The Growing Freshwater Crisis

Last Call at the Oasis

Directed by Jessica Yu (2012)

Film Review

This is a wide ranging documentary about the global freshwater crisis. It focuses mainly on the US, which has the largest water footprint per capital. However it also briefly addresses even more severe water issues in Australia, the Middle East and India.

The film addresses numerous issues contributing to the shortage of fresh water – climate change, causing more frequent droughts and declining snow backs (an important source of fresh water), the rapid depletion of groundwater (many US aquifers are predicted to be totally gone in 60 years), and the contamination of remaining freshwater by unregulated toxic chemical discharge, factory farm waste and fracking wastewater.

As usual the federal regulatory agencies (EPA, FDA, USDA) come off looking really badly in contrast to their European counterparts. It also comes across loud and clear that poor Americans suffer the most from contaminated drinking water – especially when government looks the other way.

The film also highlights how spoiled and entitled many Americans are in their attitudes towards water conservation.

My favorite part of the film features renowned anti-toxics activist Erin Brokovich, who continues to work tirelessly for poor communities suffering epidemics of cancer and other debilitating conditions stemming from contaminated water

Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to contaminated drinking water. Drinking bottled water isn’t one of them. As the filmmakers point out, bottled water is even more poorly regulated than tap water. Neither is desalinization, which is extremely polluting, both in terms of CO2 pollution and a nasty brine residue that’s nearly as harmful as nuclear waste to human health and the environment.

It appears that the cheapest and most environmentally friendly solution for desert areas like the Southwest and Southern California is one adopted by the city of Singapore: recycling purified waste (sewage) water. Most Americans resist this approach due to the “yuck factor.” Reportedly Los Angeles is on track to begin waste water recycling  by 2019.

The film, which can’t be embedded, can be viewed free for the next 2 weeks at the Maori TV website: Last Call at the Oasis

 

 

The Real Reason Silicon Valley Moved Electronics Assembly to China?

Death by Design

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

Death By Design is a very concerning documentary about the extremely toxic chemicals used in the production of semiconductors and circuit boards needed for computers, cellphones ipods, etc.

It turns out IBM has been keeping a mortality register since the 1970s showing an extremely high rate of breast cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, brain cancer and melanoma in in electronics assembly workers. Unsurprisingly there are also high levels of carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals in the ground water of various Silicon Valley neighborhoods. Thanks to the tireless organizing and lobbying efforts of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, in 2001 the EPA declared a number of Silicon Valley companies Superfund Sites* in 2001 (IBM, Intel, National Semiconductor, Hewlett Packard among others).

This, in turn, would lead most Silicon Valley companies to outsource their electronics assembly to China, where environmental regulations are much weaker.

At the moment China also deals with most of the world’s toxic e-waste, a problem significantly compounded by deliberate planned obsolescence on the part of tech companies. Our Smartphones, computers, etc are deliberately designed to cease operating after about four years so we have to buy new ones. The most famous example is the Apple iphone, with the infamous battery that goes dead after 18 months and can’t be replaced.

Apple and their main Chinese contractor Foxconn are also the worst offenders in resisting Chinese environmentalists who are trying to reduce toxic discharges to Chinese rivers and streams.

The part of the film I found most interesting relates to a company called Ifixit, which specializes in teaching Smartphone and computer users how to fix their own devices instead of replacing them. They have even developed a special screwdriver to open Iphones so the batteries can be replaced.

I was also intrigued to learn about an Irish company that builds totally non-toxic and upgradable laptops out of wood (instead of plastic) that last 7-10 years.


*When the EPA declares a company a toxic Superfund Site, the company is required to develop and pay for removing the toxic chemicals.

9-11 Whistleblower: Ground Zero Eyewitness Testimony

Ground Zero 9/11: Blueprint for Terror Part I

Guns and Butter (2005)

This is a remarkable 2005 radio interview with a 9-11 whistleblower who spent four days as a rescue worker at Ground Zero. It provides important eyewitness evidence to the dire health hazards of the toxic particulate matter rescue workers and nearby residents were exposed to.

Indira Singh, who worked on Wall Street as a risk consultant for J P Morgan Chase, lived a few blocks from the Twin Towers. In her spare time she was a mountaineer and a certified (volunteer) Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Highlights from the interview:

10.45 When the first attack occurred, she returned to her apartment, changed into her EMT uniform and reported to an ad hoc triage center near World Trade Center Building 7. There was no coordinated civil defense rescue operation, in part because much of the police/fire department leadership were killed when the buildings collapsed. Compared to most rescue operations (earthquakes, etc), Ground Zero was unique, in part, because firefighters were unable to extinguish the burning ruble for four months, and, in part, due to the thick cloud of toxic particulate dust that persisted even longer.

11.45 Between 12 and 1 pm firefighters told Singh and her fellow rescue workers to move their triage station because “Building 7 is coming down.”

17.00 According to Singh, rescue workers labored round the clock for 48 hours pulling survivors from the rubble, stabilizing their injuries and summoning ambulances to take them to the hospital. They received no support (food, water, etc) from city, state or federal officials and had to break into nearby retail outlets to find food. After four days, they ceased to find living survivors and all were becoming increasing ill from the toxic fog. Singh was forced to leave the rescue effort due to increasing heart palpitations and difficulty breathing. When the EPA refused to declare the air around Ground Zero unsafe, she began organizing her friends to go door-to-door checking on the welfare of her neighbors.

25.00 By Nov 1, several neighborhoods were holding regular community meetings to pressure city, state and federal officials to address the growing health issues of rescue workers and residents adjacent to Ground Zero. Those who could afford to left lower Manhattan at this point to seek housing elsewhere.

27.00 Singh describes the total media blackout regarding the growing health crisis in lower Manhattan, including 11 anthrax scares and health department “spraying for cholera.”

29.00 Singh describes in detail the health symptoms of rescue workers and nearby residents, which were strangely reminiscent of radiation sickness: pervasive skin sores, loss of hair and teeth, palpitation, asthma, chronic cough, neurological dysfunction. Accessing treatment was virtually impossible because many victims had lost their jobs and health insurance.

33.00 After extensive lobbying, Mt Sinai Medical Center finally received a federal grant in December to do baseline monitoring (pulmonary/cardiac function, heavy metals screening) on rescue workers only. Residents experiencing health issues were excluded and no treatment was offered. All baseline medical screening results mysteriously vanished.

35.00 Singh contacted the CDC when many of her elderly and disabled neighbors – and illegal immigrants banks and other corporations hired to clean up their office buildings – started dying

 

 

Dupont: A Textbook Case in Corporate Criminality

DuPont Dynasty: Behind the Iron Curtain

Gerald Colby

Prentice Hall (1984)

Book Review

If you want a precise understanding of how a major corporation sets out (and succeeds) in corrupting all aspects of democratic government, Behind the Nylon Curtain is for you. If it doesn’t convince you that democracy is impossible in a capitalist economy, I don’t know what will. This 800+ page book traces every bribery and corruption scandal; every flagrant violation of labor, environmental and trading with the enemy laws; every frivolous lawsuit (eg challenging the EPA’s ability to regulate air and water pollution); every instance of war profiteering and gouging the US taxpayer; and every case of electoral fraud the DuPont company has engaged in their 215-year history.

DuPont’s Role in Potting 1934 Coup Against Roosevelt

In addition, Colby details the prominent role DuPont played in the formation of the American Liberty League and the 1934 fascist coup the group plotted to remove Roosevelt from the residency; in re-arming the Third Reich prior to World War II; in arming private vigilante groups to attack union organizers and strikers; and in secretly building the nuclear facilities supplying uranium and plutonium to the Manhattan Project. In the mid-seventies (when DuPont workers and Delaware residents began dying of cancer in unprecedented numbers), they successfully blocked a bill to require safety testing on all new chemicals before they could be marketed.

Colby also enumerates numerous efforts by Congress, unions and consumer advocates like Ralph Nader to challenge DuPont’s overtly criminal behavior. Owing to the company’s long time control over local and national media, the Delaware State government and the executive, legislative and judicial branch of the federal government, it has been virtually impossible to sanction DuPont for their illegal activities.

How DuPont Came to Own Delaware

Historically the DuPonts have totally controlled Delaware (government, newspapers, radio, TV, colleges and newspapers).  Thanks to DuPont, Delaware has the lowest business tax in the country and the lowest cost of incorporation. It’s also the only state allowing Delaware corporations to hold out-of-state stockholder and board meetings. The majority of Americans largest corporations are incorporated in Delaware.  In 1980 governor Pierre DuPont successful introduced a law enabling Delaware banks to circumvent other states’ usury laws by setting credit card interest rates that are binding on out-of-sate residents. (see How Banks Use Credit Cards to Rip Us Off )

Roosevelt: More Pro-Corporate than Pro-Labor

I found Colby’s revelations about Franklin D Roosevelt – a significant departure from the pro-labor image promoted by the Democratic Party – the most illuminating. Prior to reading this book I had no idea that Roosevelt

  • imposed wage freezes during a period that prices increased by 45%
  • tried to pressure sit-down strikers at General Motors (then owned by DuPont) to settle with GM on management’s  terms
  • vetoed a law authorizing World War I veterans to be paid the Bonus Bond they were promised (the military assault Hoover ordered on Bonus Army protestors was instrumental to his defeat in 1932).
  • triggered a new economic depression in 1937 by implementing across the board austerity cuts.

*DuPont also blocked distribution of this book for 40 years. Although initially published by Prentice Hall in 1974, DuPont fought Colby in the courts for 30 years to block its distribution (Colby describes his legal ordeal in the introduction). In 2014, he finally released the 1984 edition as an ebook. Although Prentice Hall still owns the print rights, the author retains electronic rights. Used print editions are available from Amazon. The Kindle edition is $9.99.

 

 

How to Build an Alternative to Capitalism

How Do We Build Movements That Can Win

Naomi Klein (2017)

In this presentation, Naomi Klein  outlines the strategy she feels grassroots activists need to pursue to resist the growing attacks on working people while building build a genuine alternative to post industrial capitalism. It’s very similar to the one Kali Akuna proposes (see Don’t Just Fight, Build).

While she begins by focusing on climate change, she heavily emphasizes that environmentalists alone can’t solve the crisis of catastrophic climate change – that it will require a large diverse coalition of activists organizing around a broad array of environmental and social justice issues. While she doesn’t state directly that it’s impossible to prevent climate change under capitalism, this is strongly implied.

Another concept Klein stresses is the importance of radical ideas in creating the conditions for major reform. She gives the example of the calls for socialist revolution following the 1929 Depression and during the Vietnam War – how serious discussion of revolution scared the corporate elite so much that they granted major economic reform (the New Deal) under Roosevelt and major environmental reform under Nixon (creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, etc.).

Klein also gives the example of the Leap Coalition in Canada, which is working for bold social and environmental justice reforms, as well as the development of community controlled energy systems (similar to Germany’s) – where the profits from energy production fund community services, such as teaching, daycare and senior care – rather than distant corporations.

Fluoridegate

Fluoridegate: An American Tragedy

Directed by Dr David Kennedy DDS (2012)

Film Review

Fluoridegate is about the blatant corruption in Washington DC, particularly the EPA, that allows the continued poisoning of local water supplies with the industrial toxin hydrofluorosilic acid (aka “fluoride”).

The last decade has produced an abundance of peer reviewed research establishing unequivocally that chronic exposure to fluoridated water causes osteoporosis, decreased IQ and other neurodevelopmental problems, hypothyroidism, birth defects, cancer and dental and skeletal fluorosis. All the pertinent federal agencies (EPA, FDA, CDC) acknowledge that 1) using fluoridated water in kidney dialysis can be lethal and 2) using fluoridated water to dilute formula causes serious fluoride toxicity in infants. Yet there is absolutely no effort to warn the public of these dangers.

The documentary highlights the case of Dr William Marcus, the former chief toxicologist at the EPA’s Office of Drinking Water. In 1994, Marcus was fired after a colleague leaked one of his reports to the media identifying fluoride as a probable carcinogen. In the wrongful dismissal suit Marcus filed, he established that the EPA had engaged in perjury, forgery and witness tampering in their efforts to destroy his career and reputation. The court rescinded the dismissal and awarded him back pay, damages and all legal fees.

Last year the US Department of Health and Human Services reduced their maximum recommended fluoride level for drinking water from 1.2 parts per million to 0.7 parts per million. This despite volumes of research indicating there is no safe level of chronic fluoride exposure – just as there is no safe level of lead or mercury exposure.

The primary source of fluoride used in public drinking water is hydrofluorosilic acid, a toxic byproduct of the fertilizer industry. Prior to the decision to add “fluoride” to drinking water in the 1950s, exposure of this extremely toxic chemical was a major headache for car makers and the aluminum and chemical industry. For more background on the conspiracy Alcoa, Dupont, GM and propaganda specialist Edward Bernays cooked up to dump it in our water (by telling us it was good for our teeth) see Ending Water Fluoridation: One We Can Win

Nearly all of Europe, except for the UK, has banned the use of fluoride in drinking water. In 2011, I and 60 other members of Fluoride Free New Plymouth successfully campaigned to have fluoride removed from our water.

Residents of over 100 US communities have successfully ended water fluoridation. For a full list see link.

Monsanto Has Known Since 1981 that Glyphosate Promotes Cancer

Great interview with researcher Dr Anthony Samsel from Dr Mercola’s website.

mercola
Researcher Reveals Monsanto Has Known Since 1981 That Glyphosate Promotes Cancer

Dr Anthony Samsel has obtained copies from Monsanto’s original glyphosate studies from the 1970s. After reviewing thousands and thousands of pages of data, this is what he found:

What amazed me was that Monsanto knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused adenomas and carcinomas in the rats that they’ve studied… The highest incidence of tumorigenic growth occurred in the pituitary gland… the second highest levels were in the breasts of the female rats, in the mammary glands… Thirdly, the next highest tumorigenic growth was found in the testicles of male rats.

How did Monsanto and Biodynamics—the company doing the research—hide these inconvenient facts?

According to Dr. Samsel, they cancelled out the controls and the damning findings by using historical control data from unrelated studies. It’s also worth noting that these negative findings were never published in the peer-reviewed literature or submitted to the EPA or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cancer was clearly shown in their 26-month long feeding study, but the only studies Monsanto has published are studies done in less than three months, which hides the consequences of eating glyphosate and genetically engineered foods over the course of a lifetime.

Read more here.