tagged w/ Multinationals
Head in any direction on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and you will reach gushing rivers, placid ponds and lakes – both Great and small.
An abundant resource, this water has nourished a small Native American community for hundreds of years. So 10 years ago, when an international mining company arrived near the shores of Lake Superior to burrow a mile under the Earth and pull metals out of ore, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa had to stand for its rights and its water.
And now, as bulldozers raze the land and the tunnel creeps deeper, the tribe still hasn’t backed down.
“The indigenous view on water is that it is a sacred and spiritual entity,” said Jessica Koski, mining technical assistant for the Keweenaw Bay community.
“Water gives us and everything on Earth life.”
"The indigenous view on water is that it is a sacred and spiritual entity. Water gives us and everything on Earth life.” -Jessica Koski, Keweenaw Bay Indian CommunityThe Keweenaw Bay Indians are fighting for their clean water, sacred sites and traditional way of life as Kennecott Eagle Minerals inches towards copper and nickel extraction, scheduled to begin in 2014.
Tribal leaders worry the mine will pollute ground water, the Salmon Trout River and Lake Superior, and strip the spiritual ambiance from their historical sites. Meandering through the Huron Mountains before spilling into Lake Superior, the river is home to endangered coaster trout as well as other fish that the tribe depends on for food.
The Keweenaw Bay community’s L’Anse Reservation, home to 1,030 people, is both the oldest and the largest reservation in Michigan and sits about 30 miles west of the river. The struggle of this small community in remote, sleepy northernmost Michigan mirrors that of its native ancestors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, there are 565 recognized Native American tribes. About 5.2 million people identified themselves as Native American or Alaska Native in the 2010 U.S. Census. But that sliver of the country’s population – 1.7 percent - historically has faced an unfair burden of environmental justice issues.
Keweenaw tribe members and locals have a sunrise ceremony of prayer and drumming to protect their water on Lake Superior Day 2010.
Since early European immigration there have been palpable culture clashes with Native Americans – with the indigenous people often on the losing end. Infectious diseases, forced assimilation and land grabs marred early relations.
But as the nation grew larger, the environmental justice issues did, too. Native American reservations have been targeted as places to dump industrial waste, and to mine both uranium and coal, leading to polluted rivers, lakes and tribal lands across the country. Some tribes have turned to waste storage or mining as revenue generators.
Native Americans continue to battle poverty, joblessness and low incomes. About 28.4 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives – nearly twice the national rate – lived in poverty in 2010. Their unemployment hovers around 49 percent, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ most recent labor force report in 2005.
Low income and environmental threats often go hand-in-hand, said Kyle Whyte, an assistant professor of philosophy at Michigan State University who studies Native American environmental justice issues.
Native Americans are even more vulnerable than other disadvantaged groups because of their reliance on natural resources for survival, he said. The top environmental justice issues still plaguing their communities are lack of healthy foods and water, and protection of sacred sites – all at play in northern Michigan.
For the 3,552 members of the Keweenaw Bay tribe, it’s more than just water at stake. “It is a living thing that provides for us – physically and spiritually,” Koski said.
Whyte said this view of water and the surrounding area is unique to tribes and should guide governance. “Part of it is admitting that some groups have a different conception of sacredness than we do,” he said.
"Almost more pure than rainfall"
The newest controversy is over the Eagle Project, an underground nickel and copper mine just west of Marquette, Mich., a few miles inland from the shores of Lake Superior. Mine development began in 2010. It is now 75 percent complete and is scheduled to operate in 2014, according to Kennecott Eagle Minerals, owner, developer and future operator of the mine. The tribe, however, hopes to derail it with pending lawsuits.
The concerns about water contamination stem from the method, sulfide mining, which extracts metals from sulfide ores. When the sulfide ores are crushed, the sulfides are exposed to air and water, which catalyzes a chemical reaction that produces highly toxic sulfuric acid. The acid can then drain into nearby rivers, lakes and ground water sources – a phenomenon called acid mine drainage.
“Water is the top environmental concern,” Koski said. “In addition to ourselves, all of the plants and wildlife rely on that water, and we have treaty rights for hunting, fishing and gathering.”
Now-shuttered Wisconsin mine
Under the Treaty of 1842, the Chippewa gave the U.S. government land bordering Lake Superior in what is now the western half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and northeast Wisconsin. The tribes were paid and allowed to continue hunting, fishing and gathering on the ceded land.
Kennecott now owns about 1,600 acres, including the mine site, within that territory given to the government 170 years ago. Over its seven- to eight-year lifespan, the mine will produce 300 million pounds of nickel and 250 million pounds of copper, and directly employ about 300 people, according to Kennecott estimates.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Water used in the mining process will be sent to onsite basins and then treated through reverse osmosis.
In recent years, the land surrounding Lake Superior has been a hotspot for companies seeking to mine, process and sell metals. A similar copper and nickel sulfide mine proposal in St. Louis County, Minn., by Polymet Mining, has come under similar attacks by residents concerned about the water supply.
The Eagle mine will be the first to use sulfide extraction in Michigan. The state has had copper mines in the past but it was native copper, not copper tied up in sulfide, Schulz said.
“There are no examples they can point to of sulfide mines that haven’t caused pollution,” Koski said.
More at the linkHead in any direction on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and you will reach gushing... more
Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.
Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world, promoted by the pro-GM lobby. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the food global system.
Through interviews with leading international experts such as Dr Vandana Shiva and Henk Hobbelink, and through the voices of a number of African farmers, the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The pressure is growing to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for millenia, by monocultures of GM seed.
Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline Lucas MP (UK Green party).
This film is co-produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. In collaboration with GRAIN, Navdanya International and MELCA Ethiopia .
Narrated by Jeremy Irons
You can watch the thirty minute film at the link.Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional,... more
The title is not a good thing in that we see this multinational land grab happening all over Africa. Industrial agribusiness is not going to Africa for the people, but for themselves. This is the very type of exploitive agriculture we need to stear away from if we wish to sustain our planet. The poor of Africa are still slaves even in their own countries.The title is not a good thing in that we see this multinational land grab happening... more
An important decision is about to be made by the Supreme Court that will involve the overturn of two previous decisions that kept corporations from directly funding political campaigns. This one will change politics as we know it, and it won't be for the good of the people. The court basically will be treating corporations just like you and me. I'm not sure my donations to a political party can match that of multinational corporations. Conservative Justices Roberts, and Alito will be the kingpins in this decision. This major decision is under the radar for a lot of people, but I think that politics as we know it is about to change. Right now, we (the people) are fighting the good war against corporate lobby money to politicians for support of laws in favor of their "bottom line". This overturn of two long-standing laws preventing direct contributions by corporations will turn this county into a Plutocracy, not a Democracy. We were already on the way to "rule by the rich and wealthy", and now we are getting closer to that fateful day. If you think for a bit as to the make-up of multinational corporations, then just think about having China involved in our domestic politics. We are already fighting the money and lobbying efforts of "Big-Pharma" in the current attempt to change our pathetic health-care system. Just where does all this end! We've already seen what Wall-Street looks like without regulation. We've already "been-had" by the money changers in our financial life (check out your 401K). Sure is gonna be interesting when "no-holds-barred" becomes the law of the land for multi-national corporations in our political life.An important decision is about to be made by the Supreme Court that will involve the... more
Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of multinational corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, environment, and the livelihood of the American farmer.
It is slated for release on June 12, 2009.Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry exposing the... more
Farmers and traditional medicine experts have reacted angrily to the listing of 13 widely used herbal plants as hazardous substances, suggesting there is a hidden agenda that favours chemical companies.
The Industry Ministry listed the 13 plants as hazardous substances to control production and commercialisation.
The plants are widely used among farmers as alternatives for expensive and toxic farm chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.
The announcement on listing the plants as "hazardous substances type 1" under the 1992 Hazardous Substances Act was approved by Industry Minister Charnchai Chairungruang last month. It took effect on Feb 3.
Proposed by the Department of Agriculture, which is a member of the hazardous substances committee, the announcement requires growers, manufacturers, importers and exporters of pesticides, herbicides and plant disease control substances made from the 13 herbal plants to follow safety and quality control regulations issued by the committee. Otherwise they will face six months in jail and/or a fine of 50,000 baht.
(more at the link)Farmers and traditional medicine experts have reacted angrily to the listing of 13... more
Above Photo of Lake Superior shoreline © Jim Kruger
Please read the Christian Century Article by Rev. Jon Magnuson on the "Acid Mine" that threatens Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
An ELCA Lutheran pastor, Rev. Magnuson is known across northern Michigan for creating numerous interfaith environment initiatives and other projects projects involving over 150 churches/temples, American Indian tribes, college students, at-risk teens, health care professionals and many others.
If this mine opens along Lake Superior, it could leak sulfuric acid into the Great Lakes.
It's the first of countless sulfide and uranium mines planned for Northern Michigan.
Besides unproven "new" technology, the mine will be open for only seven years - and create only about 150 short-term jobs. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the economic impact of the U.P.'s longstanding iron ore mines.
A lot of greed for a smattering of nickel and other minerals that will be sucked out of our precious soil.
The international mining company that wants to set up shop in Marquette County is Kennecott Minerals - an outfit with a dismal environmental record that has closed other acid mines without proper cleanup apparently finding it cheaper to fight in court than pay for the proper cleanup of the now vacent mine sites.
Photo of Lake Superior shoreline © Jim Kruger
Inland drilling: A debate over mining in Upper Michigan
Many fear that the aicd mines - that will be joined by uranium mines - are a death-knell for northern Michigan and its bread-and-butter tourism economy.
Who will want to visit an area dotted by hundreds of acid pits and possibly polluted rivers, lakes and streams.
There are recent swirling rumors that Kennecott took state officials on junkets and other allegations of wrongdoing as their deep pockets wooed local and state leaders.
If true, it would not be the first scandal involving the local operation named the Kennecott Eagle Minerals Company - as an important study critical of the mine were not made public by state officials until the information was leaked. Just an innocent oversight - the state claimed.
Do you hear the whirring sound? - it's Marquette's founding fathers are spinning in their graves.
For more information on the effort to stop the mines - visit Save the Wild UP website:
Above Photo of Lake Superior shoreline © Jim Kruger Please read the Christian... more
Biofuel production is certainly one of the culprits in the current global food crisis. But while the diversion of corn from food to biofuel feedstock has been a factor in food prices shooting up, the more primordial problem has been the conversion of economies that are largely food-self-sufficient into chronic food importers. Here the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) figure as much more important villains.
Whether in Latin America, Asia, or Africa, the story has been the same: the destabilization of peasant producers by a one-two punch of IMF-World Bank structural adjustment programs that gutted government investment in the countryside followed by the massive influx of subsidized U.S. and European Union agricultural imports after the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture pried open markets. .
African agriculture is a case study of how doctrinaire economics serving corporate interests can destroy a whole continent’s productive base.
So this so called "secret" report by the World bank stating that "biofuels" are to blame for the world food shortage is in part propaganda to cover up their own participation in it. It is not 'biofuel' production in total that has caused it, but 'ethanol' production and mostly subsidized imports brought about by the destabilization of local economies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that are raising prices. Biofuel production is certainly one of the culprits in the current global food crisis.... more
Documentary filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin's film "Le Monde selon Monsanto" ("The World According to Monsanto") explores the history and future direction of chemical and so-called "life sciences" industrial company Monsanto. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto was founded in 1901 to manufacture the synthetic sweetener saccharin. The multinational biotech company in the intervening decades has produced styrene and PCBs; became the leading producer of Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War; manufactures Roundup, the best-selling herbicide; and has advanced the development of genetically engineered seeds and bovine growth hormone. The company has also had a history of mergers and spin-offs, and in 2000 merged with Pharmacia and Upjohn.
"Le Monde selon Monsanto" aired on the French-German television network ARTE earlier this year, and had its premiere in Switzlerland in February. Marie-Monique Robin's film -- based on her book "Le Monde selon Monsanto" -- is the result of three years of research and interviews from around the world, and explores the biotech giant's legal battles and controversies in the manufacture of toxic herbicides and the production of genetically modified organisms. Monsanto currently markets its brand as a "life sciences" company emphasizing its green image.
"Le Monde selon Monsanto" will have public screenings at Ex-Centris in Montreal on Friday, May 23; at Cinéma Le Clap in Quebec City starting Friday, May 23; and at the Toronto Mediatheque on Monday, May 26.
Check out the National Film Board of Canada's newsletter for details:
The NFB / ONF site for further film information:
"Le Monde selon Monsanto" (ARTE.tv official site -- in French)
Documentary filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin's film "Le Monde selon... more
Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.
The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.
Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food... more
"Jaguar is now an Indian beast" roared one Indian newspaper on Thursday as it lauded Tata Motors' long-awaited $2.3 billion deal to bag the sleek British car brand and its chunkier Land Rover counterpart from Ford."Jaguar is now an Indian beast" roared one Indian newspaper on Thursday as... more
The corrosive effects of the so-called 'big ten' conglomerates upon journalistic values is examined in this article. The funky diagrams show the dizzying extent of megacompanies' stranglehold upon the media.The corrosive effects of the so-called 'big ten' conglomerates upon... more
Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics ranks the 18 biggest technology companies in terms of toxic chemicals and recycling policies. Market monoliths Microsoft, Nintendo, Philips and Sharp enter at the bottom of the ranking of environmental performance with Nintendo being the first company scoring zero out of a possible 10 points.Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics ranks the 18 biggest technology... more