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U.S. Trade Rep. given ‘Corporate Power Tool’ award for secret treaty talks

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, May 13, 2012 12:55 EDT
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Yes Labs activist David Goodwin, preparing to prank U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk in Dallas. Screenshot via YouTube.
 
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The 12th round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were interrupted in Dallas this weekend by protesters who commandeered a microphone and attempted to present the U.S. Trade Representative with a “Corporate Power Tool” award.

The TPP, a wide-ranging economic treaty that looks to solidify a Pacific-rim regional economy anchored to the U.S., will implement a number of measures relating to intellectual property that have Internet freedom activists raising alarms. Advocacy group Public Citizen, in particular, has warned that the treaty essentially represents a “power grab” by corporations that want greater enforcement of copyrights and easier access to cheap labor in nations like Malaysia, Vietnam and Chile.

Activists have also expressed concerns that the TPP talks have been taking place behind closed doors — something that’s not unusual for diplomatic negotiations, but has drawn particular concern due to the TPP’s uncertain handling of copyright policies around the world. A total of 32 law professors wrote U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk earlier this month asking that the talks be conducted out in the open due to these concerns, but Kirk objected to their characterization, claiming that hundreds of corporate stakeholders have regular access to the negotiations.

Appearing at a reception on Friday for TPP participants at Dallas’s Intercontinental Hotel, a representative of the Yes Lab, an activist group set up by corporate pranksters The Yes Men, commandeered the microphone and praised Kirk’s leadership in promoting corporate profits around the world.

“On behalf of the Texas corporate power partnership, we are very pleased to announce that the U.S. trade negotiators are the winners of our 2012 corporate power tool award,” Yes Labs activist David Goodwin declared to a wave of applause from the audience. “We’d love to thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts, and the TPP agreement is shaping up to be a great way to maximize our profits, regardless of what the public of this nation or any other nation thinks is right.”

Goodwin then proceeded to offer Kirk a plaque commemorating the achievement, but the Labs activist was intercepted by police and escorted out. Shortly thereafter, members of “Occupy Dallas” interrupted another presentation with cheers of, “No deal for the one percent!” They too were escorted out.

Despite being ejected from the meeting, activists left something behind: toilet paper printed with messages protesting TPP, which it translated as “taking people’s power.”

This video was published to YouTube on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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