Brave Politics – Now Labour Must take on The Banks

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We see it, we fear it – the future of our planet, its sustainable resources, and life as we have known it, collapsing, because of the money system. Can we stop it?

HOUSING:

We are invited to buy property,  pay interest to bankers, who have the ability create money, out of thin air, at the click of a mouse. ( What is Money , Positive Money ?) If we all tried that, what do you think would happen? Reckless, unethical bankers are happy to arrange mortgages stretching people to and beyond the limit. Is there such a thing as  ethical banking? Many of us have relied on mutual building societies and  supposedly “ethical banks” such as the Co-op bank. That trust soon evaporated as the headlines in the media reported the takeover of the Co-op bank  this month.

People, now happily moving into homes face rising interest on mortgages as the banks will force rate rises, just as energy companies have raised charges.  How will they manage? The Guardian is reporting possible interest rate changes by 2015. Who will the media blame then?

It is essential for that any incoming governments are brave enough to confront bankers and money-lenders  who prey on people. Governments must address the way money is created used and distributed. Money should be serving us, not us serving money.

airmoney

We are The Debt Generation. Money is a tool, not a resource. And it’s a broken tool.  We need Positive Money to be fit for the purpose.

EDUCATION:

We can thank some brave politicians in history that health care and education for all is no longer just the domain of the rich and privilege, but universal. It should be a priority for Labour.  Harold Wilson’s Open University widened the access to education such had never been seen before. The provision of maintenance grants enabled students to concentrate on study.

Doctors, engineers, scientists and lawyers from working class families had access to education  and all of society reaped the benefits. Every person’s life is enriched by high quality education. We need quality training too and we need specialists; engineers, doctors, road builders, teachers, builders and firefighters.

We can all see these benefits, so provision of maintenance grants, and universal access through the Open University is investment in the future. 

But today, the Open University is too costly for many. Students are taking on massive loans, and debt. If they finish their course, and find employment, then it’s a struggle to pay for a home, or for a car. And what next? A loan for health? For childcare? A loan for elderly care?  And so it goes on to the next generation.

Every part of our lives is now at threat because of the banking system. The financial system is so invasive, all consuming, and  like a flawed  parasite, greedy and foolish, and is destroying it all.  The reality is a lifetime of paying for money which magically came from nowhere. It’s a far cry from care from cradle to grave.

So where did all the brave politicians go?

Real-Economy-Syphoning

BANKING AND INTEREST  

Whether it is business, or individuals, the banks are in a win-win situation. The financiers maintain control because the system is so heavily biased in their favour. The money made up from nothing, can grow, like a weed out of control. Debts become unsurmountable…  and all because of interest. 

In this video, Professor Dr. Margrit Kennedy describes how flaws in the money system cost us all about 40% extra for everything – interest costs. Interview by Dimitri Devyatkin. 

youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ixgt4syL9U&w=420&h=315%5D  

Not all loans charge interest. In Islamic Banking, there is no interest charged.

Islamic finance is all about sharing risk between financial institutions and the individuals that use them. To do that, the two parties are tied into a longer-term relationship with each other that is supposed to shift incentives and avoid cut and run financial deals. So how can banks that don’t charge interest survive? It’s a question worth answering, not least because academics have argued that the financial crisis wouldn’t have happened if the global economy was regulated by Islamic finance.

(Guardian)

 

This is an interesting idea, but still retains the control to the banks who hold the money, and not collectively by all, which is how it should be in a democracy.

While Islamic finance addresses the problems caused by interest, I would prefer to see a government owned bank retaining  democratic control.  Power should be returned to the people – and so should the money system. The majority now despise the banking system with suspicion, and want to see real change – not more of the same faux-governments, too weak against the financial institutions.

Like a few in history, future politicians brave enough to present and adopt the proposals of Positive Money will be welcomed. It is time for Labour to be brave, and let the people know where it stands.

Speak up, Ed! Positive Money, Positive Labour.

This Trans Pacific “Partnership” is really, really bad News. #WikiLeaks

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Think Left have poised the question, “Are we in the post-democratic era?”

Now, document details of the trans-pacific agreement leaked, and thanks to WikiLeaks, we see just how bad TPP trade deal is for ordinary people.. (Download pdf here)

The more you know about the odious Trans-Pacific Partnership, the less you’ll like it. It’s made for corporate intellectual property and profits. (Guardian)

(YouTube)

Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a partial draft of which WikiLeaks has just released. This treaty has been negotiated in secret meetings dominated by governments and corporations. As the implications become clearer, we are hearing of growing opposition to this agreement. The people can defeat this. (Truth-out)

  • Wikileaks have  published the full text of the intellectual property chapter; the leaked document included the positions of all the parties.  It will take time for all the corporate rigging in this lengthy document to be understood, but already it is evident that Internet freedom will be curtailed, access to health care will become more expensive and access to information will be undermined.
  • Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written several letters to President Obama opposing Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority.
  • In the United States, cities and counties are beginning to pass TPP Free Zones, saying they will not obey the TPP if it becomes law. 
  •  The draft “confirms fears that the negotiating parties are prepared to expand the reach of intellectual property rights, and shrink consumer rights and safeguards,” writes James Love a longtime watcher of this process.

Copyright is a key part of this draft.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation says TPP has “extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate”. It’s Hollywood’s wish list. The medical industry has a stake in the outcome, too, with credible critics saying it would raise drug prices.

It is vital that ordinary people, union activists and our opposition parties in parliament and everywhere oppose this treaty. Democracy, health, ethics and human decency decry it. We must organise, educate and collectively oppose this treaty for all our sakes, and  future generations.

Welcome to Breadline Britain

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Welcome to Breadline Britain
from Gracie Samuels

With all the furore over energy prices and now water bills, it’s about time someone mentioned those who are forced to buy their energy through prepayment metering by the energy companies.

Often it is the weakest, the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society who are forced to purchase their energy like this. For example: The low-waged; the disabled; the elderly; the unemployed and single parents, those forced to live on benefits and also those “hardworking people” the prime minister talks so glibly about who are struggling with the soaring cost of living. These are the people who are existentially being hit by these price hikes much harder than people who pay directly by direct debit.

As these people have been placed on prepayment plans by their energy providers they will end paying more than the price hike for their domestic fuel bills. Prepayment means they will be asked to pay for their gas and electricity before they actually use it.

Those consumers who have been placed on prepayment metering have usually been placed on them because they cannot afford their energy bills or may have been late paying their bills on a few occasions. These consumers often have no choice and and the metre[s] will be installed by their energy providers whether the consumer wants them or not.

The energy companies take the view that they will not terminate supply for non-payment but will install a prepayment metre. Often the rate of gas or electricity consumption is set on an estimation of how much the consumer is likely to use, plus the metre is also set to recoup any debt owed to the company. So if the consumer buys £15 of electricity or gas on their card/key to top up their prepayment metre and they owe the energy company for a previous bill, the energy company will automatically take half of that payment to recover any arrears and for standing charges. The consumer may be left with as little as £7.50 for gas or electricity out of their original £15.00. This process will continue until the debt is cleared. So if the debt is around £100  it may take at least around 16 weeks to clear. That is 16 weeks of often the poorest, the disabled, the low waged, the unemployed and often some of our most vulnerable consumers of gas and electricity who are already experiencing fuel poverty being forced into even more fuel poverty while the debt is collected. Unfortunately the energy companies do not usually make adjustments for seasonal collections of debt, so the arrears could be being collected through the deepest of our winter months, exposing people to the risk of hypothermia!

Many of these metres are placed outside in awkward to reach places or inside in awkward to reach places making it very difficult for the elderly or disabled to reach. This also has hidden problems and dangers if the consumers does run out of gas for any reason it will mean relighting pilot lights on gas boilers before normal supply can be fed through to their heating systems, often people, especially the elderly and the disabled have great problems reigniting these pilot lights especially if they have back boilers as this means laying on the floor to reach the pilot light and this means they will be forced to sit in freezing cold conditions until someone can come and help them. (if indeed they have anyone that can help!)

This is not all, because these vulnerable people are on prepayment plans and metres, the energy companies say it costs more to collect their bills so people will usually pay more for their energy. if they cannot afford to buy tokens or re charge their card or keys then they will not have any energy. Also during the coldest months when people need to buy more gas and electricity to keep warm, then the more energy they purchase, the more of their money will be taken off of them to pay off their arrears.

There are also hidden costs, the nearest charging point may not be near and consumers will be faced with the additional cost of getting to their nearest charging point. If people are on both gas and electricity prepayment plans then the charging points for gas and electricity may even be located in separate locations adding to the problems.

What is the government doing about this very serious problem? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! As usual David Cameron is standing by and allowing his friends the in the energy companies to make even more money out of our most vulnerable people.

Not only is Cameron and this hideous government doing nothing to help these people, they are actually making their situations worse by cutting their benefits, even though many of these people will actually be IN WORK!

Iain Duncan Smith at the Department for Work and Pensions has made these peoples lives intolerable in many different ways will be making it impossible for these struggling people not only to feed and clothe their families and themselves this winter, but to pay something as basic as their fuel bills will also prove impossible.The hidden costs of the Tories and Liberal Democrats welfare reforms are many and varied.

Bedroom Tax – thousands of people are now being forced to pay between £14 and £24 per week or between £56 and £96 extra per month out of their low wages or benefits for extra bedrooms if they are deemed not to be needed by the DWP. Many of these people are working on low pay or are disabled and need their bedrooms and thus far it has not created one single situation where it has actually helped anyone, there are no smaller properties for people to move into. It is one of the nastiest ill thought out, ill conceived pieces of legislation in the entire history of the British parliament. Yet still this government will not admit they have got it wrong and get rid of this ludicrous policy. (If the Labour party win the next election they have promised to repeal the bedroom tax) 96% of people affected by the Tories bedroom tax have nowhere to go, in effect they are trapped and are now falling into arrears with council for non payment of bedroom tax as well as falling into arrears with domestic fuel bills.

Housing Benefit Caps – Starting in July 2013 and earlier in some pilot areas, the government introduced a cap on the amount of housing benefit you can receive. At first, the benefit Cap will only affect those in receipt of Housing Benefit, however later, it could also affect those who are in receipt of Universal Credit. if the cap affects  you then your benefit will go down. Again this not only affects those who are entirely in receipt of benefits, it also affects those on low wages who receive help with their rent and council tax.

Working Families Tax Credit Cuts – Due to government changes the new rules on working tax credits from April 2013 will hit around 212,000 low income families according to information published in the House of Commons Library. This will reduce income on average by around £2,600 per year. This affects ALL those “hard working people” that David Cameron keeps talking about. Up until now providing one partner works at least 16 hours per week, they would be eligible for tax credits, but now couples will need to work at least 24 hours between them to apply, with one partner working at least 16 hours. It means that “hardworking families” will see their incomes fall by around 30%.

Council Tax benefit cuts – Are forcing people to stay on the side of the law or to break it in order to feed, liable for charges between 10% and 30% of the full bill.  Again many of these people are IN work earning low pay and have been forced into this position by this government. How much money are councils losing in non payment and in chasing people for payment? how much money is taking all of these people to country costing the country? How are people already struggling to live going to manage having to pay higher fuel bills and some are paying the bedroom tax and some are also now being charge council tax on top of everything else.

People Queuing outside Peterborough Magistrates Court
Answering Summonses for non payment of council tax.
It’s not they won’t pay it is because they CAN’T pay!

How will they manage to clothe their families and heat and light their homes? More than a 100,000 people have been issued with court summonses for non payment of council tax. Many people whom have never been in council tax arrears in their lives before now suddenly find themselves in debt owing large amounts and hundreds are turning up on council office doorsteps to protest, or are being forced to form queues outside Magistrates courts where they will be tried and fined EXTRA money for non payment of council tax bills. Most of the people who are being fined do NOT have the money to pay the bill in the first place which is why they are now being forced to court. An estimated 1.9 million who did not have to pay council tax before the changes now find themselves deeply in debt with their incomes cut and no way of paying for soaring food prices and soaring energy prices.

As you can see some of David Cameron’s and the Tories and Liberal Democrat government’s “hardworking families” can be clobbered at least 4 times each and the total effect on their weekly incomes will be absolutely devastating, can anyone in this absolutely ludicrous insane narcissistic government please explain how on top of all these cust, people are going to be able to pay to keep their homes warm and lit? How will all those on prepayment metres cope with the soaring costs of energy on top of all of these cuts?

Why isn’t someone doing something about the energy companies charging vulnerable people MORE per unit of energy ABOVE the price everyone else pays?

The devastating verdict is in just one year this Tory led Coalition Government has pushed a million people into absolute poverty and all the progress the previous Labour government made in tackling relative child poverty has ground to a halt. In their first year this Government have pushed a million people into poverty and it is getting worse.
Now more than 5 million people in Britain are being paid less than the minimum wage, thanks to the Tory and Lib Dem Coalition Government’s naked attack on peoples living standards and their deliberate driving down of wages.

How are these people going to afford to heat and light their homes?

A recent Oxfam report says that austerity will drive more than one million children into poverty. The Oxfam report says George Osborne’s cuts and tax rises are “massively increasing” inequality in the UK and the Government’s austerity policies will push a further 800,000 children into poverty. Oxfam warns that by 2020  there will be an additional 800,000 children – up from 2.3 million at present – and 1.9m more adults living below the breadline.

How are these people going to afford to heat and light their homes?

Food Banks – Over 350,000 people received emergency help from the Trussell Trust food banks between April and September 2013. Inquiries  for help at foodbanks has tripled this past year. The level of poverty and deprivation in the country is not acceptable, it is scandalous. Michael Gove should hang his head in shame for accusing people of not managing their money properly, they have no money to manage he and his government have seen to that! And his wife filling her fridge and cupboards with junk foods throughout the summer and writing about it is just callous and shows how out of touch this hideous government is.

The Trussell Trust has also reported that people have been giving back items that need cooking because they cannot afford the gas or electricity to cook them, this is an absolute abomination, we are the 7th richest country in the world and we are forcing the poor, unemployed, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable to pay for the greed of the bankers.

And what is George Osborne’s answer to this while Ed Miliband is fighting the Government and the energy conglomerates to try and get a better deal for people? George Osborne is away with the fucking fairies in the EU taking them to court to safeguard bankers mega bonuses and just to add insult to injury, Osborne is forcing the taxpayer to pay over a million pounds in bankers legal fees!

The government is grabbing money from poor people hand over fist at the same time as they have given a huge tax concessions to millionaires handing them at least a £100,000 cheque tax cut. I bet they do not have to worry about turning the heating on, or worry about having enough power to cook the food a food bank gave them!

Today it is reported that cabinet ministers have been claiming thousands of pounds for energy costs, while Tories are all in it together!

Nadhim Zahawi laughing with the PM
after the millionaire claimed £5882
back in energy costs

 Our poor and vulnerable are freezing cold and cannot cook their food, and one millionaire Tory Nadhim Zahawi claimed  £5882 off of the taxpayer in just 12 months, more than four times the average household bill! Yep those –

I am so glad they think the situation they have caused in this country to be so funny, they laugh while millions struggle in despair and the winter hasn’t even started properly yet!

Someone needs to do something and do it fast, if they do not then people are going to die of starvation and hypothermia this winter.

And why are the energy conglomerates charging people with prepayments metres MORE for their energy? It is a bloody disgrace!

Why are many of WW2 generation worried about the rise of fascism?

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At a time, when those British soldiers killed in war are remembered, it is salutary to focus on why many of the WW2 generation are so nervous about the parallels between the 1930s and now.

“What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing to do with knowing one is governing.

 What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. …

 This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. 

 ’They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945′ – Milton Mayer  University of Chicago Press. Reissued in paperback, April, 1981.

Does that sound familiar?

Nevertheless, David Malone updates to the current era:

‘Repression is so last century.’

Why repress when you can simply drown it out.  All it takes is for the media outlets to be owned by a few powerful and like-minded friends.  A few media moguls and corporate giants, whose plastic pundits raise their voices while the dolly bird presenters flash their thighs.  It’s all so full throttle and frantic, and charged with desire and greed.

Anyone who disagrees is a conspiracy theorist.  Anyone who breaks ranks is a whistleblower and whistleblowers are domestic terrorists, dysfunctional loners with personality problems and axes to grind.

When the truth is vilified, hunted, gagged and goaled, then the State has chosen to go to war with the nation.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/06/secrets-and-lies/

Bernadette Meaden agrees:

When the history of this particular period is written, people will marvel at what the Conservatives have achieved. To lose an election, scramble into office, and then go on to change society so significantly in a few short years shows, it has to be said, quite some chutzpah….

It is so much easier for a government when Ministers can tell lies which go unchallenged, become accepted ‘facts’ and are repeated ad nauseam to justify ‘difficult decisions’. Perhaps the classic example of this is Grant Shapps’ widely publicised statement that almost one million disabled people had dropped their benefit claims when tests became tougher. This was completely untrue…There was an effective media blackout on this development.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18586

David Malone adds:

Our ‘Betters’ have found Goebbels was wrong.  You don’t have to protect the people from the consequences of the lies you tell them, as long as you can blame those consequences on someone else.  On unforeseen global economic forces, on conniving foreigners who devalue their currency, or terrorists or whistleblowers.  Or even the people themselves for taking on debts they couldn’t afford or on ‘necessity’ and ‘precedent’ – the bond holders cannot be made to pay – it goes against international precedent.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/06/secrets-and-lies/

That certainly sounds like George Osborne’s stranger-to-the-truth explanations.

On top of all this, we have the Big Brother revelations of Edward Snowden about mass surveillance.  (Goebbels eat your heart out.)  This should have been no surprise.  Zbigniew Brzezinski was writing, as long ago as the late 70s, about the problems for the power elite of controlling the masses in an age of information and communication.  David Malone again:

In a democracy rule is by consent. In a dictatorship it is by control.

Which do we have in the West?  It seems to me, it is no longer clear.  We certainly still have the rituals of rule by consent.  But behind the elected front men and women is a shadow state.  Its people ritually swear allegiance to those we elect.  They declare themselves there to serve and protect.  But when it is us they spend their time spying on, whose interests are they protecting?  Can you really serve those you do not trust?

In 2008 we discovered that behind the banking system we knew about, there was a vast shadow banking system whose size most of us never suspected.  In 2013 we have glimpsed not only the scale of the shadow state but the degree to which it, like the shadow banking system, is out of control and not working for us at all.

http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2013/07/nsagchq-the-new-praetorians/

Chomsky of course has no illusions about our living in a Democracy.  He calls the present system RECD – really existing capitalist democracy – pronounced ‘wrecked’.  In other words, our ’democracy’ is government by the wealthy for the wealthy, a plutocracy.

In the work that’s essentially the gold standard in the field, it’s concluded that for roughly 70% of the population – the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale – they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised. As you move up the wealth/income ladder, you get a little bit more influence on policy. When you get to the top, which is maybe a tenth of one percent, people essentially get what they want, i.e. they determine the policy. So the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy….

 http://www.chomsky.info/talks/20130617.htm

 

In fact a number of analyses have identified that it is only a handful of individuals, fewer than 200, that ‘rule the world’.  Real News 24 writes:

Some people have started realizing that there are large financial groups that dominate the world. Forget the political intrigues, conflicts, revolutions and wars. It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.

 … In short, the Federal Reserve is controlled by four large private companies: BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard and Fidelity. These companies control U.S. monetary policy (and world) without any control or “democratic” choice. These companies launched and participated in the current worldwide economic crisis and managed to become even more enriched…. The same “big four” control the vast majority of European companies counted on the stock exchange.

In addition, all these people run the large financial institutions, such as the IMF, the European Central Bank or the World Bank, and were “trained” and remain “employees” of the “big four” that formed them.

http://www.realnews24.com/the-large-families-that-rule-the-world/

Particularly focus on ‘It is not pure chance. Everything has been planned for a long time.’

The release of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet papers from 1983, confirm that all this coalition government’s determination to dismantle and privatise the NHS/ public services, are just the end game that the Conservatives had in mind 30y ago.  We are experiencing ‘disaster capitalism’ as described by Naomi Klein.  The economic crisis caused by the banks in 2008 is being used to justify implementing IMF-style liberalization of the UK for the benefit of the transnational corporations.

In Europe, the ‘crisis’ is being similarly used to dismantle the welfare net and force through federalization.  The Brussels Business Documentary (Corporate Europe Observatory) charts the corporate capture of the EU, initially by the industrialists of the European round Table, and now by the vast body of lobbyists that rival the Washington contingent.

http://corporateeurope.org

THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY

 

The next stage of neoliberal/neofeudal corporate supremacy is the rushing through (by 2014) of the US-EU Free Trade Deal, which will allow corporations to force governments to change any of their domestic legislation which is inconsistent with ‘liberalisation’… employment and environmental protection, banning of GM crops, and so on.

Michael Meacher writes:

‘It says a lot about democratic accountability that the most profound and far-reaching issues are not discussed in Parliament.   It was true of the decision in the UK to build the first atomic bomb.  It was true of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in the 2000s which aimed to give the world’s rich countries the right to draft universal investment laws which would guarantee corporations unconditional rights to conduct financial transactions which could not be challenged by governments or citizens.   And it is true now of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which US and EU trade negotiators are currently trying to bring to fruition.   It too, if carried through, will allow international companies to hold governments to account, rather than the other way round, if they believe that governments are introducing environmental, social or labour standards which unreasonably impinge on their commercial prospects.

Of course in selling the idea to the (gullible) public, not a word is said about this.   Instead we are told that it will increase transatlantic economic growth by 1-2% a year and that that will increase incomes by several hundred pounds a year.   What is not mentioned, even if you believe the salesman’s patter about the benefits, is that the increased incomes will accrue very largely to the holders of capital, not to ordinary folk to any noticeable degree.   But the real impact is felt on democracy.   There is a touching faith that everyone in the West accepts that democracy is the foundation stone of our society and culture and the immoveable basis of our rights for justice and redress.   But the capital holders, the corporate class, have never accepted this – and nor really have the ideological wing of the Tory party.’

http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/11/us-eu-trade-deal-is-next-stage-of-neoliberal-corporate-supremacy-but-not-discussed-in-parliament/

‘Fascism should more appropriately called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power’ – Benito Mussolini

Gramsci, imprisoned by Mussolini, wrote shortly before his death in 1937:

 ”The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.”

That was true then and is true now.

Addendum:

The academic, Lawrence Britt composed a list of 14 characteristics common to the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto and several Latin American regimes.  It is a frankly alarming list to read with the Coalition Government in mind.  http://rense.com/general37/fascism.htm

See also Think Left’s

Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?