• feminar Bonn

    Über uns

    Wir sind ein feministisches Kollektiv in Bonn und wollen über Aktionen und langfristige Projekte nachhaltig in das Stadtbild eingreifen. Seit wir uns im August 2018 zum ersten Mal getroffen haben, ist viel passiert: Ausgehend von einem selbstorganisierten Seminar an der Uni Bonn, in dem wir mit anderen Studis zusammen Stationen für einen feministischen Stadtrundgang entwickelt haben, sind wir zu einer feministisch-aktivistischen Gruppe außerhalb der Uni geworden.

    Eines unserer langfristigen Projekte ist ein Stadtrundgang, in dem wir euch mit einer feministischen Brille durch die Stadt führen wollen. Durch diese feministische Brille sollen historisch verankerte Ungerechtigkeiten und Widerstandspotentiale sichtbar werden. Mehr zu unserem Stadtrundgang findet ihr unter Stadtrundgang.

    Wer macht bei euch mit?

    Wie viele andere Gruppen auch, versuchen wir für alle offen zu sein, die ähnliche Ansichten wie wir vertreten. Leider funktioniert das nur nicht immer so gut. Wir sind bisher eine Gruppe, deren Mitglieder mehrheitlich jung und weiß sind, die Uni besucht (haben) und cis-geschlechtlich sind. Wir wollen deshalb mehr über (implizite) Ausschlusstrukturen lernen und unsere Inhalte diverser gestalten. Denn schließlich streiten wir für eine lebenswere Stadt, in der Sexismus, Homo- und Transfeindlichkeit, Rassismus, Klassismus und Ableismus keinen Platz haben. Wir wünschen uns eine Stadt, in der emanzipatorische und antikapitalistische Gegenentwürfe blühen können!

    Was macht ihr noch so?

    Wir machen unter anderem bei verschiedenen Veranstaltungen mit, machen Vorträge oder Workshops oder haben auch schon öfter die Performance “Ein Vergewaltiger auf deinem Weg” des chilenischen Kollektivs Las Tesis in Bonn aufgeführt. Mit ihrer Performance wollen Las Tesis die Ursachen von Gewalt gegen FLINTA* (Frauen, Lesben, inter Personen, nicht-binäre Personen, trans Personen und agender Personen) öffentlich kritisieren. Las Tesis kritisieren in ihrer Performance öffentlich die Ursachen von Gewalt gegen FLINT und wünschen, dass die Performance an unterschiedlichen Orten inszeniert wird. Dabei darf sie angepasst und übersetzt werden, je nachdem, was an den verschiedenen Orten gerade wichtig erscheint. So passiert es immer wieder, dass wir uns mit anderen feministischen Gruppen und Einzelpersonen vernetzen und verschiedene einzelne Aktionen planen.

    Und was macht ihr jetzt während der Coronapandemie?

    Momentan kämpfen wir mit den Schwierigkeiten, die die Corona-Pandemie mit sich bringt, und suchen Wege eines bewussten und solidarischen Umgangs mit der aktuellen Situation. Diese Situation ist aber auch sehr kräftezehrend für viele von uns. Deshalb haben wir uns entschieden, erstmal in eine Überarbeitungsphase des Stadtrundgangs zu gehen – mal abgesehen davon, dass Stadtrundgänge gerade auch gar nicht möglich sind. Aber wir haben uns etwas anderes überlegt, um trotzdem weiter mit der „Außenwelt“ interagieren zu können! Schau doch mal in den Reiter Lila auf Beton 😉


    #Bonn #collective #city #feminism #city_walk #anticapitalist #sexism #racism #homophobia #transphobia #FLINTA* #podcast #workshop

  • The two sides of TUI : crisis-hit holiday giant turned deportation specialist

    2020 was a rough year for the tourism industry, with businesses worldwide cancelling holidays and laying off staff. Yet one company has been weathering the storm with particular ruthlessness: the Anglo-German giant TUI.

    TUI (Touristik Union International) has been called the world’s biggest holiday company. While its core business is selling full-package holidays to British and German families, 2020 saw it taking on a new sideline: running deportation charter flights for the UK Home Office. In this report we look at how:

    - TUI has become the main airline carrying out charter deportation flights for the UK Home Office. In November 2020 alone it conducted nine mass deportations to 19 destinations as part of Operation Sillath, and its deportation flights continue in 2021.
    - TUI lost over €3 billion last year. But the money was made up in bailouts from the German government, totalling over €4 billion.
    – TUI’s top owner is oligarch Alexey Mordashov, Russia’s fourth richest billionaire who made his fortune in the “Katastroika” of post-Soviet asset sell-offs. His family holding company made over €100 million in dividends from TUI in 2019.
    – In 2020, TUI cut 23,000 jobs, or 32% of its global workforce. But it carried on paying out fat salaries to its bosses – the executive board waived just 5% of their basic pay, with CEO Fritz Joussen pocketing €1.7 million.
    – Other cost-cutting measures included delaying payments of over €50m owed to hotels in Greece and Spain.
    - TUI is accused of using its tourist industry muscle to pressure the Greek government into dropping COVID quarantine requirements last Summer, just before the tourist influx contributed to a “second wave” of infections.
    – It is also accused of pressuring hotels in the Canary Islands to stop hosting migrants arriving on wooden boats, fearing it would damage the islands’ image in the eyes of TUI customers.

    TUI: from heavy industry to holiday giant

    Calling itself the ‘world’s leading tourism group’, TUI has 277 direct and indirect subsidiaries. The parent company is TUI AG, listed on the London Stock Exchange and based in Hannover and Berlin.

    TUI describes itself as a ‘vertically-integrated’ tourism business. That means it covers all aspects of a holiday: it can take care of bookings, provide the planes to get there, accommodate guests in hotels and cruises, and connect them with ‘experiences’ such as museum vists, performances and excursions. Recent company strategy buzz highlights the use of digitalisation – ‘driving customers’ into buying more services via its apps and online platforms. Where it can’t do everything in-house, TUI also uses other airlines and works extensively with independent hotels.

    TUI’s major assets are:

    - Hotels. By September 2020 the company ran over 400 hotels, the most profitable of which is the RIU chain, a company jointly owned by the Mallorca-based RIU family.
    - Cruises. TUI owns three cruise companies – TUI Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Marella Cruises – which between them operate 17 vessels.
    - Airlines. TUI has five airlines with a total fleet of 137 aircraft. 56 of these are operated by its biggest airline, the British company TUI Airways. Collectively, the airlines under the group are the seventh largest in Europe.

    TUI also runs the TUI Care Foundation, its vehicle for green PR, based in the Hague.

    The company has a long history dating back to 1923 – though it is barely recognisable from its earlier embodiment as the energy, mining and metalworking group Preussag, originally set up by the German state of Prussia. Described by some as the “heavy industrial arm” of the Nazi economy, Preussag was just one of many German industrial firms which benefited from forced labour under the Third Reich. It transformed itself into a tourism business only in 1997, and completed a long string of acquisitions to become the behemoth it is today – including acquiring leading British travel agents Thomson in 2000 and First Choice Holidays in 2007.

    TUI holidaymakers are mostly families from the UK and Germany, with an average ticket for a family of four costing €3,500 . The top five destinations as of Easter 2019 were, in order: Spain, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, and Cape Verde.

    The UK branch – including TUI Airways, which is responsible for the deportations – is run out of Wigmore House, next to Luton Airport in Bedfordshire. The UK managing director is Andrew “Andy” Flintham. Flintham has been with TUI for over 15 years, and previously worked for British Airways and Ford.

    Dawn Wilson is the managing director of TUI Airways. and head of airline operations on the TUI aviation board, overseeing all five of TUI’s airlines. Wilson is also a director of TUI UK. Originally from Cleethorpes, Wilson’s career in the industry began as cabin crew in the 80s, before rising up the ranks of Britannia Airways. Britannia’s parent company Thomson was acquired by TUI in 2000.
    TUI’s crisis measures: mass job losses, deportations, and more

    Before the pandemic TUI was a success story, drawing 23 million people a year to sun, sea, snow or sights. In 2019, TUI was riding high following the collapse of its key UK competitor, Thomas Cook. It branched out by adding 21 more aircraft to its fleet and picking up a number of its rival’s former contracts, notably in Turkey. TUI’s extensive work in Turkey has recently made it a target of the Boycott Turkey campaign in solidarity with the Kurdish people. The one bum note had been the grounding of its Boeing 737 MAX airliners, after two crashes involving the aircraft forced the worldwide withdrawal of these planes. Despite that, the company made close to €19 billion in revenues in 2019, and a profit of over €500 million. Most of that profit was handed straight to shareholders, with over €400 million in dividends. (See: Annual Report 2019). And the future looked good, with record bookings for 2020.

    Then came COVID-19. By the end of the 2020 financial year, travel closures had resulted in losses of €3 billion for TUI, and a net debt of €4.2bn. To stay afloat, the company has managed to pull in handouts from the German state, as well as backing from its largest shareholder, the Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov. It has also turned to a number of controversial business practices: from mass job losses to becoming Brexit Britain’s main deportation profiteer.

    Here we look at some of what TUI got up to in the last year.
    Government bailouts

    Had it been left to the free market, TUI might well have gone bust. Fortunately for TUI’s investors, the German government rode to the rescue. In total, the state – working together with some banks and private investors – has provided TUI with €4.8bn in bailout funds to see it through COVID-19.

    The vast bulk of this money, €4.3 billion to date, has come from German taxpayers. TUI received a €1.8 rescue loan from state development bank KsF in April 2020, followed by another €1.2 billion package in August. The third bailout, agreed in December 2020, totalled €1.8 billion. €1.3 billion of this was more government money – from the German Economic Support Fund (WSF) as well as KsF.

    While some was a straight loan, portions came as a “silent participation” convertible into shares in the company – that is, the state has the option to become a major TUI shareholder. The deal also involved the government having two seats on TUI’s supervisory board. The German state is now intimately involved in TUI’s business.

    The other €500m was raised by issuing new shares to private investors. TUI’s largest owner, Alexey Mordashov, agreed to take any of these not bought by others – potentially increasing his stake in the company from 25% to as much as 36% (see below).
    Slashing jobs

    Alongside bail-outs, another key part of TUI’s response to the COVID crisis has been to hit the staff. Back in May 2020 there was widespread media coverage when TUI announced it would make 8,000 job cuts globally. Then in July 2020, the company announced it would close 166 of its 516 travel agencies in the UK and Ireland at a cost of 900 jobs.

    But these announcements turned out to be just the beginning. In the 2020 Annual Report, published in December 2020, TUI quietly announced that it had in fact cut 23,143 jobs – that is 32% of its total staff.

    Particularly hard hit were hotel staff, whose numbers fell by over 13,000, 46% of the total. The workforce of TUI’s excursions and activities division, TUI Musement, was cut in half with almost 5,000 job losses (Annual Report, p88). And these figures do not include staff for TUI Cruises (JV), a joint venture company whose employees are mainly hired through agencies on temporary contracts.

    Home Office deportation airline of choice

    TUI is not known to have been previously involved in deportations from the UK, Germany or any other country. But since August 2020, its UK subsidiary TUI Airways has suddenly become the UK’s top deportation airline. It carried out the vast majority of mass deportation charter flights from the UK between August and December 2020, and continues to do so in January 2021.

    This included many of the rush of pre-Brexit “Operation Sillath” deportations to European countries before the New Year – where the Home Office pushed to expel as many refugees as possible under the Dublin Regulation before it crashed out of this EU agreement. But it also works further afield: TUI carried out all charter deportations from the UK in November, including one to Ghana and Nigeria.

    Because of this, TUI looked a likely candidate to be operating the so-called ‘Jamaica 50’ flight on 2 December, and was one of a number of possible airlines targeted by a social media campaign. However, the company eventually clarified it would not be doing the flight – Privilege Style, whom Corporate Watch recently reported on, turned out to be the operator. It is unclear whether or not TUI had originally been booked and pulled out after succumbing to public pressure.
    No hospitality in the Canary Islands

    The company’s disregard for the lives of refugees is not limited to deportation deals. In the Canary Islands, a local mayor revealed that TUI (along with British airline Jet2) had warned hotels not to provide emergency shelter to migrants, threatening it would not ‘send tourists’ if they did.

    Record numbers of African migrants arrived on wooden boats to the islands in 2020, and some have been accomodated in the hotels at the state’s expense. Nearly 2,170 migrants died trying to reach Spain that year, the majority en-route to the Canaries. The islands had seen a dramatic fall in holidaymakers due to the pandemic, and many hotel rooms would have sat empty, making TUI’s threats all the more callous.
    Pushing back against Greek COVID-19 measures

    TUI has been pressing destination countries to reopen to tourists following the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has become a particular issue in Greece, now the company‘s number one destination where TUI has been accused of exerting pressure on the government to relax anti-COVID measures last Summer.

    According to a report in German newspaper BILD (see also report in English here), TUI threatened to cancel all its trips to the country unless the government dropped quarantine regulations for tourists. The threat was reportedly made in negotiations with the Greek tourism minister, who then rushed to call the Prime Minister, who backed down and rewrote the Government’s COVID-19 plans.

    Greece had been viewed as a rare success story of the pandemic, with the virus having largely been contained for months – until early August, a few weeks after it welcomed back tourists. Some have blamed the country’s “second wave” of COVID-19 infections on the government’s “gamble of opening up to tourists”.

    Leaving hotels in the lurch

    Despite having pushed destination countries to increase their COVID-19 exposure risks by encouraging tourism, the company then refused to pay hoteliers in Greece and Spain millions of euros owed to them for the summer season. Contractual changes introduced by TUI forced hotels to wait until March 2021 for three-quarters of the money owed. In Greece, where the company works with over 2,000 hotels, the sum owed is said to be around €50m, with individual hotels reportedly owed hundreds of thousands of euros. This money is essential to many businesses’ survival through the low season.

    TUI’s actions are perhaps all the more galling in light of the enormous government bailouts the company received. In the company’s 2020 Annual Report, amid sweeping redundancies and failure to pay hoteliers, CEO Fritz Joussen had the arrogance to claim that “TUI plays a stabilising role in Southern Europe, and in Northern Africa too, with investment, infrastructure and jobs.”
    Rolling in it: who gains

    The supposed rationale for government COVID bail-outs, in Germany as elsewhere, is to keep the economy turning and secure jobs. But that can’t mean much to the third of its work force TUI has sacked. If not the workers, who does benefit from Germany funneling cash into the holiday giant?

    TUI’s bailout deals with the German government forbade it from paying a dividend to shareholders in 2020. Although in previous years the company operated a very high dividend policy indeed: in 2018 it handed over €381 million, or 47% of its total profit, to its shareholders. They did even better in 2019, pocketing €423 million – or no less than 80% of company profits. They will no doubt be hoping that the money will roll in again once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

    Meanwhile, it appears that the crisis barely touched TUI’s executives and directors. According to the 2020 Annual Report (page 130), the company’s executives agreed to a “voluntary waiver of 30% of their fixed remuneration for the months of April and May 2020”. That is: just a portion of their salary, for just two months. This added up to a drop of just 5% in executive salaries over the year compared with 2019.

    Again: this was during a year where 32% of TUI staff were laid off, and the company lost over €3 billion.

    In a further great show of sacrifice, the Annual Report explains that “none of the members of the Executive Board has made use of their right to reimbursement of holiday trips which they are entitled to according to their service agreements.” TUI is infamous for granting its executives paid holidays “without any limitation as to type of holiday, category or price” as an executive perk (page 126).

    After his 5% pay cut, CEO Fritz Joussen still made €1,709,600 last year: a basic salary of €1.08 million, plus another €628,000 in “pension contributions and service costs” including a chauffeur driven car allowance.

    The next highest paid was none other than “labour director” Dr Elke Eller with €1.04 million. The other four members of the executive board all received over €800,000.

    The top dogs

    Who are these handsomely paid titans of the holiday industry? TUI’s CEO is Friedrich “Fritz” Joussen, based in Germany. Originally hired by TUI as a consultant, Joussen has a background in the German mobile phone industry and was head of Vodafone Germany. The slick CEO can regularly be found giving presentations about the TUI ‘ecosystem’ and the importance of digitisation. Besides his salary, Joussen also benefits from a considerable shareholding accrued through annual bonuses.

    Overseeing Joussen’s executive team is the Supervisory Board, chaired by the Walrus-moustachioed Dr. Dieter Zetsche, or ‘Dr. Z’, who made his fortune in the management of Daimler AG (the car giant that also owns Mercedes–Benz, and formerly, Chrysler ). Since leaving that company in 2019, Zetsche has reportedly been enjoying a Daimler pension package of at least €4,250 a day. TUI topped him up with a small fee of €389,500 for his board duties in 2020 (Annual Report p140).

    With his notable moustache, Dr. Z is a stand-out character in the mostly drab world of German corporate executives, known for fronting one of Daimler’s US ad campaigns in a “buffoon tycoon” character. At the height of the Refugee Summer of 2015, Dr. Dieter Zetsche abruptly interrupted his Frankfurt Motor Show speech on the future of the car industry to discuss the desperate situation facing Syrian refugees.

    He said at the time: “Anybody who knows the past isn’t allowed to turn refugees away. Anybody who sees the present can’t turn them away. Anybody who thinks about the future will not turn them away.” Five years later, with TUI the UK’s top deportation profiteer, this sentiment seems to have been forgotten.

    Another key figure on the Supervisory Board is Deputy Chair Peter Long. Long is a veteran of the travel industry, having been CEO of First Choice, which subsequently merged with TUI. He is credited with pioneering Turkey as an industry destination.

    Long is a controversial figure who has previously been accused of ‘overboarding’, i.e. sitting on the directors’ boards of too many companies. Described as a “serial part timer”, he was executive chairman of Countrywide PLC, the UK’s largest estate agency group, but stepped down in late November 2020 after apparently ruffling shareholders’ feathers over a move that would have given control of the company to a private equity firm. In 2018, Countrywide was forced to abandon attempts to give bosses – including himself – shares worth more than £20m. Long also previously stepped down as chairman of Royal Mail after similarly losing shareholder support over enormous executive pay packages. In his former role as as head of TUI Travel, he was among the UK’s top five highest earning CEOs, with a salary of £13.3 million for the year 2014 -15.

    The man with the money: Alexey Mordashov

    But all the above are paupers compared to TUI’s most powerful board member and top shareholder: Alexey Mordashov, a Russian oligarch who is reportedly the country’s fourth richest billionaire, with a fortune of over $23 billion. His family holding company is TUI’s main owner with up to 36% of company shares.

    Mordashov’s stake in TUI is held through a Cyprus-registered holding company called Unifirm.

    In 2019, Mordashov transferred 65% of his shares in Unifirm to KN-Holding, a Russian company owned jointly by his two sons, Kirill and Nikita, then aged 18 and 19. However, Russian media report that after the younger son Nikita was kicked out of university in 2020, he was sent to the army, and his shares transferred to Kirill.

    It may not be massive money to Mordashov, but his family company have certainly done well out of TUI. In 2019 TUI paid out €423 million in dividends to its shareholders, no less than 80% of total profits. At the time Unifirm owned one quarter (24.95%) of TUI. That means the Mordashovs will have received over €100 million on their investment in TUI just in that one year.

    “Steel king” Alexey Mordashov’s rise to the height of the global mega-rich began with a typical post-Soviet privatisation story. Born in 1965, the son of steel workers, he studied economics and accountancy and by 1992 was finance director of a steel plant in his hometown of Cherepovets. In the early and mid-1990s, the great Russian “Katastroika” sell-off of state assets saw steel mill and other workers handed shares in the former collective enterprises. In the midst of an economic collapse, workers sold on their shares to pay food and heating bills, while the likes of Mordashov built up massive asset portfolios quick and cheap. In the next privatisation phase, the budding oligarchs were handed whole industries through rigged auctions.

    Mordashov turned his steel plant holdings into a company called Severstal, now among the world’s largest steel firms. He then expanded Severstal into Severgroup, a conglomerate with holdings in everything from airports to goldmines (Nordgold) to supermarkets (Lenta), to mobile phone networks (Tele2 Russia), as well as the local hockey team Severstal Cherepovets. Vladimir Lukin, Mordashov’s legal adviser at Severgroup, is also a member of the TUI Supervisory Board.

    Business media paint Mordashov as less flamboyant than your average oligarch. His new megayacht Nord, built in Germany and registered in the Cayman Islands, is only 142 metres long – 20 metres shorter than Roman Abramovitch’s Eclipse.

    In December 2020, TUI declared that Unifirm owned 25% of its shares. But the number will have increased in TUI’s third bail-out deal in January: as well as more money from the German government and its banks, Unifirm agreed to inject more cash into the company in return for boosting its ownership, buying up new shares to a maximum of 36%. The exact current holding has not yet been announced.

    TUI’s increasing control by Mordashov was approved by the German financial regulator Bafin, which stepped in to exempt him from a rule that would have required Unifirm to bid for a full majority of the shares once it held more than 30%.
    Other shareholders

    Unifirm is the only shareholder with over 10% of TUI shares. Some way behind, Egyptian hotel-owning businessman called Hamed El Chiaty has a stake of just over 5%, via the Cyprus-based DH Deutsche Holdings. But most of TUI’s shares are owned in smaller chunks by the usual suspects: the global investment funds and banks that own the majority of the world’s assets.

    In December 2020 these funds each had over 1%: UK investor Standard Life Aberdeen; giant US-based fund Vanguard; Canada’s state pension system; and Norges Bank, which manages the oil-rich national wealth fund of Norway. Two other major investment funds, Pioneer and BlackRock, had around 0.5% each. (NB: these numbers may have changed after the new January share sale.)

    TUI can’t take its reputation for granted

    A company of TUI’s size backed by the German government and a Russian billionaire may seem impervious to criticism. On the other hand, unlike more specialist charter airlines, it is very much a public facing business, relying above all on the custom of North European families. The endless stream of negative reviews left by disgruntled customers following cancelled TUI holidays in 2020 have already tarnished its image.

    In a sign of just how worried the company may be about its reputation, it put out a tender in the autumn for a new PR agency to take care of “relaunching the brand into the post-Covid world”. This was ultimately awarded to the US firm Leo Burnett. If outrage at the UK’s deportation push keeps up, TUI might well need to pay attention to online campaigns or demonstrations at its travel agents.

    Another vulnerability the company has itself identified is political instability in destination countries, as evidenced by TUI’s nervousness over migrant arrivals in the Canary Islands. Here too, its image is being harmed by actions such as exerting pressure on the Greek government to relax COVID measures, and its treatment of independent hotels. TUI cannot take public support for granted in top destinations such as Greece and Spain, where campaigning at its resorts could play a role in shifting company policy.


    #renvois #expulsions #tourisme #TUI #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Allemagne #privatisation #complexe_militaro-industriel #business #UK #Angleterre #Touristik_Union_International #compagnie_aérienne #avions #Operation_Sillath #Alexey_Mordashov #Fritz_Joussen #Canaries #îles_Canaries #Preussag #Wigmore_House #Flintham #Andrew_Flintham #Andy_Flintham #Dawn_Wilson #pandémie #coronavirus #covid-19 #KsF #German_Economic_Support_Fund (#WSF) #chômage #licenciements #TUI_Musement #charter #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #Ghana #Nigeria #Jamaica_50 #Jet2 #hôtels #Elke_Eller #Dieter_Zetsche #Peter_Long #Severstal #Severgroup #Nordgold #Lenta #Tele2_Russia #Unifirm #Hamed_El_Chiaty #DH_Deutsche_Holdings #multinationales #Standard_Life_Aberdeen #Vanguard #Norges_Bank #Pioneer #BlackRock #Leo_Burnett

    ping @karine4 @isskein @reka

  • Flint Water Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges, With Plans to Keep Investigating - The New York Times

    Cette affaire de la pollution de l’eau à Flint est vraiment un cas d’école... jusqu’au bout ! La santé publique mérite l’intervention des citoyens, partout dans le monde.

    CHICAGO — Prosecutors stunned the city of Flint, Mich., on Thursday by dropping all pending charges against officials accused of ruining the community’s drinking water and ignoring signs of a crisis, casting doubt on what some residents had seen as a small but tangible step toward justice.

    Fifteen state and local officials, including emergency managers who ran the city and a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by state prosecutors of crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Seven had already taken plea deals. Eight more, including most of the highest-ranking officials, were awaiting trial.

    On Thursday, more than three years after the first charges were filed, the Michigan attorney general’s office, which earlier this year passed from Republican to Democratic hands, abruptly dropped the eight remaining cases. Prosecutors left open the possibility of recharging some of those same people, and perhaps others, too.

    But in Flint, a city where faith in government was already low and where many residents still refuse to drink the tap water, the news was seen by some as a sign that they had been wronged once again.

    Ronald F. Wright, a criminal law professor at Wake Forest University, said it was not uncommon for newly elected prosecutors to drop cases brought by their predecessors. But it was far more unusual, he said, for them to suggest that they might file new charges.

    “You inherit the file, you start looking through it, and the deeper you get in the file, the more you realize there are possible weak spots in your case,” Mr. Wright said. “I view this as a natural process of a new chief prosecutor becoming familiar with the details of the case.”

    Ms. Nessel, the new attorney general, defended her prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges, but she also sought to reassure Flint residents. “I want to remind the people of Flint that justice delayed is not always justice denied,” she said.

    That message was a tough sell for some in Flint, where residents said they had waited for years for justice and been disappointed with the results. Monica Galloway, a member of the Flint City Council, called the decision a setback on Thursday and said she hoped new charges would be filed.

    “I think anyone that lives in the city of Flint that is affected by this wants justice,” Ms. Galloway said. “And justice can only be done if this is not just redone, but done properly.”

    #Santé_publique #Flint #Environnement #Pollution #Néolibéralisme

  • Eighty-two years since the victory of the Flint sit-down strike - World Socialist Web Site


    With General Motors threatening to shut down five factories in the United States and Canada over the next few months, it is valuable to study the heroic struggle by GM workers during the 1936-37 sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan. Monday, February 11, marks the 82 nd anniversary of the victory of the strike, which was a major turning point in the long fight for the industrial organization of workers in the US.

    Below we repost the two-part article, which originally appeared on the WSWS in February 2017, marking the 80th anniversary of the end of the strike.

    February 11 marked the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Flint sit-down strike. The 44-day battle by autoworkers lasted from December 29, 1936, to February 11, 1937. It forced General Motors, then the largest industrial enterprise on the planet, to recognize the recently founded United Auto Workers union.

    #états-unis #flint #grève #mouvement_social

  • They helped expose unsafe lead levels in Flint’s and in D.C.’s water. Then they turned on each other. - The Washington Post

    Marc Edwards helped expose dangerous amounts of lead in the water in Flint and D.C. Now, some of the activists he worked with have turned against him.

    he issue of whether scientists should engage in activism has become more urgent in the Trump era. For decades, scientists have argued their work should be a nonpartisan affair. It’s a norm so deeply rooted that even scientists who participated in the 2017 March for Science on Earth Day espoused that ideal, saying they were there only in response to the administration’s attacks on science.

    Edwards argues scientists may have to assume an activist role when they witness communities facing powerful institutions, such as the state of Michigan. “I would prefer to be able to sit in the office, advise my students and do my research, and that would be enough, but it’s not,” Edwards told me in one of several lengthy phone conversations. Still, as a scientist, he’s not always comfortable having his work cast as activism. He prefers, he says, to call what he does “investigative science,” a blend of “science, investigative reporting and direct collaboration with members of affected communities.”

    A few months after that court appearance, the letter criticizing Edwards appeared. He later filed a defamation lawsuit against three of the activists who signed it: Lambrinidou, Schwartz and Melissa Mays, a mother of three in Flint. In his complaint, Edwards claimed that the trio organized a public smear campaign against him, questioning his scientific integrity and motives for working in Flint in social media posts and media interviews. He sought $3 million in damages, saying he has lost some of his grants, potentially preventing him from uncovering contaminated water in other places. Edwards chalks up the activists’ criticisms to professional jealousy and, in Lambrinidou’s case, romantic feelings that were not reciprocated.

    “The Defendants harbor various financial, professional and social incentives to make negative and damaging statements regarding Edwards and his work,” the lawsuit reads.

    In Flint, Edwards used public records requests to unearth emails showing that officials in Michigan knew the city’s water was contaminated long before they publicly admitted it. Lately, he has used that same strategy to get copies of emails he hopes will explain what caused the activists in Flint and in D.C. to turn on him. And he continues to use his blog to defend his reputation and update readers on his public spats with activists and other scientists.

    I asked Edwards if he thought, looking back, that he had been a bit naive not to have anticipated the reaction to his findings that lead levels in Flint’s water had fallen to safe levels. He says he had expected a backlash but not what he views as a concerted effort to destroy his professional reputation. He stands by his actions, which he perceives as truth telling. “It comes down to duty versus self-preservation,” he says. “In a post-truth world, science has become just another weapon of tribal warfare, and rising above that takes courage.”

    #Flint #Lanceurs_alerte #Crises_internes #Activisme

  • ’Flint Is the Urban Crisis of the Century’: A Conversation With Anna Clark - Pacific Standard

    By now, Americans are generally familiar with the long-term disaster in Flint, Michigan, where lead in the drinking water highlights our nation’s failing infrastructure and the inadequacies of government’s current response to public-health crises. But to see Flint’s crisis fully, one must understand what Michigan resident and journalist Anna Clark calls “the American urban tragedy”—the history of segregation that has been built into the architecture of America’s cities for centuries. In her new book, The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy, Clark digs deep into our nation’s industrial past to tell the story of Flint’s water alongside the story of our collective urban tragedy.

    From Flint’s genesis as a functionally segregated auto manufacturing center, to the “white flight” inspired by desegregation in the 1960s, to the near vacancy of the city after General Motors auto plant closures in the 1990s, Clark details Flint’s rise and fall, and how its story is embodied in the lead that turned up in the water in 2014. When Michigan brought in an emergency manager to oversee the disastrous switch from treated water piped in via Lake Huron, to poorly treated water pumped from the notorious Flint River (all through pipes that hadn’t been used for decades), corrosive waterborne material came to poison the city’s citizens. But it was the poorer communities and communities of color that were disproportionately affected, and it’s these same communities where justice has taken the longest to prevail.

    When we talk about cities, we are talking about people. For all the high-pitched coverage of Flint, sometimes the human stories—in all their range and contradictions and depth and beauty—have been lost in the noise. For decades this city has been made invisible and its voices dismissed. Nonetheless, the residents have continually shown up, worked together, shared knowledge, and advocated in every way they could imagine. They weren’t victims waiting to be rescued by someone else; they were agents of their own lives. I wanted not just to tell that story, but to show it.

    Flint has a lot to teach the nation about the value of community organizing. No one single person has all the answers, nor should he have all the power. This is why transparency laws, strong independent journalism, clear environmental regulations, robust public institutions, and empowered community engagement are meaningful checks against corruption.

    #Flint #Environnement #Eau_potable #Communs_urbains

  • Elon Musk pledges to fix Flint’s water contamination crisis | US news | The Guardian


    Ou l’on reparle de Flint et de son eau contaminée et.. d’Elon Musk, qui doit avoir quelque chose à se faire pardonner.

    Elon Musk pledges to fix Flint’s water contamination crisis

    Tesla CEO says he will speak to Flint’s mayor on Friday while leading activist said she has been working with his team for over a week

    #flint #eau #Polluion #contamination #états-unis

  • Flint crisis, four years on: what little trust is left continues to wash away | US news | The Guardian

    It is four years since the city’s water switched to the Flint river, without lead corrosion controls, prompting the public health crisis.

    In the aftermath, Flint received presidential visits, millions of dollars in donations and government aid. It is the subject of scientific studies. It has a Netflix series, Flint Town. Walters has now won the Goldman environmental prize for activism, which comes with a $175,000 unrestricted prize. And, importantly, the state of the water is improving.

    But, despite all this attention, regular people feel that little has changed since the crisis.

    #eau #Flint #pollution

  • Policing a City in Crisis.

    How does a police department respond to a city in crisis? In 2014, Flint, Michigan switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in a bid to save money, but toxic levels of lead leached into the city’s tap water. A year later, the city elected a new mayor who in turn hired a new police chief. Tim Johnson arrived at the job facing a funding and personnel shortage in a city that is the ninth most violent in America. Under these conditions, Jessica Dimmock, Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper began filming the city’s police department for “Flint Town,” a new eight-episode series on Netflix. The show provides a rare insight into a how lack of resources puts a further strain on the already tense relationship between the police department and the community it serves.Over 20 months, Canepari, Cooper and Dimmock documented the struggles of the department and its officers against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election and a series of police-involved shootings that rocked the country.

  • Nearly 4,000 US communities have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint - World Socialist Web Site


    Nearly 4,000 US communities have higher rates of lead poisoning than #Flint
    By Jerry White
    16 November 2017

    In an updated study, Reuters news agency has identified 3,810 neighborhoods where recently recorded child lead poisoning rates are at least double those found in Flint, Michigan during the height of that city’s water crisis in 2014 and 2015. In some 1,300 of these “hotspot” communities, the percentage of children six and under with elevated lead levels was at least four times the percentage in Flint during the peak of the crisis.

    In pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, Reuters reported that the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 50 percent or higher. An interactive map released with the study shows one census tract in Buffalo, New York—a former steel and auto center that, like Flint, has suffered decades of deindustrialization—where 68 percent of the children had high levels of lead.

    #eau #états-unis #Pollution #plomb #flint

  • The Fertility Rate in Flint Has Plummeted After the Water Crisis | Alternet

    The area has seen a dramatic rise in miscarriages and stillbirths.

    Lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, may have led to a significant drop in the number of babies born in the town, according a newly released study. Researchers found that after elected leaders decided to save money by switching the city’s water supply source in 2014, the area saw a precipitous rise in miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as infants born with “health complications.” The new report was undertaken to underscore the urgent necessity of a registry to trace health effects of the contaminated water and establish precisely how many residents were exposed.

    In April, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission released a paper concluding that “the underlying issue [of the water crisis] is historical and systemic, and dates back nearly a century, and has at its foundation race and segregation of the Flint community.” The city’s population is 53 percent African American, and 45 percent of residents live below the federal poverty line, according to the Washington Post.

    #Flint #Pollution #Plomb #Néo-libéralisme

  • Flint’s lead-poisoned water had a ‘horrifyingly large’ effect on fetal deaths, study finds - The Washington Post

    The fertility rate in Flint, Mich., dropped precipitously after the city decided to switch to lead-poisoned Flint River water in 2014, according to a new working paper.

    That decline was primarily driven by what the authors call a “culling of the least healthy fetuses” resulting in a “horrifyingly large” increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages. The paper estimates that among the babies conceived from November 2013 through March 2015, “between 198 and 276 more children would have been born had Flint not enacted the switch in water,” write health economists Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University and David Slusky of Kansas University.

  • 5 Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Flint Water Crisis - The New York Times

    Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office, felonies that could lead to as much as 20 years in prison. Dr. Eden V. Wells, the chief medical executive for the department, was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer, and could face up to seven years if convicted. They are among 15 current and former state and local officials facing criminal charges as a 17-month investigation into Flint’s tainted water supply continues.

    #environnement #Flint #eau #pollution #sanctions

  • Three years after the lead poisoning of Flint, residents face water shutoffs, home foreclosures - World Socialist Web Site


    Three years after the lead poisoning of Flint, residents face water shutoffs, home foreclosures
    10 May 2017

    More than three years after the decision to switch the water supply of Flint, Michigan to the polluted Flint River, virtually nothing has been done to address the catastrophic health consequences of the lead poisoning of tens of thousands of working-class residents. Instead, city officials have resumed water shutoffs and are threatening to foreclose on the homes of workers who fail to pay for water tainted by lead and other toxins.

    #eau #pollution #flint

  • 8,000 Flint residents face foreclosure for failing to pay for poisoned water - World Socialist Web Site


    8,000 Flint residents face foreclosure for failing to pay for poisoned water
    By Jerry White
    5 May 2017

    More than 8,000 residents in Flint have received letters from the city threatening them with home foreclosures if they do not pay outstanding bills for water, which is still tainted with lead and other toxins. Seeking to squeeze $5.8 million out of city residents, the letters said outstanding bills would have to be paid by May 19 or property tax liens would be issued that could result in residents losing their homes by March 2018.

    The action is the latest offense against the largely working-class population in the former manufacturing center for General Motors, 60 miles north of Detroit. Residents in the city of 100,000 have fought a three-year battle against the lead poisoning of their water and the official cover-up of this criminal act by local, state and federal authorities.

    #eau #pollution #flint

  • Children in California show elevated lead levels at rates higher than Flint, Michigan - World Socialist Web Site


    Children in California show elevated lead levels at rates higher than Flint, Michigan
    By Glenn Mulwray
    3 April 2017

    Recent data released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and reports from the Reuters news agency have revealed that children in 29 California neighborhoods have tested for elevated lead levels at least as high as children in Flint, Michigan poisoned by that city’s 2014 decision to tap into the contaminated Flint River as the primary source of drinking water.

    California’s hardest hit areas showed nearly 14 percent of children age 6 or younger with elevated lead levels, compared to 5 percent across the city of Flint at the height of the ongoing water contamination crisis.

    #eau #flint #californie #Pollution #pollution_au_plomb #plomb #états-unis

  • $87 million Flint water line settlement announced - World Socialist Web Site

    $87 million Flint water line settlement announced
    By James Brewer
    31 March 2017

    In what the media is hailing as a “victory for Flint residents,” a federal judge approved a settlement Tuesday in which the state of Michigan will pay $87 million for replacing service lines in the city over the next three years. An additional $10 million is to be held in reserve for “unexpected costs.”

    The lawsuit that led to the settlement was brought against the State of Michigan by several groups, including Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Flint resident Melissa Mays, who heads the local activist group Water You Fighting For.

    US District Judge David Lawson, who presided over the settlement, gave the following characterization. “In my view the settlement agreement is fair, adequate, reasonable and consistent with the public interest and it furthers the objectives of the safe water drinking act [sic].” The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) establishes the standards for public drinking water supplies throughout the US. Lawson made a point of praising Michigan Governor Rick Snyder—who is responsible for the disaster in Flint—saying that without his cooperation the settlement would not have been possible.

    #eau #flint #Pollution #environnement #états-unis

  • Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part one - World Socialist Web Site


    Michigan blames Flint water crisis on racism: Part one
    By James Brewer
    3 March 2017

    This is the first part of a two-part article. The second part will be posted March 4.

    The final report on the Flint water crisis released by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) seeks to conceal the real class interests that underlay this crime against the people of Flint. The timing of the report, February 7, is significant. It was released the same week that state and local officials announced that water bill subsidies would be ended by the end of the month, forcing residents to pay in full for water they still cannot drink, and that water service cutoffs would be resumed for those in arrears.

    The content of the report represents a continuation of the half-truths and lies Flint residents have been fed since the lead-poisoned water began to be pumped into their homes. The contention of the 138-page report is that the water disaster in Flint was the result of “systemic racism,” yet no evidence is presented to substantiate this assertion.

    #michigan #flint #eau #Pollution

  • #Flint, Mexico and the dangerous, slippery slope from tap water to bottled water

    I have been following the tragedy of Flint (Michigan, #USA) water residents’ struggles with their municipal tap water supply ever since it started. It’s perhaps the only instance of water problems that I know of in recent years that has been taken as relevant and seriously as climate change. As my own research has shown, environmental activism manages to shine light on complex issues more robustly and visibly whenever human health issues are concerned, and in this case, the Flint water crisis has prolonged for over 2.5 years.


    #eau #eau_de_robinet #eau_en_bouteilles #Etats-Unis

  • A #Flint, Michigan, la crise de l’eau n’en finit pas

    Pour traiter l’#eau de la rivière, on remet en service la petite station d’épuration de la ville, obsolète et en sous-effectif. Or, aussitôt, l’eau corrosive et mal filtrée attaque les vieilles canalisations en plomb. Elle arrive dans les robinets chargée de #plomb, de divers métaux lourds et de bactéries pathogènes, provoquant toute une gamme de maladies chez de nombreux usagers. Quand on la boit, elle peut endommager les organes internes, y compris le cerveau, et quand on se douche, elle affecte la peau et les cheveux. Elle attaque même les machines : dès octobre 2014, General Motors, qui possède encore une usine de camions à Flint, exige d’être à nouveau alimentée par de l’eau de Detroit, à ses frais, car celle de la rivière corrode ses installations et endommage sa production. Après avoir longtemps nié le problème, puis minimisé ses conséquences, les autorités finissent par rétablir l’approvisionnement en eau provenant de Detroit en octobre 2015, mais il est trop tard. Les canalisations corrodées continuent à contaminer l’eau, les produits chimiques injectés pour l’assainir augmentent sa toxicité.

  • What’s in Your Water? Flint and Beyond | NRDC

    The devastating lead contamination of the tap water in Flint, Michigan, highlights potentially disastrous gaps in the provision of safe drinking water to all Americans—especially the most vulnerable. The complex, far-reaching shortcomings include poor and unaccountable decisions by public officials as well as deficiencies in the Safe Drinking Water Act and the rules issued under that law that are supposed to address lead contamination. The water crisis in Flint has serious racial and socioeconomic implications, illustrating the broader problem of environmental injustice.

    Yet #Flint is not alone. In an extensive analysis of official EPA violation and enforcement records, NRDC mapped lead-related issues in drinking water systems across the United States. Our research illustrates the extraordinary geographic scope of America’s lead crisis. In 2015, 18 million people were served by water systems with lead violations. These violations were recorded because the systems were not doing everything that they are required to do to protect the public from lead issues, which could include failure to treat to reduce lead levels in the water (health violations), failure to monitor the water for lead as required (monitoring violations), or failure to report lead results to the public or the government (reporting violations).

    #eau #eau_potable #pollution #États-Unis #cartographie

  • #Veolia poursuivi par la justice américaine dans le scandale de l’empoisonnement de l’eau de Flint

    Le groupe français Veolia est poursuivi par la justice américaine dans le cadre du scandale de l’#empoisonnement de l’#eau de la ville de #Flint, dans le Michigan. Le procureur général de l’Etat a annoncé la décision, mercredi 22 juin, accusant l’entreprise de négligence et d’avoir exacerbé une situation déjà critique. Un concurrent américain de Veolia, Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam (LAN) fait lui aussi l’objet de poursuites au civil.

    « A Flint, on a fait appel à Veolia et LAN pour faire un travail, et ils ont lamentablement échoué », a affirmé le procureur, Bill Schuette, lors d’une conférence de presse, qui a parlé de « travail bâclé ». « Ils n’ont pas empêché l’empoisonnement de l’eau, ils ont même aggravé la situation », a-t-il ajouté.