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WORLD BANK AND MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS SEEK TO PRIVATIZE WATER

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More than one billion people lack access to fresh drinking water, according to the United Nations — and that number is expected to double in the next 10 years. World water consumption is growing more than twice as fast as the population.

For human beings this is a crisis. For corporations, though, it’s an opportunity. The world’s biggest companies increasingly see water as the world’s largest untapped commodity. They’re moving to take over local water supplies in the name of profit. When municipal water services are privatized, rates double or triple, quality standards drop, and customers who can’t pay are cut off. And governments are lining up to help. Every year public officials from all over the world convene with big-business leaders and World Bank representatives at meetings of the World Water Council, a water think tank dominated by commercial interests.

The corporations involved aren’t shy about their plans. In Vandana Shiva’s story in Canadian Dimension magazine, Monsanto’s Robert Farley described his company’s strategy this way: “Since water is as central to food production as seed is, and without water life is not possible, Monsanto is now trying to establish its control over water.”

But the privatizers don’t always have an easy time of it. In 1999, Bechtel Group took over the public water system in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with the help of the World Bank. The company immediately doubled water rates. Bolivians didn’t take this lying down. Last year, general strikes repeatedly brought the city to a standstill. The government ultimately conceded and nullified Bechtel’s contract.

Cochabamba’s water war was one of the most significant victories yet for the opponents of corporate-driven globalization. Yet most US coverage came from the Associated Press’s Peter McFarren, whose stories uncritically accepted the government’s characterization of the protesters as drug traffickers. McFarren resigned from the wire service when it came out that he was actively lobbying the Bolivian Congress in support of a commercial proposal, from which he stood to benefit financially, to ship Bolivian water to Chile. Although it wasn’t mentioned by Project Censored, the McFarren conflict of interest was first reported by the Narco News Bulletin (www.narconews.com/mcfarrenstory1.html).

http://www.insidepolitics.org/ps111/MediaCoverup.html

Water privatization backgrounder by Public Citizen.org

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Excerpted:   

“Corporations and investors are ramping up a concerted, multi-pronged effort aimed at forcing governments to privatize public services and to commodify water in the global commons. Already, much of England and France have privatized water systems. The result has been rate increases, deteriorating service, loss of local control and increased corruption. Since water services were privatized in France, customer fees have increased by as much as 150%. A number of public officials have been convicted of accepting bribes from companies bidding on public service contracts and sentenced to time in prison.

Private corporations seek to increase profit margins by cutting costs; hence lay-offs and inferior services almost always accompany privatization. In England, private companies fired nearly 25% of the work force, approximately 100,000 workers, when they acquired rights to the water system. Delays in service and accidents routinely follow the firing of often the more experienced personnel. Since 1999, Thames Water, the largest water and wastewater company in England, has been convicted of environmental and public health violations two dozen times and fined roughly $700,000 after allowing raw sewage to flow into open waterways, over streets, onto people’s lawns and over children’s toys—even into people’s homes.

The same multinational corporations aggressively taking over the management of public water services around the world are now vying for the lucrative U.S. market, one of the world’s largest with annual revenues estimated at $90 billion. A change to the U.S. tax code in 1997 opened the way to greater private sector involvement in the U.S. water delivery and treatment business. Companies are now able to bid on 20-year contracts that include the operation, design of new plants or upgrades, maintenance and even complete transfer of ownership of water systems to the private sector. Until now, mainly small public utility operators have controlled the U.S. water industry. In rural areas, small, privately owned utilities were common, but multinational corporations are rapidly buying even these out. These companies have weaseled into venues like the U.S. Conference of Mayors where they peddle privatization as a simple, cost-saving solution to cities’ aging infrastructures and regulatory compliance headaches.

On a global scale, water privatization is being pushed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in dozens of financially-strapped countries, where global water conglomerates are dramatically raising the price of water beyond the reach of the poor and profiting from the Global South’s search for solutions to its water crises. Corporations, such as Vivendi, Suez, RWE and Bechtel, cherry pick the profitable urban water systems while letting shantytowns and rural areas fall by the wayside. The World Bank has made privatization of urban water systems a condition for receiving new loans and debt cancellation. In Ghana in 2001, the World Bank required urban water rates to be increased 95% to prepare for privatization by making the water system appear more lucrative for international bidders. Following these rate increases, a number of people were jailed for being unable to pay their water bills. Many people who live in urban slums without access to tap water pay even higher prices for water delivered by private tanker truck operators. The poor, particularly women or girls whose traditional duties include collecting water, and babies suffer considerable hardship, illness and even death when they are forced to consume unsafe water after public supplies become too expensive.”

http://www.citizen.org/cmep/Water/activist/articles.cfm?ID=9589

This is a large article but well worth reading.  Please note the comment that corporations have only one duty…..to make money.  Privatizing our water supplies is not in the interest of the public. 

WORLD WATER DAY OF MOURNING back in 2001

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 This is just a sampling of what happens when water becomes a commodity.  Privatization has been tried in England.  Water rates rose 45% overnight, maintenence was cut to a bare minimum and the quality of water fell to all time lows. 

In Bolivia where water has been privatized, indigenous people who attempted to dig their own wells were murdered.  150 in all. 

The Clean Water Restoration Act will facilitate the privatization of US water supplies and rights. 

 Extract from SAMWU Press Statement, 20 March 2001

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) calls for this year’s World Water Day to be declared a day of mourning for the millions of people who are sick and dying as a result of not having access to water. The United Nations chose “Water and Health” as the theme for World Water Day on Thursday 22nd March 2001. Nothing could be more ironic in South Africa and across the African continent. People here are becoming more and more unhealthy and dying prematurely because water is now a commodity that only the rich can afford.

Behind the inevitable glib and cheery public relations turning on of taps for the first time on Thursday, lies the shocking reality that worldwide, more than five million people, most of them children, die every year from illnesses caused from drinking poor quality water.

A shocking new survey has revealed that much of the blame for this must be laid at the feet of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their water privatization and full cost recovery policies have been imposed as conditions for IMF loans in over 12 African countries. Negotiated under the IMF’s new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), the conditions are leading to people being cut off from water more than ever before.

The Africa Policy and Information Centre has reported that water privatization is making water less accessible and less affordable. People are resorting to unsafe water sources. This is clearly evident in South Africa where the amount of cholera infections is close approaching 70 000!

In Ghana, the result of forcing the poor to pay “market rate tariffs” for water means that most Ghanains can no longer afford water at all. Only 36 percent of the rural population have access to safe water and 11 percent have adequate sanitation within the existing system. Water is also scarce in the capital, Accra. In poor areas of Accra, families are paying almost half the daily wage for 10 buckets of water!

In Angola, there is an agreement that water prices should rise regularly so that the company delivering water can make a “reasonable” profit. In Benin, Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Niger and Rwanda water privatization must be completed by the end of this year for governments to qualify for loans. In Sao Tome and Principe, there will be no further government subsidy of water in the run up to privatization.

This is clearly ridiculous. In some of the most poverty stricken countries in Africa, unemployed and homeless people who cannot even afford a crust of bread now and then, are expected to fork out one months food money for a few buckets of water! In the last month alone in Cape Town and Johannesburg, thousands of people have been disconnected from water they could not afford to pay for. Even permanently employed workers are being forced to choose between food, electricity or water. This terrible reality makes a mockery of human rights day.

Even in so-called first world countries like New Zealand, people are being forced to take to the streets against the commercialization of water. Water activists in Auckland will be protesting on World Water Day against the City Council. The demands of the activists are that all commercialization be stopped and water be restored to the public service after hundreds of families were disconnected from water they could no longer afford.

Thirst: Fighting the Corporate Theft of Our Water

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By Alan Snitow & Deborah Kaufman, with Michael Fox
Jossey-Bass/Wiley & Sons, 2007

THIRST investigates eight recent high-profile controversies over the corporate takeover of water in the U.S, and illuminates how citizens are fighting back in heartland communities like Stockton, CA, Lexington, KY, Holyoke, MA, and Mecosta County, MI. Political corruption, high stakes financial takeovers, and behind the scenes maneuvering by some of the richest corporations characterize a David and Goliath battle in which local citizens muster creative and often surprising organizing methods to preserve their right to local, public control of this precious resource.

The PBS documentary Thirst showed how communities around the world are resisting the privatization and commodification of water.  Now THIRST, the book, picks up where the documentary left off, revealing the emergence of controversial new water wars here in the United States.

THIRST exposes the corporate attempts to:

  • Take over municipal control of water in communities around the country
  • Buy up rights to groundwater in the US
  • Create and corner the market on bottled water

It also shows how people in affected communities are fighting back to keep water affordable, accessible, sustainable and public:

  • By creating new methods to challenge the corporate juggernaut in an age of globalization
  • By challenging tired clichés of Republican and Democratic political alignments

We are at the tipping point in the new, global water wars. The United States is ground zero. What happens in the next few years will determine the fate of water and our basic democratic rights. THIRST is a battlefield account of the conflict.

ww.thirstthemovie.org/book.html

Book Review: Re-inventing Collapse, The Soviet Example And American Prospects, By Dmitry Orlov

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Reviewed by Carolyn Baker

The old normal is that life will go on just like before. The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same Rather than attempting to undertake the Herculean task of mitigating the unmitigatable-attempting to stop the world and point it in a different direction-it seems far better to turn inward and work to transform yourself into someone who might stand a chance, given the world’s assumed trajectory. Much of this transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. Some if it involves acquiring new skills and a different set of habits. Some of it is even physiological, changing one’s body to prepare it for a life that has far fewer creature comforts and conveniences, while requiring far more physical labor. (Dmitry Orlov)

These words from Pages 125 and 126 of Dmitry Orlov’s Re-Inventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects leapt out at me as perhaps the most definitive in his marvelous new book in which Dmitry illumines the collapse of the American empire, now well underway, with his insights from living through the collapse of the Soviet Union. (Carolyn Baker)

The rest of this article may be accessed at:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/genera_carolyn__080226_book_review_3a_re_inve.htm

UN Millenium Goals/Global Poverty TAx

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 Congress Contemplates Giving Cash to Foreigners
By Phyllis Schlafly
Monday, February 25, 2008

“There is much more to the Millennium Goals than merely extorting more money from U.S. taxpayers. The goals set forth a comprehensive plan to put the United States under U.N. global governance.

These goals include a “standing peace force” (i.e., a U.N. standing army), a “U.N. Arms register” of all small arms and light weapons, “peace education” covering “all levels from preschool through university,” and “political control of the global economy.” The goals call for implementing all U.N. treaties that the United States has never ratified, all of which set up U.N. monitoring committees to compromise U.S. sovereignty.

To achieve this level of control over U.S. domestic law, the plan calls for “strengthening the United Nations for the 21st century” by “eliminating” the veto and permanent membership in the Security Council. The goal is to reduce U.S. influence to one out of 192 nations, so we would have merely the same vote as Cuba.

The Global Poverty Act would be a giant step toward the Millennium Goals of global governance and international taxes on Americans. Tell your senators to kill this un-American bill.”

Read the full article here:

http://www.townhall.com/content/50105bdb-1d6d-4eb6-b16d-2bfb62712cfb

S 1959…..Tell them what you think!

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http://www.govit.com/S_1959/    Click on this link to register your comments or objections to the passage of this bill.S 1959 the Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act, also known as the “How to Stiffle Dissent and Close off Major Portions of the Internet” Act, is working it’s way through the Senate now. 

If I understand the act correctly, somwhow, bloggers, independent news services that are not controlled by the CIA or the Office of Propaganda, The Ministry of Truth (as we want you to know it) or any of the other government agencies that actively control  the content in MSM are now a threat to national security.

Supposedly, it’s those of us out here who are communicating outside of the prescribed boundaries of propaganda that our government is now fearful of.  Blogging has been deemed a “threat” to national security.

Rumsfeld, before he was canned, claimed that the internet was an “enemy weapons system” and should be closed down.  Of course Rummy viewed anyone outside of the government as an enemy…..and not because of the interent.

Our entire government now views the American citizenry to be potential terrorists and a threat to national security.  You have only to look at the laws that have been passed over the last 20 years to realize that the people our government is most fearful of ……is us.

If this bill passes……..just communicating your ideas, opinions or thoughts to your representative or senator could be considered an act of violence.  Being politically active outside the golden walls of congress could get you labeled a “domestic terrorist”.  Practicing unapproved religions could get you labeled as “undesirable”.  Working for social or political change could net you a special cell at one of the new FEMA camps.

Ultimately, there are laws against the fluffy issues surrounding what this law is supposed to be about.  But, sitting dead in the middle of the contents is the internet.  That’s what they are really after.  As it is, the 1st Amendment protects the internet from our government so a new law with a phony national security threat had to be devised so that the 1st could be breached.

http://www.govit.com/S_1959/ This was link provided by one of our readers.  Click it to send your thoughts on this phony bill and the site will direct your email to your representatives.

Marti

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