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51
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / Please sign! OceanaGold versus El Salvador
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Tirsdag 9. September 2014, kl. 13:01 »
Opprop mot at OceanaGold skal gå til nytt søksmål mot El Salvador:

http://action.sumofus.org/a/el-salvador-mining-lawsuit/4/2/?akid=6994.3375047.UzPPzv&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=3


SumOfUs is global movement of people who are concerned about the increasing power of corporations and want to do something to stop it.
 
We don't accept any money from governments or corporations -- we're entirely funded by our members, everyday people like you.
 
52
Vannposten / Vannposten nr. 148 Frihandelsavtaler og overnasjonale domstoler
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Tirsdag 9. September 2014, kl. 12:52 »
ISCID er domstolen som kan dømme regjeringer men ikke utenlandske investorer

Av Dag Seierstad

Gull mot miljøvern
I 2008 nekta regjeringen i El Salvador det kanadiske gruveselskapet Pacific Rim å sette i gang med et storstilt opplegg for å utvinne gull. Pacific Rim påsto at forbudet ville føre til store tap for selskapet og reiste et erstatningskrav på 77 millioner dollar.
   Etter 2008 har alle regjeringer i El Salvador stÃ¥tt fast pÃ¥ forbudet mot gullutvinning. Ã…rsaken er enkel. For Ã¥ skille gullet fra malmen og grusen vil det bli brukt cyanid i sÃ¥ store mengder at det vil forgifte bÃ¥de grunnvann og elver.
   Daværende erkebiskop Saenz La Calle sa det slik: «Det er ikke riktig Ã¥ risikere helsa til befolkningen nÃ¥r noen fÃ¥ som ikke bor her, kan ta 97 prosent av fortjenesten mot at vi fÃ¥r 100 prosent av cyaniden.»
   El Salvador er et lite og tett befolka land. Befolkningen pÃ¥ sju millioner bor tettere enn i noe annet land i Latin-Amerika. Det betyr blant annet at det er ekstrem knapphet pÃ¥ vann.

Gruveområdet ligger slik til at avrenningen skjer til den største elva i landet. Allerede nå er 90 prosent av overflatevannet i El Salvador sterkt forurensa, og femteparten av befolkningen mangler trygt drikkevann – ifølge Verdensbanken.
   En utredning fra miljøverndepartementet i El Salvador fastslo at i en av de største elvene er cyanid-konsentrasjonen alt nÃ¥ ni ganger sÃ¥ stor som grenseverdien for forsvarlig drikkevann. Store konsentrasjoner av arsenikk er ogsÃ¥ pÃ¥vist i elveleier. Gullutvinningen vil øke knappheten pÃ¥ vann samtidig som vannet blir mer helsefarlig.

Rettsregler på kollisjonskurs
To slags rettsregler er på kollisjonskurs. Regjeringene har vist til miljøvernregler, Pacific Rim til regler om vern av investeringer.
   Pacific Rim ble i november 2013 kjøpt opp av det store australske gruvekonsernet OceanaGold. Det er derfor OceanaGold som nÃ¥ har tatt over erstatningskravet mot El Salvador.
   Saka føres ikke for noen innenlandsk domstol. Da ville kravet ganske sikkert blitt avvist. Erstatningskravet mot El Salvador skal avgjøres innen rammen av ISCID, en tvisteløsningsordning knytta til Verdensbanken. Hvorfor?

Den historia er lang. Her er kortversjonen:

El Salvador har sammen med en del andre land i Sør- og Mellom-Amerika inngått en frihandelsavtale med USA (CAFTA). Den avtalen omfatter også en avtale om vern av utenlandske investeringer.
   Slike tosidige investeringsavtaler fins det hundrevis av rundt om i verden, de fleste mellom et rikt og et fattig land. Rike land stÃ¥r sterkt i forhandlingene om slike avtaler, fordi fattige land gjerne vil ha investeringer og teknologi tilført fra utlandet. De som rÃ¥r over kapitalen og teknologien, krever garantier før de vil investere.

Garantiene går på ofte tvers av den handlefriheten fattige land trenger for å bygge opp næringer de sjøl har kontroll over. Problemet for dem er at de investeringsavtalene som inngås, systematisk gir rettigheter til konsern som vil investere i andre land og aldri noen rettigheter til de statene der investeringene skjer.
   Selskapene kan reise krav om erstatning, dersom det landet de investerer i vedtar lover eller fatter vedtak som rammer det som investeringsavtalen kaller ”framtidig fortjeneste”.
   Avtalene gir ingen mulighet for stater til Ã¥ reise krav mot investorene. Det konsern kan vinne er derfor makt til Ã¥ sette til side demokratisk vedtatt vern om folkehelse, miljø og sosiale rettigheter, bÃ¥de i arbeidslivet og i samfunnslivet for øvrig.
   Erfaringene viser at i tredjeparten av tvistesakene har regjeringer blitt pÃ¥lagt Ã¥ betale til dels store erstatninger til utenlandske storkonsern. I like mange saker er det inngÃ¥tt forlik der regjeringer har gÃ¥tt med pÃ¥ Ã¥ betale seg ut av tvisteløsningen. Da er det alltid hemmelig hvor mye de har betalt.
   I den siste tredjedelen av sakene har regjeringene sluppet Ã¥ betale erstatning. Men det betyr ikke at de har vunnet, for det er ikke mulig for stater i en tosidig investeringsavtale.

Hovedkontor i et CAFTA-land
Pacific Rim sørga for å flytte hovedkontoret fra skatteparadiset Cayman Islands til Nevada i USA for å kunne vise til USAs CAFTA-avtale med El Salvador.
   Det var derfor med henvisning til CAFTA at Pacific Rim i 2008 stilte erstatningskravet pÃ¥ 77 millioner dollar – og for at de i 2012 økte det ganske kraftig. Da presenterte Pacific Rim et regnestykke som konkluderte med at den «framtidige fortjenesten» selskapet gikk glipp av, var pÃ¥ 301 millioner dollar. Det svarer til halvparten av skolebudsjettet i El Salvador.

Nasjonal lovgivning settes til side
Slike erstatningskrav behandles av internasjonale tvisteløsningsorgan. ISCID er ett av de mest brukte, som bare forholder seg til regelverket i investeringsavtalen og ikke til lovgivningen i det landet som erstatningskravet rettes mot. Avgjørelsen tas av et panel på tre forretningsadvokater som har spesialisert seg på regelverket i investeringsavtalene, og som tar seg tilsvarende godt betalt.
   Disse tre opptrer som en utenomrettslig domstol som kan dømme skattebetalerne i et land til Ã¥ betale erstatning til selskap som undergraver vern om viktige livsvilkÃ¥r. Hvert Ã¥r er det mange eksempler pÃ¥ at demokratisk vedtatt vern om folkehelse, miljø og sosiale rettigheter i arbeids- og samfunnsliv mÃ¥ vike for hensynet til selskapers «framtidige fortjeneste».
   Nasjonal lovgivning gir normalt ikke erstatning for en sÃ¥ vid tolkning av «tap av framtidig fortjeneste» som den som legges til grunn i de tosidige investeringsavtalene som omkranser hele verden i dag.
   NÃ¥ gikk det ikke bedre for Pacific Rim enn at dommerpanelet i 2012 - av ukjente grunner - avviste klagen. Grunnene er ikke kjent siden disse panelene ikke begrunner avgjørelsene sine. De bare avgjør.
   Derimot fant panelet ut at forbudet mot gullutvinning var i strid med den nasjonale lovgivningen til El Salvador. Men ble erstatningskravet da overlatt en nasjonal domstol?

Nei. For det viste seg at El Salvador 2005 hadde godtatt at tvister om investeringsvernet i El Salvadors egen lovgivning skal avgjøres av ISCID! Om et års tid kjenner vi utfallet.

Artikkelen har tidligere vært trykket i Klassekampen 6. september 2014


 
53
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / Detroit - When Water is a Commodity Instead of a Human Right
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Tirsdag 19. August 2014, kl. 13:03 »
When Water is a Commodity Instead of a Human Right
by PETE DOLACK
 
The shutoff of water to thousands of Detroit residents, the proposed privatization of the water system and the diversion of the system’s revenue to banks are possible because the most basic human requirement, water, is becoming nothing more than a commodity.
 
The potential sale of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is one more development of the idea that water, as with any commodity, exists to produce private profit rather than to be a public necessity. And if corporate plunder is to be the guiding principal, then those seen as most easy to push around will be expected to shoulder the burden.
 
Thus, 17,000 Detroit residents have had their water shut off — regardless of ability to pay — while large corporate users have faced no such turnoff. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department began its shutoff policy in March with a goal of shutting off the water to 3,000 accounts per week. Residents can be shut off for owing as little as $150. That is only two months of an average bill.
 
Detroit water rates have more than doubled during the past decade, according to Left Labor Reporter, and in June another 8.7 percent raise was implemented. Yet only in July, months after residential water shutoffs began, did the water department announce it would send warning notices to delinquent businesses. There is no report, however, that any business has had its water turned off.
 
About half of the city’s overdue water payments are owed by commercial and industrial customers. Forty offenders, according to the department, have past-due accounts ranging from around $35,000 to more than $430,000. One golf course operator is said to owe hundreds of thousands of dollars.
 
The same week that the residential water shutoffs began, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr put the water department up for sale. The department takes in about $1 billion in revenue per year, The Wall Street Journal reports, and collects more revenue than it spends. The system would potentially be a valuable asset for one of the multi-national corporations that have taken over privatized water systems around the world, mostly to the regret of the local governments and ratepayers.
 
Reversing the privatization of water
 
If Emergency Manager Orr succeeds in selling off Detroit’s water system, he will be bucking a trend. Dozens of cities in France and Germany have reversed earlier privatizations and are taking back their water systems after finding that higher prices and reduced services had been the norm post-privatization. French private water prices are on average 31 percent higher than in public water services. Five Pennsylvania towns that privatized their water saw their rates more than triple on average.
 
That rate differential shouldn’t come as a surprise — a government doesn’t need to generate a profit like a corporation. A water company, like any other capitalist enterprise, is expected to generate large profits for its investors and giant payouts to its executives, and thus must extract more money out of its property.
 
If the water system is privatized, Detroit’s city budget will receive a one-time boost, but forgo future revenues and lose control of a public good built with public money. Nor is there any guarantee that it would be sold at market value. A utility undervalued would produce quicker profits for any water company that got its hands on it, and every incentive is for it to be bought at as low a price as possible.
 
Banks, however, have already extracted huge profits from Detroit’s infrastructure. The water department is believed to have paid banks penalties of $537 million to escape its disastrous interest-rate default swaps. Instead of simply selling plain-vanilla bonds — paying bond holders a set amount on a set schedule — Detroit (like many municipal governments) became entangled in various complicated financial derivatives layered on top of its bonds.
 
Investment banks sold local governments interest-rate swaps as a form of insurance as a hedge against rising interest rates. But if interest rates went down — which they did — then the governments would be on the hook for large sums of money. (That rates would fall was predictable; central banks cut interest rates as a matter of routine during recessions.) Thanks to financial engineering falsely sold as “insurance,” the Financial Times reports it will cost Detroit $2.7 billion to pay back $1.4 billion in borrowing — this total includes $502 million in interest payments and $770 million as the cost of the derivatives.
 
The $537 million the Detroit water department handed to banks to escape continued extra payments to cover the swaps is more than four times the entire past-due water bill, residential and commercial, at the start of the water shutoffs in March.
 
Not so quick to challenge the banks
 
Yet there appears to be no effort to recoup any of that penalty money or to investigate if there was any illegality in the deals. Curt Guyette, writing for a Detroit alternative publication, Metro Times, said:
 
“Given the fact that former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is now is serving a decades-long sentence in federal prison for running the city as if it were a criminal enterprise when these deals went down, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to at least suspect that something shady might have been going on.
 
Nonetheless, Orr and the legal team from [corporate law firm] Jones Day — where Orr was a former partner, and which has as clients both Bank of America and a division of UBS — have, as the complaint [filed in federal court by community activists] points out, ‘failed to investigate the misconduct or take measures to recoup any portion of the $537 million in suspect termination fees paid to the banks.’ ”
 
Both Bank of America and UBS profited enormously from the interest-rate swaps. Emergency Manager Orr does not seem terribly bothered by democratic processes, however. He is going ahead with a separate plan to privatize Detroit’s parking department despite the fact that the City Council voted, 6-2, against it. The Detroit Free Pressreports that the parking system generates $23 million in revenue with only $11 million in expenses. This would be another revenue stream leaving public hands, and the same needs of a private owner to generate profits would be expected to lead to the same results that privatizations of water systems and other public services have led.
 
The people of Detroit are fighting back, through demonstrations, lawsuits, appeals to the United Nations and in physically blocking crews assigned to turn off the water. Water is also being turned back on without asking for permission from authorities. Activists demand the immediate resumption of water service for everyone and to make water affordable. Detroit Debt Moratorium, for example, is calling for water bills to be capped at two percent of household income.
 
These efforts have borne some fruit as Emergency Manager Orr issued an order handing Mayor Mike Duggan managerial control over the water department in late July. The department subsequently declared a moratorium on water shutoffs until August 25.
 
A commodity is privately owned for the purpose of profit, regardless of human need; that the commodity is something as necessary as water does not alter that a commodity goes to those who can pay the most. The market determines who gets what, or if you get it at all — and the market is simply the aggregate interests of the most powerful industrialists and financiers. The agony of Detroit is the logical conclusion of allowing ever more social and economic decisions to be decided by market forces. Detroit just happens to the be the locality that got there first.
 
Pete Dolack writes the Systemic Disorder blog. He has been an activist with several groups.
54
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / Fracking in Germany - ExxonMobil
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Mandag 11. August 2014, kl. 15:25 »
ExxonMobil wants to start fracking in Germany. Really badly. So while public opposition to the risky technology mounts and the German government seriously considers banning it, Exxon is lobbying for loopholes that will allow it to frack anyway.
There is now a mountain of evidence of the multiple dangers of fracking for oil and gas. The process contaminates groundwater with toxic chemicals, emits greenhouse gases, and even causes earthquakes. It is already banned in France and Bulgaria, and Germany has a moratorium in place while it decides whether to permanently ban the technology.
But behind the scenes, Exxon has been vigorously lobbying German politicians for exemptions for 'research and development' drilling -- and it looks like it's winning. Current proposals on the table to be discussed by Germany's cabinet next month contain this exemption. Which would mean Exxon would still be able to start exploratory fracking, with all the same risks.
And if fracking starts in Germany, it is bad news for other European countries that haven’t spoken out against fracking.
Tell Exxon to stop trying to frack in Germany, and to stop lobbying against a comprehensive ban.
The debate over fracking in Germany has reached fever pitch in recent days, as the Environment Agency (UBA) has proposed a comprehensive ban. UBA President Maria Krautzberger said: "As long as crucial risks related to this technology cannot be predicted and likewise cannot be controlled, fracking should not be used in Germany to extract shale and coalbed gas... Fracking is and remains a risky technology. For this reason it requires tight safeguards to protect the environment and health."
And there is an alternative. Germany is already leading the world in renewable energy, from which it generates nearly 30% of its electricity. More investment in renewables, combined with energy efficiency in buildings to reduce gas consumption, would remove the need for fracked gas.
Banning fracking outright would send a message to Exxon that Europeans won’t stand for this destructive form of extraction when alternatives are available.
Exxon clearly does not care about the wishes of the German people, nor what's best for the environment. It is meddling in the democratic process in order to get what it wants -- the right to frack in Germany. But if we publicly expose the energy giant's actions, it will be much easier for politicians to stand up to this profit-driven industry lobbying, and agree a permanent ban.
Sign the petition telling Exxon to back off and allow Germany to ban fracking for good.
Thanks for all you do,
Anne and the rest of the team at SumOfUs
 
**********
More information
Fracking: Umweltbundesamt will Verbot und Probebohrungen, Energie Zukunft, July 31 2014
Fracking in Deutschland - Brüchiges Tabu, Wirtshafts Woche, July 3 2014
Germany moves closer to fracking ban, EurActive, July 31 2014
Campact's campaign against fracking in Germany
55
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / Contamination leaves 400,000 Ohioans without tap water
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Mandag 11. August 2014, kl. 15:21 »
Contamination leaves 400,000 Ohioans without tap water By Gabriel Black
4 August 2014

On Sunday, residents of Toledo, Ohio were told not to drink the city’s water for a second day after city officials warned of a dangerous algae bloom contaminating the city’s water supply.

The city’s 400,000 residents have been avoiding tap water and relying on bottled water and emergency supplies. Officials say that boiling tap water in this case only increases its toxicity level. It is not considered safe to brush one’s teeth with the water and unhealthy individuals have been warned not even to let it touch their skin.

Officials say that the water is contaminated with microcystins, a toxin caused by algae blooms. Drinking water contaminated with the toxin can cause liver and nervous system damage. According to “ABC News,” those affected show flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, numbness and dizziness.

The city draws its water from the southwestern part of Lake Erie, the fourth largest of the Great Lakes and the eleventh largest lake in the world. This section of the lake is going through a harmful algal bloom (HAG). The bloom is big enough that it can be seen from space. Such blooms are often caused by poorly disposed of agricultural and industrial waste products.

Local TV station ABC 13 explained, “HABs occur when excess nitrogen and phosphorous are present in lakes and stream. Such nutrients can come from runoff of over-fertilized fields and lawns, from malfunctioning septic systems and from livestock pens.” “ABC News” said that bottled water was “flying off of the shelves” in Toledo and that there were long lines at distribution centers throughout the city. Video footage showed large groups of residents waiting around at those centers for the arrival of emergency water. One woman interviewed by the station said that she had spent the morning “looking for water.” She told the interviewer, “there was no water on the north side of Toledo.”

One resident, Aundrea Simmons, described her experience to the Associated Press while standing in line at a pharmacy for water , “It looked like Black Friday.” She worried, “I have children and elderly parents. They take their medication with water.” Another resident, Monica Morales told AP that one store’s entire bottled water supply was bought out within 30 minutes of opening. The wire service noted that stores as far as 50 miles away from Toledo reported water shortages.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has declared a state of emergency in response to the crisis. This has allowed the governor to call in the National Guard to help distribute water. Kasich also asked grocery outlets to redirect bottled water to northwestern Ohio to prevent shortages.

Toxin levels are reported to have dropped slightly in the water.
Officials are testing the water regularly. Kasich commented, however, that he did not yet know how long the warning would be in effect.

HABs are a growing problem on Lake Erie. In recent years there has been a bloom each summer. This year, experts had predicted the bloom to occur in September and had not expected it so early. A New York Times article on the subject reports that the lake is so “sick” that a sixth of the
9,910 square mile surface area was covered in 2011 by algae.

Jeff Reutter, director of the Ohio Sea Grant research lab, told AP that “Weather conditions made it such that [this year’s] bloom was going right into the water intakes.” Reutter said that each year the amount of phosphorous dumped into the lake increases. Concerning the pollution, he told the news service “We’re right back to where we were in the ‘70s.”

Lake Erie provides drinking water to 11 million people, including the
400,000 residents of Toledo. The crisis prompted Chicago to re-test its water supply, even though it does not get its water from Lake Erie.
Also, Detroit is scheduled to reevaluate its water contamination process Monday, though that city also does not get its water from the lake.

Earlier this year, 300,000 residents of Charleston, West Virginia had their water contaminated due to a toxic chemical spill. In some places residents could not use the water for 10 days.
56
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / Toledo, Ohio - Don’t Drink the Water! August 2014
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Mandag 11. August 2014, kl. 15:07 »
Don’t Drink the Water!
by MICHAEL LEONARDI
 
The  aquapocalypse in Toledo, Ohio is now entering its third day after citizens in the greater Toledo area woke up to a stark reality on Saturday morning when city officials had issued an unprecedented, region wide water advisory warning people not to drink or boil local tap water due to toxic contamination. It is further recommended that young children and the elderly not bathe in the water.  Samples at the Collins Park treatment plant, that services nearly 500,000 residents in NW Ohio and SE Michigan, have tested above safe drinking standards for microcystin and test results continue to show dangerous levels.  A state of emergency has been declared by the state of Ohio.
 
A giant Toxic Algae bloom, of the type that has been plaguing Lake Erie for a decade, has for the first time overwhelmed the local water treatment plant at Collins Park and forced city officials to take this step to protect the health and safety of citizens.   Years of hand wringing, millions of dollars in research grants, and lip service by the inept political caste on the causes and intensification of the blooms has done nothing to improve the situation.
 
The massive and recurring Toxic Algae Blooms on Lake Erie are a man made disaster. A combination of factory/industrial farming, sewage, storm water runoff and industrial pollution are to blame.  The massive coal burners, nuke plants and tar sands refineries along the lake use millions of gallons of lake water and create large heat zones from thermal pollution where water temperatures are much warmer.  The heat zone created by the thermal pollution along the lake, which includes the Monroe Power plant, the second largest coal burner in North America, was pinpointed in satellite imagery taken in 2011 as the spawning zone of that years algae bloom.
 
Microcystin is created by what are now called Harmful Algal Blooms or HABs.  They are caused by the addition of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen to a water body and are made up of cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae. Some cyanobacteria can produce toxins, called cyanotoxins.  Some cyanotoxins can be toxic for humans, animals and plants and microsystin is one of these toxic cyanotoxins that is has been plaguing Lake Erie for years.  Fertilizer from factory farm runoff is the number one contributor.
 
Acccording to the World Health Organization, when levels of microcystin reach over 1 parts per billion water should not be used for drinking or food preparation. The samples taken showed levels of 2.5 parts per billion, according to City Water department officials.  Tensions are now surfacing between elected officials and the EPA. Local congresswoman Marcy Kaptur infuriatedly demanded transparency from the intransigent Environmental Protection Agency that has not made any of their test results available to her or the public up until this time.  An EPA official told her in passing that there had been one spike of 3 parts per billion or three times safe drinking water standards. There is also growing frustration with the Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to create standard protocols on what is considered a safe level of the toxic Microcystin or standard sampling procedures. Ineptitude reigns supreme in the face of disaster.  Just one week before the current water ban, the EPA claimed that the water was safe and there was no risk of such an emergency occurring.
 
 
Toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie, 2011.
 
Many have seen this reality coming for sometime.  Anna Michalak, lead researcher on a National Science Foundation study project studying water quality and sustainability on the Great Lakes, describes the factors that have lead to this emergency, “It is a combination of agricultural practices, meteorological conditions and also slowly changing climate conditions that are coming together to make these blooms more and more likely as we look into the future.”   Climate change and global warming are definitely contributing factors as water temperatures in the shallowest of the Great Lakes increase.
 
Richard Stumpf, along with other scientists wrote a paper that shows there are ways to predict the severity of the blooms based on the amount of runoff from farms each year. “We’re looking at making some upgrades in our modeling of the location of the bloom so that we might be able to help the water suppliers along the lake better know if there’s potential impact, so they can plan better.”
 
Both Stumpf and Michalak agree that measures taken to reduce phosporous levels in the the lake improved condititions until the late 90s when blooms started increasing in intensity. Other sources of phosphorous and nitrates entering the Lake, including overburdened and antiquated sewage treatment plants are also to blame.
 
According to Accuweather, Ohio state officials released the first beach advisory on July 23 after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a June 2014 report predicting a significant threat to Lake Erie due to harmful algal blooms (HAB). The blooms are a malignant type of cyanobacteria that crowd water areas, typically late in the summer to early fall for the Great Lakes region.
 
Lake Erie endured an extreme bloom in 2011 that turned waters a putrid green and closed beaches due to health risks. Researchers have expected 2014 blooms to be milder, due to drier conditions, but winds seem to have pushed the Harmful Algal Blooms, HAB’s, into the coastline overhwelming the water intake ststem that is itself in need of an over 300 million dollar upgrade.
 
Sandy Bihn, of the environmental organization Western Lake Erie Water Keeper and an expert on the issue of Toxic Algae on Lake Erie,  says that the four largest contributors to these dangerous blooms are Fertilizer, Waste Water, Manuer, and Storm Water run-off.   While much is being done to reduce the sources of these nutrients reaching Lake Erie, it is obviously not enough. “The most important thing that can be done to reduce this threat to our Lake and our water supply is to identify all the sources of nutrients and phosporous entering Lake Erie and figure out how to stop them, “ Bihn said.
 
According to a report entitled HAB’s and drinking Water Concerns, from Timothy Murphy , comissioner of the Division of Environmental Services for the City of Toledo, The City of Toledo currently uses Potassium Permanganate, Powdered Activated Carbon, Aluminum Sulfate, and Chlorine to treat the local water supply for mitocystin and has had to increase the amount of these substances used in recent years to combat the Harmful Algae Blooms. The total cost of water treatment just for the HAB’s in 2013 was 4 million dollars with an increase of 1 million dollars authorized by City Council, the city of Toledo also adds flouride to the local water supply.
 
Regradless of whether or not the city and the state EPA deem the Toledo water safe to drink, many of us choose to avoid drinking it as best we can.  The chemicals used to “purify” the water have their own health risks and side effects and past analyses of Toledo water by independent environmental groups showed a myriad of cancer causing substances, including harmful levels of benzene.  Toledo activist and former city councli member Mike Ferner tied this crisis into the cost of war, the cost of “deeming the water safe,” for the nearly 500,000 residents in the guise of the needed upgrades to the water treatment facility would be roughly one fifth the amount local taxpayers have spent to fund the foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ferner said.  That additional 225 million dollars that our Senate approved in military aid for Israel’s massacre of Palestinians last week, on top of the over 3 billion a year already earmarked, could sure come in handy dealing with the rotting infrastructure in the rust belt, too.
 
Unfortunately, this is a crisis from which we will not be able to buy our way out.  The continued use and abuse of our Great Lakes will only lead to more and more emergencies  like this one in the future.  This report from the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes makes some clear and direct recommendations on some initial steps that need to be taken, to improve the situation, and having the political and societal will to enact them would be a start.  The report does not go far enough, however, and I am curious to know if anyone actually thinks the oligarchy will do anything at all?
 
Michael Leonardi lives in Toledo, Ohio and can be reached at mikeleonardi@hotmail.com
57
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / TTIP - seminar 18. august 2014
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Mandag 11. August 2014, kl. 14:54 »

    
The Delegation of the European Union to Norway and
The Embassy of the United States of America in Norway

Cordially invite you to a presentation on the

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

by Peter Chase, Vice President for Europe, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Monday, August 18, 2014

14:00 Registration
14:30 Seminar begins


Further information on the TTIP:

- http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

- http://www.ustr.gov/ttip
    
 
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

News
United States Brussels, 4 July 2014
Protecting public services in TTIP and other EU trade agreements
 
In the EU, public services such as healthcare and education are amongst the best in the world. They play a special role which Europeans value, and which EU law recognises.

For that reason the EU, and individual EU countries, are required to protect public services in any new laws or policies they adopt - including EU-wide trade agreements with countries outside Europe.

So all EU trade deals provide three important guarantees for public services – on regulation, monopolies and so-called 'national treatment'. These ensure that EU governments remain entirely free to manage public services as they wish.
1.   Monopolies – if they wish, EU governments can organise public services so that just one supplier provides the service. This is what economists call a 'monopoly'. The single supplier can be:
o   publicly owned – in other words, a 'public monopoly'
o   a private firm with the exclusive right to offer a particular service.

And it can operate at any level – nationally, regionally or locally.
 
2.   'National treatment' and 'market access'- for publicly-funded healthcare and social services, education or water services, EU governments don't have to treat companies or individuals from outside the EU the same as those from within Europe and do not have to provide access to their markets. Instead, governments can:
o   favour European firms over foreign ones
o   prevent foreign firms from providing, or investing in, these services
o   reverse at a later date any decision to allow foreign firms to provide, or invest in, a particular service.
 
3.   Regulation – EU trade agreements leave EU governments free to regulate whatever they consider to be public services.
Governments can do so:
o   however they choose - for example, in the way they:
   give licenses to suppliers to provide a particular service
   set the quality standards that suppliers have to meet
o   at any level of government – national, regional or local

There is just one condition, which concerns companies from outside the EU which a government has already allowed to operate in its territory.
In such cases, the government must treat the companies concerned the same way as it treats European ones.
These three guarantees apply, regardless of how the EU lists its commitments on services in its trade agreements:
•   in some agreements, each EU country specifies the kinds of service it will open up to foreign suppliers – this is known as 'positive listing'
•   in others, EU states say they will open up all services to foreign providers, except for certain services listed in an annex – known as 'negative listing'
The TTIP will work in exactly the same way, offering the same three guarantees for public services.

How this looks in a trade agreement

Trade deals, like other policies, can be complex. Trade negotiators and lawyers sometimes use technical terms which are precise, but which aren't always easy for others to understand. The section below shows:
•   text in existing EU trade agreements which refers to public services
•   what that text means in plain English.
 
Text in EU trade agreements:
EU: services considered to be public utilities at a national or local level may be subject to public monopolies or to exclusive rights granted to private operators.
Meaning in plain English:
EU governments are free to decide what they consider to be public 'utilities' or services.
If they wish, EU governments can organise these services so that just one supplier provides the service – what economists call a 'monopoly'. This single provider can be:
•   publicly owned ('public monopoly')
•   a private firm which has the right to offer a particular service ('exclusive rights')
Text in EU trade agreements:
The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to:
•   publicly funded education services
•   the provision of all health and social services which receive public funding or state support in any form, and are therefore not considered to be privately funded.
•   services relating to the collection, purification, distribution and management of water to all kinds of users.
Meaning in plain English:
EU governments can take measures with regards to certain services in whatever way they choose. This can include the way they:
•   provide public funding or state support
•   decide who can operate or invest in their market.
Governments can do so, even if it means they treat EU suppliers or investors differently from ones based in the country signing the trade deal with the EU. These services comprise:
•   publicly-funded education:
o   primary and secondary schools
o   colleges and universities
•   publicly-funded healthcare and social services:
o   hospitals
o   ambulances
o   residential health facilities
o   welfare services for: children, the elderly, other vulnerable groups
o   benefits for disabled people
•   the supply of water.
In addition, governments can freely choose contractors if they decide to outsource some elements of public services, as long as they comply with the rules on government procurement. Of course, the governments are free to change their minds in the future and reverse any decision on such outsourcing. Usually, such issues are defined in the specific chapter on public procurement.

58
Nyheter om vannsaken i Norge / TTIP - seminar 18. august 2014
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Mandag 11. August 2014, kl. 14:53 »

    
The Delegation of the European Union to Norway and
The Embassy of the United States of America in Norway

Cordially invite you to a presentation on the

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

by Peter Chase, Vice President for Europe, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Monday, August 18, 2014

14:00 Registration
14:30 Seminar begins


Further information on the TTIP:

- http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

- http://www.ustr.gov/ttip
    
 
http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

News
United States Brussels, 4 July 2014
Protecting public services in TTIP and other EU trade agreements
 
In the EU, public services such as healthcare and education are amongst the best in the world. They play a special role which Europeans value, and which EU law recognises.

For that reason the EU, and individual EU countries, are required to protect public services in any new laws or policies they adopt - including EU-wide trade agreements with countries outside Europe.

So all EU trade deals provide three important guarantees for public services – on regulation, monopolies and so-called 'national treatment'. These ensure that EU governments remain entirely free to manage public services as they wish.
1.   Monopolies – if they wish, EU governments can organise public services so that just one supplier provides the service. This is what economists call a 'monopoly'. The single supplier can be:
o   publicly owned – in other words, a 'public monopoly'
o   a private firm with the exclusive right to offer a particular service.

And it can operate at any level – nationally, regionally or locally.
 
2.   'National treatment' and 'market access'- for publicly-funded healthcare and social services, education or water services, EU governments don't have to treat companies or individuals from outside the EU the same as those from within Europe and do not have to provide access to their markets. Instead, governments can:
o   favour European firms over foreign ones
o   prevent foreign firms from providing, or investing in, these services
o   reverse at a later date any decision to allow foreign firms to provide, or invest in, a particular service.
 
3.   Regulation – EU trade agreements leave EU governments free to regulate whatever they consider to be public services.
Governments can do so:
o   however they choose - for example, in the way they:
   give licenses to suppliers to provide a particular service
   set the quality standards that suppliers have to meet
o   at any level of government – national, regional or local

There is just one condition, which concerns companies from outside the EU which a government has already allowed to operate in its territory.
In such cases, the government must treat the companies concerned the same way as it treats European ones.
These three guarantees apply, regardless of how the EU lists its commitments on services in its trade agreements:
•   in some agreements, each EU country specifies the kinds of service it will open up to foreign suppliers – this is known as 'positive listing'
•   in others, EU states say they will open up all services to foreign providers, except for certain services listed in an annex – known as 'negative listing'
The TTIP will work in exactly the same way, offering the same three guarantees for public services.

How this looks in a trade agreement

Trade deals, like other policies, can be complex. Trade negotiators and lawyers sometimes use technical terms which are precise, but which aren't always easy for others to understand. The section below shows:
•   text in existing EU trade agreements which refers to public services
•   what that text means in plain English.
 
Text in EU trade agreements:
EU: services considered to be public utilities at a national or local level may be subject to public monopolies or to exclusive rights granted to private operators.
Meaning in plain English:
EU governments are free to decide what they consider to be public 'utilities' or services.
If they wish, EU governments can organise these services so that just one supplier provides the service – what economists call a 'monopoly'. This single provider can be:
•   publicly owned ('public monopoly')
•   a private firm which has the right to offer a particular service ('exclusive rights')
Text in EU trade agreements:
The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to:
•   publicly funded education services
•   the provision of all health and social services which receive public funding or state support in any form, and are therefore not considered to be privately funded.
•   services relating to the collection, purification, distribution and management of water to all kinds of users.
Meaning in plain English:
EU governments can take measures with regards to certain services in whatever way they choose. This can include the way they:
•   provide public funding or state support
•   decide who can operate or invest in their market.
Governments can do so, even if it means they treat EU suppliers or investors differently from ones based in the country signing the trade deal with the EU. These services comprise:
•   publicly-funded education:
o   primary and secondary schools
o   colleges and universities
•   publicly-funded healthcare and social services:
o   hospitals
o   ambulances
o   residential health facilities
o   welfare services for: children, the elderly, other vulnerable groups
o   benefits for disabled people
•   the supply of water.
In addition, governments can freely choose contractors if they decide to outsource some elements of public services, as long as they comply with the rules on government procurement. Of course, the governments are free to change their minds in the future and reverse any decision on such outsourcing. Usually, such issues are defined in the specific chapter on public procurement.

59
Vannposten / Vannposten nr. 147 Høyesterettsdom mot privatisering
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Onsdag 2. Juli 2014, kl. 14:26 »
Vann- og avløpsverkene i Athen og Thessaloniki
har i flere år vært under press for privatisering

Planene om å selge vannverkene i Athen og Thessaloniki ble imidlertid utsatt for et stort tilbakeslag da landets høyeste administrative domstol blokkerte overføringen av statlige aksjer i Athens vannverk til et fond opprettet for privatiseringsformål.

EYDAP - Athen
Det begynte med at regjeringen i januar 2012 overførte en eierandel i EYDAP, Athens vann- og avløpsverk, pÃ¥ 27,3 prosent til det greske Asset Development Fund (HRADF-TAYPED).  I mai samme Ã¥r ble det overført nok en eierandel pÃ¥ 34,03 prosent. Hensikten var at disse aksjene, som gir en kontrollerende eierandel, skulle selges til private investorer.
Nylig vedtok Høyesterett at en privatisering av EYDAP (Athen) vil være grunnlovsstridig. Overføring av en kontrollerende eierandel til private hender krenker artiklene 5 og 21 i den greske grunnloven. Disse artiklene gjør staten ansvarlig for å beskytte borgernes grunnleggende rett til helse. Selges vann- og avløpsverket, vil staten være ute av stand til å oppfylle sine konstitusjonelle plikter, fastslår Høyesterett. EYDAP er et de facto monopol i Attica-regionen og nødvendig for gode sanitære forhold.
 
Retten reverserer med andre ord overføringen av eierandelene til Asset Development Fund.  

Dommen falt etter at Athens innbyggere hadde klaget privatiseringen av EYDAP inn for retten.


EYATH - Thessaloniki
Innbyggere i Thessaloniki har levert en lignende underskriftskampanje mot privatiseringen av EYATH. Klagen ble imidlertid forkastet av tekniske årsaker. Men anti-privatiseringsaksjonistene, sammen med kommuner fra regionen Makedonia arbeider med utformingen av en ny klage.

Privatiseringen av EYATH er dessverre kommet lenger enn tilfellet er med vann- og avløpsverket i Athen. Asset Development Fund (HRADF-TAYPED) ønsker å selge en kontrollerende andel i EYATH til en av to investorer som ble godkjent i mai 2013; enten til konsortiet Suez/Ellaktor eller Merokot/G. Apostolopoulos/Miya/Terna Energy.

De kvalifiserte selskapene er nå i ferd med å sende inn bindende tilbud.

Initiativ 136, som er et abonnentinitiativ for å overta vannverket, ser ikke ut til å ha blitt godkjent som anbydere. Den trange økonomiske situasjonen til svært mange grekere kan være årsaken til at initiativet ikke har fått den ønskede oppslutningen. Men i folkeavstemningen 25. mai viste befolkningen at den vil ha fortsatt offentlig eierskap.

Dommen over privatiseringen av EYDAP (Athen) har imidlertid kastet nytt lys også over prosessen i Thessaloniki. Mange er nå av den oppfatning at Høyesterett vil ha et lignende syn på EYATH (Thessaloniki).


Troikaen - Det internasjonale pengefond, Den europeiske sentralbanken og EU-kommisjonen – krever strukturelle endringer og salg av statlig eiendom mot økonomiske gjenytelser i form av lån til staten (via private banker!). De to største vann- og avløpsverkene i Hellas er blant de mest lukrative salgsobjektene.

Den greske regjeringens desperate jakt på statlig eiendom som ansees for gode investeringsobjekter, har imidlertid fått et skudd for baugen i den månedsgamle høyesteretts-dommen.

Blant regjeringens planer om å privatisere statseide selskaper har ingen tiltrukket seg så mye motstand som overføringen av vannverkene i de to største byene i Hellas til private hender.

Greske aktivister har vist til erfaringer fra andre land, der privatisering av vannverk har hatt store negative konsekvenser. Når non-profit-virksomheter blir forvandlet til for-profit-selskaper, stiger prisen, mens kvaliteten faller. Et eksempel er Berliner Wasserbetriebe, som ble solgt til private investorer i 1999. Etter en folkeavstemning i 2011 ble vannforsyningen kjøpt tilbake av kommunen.
 
Det er ogsÃ¥ verdt Ã¥ merke seg at, i motsetning til andre privatiseringer, er salg av vannverkene i Hellas strengt tatt ikke en forutsetning for lÃ¥nene innvilget av Det internasjonale pengefondet, Den europeiske sentralbank og EU-kommisjonen. EU-kommisjonen har gjort det klart at vann utelukkes fra relevante direktiver om statlige selskaper.  

Det planlagte salget av vannverkene har vært særdeles upopulært i Hellas. En uoffisiell folkeavstemning parallelt med den første runden av kommunevalget i slutten av mai (og som regjeringen gjorde sitt ytterste for å blokkere) viste at 98 prosent var imot privatiseringen.

Til tross for dette, har regjeringen insistert på å overføre EYDAP og EYATH, vann- og avløpsselskapene i henholdsvis Athen og Thessaloniki til private hender.

Mens regjeringen er på desperate jakt etter å tilfredsstille troikaens krav til privatiseringer, vil en anti-privatiseringsdom også over EYATH være en lettelse for innbyggerne i Thessaloniki. De ønsker tilgang til vann- og sanitærtjenester som ikke går gjennom hendene på private selskaper ute etter å maksimere profitt.

Kilde: ThePressproject.net
60
Nyheter om den internasjonale vannsaken / WHOS's SAVING WHOM
« Nyeste innlegg av Trude Torsdag 19. Juni 2014, kl. 13:43 »
http://www.whos-saving-whom.org/index.php/en/teaser

Account holder: Who Is Saving Whom?     IBAN: DE49430609672020346200   
BIC: GENODEM1GLS

film@whos-saving-whom.org | www.whos-saving-whom.org
 
After the elections to the European parliament,  the media briefly discussed the scare caused by the performance of the right wing parties and nationalists. But only for a short time. However,  the victory of political parties in France (Front National), the UK (UK independence party) and Denmark (Danish people's party), which service nationalistic and racist prejudices would give enough grounds for a sense of alarm within the EU.
Nationalists take advantage of the antipathy evoked against the EU and the EURO
The common currency brought many countries of the so-called EU-periphery in a situation of economic defensive. Even a country like France faces these kinds of dangers vis-à-vis the German export industry. Previously, these country simply could devaluate their currency, resulting in the German imported good being more expensive and the local products relatively more affordable. The EURO now makes this impossible. During interviews for the film „Who is saving whom?“ we heard this argument over and over, and not only from nationalists. Everywhere the bottom is falling out of local industries due to the pressure of competition.   All over Europe, the scissors between rich and poor are opening faster and faster. Add to this the catastrophic austerity policy prescribed by the German government.In such an environment, the slogans of the nationalists fall on fertile ground. Xenophobia and rejection of the common currency are going hand in hand and are straightforward answers.   
How can  democrats counter such a disaster?
People that were hoping that a unified Europe would bring the peaceful co-existence of different nations and cultures? What can our answer be? Is the Euro only half as bad?
Marie le Pen should not be left to criticize the Euro!
The film Who is saving whom? intends to illustrate that the Euro has become especially a  neoliberal instrument of the big multinationals and banks. 
The EURO of the European citizens would have needed to prevent from the start the ruinous competition for low salaries and social standards in the Euro zone. In principle, this is what founding nations of the Euro had agreed upon. But especially Germany breached this agreement massively right away.  The deregulation of the labor force – legalizing temporary employment, labour leasing, mini-jobs on 400 Euro basis, the breakup of the job dismissal protection   â€“ has lowered the relative unit labor costs and has given the German export industries an advantages. For example, this made German cars cheaper in Italy and France, which pre-programmed the decline of the Italian and French automobile industries. The competition for lower corporate taxes has similar consequences. The capital flows towards  places with the lowest taxes and environmental restrictions. This is the way that the multinational companies are playing nations against nations and cities against cities. Such a  ruinous mutual outmaneuvering in a common currency zone impoverishes the society as a whole, and enriches the multinationals.  And on top of it, democracy is sacrificed according to the wish of the investors. 
The EURO of the European citizens would also need a different  European Central reserve bank. The US-Fed for example does finance its state directly.  The European Central Bank is not allowed to do this. Instead, it is giving out cheap loans (right now with an interest rate of around 0,25%) to private banks.  And these pass on the loans to the governments of the Euro zone with average interest rates between   3 and 6% - a financing scheme for private banks that is worth billions! More and more Euro-states are thus entangled in a debt trap and are turning into lasting financiers for the global banking multis of the world without any realistic hope for a lasting  debt relief.
A EURO of the  European citizens was obviously not desirable. 
It is not the EURO per se that is the evil. But political decisions, two of which are discussed here, have turned the Euro into an instrument that makes Europe a victim of banks and big multinationals, which become richer and more powerful while individual people are becoming poorer and increasingly powerless.
Whoever ignores these facts empowers nationalists and racists!
Every day, dedicated citizens make their contribution that the film project  „Who is saving whom?“ becomes reality. Some donate money. We already collected 149.180 € (Only  10.820€ to go). Others translate interviews. Others again offer us a place to stay or information on location when we are filming. Our most heartfelt thanks to all of them! We could not make the film without you! 

The date for the premiere is fixed! On Wednesday February 2, 2015, around 8PM, the film Who is saving whom will be screened in at least 150 cities at the same time !
All those who helped us realizing this film will receive a DVD in time, so you can organize your own premiere in time. You could plan and prepare this big action day together with us , already now!
In order for us to manage the remainder of the financing, we please ask you to: 
-   Find those that have not made a donation yet!
-   Spread this letter !
-   Put our Who-is-saving-whom-Teaser  on your website http://www.whos-saving-whom.org/index.php/en/teaser

Our heart-felt greetings, your film team from who-is-saving-whom.

Leslie Franke, Lissi Dobbler and Herdolor Lorenz

film@whos-saving-whom.org | www.whos-saving-whom.org

Account holder: Who Is Saving Whom?     IBAN: DE49430609672020346200   
BIC: GENODEM1GLS
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