Activists beam “Stop Trans-Pacific Partnership” message into rush hour traffic

"Stop TPP" over Interstate 5

On Tuesday evening, a group of activists brightened up an otherwise cold and gray evening for Seattle commuters. Holding constellations of light bulbs, they trudged onto a freeway overpass and aligned themselves, then hoisted beaming placards onto the railing. I ducked through a hole in a fence and made my way down to the side of the road. “Stop TPP,” the light projection read. The action was carried out by the Washington Fair Trade Coalition and the Backbone Campaign.

What’s the TPP? It stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it’s been described as “NAFTA on steroids” – a secretly negotiated free trade agreement between some 12 countries that activists argue will benefit corporations more than people.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, though, today the world is getting a look at the agreement itself. And it’s not promising:

The Sydney Morning Herald received an early look at the leaked draft, and notes that it focuses on the United States’ federal and corporate interests, while largely ignoring the rights and interests of consumers. “One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view,” Matthew Rimmer, an expert in intellectual property law, tells the Herald. “Hollywood, the music industry, big IT companies such as Microsoft and the pharmaceutical sector would all be very happy with this”…WikiLeaks says that TPP would effectively instate many of the surveillance and law enforcement regulations proposed in the highly controversial SOPA and ACTA laws.

The WikiLeaks disclosure will spark a greater debate about the TPP. But yesterday, one group of drivers already seemed to be in the know. Most of the honks of support – really loud ones, at that – came from truckers driving big semis. Light projections of this sort were carried out all across the country. This week might just mark a turning point in the battle against the accord.

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at]gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.