Kevlexicon – Asbestos City
Published June 23, 2017.
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excerpts from the .pdf:
Cursed by Coal: Mining the Navajo Nation ( Vice News )
Desert cities in the United States’ Southwest draw their energy resources from the Navajo nation.
Navajo Nation is the largest Native American Reservation, spanning Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
For 6 decades, the Navajo Nation has been mined for its coal reserves, powering the Southwest & profiting some of the world’s largest energy companies.
The Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants of the USA’s 633. Its spews toxic mercury emissions into the air, and dumps dangerous coal waste into the nearby storage ponds.
The coal waste sits in unlined pits in the ground, with very little to stop it from entering water supplies. Harmful levels of lead, copper, and mercury have been found in nearby rivers.
Coal Health Problems:
Asthma, Eye Problems, Black Lung ( a terminal respiratory illness caused by long term exposure to coal dust. )
Unemployment on the reservation hovers between 40-60%.
“Tribal Leadership” [ what a great, great term ], “purchased” the mine from the owners.
Tribal elder, Duane “Chili” Yazzie, has been one of the most vocal advocates against the purchase of the mine.
Chili: “The positive impact of coal, in terms of the livelihood it provides is only for a small number of ppl.” [ dat kkkapital inequality, son ]. “whereas, all of us, continue to suffer the environmental consequences of coal mining and coal burning.”
“What are your thoughts on the purchase of the mine?”
“It was a bad deal. The coal mining company was able put into the contract that they would not be held liable for any liability, past, present, or future…and for them to be free and clear…is just…stupidity of the highest order.”
“The Navajo Nation didn’t have $85m to write a check for the coal mine purchase. The arrangement is the company is fronting that money, and it still remains a mystery as to what the interest rate is on that. That’s something that’s so confidential, that we still do not know about. The tribal leadership has been negligent. They have not protected our interests.”
This isn’t the first shady coal dealing for the Navajo Nation. A deal made on Black Mesa, the site of the largest known coal deposit in the country, has haunted the tribe since its signing in the 1950s.
A lawyer named John Boyden, appointed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, set up a deal to open Black Mesa for mining. He also jus happened to be on the payroll of a coal company, Peabody Energy, who then set up one of the largest coal strip mining operations in the country.
Wikipedia – Black Mesa Peabody Coal Mining Controversy
“In 1964, Peabody Energy (then Peabody Western Coal), a publicly traded energy company based in the Midwestern United States, signed a contract with the Navajo Tribe and two years later with the Hopi Tribe, allowing the company mineral rights and use of an aquifer. The contract was negotiated by prominent natural resources attorney John Sterling Boyden, who claimed to be representing the Hopi Tribe while actually on the payroll of Peabody. It offered unusually advantageous terms for Peabody and was approved despite widespread opposition. The contract is also controversial because of misrepresentations made to the Hopi and Navajo tribes.”
“Controversy arose from an unusually generous mineral lease agreement negotiated under questionable circumstances between the Tribes and Peabody Energy, the coal company’s use and degradation of a potable source of water to transport coal via a pipeline from the mine to a power plant hundreds of miles away, and the public health and environmental impacts of strip mining on tribal lands.”
All the coal that was mined was transported in what was the only coal slurry pipeline in the US, which used billions of gallons of water a year from Black Mesa’s aquifer, the sole drinking water source in the area. Today, Black Mesa is dry.
Residents have to travel great distances to water pumps. For years residents have to haul water for themselves and their animals.
Over the past several years, Peabody has tried to expand its mining operations, but a few holdouts stand in their way.
Police attacked an elderly woman who refused to sell her land.
Over 12,000 people have been displaced since coal mining began on the Navajo Nation, making it one of the largest removals of Native Americans since the 19th century.
The reality is, coal is an energy source we’ll be dependent on for decades to come. For the time being, millions of tons of coal will continue to be extracted and burnt here, providing cheap electricity at a high cost.
An Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the US Bureau of Indian Affairs.
There are 9 in South Dakota, home to more than 70,000 Native Americans. The reservations are some of the poorest areas in the US.
Tashina Red Hawk:
“Around here it’s kinda hard, because of all the drugs & alcohol…There’s lots of suicides and…that kinda stuff.”
42% of the native population is below 24 years of age.
Indian youth have the highest rate of suicide among all ethnic groups in the US.
Chronic alcoholism is thought to contribute to high rates of death, domestic abuse, and unemployment on the reservation.
At Pine Ridge, Tribe Wages Battle Against Alcoholism – AFP news agency
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
The Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks $500m in damages from some of the world’s largest beer brewing companies as well as liquor sellers in the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska.
Whiteclay, Nebraska. Population: 12. Less than 250 ft. from Pine Ridge Resservation. At Pine Ridge, it is illegal to possess and transport alcohol, and to have traces of it in your system.
The tribe’s lawsuit alleges the defendants supply alcohol in quantities far too large in an area where there is no place for it to be legally consumed.
In 2010, its 4 liquor stores sold nearly 5m cans of beer, nearly all thought to be consumed by Pine Ridge residents.
40,000 people live on the reservation. Alcoholism is said to impact 85% of all families.
Isolated, with few jobs and staggering unemployment, Pine Ridge is one of America’s poorest patches. And its problems are handed down from generation to generation.
1 in 4 children born on Pine Ridge has fetal alcohol syndrome.
Maxine Running Hawk: “Every one of my kids, they all drink. That’s how two of my boys are in jail. I have one daughter that drinks a lot too. She’s the one that left her kids with me, because she drinks too much.”
The newly built local jail runs near capacity all the time.
Over 90% of inmates are incarcerated over an incident involving alcohol.
Closing off easy access to alcohol will only make it harder to get, if the lawsuit is successful, the tribe plans to use the money to build a treatment center and stimulate economic development.
Native American Tribe Sues Beer Companies
Pine Ridge Reservation ( South Dakota ) lays just across the state border from Whiteclay ( Nebraska ).
Pine Ridge is home to around 45,000 people and is one of the poorest places in the country.
It’s estimated 4 out of 5 families have someone with alcohol problems. 1 in 4 babies are born with complications linked to alcohol.
The tribe wants the money from the legal case for better healthcare and clinics for those effected. It wants to limit the amount of alcohol sold in Whiteclay and ban stores selling to Sioux indians.
In documents lodged with the court, the beer companies say that many of the problems in Pine Ridge are caused by personal choice, and they say that if the lawsuit is successful, that it would mean storeowners here in Whiteclay discriminating against native americans, unable to sell them alcohol, like they can sell to anyone else.
Victor Clarke, local storeowner who doesn’t sell beer : ( says others are happy for the problem to stay here ) “…I’m thinkin commissioners, and towns, mayors and things, probably like Whiteclay’s existence because basically the problems are isolated here.”
Some in Pine Ridge suggest the answer may be to lift the alcohol ban there, the tribe could then control sales and take the revenue for social programmes, helping those, who can’t help themselves.
Alcoholism’s Impact on Native Americans
A dry indian reservation consumed by alcoholism, and the white town that exists solely to sell them booze.
Whiteclay pop: 22 people. 4 liquor stores. Alcoholism on Pine Ridge estimated 80%.
A few years ago, of approx 13,000 crimes committed on the Pine Ridge Reservation, almost 99% were alcohol related.
It seems the only reason Whiteclay exists at all is to sell alcohol to indians. 4 liquor stores. There’s no school, church or doctor in Whiteclay.
Prohibition in Northern Canada – Vice News
Nunavut, Canada’s youngest territory (founded in 1999), is the largest and northernmost territory. Nunavut also suffers from incredibly high rates of suicide and crime.
Its only been 2 generations since Canada’s stewardship forced the Inuit from their semi-nomadic way of life, into a modern sedentary one.
While the introduction of heated homes, standardized education, and healthcare, seemed to have made everyday life more convenient, Canada’s history in the Arctic is mired in tragedy.
The traumatic effects of residential schools and forced relocations are still being felt.
Crime rates are 4x the national average. The rates of suicide and homicide are over 10x higher than the rest of Canada. A lot of people here will tell u the driving force of the problem is alcohol. In fact, the literal Inuit translation of the word “alcohol” is “bad water.”
In some parts of the area, 95% of the police calls are alcohol-related.
While the (then-current Conservative government) reasserts arctic sovereignty, to exploit the wealth of resources in the arctic, the people who have been living in and safeguarding the land for thousands of years are experiencing an epidemic of violence and crime that until now has largely been ignored.
The black market for alcohol eliminates revenues coming back to the community.
In Nunavut, housing is a big concern, as well as the need of monetary assistance and land access. The average child in Nunavut has missed 3 years of schooling.
Bootlegging is rampant.
After Division in 1999, nobody bothered to look at the crime rate and the increasing numbers of people flowing into the court system and say, maybe we need more correctional centre space in the new territory.
The rate of violent crime in Nunavut is higher than the rate of property crime.
“I followed my friend to a place I had never been before. And then out of nowhere, I just got shot. I was shot with a 3030 long rifle.”
“The capacity for violence is there, whether the person is drunk or not. The alcohol unlocks it.”
Alcohol hasn’t been sold in stores since the 1970s, buying booze in Nunavut isn’t impossible, but it’s extremely annoying. If you live in a community like Iqaluit, where alcohol is non-restricted, you still need to fax or mail your order to the Liquor Commission.
Booze selection in Nunavut is limited, and because of the EU Seal ban, there’s a reciprocal ban on European booze.
So if u want something weird and exotic, like a French Wine, u first need to go to City Hall to obtain an import permit, and then wait for your booze to come in from Rankin Inlet, Motnreal, or Ottawa, by plane or boat.
If you live in a restricted community like Baker Lake or Resolute Bay, u still have to go thru that whole process of importing your booze.
But not before you get approval of a panel of elected community members that form the local Alcohol Education Committee.
Now, these guys can set the limits on the size of your order, or even deny your application, if they don’t think you’re responsible enough to drink.
Finally, in prohibited communities like Pangnirtung, it’s completely illegal to import, purchase, or consume any amount of alcohol. This creates a lucrative opportunity: Bootlegging.
[ yaani, Various trade deals and a chain of bureaucracy make obtaining alcohol legally very annoying. ]
A bootlegger can buy a $100 bottle of vodka from Iqaluit and bring it to Pangnirtung for up to $600. Booze scarcity and lack of responsible drinking experience creates a culture of heavy alcohol consumption and the heap of social problems that comes with it.
Bootlegger Profile: Bootleggers are usually men, sometimes women, low-income, in a non-unionized government job, in some cases unemployed, trying to get a few extra dollars to supplement their income.
Bootlegger’s opinion: Open up beer stores (in prohibited areas) , ppl would drink more beer, less hard alcohol. ( less binge drinking )
Part of the concern with selling alcohol concerns safe storage. There have been break-ins.
Tommy Akulukjuk, Pangnirtung Resident ( dry region, alcohol illegal ):
“We see drunks that are just embarrassing. You hear of someone abusing their wives or their girlfriends, or doing something that is not accepted by society.”
“There’s a lot of things that you see in this community. Suicide after suicide. …A drink would be really good on certain days…”
Alcohol abuse often leads to domestic abuse. Suicide.
Meeka Arnakaq – Elder, Pangnirtung resident
“Young people and the elders used to spend quality time with each other. But as alcohol started to be consumed more and more it caused a distancing of our people.
Rose Tina Alivaktuk – Pangnirtung Resident:
“My parents’ age group, that peer group, who were just coming off of living in the settlements, to moving here, where anything goes, was scary, for many of us who were little.”
What did u see that was so scary?
“Lots of anger, fighting. Sleepless nights. Waking up to no more food.”
And what was that like for u as a child who’d grown up thru the chaos?
“That drove me to the complete opposite. I never had a drink. But I went too extreme. That didn’t introduce the next generation to healthy drinking.”
What could be done for people of your generaton who’ve gone thru that inter- generational trauma, and they’re just passing it on to their kids?
“What I went thru was finding my identity thru processing seal skins, all of it, education, sprituality, culture….I’m also [founding] a school, emphasising cultural inclusion to put all the pieces together.”
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory – Artist , Activist –
“During the colonial period, Inuit weren’t given many choices, the police, and the church, and the Hudson’s Bay Company made sure that they kept rank. When the communities actually formed and came together, white people were at a higher level and Inuit had to keep that sense of intimidation for their relationships to work.”
Hudson’s Bay Company – Wikipedia
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC; French: Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson), commonly referred to as The Bay (La Baie in French), is a Canadian retail business group. A fur trading business for much of its existence, Hudson’s Bay Company now owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada, Germany, Belgium and the United States with Galeria Kaufhof, Gilt, Hudson’s Bay, Home Outfitters, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH. HBC’s head office is in the Simpson Tower in Toronto, Ontario. The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “HBC”.
The company was incorporated by English royal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay and functioned as the de facto government in parts of North America before European states and later the United States laid claim to some of those territories. It was once the world’s largest landowner, with the area of the Hudson Bay watershed, known as Rupert’s Land, having 15% of North American acreage. From its long-time headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay, the company controlled the fur trade throughout much of the English and later British controlled North America for several centuries. Undertaking early exploration, its traders and trappers forged relationships with many groups of aboriginal peoples. Its network of trading posts formed the nucleus for later official authority in many areas of Western Canada and the United States. In the late 19th century, with its signing of the Deed of Surrender, its vast territory became the largest portion of the newly formed Dominion of Canada, in which the company was the largest private landowner.
….By the mid-19th century, the company evolved into a mercantile business selling everything from furs to fine homeware. They “quickly introduced a new type of client to the HBC – one that shopped for pleasure and not with skins”; the retail era had begun as the HBC began establishing stores across the country. In July 2008 HBC was acquired by NRDC Equity Partners, who also owns U.S. luxury department store Lord & Taylor. From 2008 to 2012, the HBC was run through a holding company of NRDC, Hudson’s Bay Trading Company, which was dissolved on 23 January 2012. Since 2012, the HBC directly oversees its Canadian subsidiaries Hudson’s Bay (formerly The Bay) and Home Outfitters, in addition the operations of Lord & Taylor in the United States.
On 29 July 2013, the HBC announced its takeover of Saks, Inc., operator of upmarket American department store operator Saks Fifth Avenue. The merger was completed on 3 November 2013. In September 2015, HBC acquired German department store chain Galeria Kaufhof and its Belgian subsidiary from Metro Group for $3.2 billion U.S.
Residential schools: Teachers were transient, not familiar with local culture. “…teachers come fresh from college, down south, to a community, and not realising the kids don’t speak english as a first language.”
On the Suicide Epidemic:
“…it’s so bad, in my own neighborhood, when I look out my living room window, I can see a house where there was a murder-suicide, and in front of that, there’s a house where the father committed suicide just a few weeks ago.”
Why is this happening?
“There’s so much trauma that people have inflicted upon themselves within their own families, that has to do with that deep anger, that alienation from how they’re supposed to feel.”
“Because of certain studies that have been done, we have a better idea of what is associated with suicide and what is not.”
Can you talk about some of the symptoms?
“One of the symptoms is an intense fear of abandonment, and u can see that in the way that people react to the breakdown in relationships. A relationship breaks down, you’re abandoned, and you react to it by threatening to kill yourself, or, by doing a homicide.”
…it means that we need more mental health services, more diagnosis as well. A lot of young people are clearly in emotional distress. Especially young people who have grown up in turbulent families with lots of problems, they’ll tend to inherit those problems.”
[ Kevlexicon note: yeh, economics determine human interaction, so the colonial legacies of programmed submission and poverty / lower class roles for Inuits no doubt had a negative impact on interpersonal relations within Inuit communities. ]
Do you think that there’s a willful ignorance by the Canadian government? “Well there was for a long time.”
Alethea Arnaquq-Baril – Filmmaker
“Families all over the north have either attended residential school or had a family member or a friend that attended. So it’s still very much felt. And people are still struggling to even talk about it.”
“Many people were taken away from their homes and their parents and put into residential schools at the age of 4 and 5 yrs old. They didn’t learn to deal with anger in the the same way that their parents would have taught them. And were quick to anger because that’s what they learned in residential school, where they were beaten for just stepping out of line or speaking their own language.”
( Kevlexicon note: Some Decolonising the Mind Ngugi wa Thiong’o-type colonial education )
“The cost of building homes is so extraordinary, that we just can’t build enough homes fast enough, without outside help. When you don’t have enough homes for people, you end up with a rapist, for example, living with the woman he assaulted, because there’s no other choice.”
“Breaking the cycle of passing it on is really important. And there are lots of ways that needs to be done, including more access to mental health services and addiction treatment. But also solving the housing crisis. And giving people something productive to do.”
“One of the art history classes I took, showed a whole bunch of paintings of people just drunk and passed out in the streets. These awful scenes in England. So I read into it a little bit, and I realised, that all cultures, once they’re exposed to these kinds of things, there’s a period of time where they don’t know how to handle it. And it takes experience with this new drug to learn how to live with it and not let it take over your life.
Since we only moved into town and had access to alcohol and drugs 50 years ago, its still fresh. We’re still learning how to deal with it. And I have no worry, that it’s eventually going to get better.
A lot of the young men who are struggling so much have incredible skills, out on the land, and on the water. So if they were able to bring their leadership skills together with the experience of being astute in the school, how much more pride would they have.”
Last year, the Iqaluit RCMP responded to over 8,000 calls. This is in a city with a population of just over 6,000 people.
How many of the calls u answer here have to do with alcohol?
“I couldn’t give you exact numbers, but certainly the bigger portion of them are alcohol related.”
“There is responsible drinking in Iqaluit…but I tend to see that the problems are where individuals aren’t able to have a few drinks, where you get together, where there’s a party, where the bottle has to be empty before the party’s over. I think that’s the bigger issue. Not that they can’t handle. I don’t think I could drink a 40 of vodka and be any better off than anybody else.”
“Alcohol’s gonna get there somehow. People bring it in. It gets to the prohibited communities the same as it gets to communities that are open, so…and when they can’t get regular liquor, they’ll just make it, so….you’re not gonna stop it, until we can fix the root problems.”
“What I really hope for is for the young people to feel empowered to create themselves.”
“We need help to help ourselves. And the healing has to come from returning to our own culture and language and making sure that that stays strong.”
“There’s something very powerful about going back to roots, and finding where it went wrong, and then going from there.”
“What Nunavut will look like in 2060, I think there will be a better economy, better educated, and less traumatized people.”
Warriors Off The Res: Aboriginal Gangs in Winnipeg
Eric Courchene – Elder and Community Teacher:
“My father, when I listen to his stories, they were independent. They had independent thinking. They didn’t rely on anybody to feed them, they fed themselves. They looked after themselves. And they did it from the land.
The government created this dependency. When they forced our people onto this reserve.”
In addition to essentially imprisoning aboriginal people on reserves, Canada also systematically tried to strip them of their culture and way of life, with the creation of what were known as residential schools.
Indian residential schools were created as early as 1840, and by 1884 attendance was mandatory for all aboriginal people under the age of 16.
Jim Silver – Co-author, “Indians Wear Red”
“Large numbers of aboriginal people’s children were forcibly seized by the government, and, in my opinion, incarcerated in residential schools, where they were told that to be an indian was bad. They were prohibited from speaking their language or practicing their cultural beliefs, separated from their families. We did this deliberately. Canada did this deliberately to try to eliminate indians. To try to get rid of ‘indian-ness.’ …To kill the indian in a child, as one Ottawa bureaucrat put it.”
In the 1960s, Manitoba’s Hyrdoelectric projects flooded and devastated the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of aboriginal people.
That forced them to move in droves from the reserves to the city.
Many of them arrived without job skills, and settled in the poorest, most dangerous areas.
Bonnie Rodgers-Monkmann – Former Manitoba Warriors Affiliate
“My mom was in residential school at the age of 4, up until she was 16. Then she ran away from there.”
Bonnie’s mother was one of the more than 150,000 children who were forced to attend residential school.
“While she was in residential school, she was abused physically, mentally, emotionally, wasn’t allowed to speak her language.”
( What would happen if she spoke her language? )
“She would get beaten with a ruler. Or a whip. They chopped off all her hair.
So then when she was out raising us kids, she became an alcoholic. She didn’t know how to deal with her abuse. And then all the abuse she went through, she would abuse us children. And then I grew up like that, not abusing my kids, but I became an alcoholic, a drug addict. I joined a gang, because that’s where I found security…”
The Northend, Winnipeg’s infamous inner city neighborhood is where Bonnie’s son grew up.
David – Manitoba Warriors Member
“We were real bad car theives in the city…we would take 10 cars and just smash em up, crash em into each other. Just for fun, man. Coz we didn’t give a shit. …We were always affiliated (with a crew), we started our own as kids.”
What was the gang you were in when you were kids? The ones you started? “Money over bitches.”
And what did you join after?
My Mom was affiliated with the Manitoba Warriors, my dad was Indian Posse.”
What was one of the big reasons you’d be in a crew?
“Money. …16 years old I owned 4 cars. I owned dirt bikes, I owned quads. I had everything….I was wearin a $10,000 chain.
…I was paying my mom’s bills, at 13, 14, because she was so bad into her drug habit. Like I pretty much raised my younger ones, to a point. Til they were old enough to take care of themselves….Most of us were like that. We were providers. That’s why we did what we did. Because our parents weren’t capable of doing it.”
Experts say continuing high dropout rates and little economic opportunity means that membership in gangs for aboriginal youth could double in the next 10 years.
“The source of the problem is the severe racialized poverty that we allowed to continue to exist. It will continue to be violent. Young people will continue to kill other young people. They will continue to be incarcerated. This story will just go on and on and on, unless someone decides to take some serious action dealing with the root source of the problem.”
Despite only making up 3% of Canada’s population, about a quarter of incarcerated men are aboriginal.
David served 5 years at Stony Mountain Penitentiary. There he only became more involved with the Manitoba Warriors.
“There was a lotta drug activity, I made a lot of money in there. Did what I had to do to survive in there. But it also helped being who I was with the crew. So anyways,
here’s where I did my 5 years for shootin that guy….You go in there learning a lot more than you knew before.”
Aboriginal culture, identity, does that at all play into gang culture in Winnipeg?
“I don’t think so. No. For the select few we do take interest in our culture and that, and we do learn the ceremonies, but other than that, we just…”
So that’s not gonna keep you away?
“No, because none of that’s gonna solve the poverty issue or the fact that you had nothin to eat today. Or I can go sit in a crack shack or somn. Sell some drugs. Make a pocketful of cash and there you go. I got my new clothes, new shoes. Stuff my mom’s not givin me and shit like that.”
What do you think could be done to end gang culture in Winnipeg?
“It’ll never end. Plain and simple. Never end.”
Canada succeeded in mostly destroying the cultural traditions and identity of aboriginal people. And the legacy of colonization has only replaced them with inner city poverty and violence. With the last residential school closing in 1996, the memory of segregation is still fresh in their minds.
And unless the government does something to address the racialized poverty in urban settings, gang culture in Winnipeg will continue to erode the aboriginal community from within.
Undrinkable: The Flint Water Emergency ( 2016 )
( old link )
Flint has been labeled the most dangerous city in America.
Flint began as a boomtown, in 1908, General Motors (GM) opened its doors. The workforce declined from 80,000 to 8,000 today.
To alleviate the weight of so much owed money, the first emergency financial manager was appointed in Flint.
The original emergency manager law was passed in 1988, created to help cities in financial distress. It allows a single person to be assigned into a city and can take over all decisions made, in hopes of getting communities out from under money problems.
In 2012, Governer Snyder updated the law to make it even stronger. Emergency Manager supersedes all elected officials, including mayors and city councils, and also can change or eliminate all negotiated contracts.
When a community is assigned an Emergency Manager, all democracy can, in effect, be thrown out, and elected officials become powerless.
There have been 13 cities in Michigan under the effects of this law including Flint. Since 2002, Flint has had 6 different managers in command.
April 16, 2013 – Flint signs an agreement to join the KWA. The Karegnondi Water Authority.
Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) – Wikipedia
Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) is a municipal corporation responsible for distributing water services in the Mid-Michigan and Thumb areas of the U.S. state of Michigan. Members of the authority are the cities of Flint and Lapeer, and the counties of Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac. Karegnondi is a word from the Petan Indian language meaning “lake”[fj 2][fj 3] and another early name for Lake Huron.[fj 2]
The KWA helps give cities more power over water and their costs. At the time, Flint was paying high amounts of money for their water, and it was decided a switch was in need.
With this agreement, KWA was to build a pipeline direct from Lake Huron to Flint. A couple months later, Emergency Manager Darnell Earley took control.
After the choice to go with KWA, the deal with DWSD (Detroit Water & Sewerage Department) was on borrowed time. The DWSD is one of the largest water and sewerage systems in the USA today. They have also been the source of Flint’s water for over 50 years.
April 17, 2014, Flint terminates contract between itself and DWSD to save money using KWA (Karegnondi Water Authority).
Knowing that the pipeline would not be done until 2016, way after the contract was finished, Flint knew they needed a temporary water source.
March 2014- Water source would be Flint River for the meantime.
Flint water customers noticed the switch within hours, noting the new smell, coloration and taste.
Through the summer, the new problems continued.
Sept 8, 2014, a boiling water advisory was issued to certain water customers in Flint after fecal coliform bacteria was discovered in regular water flowing through Flint’s pipes.
Fecal Coliform – Wikipedia
A fecal coliform (British: faecal coliform) is a facultatively anaerobic, rod-shaped, gram-negative, non-sporulating bacterium. Coliform bacteria generally originate in the intestines of warm-blooded animals.
Coliform bacteria include genera that originate in feces (e.g. Escherichia) as well as genera not of fecal origin (e.g. Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Citrobacter). The assay is intended to be an indicator of fecal contamination; more specifically of E. coli which is an indicator microorganism for other pathogens that may be present in feces.
Presence of fecal coliforms in water may not be directly harmful, and does not necessarily indicate the presence of feces.
The bacteria itself isn’t harmful, howerver it is a pointer that contaminants could be present in the water.
This breakthrough brought validation to the people of Flint’s concerns.
October 13, 2014 – the water system’s biggest consumer, General Motors, stopped using the water to make cars. GM decided to cut ties with Flint water and bring in an outside source.
Trihalomethanes found in water.
Trihalomethanes – Wikipedia
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are chemical compounds in which three of the four hydrogen atoms of methane (CH4) are replaced by halogen atoms. Many trihalomethanes find uses in industry as solvents or refrigerants. THMs are also environmental pollutants, and many are considered carcinogenic. Trihalomethanes with all the same halogen atoms are called haloforms. Several of these are easy to prepare through the haloform reaction.
Trihalomethanes were the first new drinking water regulation EPA issued after passage of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. The agency had the responsibility to produce all of the supporting information, and in quite considerable detail, and use that information, be it toxicology, analytical chemistry, occurrence, treatment technology, costs, economic impact, to craft its regulation.
Trihalomethanes are formed as a byproduct when chlorine is used to disinfect water for drinking.
Dayne Walling – Mayor of Flint
“The City of Detroit, who we’ve been a customer of, for over 40 years, they terminated our contract. We had a 12 month window to find a new source, or to negotiate a new, higher cost, short term contract, with the Detroit system. That’s what the county did. They’re paying quite a good premium for that short term supply. The Emergency Manager in Flint made a different decision.”
2 Former Flint Emergency Managers Charged Over Tainted Water – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/flint-water-charges.html?_r=0
“Charges of false pretenses, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty lodged against the former managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, were lauded by Flint leaders, some of whom said they had feared that blame for the city’s contaminated water might ultimately be pinned only on low-level workers.
The claims also reopened a longstanding debate in Michigan over the state’s emergency management provision, reviving questions about whether the system removes power and control over local issues from those residents who come under state oversight.
For years, governors here have appointed emergency managers as a way to efficiently cut debts and restore financial stability in the most troubled cities. But residents of some majority-black Michigan cities, including Flint, argue that the intense state-assigned oversight disenfranchises voters, shifts control from mostly Democratic cities to the state’s Republican-held capital and risks favoring financial discipline over public health.”
Feb 10, 2014
Third party water experts conduct tests.
Feb 18, 2014
Discovery of discoloration and sediment. But TTHM (trihalomethanes) levels below federal levels, …water declared safe and compliant with Safe Water Act.
Researchers at Virginia Tech University had found traces of lead in Flint’s water. A press conference on Sept. 15 confirmed these tests, the water found in some homes was 3x the federal limit of lead within water. Aged lead pipes and lead soldering found in pipes are common throughout the city, not only in city lines, but also in people’s homes, and has been for years. The corrosive water from the flint river led to lead contamination.
Striking increases in lead levels found in children where highest levels of contaminated water was used.
Lead is a neurotoxin, especially dangerous to infants and young children. It causes permant brain damage and can stunt growth. There is no safe level of lead.
A public health emergency was declared by the Genesee County Health Department on Oct 2nd.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
“A kid with lead poisoning presents with nothing. We have to screen, we have to check.”
There are no real signs of lead poisoning, but as time goes by, the exposed kids can get anemia, have slowed bone growth, loss of their developmental skills, and many other terrifying repercussions.
“….[Lead poisoning] is the most damning thing you can do to a kid. It effects their entire life course trajectory. It lowers their IQ. Creates behavior problems, decreases their lifetime earnings, it’s bad.”
Through this timespan, 5,400 kids have been using and drinking this lead-poisoned water while they’re at school.
Freeman Elementary’s water had lead levels 6x the federal limit.
Having to pay for private water has increased the financial burden on citizens. Charaties have acted as gap-fillers to provide citizens with some drinkable water.
The people of Flint are having to pay more for water they can’t use.
“If you live in Flint, you’re not a wealthy person. That’s why you’re living there.
Bernadell L. Jackson – Flint Water Customer: “That infrastructure is still there. The problem is still there.”
Oct 16 – Flint switches back to the Detroit Water system.
Oct 19, 2015 – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) had been using the wrong standards for the water going through the system. Instead of treating the water for a city of 100,000, the size of flint, the levels were set for a city of only 50,000, which left out crucial corrosion controls that would’ve stopped the lead found in old pipes from leaching into the drinking water.
Howard Croft , Department of Public Works (DPW) Director resigned. He was the chief staff member overseeing the Flint water project.
On the Federal level, The EPA announced it would conduct a full review on the crisis.
The first lawsuit was filed against Governor Snyder and the chiefs of staff for the health problems caused by the emergency.
Claire McClinton – Flint Resident
“No one was asked. Citizens weren’t asked. The council wasn’t asked. “Was this a good decision?” Almost immediately, boiled water advisory, TTHMs, and then the cream de cream, lead everybody!”
The Sleazy and Spectacular History of Malt Liquor – Thrillist
It’s not every day that white people in pearls and pinstripes come together for a round of malt liquor, but here they are, in a wood-paneled room with a roaring fire in the hearth and a Yankee Clipper on the mantle.
The above 1955 advertisement for Country Club malt liquor is one of the few surviving remnants of malt liquor’s first act. Eisenhower was in the White House, “craft beer” was a few wars away, and advertisers were doggedly trying to get white people to drink malt liquor.
“When it came out, the United States Beer Association — which is now called the Beer Institute — wanted to teach people that malt liquor was a refined drink,” says Maureen Ogle, author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer. She delivers a mock sales pitch: “Put a couple of ice cubes in, it’s more like a cocktail than a beer!”
Malt liquor was intended to provide the boost the industry needed in the face of falling per-capita beer consumption and increasing competition from spirits and wine, and malt liquor marketers bent over backward to ingratiate themselves with the white middle class.
There were Champagne-inspired offerings like Champale (one of the first malt liquors, introduced in 1952), Champetite, and Sparkling Stite (which billed itself “Pale & Dry as Champagne”). There were enough WASPy references to fill a white-privilege bingo card: Country Club, of course, but also University Club, Olde English, and Town & Country V.V.S. There was even a reference to a founding father: Patrick Henry.
Ultimately, marketers failed to convince the white bourgeois that malt liquor was the new drink of the white bourgeois. But they did convince someone, albeit unintentionally. The word bubbled up the supply chain, from corner store, to distributor, to brewer, and finally to marketing departments: malt liquor is selling well in black neighborhoods. No one knew exactly why. It wasn’t cheaper than regular beer (that would come in the late ’80s, when Schlitz, then the market leader, undercut the competition and triggered the whole category’s slide from premium to bottom shelf). And the messaging was still white as all hell — in fact, a marketing study from the era suggests that malt liquor’s upper-class packaging may have been a contributing factor to its appeal to black customers, though this is no easy thing to corroborate.
Whatever the cause, it was happening, and the industry took notice. “[When] you get a marketing guy in there who sees it’s a disproportionately black business, it becomes a black business,” says Chick Powell, himself a marketing guy with 30 years’ experience working for brands such as Colt 45 and Schlitz. With a different target demographic, it was time for a different marketing approach. The collegiate/suburban imagery had to go. To replace it, malt liquor marketing looked to the… farm?
In the ’60s, a Baltimore brewery by the name of National (of Natty Boh fame) tested its own hunch on malt liquor messaging. Maybe low-income communities, overwhelmingly non-white then, as now, were buying malt liquor because the higher ABV made it seem like a better value. So instead of pitching malt liquor’s upper-middle-class cachet, why not market its strength?
Enter Colt 45. At 5.6% ABV, National’s new malt liquor wasn’t notably stronger than its competition, but the name suggested otherwise. In case customers missed the reference to the high-powered handgun, National slapped a bucking bronco on the label, to show that its malt liquor had a “kick.” (The man responsible for the branding, the late Dawson Farber, always maintained the name was an homage to Baltimore Colts running back Jerry Hill, who wore jersey number 45.)
“This was a masterstroke,” wrote Winship. After Colt 45 went national, “the well- mannered malt liquor brands of the previous decade were trampled by a herd of animals.” For the next 20 years, the kicking colt would do retail battle with all sorts of malt liquor mascots, including its archrival: Schlitz’s charging blue bull.
Then came Lando Calrissian
Jim Dale remembers the pitch. “It was, for better or worse, my idea,” says the advertising executive of the 1986 Colt 45 ad campaign that changed the face of malt liquor forever. “He had done the first Star Wars movie at that point,” Dale says. “Women and men both thought he was about the coolest fuckin’ guy there was.”
“He” was Billy Dee Williams. Lando Calrissian. The king of Cloud City! With a velvet purr and magnetic charm, Billy Dee Williams was practically born to be a pitchman. “I’m sure if they’d done a black James Bond at that time, he would have been considered for the role,” says R. Lorraine Collins, associate dean at the University of Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, who has studied substance consumption and abuse in minority communities for over 30 years. (Representatives for Williams did not respond to requests for comment, though tweets like this one suggest the man reflects fondly on his tenure as the face of Colt 45.)
Williams’ blackness was important to Dale. “We said, ‘[Malt liquor has] become an urban product. We’re gonna find a really cool guy for that market, but someone who has great crossover appeal,'” he recalls. “Someone who’s well known, but not so well known that people look at him and say, ‘Oh, he’s [basically] white.'” After a search, Dale and his team at W.B. Doner (since renamed Doner) settled on Williams.
To be fair, black celebrities shilling malt liquor was hardly a new idea. Rufus Thomas (1974), The Commodores (1979), and Richard Roundtree (1982) all stumped for Schlitz. Legendary football player-turned-blaxploitation actor Fred Williamson did the same for King Cobra in 1985, and Redd Foxx had starred for Colt 45 just a few years before Billy Dee. But no campaign featuring a black celebrity had ever quite achieved the perfect alignment of man and message the way this one was about to. The message: “Colt 45: It works every time.”
And it did. Colt 45 began to sell. Neither Dale nor Powell (who worked on the Colt 45 brand during the same era) could recall specific sales figures, and Pabst Brewing Company, the current brewer of Colt 45 (as well as Country Club, St. Ides, and several other malt liquor brands mentioned in this story), did not respond to multiple requests for comment. But production data found in The U.S. Brewing Industry tells the story just fine.
One year before Dale tapped Williams to sex up the stuff, Colt 45 produced 1,790,000 barrels, putting it roughly 100,000 barrels behind Schlitz, the category leader. The “Works Every Time” spots hit the airwaves in 1986. The following year Colt 45 produced 2 million barrels, galloping past Schlitz into malt liquor’s top spot.
“The genie,” Winship wrote, “was out of the bottle.”
The package was a hit with two groups, and you already know about the low- income, lifelong, disproportionately non-white drinkers. But college kids loved the stuff, too. Strapped for cash, desperate to get drunk and feel cool, fledgling drinkers of all colors took to the malt liquor 40. They invented “Edward Fortyhands,” a drinking challenge in which two malt liquor 40s are duct-taped to the player’s hands and removed only when drank. They bought them by the case and smashed empties against frat house walls. They made websites — early, ugly GeoCities monstrosities — to sing the praises of malt liquor.
With stronger sales, coupled with the fact that 40s were cheaper for brewers to bottle and sell, the big bottle’s quick ascension to the malt liquor throne was all but guaranteed. It just needed one more ingredient to establish itself as the de facto malt liquor package: hip-hop.
“Go to the counter with your five / And buy a 40 of the St. Ides”
Before Ice Cube sold Coors Light and starred in family comedies, he was a professional rapper and white-person frightener in the iconic group N.W.A. He was also a pitchman for St. Ides. As with Billy Dee Williams, Cube’s slogans worked every time. But his were… uh, well, here’s an example from this 1993 ad: “Get your girl in the mood quicker / Get your jimmy thicker / With St. Ides malt liquor.”
In other words: drink this, fuck good. Less than a decade after Jim Dale merely flirted with innuendo to sell swill, Ice Cube and a coterie of rap icons from both coasts dispensed with the foreplay altogether. (Through a representative, Ice Cube declined to comment for this story.)
The union was auspicious. Malt liquor has never captured even a 5% volume share of the US beer market. In the urban, poor, and black communities, however, its presence was huge. In the early ’90s, African-American drinkers composed around 12% of the country’s population, according to census data, but they drank around 28% of the country’s malt liquor, according to a widely referenced study by Shanken Communications. And additional research suggested that number skewed heavily male.
Virtually all nationally recognizable rappers in that era were black men. More often than not, they were from disadvantaged neighborhoods. And malt liquor, says Shea Serrano, author of The Rap Year Book, was a cultural touchstone, something that said, “You know about this drink if you’re a part of this community.”
The list of rappers who promoted St. Ides (5.9% ABV at the time; now up to 8.2%) “reads like a who’s-who of the culture’s most respected early- to mid-’90s
artists,” wrote Kyle Coward last year in The Atlantic. Joining Ice Cube in shilling for St. Ides were household names like Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Warren G, Nate Dogg, and the Wu-Tang Clan. It was “one of the earliest examples — if not the earliest — of a brand with no inherent ties to hip-hop completely building its identity around the genre,” wrote Coward. (McKenzie River Corporation, the brewer who produced St. Ides during that period, declined comment for this story.)
Olde English enjoyed a similar bump as hip-hop hit it big. Unlike St. Ides, the brand had been around since 1964 and already had street cred thanks to its strength — especially on the West Coast, where looser restrictions on alcohol content enabled its ABV to soar as high as 7.5%. (Elsewhere, it was 5.9% ABV; now it’s higher no matter where you look.) As early as 1987, Olde English was making waves, getting name-checked everywhere from N.W.A.’s “8-Ball” to the lede of an incendiary Time story about gang violence in South Central. John Singleton would use its red-and- gold-foil 40 label as synecdoche for the entire malt liquor category in Boyz n the Hood, released in 1991.
Hip-hop’s high visibility bore fruit on brewers’ balance sheets. In 1989, Olde English 800 produced 950,000 barrels, according to The U.S. Brewing Industry. In 1993, it produced 1,975,000, making it the category’s biggest brand by volume. Not to be outdone, in its first full year of production — somewhere between 1987 and 1990, according to multiple accounts — St. Ides saw its sales jump around 25%, according to a case study published in Harvard Business Review.
The industry swelled in turn. In 1992, the Los Angeles Times reported that sales of malt liquor had increased 15% from 1990 to 1991. Total national barrelage leapt from 5,480,000 in ’89 to 8,910,000 in ’93. St. Ides, Olde English, and the rap-aligned “up-strengths,” as they came to be known, were driving the category’s growth.
Not that everyone was pleased about it. “They took a pretty down-and-dirty road to be able to get some business quickly,” says former malt liquor marketer Powell of St. Ides’ marketing maneuvers in that era. “They kinda [cast themselves] like a ‘ghetto’ brand, and that set some people off.”
The scandals began to pile up. Malt liquor, briefly the belle of the brewing ball, was headed for the pillory. It had become a political target, “a symbol of a lot of the things that were destroying neighborhoods,” says Collins, the University of Buffalo professor. The billboards, celebrity endorsers, and oversized bottles were all visible in a way that drugs like crack — discreet, illegal, and sold in vials and baggies — were not, and as a result, malt liquor opened itself up to a decade of attacks.
In 1991, Public Enemy released “1 Million Bottlebags,” a snarling rebuke of the industry’s marketing relationship with the black community: They drink it thinkin’ it’s good / But they don’t sell that shit / In the white neighborhood, exposin’ the plan / They get mad at me, I understand / They’re slaves to the liquor man.
In 1992, Don Vultaggio’s Hornell launched a “super-premium” product called Crazy Horse malt liquor. His company was promptly sued by ancestors of Crazy Horse, the victor of Little Bighorn and a vocal opponent of alcohol in Native American communities during his lifetime. By 1994, the Minnesota Council of Churches had called for a ban on the stuff; a year later, Crazy Horse was outlawed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The legal battle for the other 49 states sprawled into federal court and spanned a decade. Hornell eventually settled with Crazy Horse’s descendants in the late ’90s and changed the name to “Crazy Stallion.”
Also in 1992, St. Ides reached terms with the New York attorney general, agreeing to pay for the state’s $50,000 investigation into advertising practices that targeted underage drinkers, without admitting any wrongdoing. And in 1995, Philadelphia pushed through controversial legislation to limit “takeout” malt liquor sales (this was pretty much all malt liquor sales, because it’s almost never served in bars and restaurants). Other cities, including Chicago, followed suit.
One of the most vocal malt liquor critics was Rev. Paul Scott, founder of the Messianic Afrikan Nation in Durham, NC. He saw his first St. Ides commercial in 1992, on a Saturday morning hip-hop show aimed at black kids. (This was no coincidence: as late as 1996, the FCC was finding beer and malt liquor advertising on MTV programs whose audiences were more than half underage.) “That was my wake-up call,” Scott recalls. “I looked at it from a sociopolitical standpoint, and I considered it genocide on the young African-American community.” He wasn’t alone. Early blogger-activists like Keidi Obi Awadu of The Conscious Rasta wrote that malt liquor was “part of an overall scheme to control [minorities] that might have reason to undermine the current power status.” Others believed that malt liquor was designed to cull the black population by lowering sperm counts and fertility rates. (Black Dynamite, a 2009 blaxploitation satire, features a scene lampooning this theory.)
The backlash took a toll. By the turn of the century, malt liquor’s ouster was written very clearly on the wall. State politicians called it “racist” in the New York Times and “liquid crack” in special committee hearings. In 1999, Scott and other community leaders emerged victorious in a campaign against Phat Boy malt liquor, which they claimed was appealing to underage black men via slang. Like, y’know… “phat.”
The malt liquor advertising blitz, for the most part, disappeared. In 1988, Colt 45 spent a brand-high $4.92 per barrel on advertising. By 1998, it was 10 cents/barrel. Olde English went from $3.04 to 17 cents in the same period. King Cobra, Anheuser- Busch’s perennially weak malt liquor entry, stopped spending on advertising entirely in 1997, according to The U.S. Brewing Industry.
Rap was changing, too. “Around ’97, ’98, that’s when Puff Daddy really took over,” says Shea Serrano. “He was like, ‘We’re done with the come-up story; now it’s the ‘here we are and this is how much money we have’ story.” In music videos, magnums of Dom Pérignon and Hennessy replaced 40s of Olde English. St. Ides had already throttled back on its hip-hop partnerships, but now hip-hop itself was throttling back on malt liquor. It’s never been ex-communicated entirely — big- timers like Snoop Dogg have appeared in malt liquor ads well into the aughts, and just this year, E-40 released his own eponymous brand of the stuff. But malt liquor’s golden decade at hip-hop’s table was over. “It just sorta worked its way into obsolescence,” Serrano says.
“Not these,” he said, chuckling and tapping the 22oz bottles before him. “Forties. This is nothing in the ’hood.”
This is, I think, the only solid ground you’ll ever find in the cultural quagmire of malt liquor in America. It’s not quite poison, though it sure tastes like it. And it’s not quite racist, though its track record for dubious marketing and crude racial insensitivity is undeniable. Young black men drink more malt liquor than they statistically should, given their share of the population, but they still represent less than a third of all its drinkers. Hispanic adults and rural white folks drink more than two-thirds of the stuff. This is something we should remember, as Winship cautioned, “before we cast malt liquor as a racist and calculated attempt to harm minorities.”
Try to stake a firm position in the murk between capitalism and morality, where malt liquor has lived for half a century, and you’re bound to be disappointed. Take a big swig from a 40 of malt liquor expecting a premium taste, and you’ll likely feel the same. In lieu of satisfaction, the history of malt liquor does offer one small, immutable, undeniable truth about life in America: if you make something strong, put it in a big bottle, and sell it for cheap, someone is gonna drink the damn thing.
Colt 45 Commercial With Billy Dee Williams
Surfing Waiter Colt 45 Commerical
Wu Tang St. Ides Commercial
Charlie Chaplin – Factory Work ( Modern Times )
The Human Zoo Science’s Dirty Little Secret pt1 of 4
Indirect rule is a system of government used by the British and French to control parts of their colonial empires, particularly in Africa and Asia, through pre-existing local power structures. These dependencies were often called “protectorates” or “trucial states”. By this system, the day-to-day government and administration of areas both small and large was left in the hands of traditional rulers, who gained prestige and the stability and protection afforded by the Pax Britannica, at the cost of losing control of their external affairs, and often of taxation, communications, and other matters, usually with a small number of European “advisors” effectively overseeing the government of large numbers of people spread over extensive areas.
Performers in London’s ‘Racist’ Human Zoo Exhibit Are Angry It’s Been Shut Down
“When we met a day after the furor of opening night, Bailey explained that “Exhibit B” consists of 13 tableaux-vivants, each featuring one or two performers standing absolutely still, whose only instructions are to never break eye contact with the audience. The “colonial gaze” is returned and subverted. The tableaus themselves reflect various horrors perpetrated in the name of racial differentiation, both colonial and contemporary. For instance, two of the “modern” stages deal with immigration and asylum, and are titled “Found Objects.” Referring to a living, breathing person in front of you as “object” is intentionally jarring, and each tableau is accompanied by an explanation of its historical context and a list of its components. Crucially, the last item on each list is “spectators.” The audience are explicitly framed within the work, forcing them to confront their own complicity.”
“I asked her about her reaction to finding out the piece had been shut down. “The first thing was I tried to find words, but I came out in tears. In all my experiences of racism I’ve never actually had someone say to me, ‘You can’t do your art.’ We were
being totally unvoiced by the people who said they were anti-racists. It was really… umm… depressing.”
Later, I did telephone interviews with Sara Myers—who started the online petition against the piece and Zita Holbourne, co-Chair of Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts, one of the key organizations backing the boycott. I told them about the unedifying situation of a young black woman saying she felt denied a voice by other, older black women, and asked them what they would say to Priscilla. Sara Myer’s response was telling: “Nothing.”
“A young black woman has just told you she feels you’ve denied her voice, and your response is really ‘Nothing’?”
“Well, I’d say now she knows how our ancestors felt.” “But she’s saying she feels you denied her voice.”
“I didn’t deny anyone’s voice. I didn’t shut the show down. The Barbican did that— the Barbican silenced her, not Sara Myers. We just banged drums and protested.”
Confusingly, before she’d told me this, Myers had announced her campaign’s victory on Facebook with the line: “We did it. And our ancestors are proud.”
Many of the other performers echo Priscilla’s sentiments. Anne Mora stated, “I invited a friend—a black African and a scholar in African studies—to the show. I knew he could deconstruct this piece every which way, and I wanted his opinion. Afterwards, he said, ‘Everything I am trying to do in my work was presented in this exhibition.’ I have never felt prouder.”
“And there’s the rub. While everyone involved in the boycott absolutely insists that they weren’t censoring Brett Bailey or his art, denying freedom of expression is an act of double violence. You do violence to those who want to speak, but also to those who want to hear. You may have loved to see this piece and decided for yourself whether or not it was worthwhile. But now you can’t because some people decided you weren’t grown up enough to make up your own mind. And that sucks.”
The Story of Asbestos 1922 US Bureau of Mines – Johns-Manville; How Asbestos Was Mined https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJBBtbpD7Kc
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism – Edward E. Baptist
https://www.amazon.com/Half-Has-Never-Been- Told/dp/0465049664/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497920489&sr=8- 1&keywords=baptist+half+has+never+been+told
Hands now moved “like a bresh heap afire”—“as if,” a Mississippi planter wrote “some new motive power was applied in the process.” As if, in other words, mechanical engines hummed inside the enslaved, as if the disembodied hands of whites’ language moved by themselves over the cotton plants in the field.” (134)
Overseers, however, were selected for their “hardness.” If they caught enslaved people trying to short the scales on their daily cotton debt, the punishment was severe. Surveillance and physical intimidation in the fields also made it difficult for pickers to cheat the scale by loading in field rocks, or to run away before weighing time. Sometimes fast workers tried to help slower ones by putting cotton in their baskets, or taking their rows for awhile. But enslavers usually made rules against cooperation, and enforced them. (136)
Families and communities do not run on the fuel of pure altruism. (151)
Stimulated by the domestic slave trade to think of themselves as rule-breaking “one- eyed men” who could always have their fancy, southwestern entrepreneurs were planting the financial seeds of still more irrational choices. Enslavers would soon insist on taking on immense debt. But they udnerestimated the downside of that risk, and eventually not only beause they had been trained to feel that the universe had loaded the dice in their favor. People almost always misjudge downside risk when the prices of assets (such as slaves) are rising. They know intellectually that asset prices that have climbed in the past—whether Dutch tulip bulbs, Yazoo Company stock, or suprime mortgage securities—have formed bubles that eventually popped. But this time is always different.” (244)
Here are the nuts and bolts of the C.A.P.L. First, potential borrowers would apply to buy stock in the “Association.” Their application accepted, they could mortgage slaves and land to the C.A.P.L. in order to pay for the stock. The stock would entitle them to borrow C.A.P.L. bank notes of up to half the value of the mortgaged property. To ensure that people would take these bank notes at face value, the founders needed a large reserve of hard cash. They planned to raise it by selling bonds on the financial markets of the Western world. Each bond would be $500 ,– about the average price, in the 1820s, of a young enslaved man. A bond would reach maturity in 10 to 15 years and would pay investors 5 percent in annual interest.
Lenders always want security, though, so how would the C.A.P.L. assure potential investors that the bonds would be worth their face value plus interest? Thomas Baring of Baring Brothers helped Lavergne and Forstall to convince the state legislature to back the C.A.P.L.’s bonds with the “faith and credit” of Louisiana. If loan repayments from planters failed and the bank could not pay off the bonds, the taxpayers of Louisiana were now obligated to do so. The state’s commitment convinced the European securities market. In 1828, the C.A.P.L. received from Baring Brothers, its European brokers, the first receipts from bond sales that would ultimately total #2.5 in “sterling bills” redeemable for silver at the Bank of England. The bank started to lend out $3.5 million in new C.A.P.L. notes, printed by a London engraver, to planter-stockholders. (247)
The financial product that such banks as Baring Brothers were selling to investors in London, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York was remarkably similar to the securitized bonds, backed by mortgages on US homes, that attracted investors from around the globe to US financial markets from the 1980s until the economic collapse of 2008. Like the C.A.P.L. bonds, mortgage-backed securities shifted risk away from the immediate originators of loans onto financial markets while promising to spread out and thus minimize the consequences of individual debtors’ failures. Investors who puchased latter-day mortgage-backed securities planned to share in streams of income generated by homebuyers’ mortgage payments. Likewise, the faith bonds of the 1830s generated revenue for investors from enslavers’ repayments of mortgages on enslaved people. This meant that investors around the world would share in revenues made by hands in the field. Thus, in effect, even as Britain was liberating the slaves of its empire, a British bank could now sell an investor a completely commodified slave: not a particular individual who could die or run away, but a bond that was the right to a one-slave- sized slice of a pie made from the income of thousands of slaves. (248)
Austin Woolfolk’s corporate organization included systematic channels of communication and exchange, widespread advertising, consistent pricing, cash payments, and fixed locations. He and his relatives concentrated people at fixed points in preparation for making large-scale shipments. (183)
“The vertical integration of this multistate enterprise enabled Austin Woolfolk, who had started as a mere Georgia-man, to pile up so much wealth that he could now play the grand gentleman. When University of North Carolina professor Ethan Allen Andrews visited Woolfolk in his Pratt Street pen in the 1830s, neighbors told him not only that Austin was “a most mild and indulgent master,” but also that his cash payments and standard prices proved he was “an upright and scrupulously honest man.” (184)
Yet the Duncan clique of insiders shut out other entrepreneurs. The Planters’ bank didn’t open up branches outside the state’s original settlement nucleus near Natchez, leaving planters settling in newly opened areas without access to bank capital. True, during Jackson’s first term, Biddle amplified the national bank’s lending dramatically, especially via the New Orleans and Natchez branches. By the time 1832 began, at least 1/3 of all B.U.S. capital had been allocated to merchants, planters, and local banks in the southwestern states. If the bank wanted to increase its value to the major actors in the American economy, the new cotton empire where much of its dynamic activity was located was the place to concentrate B.U.S. efforts. But of all the 70,000 white ppl in Mississippi, only a few dozen received large B.U.S. loans. Therefore, despite the flood of credit poured into the cotton frontier, many of its aspiring entrepreneurs still disliked the B.U.S.—not because it made paper money, but because it did not make even more, and give it to them.
The B.U.S. and its unelected cliques blocked the desires of less well-connected southwestern planters and merchants, leaving would-be speculators feeling as if they were treated as inferiors. (233)
“Yet even though Jackson believed he was acting to protect opportunity for all white men, his policies repeatedly gave the frontier’s entrepreneurial elite exactly what most of them wanted: more Indian lands, more territories to the west for slavery, free trade for cotton, and, finally, destruction of all limits on their ability to leverage enslaved people’s bodies as credit. The majoritarian philosophy of the new Democratic Party would be fatally alloyed by its commitment to both slavery’s expansion and the unregulated, unstable economy that one-eyed entrepreneurs desired. But in the short term, the 1832 election convinced Jackson that the people now expected him to cut off the Monster Bank’s power to divert the blessings of government to the well-connected. (252)
Capitalism and Slavery
Merchants in New York City, Boston, and elsewhere, like the Browns in cotton and the Taylors in sugar, organized the trade of slave-grown agricultural commodities, accumulating vast riches in the process. Sometimes the connections to slavery were indirect, but not always: By the 1840s, James Brown was sitting in his counting house in Lower Manhattan hiring overseers for the slave plantations that his defaulting creditors had left to him. Since planters needed ever more funds to invest in land and labor, they drew on global capital markets; without access to the resources of New York and London, the expansion of slave agriculture in the American South would have been all but impossible.
The profits accumulated through slave labor had a lasting impact. Both the Browns and the Taylors eventually moved out of commodities and into banking. The Browns created an institution that partially survives to this day as Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co., while Moses Taylor took charge of the precursor of Citibank. Some of the 19th century’s most important financiers—including the Barings and Rothschilds—were deeply involved in the “Southern trade,” and the profits they accumulated were eventually reinvested in other sectors of the global economy. As a group of freedmen in Virginia observed in 1867, “our wives, our children, our husbands, have been sold over and over again to purchase the lands we now locate upon. … And then didn’t we clear the land, and raise the crops of corn, of tobacco, of rice, of sugar, of every thing. And then didn’t the large cities in the North grow up on the cotton and the sugars and the rice that we made?” Slavery, they understood, was inscribed into the very fabric of the American economy.
Merchant banks are in fact the first modern banks. They emerged in the Middle Ages from the Italian grain and cloth merchants community and started to develop in the 11th century during the large European fair of St. Giles (England), then at the Champaign fairs (France). As the Lombardy merchants and bankers grew in stature based on the strength of the Lombard plains cereal crops, many displaced Jews fleeing Spanish persecution were attracted to the trade. The Florentine merchant banking community was exceptionally active and propagated new finance practices all over Europe. Both Jews and Florentine merchants perfected ancient practices used in the Middle East trade routes and the Far East silk routes. Originally intended for the finance of long trading journeys, these methods were applied to finance the medieval “commercial revolution”.
In France during the 17th and 18th century, a merchant banker or marchand- banquier was not just considered a trader but also received the status of being an entrepreneur par excellence. Merchant banks in the United Kingdom came into existence in the early 19th century, the oldest being Barings Bank.
The Jews could not hold land in Italy, so they entered the great trading piazzas and halls of Lombardy, alongside the local traders, and set up their benches to trade in crops. They had one great advantage over the locals. Christians were strictly forbidden from any kind of lending at interest, since such activities were equated with the sin of usury (Islam makes similar condemnations). The Jewish newcomers, on the other hand, could lend to farmers against crops in the field, a high-risk loan at what would have been considered usurious rates by the Church; but the Jews were not subject to the Church’s dictates. In this way they could secure the grain-sale rights against the eventual harvest. They then began to advance payment against the future delivery of grain shipped to distant ports. In both cases they made their profit from the present discount against the future price. This two-handed trade was time- consuming and soon there arose a class of merchants who were trading grain debt instead of grain. The buying of future crop and the trading of grain debt is analogous to the future contract market in modern finance.
The Court Jew performed both financing (credit) and underwriting (insurance) functions. Financing took the form of a crop loan at the beginning of the growing season, which allowed a farmer to develop and manufacture (through seeding, growing, weeding, and harvesting) his annual crop. Underwriting in the form of a crop, or commodity, insurance guaranteed the delivery of the crop to its buyer, typically a merchant wholesaler. In addition, traders performed the merchant function by making arrangements to supply the buyer of the crop through alternative sources—grain stores or alternate markets, for instance—in the event of crop failure. He could also keep the farmer (or other commodity producer) in business during a drought or other crop failure, through the issuance of a crop (or commodity) insurance against the hazard of failure of his crop.
Merchant banking progressed from financing trade on one’s own behalf to settling trades for others and then to holding deposits for settlement of “billette” or notes written by the people who were still brokering the actual grain. And so the merchant’s “benches” (bank is derived from the Italian for bench, banco, as in a counter) in the great grain markets became centers for holding money against a bill (billette, a note, a letter of formal exchange, later a bill of exchange and later still a cheque).
These deposited funds were intended to be held for the settlement of grain trades, but often were used for the bench’s own trades in the meantime. The term bankrupt is a corruption of the Italian banca rotta, or broken bench, which is what happened when someone lost his traders’ deposits. Being “broke” has the same connotation.
A sensible manner of discounting interest to the depositors against what could be earned by employing their money in the trade of the bench soon developed; in short, selling an “interest” to them in a specific trade, thus overcoming the usury objection. Once again this merely developed what was an ancient method of financing long- distance transport of goods.
The medieval Italian markets were disrupted by wars and in any case were limited by the fractured nature of the Italian states. And so the next generation of bankers arose from migrant Jewish merchants in the great wheat-growing areas of Germany and Poland. Many of these merchants were from the same families who had been part of the development of the banking process in Italy. They also had links with family members who had, centuries before, fled Spain for both Italy and England. As non-agricultural wealth expanded, many families of goldsmiths (another business not prohibited to Jews) also gradually moved into banking. This course of events set the stage for the rise of Jewish family banking firms whose names still resonate today, such as Warburgs and Rothschilds.
The rise of Protestantism, however, freed many European Christians from Rome’s dictates against usury. In the late 18th century, Protestant merchant families began to move into banking to an increasing degree, especially in trading countries such as the United Kingdom (Barings), Germany (Schroders, Berenbergs) and the Netherlands (Hope & Co., Gülcher & Mulder) At the same time, new types of financial activities broadened the scope of banking far beyond its origins. The merchant-banking families dealt in everything from underwriting bonds to originating foreign loans. For instance, bullion trading and bond issuance were two of the specialties of the Rothschilds. In 1803, Barings teamed with Hope & Co. to facilitate the Louisiana Purchase.
In the 19th century, the rise of trade and industry in the US led to powerful new private merchant banks, culminating in J.P. Morgan & Co. During the 20th century, however, the financial world began to outgrow the resources of family-owned and other forms of private-equity banking. Corporations came to dominate the banking business. For the same reasons, merchant banking activities became just one area of interest for modern banks.
Here is a list of merchant banks of the past and present:
- Barings Bank
- Berenberg Bank
- Bethmann Bank
- BDT Capital Partners
- N. M. Rothschild & Sons
- George Peabody & Co.
- Kleinwort Benson
- Kempen & Co
- Guinness Mahon
- J.P. Morgan
- Lazard & Cie
- SG Warburg
- Hope & Co.
- Defoe Fournier & Cie.
- Close Brothers
- Morgan Grenfell & Co.
- Greenhill & Co.
- Robert Fleming & Co.
- Kuhn, Loeb & Co.
- Hambros Bank
- Hill Samuel
- Brown, Shipley & Co.
- Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
- Samuel Montagu & Co.
- H. J. Merck & Co.