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Jim Hightower - Corporate power grab masked as a fair trade deal

When I was a tyke, Momma warned me not to eat anything unless I knew where it came from. That advice is so sensible that even Congress acted on it in 2002, passing a straightforward law called Country Of Origin Labeling. COOL requires meat marketers to tell us whether the meat they sell is a product of the USA, China or Whereintheworldistan.

This useful information empowers us consumers — which is why globalagribusiness giants hate it and are trying to get a secretive, autocratic, plutocratic, private court in Switzerland to kill it.

This can't be, you say? But it is. Unbeknownst to most Americans, when the U.S. joined the World Trade Organization in 1999, we surrendered a big chunk of our sovereignty to this corporate court.

Here's what's happening: (1) American consumers have a basic right to know where their meat comes from, but (2) that right has been pitted against American corn flakes and ketchup in a "trade war" that (3) is being forced upon us by a handful of corporations that produce, slaughter, butcher and package meat outside of our country but (4) are allowed under trade agreements to challenge a U.S. law that had been duly enacted for the people inside our country, so (5) America was sued in an obscure, autocratic, private organization created by and for corporate interests and headquartered in Switzerland. Then (6) that corporate "court" did indeed rule that the "profit right" of foreign meat packers is superior to our people's basic right of self-determination.

Holy Tom Paine, this is corporate tyranny! But it's about to get worse, for President Obama and Congress intend to hang another bad trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, around our necks this spring.

What? You haven't heard of the TPP? Dubbed "a corporate coup d'etat" by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, it's a grandiose grab for power masked as a trade deal, allowing an unprecedented level of global corporate rule over Americans. One reason we commoners don't know about it is that the corporate and governmental elites of the 12 nations that have been negotiating this momentous deal in strict secrecy, not only are keeping us in the dark but also Congress. Another reason, however, is that the mass media has been shockingly silent, apparently even incurious about what clearly is a huge story with historic consequences.
FAIR, the excellent watchdog group that tracks media coverage, found that ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC have offered the American public practically zero to little news stories about TPP. Even though the looming power grab has now spawned protests around the world, generated a major coalition of some 500 grassroots groups in our country loudly opposing the ripoff deal and has produced an odd-bedfellow, a rare bipartisan alignment of opponents in Congress, there's been a TV blackout. Could it possibly be that the global conglomerates that own our so-called "news" networks don't want us knowing what's up behind TPP's closed doors?

Let's do the media's job for them and find out what's in this bad deal:

The trade hoax

Of the document's 29 chapters, only five address tariffs and other actual trade matters. The other 24 consist of various ways to "free" corporations from any accountability and from any responsibility to the world community's common good.

Bye-bye "Buy American"

TPP dictates that all corporations based in any member nation must be given equal access to the public dollars that any government spends on equipment, food, highway projects, etc. Thus, our own national, state and local governments would no longer be free to give preference to suppliers of our choice. "Buy American" and "Buy Local" programs could be challenged by private corporations.

Wall Street rides again!

If anyone doubts this pact is a corporate boondoggle dressed in trade clothes, let them read its shameful financial provisions. Our nation's financial regulations would have to be "harmonized" to comply with TPP's extreme deregulation, re-creating the anything-goes Wall Street ethic that crashed the world economy in 2008.

To help stop this anti-democratic nasty, go to www.exposethetpp.org.

(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Lot's of people to thank in aftermath of Academy building flood

To The Daily Sun,

On the night of Sunday, Jan. 11, at approximately 10 p.m. the Gilmanton Academy Building, which houses the town offices, suffered a catastrophic failure when a pipe in the sprinkler system burst in the attic and then disbursed thousands of gallons of water throughout the entire building.

My first "Thank you" goes to our very own Gilmanton Fire Department which was first on scene and did an amazing job working swiftly, efficiently and systematically in moving, covering and saving much of the towns equipment and documents. Although I hope you never have to experience a visit from our Fire Department, you must know you are in very good hands if you do. They are a well-trained professional group of dedicated people who truly care.

A special thank you to our media, WMUR's Ray Brewer and his cameraman for the coverage of the Academy building, also to Gail Ober from the Laconia Daily Sun , the Citizen and NH1. I called WMUR the early hours on Jan. 12 and spoke with Adam asking for help from WMUR in getting the word out to the public as to what happened overnight at the Academy. After turning on the TV a few hours later, there was Ray, in the cold darkness in front of the Academy reporting. Thank you for staying through most of the day and getting the story and footage of the building and word out to our community.

My next "thank you" goes out to my fellow Town Clerk/Tax Collectors. They are the very first group I heard from offering their help and support in any way they could assist to help us to continue services to our Gilmanton residents. As most of you all know at this point, the town of Alton, Belmont, Gilford and Laconia took on motor vehicle registrations, as that was the only service we could not complete for our residents. This was an extra burden of work on their part that they selflessly took on without hesitation.

Our Town Clerk (NHCTCA) and Tax Collector (NHTCA) Associations are amazing groups that I take great pride in belonging to. I have much gratitude for the networking and outreach that these two groups do for any Town Clerk and/or Tax Collector that needs help in any way for their communities. They are all true leaders who take great pride in public service to our communities. Thank you all for your offers of help and support.

I also need to reach out to say thank you to all the state agencies and vendors that offered their help and support, especially at the DMV and Interware.

Thank you to our IT department, Certified Computer Solutions (CCS), who swiftly came in that morning to retrieve all of the computer equipment to dry out and test every PC. By Tuesday, Jan. 13 they had our server functioning and set up so that we could stay functional by having our finance department and my computer set up at the Fire Department's room at the Public Safety Building, which brings me to another "thank you" to our Fire Department for sharing their space without hesitation. Our server did need replacing as well as some monitors and keyboards.

And last, but not least, thank you to all of our Gilmanton residents for your offers of help, support and patience and understanding while we continue to get back to some normalcy.

Update: As of Wednesday, Feb. 4, the Clerk's office has a new VPN connection with NH DMV and we are able to process all motor vehicle transactions as well as continue with all of our other services. February renewal notices were sent on Feb. 4. New dog tags are on order (registration of dog licenses are not due until April). An announcement will go out when they become available. Check our website for information www.gilmantonnh.org

Debra Cornett

Town Clerk/Tax Collector

Gilmanton

Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 02:02

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Stop complaining about debt if you're unwilling to close loopholes

To The Daily Sun,

Mr. Meade, your column is somewhat reflective of the 1960s, but the '60s are over. The starter jobs at the low end of the work force has increased exponentially. For one thing by increasing the minimum wages most of the companies affected are not moving out — service industries, fast food, and companies like Walmart, McDonalds, Burger King, and most of your local mom and pop stores.

Our politicians have already made it easy for the manufacturing jobs to leave and they have left. They have done nothing to make it difficult to hide money offshore as much as Obama and the Democrats have tried to tax them on it. You might check the dictionary for the meaning of the word tax as your party doesn't understand or use it. Fine with me but stop complaining about debt and revenue if you refuse to tax or at least close the tax loopholes.

Raising the "entry" level wages will not automatically increase the skills and abilities for the positions advertised. However, they would help reduce the dependency on the government for things like welfare, food stamps, child care, health care and any other government program. Thus reducing debt with no new taxes. But then again that isn't a GOP goal is it? You would rather keep the low wages and eliminate the government subsidies at the same time. More untaxed profits to buy politicians. Am I close?

I doubt very much that there will be much of a change to those that want to further their education. There still will be many who will want to further themselves by attending college or at least a two-year school. The chances for this will be increased by making the two-year school free. More kids will have a chance to gain knowledge in a variety of subjects if they didn't have to worry about the cost. The chances to experiment will be greater than ever before. Courses previously ignored will have more people looking at them. Like a free museum. More people will go in to look if they are free as opposed to being charged a $10 entrance fee. A win-win proposition.

I also doubt if any changes to the four-year college would change either. Companies will still want those with a four-year degree or more so there will probably be an increase in applicants for a four-year colleges. All this just because of an increase in the minimum wage.

From my viewpoint, along with Obama's and the Democratic Party, it is a good idea. That is a good reason to vote for whomever runs against Kelly Ayotte in 2016.

Jon Hoyt

Plymouth

Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 01:55

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How often has Barack Obama put his country down?

To The Daily Sun,

I do not like long letters so let me be brief, please.

It is noon and my wife says you must hear this guy speaking against Christians. Who is "that guy"? Why, it is the evil one who does not like me, or our country. Visit Breitbart.com for Obama At National Prayer Breakfast: "People Committed Terrible Deeds In The Name of Christ".

For the defenders of Hussein Obama, will you back his position that, "Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."
When we discuss this Saturday during my radio program, I expect "Liberal Lady" to call because she too likes to go back in history with "well, what did Reagan do?" How often has Barack put this country down, beginning with his apology tour in 2008? Is this why B. Hussein will not speak ill of Islamic terrorism? Which is not a country, as the USA is. Is this King Obama taking on Jesus Christ? Is the devil at work?

Niel Young

Laconia

Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 01:45

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Here's why PSNH's power plants are shockingly undervalued

To The Daily Sun,

As I sit in my relatively warm kitchen on this bitterly cold day — zero degrees — I am reminded just how vulnerable we are to the elements. Nearly all of us have heating furnaces which depend on electricity to start them. What if we were to start experiencing long periods of power outages because the power grid simply didn't have enough electricity for everyone?

The N.H. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is now required, by misguided legislation passed by the previous legislature, to force Public Service Company of N.H. to sell off 12 of its currently functioning power plants on New Hampshire soil and rivers (nine being hydro plants), and they are proceeding ahead to do so. (Reference: Laconia Daily Sun Associated Press (AP) article January 17, 2015, page 15)

PUC's most recent report (reference article) said: PSNH's 12 power plants have a total value of $660 million but would probably bring about $225 million on the open market, leaving $435 million in costs to be paid by consumers." If no sale of these 12 plants were to occur, consumers would not be on the hook for a $435 million loss, but if there is a sale, consumers will be paying off that $435 million, A.S.A.P., however it is that the PUC structures it. (Keep in mind the purported reason for the sale was to save consumers from future price rises.)

It cost PSNH $422 million in 2011 to buy one scrubber system on one plant in Merrimack (demanded by the current federal administration to ensure even cleaner air coming out after the power generation process. PSNH did it because it really believed we needed that plant and didn't want to shut it down, and felt they could pay it off affordably, over time) So, when the PUC determines the total current sales value of all 12 plants combined is $660 million, that is not the replacement value, which would obviously have to be much higher. If, for example, we discovered, after the sell-off, just what a giant mistake it had been and were to price out the replacement cost, that would, doubtless be in the billions, maybe $3 billion, $5 billion, $7 billion. Maybe even higher.

This makes the 12 plants shockingly undervalued on the marketplace and subject to scavenger companies coming in, bidding and winning their bids, then proceeding to disassemble the plants and sell them off, either piecemeal or in their entirety. Off the pieces go, by train or ocean barge, to new locations. China, for example, being cash rich and infrastructure poor, would certainly welcome buying top line electrical plants for pennies on the dollar, and the scavenging company would still make a handsome profit. Remember, these are fully updated, proven, functioning plants. Bye, bye, plants.

There would be a lot more immediate, safe money to be made by such scavenging than by a company who wanted to actually come in and run it. Why? Because the three fossil fuel plants are currently a political target, as the federal administration is targeting such plants as it tries to change over our power sources to new technologies. (Remember power research company Solyndra — $500 million total loss plus several other research companies, same. Bringing on new technology-driven sources of power is a very slow and risky process, as we've already seen.) What private company would consider trying to come in and actually continue to run the power plants, when they know the current political policy is to shut them down, by piling on so many outrageously costly regulations that the utilities cannot keep them afloat? (Right now, across the nation, fossil fuel plants have been and are being shut down permanently due to federal regulation, alone.)

That's the reason the sales value is so low.

Maybe some day geothermal and ocean current technologies will be able to provide power solutions, but that's a big, far off maybe. We are now seeing the side effects of the windmill installations that are being added along the ridge-tops of our state. The people who now have to live with them and the detrimental environmental effects they are now causing are not happy and are fighting any new ones coming in to the best of their ability. Would you be happy to see windmills along all our ridge-lines? And think how costly it will be to replace our power infrastructure that was paid for in "yesterday's" dollars with new and risky technology in "today's" dollars. Those recently installed windmills, owned by the Spanish company, for example, are subsidized by our federal government, because the cost is so high. Without the subsidies, they would not have been built. They aren't cost-effective on their own.

Word is, that the proposed Northern Pass energy project, that will mar our landscapes with its really big wires as it passes through New Hampshire, would require a tremendous water-damming project that will have catastrophic effects for vast areas of Canada. Might the Canadian government decide to pull the plug on that?

This power plant sell-off is an issue that needs to be addressed in the here and now.

Please contact your representatives and senators. Only they can stop this with a bill to repeal that previous legislation by the previous legislature. That's all it takes. Just knowledge and will. They could pass that repeal in one day, if they had a mind to. Right now, no one down there in Concord is pushing to stop it. We have to make them think about it.

Next time, in Part 4, how this sell-off can affect our future. Watch for it.

Carol Grasso

Laconia

Last Updated on Friday, 06 February 2015 01:34

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