Flint native and film maker Michael Moore arrived in the city a couple of weeks ago and went right to work gathering information about the origin and extended impact of what’s being nationally referred to as the “Flint Water Crisis”. He has released his article 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will.
Yet another nightmare has surfaced in the Flint, Michigan tragedy where residents are being systemically poisoned by city-supplied drinking water. The city is planning to shut-off water for unpaid bills, despite the fact that the water Flint has served is literally unfit for human consumption – and isn’t safe even for bathing.
The city’s top officials switched from clean water supplied by Detroit for a source that has corroded pipes and led to horrific health effects. The reason for the switch was not motivated by money.
Now, Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched an investigation and he hopes to provide relief to the beleaguered community. NBC reports:
Michigan’s top prosecutor said Monday that it’s an “outrage” that residents of Flint are being forced to pay for water that’s unsafe to drink — and his office may take action to stop the billing.
“Words can barely describe this tragedy. Things went terribly wrong,” AG Bill Schuette said. “I would certainly not bathe a newborn child or a young infant in this bad water and if you can’t drink the bad water you shouldn’t pay for it.”
Flint Residents Are Still Being Forced to Pay for Contaminated Water 0:19
Schuette said his office has begun investigating what steps it could take to provide financial relief to the people of Flint, who were subjected to chemical byproducts, E. coli, Legionnaires’ disease and lead after the city’s water source was switched to the corrosive Flint River in 2014.
It was unclear if Schuette could stop Flint from shutting off water to families who don’t pay their bills … Schuette’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the water emergency to see if any laws were broken, and he announced Monday that a former FBI chief and an ex-prosecutor will lead the probe and report directly to him.
Detroit went to great lengths to remain the water supplies of Flint Michigan, offering them reduction upon reduction. In the end, it would have cost Flint 20% less to remain with Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) than it did to take the deal of Karegnondi Water Authority, which lead to the poisoning of the people of Detroit.
The switch was made at the direction of an Emergency City Manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
A high-ranking DWSD official told us today that Detroit offered a 50% reduction over what Flint had been paying Detroit. In fact, documents show that DWSD made at least six proposals to Flint, saying “the KWA pipeline can only be attributed to a ‘political’ objective that has nothing to do with the delivery – or the price – of water.”
The offer by DWSD raises serious questions about whether Gov. Rick Snyder was lying when he insisted the water switch was motivated by saving money for Flint, which was under the control of a state emergency manager.
“When compared over the 30 year horizon the DWSD proposal saves $800 million dollars or said differently – saves 20% over the KWA proposal,” then-DWSD Director Sue McCormick said in the e-mail dated April 15, 2013.
Flint native and filmmaker Michael Moore has been on the ground for a couple of weeks, looking into what happened and what can be done to help the good people of the city.
Flint, Michigan has followed in *Detroit’s footsteps, attacking residents’ access to one of the two most important elements required for living: clean water (the other is air). Two city managers appointed by Gov. Snyder colluded to deprive 100,000 people of access to Great Lakes water via the Detroit Water Authority by switching to the Flint River, a salty source which has caused pipe corrosion and has resulted in lead poisoning in young children and health issues across the general population. The Ford factory also soon learned that Flint River water was ruining its equipment:
One of the most telling moments in this saga was when General Motors disconnected from the Flint River because the water was ruining its machinery, leaving some to wonder — if it was doing that to machines, what was it doing to humans?
On the Dr Boyce Watkins show, Roosevelt Mitchell III and Vanessa Lynn discuss the horrific situation Flint is confronting and residents’ hopes that the federal government will step in with a solution to this crisis.
…the Genesee County health department declared a public health emergency, recommending that people not drink the water unless it has been filtered and tested to rule out elevated levels of lead. More steps will be announced Friday.
County Commissioner Brenda Clack told residents that infants and children should not use the water coming from the taps in the city of Flint.
“Individuals who have respiratory conditions should not use the water, pregnant women should not use the water – it’s imperative that they not use the water,” she urged.
However, it is unclear what people were expected to drink and cook with. Early on, FEMA stepped in to provide some bottled water – but only a few thousand liters … General Motors and local non-profits donated to buy filters – but only for 5,000 residents. It remains unclear today how close the city government has come to fulfilling the promise made in October to provide filters for all homes and businesses, and when a source of clean water will be available again.
The Flint Water Board allowed the switch to be made without requiring adequate testing to ensure that residents’ health would not be compromised.
Added later in the day: Detroit Free Press reports that Gov. Snyder, in a move calculated to shift the blame away from himself, called for the resignation of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant, which was tendered today.
*In April 2015, the City of Detroit began shutting off the water for 40% of the city’s residents after giving 10 days’ advance notice.
To avoid carbon monoxide hazard/poisoning when using a portable generator:
• Always use generators outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents.
• NEVER use generators in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
• Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
• Install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery backup) carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home, following manufacturer’s instructions.
• Test CO alarms often and replace batteries when needed.
To Avoid Electrical Hazards:
• Keep the generator dry. Operate on a dry surface under an open, canopy- like structure.
• Dry your hands before touching the generator.
• Plug appliances directly into generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor- rated extension cord. Make sure the entire extension cord is free of cuts or tears and the plug has all 3 prongs, especially a grounding pin.
• NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as backfeeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer.
• If necessary to connect generator to house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install appropriate equipment. Or, your utility company may be able to install an appropriate transfer switch.
To Avoid Fire Hazards:
• Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
• Always store fuel outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass containers.
• Store fuel away from any fuel-burning appliance.
Tim Knight shares a review of the book. Now I can’t wait to read it.
Excerpt from the preface
The ruthless hunt for profit creates a world where everything and everyone is expendable. Nothing is sacred. It has blighted inner cities, turned the majestic Appalachian Mountains into a blasted moonscape of poisoned water, soil, and air. It has forced workers into a downward spiral of falling wages and mounting debt until laborers in agricultural fields and sweatshops work in conditions that replicate slavery. It has impoverished our working class and ravaged the middle class. And it has enriched a tiny global elite that has no loyalty to the nation-state. These corporations, if we use the language of patriotism, are traitors.
I just finished Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. It is superb, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time typing in passages from the book below in order to capture some of its theme.
The “me” of twenty years ago wouldn’t be caught dead reading a book like this. It is, after all, an unflinching assasination of our present capitalist system. As a younger person, I was wholeheartedly (and more than a little ignorantly) devoted to a dog-eat-dog, lassiez-faire capitalist system. And, in my adult life, I have lived that way, at least inasmuch as I created, built, and sold a successful business and have, before, during, and after that time, been a very active participant in the financial markets (both by way of trading as well as writing).
Experience and observation have moderated my views, however. At the outset I will say that I still regard capitalism as the most proper, natural, and constructive economic system, but I’m a much firmer believer in a modified version – – consistently-regulated with a distribution of wealth more akin to the 1970s than the present day – – than I ever imagined I would be.
There are several broad regions of the United States covered in the book, including the Indian reservations of South Dakota; the mean streets of Camden; the wretched lives of the produce-pickers in Southern Florida; and the “moonscape” of West Virginia’s coal country. It is this last area that includes a talk with Larry Gibson, an activist in West Virginia who grew up there, had to leave for a while due to family poverty, and has returned to try to fight for the region’s sake. He says the following, which is perhaps my favorite section of the entire book:
“Living here as a boy, I wasn’t any different than anybody else. First time I knew I was poor was when I went to Cleveland and went to school They taught me I was poor. I traded all this for a strip of green I saw when I walking the street. And I was poor? How ya gonna get a piece of green grass between the sidewalk and the street, and they gonna tell me I’m poor. I thought I was the luckiest kid in the world, with nature. I could walk through the forest. I could hear the animals. I could hear the woods talk to me. Everywhere I looked there was life. I could pick my own apples or cucumbers. I could eat the berries and pawpaws. I love pawpaws. And they gooseberries. Now there is no life there. Only dust. I had a pigeon and when I’d come out of the house, no matter where I went, he flew over my head or sat on my shoulder. I had a hawk I named Fred, I had a bobcat and a three-legged fox that got caught in a trap. I wouldn’t trade that childhood for all the fancy fire trucks and toys the other kids had.
Excerpts from Barry Ritholtz article. It’s a good read with links to many reports and other articles.
Fukushima will start burning radioactive debris containing up to 100,000 becquerels of (highly) radioactive cesium per kilogram . . . even the Japanese – who have raised acceptable levels of radiation to absurd levels – would normally demand that material with this radioactivity be encased in cement and buried . . . many of the incinerators are located smack dab in the middle of crowded cities, and are not equipped to contain radiation.
(Nuclear expert Arnie) Gundersen says that radioactivity from the burnt debris will end up not only in neighboring prefectures, but in Hawaii, British Columbia, Oregon, Washington and California. Gundersen said that burning radioactive debris is basically re-creating the Fukushima disaster all over again, as it is releasing a huge amount of radioactivity which had settled on the ground back into the air.
It is bad enough that radiation from Fukushima is spreading across the Pacific to the United States through air and water, that the Japanese are underplaying the enormous threat posed by the spent fuel pools, and that the Japanese have engaged in a massive cover-up of the severity of the Fukushima crisis. But intentionally burning radioactive debris to try to cover up the problem – and spreading radiation worldwide in the process – is an entirely separate affront.
In addition to burning radioactive debris, Japan intends to build tents over the leaking Fukushima reactors. While this sounds like a way to contain the radiation, it would actually funnel it straight up and spread it globally . . .