night train to Genoa, where Mike has already joined one of the largest and most colorful demonstrations in history—and one of the bloodiest police riots ever. Days later, the producer sends Hulatberi a videotape of the debate along with a friendly word, and no indication whatsoever that he noticed anything wrong.

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May 12, 2012

Dozens of rogue "delegates" disrupt Trans-Pacific Partnership gala with "award," "mic check," mass toilet paper replacement, projection

Two dozen rogue "delegates" disrupted the corporate-sponsored welcome gala for the high-stakes Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations yesterday with a fake award ceremony and "mic check." Other activists, meanwhile, replaced hundreds of rolls of toilet paper (TP) throughout the conference venue with more informative versions, and projected a message on the venue's facade.

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.

The crowd of negotiators and corporate representatives applauded, and "Haversall" continued: "I'd like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a fantastic way for us to maximize profits, regardless of what the public of this nation—or any other nation—thinks is right."

At that point, the host of the reception took the microphone back and announced that the evening's formal programming had concluded. But Mr. Haversall confidently re-took the microphone and warmly invited Kirk to accept the award.

Kirk moved towards the stage, but federal agents blocked his path to protect him from further embarrassment. At that point, a dozen well-dressed "delegates" (local activists, some from Occupy Dallas) broke into ecstatic dance and chanted "TPP! TPP! TPP!" for several minutes until Dallas police arrived.

Fifteen minutes later, another dozen interlopers from Occupy Dallas interrupted the reception with a spirited "mic-check." Outside, activists projected a message on the hotel, and throughout the night, delegates discovered that hundreds of rolls of custom toilet paper had been installed in the conference venue.

The activists disrupted the gala to protest the hijacking of trade negotiations by an extreme pro-corporate agenda. "The public and the media are locked out of these meetings," said Kristi Lara from Occupy Dallas, one of the infiltrators. "We can't let U.S. trade officials get away with secretly limiting Internet freedoms, restricting financial regulation, extending medicine patents, and giving corporations other a whole host of other powers allowing them to quash the rights of people and democracies, for example by offshoring jobs in ever new ways. Trade officials know the public won't stand for this, which is why they try to keep their work secret—and that's why we had to crash their party."

There is mounting criticism of the U.S. role in pushing the negotiations forward in secrecy, despite the public's overwhelming disagreement with TPP goals. ("Buy American" procurement preferences are supported by over 85% of Americans, but U.S. trade negotiators are preparing to accept a ban on such preferences. Two weeks ago, 69 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama asking him not to accept that ban.)

Many are calling the Obama administration duplicitous: while the administration publicly hypes a plan to revitalize American manufacturing and create jobs in the U.S., U.S. trade officials push for new "investor rights" that would make it easier for American companies to lay off domestic workers and open plants overseas.

"The TPP has been branded as a trade 'negotiation' by its corporate proponents, but in reality it's a place for big business to get its way behind closed doors," said Pete Rokicki of Occupy Dallas. "This anti-democratic maneuver can be stopped if the public gets active—just look at the movement that killed the ill-advised SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) law a few months ago. That's why Obama's trade officials lock the public, the press and even members of Congress from the trade negotiation process."

"We're really happy to know that even in their most private moments, US trade reps are reminded that a vast majority of the public stands opposed to corporate-friendly, closed-door trade deals like the TPP," said Sean Dagohoy from the Yes Lab, who assisted in the actions.

    Occupy Dallas: Kristi Lara, kristi096@gmail.com, 505-463-7013
    The Yes Lab: disruption@yeslab.org

For more information on the TPP, live from Dallas, contact Lori Wallach, Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, Lwallach@citizen.org, 202-454-5107

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