Sandra Finley

Sep 132019
 

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange is to remain in prison when his jail term ends because of his “history of absconding”, a judge has ruled.

He was due to be released on 22 September after serving his sentence for breaching bail conditions.

But Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.

The Australian, 48, is fighting extradition to the US over allegations of leaking government secrets.

He will face a full extradition hearing next year, starting on 25 February, after an extradition request was signed by the then home secretary Sajid Javid in June.

 

Assange received a 50-week sentence in Belmarsh Prison, south-east London, after being found guilty of breaching the Bail Act in April.

He was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations – which he has denied.

District judge Vanessa Baraitser on Friday told Assange, who appeared by video-link: “You have been produced today because your sentence of imprisonment is about to come to an end.

“When that happens your remand status changes from a serving prisoner to a person facing extradition.”

She said that his lawyer had declined to make an application for bail on his behalf, adding “perhaps not surprisingly in light of your history of absconding in these proceedings”.

“In my view I have substantial ground for believing if I release you, you will abscond again.”

 

He faces 18 charges in the US, including computer misuse and the unauthorised disclosure of national defence information.

He is accused of working with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in “unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defence”, according to the US Justice Department.

He spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London before being handed over to British authorities by Ecuador in April.

In May, Swedish prosecutors reopened their investigation into an allegation of rape against Assange.

Sep 122019
 

Robt F Kennedey Jr, press conference, video.  Tells it the way it is.

Click on the little square on RFK’s chest.  It takes you to “Children’s Health Defence

Go down a little to press conference Sept 9, 2019, RFK.   Click on the button there,  NOT the video on top right.

CA SB 276 & SB 714 Signed Into Law by Gov. Newsom

= = = = = = = = = = =

RELATED, you may be interested:

Vanessa left a question on the page  Heavy metals in vaccinations, Mercury in dental amalgams.

HOW DO WE JOIN A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST MERCURY FILLINGS?
IS THERE AN ACTIVE LAWSUIT I CAN JOIN? I have multiple fillings and numerous health conditions.

Reply: September 12

Hello Vanessa,

I am not aware of any class action lawsuits that are currently in the works.

There is information about attempt at class action on mercury fillings:
2016-08 The attempted class action lawsuit against mercury fillings, 1998, Canada. 8,000 signatories.

Scroll-down to inquiries made to a couple of Canadian law firms. 2016. Decision: unwise to proceed.

I can’t find where I might have posted the experience of the fellow (Toronto) who initiated the 1998 class action. The group “Canadians for Mercury Relief” was formed in 1996 for that purpose. The time to contact people, the amount of fund-raising you have to do while simultaneously doing everything else, including looking after your family, literally broke the fellow. He mortgaged his home to raise money, he lost his home and a whole lot more. A tragic story.

Mainstream media steers a wide path around you, minimal help there.

My take-away is to pitch in wherever the struggle against the poisoning is strong at the moment, and has potential for significant advance.

There are a number of “fronts”. I suspect you have learned a lot about mercury poisoning, one of the fronts.

We learn successful strategies by trying different ones. Class action lawsuits? . . . no.

A direct Court Case by a single plaintiff? . . . yes, VERY successful against Monsanto and its agricultural chemicals.

Here’s a new video that originates in the vaccine issue, a Court Case against the Govt of California. A win there will be a big win here, a pitched battle at the moment.

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/ca-sb-276-sb-714-signed-into-law-by-gov-newsom/
GO TO: not the video top right. Go down a little to press conference Sept 9, 2019, RFK.

The video speaks to:  we are poisoning ourselves. And why might that be? Everywhere, the answer is the same. . . . the video tells it very well, along with “how to” get the win.

Awareness of the poisoning from the mercury in dental amalgams has not gone away. It will re-surface. In the meantime, build our strength and numbers.  Connect and share information.

What the polluters (the poisoners) are getting away with is criminal.  You will know that, better than most of us.

Sandra

 

Sep 092019
 

Source: Xinhua

Editor: yan

 

STOCKHOLM

 

Swedish prosecutors had interviewed two new witnesses over the summer as part of the ongoing investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said Monday in a statement.

They had also re-interviewed five individuals who were interviewed in 2010, the statement said.

“During the summer, we have conducted interviews intended to verify the evidence, as nine years have passed since the suspected crime. We have concentrated on the inquiries possible to conduct here in Sweden. We have mainly re-interviewed those individuals who were interviewed in 2010, although two of the persons interviewed have not previously been interviewed,” Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said in the statement.

The investigation dates back to 2010, when Assange was accused of sexual molestation, coercion and rape. At the time, Assange denied the accusations but refused to be questioned in Sweden, fearing that Sweden would then extradite him to the U.S. to face conspiracy charges.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority reopened the investigation in April 2019 after Assange lost diplomatic immunity and was arrested by the British authorities.

Persson had planned to have Assange brought to Sweden for questioning, but in June the Swedish authority decided not to pursue extradition, meaning that Assange would have to be questioned in Britain.

The seven witness interviews are now being transcribed and analyzed.

“Once we have analyzed the interviews, I will decide how to proceed with the case,” Persson said.

“The investigation may then be discontinued or I may decide to conduct further inquiries. If I make the assessment that the next step is to interview Julian Assange, I will issue a European Investigation Order, in which case I shall write to the British authorities with a request to conduct an interview,” said Persson.

The limitation period expires on Aug. 20, 2020, after which the investigation would normally have to be discontinued. If a prosecution is commenced before that date and Assange is served with a summons, then the period of limitation will be extended.

Currently, Assange is imprisoned in Britain, where he is serving 50 weeks after being convicted of violating British bail rules.

The United States has requested that he be extradited there, where he is allegedly suspected of violating the country’s laws on espionage.

Sep 092019
 

The plan also promises to phase out all use of glyphosate, the world’s most common weed killer, by December 2023.

The broad-spectrum herbicide often ends up killing the native plants insects rely on.

My feelings won’t be hurt if you scroll past my feedback, to the article!

Hopefully the “research” won’t be headed up by co-opted universities: 

From: Sandra Finley
Sent: September 9
To: Gretchen Vogel  (the journalist)
Subject: re €100 million German insect protection plan will protect . . .

Hi Gretchen,

Thank-you for your report in Science Mag on the insect protection plan for Germany.

I am circulating your article further into my networks.

Here in North America, given the influence of the ag-chem-biotech transnationals on Universities,  I would greet news of Government funding for “research” with a heavy dose of skepticism.

Government funding of research would go to the Universities (e.g. University of Saskatchewan’s claimed “Global” Institute for Food Security and/or to the U of S College of Agriculture).  The research and teaching done by scientists (professors) is heavily compromised.  Bayer-Monsanto and other ag-chemical-biotech transnationals are infiltrated into the political-economic system here.  The bending of the “knowledge base” of democracy to shape it into a tool of the corporations began in the early 1980’s.

(Also, we don’t need “more research”.  We know what needs to be done, and the consequences of not doing it.  “More research” is a delay-and-they’ll-forget-it tactic.  But in the immediate moment it offers hope – – it puts people back to sleep.  Aaah.  Someone is looking after it for us!)

I don’t know the extent to which the German company Bayer is infiltrated into the scientific community in Germany and into the Government-behind-the-scenes – – the people who write the legislation, those whose job is to regulate, and those who are supposed to enforce the laws and regulations.  In this instance, the specific is the “Crop Science” branch of Bayer.  Bayer-Monsanto (both companies)  have been entrenched at universities here for a long time, steering the teaching and the research.

The analysis from the Wall Street Journal (link below) points to the fact that the largest market for Bayer’s chemicals is on this side of the Atlantic, not in Europe; in other words, Bayer will survive.  (Well maybe it won’t.  Resistance is huge, it’s what drove Monsanto into the arms of Bayer.)

2019-09-04  Bayer’s Roundup Woes Deepen as Germany Bans Key Chemical, Wall Street Journal  

Thank-you again for your article, we’ll put it to good use.

Sandra Finley  (contact info)

= = = = = = = = = = = = =

€100 million German insect protection plan will protect habitats, restrict weed killers, and boost research, Science Magazine

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/09/100-million-german-insect-protection-plan-will-protect-habitats-restrict-weed-killers

By Gretchen Vogel

BERLINSave the whales, sure. But save the dung beetles? In 2017, researchers reported a dramatic loss of insects in Germany’s nature reserves: 76% less biomass over 3 decades. Spurred by wide public concern about the findings, the federal government announced on 4 September a €100 million “action plan for insect protection,” which includes at least €25 million a year for research and monitoring of insect populations.

“This takes several steps in the right direction,” says Lars Krogmann, an entomologist at the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, who with colleagues last year published a nine-point plan with recommendations for reversing insect population declines.

The government plan includes some of those recommendations, such as protecting insect habitats like meadows and hedges. “The insect decline is closely tied to a decline of habitats,” he says. For example, many traditional hay meadows—important habitats for native plants, insects, and other animals—have disappeared as farmers convert them to fields of fast-growing grass for animal feed, adding fertilizer and mowing every few weeks instead of once or twice a year. Farmers have also expanded their fields, plowing former hedgerows and verges. The plan, which is expected to become law in the coming months, proposes that several insect-rich habitats be granted protected status, including semiwild fruit orchards and stone walls in the countryside.

The plan also promises to phase out all use of glyphosate, the world’s most common weed killer, by December 2023. The broad-spectrum herbicide often ends up killing the native plants insects rely on. Use by government agencies—and the government-owned Deutsche Bahn railway company—will be phased out sooner. (Glyphosate has been a hot political issue in Germany, with the agriculture ministry opposing a ban and the environmental ministry pushing for one.) The plan would set tighter regulations on all pesticide use in nature reserves and other protected areas. Approval of new pesticides will have to take into account effects on biodiversity. Even drugs used in veterinary medicine will be reviewed for their effects on insects: Some antiparasite treatments in cattle can harm dung beetles, for example.

The government also says it will take several steps to decrease light pollution, which can disrupt nocturnal insects’ behavior, preventing them from finding food or mates. The plan encourages the use of insect-friendly lights of certain wavelengths, along with motion detectors that turn on outdoor lights only when they are needed. It also will support public education efforts in preschools, schools, and a nationwide “insect-friendly garden” campaign.

One-quarter of the money in the €100 million plan is slated for research and monitoring. It calls for development of a nationwide insect monitoring network—part of a larger biodiversity monitoring program—and increased research into possible causes for the observed declines and the most promising ways to reverse them. It also promises more support for taxonomy research and training—a hugely important step, Krogmann says. Taxonomists qualified to identify the thousands of insect species in Germany “are an endangered species,” he says, with training programs disappearing from universities. “Once your numbers get so low, you can’t reproduce yourselves.”

Wolfgang Wägele, former director of the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity in Bonn, Germany, says it’s “remarkable” for insects to get such positive attention. The funding actually goes beyond the €100 million mentioned in the insect protection plan, he says, because money for insect biodiversity protection is included in the research ministry’s €200 million program for research on biodiversity. “This really never happened before.”

 

Sep 072019
 
You may want to view this on the Defend Democracy website,  click on Swiss Development Aid, Nestlé and Water Privatization.   Canadians should be aware, important information.
= = = = = = = = = = = = =

By Franklin Frederick

Translation: Tamanna Kohi

Last February, the Government of Switzerland announced the creation of a Foundation in Geneva (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/foundation-for-the-future_switzerland-moves-to-boost-international-geneva/44771548), under the name ‘Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator’ (GSDA). The purpose of this new foundation is to regulate new technologies, from drones and automatic cars to genetic engineering, which are examples mentioned by theSwiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassisat the public launch of this initiative. According to Cassis, new technologies are developing very fast and this Foundation must ‘anticipate’ the consequences of these advances for society and politics. The Foundation will also be a bridge between the scientific and diplomatic communities, hence its strategic placement in Geneva, which houses several international organizations, from the UN to the World Trade Organization.

The Swiss Foreign Ministry will contribute 3 million Swiss francs – just over 3 million dollars – to the Foundation’s initial phase from 2019 to 2022. The city and the Canton of Geneva will each contribute 300,000 Swiss francs for the same period and contributions from the private sector are also expected.

As President of this new Foundation, the former CEO of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathewas chosen. The Vice-President is Patrick Aebischer,the former President of the Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology – EPFL is the French acronym. Patrick Aebischer has also been a member of the Nestlé Health Science Steering Committee since 2015, founded in 2011 by Nestlé and located right on the EPFL campus.

The choice of Peter Brabeck and Patrick Aebischer– both with strong connectionsto Nestlé – to run this new foundation has a very clear rationale. It primarily represents the recognition of Nestlé’s power within the Swiss Government – a former Nestlé CEO is, by definition, competent to drive this initiative.

More upsettingly, Peter Brabeck’s choice is yet another example of the ever-closer “partnership” between governments and large transnational corporations, leading to the establishment of an international corporate oligarchy that is gradually taking over power within Western democracies.

At Nestlé, Peter Brabeck has spent most of his career battling all forms of state regulation of the private sector, the best-known case being the regulation of infant food marketing standards, particularly milk powder. The conflict between Nestlé under the direction of Peter Brabeck and the IBFAN – International Baby Food Action Network – is well known. But the biggest irony – and the biggest danger –is that Brabeck’s choice to chair this Foundation indicates that the real purpose of this initiative is precisely to prevent any form of regulation by the government that might impose  limits on profits from the technological advances of the private sector.

It is also not expected that this Foundation will defend any protection of the public sphere or the environment against possible threats posed to society by new technological advances. On the contrary, Brabeck’s choice indicates that this Foundation’s primary objective is to defend and support  the private sector. What can be expected from this Foundation are proposals for self-regulation by the private sector in  cases of overly explicit conflicts, which is nothing effective.

Since this Foundation is an initiative of the Government of Switzerland – certainly after talks with the private sector – and is located in Geneva, it will have an enormous influence  and I believe that organized social movements must carefully follow the future steps of this Foundation, as it embodies a huge threat to democracy.

Just a few months after the launch of this new Foundation, the Government of Switzerland announced that Christian Frutiger, Nestlé’s current Global Head of Public Affairs, will soon take over the Vice-Presidency of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation– SDC – which is the Swiss Government Agency responsible for development aid projects in other countries. Another example of the growing collaboration between the private sector and the government, but this time in a much more sensitive area: development cooperation. And yet another example of the growing influence and presence of the transnational Nestlé within the Government of Switzerland.

This presence is neither new nor recent, and it is important to remember that the SDC not only supported the creation of the Water Resources Group – WRG – the initiative of Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi to privatize water, topics in which I’ve written a few articles– (see https://jornalggn.com.br/opiniao/nestle-e-o-fim-da-era-brabeck-por-franklin-frederick/) as the SDC Director himself is a member of the WRG Governance Board.

The contradiction of the fact that Switzerland has one of the best public sanitation and water distribution services in the world, but uses Swiss citizens’ tax money to support water privatization in other countries through the SDC partnership with Nestlé, does not seem to be a problem. The budget of Switzerland’s international cooperation for the period 2017-2020 is around 6.635 billion francs – a little over 6.730 billion dollars. As Deputy Director, Christian Frutiger will have a great deal of influence over decisions regarding the application of part of this budget. Most importantly, as Deputy Director, Frutiger will be directly responsible for the SDC’s ‘Global Cooperation’ Division and for the WATER program.

Christian Frutiger started his career at Nestlé in 2007 as a Public Affairs Manager after working at the International Red Cross. In 2006, Nestlé’s “Pure Life” bottled water brand became its most profitable brand and in 2007, with the purchase of the Sources Minérales Henniez S.A. group, Nestlé became the leading company in bottled water within the Swiss market. In 2008, just a decade after its release, “Pure Life” became the world’s top-selling brand of bottled water. Within this context, it was only natural that Christian Frutiger’s work at Nestlé should focus on the topic of WATER.

In 2008, the Nestlé espionage scandal broke out in Switzerland. A  Swiss TV journalist denounced in a program that Nestlé hired security firm SECURITAS to infiltrate spies within Nestlé-critical groups within Switzerland, particularly the ATTAC group. Proven espionage took place between 2002 and 2003 but there is evidence of spying until 2006.

ATTAC filed a lawsuit against Nestlé and SECURITAS, and in 2013, the Swiss court finally condemned Nestlé for organizing this espionage operation, indicating the involvement of at least four company directors in the operation. During this period, Christian Frutiger played a key and very successful role in minimizing the impact of the espionage operation on Nestlé’s image in Switzerland, which certainly contributed to his promotion to a higher position today.

The fact that Nestlé organized an illegal espionage operation within Switzerland and was condemned by the Swiss courts for doing this had no effect on the company’s relations with the Swiss Government and especially with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as one would expect.

No one asked Nestlé’s CEO Peter Brabeck then if his company was capable of such actions within Switzerland itself, what could we expect from the behaviour of the same company in other countries of weaker democratic guarantees? Infiltrating undercover agents under  false identities to spy on the ATTAC group is, to say the least, grossly unethical.  But it seems that ethics was not one of the criteria that the SDC took into account when hiring Christian Frutiger who, throughout this episode, kept silent, never apologized to the people who were spied on by the company he worked for, and did everything to minimize the impact of the problem, which means that he complied with his employer’s lack of ethics.

But the appointment of Frutiger as Deputy Director of the SDC points to much deeper and far-reaching problems, especially with regard to WATER, as it seems clear to me that his choice for this position is all about this topic. Peter Brabeck’s appointment to chair the new foundation of the Swiss Government in Geneva and Christian Frutiger’s appointment as Vice-President of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation reveal a link between the private sector and the Swiss Government to deepen the privatization policies – especially water – and corporate control over public policies.

But this articulation goes beyond the Government of Switzerland, it will take place above all at the level of the international agencies and organizations present in Geneva as Christian Frutiger will be responsible for the contacts with many of these organizations. These new roles of Peter Brabeck and Christian Frutiger also indicate that the transnational corporate sector is very consciously organizing and articulating itself at government’s level to ensure that its demands and policy proposals are met.

Not much reaction from the major Swiss NGOs should be expected in the face of all this, especially as SDC is the main financier of almost all of them, which explains the deep silence around Nestlé and its actions within Switzerland. A recent example of this silence occurred in Brazil at the World Water Forum held in Brasilia in March 2018. Since this Forum is in fact the Forum of large private enterprises, Nestlé and WRG were present within the official Swiss pavilion, along with organizations such as HELVETAS, HEKS/EPER and Caritas Switzerland, three of Switzerland’s largest private development agencies and all supported by SDC. HEKS/EPER – which are German and French abbreviations – is linked to the Protestant Church of Switzerland, as Caritas Switzerland is linked to the Catholic Church.

During the Forum, 600 women from the Landless Movement occupied Nestlé’s premises in São Lourenço, Minas Gerais for a few hours, to draw attention to the problems caused by the company and the water bottling industry. None of these Swiss organizations expressed any solidarity with the Landless Movement, none condemned Nestlé’s practices, nor did they even mention on their return to Switzerland that this occupation had taken place. But HEKS/EPER and Caritas Switzerland claim to fight for the human right to water and “support” social movements – but not when they stand against Nestlé.

In São Lourenço, located in the Circuito das Águas region in MG, and in many other places in Brazil, there are problems with Nestlé’s exploitation of water and citizen’s movements trying to protect its waters. HEKS/EPER has an office in Brazil but has never approached the groups that fight Nestlé in Brazil.

The SDC does not consider problems with Nestlé in many parts of the world – not just in Brazil – as a reason to re-evaluate its partnership with the company.
There are very well-documented problems with Nestlé’s bottling operations and water pumping in the U.S.A, Canada, and France, for example – countries considered to be established democracies. What is common among all of these countries is that the governments always stand in favor of the company and against their own citizens. In the town of Vittel, France, the situation is absurd: studies by French government agencies indicate that the aquifer from which the Vittel population draws its water and from which Nestlé also collects bottled water as “VITTEL” is at risk of depletion. The aquifer is not in a position to withstand the long-term demands of the local population and Nestlé’s bottling company. The solution proposed by the French authorities: to build a pipeline about 50 km long to seek water in a region neighboring Vittel to meet the needs of the population – leaving Nestlé free to explore  exploit the Vittel aquifer waters!

In Wellington County, Canada, a local group called Wellington Water Watchers was created to protect its waters from Nestlé exploration exploitation, which has the support of the local government to renew its permission to continue bottling water. (INSERT:  I  will ask the Wellington group about this statement/S).  In Michigan, U.S.A, the problem is similar.

None of this seems to bother the Swiss Government, the SDC, or Christian Frutiger – and if such problems occur in these countries, what could happen in countries that are much more fragile in their social and political organization?

As current Head of Public Affairs of Nestlé, Christian Frutiger has done his best to ignore completely the problems created by his employer in many countries.

 

As I write, Europe is suffering from an intense heat wave. There is water rationing in France, and fire hazards in many places. Big cities like Paris suffer from record-high temperatures never recorded before, and water consumption only tends to increase.

On the other hand, glaciers are melting at an increasing rate and water is becoming increasingly scarce. Groundwater sources, many of them fossil water, are an important reserve for the future and should remain untouched. But the greed of bottling companies like Nestlé are acquiring more water sources. The picture is the same all over the planet – the remaining unpolluted waters are increasingly in the hands of a few companies.

In Brazil under the Bolsonaro government, the situation is even worse, with an environmental minister whose task is to facilitate the taking of Brazilian natural resources by foreign capital. It is important to remember that the main shareholder of the AMBEV group is the Swiss-Brazilian citizen Jorge Paulo Lemann, who has excellent communication channels with the Swiss Government. AMBEV is also part of the WRG which has already opened its first office in Brazil to support the privatization of SABESP, the public water company in the state of São Paulo. (see more at https://jornalggn.com.br/sustentabilidade/as-aguas-do-brasil-o-que-vem-por-ai-franklin-frederick/).

What is happening in Switzerland is just the tip of the iceberg – the visible part is the international articulation of big corporations, and the taking over of public space for political decisions by the world corporate oligarchy. We have to be vigilant and well organized to defend our waters, our earth and our society from the corporate attack on the common good.

Sep 072019
 

Preface to the article,  MY EXCITEMENT:

From: Sandra Finley
Sent: September 7
To: Ruth.Bender  (The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) journalist who wrote the article below)
Subject: RE: Bayer’s Roundup Woes Deepen as Germany Bans Key Chemical

Enormous thanks to you, Ruth, and to the WSJ for publishing this article.

I am from the farmlands of Saskatchewan, Canada.   And I am 70 years old.  I know the changes brought about by industrial agriculture and the grip that the Ag-chemical-biotech corporations have on Governments and Universities in North America.

It is a genuine treat to see Mainstream Media actually REPORT on the woes of one of the Ag-chemical-biotech corporations.

I posted the WSJ link on F/B news feed with this:  Wow! the Wall Street Journal reported this! Hats off to them, and to the journalist Ruth Bender.   

On twitter I added  “Kudos to Wall Street Journal for publishing:  …. (your link)

For those who will not click on links, but who receive my emails and will look on my blog:   I re-posted your article at  http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=24793.

We have been working a long time to provide people with information to inform them:  there are consequences of widespread poisoning of the Earth, not only for insects that are targeted, not only for targeted fungi and weeds,  but for human beings, too.   Our cells work the same as in other species of life.  If you target the endocrine system of an insect, you might kill the insect – – it just takes the human endocrine system longer to succumb, through a disease outcome.

None of it is rocket science.   It’s common sense contingent upon a solid school education with emphasis on the development of critical thinking and empowerment – – the ability to speak up when something is wrong.

It is extremely helpful, of course, if we can find more ways to free Mainstream Media from the demands of the large Corporations.   Their propaganda and money are insidious.   It is doing irreparable damage to the Earth’s life systems, and to democracies here and elsewhere.

Sincerely,

Sandra Finley  (contact info)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = =  = =

Bayer’s Roundup Woes Deepen as Germany Bans Key Chemical

Germany has approved a plan to gradually restrict the use of glyphosate and ban it outright from the end of 2023

After Bayer acquired Roundup inventor Monsanto, it was hit by lawsuits from 18,400 farmers, hobby gardeners and others. Photo: regis duvignau/ReutersBy Ruth BenderBERLIN

Bayer AG’s efforts to fend off thousands of lawsuits against its Roundup herbicide were dealt a symbolic blow Wednesday when Germany, the company’s home country, said it would ban the product’s key ingredient.

The move is unlikely to directly affect the chemicals and pharmaceuticals group’s bottom line because Germany is a negligibly small market for Roundup. The decision was motivated by environmental considerations rather than glyphosate’s alleged potential to cause cancer, which is at the center of the lawsuits. Still, the optics of Roundup being banned in Bayer’s backyard are jarring amid the company’s insistence that it is safe to use.

After Bayer acquired Roundup inventor Monsanto Co. in 2018, the German company was hit by lawsuits from 18,400 farmers, hobby gardeners and others who said Roundup made them ill.

The company, which is appealing the verdicts, has pointed to the scores of markets where glyphosate is licensed as evidence of its safety.Germany, where Bayer was founded and is based, has approved a plan to gradually restrict the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, and ban it outright as of the end of 2023, shortly after a Europe-wide license for the chemical expires.The head of Bayer’s crop-science business, which now includes Monsanto, said the company disagreed with the move to a unilateral ban.

“The ruling ignores decades of scientific judgment from independent regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is safe when used properly,” Liam Condon said.

The ban would have very little impact on Bayer’s sales, analysts said. Bayer says Europe accounts for less than 10% of its total glyphosate sales, which the company doesn’t break out. The bulk of glyphosate sales are generated in the U.S. and South America.

Bayer said pro forma crop-science sales reached €19.3 billion ($21.2 billion) in 2018. The figure assumes Monsanto had been part of the business for the entire year and not just since June 7, 2018, when the acquisition closed.

The planned ban highlights the growing resistance to glyphosate in Europe, which could lead European Union countries to oppose another bloc-wide license in late 2022 when they are due to vote on a renewal.

In July, Austria became the first European country to impose a ban on glyphosate. In France, a court banned a Roundup brand earlier this year, while some mayors this summer moved to ban glyphosate in their municipalities.

The topic has split the EU for years. In 2017, a new five-year license was almost voted down until a last-minute nod from Germany tipped the balance. The surprise decision, made by the agriculture minister against the advice of the rest of the government, sparked an uproar in the country.

Other countries outside Europe have adopted total and partial glyphosate bans in the past, such as Colombia and El Salvador. Sri Lanka in 2015 was the first country to issue a national ban, but later revoked it.

Before glyphosate is banned outright, Germany will push to gradually reduce its use, first banning it in gardens and parks and imposing stricter rules for its use in agriculture.

Write to Ruth Bender at Ruth.Bender@wsj.com

Sep 062019
 

(I dunno – – Is this a “Public-Private-Partnership“?   The Government hands the thing over to a Consortium of Transnational Corporations;  tax-payers just provide the money.  We become the bankers.  Does that automatically make us partners? )

Background to the Ottawa Citizen article below,  by Gordon Edwards:

Covered for the first time in Canada’s national press, the SNC-Lavalin scandal involving charges of criminal corruption and federal government collusion has been directly linked to charges of mismanagement of radioactive waste at Chalk River.

In 2013, SNC-Lavalin was found guilty of a pattern of bribery and corruption in several countries by the World Bank, and the corporation was banned for 10 years from bidding on any contracts funded by the Bank. Despite this fact, in 2015 the Conservatives under Prime Minister Stephen Harper put SNC-Lavalin and its corporate partners (also accused of corruption) in charge of Canada’s eight-billion-dollar radioactive waste liability as well as all federally-owned nuclear facilities.

Receiving almost a billion dollars per year of federal taxpayers’ money, the consortium of multinational corporations (including SNC-Lavalin) has proposed permanent storage of a million cubic metres of mixed radioactive wastes on the surface at Chalk River, right beside the Ottawa River – a plan that has been opposed by 140 municipalities in the area as well as by NGOs and nuclear experts, including a number of scientists who worked for decades at Chalk River in senior positions.

It appears that the federal government, under both of Canada’s major political parties, has chosen to abdicate responsibility to private corporations when it comes to the long-term management of radioactive wastes. There is a complete policy vacuum at the federal level regarding what is allowed and what is not allowed when it comes to fission-generated radioactive wastes other than spent nuclear fuel.

Moreover, the same consortium of private companies is actively working — with federal government cooperation and approval — to build, test and deploy a whole new generation of “Small Modular Nuclear Reactors” (SMNRs) using federally-owned lands and facilities to do so. Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has actively lobbied the government to exempt most of these new reactors from any independent environmental assessment under the newly enacted Impact Assessment Act. That exemption is now a fait accompli.

CNSC reports to the Minister of Natural Resources (NRCan), whose mandate includes promoting nuclear power. Last November (2018) NRCan published a “Road Map” for SMNRs, which envisages hundreds of such nuclear reactors deployed widely in Canada.

In July 2012, Japan’s Parliament (the Diet) published a massive report stating that the primary cause of the Fukushima triple meltdown in 2011 was a pattern of inappropriate collusion between the nuclear industry, the regulator, and the government. Such collusion proved to be at the expense of public safety and environmental protection. There are clear indications that a similar pattern of collusion is now occurring between the private consortium (involving SNC-Lavalin), the CNSC, and Canada’s federal government.

Such collusion involves misallocation of federal funds, and stifling of the rights of First Nations and other Canadians regarding new nuclear developments that will inevitably add to existing inventories of high level, low level, and intermediate level radioactive waste. But more importantly, that collusion may result in adverse health impacts for future generations, and environmental contamination, due to “quick and dirty” approaches to radioactive waste management. These dire consequences are entirely preventable with proper cautionary policies in place following widespread public consultations.

Gordon Edwards.

——————————-

Greens talk radioactive waste,

Chalk River and SNC-Lavalin

– and why Ottawans ahould care

by Taylor Blewett, Ottawa Citizen, September 5, 2019

https://tinyurl.com/y6grje3g

Leveraging one of the year’s top political controversies, federal Green party candidates staged an event Thursday to highlight their concerns about potential contamination of the Ottawa River and a government they describe as too cosy with SNC-Lavalin to care.

Standing in the sand on Westboro Beach, Ottawa Centre Green party candidate Angela Keller-Herzog gave the assembled crowd a quick refresher on the nuclear situation at Chalk River, 200 kilometres northwest of Ottawa.

On the eve of the 2015 federal election, former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government selected a consortium of companies, including engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, as its preferred proponent to manage and operate Canadian Nuclear Laboratories — the organization proposing a “near surface disposal facility” for radioactive waste at Chalk River.

It’s a plan, now under review, that’s been in the works for several years, and CNL is adamant about its safety. “It will actually take waste out of areas with very little containment, and put it into an area that is engineered and contained away from the environment,” said Sandra Faught, manager of regulatory approvals for the facility at CNL.

Despite such assurances, the proposed facility has generated fierce criticism from community, Indigenous and environmental advocates for as long as it’s been in the public eye.

At Thursday’s press conference, the Greens breathed fresh life into these concerns by emphasizing the involvement of one of the most controversial names in politics right now: SNC-Lavalin.

“Poor nuclear waste decisions have fallout for millennia — this is too important a job to be handed to SNC and corner-cutting, profit-seeking foreign corporations with dubious ethical background,” said Keller-Herzog.

As an MP, she said, she would champion the creation of a federal policy guiding the management of non-fuel radioactive waste (the kind the Chalk River disposal facility would deal with.)

She also raised a new concern — that the Liberal government, including Environment Minister and Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna, have created an exemption that would allow small modular nuclear reactors to skip the new environmental review process they introduced in Bill C-69.

Both CNL and the federal government are focused on the opportunities presented by these portable, less powerful reactors.

“Canada is well positioned to become a global leader in the development and deployment of SMR technology,” reads a Natural Resources Canada webpage, while CNL envisions itself as a “global hub” for small modular reactor innovation.

In the spring of 2018, CNL invited SMR proposals to develop a “demonstration project” at one of its sites. This would be the first small modular reactor in Canada.

“I ask you: If experimental, unproven nuclear reactors don’t have to undergo impact assessment, then what’s the point?” said Keller-Herzog. “In other words, the Liberal government, Minister McKenna and senior public servants are lining up their ducks to pave the way for the plans of SNC-Lavalin and its American partners. Does that sound familiar?”

This newspaper contacted McKenna’s ministerial office about the decision to exempt small nuclear reactors — under 200 thermal megawatts —  from the list of projects that would require environmental assessment under Bill C-69.

“Previously all nuclear reactors would have been designated projects, regardless of size and location,” according to the Canada Gazette entry regarding the exemption.

In response, spokesperson Caroline Thériault sent a statement:

“A robust project list ensures good projects can move forward in a timely and transparent way that protects the environment, rebuilds public trust and strengthens our economy. This list covers all major projects within federal jurisdiction those pose significant environmental risk.”

Even without a spot on the Bill C-69 project list, small modular reactor would still be subject to scrutiny.

According to a statement from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, “New nuclear projects below the 200 MW thermal‎ threshold are subject to licensing and assessment processes by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.”

Alexandre Deslongchamps, spokesperson for the minster of natural resources, noted that the CNSC “is peer-reviewed and world-renowned” and “will only approve projects if it concludes that they are safe for people and the environment, both now and in the future.”

With files from the Financial Post

Sep 062019
 

. . .   spearheaded Sweden’s most feminist foreign policy . . .

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Swedish-FM-to-Resign-from-Her-Post-20190906-0006.html?utm_source=planisys&utm_medium=NewsletterIngles&utm_campaign=NewsletterIngles&utm_content=13
The article – short – –  is copied below.  If you want the original, copy and paste the above URL into your browser.  /S)
  • Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the end of a summit, to address Palestinian UNWRA funding crisis, at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy March 15, 2018.

    Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom attends a news conference at the end of a summit, to address Palestinian UNWRA funding crisis, at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy March 15, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement. “It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”

Swedish Foreign MInister Margot Wallstrom has announced Friday her intention to resign from her post in favor of spending more time with her family.

 

Wallstrom, who spearheaded Sweden’s most feminist foreign policy when she took office in 2014, has received praise for her work in the international community, especially at the United Nations.

The Social Democrat politician was also the United Nations Special Representative, dealing with sexual violence in conflicts and served two stints as a European Union commissioner, has been an unapologetic champion of human rights. She has also angered both Israel and Saudi Arabia during her time in office.

“I have put everything I have into the job of making Sweden safe, respected internationally and appreciated as a partner,” Wallstrom said in a statement. “It is time for me to spend more time with my husband, my children and my grandchildren.”

Wallstrom told Swedish radio she expected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to announce her successor on Tuesday when he makes his policy declaration as parliament resumes after summer break.

“It seems like an adequate point in time to also say who will succeed me,” she told the public broadcaster.

The government said Wallstrom had said she wanted to leave her post soon, but did not specify when she would go.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm after Sweden canceled a defense cooperation accord over human rights concerns. Wallstrom criticized as “medieval” the punishment of a liberal blogger by flogging.

Earlier that year, Wallstrom had to cancel a visit to Israel after the government’s recognition of a Palestinian state. Israel also withdrew its ambassador to Stockholm.

During Wallstrom’s tenure as foreign minister, Sweden has taken an increasingly active role in international peace initiatives, hosting ceasefire talks between Yemen’s warring parties in December last year.

Aug 312019
 

“DailyGood is a volunteer-run initiative that delivers “good news” to 245,044 subscribers.

Easy to sign up for their news feed; easy to unsubscribe.  When overloaded I unsubscribe for a spell.  I was grabbed by today’s . . .

Wendell Berry on Caretaking

“In 2018, Helena Norberg-Hodge sat down with Wendell Berry for a far-reaching discussion. The two are giants of the local economy movement. Berry is a poet and activist, an author of over forty books. Norberg-Hodge founded Local Futures, which works to renew ecological, social, and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift toward economic localization.Together they touch on human nature, technology, experiential knowledge, agriculture policy, happiness, wildness, and local food systems. Through their discussion, Berry and Norberg-Hodge offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.”

{ the full article is copied below}

Be The Change

For more inspiration, read Berry’s profound piece: What Are People For? { more }

Caretaking

Terry Evans, Earth Quilt, Central Kansas, #1 April 2017 40 x 40 inches

In 2018, Helena Norberg-Hodge sat down with Wendell Berry for a far-reaching discussion. The two are giants of the local economy movement. Berry is a poet and activist, an author of over forty booksincluding The Unsettling of America and Home Economics—and a lifelong advocate for ecological health, the beauty of rural life, and small-scale farming. He is a recipient of the National Humanities Medal. Norberg-Hodge founded Local Futures, which works to renew ecological, social, and spiritual well-being by promoting a systemic shift toward economic localization. She also produced the film The Economics of Happiness and wrote the book Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh. She was honored with the Right Livelihood Award (or “Alternative Nobel Prize”) for her groundbreaking work in Ladakh.

Berry and Norberg-Hodge touch on human nature, technology, experiential knowledge, agriculture policy, happiness, wildness, and local food systems. These are topics on which both have commented widely over the years, but they have taken on a new urgency as of late. The urban/rural divide and colonization of people; mechanization and our globalized economy; democracy and our ties to the earth—these intersections seem as relevant as ever, yet are barely acknowledged by political leaders and thus barely covered by the media. Through their discussion, Berry and Norberg-Hodge offer a critique of our economic system and show how the caretaking of the natural world and local communities are one and the same.

 

HNH: Your words of wisdom are especially valuable today, when so many people are feeling desperate and depressed. Many are giving up on humankind. They say things like, “Human beings are just ignorant, stupid, and greedy, and we deserve to extinguish ourselves.”

WB: That seems to me to be a cheap way out. I think that there’s some merit to be found among us, and some merit to be found in our history. There’s a lot of bad in it, no question about that, but the interesting thing is to try to solve the problem, not escape it.

HNH: It’s also important to realize that the real problem is not human nature, but what I think of as an inhuman system. One of the biggest problems we’re facing is that the system has become so big that we can’t see what we’re doing and what we’re contributing to. Our economic system is of such an inhuman scale that it has become like a giant machine—a global juggernaut that’s pushing us all into fear and a terrible sense of scarcity.

WB: What one has to say to begin with is that, as humans, we are limited in intelligence and we really have no reliable foresight. So none of us will come up with answers to the whole great problem. What we can do is judge our behavior, our history, and our present situation by a better standard than “efficiency” or “profit,” or those measures that we’re still using to determine economic decisions. The standard that I always come back to is the health of the world, which is the same as our own personal health. We can’t distinguish our health from the health of everything else. And we know enough from the ecologists now to know that health is a very complex and un-understandable complexity of relationships that makes the world whole.

HNH: Rather than those economic measures you referred to, the goal needs to be human and ecological well-being. And when people are more dependent on the living community around them—both the human and the nonhuman—then it becomes obvious that their well-being is connected to the well-being of the other.

WB: It seems to me that it all depends upon our ability to accept limits. And the present economic system doesn’t even acknowledge limits. It is “develop[ing] resources”—which is to say, turning resources into riches (which is to say, money)—which leads almost inevitably to destruction. Money is an abstraction. Goods are particular, and always available within limits— natural limits, and the rightful limits of our consumption.

It’s also important to realize that the real problem is not human nature, but what I think of as an inhuman system.

HNH: And in order for us to see those limits, we need a more human-scale, localized economy.

WB: It would mean even more if we said a community economy, and we meant by economy the original sense of “household management” or “housekeeping.” That would imply taking the best possible care of the life supports of, first, the household economy, then the neighborhood economy, then the community economy. And we can go on from there on the principle of community, if we take it in the sense of “what we all have in common,” and an obligation to take care of all of it. But it will only be manageable locally, and within limits—the limits, among other things, of our own intelligence and our own capacity to act responsibly.

HNH: What I’ve seen in ancient traditional cultures is that even the language reminded people that their experiential knowledge was really the only reliable knowledge. One of the great tragedies has been this shift toward trusting secondhand knowledge more than we trust experiential knowledge, and in fact denigrating experiential knowledge as anecdotal and worthless. And of course, this has been reinforced by numerical, and very reductionist, modern science.

WB: I think what you’re applying there is simply the fundamental rule of all the human disciplines. And that rule is that you have to know what you’re talking about. You have to come with evidence. And this applies across the board, from the court of law to the laboratory of the scientist.

HNH: But of course now we have science and knowledge for profit, which can lead to very shoddy proof. The impact of these new discoveries has the potential to affect all life on Earth—for instance, genetic manipulation.

WB: The issue there again, it seems to me, is the acceptance of a limit. Science that accepts limits would do no harm to an ecosystem or a human body. This is very different from the kind of science that too frequently turns out to be product development, without control of its application. The nuclear scientists who developed the atomic bomb are a very good example. But so are chemists who develop toxic substances for a limited use that they have in mind, but then turn it loose on the market and into the world. So you develop a chemical to control weeds in crops, and you ask only the question of whether or not the weeds are controlled; you don’t ask what happens when it runs off into the rivers.

HNH: This is why there has to be the precautionary principle, as Rachel Carson reminded us. But the only entities really capable of enforcing the precautionary principle are governments—and trade treaties and the globalizing economy have given giant multinational companies more and more power over governments. We’ve seen these last thirty years the enormous damage that this power shift created. And then with the financial breakdown in 2008, it was so clear that we needed regulation; but it didn’t happen.

WB: The global economy is almost by definition not subject to regulation. And this simply means that corporations can pursue economic advantage without limit, wherever in the world those advantages are to be found. And as I’ve thought of it in the last several years, it has seemed to me that we’ve had a global economy for about five hundred years—ever since the time of Columbus. And this allowed us to think that if we don’t have some necessity of life here, we can get it from somewhere else. This is the most damaging idea that we’ve ever had. It’s still with us, still current, and it still excuses local plunder and theft and enslavement. It’s an extreme fantasy or unreality, the idea that if we don’t have it here, we can get it somewhere else—if we use it up here, we can get it somewhere else. It’s the stuff of fantasy.

HNH: What’s very frightening is that from the centers of power in the corporate world there’s a recognition that globalization is not working, and that a shift from global to local is needed—but what they’re talking about is the opposite of what you and I talk about. It’s about giant multinationals using robots to make washing machines in America instead of producing them in China.

WB: This makes all the world a colony.

HNH: Yes.

WB: I’m a rural American, and moreover a Kentuckian. I live in a state that has been a colony all my life, and probably ever since the Civil War, at least. We’re a coal-producing state. Some of our counties are the richest in the world in their natural endowment, and the result of that is that they now have land that is virtually destroyed and some of the poorest people. This is the result of a limitless economy. And the only recourse that we have is to try to understand what we have here that’s worth our keeping, and then to discover ways to keep it — and that is to say that we have to have recourse to this movement toward local economies. We should fulfill our needs and export the surplus. We should never export the necessities of our own lives.

HNH: You also mentioned what might be called a “movement” toward local economies. Are you a bit resistant to using that notion, of a movement?

WB: The word “movement”? Yes, I wrote an essay once called “In Distrust of Movements.” My quarrel with “movements,” and the reason I use it in quotation marks, so to speak, is that they tend to be specialized. For example, there’s a movement now about climate change, and it has become extremely specialized, while the actual solution to a problem like that is to have an economy that takes care of everything—an inclusive economy, not just an economy of moneymaking. And so I’m always a little anxious about movements. They turn into fads, in a way, and then they peter out because they’re too specialized.

HNH: Exactly. And it’s so frightening that the climate movement has become specialized to the point of being destructive, particularly when you have talk of market-based “solutions” like carbon trading and carbon offsets. So my plea is for what I call “big-picture activism,” to support a shift from global to local. When we see the multiple benefits of localizing, it becomes clear that it’s not about specialization: it’s about adaptation to diversity. I often say that localism is “the -ism that could end all -isms,” because it has to entail this adaptation to diversity. This is the opposite of a movement that wants to impose a standard solution or a standard anything. Any kind of monoculture is deadly.

WB: That’s right. Localism would cease to be an -ism just as soon as the local people went to work locally. One of the things that’s wrong with these great movements is that they’re not telling people to go home and go to work in good ways to improve things. They’re movements to bring pressure on political leaders. And to that extent it’s something of a distraction from the real problems, which are all local.

Terry Evans, Another Indiana Prairie, January 2018, 38 x 48 inches

HNH: Here is a point where you and I might differ, because I believe that we need both “resistance” and “renewal” simultaneously. What I mean by “resistance” is, first of all, linking together locally to resist the advances of the top-down global monoculture in all its destructive forms. But it also means linking up with other groups around the country, and even around the world, to push for a kind of democracy where people have a choice. So, in that sense, I do believe that at the same time that we start the work at home, we can also raise our voices to have a unified call to come back home.

WB: You’re really asking me, Helena, whether in addition to my insistence on the importance of the local context and local work, I believe in policy changes. And the answer is, of course I do. And I have done a good bit of that work. Wes Jackson and his people at the Land Institute produced a farm policy called the 50-Year Farm Bill, and what that proposes, essentially, is to convert our agriculture from an 80 percent dependence on annual crops and a 20 percent dependence on perennials to the opposite—an 80 percent dependence on perennials and a 20 percent dependence on annuals. And that change, which would be a policy change, would cure a lot of problems, including to a considerable extent the problem of global warming. That’s a policy, and it’s general, to the extent that it would be a policy that would be in force nationally. However, if it was done rightly, it would have to be applied in different ways in different places. And that would call for a high degree of local knowledge and local intelligence.

HNH: And this knowledge grows out of close relationships to the land, which have been maintained over generations. The deep connections indigenous peoples have with the earth and with others in their communities have come about through daily economic interactions—weaving a fabric of interdependence from which the individual cannot be separated. This generates a deep love for land, for community, and for oneself. And these are the connections that have come under attack from a technoeconomic system that is founded on distance and robotization. Already now, robots are looking after old people, robots are acting as surrogate children . . .

WB: If you love somebody, you need to have ways to enact your love. And that would be in caretaking for the children and the old people. The putting-on of hands. That’s the only way we can do it. We can’t enact our love by hiring a robot to do it. And the same goes for the world. If we let machinery, whether it’s a robot or not, intervene to too great an extent between us and the farmland or the forestland that we’re using, we begin to destroy it. We begin to destroy what economists would call the “resource.” And finally, this has a very practical economic effect. One effect, of course, is disease.

HNH: Exactly. And now the next step is to move into a world of not just robots but 3D printing, driverless cars (which, again, of course are robots). . . . It’s very frightening that people are so locked into the man-made world. And they would tell us, Wendell, that we’re not being realistic. For them, the real world is this commercial, man-made world, which they believe can become utopia.

WB: It’s a strange utopia that depends on people being absolutely passive. And this again, it seems to me, has to do with addiction. Addiction is manifested by much more than dependence on a drug. Our children are dying from drug addiction here in rural America, in my little corner of it. But while the addiction to drugs is receiving some attention, young people are also addicted to computers—it is exactly an addiction, and nobody is concerned about that. Again, that addiction removes the person physically from the life of the world. So it does seem to me to be deathly, suicidal, and absolutely ruinous.

HNH: Did you know that there are also, in some places, clinics where they take screen-addicted youth? I don’t know if they have them in America, but they have them in South Korea.

WB: That’s very profitable of course, and that means that this really helps economic growth. If you can make money by selling an addictive device and then make money by curing people of their addiction—that’s a great business plan.

HNH: Just like lots of cancer and chemotherapy are nicely adding to GDP.

WB: Yes, that’s right. It all depends on unhappiness, sickness, ill health, and the rest of it. Ugliness.

HNH: But isn’t it remarkable that so few environmentalists are joining us to just laugh at the notion of GDP? Once it’s understood that GDP increases with breakdown, it seems we all should be linking hands to demand a fundamental shift in the economy.

WB: One of the roots of the problem is the focus of environmentalists. The conservation movement, for one hundred years, has, at least in this country, focused on wilderness preservation—places of spectacular rocks and waterfalls—at the expense of what I would call the “economic landscapes” of farming, forestry, and mining. The politicians have kept the environmental movement quiet by designating wilderness areas. And in the meantime, they’ve let corporations run completely out of control, and extraordinarily destructively, in the economic landscapes, without any acknowledgement at all that the natural world is out there just the same as it is in the parks.

HNH: At the same time, what I find so inspiring is that, in the localization movement, communities around the world are rebuilding truly healthy economies by diversifying. Those are like little diamonds in the landscape, aren’t they, of beauty and joy.

WB: Those are the examples we need to study and look to. And always that localization depends on a revival of the neighborhood principle. People can only do this if they help each other, and accounts come in my mail of how farmers, for instance, have scaled back, diversified, and increased the number of people who are employed on the land. This, it seems to me, is the incontrovertible answer to these people who say, “We need to give up on human nature and, as a favor to Nature, commit suicide.”

HNH: Another important point is that small, diversified farms always produce more per unit of land, water, and energy than large monocultures. So we have to turn this lie around that there are too many people now to localize, too many people to have small farms. It’s exactly the opposite.

WB: Small farms make economic sense. They also produce more happiness, more beauty, more health—those things that aren’t so quantifiable.

HNH: . . . And more thriving opportunities for wildness within the farm. To change subjects a bit, what do you say when people ask you as an American what you think about Donald Trump and the people who voted for Trump?

WB: Well, there’s far too much generalization now about rural America. Conservatives and corporations have had their eye on rural America all along. And they’ve been turning it into money as fast as they can, which is to say destroying the land and the people. The liberals and the Democrats have discovered rural America now — a place about as foreign to them as it was to Columbus. They don’t know anything about it, and they’ve been condemning it out of hand as if everybody out here in rural America is a racist, sexist, backward, ignorant person. And this isn’t true. The problem is that rural America has been a colony, certainly throughout my lifetime. I don’t think anybody’s paid attention to rural America since about 1945 or ’50. Certainly not since 1952, when Eisenhower’s Secretary of Agriculture said to the farmers: “Get big or get out.” They’ve just abandoned rural America to corporations and technologies. And now, if they would only look out here and try to learn what’s here and the really terrible predicament we’re in, they might be able to construct a policy platform that would be meaningful and would give people a real choice. People voted for Trump not because they liked him but because they saw no hope. They didn’t feel that they could count on the other side. A minister friend of mine wrote me to say that the Trump voters’ grandfathers were priced out of farming. Their parents experienced a generation of union-supported good wages. And they—the grandchildren—don’t have anything to depend on or look forward to. And that’s a bad situation for people to be in, and to expect an enlightened choice from people in that kind of trouble may be asking too much.

HNH: Especially when there is no enlightened offer.

WB: If there was an enlightened alternative, the scene would be different. But I don’t think any presidential candidate has a clue about the existence of rural America, much less the problems that it has.

HNH: Genuine local economies connected to the land have been systematically destroyed in the name of progress and efficiency, and we are now at a point where more than half of the global population has been urbanized. But we do have an opportunity to say in a loud voice, “Let’s push the pause button on this juggernaut that’s pulling people away from real livelihoods, and then start a journey back to the land.” Not everyone has to live on the land, but we need cities that have a relationship with the land around them and that have some breathing space within them so that we regain that contact with nature and with the real source of our livelihoods — with the real economy.

WB: We need people on the land who are capable of acting as a sort of lobby—to defend it, but also to use it well. The terrible humanitarian problems we’re witnessing worldwide have come about because a depreciation of the humanity of great swaths of people has been necessary to their exploitation, to their use as colonies. If you’re going to steal from somebody, you need to convince

yourself that they’re inferior, and then you have to convince them that they’re inferior. I’ve heard too many farmers in meetings who start to speak by saying, “I’m just a farmer and I don’t know much.” They’ve been told that, and it’s false, and it’s a tragedy.

HNH: This is so frightening because throughout the world, in places like China, India, and most of Africa, farmers are being told that rural life and they themselves are backward and primitive, and that if they want to be respected they’ve got to move into the city. And by the millions, they’re pouring into the cities, whether in their own country or in another country, where they’re trying to get a job—but the jobs are not available. And the results include angry reactions that in many cases translate into local ethnic friction, and then into an anger and hatred against the West; even into terrorism. These deepening ideological divides and today’s antagonistic left/right political theater serve to divide us and distract us from the bigger picture of an economic system that is threatening what we all care about: healthy communities and a healthy world.

I’ve heard too many farmers saying, “I’m just a farmer and I don’t know much.” They’ve been told that, and it’s false, and it’s a tragedy.

WB: I think you and I are seeing things from a kind of agrarianism. This has nothing to do with the left and the right. This simply says that the land—the given world—is of ultimate value, and that the caretaking of it is a matter of paramount importance. To argue from those two points puts you outside the current political dialogue. We just have to accept that. But there are more and more people who do understand that. The county governments and city governments are coming to understand that. I don’t think, in America, state governments and the national government can understand it at all. But my county judge would understand our conversation perfectly. The governor of the state would think we were speaking a foreign language.

HNH: Isn’t that so interesting? It’s a pattern that is quite logical, because at the level of the local council the leaders are responding to the realities on the ground: what people need and what the land needs. But when you go up to that higher level, they’re off in their own utopian make-believe world of numbers and statistics. Nevertheless, as you say, there is a waking up—I see awareness trickling upward, and it’s very encouraging—particularly when we know how pressured people have been, and how suppressed. Media, government, funding—it’s not been there to support this agrarian movement and this new farmers’ movement.

WB: But as it trickles up, we just have to make sure that it trickles up from things that actually work: from real knowledge down here at the bottom.

HNH: What we do in our organization [Local Futures] is to encourage people to really understand this global technoeconomic monoculture so that they can be much more strategic as they start these projects. On a policy level, we campaign for a shift in direction to support diversified local and regional economies and for the development of technologies and infrastructure,

which could be useful for those smaller systems. There’s still such a scope, isn’t there, for genuinely appropriate technologies?

WB: Value-adding industries to the products of the land don’t have to be as big as an airplane factory. We now have a very good small slaughter facility, here in our county, again. And this opens up lots of opportunities. My daughter is trying to set up a beef co-op here to market for the farmers—in their interests. And it would be then processed here. Otherwise, it goes out of the community without adding much to the benefit of the community. If our trees leave this community, as raw logs or rough lumber, the community doesn’t benefit much.

HNH: Also, in industrial society the system has driven up the price of human labor and artificially lowered the price of energy and technology, and through that encouraged every single enterprise to use more energy and technology—supporting a system based on speculation in which countries routinely import and export the same products—while throwing more people on the rubbish heap. And if that could be shifted, we would have a completely different economy; we would have a completely different world. The local food movement is demonstrating what can happen when you shorten distances: you encourage a shift from monoculture to diversification on the land; you reduce the energy consumption, the packaging, the refrigeration, and the waste; you provide healthier food at a reasonable price; and you have healthier, more prosperous farming communities.

WB: I was born into a way of farming that used solar energy. And I haven’t forgotten it. We had these solar converters called mules, and human beings, and that’s the way we got the work done.

HNH: Wendell, remind me again how old you are . . .

WB: Well, sometimes, Helena, I think I’m only about twenty. But I’m eighty-four.

HNH: Well, you sound like twenty, and I know you’re strong and healthy like twenty.

WB: I’m not as strong and durable as I used to be by a long way, I can tell you that. I’m perfectly natural.

HNH: Perfectly natural. O

 

Read more by Wendell Berry.

Wendell Berry lives and works with his wife, Tanya Berry, on their farm in Port Royal, Kentucky. An essayist, novelist, and poet, he is the author of more than forty books.Helena Norberg-Hodge is founder and director of the nonprofit Local Futures. Her book Ancient Futures has been translated into more than forty languages.

Comments

  1. Mr. Wendell Berry, Ms. Norberg-Hodge, well said, and important to hear. My work has been to try to tell as many people as possible that we are under the influence of a deadly, infectious Disease, this disease is called “GREED and the LUST for POWER.” Until, and if, a cure can be found, do what we will, nothing will ever change. It will be business as usual, until the last drop of oil is pumped out, the last cubic meter of gas, the last ounces of gold and copper mined, the last fish in the sea netted, and the last dollar removed from the poor man/woman’s pocket, Greed will continue until in the end it will consume its self, but by then the planet will be a dead, barren rock floating lifelessly around the sun.. During the children’s climate march this Friday, one child held a sign that said: “Soon, all we will have left to eat will be the rich!”I can only hope that these wonderful, brave children keep the pressure on our so-called leaders. I am also calling for a World Wide cleanup, to be paid for by all the major polluters. I am a 73 year newbie on computers, and have a lot to learn, I got it as I went deaf and this is a nice way to communicate. We live very simply, 35 years without a T.V., no microwave oven, washer dryer, water heater,(Wood stove is water heated) humanure outhouse, land line phone, even use a rotary dial during power failures,it is also handy for getting right to a human at Gov’t and business offices as they cannot play the Press 1, Press 2, press 3 and hold forever…..We don’t farm any more, but we did for years raise goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, We miss the animals. Well, I have had my say, any comments appreciated…..Orion magazine-I have been a supporter for years now, because I love your work. We also subscribe to Acres Mag.

  2. THANK YOU FOR THIS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, INFORMATIVE INTERVIEW BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY BRING ANSWERS TO SOME OF THESE SUPPOSEDLY UNSOLVABLE QUESTIONS.

  3. Nail on the head! There are examples in Sri Lanka of systems that have survived over the centuries — forest gardens — that have 161 food crops, there is no “hidden hunger” (missing nutrients), and the farmers have been able to adjust to climate change. These gardens are based upon a continual care of the land for more than a thousand years. Then here in SW Virginia, we’re creating agendas at the grassroots and then asking the agencies, politicians, experts at the land grant universities, etc., how they can assist in meeting what is required to move the agendas along. We start with our experts, the farmers, the distributors, and the buyers. There is a demand for grass fed beef? We’re on it and we do a forage management study. If we “bank our grass,” fence part of it off in July, then with as little snow as we’re receiving, cattle graze year round. With the dried hay, farmers purchase corn gluten to supplement the dried hay. The gluten is 24% protein and 70% energy. The banked grass? Twenty-four percent protein and 70% energy. Reduce labor, reduce haying, reduce herd size, and increase profits. Wendell and Helen are right, there are answers on the ground. It’s step by step, we must think in terms of symbiosis. Hi Wendell and Helena!

  4. What a fertile, holistic discussion! Thank you. I have boundless admiration for each person’s work. Wendell’s The Unsettling of America inspired me in the 1980s to pursue and report on alternative economies and small, sustainable industries. The book version of the PBS documentary Affluenza – of which I am a co-author, was partly fueled by Wendell’s ideas about the true economy which lies beneath the so-called bottom line.
    Helena’s work in Ladakh was a testimonial to the tsunami-effect that occurs when media sensationalize the “goods” life. Tradition, craft and place-specific knowledge are swept away in favor of addictive symbols like cell phones and cigarettes. I used her Ancient Futures documentary in a few college courses I taught, with a great, empathetic response from students.

    For twenty-two years, I’ve lived in a 27-household, cooperative neighborhood in Golden, Colorado (based on the Danish model of Cohousing). I wholeheartedly agree with the themes of localism discussed in the article. Our neighborhood shares common land and its maintenance; and importantly, an interest in each other’s well-being. I’m the neighborhood fruit and vegetable grower and I gratefully harvest far more than produce. The community, the garden, and my ability to meet needs within walking distance makes localism a vivid reality for me. I believe that a workable, durable economy can best be created by a more careful look at human needs.

    Living sustainably is the opposite of sacrifice if the sense of mission, the attention to health, and the space for creativity delivers more human energy and less stress than the mainstream lifestyle sometimes called a “Dream.” If meaningful work and worthwhile pastimes make you happy, who needs all the consumer garbage? (Really, does all that stuff symbolize success or failure?) I think a person can either choose passions or addictions as stepping stones. If the overall goal is connection – with other people and with nature – passions like cooking, playing music, or hiking in wild areas can get you there; but addictions to junk food, shopping, or the web will usually leave you feeling like a hunk of leftover meat loaf.

  5. I’ve several used books of Wendell Berry from our local library sales and he has vision of and like those early and great conservationist John Muir and Walden. Your Orion Magazine featured on Living On Earth on NPR is now a new avenue for “rural living fight back” against stupid and selfish profit/productivity freaksand corporations. The new Frankenstein of our Digital Evolutionary time.
    I grew up on a small fruit/vegetable farm and saw my Grandfather and Father change to the trades when blacksmithing and horsepower was surpassed by gasoline cars, cement, and particle board lumber changed the trades.

    I experienced hiring a typist for my college papers to typing my own social work notes on providing services to the disabled for over 20 years after teaching Industrial Arts and drafting houses and machine parts with a T square and using a slide rule for computations in algebra and geometry.

    Reading the thoughts of these two great economic thinkers Helena Norberg-Hodge gives me hope as did Barack Obama and Michelle. Being civil and thoughtful is a skill that must be emphasized so that creativity and effort for community rather than privilege and domination.
    Thanks for being on the radio( my soul listening media) and still free and available to educate while I work around the home and field/forest that occupy my retirement years now.

  6. I love most of what they both said, but one thing seems to be missing, one critical thing. Capitalism is a system of exploitation based mainly on the land exploit. Land is our habitat as humans, and shelter and a place to live are basic needs. Capitalism makes the land too expensive for most people. It end up being the main driver of wage slavery. I am a carpenter to the very rich in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, for instance, and i work all the time in toxic and dangerous environments and my body has been harmed forever by this full time work (sometimes 60 hours a week, even) and yet even at this rate of hard unsustainable work, i cannot afford to buy a small bit of land in this very place where i work for the super rich. Please see Michael Perelman’s book “The Invention of Capitalism” for many sources from the formation time of capitalism about this particular critical relationship between land and the exploitation of the not-rich for labor by the rich. It’s critical to understand this to see the totality of the problem and the dispossession from the land of the majority of people by capitalism. We have here in Berkshire County some of the “Giants of Finance” who come and buy up hundreds of acres and put most of it in “conservation” which actually means it’s locked up virtually forever and people like me cannot afford land and get priced out of the market and end up dying landless. It’s a real tragedy and hurts the land and the people so these rich people can have “glorious estates” in the Berkshires, ego-spreads with orangeries and servants like the aristocracy of old, and yet the very people working to build these pleasuredromes paid by the ill-gotten gains from shell games on Wall Street cannot afford to have a few acres and a homestead with gardens and chickens and a woodshop.

  7. Sage, I think you put your finger on a very key point, and I’m in the same position as you are, though a white collar worker in the NYC area. But at the same time I’m grateful for those conservation areas that have been preserved (especially on Long Island) because they are the closest thing to wilderness I get to enjoy. I don’t think those preserved lands are the problem. Surely we would want both – swaths of parks and preserved areas for everyone’s enjoyment, PLUS the ability for all to own a bit of land or home.

  8. There is ample evidence that it is already too late to prevent near-term extinction of most life on earth. There is also ample evidence that global humanity is pursuing environmental degradation with increasing intensity. Localization has zero chance of saving us, so we need another reason to pursue it. I am pursuing it because it makes economic sense and is simply the morally right and rational approach. Thank you both for making that so crystal clear. Localization is what I want to be doing when the lights go out, and they will go out very soon.

  9. Excellent rapport between these two giants of the cause for wellness! Yeah, those of us awakened see the cause as the unnamed, i.e., neoliberal capitalism. The solution in a word is to “drawback”. Of course, throughout all of this desecration of the natural world, one must look at rapid urbanization as a cause within, or as already stated, the unquestioned, unregulated economic paradigm. It cannot be humanized.

    Yup, The Universe spent 13.75 billion years just to create consumers. hahaha

    The issue with the science telling us we are done or it’s all over for life, is that in order for science to study anything, it must separate the ditty from its component parts. That’s the reductionism. ‘Cept, life does not work that way. It’s all interrelated, all intertwined and it’s all *SACRED*!

Aug 282019
 

NOTE:  The CIB (Canada Infrastructure Bank) in contrast to the Bank of Canada (BofC), see Banksters: Index.

 

2019-08-01_thumb

News

Canada’s biggest public sector union calls the public-private scheme risky and expensive

August 6, 2019

The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) is looking to pressure cash-strapped municipalities into using Public-Private Partnerships to refurbish or replace water and sewage facilities, says a new report by CUPE.

The CIB recently pledged a $20 million investment as seed money to “attract private capital expertise” to the restoration of water and waste water service in Mapleton.

The Liberal government’s press release claims the partnership “demonstrates how the CIB can enable the public and private sectors to improve infrastructure delivery in Canada and help the Township of Mapleton continue to provide households and businesses access to clean drinking water using modern infrastructure.”

François-Philippe Champagne, federal minister for Infrastructure and Communities, is quoted calling the public-private plan a “new model” for cash-strapped cities.

But in a critical report, Canada’s biggest public sector union warns deals like the one in Mapleton actually “lock municipalities into inflexible and expensive contracts.”

“We’re very concerned this could be the start of a bigger push to privatize Canadian water and wastewater services,” CUPE president Mark Hancock told PressProgress.

“The risks include poor performance, which we’ve seen internationally and right here at home,” Hancock said, adding “cash-strapped local governments might feel like they have no other option.”

Hancock noted the City of Hamilton, Ontario took back control over its water and wastewater system in 2004 after private providers oversaw drastic job cuts and massive raw sewage leaks for more than a decade.

In one case, in January 1996, a record 182 million liters of untreated human waste, heavy metals and various chemicals poured into Hamilton Harbour and then into Lake Ontario. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists notes the city put the blame on negligent private operators. McMaster University professors Frank Ohemeng and John K. Grant called it an example of the market’s “failure” to deliver essential services.

CUPE further noted, while P3s may ensure investors’ returns, that money doesn’t fall from the sky. “The local government has to pay those profits, which can get passed on to residents through higher taxes or user fees,” Hancock explained.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau previously refused to rule out using such fees to pay back investors.

Although the Federal Infrastructure Minister claims P3s transfers risk from the public, Hancock says that’s not true: “If a private operator fails, or backs out of a project, the municipality must pick up the pieces and keep delivering the service.”

Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness, says private interests have tended to put only 15% equity at risk, with the rest being bonds that remain with the project.