Nestle Chairman says Water is Not a Human Right

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In a candid interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck makes the astonishing claim that water isn’t a human right. He attacks the idea that nature is good, and says it is a great achievement that humans are now able to resist nature’s dominance. He attacks organic agriculture and says genetic modification is better.

Nestlé is the world’s biggest bottler of water. Brabeck claims – correctly – that water is the most important raw material in the world. However he then goes on to say that privatisation is the best way to ensure fair distribution. He claims that the idea that water is a human right comes from “extremist” NGOs. Water is a foodstuff like any other, and should have a market value.

He believes that the ultimate social responsibility of any Chairman is to make as much profit as possible, so that people will have jobs.

And just to underline what a lovely man he is, he also thinks we should all be working longer and harder.

Consequences of water privatisation

The consequences of water privatisation have been devastating on poor communities around the world. In South Africa, where the municipal workers’ union SAMWU fought a long battle against privatisation, there has been substantial research (pdf) about the effects. Water privatisation lead to a massive cholera outbreak in Durban in the year 2000.

The Nestlé boycott

Nestlé already has a very bad reputation among activists. There has been a boycott call since 1977. This is due to Nestlé’s aggressive lobbying to get women to stop breastfeeding – which is free and healthy – and use infant formula (sold by Nestlé) instead. Nestlé has lobbied governments to tell their health departments to promote formula. In poor countries, this has resulted in the deaths of babies, as women have mixed formula with contaminated water instead of breastfeeding.

Tell Nestlé they are wrong – water is a human right

There is Europe-wide campaign to tell the European Commission that water is a human right, and to ask them to enact legislation to ensure this is protected.

If you live in Europe, please sign the petition.

Original article published by Union Solidarity International.

Maine: Talking points for Town Meeting on RBOs

Q: What is a sustainable energy system?

 

According to the definition of “unsustainable infrastructure” in the ordinance, the criteria for a “sustainable” infrastructure system is one that is does not threaten rights and is under COMMUNITY CONTROL.

 

Town residents – not permitting agencies – will choose which projects are acceptable.

 

Q: What is the prohibition?

 

Land acquisition for the purpose of siting and constructing the E/W within the town is illegal.

 

Corporations in violation of the ordinance cannot use their constitutional protections to override the rights and protections guaranteed to real people within the town.

 

The state cannot preempt the ordinance unless to provide greater rights protections to people.

 

Q: Is the ordinance “legal”?

 

The RBO recognizes a higher law – one of RIGHTS.

 

Lower law is regulatory law.

 

The definition of “self-government” – According to the Maine State Constitution, Article 1 Section 2. Power inherent in people. All power is inherent in the people; all free governments are founded in their authority and instituted for their benefit; they have therefore an unalienable and indefeasible right to institute government, and to alter, reform, or totally change the same, when their safety and happiness require it.

 

Article I Section 24. Other rights not impaired. The enumeration of certain rights shall not impair nor deny others retained by the people.

 

So, if we believe we govern by consent, then the RBO is legitimate law-making that marks the beginning of a new civil rights movement.

 

It is our duty to correct government that denies rights and change it to protect rights.

 

Law is not meant to be static, it adapts to societal views.

 

At one time people were considered property under the Law ” (civil rights movement/suffragists).

 

What’s “legal” is not always “legitimate.

 

Q: Will the town get sued?

 

Anyone can sue anyone for anything. The ordinance does nothing to change that.

 

What the ordinance does change is the political relationship between the town and corporations who operate within the town. If a commercial interest attempts to exercise power over local decision-making, the ordinance recognizes that kind of power as “illegitimate and illegal”.

 

Q: Does the state preempt all decisions about energy and transportation – in fact, aren’t those federal issues?

 

Congress controls commerce – energy and transportation are part of federal policy, regulated at the federal and state levels.

 

State regulatory agencies (DOT, DEP) control the permitting process at the state level to implement federal policy.

 

Once a corporation fills out a permit application that is accepted by regulatory agencies as “administratively complete”, the decision is non-discretionary and the permit issues BY RIGHT.

 

If the Town does not want 135 foot towers on ridgelines, or a highway running over 400 year old farms, too bad.

 

According to regulatory law: What the state permits, the municipality cannot prohibit.

 

Would the state and federal government come in on behalf of corporations to control what happens in our town? Yes, the way the legal structure currently operates, corporations, backed up by the state through the chartering process, have more decision-making authority in the town about whether or not the E/W gets to site here, than we do.

 

Q: Will the selectmen be liable for an ordinance passed at town meeting?

 

It is common practice for corporations in charge of siting commercial and industrial projects that harm the health and safety of residents and damage the environment to threaten elected officials. They do this because they are hoping the elected officials will crumble out of fear of being sued and surrender any local control to decide what happens to the townspeople, abandoning the very people who elected them and surrendering their rights even before the case is brought to court. Surrendering in fear eliminates the trouble of preparing arguments that might portray the corporation in a bad light when their lawyers make the argument that “of course corporations have more power in your community than you do- it’s the Law”

 

The selectmen have indemnification protection. Insurance for actions taken while in office.

 

Selectmen also have the support of the community behind them. This demonstrates service and responsibility to the people, not the opposite.

 

Q: The state has our best interests at heart, surely they would not issue a permit for a project that would hurt residents, would they? Regulatory agencies protect us, right?

 

All regulatory agencies serve the same purpose – to facilitate the permitting of business and industry.

 

Q: How much will a legal battle cost, if we try to say “no” to the E/W?

 

No one can predict the cost of a lawsuit. In general, comparing a lawsuit brought using a regulatory argument and one that reframes the argument to one of rights, the latter argument is not as costly to defend.

 

Q: Why pass an ordinance that the lawyer says is illegal?

 

Law is not meant to be static – it has to change when it denies rights.

 

The town lawyer’s job is protecting the financial interests of the municipal corporation (our town) not protecting the people who live here.

 

The RBO challenges the idea that corporations, supported by the state, can harm the community without liability. Permits legalize rape, in other words.

 

Current law protects corporations – municipal corporations and private corporations – not the people and certainly not the environment.

 

The Community Bill of Rights Ordinance drives rights of real people – the residents of the town – into Law.

 

Educational pamphlet for more information contact: Gail Darrell CELDF gail(at)celdf(dot)org 603.269.8542

Unanswered questions fuel contentious meeting over east-west highway

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff | April 02, 2013

Link to Article and Video

BANGOR, Maine — Uncertainty surrounding the route of a proposed 220-mile highway across Maine sparked vehement questioning and opposition during a Tuesday morning meeting at the historic Penobscot County Courthouse.

Cianbro Corp. CEO Peter Vigue, the leading proponent of the east-west highway, spent much of the meeting with commissioners trying to dispel what he called rumors and misconceptions about the proposed private $2.1-billionproject. Many of the more than 100 residents of Penobscot and Piscataquis counties in attendance weren’t satisfied after nearly two hours spent posing questions and concerns to Vigue.

Vigue argued that such a roadway would help Maine’s struggling economy grow and thrive. Residents voiced concerns that their towns and properties might lie in the path of the proposed highway, putting rural, agrarian ways of life at risk.

Cianbro, a Pittsfield-based construction company, has yet to release information about the corridor’s proposed route because its plans are fluid and changing on a regular basis, company representatives have said. That has left residents to speculate about whether it will cut a path through their communities or properties.

Penobscot County Commissioner Peter Baldacci said during the meeting that uncertainty among property owners about the path of the highway could lead to “condemnation blight,” a legal term referring to a reduction in property value that results from potential eminent domain claims. While Cianbro has repeatedly said that eminent domain will not be used, its decision to map out a route behind closed doors is causing uncertainty among residents who are left to speculate about the future of their land, Baldacci said.

Residents vehemently questioned Vigue, mostly on where the highway would be placed. Some attendees shouted out in disagreement or scoffed when Vigue provided uncertain answers or said he didn’t have or wasn’t prepared to release information related to the private project or its partners.

During his presentation and in answering questions that followed, Vigue vowed that there would be no public-private partnership between Cianbro and the state, that eminent domain would not be used to acquire land, and that tar sands and oil pipelines would not be run along the corridor in the foreseeable future.

The meeting came less than two months after a commissioners meeting during which more than a dozen Penobscot and Piscataquis County residents blasted the highway proposal. Commissioners asked Vigue to provide Cianbro’s perspective on the idea.

TransCanada pitches west-east pipeline

Proposed project would bring crude to refineries in Quebec, Saint John

Link to Article with Videos

CBC News | Apr 2, 2013 9:28 AM ET 

TransCanada Corp. is seeking firm financial commitments from companies seeking to ship crude oil from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada.

The Calgary-based company announced on Tuesday morning a bidding process that will allow interested producers to make binding commitments for space on the pipeline. Companies will have from April 15 to June 17 to enter into long-term commitments to use the pipeline.

The open-season process follows a successful expression-of-interest phase and talks with potential shippers.

TransCanada said if the next phase is successful, it plans to start seeking regulatory approvals later in 2013, and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.

The proposal would be to convert 3,000 kilometres of the company’s natural gas pipelines to allow for crude oil to be transported. The company would also be looking at building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec into Saint John.

The pipeline could carry between 500,000 and 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the eastern refineries, according to the company.

Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday.Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday. (Robert Jones/CBC)

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday TransCanada’s announcement was a “positive step.”

“We welcome such proposals, because they can generate thousands of Canadian jobs and long-term economic prosperity — particularly in Quebec and the Maritimes — for generations to come,” Oliver said.

The federal minister said the proposed pipeline project must meet a series of regulatory reviews.

If the project moves forward, Oliver said it would be an important piece of energy infrastructure for Canada.

“Pipelines moving oil from Alberta to Quebec to New Brunswick would be among the most expansive and ambitious stretches of energy infrastructure in the entire world and would contribute to the energy security of Canada and all of North America,” he said.

Officials from the Saint John-based Irving Oil Ltd. have said in the past their refinery could handle western crude oil.

The Irving Oil refinery is the largest in Canada and can process 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Saint John also has a deep-water port and a liquefied natural gas facility.

Oliver said he has recently toured the Irving refinery and the Ultramar refinery in Levis. The federal minister said he plans to tour Suncor’s refinery in Montreal in the coming weeks.

3 days in Alberta

New Brunswick Premier David Alward responded to TransCanada’s announcement on Tuesday morning during a news conference held at the Irving Oil headquarters, calling it an “encouraging step forward.”

The New Brunswick premier said the pipeline proposal is a “historic initiative” for both the province and the country.

“We envision New Brunswick as Canada’s next energy powerhouse and Saint John as the anchor of that powerhouse,” Alward said in front of more than 30 Irving Oil employees.

“If we proceed, this project will strengthen our national and provincial economies and create jobs and economic growth today and for generations to come,” he said, suggesting the project has the potential to be as important to Canada’s economic future as the railway was in the past.

Alward said the pipeline will create high-paying jobs in New Brunswick and will keep workers in the province instead of heading to western Canada to find employment in the oilsands.

“I want to see the day when the mother or father, the son or daughter leave their New Brunswick home in the morning to go to work in the development of natural resources, they will return for dinner that night, not three or four weeks later,” he said.

Alward spent three days in Alberta in February talking to Alberta Premier Alison Redford and oil executives about the possibility of the west-to-east pipeline.

The project has the possibility of creating 2,000 jobs during the construction phase of the pipeline and a few hundred refining jobs after, according to some estimates.

Alberta has been interested in the project, because oil from that province is now being shipped to the United States, where there is a glut. That means oil producers are getting $20 to $40 less per barrel than the world price.

Those lower prices translate into lower royalties for the provincial government, and that is causing a potential multi-billion dollar deficit in Alberta. A pipeline to the Irving Oil refinery would allow Alberta producers to charge the higher world price.

A new pipeline would also alleviate Canada’s dependence on foreign oil and increase the value of Canada’s crude oil through shipping to world markets from the deep-water port of Saint John, said Alward.

Port Saint John president and CEO Jim Quinn welcomed the prospect of playing an integral role in bringing Canadian crude to global markets.

“This opportunity for Saint John and our port is phenomenal,” Quinn said in a statement.

The port, which for 50 years has been handling petroleum cargo for both import and export, currently handles the largest oil tankers in the world, as well as the largest crude carriers, he said.

TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. (Courtest of TransCanada)