Blackout Blackmail
by Maya del Mar

This is the first Taurus month since the great Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Taurus of May 28, 2000. Where do we stand in our relationship to Earth?

Indigenous peoples saw the Earth, as well as themselves and all the creatures with whom they lived, as manifestations of Spirit, They considered Earth as sacred and themselves as guardians of the harmony of life.

The earth, the water, the air, the sun, was provided by Great Spirit for the benefit of all life. Earth was sacred, by its very nature not "owned" or ownable. Who can own the great Gods and Goddesses?

Gradually, over millennia, the idea of ownership has expanded.

Now we have the World Bank and the IMF, part of the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944, which occurred during the last Jupiter-Saturn in Taurus cycle. We have the WTO and the proposed GATS, both arising out of GATT, which began in 1948, also under Jupiter and Saturn in Taurus. We have NAFTA, which went into effect on January 1, 1994 to jumpstart the 170-year Neptune-Uranus conjunction in Capricorn.

And right now, in Quebec City on April 23, at the New Moon in Taurus, 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere agreed on FTAA, Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, which, like NAFTA, occurs in the context of the WTO. The planned completion date of FTAA is from 2003 to 2005.

Business interests have been driving these agreements, and with every one, multinational corporations have more and more tools to take over our lives.

FTAA negotiations and agreements are highly secret, but they are said to resemble an expanded NAFTA. The U.S. wants the agreement to "cover, in principle, all service sectors and service suppliers." This could mean education, healthcare, transportation, social services, water, and all other services, with the exception of air transport, for which the U.S. proposes a "carveout." The U.S. says that all aspects of energy production, transmission and supply should be covered.

Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians, gives us an example of how NAFTA and its preceding U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, have affected energy in Canada:

"Those agreements created an anti-environment, anti-conservation, deregulated continental energy policy based on short-term, high-cost, high-profits exports that are controlled by transnational energy corporations with little interest in rising prices or the environmental consequences of their actions.

She warns, "If this deregulated energy regime gets extended to the hemisphere, it will have devastating consequences in the fight to reduce the overuse of climate-warming fossil fuels in the countries of the Americas."

Ms. Barlow tells how these agreements led to the dismantling of Canadian energy policy and the loss of national sovereignty and control over vital resources. That same reckless market mandated by deregulation rules in the agreements contributed to the current energy problems in the U.S.

WTO and NAFTA rules, designed for the purpose of maximizing profit for multinationals, supersede personal, local, state, and federal rights. Corporations can sue governments of an offending country in secret and binding arbitration tribunals if they feel their investment rights have been harmed. If a corporation "wins," the government entity is fined, and the taxpayers pay.

This can happen to individuals as well. As of six months ago, 1500 U.S. farmers had been sued by Monsanto for harming Monsanto’s investors by refusing to buy Monsanto genetically engineered seed. Monsanto has also sued Canadian farmers.

The suits so far brought by corporations against the general welfare strike me as absurd. For example, in 1999 Methanex, a Canadian corporation, sued the U.S. government for nearly $1 billion because of a California executive order phasing out the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive. MTBE is a known carcinogen and water pollutant.

If the secret NAFTA tribunal decides that California’s environmental policy violates the investor rights of Methanex, the U.S. government can be held liable for the corporation’s "lost profits" from not selling MTBE. Methanex could get $1 billion from us, the taxpayers.

This is plain extortion. It’s a huge protection racket, made respectable by the governments for whom the corporations pay, and the media which they own.

Democracy, and basic human rights, including the right to knowledge, are entirely lost in this NAFTA/WTO supergovernment. FTAA proposes to enormously expand NAFTA, to tighten it up, and to make commitments to privatize and deregulate irreversible.

President Bush will put FTAA on "fast track," which means there can be no debate about it.

It’s Taurus time, re-evaluation time, and Earth time. Is this the kind of world we want?

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