Meldungen (Feeds)

The Teflon Toxin Goes to China

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 15/09/2016 - 15:00

Standing on a concrete bridge above the Xiaoqing River, a farmer named Wu shook his head as he gazed down at the water below. Wu, who is 61, used to be able to see all the way to the bottom. And he and others in Cuijia, a village of about 2,000 in China’s Shandong province, used to swim at this very spot. There were so many turtles he could easily stab one with his forked spear, he recalled on a steamy Saturday in July. To catch some of the many fish, he simply threw a net into the water, he said, moving his arms as he spoke in a gesture that has survived in his muscle memory long after most of the fish have disappeared.

The Xiaoqing flows 134 miles through the major cities of Zibo, Binzhou, and Dongying in Shandong province. Tens of millions of people depend on it. In Jinan, which is close to the river’s origin, human and livestock waste and runoff from fertilizers and pesticides have caused the water to stink in recent years. But downstream from Jinan, waste from factories has compounded the river’s problems.

Directly translated from Chinese, the word “Xiaoqing” means “clean and clear.” But here in Cuijia, the water is neither. From the bridge, you can see debris and garbage swirling atop the forceful rush of brown. Occasionally, bits of plastic and something that looks like Styrofoam float by. But what may be most dangerous in the Xiaoqing River isn’t visible: perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, long used by DuPont in the production of Teflon, among other products, and linked to cancer and other diseases. Because Cuijia lies downstream from a factory that emits more PFOA than any other industrial facility in the world, levels of the chemical at various points near here are among the highest ever reported, reaching more than 500 times the safety level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently set for drinking water. The plant, operated by a company called Dongyue Group, is the world’s biggest producer of Teflon and emits 350 pounds of PFOA every day, an amount that totals 63 tons in a single year, according to a recent estimate.

DuPont and seven other companies agreed to phase out the use and production of PFOA in the United States by 2015, after lawsuits and protracted negotiations with the EPA. Keeping toxic chemicals at bay in countries that have relatively strong environmental regulations is a Herculean task that, in the case of PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, is still underway. Though this effort can consume the energies of Western environmentalists, the story doesn’t end when they push a toxic chemical beyond their borders. In China, that’s often when a chemical’s life begins in earnest.

As we stood next to the river, Wu looked out across the landscape. He wore blue plastic sandals and baggy gray pants. A shovel, from which two empty plastic buckets hung, lay across his shoulders, and as he listened to translations of my questions he nodded slightly. He had never heard of PFOA, he said, and didn’t know the exact causes of his village’s problems. There may be many. The Dongyue plant isn’t the only factory that disposes of its waste in the water. Wu said a paper mill upstream also puts waste into the river. And Dongyue itself makes many chemicals in addition to PFOA.

But Wu understands well that something has profoundly changed the river he has relied on his whole life. For more than a decade, the people of Cuijia have watched as their crops have stopped thriving. The corn does better than the wheat, he said, but both have become harder to cultivate. Recently, his wheat crop failed altogether, imperiling his family’s meager income.

Then there’s the sickness. More and more people in Cuijia have been falling ill and dying, he said, often with cancer and at a young age. When I asked whether any of them got medical help or reimbursement for their doctors’ bills when they became sick, Wu guffawed theatrically, putting one hand over his belly and turning his face to the side, as if some invisible presence would appreciate the absurdity of my idea. After his laughter subsided, he explained that some of the villagers had recently reported the increase in pollution and cancer to the local government, but had received no response.

Water collected at the confluence of the Zhulong River and the Xiaoqing River tested very high for PFOA.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

In 2005, a class-action suit against DuPont over contamination in West Virginia and Ohio set off the first alarms about PFOA, also known as C8 because of its 8-carbon molecule. In the intervening years, the attorney overseeing that case has waged a campaign to get the government to regulate the chemical in the U.S. But until recently, concern about perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, in the U.S. remained the preoccupation of a small group of scientists and legal experts. It was only in the past year, as PFOS from firefighting foam was discovered in the water near hundreds of military bases, and communities around the country found PFOA and other PFCs in their drinking water, that awareness blossomed into outrage.

Around the world — from Hoosick Falls, New York, to Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, Holland, Sweden, and several parts of Australia — communities have begun to understand not only that the chemicals have been in their water for years but also that the contamination continued after industry scientists knew PFOA and PFOS persisted indefinitely in the environment, accumulated in human bodies, and affected health.

Yet by the time that information made its way to the public, the contamination was too great to be completely cleaned up, and PFCs were already in the vast majority of human bodies. A 2007 study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control found that 99.7 percent of Americans over 12 had trace amounts of PFOA in their blood, while 99.9 percent had PFOS. The contamination begins even before birth, according to a 2006 study, which detected PFOA in 99.3 percent of umbilical cord blood.

Workers repairing a sluice on the Zhulong River fish on the Xiaoqing River during their lunch break. One worker said, “These little fish can take a lot. Ordinary pollution won’t kill them.”

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

The health consequences of this massive exposure are still coming into focus. In 2012, more than 60 years after PFOA was first produced by 3M and sold to DuPont to help make Teflon, a panel of scientists linked the chemical to thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, preeclampsia, and high cholesterol, as well as kidney and testicular cancer. Although debate continues about the precise dangers the chemicals present and what amount — if any — is safe to ingest, researchers have seen an association between PFOA and other health problems, including decreased immune function, impaired sperm quality, and low birth weight in humans, and pancreatic and liver cancer in lab animals. A recent EPA report on PFOS and drinking water also noted possible links with bladder, colon, and prostate cancer as well as reduced fertility.

This mounting knowledge has translated into action in many places — if slowly and, some argue, inadequately. The European Union officially deemed PFOA a “substance of very high concern” in 2013, a designation reserved for chemicals that have “serious and often irreversible effects on human health and the environment.” Production and use of both chemicals has subsequently ceased throughout most of Europe, Japan, and Canada. And in response to outrage over contamination, one Australian state recently banned firefighting foam that contains PFOS.

In the U.S., an agreement between the chemical industry and the EPA brought all production and use of PFOA and PFOS to an end last year. And in May, in part because of concern in communities that had discovered PFOA and PFOS in their water supplies, the EPA came up with voluntary standards limiting the amount of both chemicals in drinking water to .07 parts per billion (ppb). This week, New Jersey’s Drinking Water Quality Institute recommended a much lower standard, .014 ppb, one-fifth that of the federal EPA. The U.S. Air Force just announced that it would replace its PFOS-containing firefighting foam with a safer substitute, and people exposed to the chemicals in their water have sued both the U.S. Navy and private companies.

Yet while most of the world was phasing out PFOA and PFOS and beginning to address the problems they had caused, the chemicals emerged in countries with fewer restrictions. There is some evidence that India and Russia have recently used PFOA to make Teflon and that Russia may also be manufacturing the chemical. But it’s in China that the business has truly boomed, keeping global output of PFOA and PFOS steady even as the industry ground to a virtual halt everywhere else.

A shift change at a chemical factory owned by the Dongyue Group.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

China is now the world’s biggest source of both PFOA and PFOS. Between 2004 and 2012, as the West was scaling down its PFOA production, China’s production and emissions roughly tripled, according to one 2015 study. Though it’s impossible to quantify precisely, the country now makes somewhere between 64 and 292 tons of PFOA per year, most of which is released directly into the water and air. Total PFOA emissions in China may be as high as 168 tons per year, according to one recent estimate. And both production and emissions are predicted to continue through at least 2030. China also produces somewhere between 110 and 220 tons of PFOS a year, more than any other country.

So while Teflon began as a quintessentially American brand, China now manufactures most of the world’s supply of the slippery substance, which is used in dental floss, textile fibers, wire and cable insulation, and hundreds of other products, including nonstick cookware. The Dongyue plant in Shandong used PFOA to make more than 49,000 tons of Teflon in 2013 as well as four other products, including PVDF, a compound used in the semiconductor, medical, and defense industries.

Though they’re toxic, persistent, and accumulate in human bodies, PFOA and PFOS are by no means the only contaminants China has to worry about — or the most dangerous. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, which cause cancer, lung problems, and brain damage, have made one-fifth of the country’s farmland too polluted for growing food. Air pollution, which has reached hazardous levels in at least 83 cities — and in some places, as much as 20 times recommended levels — is perhaps the country’s most visible problem and is contributing to soaring lung cancer rates.

The nation’s water crisis is just as dire. More than 80 percent of China’s underground water supply is unfit for human consumption and almost two-thirds is unfit for any human contact, according to a government report released earlier this year. Some 300 million people —almost equivalent to the entire U.S. population — lack access to clean drinking water, and an estimated 190 million have become sick from drinking water polluted with everything from pesticides to heavy metals, toxic waste, and oil spills.

The Yangtze, bustling with cargo ships.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

If PFCs aren’t China’s most pressing environmental problem, they are the most pronounced example of a global pattern that helps explain how the country came to be one of the most polluted in the world.

PFOA and PFOS are just the latest in a steady stream of chemicals to make the journey to China after being cast off by countries that have deemed them unacceptably hazardous. Production of short-chain chlorinated paraffins, which are used as lubricants and coolants in metal cutting, shot up 30-fold in China as these chemicals were coming under EPA scrutiny. Similarly, China is now the world’s biggest producer of HBCD, a flame retardant the EPA recently targeted for action. And the aniline dye industry migrated from the U.S. to China after it was well established that the chemicals involved are carcinogenic.

“I call it the leftovers problem,” said Joe DiGangi, who works for IPEN, a network of organizations in 116 countries devoted to protecting health and the environment from toxic chemicals. “Often a chemical comes under public or regulatory pressure in the EU or the U.S. and then shortly thereafter, Chinese companies begin producing it,” said DiGangi. China and the other developing countries that inherit it, he said, “often don’t have the adequate infrastructure to regulate, monitor, and deal with it safely.”

A motor scooter driver wearing a face mask passes by the Chemours plant in Changshu.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

This global migration of toxic chemicals across borders can help explain why the Changshu Advanced Materials Industrial Park sprang up in 2001, just as the first suit over PFOA contamination in West Virginia was being filed and PFCs were coming under the scrutiny of the EPA. Originally named the Chiangsu High-Tech Fluorine Chemical Industrial Park, the almost 6-square-mile campus in the Yangtze River Delta is home to more than 40 factories. With an output of 31,000 tons per year, it is China’s second largest source of Teflon after the Dongyue plant. Many of the factories in the park produce fluorochemicals, and several of them are operated by companies that used or made PFOA and PFOS in the U.S. until recently, such as Solvay Solexis, Arkema, and Daikin. (Solvay Solexis, Arkema, and Daikin did not respond to requests for comment.)

DuPont, which made Teflon a household name, also built a plant here in 2008 at a cost of $80 million. In July 2015, it passed the facility on to a new company called Chemours, when it spun off its performance chemical division. In July 2016, Chemours announced it would invest $15 million to expand its Changshu Works plant to augment the company’s “already considerable presence in China” and increase Teflon output. (Chemours did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

With its own fire station and heat, water, power, sewage, and postal systems, the Changshu industrial center is like a small self-contained city. A giant modern sculpture and the flags of more than a dozen nations adorn its entrance, and manicured shrubbery lines its freshly paved roads. Changshu’s website lays out grand plans for the park, predicting that it “will become a paradise for technological development, a powerful treasure land and an ecologically harmonious auspicious land.”

But after more than a decade of operations, residents of a nearby village called Haiyu have planted corn between and around the neatly spaced buildings. Although the crop appears to be fed at least in part with wastewater, one of the villagers told me that people in Haiyu eat the corn as they always have, cooking it on the cob and grinding up whatever’s left to make dough for noodles.

A ship worker descends into a storage container to clean up chloroform after a shipment.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

One family of three even made their home on one of the park’s many crisscrossing canals, mooring their old wooden boat under an overpass that a plaque identified as the “DuPont Bridge.” Although the labels on the pipes lining the canal made it clear that at least some of them carried industrial waste, the family had been living there for some time, ferrying chemicals between the factories. Their boat was festooned with drying laundry.

A short drive from DuPont Bridge, a man wearing a Paddington T-shirt bearing a picture of the bear eating a sandwich was fishing in another canal. He sat under a thatch of trees across from a factory, dangling a wooden rod into the water below as brown waves lapped at the mouth of a pipe that opened onto the stone-lined canal. The man told me he worked at one of the factories. This was a Sunday, and though he didn’t have to work, he had ridden 40 minutes on his motorbike to try his luck fishing. He’s spent most of his days off this way over the past four years. And in that short time he had noticed the number and quality of the fish in the canals worsen. That morning, it had taken several hours just to catch the six small fish in the plastic bucket beside him.

Scientists might have predicted the size and yield of his catch, since PFOA has been shown to harm fish exposed to it. The chemical causes male fish to develop female reproductive cells and the ovaries of female fish to degrade. Contaminated food may account for as much as 90 percent of human exposure to PFOA and PFOS.

There are plenty of both chemicals in this water. In fact, in 2013 the scientists measured some of the highest concentrations of PFCs ever reported in China right here in this industrial park. But the man in the Paddington shirt said he wasn’t terribly concerned. He’s careful to switch fishing spots if the water begins to smell bad or turns an odd color. He had just recently stopped fishing at a nearby canal when its water turned an electric blue. He said the fish he caught at other spots sometimes tasted bad, but these were delicious, especially when stewed with soy sauce and spices over a small fire.

Ni Jiahui, director of the Changshu park, wrote in an email that wastewater in the park was pre-treated at factories and then sent to the park’s wastewater treatment plant and that factories’ exhaust systems have to pass an environmental assessment. Ni also acknowledged in his email that boats are present in the park and that people farm and fish amid the factories. “I think having people fishing and farming in the industrial park are indications that our chemicals production has not caused any problem to the environment,” he wrote. “Otherwise no one would fish here.”

A deckhand washes a ship used to transport chemicals.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

Just as in the U.S., the production of PFCs in China has been followed by a rise of the chemicals in the environment — and in people. As scientists traced the growing presence of these chemicals in water and fish, they were also able to document increasing levels in human blood by looking at several students and faculty members at a university in the northern city of Shenyang. Between 1987 and 2002, the level of PFOA increased 54-fold, while blood levels of PFOS increased by a factor of 747. Since then, they have crept up further, especially in factory workers and commercial fisherman.

You can also find the molecules in dust and air, as one study recently did, documenting a 12-mile plume of PFOA-contaminated air that surrounds the Dongyue plant in Shandong. The level of PFOA in the nearby Zhulong River was recently measured at 10,379 ppb, more than 148,000 times what the U.S. had deemed safe.

Yet other than guards who discouraged passing cars from slowing, nothing seemed particularly menacing about the Dongyue plant. The factory entrance was plastered with colorful billboards with reassuring English messages, such as “Safety and environmental protection are the first value of the Dongyue group,” and “Taking good care of yourself is the best love to your mother.”

Just over 5 miles away, in a small farming village called Bozhadian, the residents seemed well aware of the river’s problems. An elderly man who was ushering his herd of goats across a bridge over the Zhulong said that no one fishes in the river anymore. And the proprietor of the local corner store said simply, “The water’s not good there.”

A villager fishes in a tributary of the Zhulong River, hooking fish of only about 5 centimeters. The sign reads “Chromium Slag Remediation.”

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

The people I spoke with in Bozhadian hadn’t heard about the scientific studies that carefully traced the PFOA in their water back to the nearby plant. They used other numbers to describe the Dongyue factory, which provides critical employment in this village of roughly 1,000. One woman sitting on a wooden stool outside the corner store told me that her son makes 3,000 yuan per month working there. Broken down over the 20 12-hour shifts he works, the pay comes to about $1.87 an hour. It’s not much by U.S. — or even Chinese — standards. But it’s still more than he would likely make farming. Not far from where we sat, a smokestack and cooling tank towered over cornfields where, at 68, the woman still harvests and plants. She smiled proudly as she described her son’s job, which seemed to involve surveying operations while sitting at a computer.

Low labor costs and a lack of environmental regulation helped draw American and European chemical companies to China. Since the late 1970s, when Deng Xiaoping opened the country’s economy to the world, the chemical industry has been at the heart of its dazzling growth. In the past four decades, the Chinese chemical sector has grown faster than that of almost any other country. From 2000 to 2010, production of chemicals nearly tripled. By 2010, industry sales totaled more than $754 billion a year.

Yet knowledge of the environmental hazards of industrial chemicals — and how to address them — has not always made the trip.

Since 2006, when it first negotiated the phaseout of both PFOA and PFOS in the U.S., the EPA has also required companies to drastically reduce their emissions of the chemicals. And each of the eight companies that participated readily began recycling and incinerating PFOA after using it. Companies in Japan and Western Europe also instituted recycling.

Yet in China, these straightforward techniques of disposing of PFOA appear to be the rare exception. Scientists I contacted agreed that releasing the chemical waste directly into waterways and the air seemed to be the norm. “The best available treatment technique is not used in China despite that this would be a very cost-efficient and easy way to drastically reduce emissions of PFOA,” Robin Vestegren, an environmental researcher at Stockholm University, wrote in an email.

The Dongyue Group declined a request to be interviewed for this story, but a spokesperson wrote in an email that the company denies researchers’ claims that its emissions contribute to water pollution in the Xiaoqing River. The email also said that the Chinese government has installed a 24-hour monitoring system in its factory, and that its emissions comply with government regulations. “Dongyue values environmental protection above all things,” the company spokesperson added.

But Vestegren and his colleagues in China recently calculated how much PFOA the plant would emit based on its Teflon production, and found that the number was very close to the actual amount they measured in the Xiaoqing River. (A small amount of the chemical is also emitted through the air.) Vestegren wrote that he was confident the plant “has not installed any treatment technology.”

You can even see the differences in practice between plants belonging to the same company. In the U.S., DuPont greatly reduced its emissions of PFOA after coming under scrutiny. Workers’ blood levels dropped, too. The amount of PFOA in workers at its New Jersey plant was down to an average of 1,644 ppb by 2007 and had dropped to 1,110 by 2009. But in China, the levels of PFOA in workers’ blood reached an average of 2,250 ppb within the first year of operation of the Changshu plant.

As the Dongyue Group factory is enveloped in thick haze, workers just coming off the night shift are heading home.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

The EPA action that marked the beginning of the end of PFOA and PFOS in the U.S. might have raised red flags about the chemicals here, too. At least one Chinese news outlet, the Shanghai Star, covered the story in July 2004, when the EPA first charged DuPont with failing to report the risks of PFOA. Although it described the chemical as posing “a potential threat to health,” the Star noted that the Chinese government didn’t have the technology necessary to do its own safety tests.

DuPont’s international messaging team was quick to fill in the blanks. Shortly after the news broke, two senior staff members from DuPont’s Beijing office took part in a talk show on sina.com, one of the largest Chinese-language websites, offering assurances that there was no link between PFOA and health hazards and noting that “administrative reporting requirements in the U.S.” had led to a “misunderstanding about the quality of the products.” On its Chinese website, DuPont proclaimed that the company had used the chemical “safely” for 50 years and, according to the story, that “there is no PFOA in Teflon product.”

Neither statement was true — there were trace amounts of PFOA in Teflon, and DuPont had known for years about the health effects of PFOA on its workers and lab animals. But the effort seems to have quelled any nascent controversy in China over the chemical.

In an emailed statement, a DuPont spokesperson wrote that the company “always acted responsibly based on the health and environmental information that was available to the industry and regulators about PFOA at the time of its usage.”

The driver of a Dongyue Group cargo truck cleans up rainwater from the previous night.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

Although Yongqi Guo runs the only NGO devoted to industrial pollution in Shandong province, which is home to more than 100 million people and the factory that emits more PFOA than any other in the world, he hadn’t heard of the chemical or any of the other PFCs. Guo, who met me in the city of Jinan and walked with me along the bank of the Xiaoqing River, founded Green Qilu in 2012 and since then, has had his hands full with everything from water testing to caring for people living in several “cancer villages” in the heavily industrialized province.

Small organizations like Guo’s, which has only four full-time staff members, often rely on volunteers. More than 100 have come forward to help Green Qilu. For now, most pitch in by participating in the “black and smelly river project,” which involves visiting local waterways and reporting on whether they reek or have an odd color. The project, which is sponsored by the central government’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, has already yielded an alarming picture of the extent of water contamination nationwide. But going further — figuring out which particular contaminants are causing the changes or taking steps to remove them — is a trickier business.

Part of the problem is financial. It’s expensive to train volunteers and test water for individual chemicals. The Chinese government made a huge step in 2013 by requiring factories not only to perform certain tests on their wastewater but also to make the water itself available for independent testing. Environmentalists around the country, including Guo, have begun to collect samples. But, while more than 40,000 types of chemical products are made in China, Guo can usually only afford to test for one or two and sometimes opts for tests that simply characterize the water as good, fair, or poor.

An even bigger challenge is a fear of reprisal that hovers over environmental work in China. Businesses often don’t take kindly to citizen oversight. And if protestors are perceived as undermining the government, the consequences can be dire. Guo said Green Qilu’s volunteers wouldn’t be comfortable investigating industrial water contamination because “they’re hesitant that the factories will do something to them or their families.” And even though he is careful to file all the appropriate papers and follow all government regulations, he sometimes worries that the work will somehow cause problems for his own family.

Simply documenting levels of various substances in air, soil, and water can be a risky pursuit. Several of the Chinese researchers I spoke with who track the presence of PFOA said they didn’t want to be mentioned by name. And one environmentalist, Mao Da, told me of his difficulties finding epidemiologists to work on a survey of people living near waste incinerators. “The university professors didn’t want to do it because they didn’t want to have trouble,” Da said, adding that “data collection can be very hard because the local government may try to stop you.”

The Fushan River is heavily polluted.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

Despite the potential consequences of sticking their necks out, many have. In recent years, environmental protests have become the most common form of public demonstration, which has helped bring the country to a distinct turning point. While activists still sometimes face arrest and detention, Chinese authorities seem increasingly tolerant of their occasional outbursts and view pollution itself as a greater threat to the social order than protests over it.

The country’s new environmental protection law, which went into effect last year, may be the best evidence of the seriousness with which the Chinese government is now approaching the crisis. The law lifted what had been a low ceiling on fines that government officials could impose on polluters and for the first time authorized environmental organizations to sue over pollution. The first successful verdict came in June.

The youth of the environmental movement and the severity of the mess it has sprung up to address make this an odd — and, in some ways, hopeful — moment for China. “It’s like the late ’60s in America,” said Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based organization the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. “The issue is so bad and so obvious,” it’s become virtually impossible to ignore. “We feel quite lucky. It’s one of the few areas where we have so much social consensus.”

Ma has been thinking about China’s pollution problem for a long time, first as a journalist, and for the past 10 years, as head of the venture that came up with perhaps the cleverest way to fix it. To Ma, the most vexing aspect of China’s situation was the lack of transparency. Large companies throughout the world had outsourced their dirty chemical work to China, but few were keeping track of what these companies were doing with their waste. The big foreign companies sometimes didn’t even know which companies were supplying their chemicals, let alone what their environmental practices were. “The supply chain was a black box,” said Ma.

IPE has managed to shine light into that box by harnessing both the Chinese government’s amped up commitment to tracking pollution and the internet’s power for public shaming. The organization created a database that allows multinational and local brands to see whether their Chinese suppliers comply with the law, using data that factories are now obligated to report about their waste. It also synthesized information on companies such as Adidas, H&M, Zara, and Dell — whether they screen their suppliers or even attempt to identify pollution problems, for instance — into handy online charts available in English.

Unfortunately, IPE’s online tool has very little information on PFOA or PFOS, since reporting on the use of these chemicals is still voluntary. But you can get a sense of some of the companies that still use these chemicals from the EPA’s website.

A wastewater discharge site near the Zhulong River. The signs read “Danger: Discharge Site with Deep Water. Take Caution.”

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

Last January, the EPA issued a rule limiting products containing PFCs based on chains of seven more carbons. (PFOA and PFOS have eight.) As a result, companies wishing to import any materials made with long-chain PFCs would have to request exemptions. The list of manufacturers and industry groups that did includes Texas Instruments, the Motorcycle Industry Council, Tyco Fire Protection Products, Gelest, Hewlett Packard, the High Speed Wax Company, Intel, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, the American Coatings Association, and the Semiconductor Industry Association.

In some cases, the rationale for requesting an exemption seemed to be based on the unique qualities of PFCs. (PFOA gives ski racers an inimitable glide, for instance.) But for many manufacturers, the challenge appeared to be logistical. A letter from the Association of Global Automakers described the average car as “a complex web of systems and networks, containing more than 30,000 unique components sourced from thousands of suppliers around the world.” Thus, it concluded, removing the chemicals would pose “significant challenges to the automotive sector.”

A villager living in Dongba village outside Zibo, Shandong, raises sheep for a living near a chemical plant owned by the Dongyue Group.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

Given the heft of the industries and the number of countries involved in the chemical trade, it would be folly to think that China — or any nation — could tackle the problem alone. This was the idea behind the Stockholm Convention, a treaty adopted in 2001 as a way for countries to collectively stop the migration of toxic chemicals, which move across borders not just by way of changing regulations and market forces but also wind and ocean currents. The convention focuses on chemicals that persist in the environment and build up in people’s bodies. PCBs and DDT were among the first “dirty dozen” it targeted.

But even with the backing of 179 countries, including China, the Stockholm Convention has made slow progress. The convention added PFOS to the list of substances to be restricted in 2009. Implementation of the order didn’t begin until 2014. Even then, industries petitioned for exemptions, and loopholes were carved out for the use of PFOS in firefighting foam, liquid crystal displays, color printers, and decorative plating. A precursor of PFOS can still be used to control red fire ants, and China ships between 30 and 50 tons of it each year to Brazil, which has used and then dumped much of the stuff.

When I visited the office responsible for implementing the Stockholm Convention in China, on the outskirts of Beijing, the staff had recently finished hosting a delegation from North Korea. To put the enormity of their burden in some perspective, they had been coaching the North Koreans on how to eliminate PCBs, chemicals the rest of the world stopped making decades ago. In addition to overseeing the Stockholm Convention project throughout the Pacific region, which includes many countries that are much further behind in terms of eliminating the chemicals than China, the office is also responsible for administering the Basel Convention, a separate treaty governing the transnational movement of hazardous waste.

All of which helps explain why their efforts to reduce PFOS in China through the convention are just getting underway. “We’re just in the beginning to investigate how much of the chemical occurs,” one staff member told me. “China is a very big country. We have a lot of industry. We need some time.”

In the coming weeks, a committee is expected to take the first steps toward adding PFOA to the convention’s list. Though participating governments probably won’t make a final decision until at least 2019, it seems likely that at some point not too far in the future, that chemical, too, will start inching closer to elimination.

Chemical plants in the Changshu Advanced Materials Industrial Park.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

This is often how things work for toxic leftovers; as constraints on them grow, many chemicals wind up coming to China just to die a slow death.

“The country may get a few years out of it,” IPEN’s DiGangi said of PFOS, which itself was a substitution for another chemical, Halon, that was produced in China and phased out in the 1980s because it was depleting the ozone layer. For the PFCs, foreign companies have already taken the next step, replacing PFOA and PFOS with similar molecules that are based on shorter-carbon chains. DuPont, for instance, swapped out PFOA for a chemical it calls GenX.

Indeed, Ni Jiahui, the director of the Changshu industrial park, said that because of safety concerns, both PFOS and PFOA have now been replaced with shorter-chain PFCs. The most recent testing, done in 2012, showed both these replacement molecules and PFOA were present in the water around the park.

While new testing could help clarify that the park has since exclusively switched to shorter-chain replacements such as GenX, it’s difficult to confirm whether companies have phased out chemicals. For instance, one group of German scientists led by Franziska Heydebreck recently measured extremely high levels of 8- and 10-carbon chain compounds inside a Chinese textile manufacturing plant that supposedly had switched to shorter-chain replacement PFCs.

Because many of the shorter-chain PFCs do not appear to be much safer than PFOA and PFOS, even if companies do switch to these molecules, they will likely wind up having to swap out these replacements as they are targeted for global elimination.

The justification for adopting these cast-off chemicals is financial, of course. Yet, many of the leftovers that were big moneymakers in their earlier years aren’t as lucrative in the last stage of their lives. As China has become the main producer of Teflon in recent years, its price has dropped.

Whether because of this or the broader economic forces that have squeezed the Chinese chemical industry, business was slow for the family living on the boat under DuPont Bridge. In the past month, the woman said, she had ferried only a single load of chemicals over the canals of the Changshu industrial park and was worried about how her family would survive.

A few miles away, in a hotpot restaurant in the small city of Fushan, two men also pondered the business of making a living at the chemical park. The name “Fushan” translates to “Fortune Mountain.” But given its proximity to the factories that make PFCs, some locals have darkly joked that the town ought to be called “Fluorochemical Mountain,” which sounds very similar in Chinese.

A couple waits on the Fushan River for assignments transporting chemicals.

Photo: Jiang Mei for ChinaFile/The Intercept

One of the men worked in the park and admitted that he sometimes worried about his health. Still, the job paid 5,000 yuan a month (about $750), which he felt was worth the risk. His friend, who sat across a steaming metal dish of noodles and vegetables, vehemently disagreed. “Already Fushan is so renowned for its pollution local farmers can’t sell their fruit or vegetables if people realize they’re from here,” he said. “More dangers surely lie ahead.”

The argument briefly grew heated, as the two men raised their voices and put down their chopsticks. But the factory worker put an end to it with an analogy: “It’s like walking down the road,” he said, as they returned to their meal. “There’s always a chance you might get hit by a bus, but still you walk.”

The analogy doesn’t hold up. China faces far more than the possibility that these toxic chemicals will spread throughout the country. They already have, exposing Chinese people to PFCs without their knowledge or consent. It’s much the same predicament Americans were in 15 years ago, except that this time scientists have a far greater understanding of the dangers posed by the molecules being released into water and soil. And even as international experts prepare to hammer out which chemicals to tackle next and the Chinese government slowly brings its immense power to bear on the pollution problem, they continue to accumulate.

Back in Cuijia, the situation is already urgent. According to Wu, young people in the village decided their best shot — the only one in their power, really — was to leave. Most have. Not long ago, Wu’s own son set off to become an itinerant worker, a life he hopes will be safer than relying on the polluted Xiaoqing River.

This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and ChinaFile. 

Research: Coco Liu

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The post The Teflon Toxin Goes to China appeared first on The Intercept.

Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly-Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters

The Intercept - Engl. - Gio, 15/09/2016 - 06:00

Like a lot of other Americans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants to know why the Department of Justice hasn’t criminally prosecuted any of the major players responsible for the 2008 financial crisis.

On Thursday, Warren released two highly provocative letters demanding some explanations. One is to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, requesting a review of how federal law enforcement managed to whiff on all 11 substantive criminal referrals submitted by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC), a panel set up to examine the causes of the 2008 meltdown.

The other is to FBI Director James Comey, asking him to release all FBI investigations and deliberations related to those referrals. The FBI typically doesn’t release investigative details about cases that DOJ chooses not to pursue, but Warren pointed out that in releasing information about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server in July, he had pretty much shattered that precedent, and set a new one.

“You explained these actions by noting your view that ‘the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest,’” Warren wrote to Comey. “If Secretary Clinton’s email server was of sufficient ‘interest’ to establish a new FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be subject to the same level of transparency.”

In other words, if Comey can spend hours relating FBI decision-making about State Department emails, he can do the same for the activity that made millions jobless and homeless.

The FCIC’s criminal referrals, which were sent to the Justice Department in October 2010, have never been made public. But Warren’s staff reviewed thousands of other documents released in March by the National Archives, including hearings and testimony, witness interviews, internal deliberations and memoranda, and found descriptions and records of them.

They detail potential violations of securities laws by 14 different financial institutions: most of America’s largest banks – Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual (now part of JPMorgan), and Merrill Lynch (now part of Bank of America) – along with foreign banking giants UBS, Credit Suisse, and Société Generale, auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, credit rating agency Moody’s, insurance company AIG, and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The FCIC presented DOJ with evidence that these institutions gave false representations about the loan quality inside mortgage-backed securities; misled credit ratings agencies; overstated assets and earnings in financial disclosures; failed to disclose credit downgrades, subprime exposure and the financial health of their operations to shareholders; and suffered breakdowns in internal company controls. All of these were tied to specific violations of federal law.

And the FCIC named names, specifying nine top-level executives who should be investigated on criminal charges: CEO Daniel Mudd and CFO Stephen Swad of Fannie Mae, CEO Martin Sullivan and CFO Stephen Bensinger of AIG, CEO Stan O’Neal and CFO Jeffrey Edwards of Merrill Lynch, and CEO Chuck Prince, CFO Gary Crittenden and Board Chairman Robert Rubin of Citigroup.

None of the 14 financial firms listed in the referrals were criminally indicted or brought to trial, Warren writes. Only five of the 14 even paid fines in civil settlements. None of the nine named individuals were criminally prosecuted, and only one – Crittenden, of Citigroup – had to pay so much as a personal fine, for a mere $100,000.

Fannie Mae’s Daniel Mudd recently reached a civil settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission that imposed a fine of $100,000, but allowed Fannie Mae to pay it, rather than Mudd. It’s not clear whether the others were even investigated. In March, Fortune Magazine reported that Rubin “was never contacted by the Justice Department in relation to the commission’s allegations.”

“Not every individual or company accused of a crime is guilty of that crime and not every DOJ referral results in a conviction,” Warren writes in her letter to the inspector general. “But the DOJ’s failure to obtain any criminal convictions of any of the individuals or corporations named in the FCIC referrals suggests that the department has failed to hold the individuals and companies most responsible for the financial crisis and the Great Recession accountable. This failure requires an explanation.”

Warren has at least one ally on the House side. Just last week, Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., asked the FBI to publicly release case files relating to crisis-era investigations.

She also has support from Phil Angelides, the chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. “There’s a gnawing feeling among the American people that this justice system may not have worked as it should have,” Angelides said in an interview with The Intercept.. “Senator Warren is right on and Americans have a right to know.”

Angelides said “I know as little as you know” about the criminal referrals he sent to the Justice Department. He stressed that it’s not too late to prosecute on some activities, where the 10-year statute of limitations doesn’t run out until 2017. But if nothing happens, he believes that financial institutions will internalize the message that they can continue to violate the law with impunity.

“It’s like someone who robs a 7-11. If you can steal $1,000 and settle for $20 would you do it again? Probably.”

Read Warren’s letter to Horowitz, which includes information on the specific criminal referrals:

DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/3107564-EMBARGOED-Warren-DOJ-IG-FCIC-Letter.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-3107564-EMBARGOED-Warren-DOJ-IG-FCIC-Letter' });

Read Warren’s letter to Comey:

DV.load('//www.documentcloud.org/documents/3107565-EMBARGOED-Warren-FBI-FCIC-Letter.js', { width: '100%', height: '450', sidebar: false, container: '#dcv-3107565-EMBARGOED-Warren-FBI-FCIC-Letter' });

 

 

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The post Elizabeth Warren Asks Newly-Chatty FBI Director to Explain Why DOJ Didn’t Prosecute Banksters appeared first on The Intercept.

Ungarn raus, Niger rein

Rationalgalerie - Gio, 15/09/2016 - 02:00
Die Zukunft der Europäischen Union ist schwarz : Ungarn raus aus der EU! Forderte jedenfalls der EU-Außenminister Jean Asselborn und wahrte dabei die gewohnte luxemburgische Zurückhaltung. Denn natürlich könnte er beim Rauswurf auch an Polen denken. Auch an Tschechien, die Slowakei und Österreich. Alles Länder, die sich brutal...

Kurden mal hier, Kurden mal da - der Schmock des Monats

Rationalgalerie - Gio, 15/09/2016 - 02:00
Doktor Gniffke kennt sich einfach nicht mehr aus : Seit einiger Zeit übernimmt die Website „Propagandaschau“ Programmbeschwerden von der RATIONALGALERIE. Das macht sie ohne uns zu fragen. Die „Propagandaschau“ unterstützt die rassistische, neoliberale und natofreundliche AfD. Mit Unterstützern dieser Dreckspartei haben wir nichts zu tun. Der Doktor-Gniffke-Monolog: „Mit dem...

Wie man Jihadisten fördert (II)

German Foreign Policy - Gio, 15/09/2016 - 00:00
(Eigener Bericht) - Deutsche Innenpolitiker nutzen die ersten Anschläge und die zunehmenden Aktivitäten von Parteigängern des "Islamischen Staats" in Deutschland, um massive Verschärfungen bei der Überwachung von Flüchtlingen zu verlangen. Flüchtlinge, deren Identität "nicht zweifelsfrei feststeht", müssten "an der Grenze festgehalten werden", fordert der bayerische Innenminister Joachim Herrmann (CSU). Die "Überwachung von Telekommunikationdaten" solle noch stärker ausgeweitet werden, erklärt der Vorsitzende des Innenausschusses des Bundestages, Ansgar Heveling (CDU). Gleichzeitig trägt die Bundesregierung dazu bei, eine zentrale Grundlage für das Erstarken des Jihadismus aufrechtzuerhalten - indem sie weiter mit dessen bedeutendsten staatlichen Förderern kooperiert, vor allem mit Saudi-Arabien. Das Land verbreitet über Schulen, Hilfswerke und Auslandssender seit Jahrzehnten seinen wahhabitischen Staatsislam, dessen ideologische Ausformung mit derjenigen des Jihadismus weitgehend übereinstimmt; daher tragen saudische Auslandsinstitutionen regelmäßig zur Entstehung jihadistischer Milieus bei. Dies gilt auch für Syrien, wo die Bundesregierung ihrerseits salafistisch-jihadistische Organisationen begünstigt hat. In Nordsyrien strebt, wie Experten berichten, gegenwärtig Al Qaida die Gründung eines Emirats an, von dem aus Terroranschläge in Europa geplant werden sollen. Als eine wichtige Etappe auf dem Weg dazu gilt die Schlacht um Aleppo.

Vida, paixão e morte de Eduardo Cunha. Haverá ressurreição?

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 23:30

Eduardo Cunha experimentou da mesma queda que ele provocou a Dilma Roussef há poucos dias. Sua ascensão e queda se assemelham a uma história de via crucis real.

Em meses, a Câmara dos Deputados se converteu numa espécie de templo onde o poder de Cunha não era desafiado, apenas temido. Cunha surgiu do deserto da política para a posição de messias, o salvador do conservadorismo de direita que reivindica para si o lugar de ser o caminho, a verdade e a vida: sem ele apontar o caminho, nada se aprovava ou entrava em pauta; manipulava votações para que fossem como ele as queria, moldando a verdade da ordem do dia, e a vida do Parlamento girava em torno da sua condução. Fora de sua autoridade, qualquer pauta, medida provisória ou projeto de lei morria.

Não juntou sobre ele apenas 12 discípulos. Juntou centenas. Seu poder extraordinário beneficiou a todos que andavam ao seu redor e, com esses poderes, desafiou o “Império Romano Petista”. Parte dele vinha de sua filiação religiosa. Evangélico, defensor dos “valores da família” e dos “princípios cristãos”, a força de Cunha era exigida toda vez que uma pauta mais “progressista” dependia de aprovação no Congresso. Não apenas isso, ele mesmo fez questão de que as pautas fossem colocadas, para derrubá-las de vez ou forçar sua aprovação segundo seus interesses, como a Redução da Maioridade Penal, o Estatuto da Família e as tentativas de revogar o Estatuto do Desarmamento. O lastro que o sustenta envolve religião, fisiologismo e um profundo aparelhamento conservador. Não à toa, figuras bizarras como Marco Feliciano, pastor, ficaram ao seu lado até o fim.

Eduardo Cunha celebra sua vitória como presidente da Câmara ao lado de aliados

Laycer Tomaz/Fotos Públicas (01/02/2015)

Mas o fato é que, politicamente, Cunha se tornou um leproso, e, como nos tempos de Jesus, leprosos são intocáveis, pessoas que deveriam ser colocadas para fora do convívio com a comunidade devido ao risco de contaminação. Sem pestanejar, os discípulos (ou séquito) de Cunha o negaram três vezes. Antes de o galo cantar, trataram de dizer que não o conheciam, que já havia tempo a foto e o momento em que eles abraçavam felizes ao novo presidente da Câmara e deslizavam elogios confessionais para ele devido à coragem de tocar o processo de impeachment contra Dilma Roussef.

 Em meio às disputas intermináveis, todos queriam poder, e Cunha tinha muito só para si.

A via crucis de Eduardo Cunha durou 11 cansativos meses. Longo período em que ele não apenas carregou a sua cruz, como foi vendo gradativamente aqueles que foram o abandonando no caminho, deixando-o carregá-la até o fim sozinho. No fim, tudo que lhe restou como companhia nessa travessia foi um Carlos Marun (PMDB-RS) combalido, histérico, folclórico, que tentou indignado impedir a destituição do seu mestre. Marun se converteu numa espécie de apóstolo Pedro, que puxa a espada para desafiar os guardas que vieram prender Jesus.

Cunha foi afastado com 450 votos

Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / Agencia Brasil

Por fim, trataram de crucificá-lo. Com uma votação de 450 a 10, o poderoso presidente da Câmara dos Deputados chegou ao fim, num misto de complô e queima de arquivo, por mais que insistam em nos fazer acreditar que tenha sido principalmente pela pressão popular. De fato tivemos muita, e isso foi impressionante – e um alerta para muitos parlamentares na mesma condição que ele. Mas eles sabem se blindar contra a pressão popular, e a mídia contribui quando quer. Eduardo Cunha caiu por causa da sua lepra, se tornou um peso, indesejado, não havia quem o sustentasse. Em meio às disputas intermináveis, todos queriam poder, e Cunha tinha muito só para si. Assim como rasgaram e dividiram as vestes de Jesus em sua crucificação, o outrora séquito de Cunha rasga suas vestes e divide seus espólios.

O DEM foi o primeiro a abocanhar sua parte. A vitória de Rodrigo Maia fortalece o partido e fortalece o governo, de quem Rodrigo era a aposta. Cunha, que transformou a cadeira de presidência da Câmara num trono poderoso do qual não abria mão, viu o DEM, com Rodrigo Maia, como ave de rapina, levar o seu posto de estimação em uma vitória considerável, que foi o primeiro grande sinal do enfraquecimento do parlamentar cassado. E isso está, obviamente, conectado com ao Senado, trazendo para a Câmara dos deputados a influência e a maior capacidade de atuação de Ronaldo Caiado e Agripino Maia, incansáveis detratores e algozes dos últimos momentos de Dilma Roussef na sua tentativa de sobreviver no Planalto.

Brasília – O presidente da Câmara dos Deputados, Rodrigo Maia, representa a fatia do DEM

Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

O PMDB “dissidente de Cunha” também leva sua parte. É a consolidação de uma vitória que mostrou seu esboço no início do ano com a vitória de Leonardo Picciani como líder da bancada do partido, vencendo, por 37 votos a 30, o candidato Hugo Mota, que era patrocinado por Cunha. Em um poço estranhíssimo de contradição, o PMDB disputou entre si, o tempo todo, o abandono e a adesão a Cunha. Dissidentes do governo Dilma, surfaram no poder do ex-presidente da Câmara para que ele a tratorasse em todas as tentativas de pautar o Legislativo.

No virar da maré, mediante a tempestade que pairava sobre Cunha, o campo do PMDB que lhe era hostil, mas engolia os seus sapos foi despudoradamente pleitear o que restou do seu poder para dividir entre eles. Permaneceu ao redor de Rodrigo Maia, para garantir que a influência de Cunha desaparecesse de vez e sua capacidade de barganha perdesse o seu principal instrumento de negociação – a saber, a presidência da Câmara. Livres do poder de Cunha, o partido votou em massa favorável à sua cassação e o entregou de vez à própria sorte.

Constrangido, o PSDB sabe que saiu enfraquecido de todo o processo em que agiu de maneira dúbia e quase sem grande capacidade de articulação política, mas quando percebeu a derrocada de Cunha também abandonou o barco e resolveu ficar com alguma migalha do poder de outrora, se aproximando de Rodrigo Maia e demonstrando que acompanharia de perto o novo presidente da casa.

A crucificação e morte de Cunha não significam nada de mudança na onda conservadora.

Antonio Imbassahy, Carlos Sampaio, Domingos Sávio e companhia, tão atuantes e implacáveis pelo impeachment de Dilma, mas também, deve-se dizer, pelo afastamento de Cunha da presidência da Câmara, tiveram de lidar com um constrangedor lugar coadjuvante no jogo político em que eles não conseguiram manter força e capacidade de barganha. O PSDB não conseguiu colocar medo em ninguém e não leva muito desse poder de Cunha, e por isso mesmo, preferiu se adiantar em ficar por perto de quem herdou a maior fatia desse poder.

O poder religioso de Cunha também está em disputa. A Bancada Evangélica sabe, por exemplo, que será preciso negociar mais com Rodrigo Maia determinadas pautas que eram certas com Cunha. Porque Cunha era inflexível nos seus posicionamentos que dizia ser orientado pelos valores cristãos. Com Cunha no poder, deputados como João Campos (PSDB-GO), que é presidente da Bancada Evangélica, tinha trânsito livre e influência total para sugerir e ter a prioridade em pautas de fundo religioso conservador, como a proposta conhecida como “Cura Gay” e a tentativa de fazer com que igrejas tivessem o poder de questionar o Supremo Tribunal Federal, colocando-as no mesmo patamar de instituições como a Presidência da República, o Procurador-Geral da República, o Conselho Federal da OAB entre outras. Com Cunha, o Legislativo garantiu o artigo, em Medida Provisória, que isentava as igrejas de pagar impostos sobre repasses feitos a pastores e líderes religiosos.

A crucificação e morte de Cunha não significam nada de mudança na onda conservadora que permanece varrendo o país com força total via Executivo-Legislativo. Na verdade, só demonstra que essa onda é tão violenta que eles vão se destruindo entre eles mesmos e dividindo entre si o poder que oprime o lado de baixo.

Só nos resta pensar sobre a sua capacidade de ressurreição ao terceiro dia. É verdade que Cunha ficou inelegível, mas, como no Brasil o poder não se perde com o fim de um cargo, com o fim de um mandato, há de se esperar para ver se ele se mantém na “morte política” e em que momento e como ressuscitaria. Com o seu poder sendo dividido e disputado por tantos e de tantas maneiras, é preciso estar atento. Às vezes, a Paixão é uma história dolorosa, triste, que impressiona e comove. Mas às vezes a Paixão é também apenas uma encenação. Uma via crucis muito bem ensaiada, de roteiro muito bem definido, que quase parece real.

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Benjamin Netanyahu Added 100,000 Settlers. Now the U.S. Rewards Him With Largest Aid Package Ever.

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 23:09

The Obama administration on Wednesday signed a formal memorandum of understanding that would increase the annual military aid package to Israel, rewarding it with a record $38 billion over 10 years.

This increase in aid comes as the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government, which took office in 2008, has vastly expanded the network of illegal settlements deep into the Palestinian territories in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Shortly before Netanyahu took office, 474,000 Israeli settlers were living in these territories. By the end of 2014, the last time the Israeli government released comprehensive statistics on the matter, that number had grown to around 570,000.

The United States and the international community consider these settlements to be a primary obstacle to Palestinian independence. The network of military checkpoints, erected barriers, and private transportation networks that sustain them cut deep into Palestinian territory, undermining its territorial contiguity.

Watch an AJ+ explainer on the topic:

This expansion of settlements isn’t Netanyahu’s only affront to U.S. diplomatic efforts. The Israeli leader has spoken without a presidential invitation before the U.S. Congress trying to scuttle the Iranian nuclear deal while cutting a campaign commercialengaged in two long and brutal military campaigns in the Gaza Strip; assembled a cabinet opposed to Palestinian statehood; and just last week, compared international demands to end settlements to “ethnic cleansing” – causing the even reliably pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League to rebuke him.

It’s important to remember that this aid largely benefits the U.S. defense industry and the Israeli occupation, but not the average Israeli. Politico reports that “under the agreement, Israel’s ability to spend part of the funds on Israeli military products will be gradually phased out, eventually requiring all of the funds to be spend on American military industries.”

Meanwhile, Israeli child poverty was the highest among 41 countries ranked by the United Nation’s Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) earlier this year.

Top photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the press during a visit to Har Homa, an Israeli settlement neighborhood in east Jerusalem, on March 16, 2015.

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The post Benjamin Netanyahu Added 100,000 Settlers. Now the U.S. Rewards Him With Largest Aid Package Ever. appeared first on The Intercept.

Flávio Bolsonaro, flagrado ao lado de suspeito de pedofilia, ameaça quem compartilhar as fotos

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 22:26

O deputado Jair Bolsonaro é o Donald Trump brasileiro, com duas ressalvas: 1) ele é mais extremo que sua contraparte americana na disseminação do ódio; e 2) ele tem vários filhos que são cópias fieis dele e que se utilizam de vantagens familiares para serem eleitos a seus próprios cargos país afora. Como resultado disso, a família Bolsonaro lidera um movimento radical proto-fascista que cresce alarmantemente no Brasil, baseado no fervor evangélico, no ultra-nacionalismo, na crença na lei e na ordem, na hostilidade contra LGBTs e no culto à ditadura militar do passado.

No ano passado, The Intercept o nomeou como o “mais misógino e abominável político no mundo democrático” depois de ele ter dito à deputada de esquerda Maria do Rosário que ela não merecia ser estuprada por ele (ele foi recentemente condenado por isso). Ele criou uma controvérsia internacional em abril quando, ao votar favoravelmente ao impeachment da Presidente Dilma Rousseff, enalteceu especificamente o general Brilhante Ustra, que participou da tortura de Dilma durante a ditadura. Na mesma votação, seu filho Eduardo, também um deputado, exaltou os generais que deram o golpe de 1964, que resultou na ditadura militar que a família Bolsonaro admira e deseja de volta ao país.

Este é, portanto, o patriarca da família. Um de seus filhos políticos, Flávio, é membro da Legislatura do Estado do Rio de Janeiro e está atualmente concorrendo ao cargo de prefeito da cidade. Como os outros membros de sua família, Flávio é um político de extrema-direita cuja campanha é baseada em ideias dignas de Trump, como o restauro dos valores evangélicos e a imposição do autoritarismo e da lei acima de tudo. Infelizmente para Flávio, sua pose de homem durão e forte, fabricada para a campanha, sofreu vários contratempos, inclusive quando ele quase desmaiou durante o primeiro debate entre os prefeitáveis, enquanto Jandira Fehgali, do Partido Comunista do Brasil, que é médica, oferecia assistência a ele (Jair, pai de Flávio, negou a ajuda em nome de seu filho).

A imagem de Flávio de homem honesto, íntegro e dentro da lei sofreu outro baque hoje. A cidade foi surpreendida, nesta semana, por um dos piores crimes imagináveis: o coronel da Polícia Militar Pedro Chavarry Duarte foi preso acusado de ter estuprado uma menina de apenas dois anos, que foi encontrada nua e aflita no banco de trás do seu carro. Os jornais descobriram depois que o coronel tem um histórico de suspeita em outros crimes envolvendo crianças.

Por motivos óbvios, há uma profunda revolta entre a sociedade com o oficial da polícia. Por esse motivo muitos se assustaram quando fotografias do incorruptível Flávio Bolsonaro, posando não apenas uma, mas em duas ocasiões diferentes com o policial acusado de pedofilia, surgiram hoje. A primeira foto é de uma edição de 2012 do jornal de uma associação de policiais aposentados, noticiando um evento de que os dois participaram. A origem da segunda foto ainda é desconhecida:

O fato em si não seria um golpe fatal na candidatura de Flávio: afinal de contas, políticos tiram fotos com muitas pessoas, inclusive e sobretudo desconhecidos, e seria injusto sugerir que alguém apoia ou aprova a conduta de outra pessoa simplesmente por aparecer com ela em uma foto – ou duas.

Mas Flávio assegurou que isso virasse uma grande notícia, e que muitas pessoas vissem as fotos, quando, nesta tarde, publicou um vídeo bizarro e desequilibrado, com 80 segundos de ameaças. Nele, o candidato chama aqueles que compartilham as imagens de “vagabundos”,  gaba-se repetidamente  de querer “castrar quimicamente” estupradores e pedófilos e, o pior de tudo, ameaça processar qualquer um que publique ou compartilhe as imagens, mostradas acima, dele ao lado do suspeito mais notável e odiado do Brasil no momento.

Em geral, é não apenas antiético e tirânico – mas usualmente bastante contra-produtivo – sair por aí ameaçando a todos, inclusive organizações de mídia, de processos judiciais se reportarem ou publicarem notícias com informações sobre políticos que buscam um substancial poder público. Previsivelmente, as ameaças de Flávio resultaram em uma avalanche de publicações desafiadoras das fotos nas mídias sociais. As ameaças de Flávio provavelmente resultarão numa circulação infinitamente maior das imagens que o político tenta, agressivamente, esconder – particularmente entre organizações de mídia dedicadas a defender o direito à livre expressão diante de ameaças como estas. Essa é a lição que Flávio pode tirar dos eventos de hoje.

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The post Flávio Bolsonaro, flagrado ao lado de suspeito de pedofilia, ameaça quem compartilhar as fotos appeared first on The Intercept.

Rio’s Far-Right Candidate in Photos with Accused Police Pedophile, Threatens to Sue Anyone Sharing Them

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 21:26

Brazilian Congressman Jair Bolsonaro is his country’s Donald Trump, with two important differences: 1) he’s an even more extreme hate-monger than his American counterpart; and 2) he has numerous sons who are carbon copies of him and have used their dynastic advantages to get elected to their own political offices throughout the country. As a result, the Bolsonaro Family now spearheads a radical, nationwide, proto-fascist, alarmingly growing movement in Brazil grounded in evangelical fervor, über-nationalism, extreme law-and-order, hostility toward LGBTs, and a longing for restoration of the country’s prior military dictatorship.

Last year, The Intercept labeled him “the most misogynistic, hateful official in the democratic world” after he told a left-wing Congresswoman that she did not even “merit” his rape (he has since been criminally charged for that behavior). Bolsonoro created an international controversy in April when, while casting his vote to impeach Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, he specifically praised the General who, as part of Brazil’s dictatorship, personally oversaw Dilma’s torture. During that same vote, one of his sons, Eduardo, also a Congressman, explicitly praised Brazil’s Generals who engineered the 1964 coup that resulted in the military dictatorship his family admires and wants to restore.

So that’s the family patriarch. One of the other of his many political sons, Flavio, is a member of the State Legislature in Rio de Janeiro and is currently running for Mayor of the city. Like his other family members, Flavio is a member of the far-religious-right whose campaign is based on restoring evangelical values and imposing Trump-like themes of authoritarian strength and law and order. Unfortunately for Flavio, his campaign pose as Tough-Guy Strongman has run into several problems, including when he practically fainted from the pressure of the first live-televised debate, while a competing candidate from Brazil’s Communist Party, the physician Jandira Feghali, had to physically prop him up and offer him medical assistance (Flavio’s dad, Jair, refused her help on behalf of his boy).

Flavio’s clean, wholesome, law-and-order image suffered another blow today. The city this week has been engulfed by one of the most horrific crimes imaginable: a police Colonel, Pedro Chavarry Duarte, was arrested on charges that he raped a 2-year-girl, who was found naked and distressed in the back seat of his car. Media outlets subsequently discovered that the police colonel has a history of other suspected crimes involving children.

For obvious reasons, there is unrestrained revulsion and anger over this police official. That’s why many people were so startled when pictures emerged today of Flavio Bolsonaro posing for photos not once, but on two separate occasions, with this accused pedophile. The first photo is from a 2012 newsletter of an association of retired police officials reporting on an event they attended together, while the second is of unknown origins:

Standing alone, this would likely not have been a fatal blow to Flavio’s candidacy: after all, politicians take photos with many people, including those they don’t know, and it’s unfair to suggest that one supports or approves of the conduct of someone else simply by virtue of appearing in a photo – or two – with them.

But Flavio ensured that this would become a big news story, and that many people would see these photos, when he this afternoon recorded a bizarre, rattled, unhinged, threatening 80-second video. In it, he called people sharing the pictures “scumbags”; repeatedly boasted that he wants to “chemically castrate” rapists and pedophiles; and, worst of all, threatened to sue anyone and everyone who publishes or shares the above-displayed photos of him standing next to Brazil’s most notorious and hated criminal suspect.

In general, it’s not only unethical and tyrannical – but usually quite counter-productive – to run around threatening everyone, including news organizations, with legal proceedings if they report on or publish plainly newsworthy information about politicians seeking substantial public power. Quite predictably, Flavio’s threats resulted in citizens defiantly publishing the photos over and over on social media. Issuing such threats is highly likely to result in far greater circulation and exposure of the embarrassing information that the politician is seeking, with thuggery, to suppress – particularly when it comes to news organizations devoted to defending the right of a free press in the face of ill-advised threats. This is likely the lesson Flavio will learn from today’s events.

Top Photo: From left, Pedro Chavarry Duarte and Flavio Bolsonaro pose for a photo published in a 2012 newsletter of an association of retired police officials reporting on an event they attended together.

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The post Rio’s Far-Right Candidate in Photos with Accused Police Pedophile, Threatens to Sue Anyone Sharing Them appeared first on The Intercept.

Latest Estimate Pegs Cost of Wars at Nearly $5 Trillion

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 21:23

The total U.S. budgetary cost of war since 2001 is $4.79 trillion, according to a report released this week from Brown University’s Watson Institute. That’s the highest estimate yet.

Neta Crawford of Boston University, the author of the report, included interest on borrowing, future veterans needs, and the cost of homeland security in her calculations.

The amount of $4.79 trillion, “so large as to be almost incomprehensible,” she writes, adds up like this:

  • The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and other overseas operations already cost $1.7 trillion between 2001 and August 2016 with $103 billion more requested for 2017
  • Homeland Security terrorism prevention costs from 2001 to 2016 were $548 billion.
  • The estimated DOD base budget was $733 billion and veterans spending was $213 billion.
  • Interest incurred on borrowing for wars was $453 billion.
  • Estimated future costs for veterans’ medical needs until the year 2053 is $1 trillion.
  • And the amounts the DOD, State Department, and Homeland Security have requested for 2017 ($103 billion).

Crawford carried out a similar study in June 2014 that estimated the cost of war at $4.4 trillion. Her methodology mirrors that of the 2008 book The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Costs of the Iraq Conflict by Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz.

There are even more costs of war that Crawford does not include, she writes. For instance, “I have not included here state and local government expenses related to medical care of veterans and homeland security. Nor do I calculate the macro economic costs of war for the U.S. economy.” She also notes that she does not add the cost of war for other countries, nor try to put a dollar figures on the cost in human lives.

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As “Snowden” Opens, Three Largest Rights Groups in U.S. Call on Obama for a Pardon

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 21:21

The day after the New York premiere of Oliver Stone’s new movie, “Snowden,” the three largest human rights organizations in the U.S. teamed up to launch a campaign calling on President Obama to pardon the NSA whistleblower.

Snowden himself spoke via video from Moscow at a press conference Wednesday morning alongside representatives from the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Snowden called whistleblowing “democracy’s safeguard of last resort” and argued that if the Obama administration does not reverse its practice of prosecuting whistleblowers, it would leave a legacy of secrecy that is damaging to democracy.

“From time to time we see that governments redraw the boundaries of our rights behind closed doors,” said Snowden. “If we are to sustain a free society for the next century, we must ensure that whistleblowers can act safely.”

Panelists pointed out that Snowden’s disclosures led to the first congressional surveillance reform bill in decades, a court decision declaring the bulk collection of phone records illegal, and a change in executive branch surveillance policy. Snowden’s disclosures also pressured technology companies to start encrypting their services by default.

The White House has previously denied efforts by activists to seek a pardon for Snowden.

In July 2015, after a petition on the White House’s “We the People” website quickly gained over 100,000 signatures, officials responded to the petition by accusing Snowden of “running away from the consequences of his actions,” and “hid[ing] behind the cover of an authoritarian regime.”

But speakers on Wednesday had an answer for those criticisms — pointing out that if Snowden returned to the U.S. from his exile in Moscow and faced trial under the Espionage Act, he would not be legally allowed to raise the public interest value of his disclosures as a defense.

Other supporters of the campaign include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, actors Daniel Radcliffe, Martin Sheen, and Susan Sarandon, and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

On Wednesday, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told The Guardian that he supports granting Snowden “some form of clemency or a plea agreement that would spare him a long prison sentence or permanent exile.”

Update: 4:15 p.m. ET 

Asked about a possible pardon for Snowden, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest denied that Snowden should even be called a whistleblower.

“Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower. There actually is a specific process that is well-established and well-protected that allows whistleblowers to raise concerns that they have, particularly when it relates to confidential or classified information, to do so in a way that protects the national security secrets of the United States,” Earnest said. “That is not what Mr. Snowden did.” 

Snowden claims to have repeatedly raised concerns through official whistleblower channels, and says his concerns were brushed off.

Earnest also said that Snowden’s disclosures “put American lives at risk,” while not citing any evidence.

Top photo: Edward Snowden speaks via video link at a news conference for the launch of a campaign calling for President Obama to pardon him.

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Donald Trump’s Not Anti-War, He Just Wants the U.S. Military to Focus on Stealing Oil

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 18:24

Donald Trump’s attempt to present himself as an anti-war candidate is based on his perfect 20/20 hindsight of the disastrous consequences of regime change in Iraq and Libya — military campaigns he publicly supported when they were popular, and only turned against after they went wrong.

To better understand that Trump really is, as he insisted during the Republican primary campaign, “much more militaristic” than even George W. Bush, it helps to look at how often he has presented his bizarre plan to use the United States military as the muscle in a global protection racket, aimed at extorting oil from countries we destroy.

Trump began to make this case at a crucial moment, in early 2011, when he was flirting with a run for the presidency and the Obama administration was trying to decide how to use American power in Libya and Iraq.

That February, when President Obama was considering the intervention in Libya that his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, strongly advocated, Trump demanded immediate action to topple Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in a statement posted on his YouTube channel.

“I can’t believe what our country is doing,” Trump said on February 28, 2011, two weeks before the Obama administration got Security Council authorization “to protect civilians” in Libya. “Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around we have soldiers all have the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage and that’s what it is: It’s a carnage.”

“After it’s all done, we go to the protesters, who end up running the country,” Trump added, “and we should then say, ‘By the way, from all of your oil, we want reimbursement.’”

A month later, as Bill O’Reilly quizzed him on how he would handle foreign policy as president, Trump revealed that he had an entirely new plan for Iraq: American troops should be withdrawn, but only from those parts of the country without oil fields.

TRUMP: I’ve never said this before. This is a first, on your show. Good luck with it, run with it. In the old days, when you had wars, you win, right? You win. To the victor belong the spoils. So when we go to Iraq, we spend $1.4 trillion so far and thousands of lives are lost, right? And not to mention all the poor guys and gals with one arm and no arm and all the problems, right?

O’REILLY: Absolutely. Right.

TRUMP: And we’re going to leave and as sure as you’re sitting there, Iran is going to come over, take over not only Iraq but perhaps more importantly to them, take over the second biggest oil fields in the world, right? And I like the old system better: You won a war, you stay there, and you keep the oil. And you know, then those people will not have died in vain. Forget the money we spent, they will not have died in vain. Now, they’re not going to come as long as we’re there, but 15 minutes after we leave, Iran is going to go into Iraq. …

You stay and protect the oil, and you take the oil and you take whatever is necessary for them and you take what’s necessary for us and we pay our self back $1.5 trillion or more. We take care of Britain, we take care of other countries that helped us, and we don’t be so stupid. You know, we’re the only country and if you look at wars over the years and I study wars, OK? My whole life is a war. You look at wars over the years. A country goes in, they conquer and they stay. We go in, we conquer, and then we leave. And we hand it to people that we don’t even know. … So, in a nutshell, we go in, we take over the second largest oil fields, and we stay.

Sensing that Trump might not have considered the implications of his proposal to essentially colonize Iraq by looting its natural resources, an incredulous O’Reilly stifled a laugh as he said, “So you’re going to take over the Iraqi oil fields?”

“Don’t smile!” an offended Trump replied.

“I’m just saying,” O’Reilly said, “if you’re going to go into the Iraq oil fields and take them over, there’s gonna be a lot of blowback.”

Five months later, after the U.S.-led air campaign had forced Qaddafi from power in Libya — and Trump had decided not to challenge Obama for the presidency — the star of “The Apprentice” posted another YouTube clip, complaining that the administration should have waited longer to aid the Libyan rebels, to force them to agree to surrender half of the country’s oil reserves.

“What we should’ve done is we should’ve asked the rebels when they came to us — and they came to us, they were being routed by Qaddafi, they were being decimated — we should’ve said, ‘We’ll help you, but we want 50 percent of your oil,’” Trump said. “They would’ve said, ‘How about 75 percent?’”

Speaking to Matt Lauer last week about his qualifications to be commander-in-chief, Trump argued that the rise of the Islamic State could have been prevented if only his plan to keep Iraq’s oil fields under American military control had been put into place. He was not asked to imagine how those anti-Western militants, or Iraq’s elected government, might have been expected to react to an open-ended military occupation by a foreign power intent on the illegal confiscation of their country’s natural resources.

Top photo: “No Blood for Oil” signs held by protesters against the invasion of Iraq at a demonstration in Washington on Dec. 4, 2002.

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Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 17:35

U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning will receive gender affirming surgery, and is ending her hunger strike after five days, her lawyers have confirmed.

“I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing,” Manning said in a statement. “I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me. But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long.”

Until her surgery, the military will still require Manning to keep her hair short.

Manning’s psychologist formally recommended surgery in April 2016. Despite recommendations dating back to 2014 that she be allowed to grow her hair out, the military has not allowed her to do so.

Since her arrest in 2010, Manning has suffered numerous abuses, including being forced to strip naked, prolonged solitary confinement, disciplinary charges for such things as having expired toothpaste in her cell, and being denied medical care.

Manning still faces a hearing on Sept. 20 concerning charges related to her suicide attempt.

Manning’s struggle to obtain medical care mirrors the struggle of transgender inmates nationwide. Despite major medical associations recognizing reassignment surgery as necessary medical care for gender dysphoria, no transgender prisoner has ever received gender reassignment surgery in a U.S. prison, according to the ACLU.

Chase Strangio, Manning’s lawyer with the ACLU, issued the following statement: “This is a monumental day for Chelsea, who can now enjoy some peace knowing that critically needed medical care is forthcoming. This medical care is absolutely vital for Chelsea as it is for so many transgender people — in and out of prison — who are systemically denied treatment solely because they are transgender. Thankfully the government has recognized its constitutional obligation to provide Chelsea with the medical care that she needs and we hope that they will act without delay to ensure that her suffering does not needlessly continue.”

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The post Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery appeared first on The Intercept.

Milliardenübernahme: Bayer kauft Monsanto

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 17:31

(14.09.2016/dpa)

Die Milliardenübernahme des US-Biotechnologiekonzerns Monsanto durch Bayer ist perfekt. Das teilte Bayer am Mittwoch in Leverkusen nach einer Sitzung des Aufsichtsrats mit. Der Pharma- und Agrarchemiekonzern hatte das Angebot für Monsanto zuvor noch einmal erhöht. Vorausgegangen war ein monatelanges Ringen der beiden Konzerne.

Bayer und Monsanto unterzeichneten eine bindende Fusionsvereinbarung, die Bayer die Übernahme von Monsanto für 128 US-Dollar je Aktie in bar ermöglicht. Das entspricht einem Kaufpreis von rund 66 Milliarden Dollar (knapp 59 Milliarden Euro).

Der Monsanto-Deal ist die bislang größte Übernahme durch einen deutschen Konzern und macht Bayer zur weltweiten Nummer eins im Geschäft mit Agrarchemie. Bayer hatte im

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Juncker-Plan: Mehr als 600 Milliarden Investitionen gegen Wirtschaftsflaute

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 17:31

(14.09.2016/hg/dpa)

Mit neuen Milliardeninvestitionen gegen die Wirtschaftsflaute und dem Versprechen verbesserter Sicherheit nach innen und außen will die Europäische Union aus ihrer tiefen Krise herauskommen. Kommissionspräsident Jean-Claude Juncker präsentierte am Mittwoch dem Europaparlament ein ganzes Bündel konkreter Projekte – vom freien WLAN auf öffentlichen Plätzen bis zum Hilfsplan für Afrika – und bekam dort auch einige Rückendeckung.

Als nächstes berät am Freitag das EU-Treffen in Bratislava, wo die Prioritäten liegen sollen, um Europa zu einen und die Bürger dafür zu begeistern. Großbritannien wird dort nach dem Brexit-Votum der Bevölkerung nicht vertreten sein.

Der angekündigte Austritt des Landes aus der Staatengemeinschaft verschärfte die nach

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Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 17:00

The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, terrified that they might lose market share.

On the heels of a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a new disclosures this week that a beer industry group made one of the largest donations to an organization set up to defeat legalization in Massachusetts.

The Beer Distributors PAC, an affiliate that represents 16 beer distribution companies in Massachusetts, gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, tying it for third place among the largest contributors to the anti-pot organization.

William A. Kelley, the president of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts, did not respond to a request for comment, but his organization’s decision to oppose legalization is hardly unique in the alcohol industry.

In Arizona, one of the five states with marijuana legalization ballot measures this November, the Arizona Wine and Spirits Wholesale Association donated $10,000 to a group opposing legalization. In 2010, the last time California considered marijuana legalization, another alcoholic beverage distribution group provided financing to a law enforcement-backed campaign to defeat legalization.

The alcohol industry is nowhere near unified over pot policy, however, with several craft brewing firm welcoming laws that relax restrictions over pot.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings reveal that heavyweight alcohol companies have disclosed to investors that pot could pose a challenge to their bottom line.

The Boston Beer Company, the parent company of Sam Adams, told investors in its 10-k filing that laws that allow the “sale and distribution of marijuana” could “adversely impact the demand” for beer.

The Brown-Forman Company, makers of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Finlandia Vodka, similarly warned in its 10-k filing that “consumer preferences and purchases may shift due to a host of factors, many of which are difficult to predict, including … the potential legalization of marijuana use on a more widespread basis within the United States, and changes in travel, leisure, dining, gifting, entertaining, and beverage consumption trends.”

Research about the impact of marijuana legalization on consumer habits is split. Daniel Rees, a professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, has claimed that consumers will substitute marijuana for alcohol when given the chance. But tax revenue in Colorado, which legalized pot in 2012, suggests consumers have continued to purchase alcohol at almost the same rate as before legalization.

Paul Varga, the chief executive of Brown-Forman, told investors during an earnings call in August 2014 that marijuana legalization was emerging as a “big threat.” But four months later, in another discussion with investors, Varga backpedalled a bit. “I wouldn’t say I’m losing sleep over the legalization of marijuana,” he noted. “But I’m paying attention to it.”

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The post Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz appeared first on The Intercept.

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 42016-Der Bock als Gärtner

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 14:31

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 4/2016

Der Bock als Gärtner

Regine Naeckel

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1) Karin Priester, Der populistische Moment, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 3/2005, S. 306
(2) Ebenda, S. 302
(3) Immanuel Kant, Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?, Kapitel 1, Erstveröffentlichung 1784
(4) Karin Priester, Der populistische Moment, Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 3/2005, S. 306

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 42016-Falsche Versprechungen

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 14:31

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 4/2016

Falsche Versprechungen

Thomas Wagner

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1) David Salomon: Demokratie. Köln 2012, S. 9
(2) ebd.
(3) ebd.
(4) Jan-Ole Prasse: Der kurze Höhenflug der NPD. Rechtsextreme Wahlerfolge der 1960er Jahre. Marburg 2010, S. 74
(5) Dieter Stein: Phantom „Neue Rechte“. Die Geschichte eines politischen Begriffs und sein Missbrauch durch den Verfassungsschutz. Berlin 2005, S. 175
(6) Franz Walter: Im Herbst der Volksparteien. Bielefeld 2009, S. 114

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 42016-Grün ist die Hoffnung?

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 14/09/2016 - 14:31

Das Nachrichtenmagazin – 4/2016

Grün ist die Hoffnung?

Philipp Koebnik

Anmerkungen und Quellen

(1) Vgl. Ehrenfreund, Max, What Jill Stein, the Green presidential candidate, wants to do to America, in: The Washington Post (02.08.2016) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/08/02/what-jill-stein-the-green-presidential-candidate-wants-to-do-to-america/; Green Party's Jill Stein: U.S. Should Stop Funding Israel Saudi Arabia, in: Democracy Now (18.08.2016) http://www.democracynow.org/2016/8/18/green_partys_jill_stein_us_should; Milman, Oliver, Jill Stein dismisses perception she is anti-vaccines as 'ridiculous', in: The Guardian (18.08.2016) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/18/jill-stein-anti-vaccination-green-party-ridiculous
(2) Vgl. Hahn, Dorothea, „Unsere Partei ist eine Bedrohung“, in: taz (02.02.2012) http://www.taz.de/Gruene-in-den-USA/!5101711/; http://www.gp.org/history
(3) Vgl. Hill, Marc Lamont, For real progressives, Jill Stein is now the only choice,

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