Big Apple Coffee Party TPP Action Page

One of the most effective ways we have to stop the TPP is to contact our Congressional Representative and get his/her commitment to vote AGAINST the TPP if it comes to a vote in Congress.  Regardless of what he/she said, or even how he/she voted on Fast Track, this vote is new and will determine whether or not TPP is passed in Congress.  If you can, put together a small delegation to visit your Congressperson.  Or, call.  Or write.  Ask for a promise to vote No.

Here is a sample letter you can use to write to your New York Representative.  Of course, you can modify it for any Congressperson. This sample letter contains important information for us as well as to share with our friends and others in our community.

We should be interested to learn if you receive an answer, especially if it's a commitment to vote No!

Sample letter for opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Dear [elected official], 

I am writing to ask you to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and for you to take a leadership position in rallying your colleagues against the TPP. 

The TPP would have disastrous ramifications for New Yorkers and Americans across the country, and yet there will be no opportunity to change any of its many draconian provisions because it will be brought to the floor under "trade promotion authority," an undemocratic process preventing us from having the robust discussion we need to have. The TPP would enable corporations to sue to overturn laws, rules and regulations set in democratic bodies such as Congress and the New York Legislature, with no limits on who qualifies as an "investor" eligible to sue government.

All indications are that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have negative impacts greater than those of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which accelerated the decline of U.S. manufacturing capacity and the loss of jobs to other countries with much lower wages.

The TPP includes rules that will go well beyond even those of the North American Free Trade Agreement in terms of eroding labor, environmental and safety rules and empowering corporations to run roughshod over society. The TPP will extend the use of "investor-state dispute mechanisms"—secreet tribunals on which corporate lawyers sit as judges in secret forums outside any conflict-of-interest rules and without appeal. American and Canadian environmental, health and safety rules have been overturned in these secret tribunals, and the rules of the TPP will make these anti-democratic results more common.

If the TPP were to pass, we will have no right to know what is in our food because consumer labeling laws would be banned; medicines will become more expensive because government entities would be banned from negotiating discounts; taxation laws and regulations would constitute "indirect expropriation" mandating compensation for corporations' "lost profits"; rules safeguard privacy on the Internet would be overturned; and "buy local" or "buy American" rules would be prohibited.

Clauses purporting to protect health and safety regulations from attack have consistently proven to be meaningless in existing trade agreements, and these will be as, or likely more, meaningless in the TPP. Language granting rights to corporations to sue for possible future profits "lost" due to regulation use words like "must" and "shall" while clauses purporting to uphold regulations use language like "may."

In summation, the TPP has very little to do with trade and much to do with allowing large corporations to shape the law in their favor and move more of our jobs to countries with low wages, costing us jobs and putting pressure to lower wages for the jobs that remain. These deals are experiments that have gone badly wrong, and it is past time for us to stop giving away what remains of democracy.

Please cast a vote for democracy and sovereignty by voting no on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sincerely,

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Big Apple Coffee Party TPP Forum: Action Page

On November 10, 2015, Big Apple Coffee Party, Unitarian Church of All Souls Peace & Justice Task Force and Lifelines Program sponsored a forum on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Who Wins and Who Loses in This Secret Deal?, featuring:

Lori Wallach – Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Margaret Flowers – Healthcare reform activist and co-founder of Popular Resistance

Kevin Zeese – Political activist, leader in the drug policy reform and peace movements and co-founder of Popular Resistance

Jim Hightower – Syndicated columnist, author and publisher of the Hightower Lowdown

Moderated by Zephyr Teachout – Assoc. Professor of Law at Fordham University, CEO and chair of the anti-corruption nonprofit Mayday PAC

The panelists spoke about the ramifications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, gave examples of new practices that will be enabled by the TPP, and got us fired up to act.  Information about the deal itself can be found on the sites provided, but we wanted to put together an action takeaway from the evening. 

TO DO

1. Pressure Congress
2. Educate the public to pressure Congress
3. Raise visibility to defeat the press blackout on this issue
 

 PRESSURE CONGRESS, GET THEM TO COMMIT TO VOTE NO

  1. Don’t trust any members of Congress (we learned this in the Fast Track fight).  A promise isn’t a vote.
  2. Put together a small delegation to see your Congressperson.  Try to get a diverse group – maybe some workers, some business people, a faith leader or two.  If the elected official doesn’t  commit to vote for their constituents instead of their contributors, tell them you’ll be back with twice as many people.  Keep doing it.  This lets them know you’re organizing in their districts.
  3. Organize constituents to hang out in Congresspeople’s (or Congress Critters as Jim Hightower called them) offices.  Just sit in the waiting room – but get people to do it in shifts so someone’s there continually for a while.
  4. Take visual aids or props on visits.  In Oregon, people brought toasters to Sen. Ron Wyden’s office to point out he was going to be toast for his role in the Fast Track fight.

      In New York:

  1. Pressure those who voted for Fast Track.  In NY State, it’s US House Representatives Peter King, Kathleen Rice, Gregory Meeks, Elise Stefanik, Richard Hanna and Tom Reed II.  Two of those are NYC Democrats – Rice & Meeks.  By contrast, 5 NY State Republicans voted No.  Both NY Senators voted NO
  2. Pressure Sen. Schumer.  He voted against Fast Track and has said he opposes the TPP, but he needs lots of pressure to keep him on the straight and narrow.  He’s powerful, so if he will do it, he can be really helpful in whipping others in Congress to be active against the deal

EDUCATE THE PUBLIC TO PRESSURE CONGRESS

  1. Tell 5 people about this assault on citizens (the TPP) and aim them at their Congressperson
  2. Bring the outsiders (us) in to pressure lawmakers
  3. Talk about the deal to everybody – at work, at church, at school, in clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, sailing clubs, book clubs, even on the street
  4. Pass out cards or flyers on the street or malls - anywhere

RAISE VISIBILITY TO DEFEAT THE NEWS BLACKOUT ON TPP

  1. Put up signs on highway overpasses – regular banners(daytime) and lightboad signs (night)
  2. Stage theatrical actions - In Mauii, during TPP negotiations, a convention was called of conch blowing (a practice of native Hawaiians).  It resulted in 500 conch shell blowers trumpeting together at 5 AM near the negotiators’ hotels
  3. Pass resolutions in local government against the TPP.  Many cities (including NYC) have declared themselves TPP-free zones to show their opposition.  Albany County has issued a proclamation against the TPP.   NY State Senator Hamilton has a letter that he’s asking NY State Senators to sign on to in opposition.  Food & Water watch has more information on this.
  4. Tuesday TPP action – during the Fast Track fight, Popular Resistance asked activists to pledge to do something each Tuesday to oppose the TPP.  See some of the things that have been done on their site.  Keep this up. 

TIMETABLE:

The deal won’t hit Congress this year.  Its supporters will bring it when they think they have the votes.  The earliest possibility is February, 2016.  Beyond this, it’s guesswork.  Given the election schedule, there’s a window of opportunity for TPP after Super Tuesday, in mid-March of 2016.  If they can’t push it then, the lame duck session of Congress after the elections in November is the next probable opportunity.  Sen. Orrin Hatch is already talking about pushing it to 2017.  Whatever they do, we have to be prepared to counter whenever it shows up.  Many trade deals in the past have been defeated by delay, there is almost never an out-and-out defeat.  We have to keep stopping them every time they think they can go ahead.

Most of all, the speakers wanted to remind us that we can act and we must act.  The TPP can be defeated!

Stand up for the right to be a self-governing people.  Who are we going to be?  Are we for economic justice and equality?  Inequality doesn’t just happen, it’s created by decisions – like this. 

Obama (and other politicians) can’t say they’re against inequality, but for the TPP.  Call them on it.

THIS IS A FIGHT WE MUST WIN.  IT WILL EITHER KEEP GOVERNANCE IN THE HANDS OF US, THE PEOPLE, OR GIVE IT TO GLOBAL CORPORATE CONTROL.  NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.

RESOURCES:

Radio — SiriusXM radio broadcast the forum live on “Make It Plain," hosted by Mark Thompson.  If you are a subscriber, look for it at siriusxm.com in the on demand section.  If not, you’ll have to take a trial membership to get access.  The show can be listened to, but not downloaded, as far as we know.

Video — the event was filmed by Joe Friendly, videographer.  It will be available on YouTube.  We will post links when they are available.

ORGANIZATIONS WORKING AGAINST THE TPP:

Tradewatch.org

ExposetheTpp.org

Flushthetpp.org

Fightthetpp.org

Foodandwaterwatch.org

Popularresistance.org

Tradejustice.net (Trade Justice NY Metro)

CitizensTrade.org

SPEAKERS’ LINKS:

Jim Hightower’s site: http://www.jimhightower.com/

Aug. 2015 Hightower Lowdown issue on TPP:  http://www.hightowerlowdown.org/stopTPP#.Vkdc1HtSZ5o

Mayday PAC (Zephyr Teachout, CEO & Chair): https://mayday.us/.  The  organization at this link works through electoral politics.  The Big Apple Coffee Party is a non-partisan, issue-oriented group.  We provide this link as a courtesy to our speakers and audience.  The Big Apple Coffee Party does not endorse any of the candidates found on this site. 

ONLINE PRINT RESOURCES:

Washington Post’s tool to search the TPP text for words: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/11/05/we-made-president-obamas-big-tpp-trade-deal-searchable/

Global Trade Watch's point-by-point text analysis: http://www.citizen.org/documents/analysis-tpp-text-november-2015.pdf

Downloadable anti-TPP cards to pass out: http://www.occucards.com/images2/21-tpp.pdf.  Printed cards also available to buy through flushthetpp.org.  Look for occucards.

MEDIA RESOURCES:

Clearingthefogradio.org – Radio show w/ Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers.  Searchable archives.  Kevin Zeese suggested we search for Global Redesign Initiative to find a show on the effort now underway to minimize the power of nation states (where citizens have power) in favor of multi-national corporate structure (where citizens don’t.) 

ENTERTAINMENT FROM EVENT NIGHT:

Public Citizen’s TPP lyrics to Jackson Five ABC – Corporate Power Tool of the 1%: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOokUdKYcM

Owen Crowley’s TPP lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off – Shake It Off – Break the TPP:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_Z1B1t5Fuk

Additional media links:

Raging Grannies (not NY chapter) Flush the TPP song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybOhszqc23U

Funny explanation of the deal from Australia: http://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/tpp-ttip-tisa-isds-acronyms-to-end-democracy/

Stop the TPP song sung at Japanese TPP protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opI5ytzccyI

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We're flyering again!

 On Tuesday, April 21, Jonathan and Sally were out at West Side Market on Broadway between 97th & 98th Streets, NYC, handing out flyers and talking to passers-by. More and more people are aware of the toxic influence of the Koch brothers on our democracy—and glad to know what products will give them more money to pour into our political system.  One man read the flyer and announced to other people: "Take this—it's important!"

Jonathan Sally

The weather was great, and a fine time was had by all. You can do it, too. It's easy!

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Scientists also ask AMNH to remove David Koch from the board

The Big Apple Coffee Party isn’t the only group worried about the Kochs’ impact on scientific knowledge.  A large group of scientists sent an open letter in late March to museums of science and natural history asking them to cut ties to the fossil fuel industry and those who fund climate science denial—prominent among them, the Koch Brothers.

The letter and petition to tell top natural history museums to kick David Koch off their boards (he’s a Board member at the Smithsonian, as well as the American Natural History Museum and who knows how many others), can be found hereThe Natural History Museum is an alternative museum that held its grand opening at the Queens Museum in Sept. 2014 (opening alongside the People’s Climate March).  They provide touring exhibitions, expeditions and workshops. 

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Big Apple Coffee Party asks AMNH to remove David Koch from board

David Koch is a trustee of many important New York cultural institutions. The Big Apple Coffee Party is particularly concerned about his presence on the board of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The Natural History Museum plays an important role educating the public about environmental issues including global warming while Koch Industries is a major polluter and fossil fuel distributor. David Koch is using his huge personal wealth to subvert the efforts of scientists to educate the public about climate change.

New York City provides substantial funding to AMNH -- nearly $30 million in 2013 -- in addition to indirect support. Accordingly, the mayor and other city officials serve on the museum board. The Big Apple Coffee Party has sent a letter calling on our representatives to seek the removal of David Koch from the board of AMNH to end this egregious conflict of interest.

 

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Flyering at Fairway August 16, 2014

140816_Man.jpgThree of us went to persuade the shoppers at Fairway, on New York’s Upper West Side, August 16th—Emily, Bruce and me (Sally).  It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of shoppers and passers-by. Some wanted more flyers and thanked us for what we were doing, some just walked on, and of course there were a few who told us to grow up or get a job.

We were busy pitching everyone who passed – and sometimes waiting for the next rush. Lots of people took the flyers, read them and started absorbing more information about money in politics.     

My most interesting moment was with two passers-by.  One was a woman running past, who took multiple copies of the flyer and thanked me for what we were doing.  Then a man came up and said (roughly, from my memory) “This is stupid.  What about Obama — and DiBlasio (NYC mayor), who are ruining the place?  Why don’t you do something local?”  The runner then explained to him that she thought this was very local since it was targeted at people who were going into the store to make choices about what to buy.  We talked a little about that, and went on to how big money makes politicians much less likely to listen to any of us.  It ended with the man taking a flyer and agreeing that money in politics is tremendously important.

I was excited to have actually gotten through to someone I disagreed with about a lot of things—and to have someone I didn’t know (the runner) actually making some of my points for me.  Who says you can’t talk across ideological divides?!

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Greetings from the Koch brothers

GreetingsFromTheKochBros.jpgBecause we know that the Koch brothers' holdings are so expansive, Big Apple Coffee Party has focused on their consumer products during the past several years. We have been urging consumers through our flyering to avoid adding to the Koch Empire by not purchasing Georgia Pacific and its subsidiaries' paper goods and party event supplies. 

Now, you can add another item to avoid dropping into your shopping basket at the drug store — American Greetings cards!  

Koch AG Investment LLC — a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the country with more than $100 billion in annual revenue — is infusing $240 million into American Greetings through a preferred stock investment.  This investment will add greeting cards to the mix as they participate in the Weiss family's effort to take the company private in a deal with a total value of $878 million.

So go ahead and exercise your consumer power. You will feel better, and maybe the person you are celebrating or trying to cheer up will feel better too.

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Take action to take on the Koch brothers

The Koch brothers infect our society with their insatiable greed at every turn. Another one of their actions has multiple negative impacts on the environment, our economy, and veterans. Each summer hundreds of military veterans go to Bristol Bay in Alaska to work as fishermen.

Enter the Koch brothers. The Pebble mine is a Koch brothers' operation. The development of this mine is putting the local environment and these jobs at risk. VoteVets and DailyKos are asking us to sign a petition to the EPA to protect Bristol Bay and say “No!” to the Koch brothers. 

Save Bristol Bay Photo

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When is giving really taking? Ask the Koch brothers!

by Jonathan Reis

When we flyer for Don’t Do Koch, people sometimes say things like “David Koch gives to the ballet, hospitals and museums. He’s not so bad.” These people are falling for Koch’s cynical use of philanthropy. The David Koch’s “philanthropy” is making use of his money, and ours, to add to his power and influence.

First of all, much, perhaps most, of it is not his money. It’s ours. Say he donates $10 million to the ballet. He immediately takes $3 million off of his taxes. He’s probably donating what’s called ‘appreciated property’ which allows him to avoid an additional $3 million in taxes.1 So, he is effectively leveraging $4 million of his money with $6 million from public funds. If his family foundation is making the gift, he is not getting tax benefits now, but he got them when he gave the money to the foundation and on all of its investment gains since then.

What does he get for his, and our, money? When he gives to the ballet, he gets great PR (as the comments we hear show), connections to other wealthy New Yorkers, and honor from and influence in a great public institution.

Even worse, Koch’s donations are part of his plan to influence the public conversation on important issues. Koch Industries is in the business of dirty oil, and so the Koch brothers have an interest in slowing down efforts to address global warming. They fund “public interest” groups such as Americans for Prosperity, which openly argue for inaction. At the same time, David Koch is a major donor to the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History and on the board of both. The Smithsonian even put his name on their Hall of Human Origins—and he uses his influence to affect how these issues are portrayed.

Contributions can buy direct political influence, too. This can operate on two levels. He supports conservative candidates directly and through the super PACs he funds. But, we also doubt that liberal politicians are immune to his influence. You would need to be quite naïve not to suspect ulterior motives when David Koch makes a major grant to the United Negro College Fund at the same time as he supports lobbyists against increases to Head Start funding.

We applaud public sector union AFSCME’s decision to withdraw from partnerships with UNCF in response to Koch’s donation. We support calls for UNCF to return the gifts. Similarly, we would even urge hospitals to refuse the Kochs’ contributions since their business activities are literally making people sick. Their gifts enable this kind of cynical exploitation.

Theodore Roosevelt was talking about an earlier oil baron, John D. Rockefeller, when he said  “no amount of charity in spending such fortunes can compensate in any way for the misconduct in acquiring them.” But the Koch brothers’ giving shouldn’t even be called charity. It is part of a larger strategy to influence public opinion and government policy for their own interests. And we, as U.S. taxpayers, are subsidizing it.

1 We are assuming that all of his taxable income receives preferential treatment such as capital gains or qualified dividends. To the extent it is “ordinary” income, his tax benefits would be larger. We are assuming that his tax domicile is New York City.

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Paul Landman exposes the Kochs in Laguna Beach

Big Apple Coffee Party member Paul Landman spoke at a recent meeting of Concerned Citizens of Laguna Woods, CA.  He spread the Don't Do Koch Campaign message to approximately 200 in attendance with an in-depth presentation including a showing of the Brave New Films documentary, Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition.  Following the film, Paul conducted a Q&A including a slide show. 

The residents of Laguna Woods signed a petition to the local Homeowners Association asking that the Association no longer buy Georgia Pacific products for all the clubhouses, gyms, restrooms, and pools. 

Paul and his wife Stephanie will be flying in Laguna Woods on July 24th.  A few of those present were inspired to volunteer to flyer with them.  Way to go Paul!

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