industryterm:mining

  • #bitcoin: The Living Room Revolution
    https://hackernoon.com/bitcoin-the-living-room-revolution-9acdf521295e?source=rss----3a8144eabf

    Bitcoin and #crypto are a massive crowd-sourced project to increase individual sovereignty over money and information, which, if successful, will transform the world we live in, forever.“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the electricity and computing power of patriots and revolutionaries.” — Thomas Jefferson (if he were alive today)It’s about LibertyMost of the world’s money is fiat money. Fiat is a dirty word. Its usage is rooted in phrases like “by Royal fiat” as in, by Royal command.While we may think that we tossed off the shackles of ‘rule by fiat’ from monarchies and dictatorships, we still comfortably refer to our money as “fiat”. It is, after all, printed on-demand by a handful of people whenever they wish. This point shouldn’t be taken lightly because the power of (...)

    #cryptocurrency #crypto-mining



  • The complete checklist for your #cryptocurrency #taxes
    https://hackernoon.com/the-complete-checklist-for-your-cryptocurrency-taxes-1c6afce960ff?source

    Crypto taxes are notoriously difficult to get done. This is because the data that makes up your crypto buys, sells, trades, transfers, mining income, forks, splits, air drops, wallet transactions, and other crypto activity is likely scattered across many different platforms and mediums. Crypto tax software is built to make this process significantly easier; however, it’s important to have a knowledge of what needs to be inputted into the tax software so that your numbers come out accurate.This checklist runs through everything that you need in order to easily complete your crypto taxes.1. A list of every exchange that you have ever used to buy, sell, or trade cryptocurrencyExchange data is essential in the crypto tax reporting process. Exchanges are likely the places where you (...)

    #blockchain #bitcoin #ethereum


  • CryptoMap: #china — The Many Faces of China’s Enthusiasm Towards #blockchain
    https://hackernoon.com/cryptomap-china-the-many-faces-of-chinas-enthusiasm-towards-blockchain-6

    CryptoMap: China — The Many Faces of China’s Enthusiasm Towards BlockchainHappy Chinese New Year! to celebrate this amazing holiday, we’re going to visit a country with an immense density of crypto miners and traders, where cryptocurrencies are viewed as a valuable asset and a means of safe investment. China is one of the main exchange markets and home to some of the biggest #bitcoin ‘mining pools’ in the world. Unfortunately, the ban on cryptocurrencies from Chinese Government had a negative effect on the whole industry. Despite this fact, there are plenty of reasons to stay optimistic!Let’s go sightseeing!Government & RegulationIn 2016, blockchain technology development was added into the 13th Five-Year Plan — the plan for national development over 2016–2020 — thus making China one of the (...)

    #cryptocurrency #fintech


  • A Tidal Wave of Mud - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/09/world/americas/brazil-dam-collapse.html

    The deluge of toxic mud stretched for five miles, crushing homes, offices and people — a tragedy, but hardly a surprise, experts say.

    This article is by Shasta Darlington, James Glanz, Manuela Andreoni, Matthew Bloch, Sergio Peçanha, Anjali Singhvi and Troy Griggs.

    There are 88 mining dams in Brazil built like the one that failed — enormous reservoirs of mining waste held back by little more than walls of sand and silt. And all but four of the dams have been rated by the government as equally vulnerable, or worse.

    Even more alarming, at least 28 sit directly uphill from cities or towns, with more than 100,000 people living in especially risky areas if the dams failed, an estimate by The New York Times found.

    #Brésil #barrages #catastrophe #extraction_minière


  • Low prices cause redistribution of hash rate.
    https://hackernoon.com/low-prices-cause-redistribution-of-hash-rate-155959e1ee88?source=rss----

    Low Prices Can Cause Redistribution of The Hash RateThe vast portion of mining power is sourced from China.The recent slump in coin prices has led to concerns over the feasibility of mining operations. However, mining operations are still profitable in some parts of the world; the lower Bitcoin price is making way for diversification in the mining industry by enabling the growth of farms in countries with electricity prices that are lower than the energy costs in China.While a few Chinese mining facilities have been able to lock direct deals with power providers, thereby giving them access to discounted energy supplies, the average kWh rate in China stands at $0.08. Bitcoin’s current difficulty makes it difficult for most major miners, including those in China, to break-even on operating (...)

    #decentralization #hash-rate #cryptocurrency #blockchain #technology


  • How At-Home Crypto Mining Outperforms Buying Crypto
    https://hackernoon.com/how-at-home-crypto-mining-outperforms-buying-crypto-8f30d87d2348?source=

    IntroductionLooking in from the outside, cryptocurrency mining can be opaque and confusing. It is intimidating to learn about, to say nothing of trying to determine whether it makes sense to actually participate in. In fact, this is exactly why we started Coinmine — — to make crypto and powering crypto easy. To date, one consistent motivation for at home mining has been something we’ve called “Liberty Crypto” — the ability to secure a sovereign future for yourself and others by participating in the creation of new, non-fiat monies.In addition to the worthwhile Liberty Crypto motivation for mining, from an economic perspective, mining can be a much better option for accumulating cryptocurrency than buying. With the right framework and models, it can allow people to use their resources to not only (...)

    #crypto-mining #at-home-crypto-mining #hackernoon-top-story #bitcoin #at-home-mining



  • The Path to #decentralization
    https://hackernoon.com/the-path-to-decentralization-c16f49e012c7?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    It’s a long road…January 18, 2019, D KleineThe black boxIn a classic episode from one of my favorite TV series, The IT Crowd (if you haven’t seen it, seriously, add it to your list on Netflix asap), the main characters, working in the dark and dingy basement of a dysfunctional corporation’s highrise in downtown London, attempt to rid themselves of their newly appointed boss. Their plot is to embarrass the incompetently ignorant new IT manager by encouraging her to introduce a simple black box to her colleagues at her first speaking presentation. This simple black box, they tell her, is… THE INTERNET.APstockAs the main characters snicker and guffaw at the back row of the presentation, they are dismayed to realize that not a single colleague in attendance joins in the laughter, instead awed by (...)

    #decentralized-path #bitcoin #cryptocurrency-mining #path-to-decentralization


  • The shady origins of gold refined in Switzerland

    Most of the gold in the world passes through Switzerland. This is a business worth CHF70-90 billion ($70-90 billion) depending on the year. Gold arrives here in unrefined form, and leaves the country in all its glittering purity.

    Sometimes, though, it is of highly dubious provenance. The government recognises the risk, which is why it recently issued a report on the subject. This report raises concerns over the exploitation of mine workers, and makes several recommendations to Swiss firms active in the field.

    Swiss refineries process 70% of the unrefined gold mined in the world each year. Four of the nine major players in the global gold industry conduct most of their business here in Switzerland. While the gold originates in ninety different countries, roughly half of all the gold imported for processing in Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates or Hong Kong – three countries that produce no gold themselves.

    Gold accounts for 63% of Britain’s exports to Switzerlandexternal link, 92% of the Emirates’ and 78% of Hong Kong’s. But then too, Switzerland imports a significant amount of gold from countries that largely depend on it as a main export, such as #Burkina_Faso (where gold represents 72% of the country’s exports), #Ghana (51%) and #Mali (77%).

    As can be seen from the accompanying chart, some of the main gold producers are countries not exactly known for respecting human rights. But looking at the second table, we also see that among the gold producers are several countries at war, which use the profits from gold to bankroll hostilities. In all these cases, the phrase used is “illegal gold” or “dirty gold” or even “blood gold”.

    An important economic sector

    To show just how important this sector is for the Swiss economy: in 2017, for example, 2404 metric tons of gold were imported, with a value of about CHF70 billion. In the same year Switzerland exported gold worth approximately CHF67 billion. In other words, 24% of Swiss exports and 31% of imports were directly linked to gold.

    To compare this with the other “jewels in the crown” of Swiss industry: in the same period the country’s watchmakers made about CHF20 billion in exports, the equivalent about 24 million watches and clocks. Swiss chocolate makers exported just under CHF1 billion, or 128,000 tons of chocolate.

    To match the achievements of the gold sector, these other industries would have to export 85 billion chocolate bars or 84 million watches and clocks. Only the pharmaceutical industry packs more economic weight: in 2017 the Swiss pharma giants exported goods to the value of CHF 98 billion.

    Limited transparency

    The trade in gold is worth one out of three Swiss franc’s worth of imports, and a quarter of a franc’s worth of exports. Not exactly peanuts, is it? The charts provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity are instructive in this regard:

    This is not a sector known for transparency. Far from it. There has been no lack of scandals over the years – from Peru to Togo (see story), via Burkina Faso and the Congo. In all these cases there has been talk of “blood gold” arriving from these countries in Switzerland to be refined. Then the gold in all its purity ends up in Britain, India, China and Hong Kong.
    What is “blood gold”?

    What exactly counts as “blood gold”? As the name implies, it’s gold stained with human blood, extracted in ways that fly in the face of human rights. “Bloody gold” also involves trampling of the rights of native peoples to self-determination and ownership of their ancestral lands.

    Illegal mining of gold causes environmental damage, mainly due to pollution by heavy metals. Furthermore, gold mining often goes together with gun-running for local wars, organised crime, and money laundering.

    Some of this gold has a way of getting to Switzerland for refining. The Swiss government has long been aware of this risk. In its report on the trade in gold published recently, it admits it cannot exclude the possibility that gold produced at the expense of human rights may be coming into Switzerland.
    Blood gold - origin and traceability

    In a joint statement, several of the Swiss NGOs active in campaigning for human rights agree that the government’s analysis pinpoints the major problems in this high-risk economic sector, but they find that the solutions proposed are inadequate.

    One of the main problems is knowing where the gold actually comes from. More than half of all gold entering Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. These countries no more produce gold than does Switzerland itself. They are just the second-last stop on the journey of unrefined gold from other parts of the world.

    “Multinationals that refine gold in Switzerland know perfectly well where their raw materials are coming from," say Marc Ummel, head of development policy in the raw materials sector at Swissaid. "They just don’t say it.”

    While the federal government recognises in its report that the origins of gold need to be traceable, in practice the regulatory agencies just know the last country it came from, not the real country of origin.

    For Ummel, the answer to the problem is simple. “We call on the government to require the Federal Customs Administration to find out the origin of goods arriving and not just the last country exporting them to Switzerland”.

    Over the years, adds Ummel, the gold industry multinationals have been saying they want to improve the quality of information available. “But what does that mean? It would be enough just to declare the origin of the gold, what country, what mine it is coming from, and above all whether these mining operations pay heed to basic human rights and respect the environment. That would be improving the quality of information all right. But it isn’t happening.”

    Voluntary compliance

    As the government’s own report says, Swiss refineries apply “voluntary” standards to ensure that production is in line with social and environmental considerations. But there is no obligation to comply.

    The federal government itself endorses (but does not enforce) the standards developed by the OSCE and encourages (but does not compel) corporations to implement them.

    The “Better Gold Initiative” (BGI) was launched by Switzerland in 2013 in Peru with a view to sourcing gold from small-scale mines that respect the voluntary sustainability guidelines. The project meant that from 2013 to 2017, some 2.5 tons of gold produced in a responsible manner were extracted and sold. It was certainly a laudable undertaking, but it represented no more than 0.015% of yearly world production.
    Well-meaning but imperfect legislation

    Swiss legislation already on the books is among the strictest in the world in regulating trade in gold, the federal government says. Laws on control of precious metals and combatting money-laundering aim to ensure that gold being processed in the refineries does not come from illegal mining.

    Ummel does not share this view. “It’s not really true,” he says. “The European Union, even the US, have stricter laws. Swiss law does try to curb illegal gold mining, but, as the government admits, it does not have explicit provisions on respecting human rights.” Despite this admission, the federal government sees no need for new legislation in the matter.

    Why this reluctance? Ummel has his theories. “The federal government talks about the tough international competition that the Swiss industry has to confront,” he notes. “So, not wishing to add to the difficulties of a sector involving one third of all imports and a quarter of all exports, the government has little inclination to clean things up.”

    Competition is a fact. As Ummel himself admits, “there are more refineries in the world than there is unrefined gold.”
    What’s the answer?

    In its report, the federal government has eight recommendations for greater transparency, but it is not considering making anything compulsory.

    The NGOs, in contrast, are calling for a requirement of “due diligence” (https://www.swissaid.ch/fr/conseil-federal-rapport-or), with sanctions that would be invoked if the diligence was not done. That is, they say, the only real step to take in the direction of trasparency. It remains to be seen whether the industry is able – or willing – to do it.

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/multinationals_the-shady-origins-of-gold-refined-in-switzerland/44621040
    #or #matières_premières #Suisse #extractivisme #transparence #multinationales


  • #vertcoin will hardfork against ASIC threat
    https://hackernoon.com/vertcoin-will-hardfork-against-asic-threat-2dfecac6ea73?source=rss----3a

    Due to the threat ASICs pose to the Vertcoin network, Vertcoin is forking to an adjusted version of its current algorithm. This fork will help protect the network while restoring profitability to miners. The direct cause for the fork is the availability of ASICs and the threats involved with mining outsourcabillity.What is the motivation for the fork?Vertcoin is based on the view that mining with commodity hardware is the best way to ensure a decentralized network. This in turn creates a network where both consensus and economic incentives are taking place at the level of the user. The ASICs that were created for the Vertcoins algorithm threatened this vision.As 2018 came to an end, ASICs were introduced on the Vertcoin network. This did not only make it less profitable to participate (...)

    #bitcoin-fork #cryptocurrency-mining #blockchain #asic-threat


  • China grinding disc manufacturer talk about the development of grinding discs?
    Looking at the development trend of the grinding disc industry, the next year will be a year of rapid growth of the grinding disc industry, especially for the domestic grinding disc equipment manufacturers, the development opportunities are rare. Today, China grinding disc manufacturer come to tell you about the development of the grinding disc industry.
    In-depth study of the development status of international and domestic grinding disc industry, the trend and trend of industrial technology development, especially the cutting-edge technology of grinding disc mill equipment, to further develop and promote the level of grinding disc machinery manufacturing in China. As the pillar industry of the national economy, the grinding disc industry plays an important role in China’s economic construction and social development. In the industrial raw material production and other industries, the grinding disc, as a construction and mining equipment and raw material deep processing equipment, has continuously provided a large number of basic industrial products and energy for all walks of life, which greatly guaranteed the healthy and rapid development of the national economy.
    Grinding disc equipment is an important part of mechanical equipment, including various grinding disc type mill equipment and mill, high-pressure micro-grinding disc mill, ultra-fine micro-grinding mill, and so on. At the same time as the overall progress of the grinding disc equipment, the grinding disc equipment advances in a high-profile manner, and it is bound to follow the development direction of innovative technology.
    https://www.auroraabrasive.com/4-inches-abrasive-grinding-disc-tools


  • 10 Essential Computer Skills for Data Mining
    https://hackernoon.com/10-must-have-skills-for-data-mining-f12cc4349ed6?source=rss----3a8144eab

    Data mining is to extract valid information from gigantic data sets and transform the information into potentially useful and ultimately understandable patterns for further use. It not only includes data processing and management but also involves the intelligence methods of machine learning, statistics and database systems, as Wikipedia defines.Data mining is also the important technology in the field of Data science, which has been ranking as the №1 best job in the USA from 2016 to 2018, from Glassdoor’s list of 50 Best Jobs in America. Besides, comparing with 1700 job openings in 2016, the number of listed job openings has increased significantly by 160% in two years. It can be foreseen that the demand for data scientists or the people who have the skills or data analysis will keep (...)

    #data-mining-skills #computer-skills #data-mining #big-data #data-science



  • Classification of grinding discs produced by 4 inches China grinding disc factory?
    The 4-inch Chinese grinding disc is widely used in the grinding of mineral products in the fields of metallurgy, building materials, chemicals and mining. The 4 inches China grinding disc factory Aurora production disc grinding machine is mainly used in the mining industry, versatile, and the quality is relatively reliable.
    The power unit configuration of the Aurora 4-inch grinding disc is divided according to the size of the grinding disc. The new high-strength disc grinding machine is equipped with a small-sized belt transmission device during the development and design, and a PVC plastic grinding machine for the large-scale grinding machine.
    Aurora according to the fineness of the material to be ground and the fineness of the material to be discharged, the grinding machine can be divided into vertical and vertical PVC plastic mill, high-pressure suspension roller PVC plastic mill, high-pressure micro-powder PVC plastic mill, straight-through centrifugal PVC plastic Milling machine, overpressure trapezoidal PVC plastic mill, three-ring medium-speed PVC plastic mill six kinds of PVC plastic mill type. The use of PVC plastic mill makes the operation of PVC plastic mill more convenient and efficient!

    https://www.auroraabrasive.com/4-inches-abrasive-grinding-disc-tools


  • Four types of digital assets
    https://hackernoon.com/four-types-of-digital-assets-2a77b5f80267?source=rss----3a8144eabfe3---4

    The four categories of crypto tokens or “digital assets” are open source cryptocurrencies, ICO coins, Reg D compliant initial offerings, and tradable securities. If you are considering issuing your own assets, or handling existing assets, you should understand where they fit in this list.Photo by Samuel Isaac on UnsplashOpen source cryptocurrenciesIn the beginning there was bitcoin, an open source cryptocurrency. An open source cryptocurrency is used to reward participants that are part of an open source community. They organize themselves by agreeing to run the same code. They share resources, and they distribute rewards to resource providers in the form of crypto coins or tokens. Bitcoin pays for “mining”, which is compute time used to make the blockchain reliable and difficult to  (...)


  • Latest Regional Cryptocurrencies Trends: ICOs through the lenses of the regional particularities
    https://hackernoon.com/latest-regional-cryptocurrencies-trends-icos-through-the-lenses-of-the-r

    Cryptocurrencies are commonly associated with international financial solutions. But while this is true of many blockchain projects, especially those from the earliest stage of this technology’s development, recent years have seen quite a few promising crypto enterprises emerge in other segments. Cryptocurrency mining has become its own lucrative industry. Other uses for blockchain technology have been found in the fields of #marketing, logistics and gaming, using smart contracts for reliable and transparent transactions and bypassing the expensive services of middlemen. Since such projects are more directly connected to the real economy, they also tend to be more localised, especially at their early stages. As a result, some interesting trends could be observed, with regards to what (...)

    #strategy #startup #ico #diversity


  • Brazil new President will open Amazon indigenous reserves to mining and farming

    Indigenous People Bolsonaro has vowed that no more indigenous reserves will be demarcated and existing reserves will be opened up to mining, raising the alarm among indigenous leaders. “We are in a state of alert,” said Beto Marubo, an indigenous leader from the Javari Valley reserve.

    Dinamam Tuxá, the executive coordinator of the Indigenous People of Brazil Liaison, said indigenous people did not want mining and farming on their reserves, which are some of the best protected areas in the Amazon. “He does not respect the indigenous peoples’ traditions” he said.

    The Amazon and the environment Bolsonaro campaigned on a pledge to combine Brazil’s environment ministry with the agriculture ministry – under control of allies from the agribusiness lobby. He has attacked environmental agencies for running a “fines industry” and argued for simplifying environmental licences for development projects. His chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, and other allies have challenged global warming science.

    “He intends that Amazon stays Brazilian and the source of our progress and our riches,” said Ribeiro Souto in an interview. Ferreira has also said Bolsonaro wants to restart discussions over controversial hydroelectric dams in the Amazon, which were stalled over environmental concerns.

    Bolsonaro’s announcement last week that he would no longer seek to withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate agreement has done little to assuage environmentalists’ fears.

    http://www.whitewolfpack.com/2018/10/brazil-new-president-will-open-amazon.html
    #réserves #Amazonie #Brésil #extractivisme #mines #agriculture #forêt #déforestation (probablement pour amener ENFIN la #modernité et le #progrès, n’est-ce pas ?) #aires_protégées #peuples_autochtones #barrages_hydroélectriques

    • Un leader paysan assassiné dans l’Amazonie brésilienne

      Le leader paysan, #Aluisio_Samper, dit #Alenquer, a été assassiné jeudi après-midi 11 octobre 2018 chez lui, à #Castelo_de_Sonhos, une ville située le long de la route BR-163 qui relie le nord de l’État de #Mato_Grosso, la principale région productrice de #soja du Brésil, aux deux fleuves Tapajós et Amazone.

      Il défendait des paysans qui s’accrochaient à des lopins de terre qu’ils cultivaient pour survivre, alors que le gouvernement les avaient inclues dans un projet de #réforme_agraire et allait les attribuer à des associations de gros producteurs.


      https://reporterre.net/Un-leader-paysan-assassine-dans-l-Amazonie-bresilienne
      #assassinat #terres #meurtre

    • As Brazil’s Far Right Leader Threatens the Amazon, One Tribe Pushes Back

      “Where there is indigenous land,” newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro has said, “there is wealth underneath it.”

      The Times traveled hundreds of miles into the Brazilian Amazon, staying with a tribe in the #Munduruku Indigenous Territory as it struggled with the shrinking rain forest.

      The miners had to go.

      Their bulldozers, dredges and high-pressure hoses tore into miles of land along the river, polluting the water, poisoning the fish and threatening the way life had been lived in this stretch of the Amazon for thousands of years.

      So one morning in March, leaders of the Munduruku tribe readied their bows and arrows, stashed a bit of food into plastic bags and crammed inside four boats to drive the miners away.

      “It has been decided,” said Maria Leusa Kabá, one of the women in the tribe who helped lead the revolt.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/10/world/americas/brazil-indigenous-mining-bolsonaro.html

    • Indigenous People, the First Victims of Brazil’s New Far-Right Government

      “We have already been decimated and subjected, and we have been victims of the integrationist policy of governments and the national state,” said indigenous leaders, as they rejected the new Brazilian government’s proposals and measures focusing on indigenous peoples.

      In an open letter to President Jair Bolsonaro, leaders of the Aruak, Baniwa and Apurinã peoples, who live in the watersheds of the Negro and Purus rivers in Brazil’s northwestern Amazon jungle region, protested against the decree that now puts indigenous lands under the Ministry of Agriculture, which manages interests that run counter to those of native peoples.

      Indigenous people are likely to present the strongest resistance to the offensive of Brazil’s new far-right government, which took office on Jan. 1 and whose first measures roll back progress made over the past three decades in favor of the 305 indigenous peoples registered in this country.

      Native peoples are protected by article 231 of the Brazilian constitution, in force since 1988, which guarantees them “original rights over the lands they traditionally occupy,” in addition to recognising their “social organisation, customs, languages, beliefs and traditions.”

      To this are added international regulations ratified by the country, such as Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the International Labor Organisation, which defends indigenous rights, such as the right to prior, free and informed consultation in relation to mining or other projects that affect their communities.

      It was indigenous people who mounted the stiffest resistance to the construction of hydroelectric dams on large rivers in the Amazon rainforest, especially Belo Monte, built on the Xingu River between 2011 and 2016 and whose turbines are expected to be completed this year.

      Transferring the responsibility of identifying and demarcating indigenous reservations from the National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) to the Ministry of Agriculture will hinder the demarcation of new areas and endanger existing ones.

      There will be a review of the demarcations of Indigenous Lands carried out over the past 10 years, announced Luiz Nabhan García, the ministry’s new secretary of land affairs, who is now responsible for the issue.

      García is the leader of the Democratic Ruralist Union, a collective of landowners, especially cattle ranchers, involved in frequent and violent conflicts over land.

      Bolsonaro himself has already announced the intention to review Raposa Serra do Sol, an Indigenous Land legalised in 2005, amid legal battles brought to an end by a 2009 Supreme Court ruling, which recognised the validity of the demarcation.

      This indigenous territory covers 17,474 square kilometers and is home to some 20,000 members of five different native groups in the northern state of Roraima, on the border with Guyana and Venezuela.

      In Brazil there are currently 486 Indigenous Lands whose demarcation process is complete, and 235 awaiting demarcation, including 118 in the identification phase, 43 already identified and 74 “declared”.

      “The political leaders talk, but revising the Indigenous Lands would require a constitutional amendment or proof that there has been fraud or wrongdoing in the identification and demarcation process, which is not apparently frequent,” said Adriana Ramos, director of the Socio-environmental Institute, a highly respected non-governmental organisation involved in indigenous and environmental issues.

      “The first decisions taken by the government have already brought setbacks, with the weakening of the indigenous affairs office and its responsibilities. The Ministry of Health also announced changes in the policy toward the indigenous population, without presenting proposals, threatening to worsen an already bad situation,” she told IPS from Brasilia.

      “The process of land demarcation, which was already very slow in previous governments, is going to be even slower now,” and the worst thing is that the declarations against rights “operate as a trigger for violations that aggravate conflicts, generating insecurity among indigenous peoples,” warned Ramos.

      In the first few days of the new year, and of the Bolsonaro administration, loggers already invaded the Indigenous Land of the Arara people, near Belo Monte, posing a risk of armed clashes, she said.

      The indigenous Guaraní people, the second largest indigenous group in the country, after the Tikuna, who live in the north, are the most vulnerable to the situation, especially their communities in the central-eastern state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

      They are fighting for the demarcation of several lands and the expansion of too-small areas that are already demarcated, and dozens of their leaders have been murdered in that struggle, while they endure increasingly precarious living conditions that threaten their very survival.

      “The grave situation is getting worse under the new government. They are strangling us by dividing Funai and handing the demarcation process to the Ministry of Agriculture, led by ruralists – the number one enemies of indigenous people,” said Inaye Gomes Lopes, a young indigenous teacher who lives in the village of Ñanderu Marangatu in Mato Grosso do Sul, near the Paraguayan border.

      Funai has kept its welfare and rights defence functions but is now subordinate to the new Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights, led by Damares Alves, a controversial lawyer and evangelical pastor.

      “We only have eight Indigenous Lands demarcated in the state and one was annulled (in December). What we have is due to the many people who have died, whose murderers have never been put in prison,” said Lopes, who teaches at a school that pays tribute in indigenous language to Marçal de Souza, a Guarani leader murdered in 1982.

      “We look for ways to resist and we look for ‘supporters’, at an international level as well. I’m worried, I don’t sleep at night,” she told IPS in a dialogue from her village, referring to the new government, whose expressions regarding indigenous people she called “an injustice to us.”

      Bolsonaro advocates “integration” of indigenous people, referring to assimilation into the mainstream “white” society – an outdated idea of the white elites.

      He complained that indigenous people continue to live “like in zoos,” occupying “15 percent of the national territory,” when, according to his data, they number less than a million people in a country of 209 million inhabitants.

      “It’s not us who have a large part of Brazil’s territory, but the big landowners, the ruralists, agribusiness and others who own more than 60 percent of the national territory,” countered the public letter from the the Aruak, Baniwa and Apurinã peoples.

      Actually, Indigenous Lands make up 13 percent of Brazilian territory, and 90 percent are located in the Amazon rainforest, the signatories of the open letter said.

      “We are not manipulated by NGOs,” they replied to another accusation which they said arose from the president’s “prejudices.”

      A worry shared by some military leaders, like the minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet, retired General Augusto Heleno Pereira, is that the inhabitants of Indigenous Lands under the influence of NGOs will declare the independence of their territories, to separate from Brazil.

      They are mainly worried about border areas and, especially, those occupied by people living on both sides of the border, such as the Yanomami, who live in Brazil and Venezuela.

      But in Ramos’ view, it is not the members of the military forming part of the Bolsonaro government, like the generals occupying five ministries, the vice presidency, and other important posts, who pose the greatest threat to indigenous rights.

      Many military officers have indigenous people among their troops and recognise that they share in the task of defending the borders, she argued.

      It is the ruralists, who want to get their hands on indigenous lands, and the leaders of evangelical churches, with their aggressive preaching, who represent the most violent threats, she said.

      The new government spells trouble for other sectors as well, such as the quilombolas (Afro-descendant communities), landless rural workers and NGOs.

      Bolsonaro announced that his administration would not give “a centimeter of land” to either indigenous communities or quilombolas, and said it would those who invade estates or other properties as “terrorists.”

      And the government has threatened to “supervise and monitor” NGOs. But “the laws are clear about their rights to organise,” as well as about the autonomy of those who do not receive financial support from the state, Ramos said.

      http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/01/indigenous-people-first-victims-brazils-new-far-right-government


  • The Abandoned Mine Problem: Who Should Bear the Burden?

    Thousands of abandoned and orphaned mines dot the American West. They pose a danger to both public and environmental health, and responsible parties are difficult to find, differentiate, or hold accountable. Why do inactive mines continue to pose safety hazards and pollute our waterways? The laws in place simply don’t have teeth. The Gold King Mine wastewater spill in southwestern Colorado in 2015 was a good reminder of the scope of the problem of abandoned and orphaned mines and how our current regulatory framework falls short.

    There are three laws that generally govern mining law in the United States: the 1872 Mining Law, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). These laws lack concrete measures to prevent mine spills from occurring as well as reliable methods to ensure that all mines receive the necessary attention in the case of a spill (or better yet, to prevent one). In addition, these laws can create liabilities and disincentives on parties who might otherwise be willing to come in and remediate the mine on their own. However, some states are turning towards a non-traditional form of legislation: Good Samaritan laws, in which citizens, companies, and organizations would be not liable in the case they decide to take on the task of cleaning up acid mine drainage.

    The abandoned mine problem in the United States is striking. Specifically, hard rock mines (including metals like gold, silver, iron, copper, and zinc) are predominant in the West as a result of the discovery of gold and silver during the era of western expansion. Up until the 1970s, the federal government engaged in little oversight on mining across much of the West. During the mining era, there were few expectations about environmental safeguards, and as a result, historic mining operations often went largely unregulated. Before the 1970s, it was common for mining companies to abandon mine sites after mineral extraction was completed or no longer profitable. The land was often left exposed, with waste materials in piles or dumped into mine cavities and pits. At the time, mining companies had no requirement to restore mine lands to their original condition. Today, it is almost impossible to hold these mine owners financially responsible because records of original ownership have been lost and accountable individuals have long passed away. There are over 500,000 abandoned hardrock mine sites across the nation, and the cost for cleaning up these inactive mines is estimated to be between $33 and 72 billion dollars. Today, these abandoned mines are capable of polluting adjacent streams, lakes, and groundwater with high volumes of toxic waste. In doing so, contamination from spills has the potential to—and often does—harm marine ecosystems, poison local drinking water, and pose serious health risks to local communities.

    What Laws Are in Place?

    The Mining Law of 1872, or the General Mining Law, governs the transfer of rights to mine gold, silver, copper, uranium and other hardrock minerals from federal lands. Under the law, citizens may enter and explore the public domain, and if they find valuable mineral deposits, they may obtain title to the land through the Department of the Interior. The law has jurisdictional coverage over 270 million acres of publicly owned land, which is almost one-fourth of all land in the United States. In essence, mining companies are able to search for minerals without any authorization from any government agency. The law contains little to no environmental protections for using use of the land and it does not include any royalty or bonding provisions (to help fund cleanup in case of an accident). As a result, many have criticized the law for giving away public land to private companies practically for free, leaving the public to bear the burden for cleaning up the spills. Since there is no requirement to pay royalties or report extraction volume, the government does not keep track of the volume of hardrock minerals being extracted from federal public lands each year. Consequently, this aspect of mines is largely unchecked and has disparate effects.

    But the issue of abandoned mines has not entirely been overlooked. In September 2017, Senator Tom Udall (Arizona) introduced legislation to reform the General Mining Law and address many of the above-mention criticisms. If passed, the legislation would help fund clean-up activities through fees and royalties. In March 2018, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on the issue of abandoned mines.

    The Clean Water Act (CWA) is aimed at restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Act splits the responsibility to state agencies and some responsibility to the EPA to carry out the regulatory purposes. The Act requires would-be polluters to obtain a permit for any kind of discharge of a pollutant from a point source (such as mine waste) into the navigable waters of the United States. While the structure of the Act enforces a basic foundation for protecting water resources, one consequence of the permitting system is that parties who own or attempt to clean up mines will likely become subject to its extensive permitting requirements and face liability. This being said, when parties do attempt to clean up mines, their actions could still constitute a violation of the CWA. Under the Act, a party seeking to engage in cleanup activity would need a permit regardless of whether their actions aggravate or improve the water quality.

    CERCLA allows for the cleanup of sites that are already contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. It is also referred to as the “Superfund,” due to the large fund that it created for cleanup of contaminated sites. CERCLA is intended to spread the cost of cleanup among responsible parties, and allows the government to undertake cleanup of contaminated property or compel private parties to undertake the cleanup themselves. Like the CWA, CERCLA creates potential liability for parties that might attempt to clean up abandoned mines, which usually takes form of lawsuits. Under 107(a)(4)(B), private parties can recover from a potential responsible party (PRP) for the cleanup costs they “directly incur.” Under this broad liability scheme, people who own property containing hazardous substances can be held liable for enormous cleanup costs even though they were not involved in any hazardous waste disposal activities. Even with some liability defense for certain types of innocent landowners and bonafide prospective purchaser, CERCLA has in effect discouraged the purchase and reuse of properties that may be contaminated. As a result, the overwhelming costs of cleanups (and potential liability) have been the primary restraining factors for people otherwise interested in reusing and restoring contaminated properties.

    Good Samaritan Legislation

    There has been no shortage of offered fixes to the problem of abandoned and orphaned mines, but one solution that has seemed to be getting more traction recently is the idea of Good Samaritan legislation. While potential liability under the CWA and CERCLA has discouraged parties from cleaning up abandoned mines or reusing and restoring contaminated properties, Good Samaritan legislation may provide new hope for parties who want to attempt to clean up mines but do not have the resources to take on the liability that might accompany cleanup efforts. These parties may include citizens, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and mining companies.

    Pennsylvania implemented the Environmental Good Samaritan Act in 1999 and has completed fifty projects since. Those protected by this legislation include individuals, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. The Act protects them if they meet several requirements, including they that did not cause/create the abandoned mineral extraction land or water pollution, and that they provide equipment and/or materials for the project. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers and reviews project proposals to determine project eligibility. While the Act has been used for mine reclamation in the past, DEP has also applied it to other environmental remediation projects, achieving success so far. In 2017, the Act has been applied to two oil and gas well projects, which are estimated to have saved DEP $60,000 to $85,000, in addition to administrative cost savings related to contract development and management. Three more projects are currently under review.

    Recently, members of Congress have made efforts to enact something similar at the federal level. In 2016, three members of the Colorado delegation to Congress proposed the Good Samaritan Cleanup of Orphan Mines Act of 2016 with the help of environmental groups Trout Unlimited and Earthworks. The bill, ultimately, was not successful.

    The practical reality of Good Samaritan legislation is that most parties who are interested in cleaning up the spills will not have the funds to effectuate a successful cleanup. While Good Samaritan laws appear to be a reasonable way to encourage cleanups, they are not enough to solve the multifaceted abandoned mine issue that has a variety of stakeholders- including the mining companies who are often let off the hook. This is why most environmental advocates tend to reject Good Samaritan proposals, as they distract from the bigger picture that the mining companies are causing the spills and are not taking responsibility to clean them up. While the EPA has issued guidance on Good Samaritan laws, few parties are willing to proceed with cleanup projects because the EPA has failed to engage in regulatory rulemaking and enforce law on the subject.

    This being said, Good Samaritan legislation alone will not solve the abandoned and orphaned mine issue. Conservation groups have proposed increased liability for mining companies. At the state level, conservation groups like San Juan Citizens Alliance and Conservation Colorado have supported the

    Thus, what seems to be the closest thing to an answer to the abandoned and orphaned mine problem is some sort of combination of many proposed solutions: Good Samaritan laws, imposition of royalties, creation of a hardrock reclamation fund, etc. At this point, the main question is where resources should be allocated and at what cost, especially amidst federal laws and agencies that often disagree on how and to what extent…” to protect the environment.


    http://duwaterlawreview.com/the-abandoned-mine-problem-who-should-bear-the-burden
    #mines #abandon #fermeture #extractivisme #pollution #mines_abandonnées #environnement #santé

    ping @albertocampiphoto @daphne



  • #Miners_Shot_Down

    In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days into the strike, the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more.The police insisted that they shot in self- defense. Miners Shot Down tells a different story, one that unfolds in real time over seven days, like a ticking time bomb.

    The film weaves together the central point-of-view of three strike leaders, Mambush, Tholakele and Mzoxolo, with compelling police footage, TV archive and interviews with lawyers representing the miners in the ensuing commission of inquiry into the massacre. What emerges is a tragedy that arises out of the deep fault lines in South Africa’s nascent democracy, of enduring poverty and a twenty year old, unfulfilled promise of a better life for all. A campaigning film, beautifully shot, sensitively told, with a haunting soundtrack, Miners Shot Down reveals how far the African National Congress has strayed from its progressive liberationist roots and leaves audiences with an uncomfortable view of those that profit from minerals in the global South.


    http://www.minersshotdown.co.za
    #Afrique_du_sud #film #documentaire #mines #extractivisme #violences_policières #histoire #massacre #Marikana_commission_for_inquiry #grève #Lonmin #travail #pauvreté #platine #massacre_de_Marikan #syndicat #Cyril_Ramaphosa #National_union_of_mine_workers (#NUM) #AMCU #matières_premières #violence #Lonmin_mining_company #Greg_Marinovich #police #impunité


  • Supreme Court rejects industry’s plea to hear Grand Canyon #uranium mining case

    The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case challenging the government’s ban on uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, a major blow to industry groups hoping to mine for the nuclear material.

    The court said it would not hear the case brought by the National Mining Association and the American Exploration and Mining Association, which challenged the Interior Department’s ban as being based on an unconstitutional provision of the law.

    The rejection leaves in place a December appeals court decision that upheld the ban.

    In 2012, Obama administration Interior Secretary Ken Salazar instituted the ban, partly because the neighboring Havasupai Tribe relies on groundwater from the area to survive.

    “The lands in and around the Grand Canyon have always been the homeland of the Havasupai People,” Muriel Coochwytewa, the tribe’s chairwoman, said in a statement Monday.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    “Our ancestors lived and died amongst the sacred sites that cover this land. The mineral withdrawal is a necessary way to protect the land and the water that our people and our village depend upon, and we are grateful that the Supreme Court has agreed with the 9th Circuit’s conclusion ― that our lands and our people must be preserved.”

    In March, the industry groups asked the court to review the ban, which prohibited uranium mining on public lands next to the national monument for 20 years.

    While the Supreme Court’s decision to not take the case leaves uranium mining companies no more avenues to challenge the ban in court, they are reportedly lobbying the Trump administration to support renewed mining in the U.S. for both economy and national security reasons.

    https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/409328-supreme-court-rejects-industrys-plea-to-hear-grand-canyon-uranium
    #Grand_Canyon #USA #Etats-Unis #mines #extractivisme
    cc @daphne @albertocampiphoto


  • Bitmain-sanity ? Unqualified Opinions #5
    https://messari.substack.com/p/bitmain-sanity-unqualified-opinions-5

    Bitmain is officially on the path to doing an IPO (yes, your traditional stock market kind, not an ICO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 

    Yesterday, the company filed its 432-page application to be reviewed for listing. (Chinese version here, English version here) Of course, I sat down immediately and started pouring through the details. 

    Some interesting stats for you to know:

    ON BITMAIN’S FINANCIALS 

    In the first half of 2018, Bitmain’s revenue was $2.845 billion, with a net profit of $1.123 billion. 95% (!!) of revenue comes from the sale of $2.56 billion in mining hardware. Surprisingly, only 3.3% of Bitmain’s year-to-date revenue comes from “proprietary mining”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitmain

    #bitcoin #overlords


  • UN Begins Talks on World’s First Treaty to Regulate High Seas | Inter Press Service
    http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/un-begins-talks-worlds-first-treaty-regulate-high-seas

    After several years of preliminary discussions, the United Nations has begun its first round of inter-governmental negotiations to draft the world’s first legally binding treaty to protect and regulate the “high seas”—which, by definition, extend beyond 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) and are considered “international waters” shared globally.

    (…) The two-week Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which concludes 17 September, is described as the first in a series of four negotiating sessions which are expected to continue through 2020.

    (…) [topics] will include those who regulate activities such as fishing and mining, and what role these other organizations will play in the management of activities that may impact on the marine environment in future ocean sanctuaries on the high seas.

    “Also tricky is the issue of marine genetic resources, especially how to ensure the access and sharing of benefits from their use,” Dr Frank said.

    #mer


  • Shadowy Black Axe group leaves trail of tattered lives - The Globe and Mail
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/shadowy-black-axe-group-leaves-trail-of-tattered-lives/article27244946

    Canadian police say they are fighting a new kind of criminal organization.

    The signs began to appear two years ago: photos on Facebook of men wearing odd, matching outfits.

    Then there were stories, even old police files, attached to the people in the photos: a kidnapping, a man run over by a car, brutal beatings over what seemed to be a small slight.

    Mapping a secret criminal hierarchy for the first time is a rare kind of detective work. So when two Toronto police officers and an RCMP analyst in British Columbia started documenting the existence of something called the “Black Axe, Canada Zone,” they could not have predicted it would take them to funerals, suburban barbecue joints and deep into African history before they understood what they were seeing.

    The Black Axe is feared in Nigeria, where it originated. It is a “death cult,” one expert said. Once an idealistic university fraternity, the group has been linked to decades of murders and rapes, and its members are said to swear a blood oath.

    Most often, the group is likened to the Mob or to biker gangs, especially as it spreads outside Nigeria.

    An investigation by The Globe and Mail that included interviews with about 20 people found that “Axemen,” as they call themselves, are setting up chapters around the world, including in Canada.

    Like any criminal organization, it focuses on profit, police say. But instead of drug or sex trafficking, it specializes in a crime many consider minor and non-violent: scamming.

    What police have also learned is that, when done on an “industrial” level as part of a professional global network, scams ruin lives on a scale they have rarely seen.

    Two weeks ago, at a news conference attended by FBI officers, Toronto police announced they had taken part in an international crackdown on a money-laundering network through which more than $5-billion flowed in just over a year. Two local men charged with defrauding a Toronto widow of her life’s savings will eventually face extradition to the United States on money-laundering charges, they said.

    Online fraud is fluid, global and hard-to-track, but it often requires local operatives. Several Toronto-area residents have been defrauded of at least $1-million each in the past two years, and police allege the money was wired with the help of Canadian residents linked to the Black Axe, and sometimes it was handed to the group’s associates in person. The recipients then sent the money ricocheting through bank accounts around the globe, with trusted members in countries on every continent helping with the transfers before it disappeared.

    The sophistication of the money-laundering scheme reflects the efficiency of the scams, in which several people assume false identities and mix reality – bank accounts, real names and real websites – with fake documents.

    The police added an extra charge for one of the men they arrested, Akohomen Ighedoise, 41: “participating in a criminal organization.”

    Officers said in an interview they seized documents that will prove in court that Mr. Ighedoise separately helped a network of fraudsters launder money, that the fraudsters are members of the Black Axe and that he is their bookkeeper. The charge is the first time a Canadian has been publicly linked to the group.

    Interviews with police, gang experts and Nigerian academics paint a picture of an organization both public and enigmatic, with an ostensible charitable purpose as well as secret codes and a strict hierarchy. Police say it has grown to 200 people across Canada.

    Officers in Canada first heard the name “Black Axe” less than two years ago, said Tim Trotter, a detective constable with the Toronto Police Service. They are working quickly, trying to stop the group from becoming entrenched.

    “I mean, 100 years ago, law enforcement dealt with the same thing, the Sicilian black hand, right? It meant nothing to anybody except the Sicilian community,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “And that’s what we have here – that’s what we believe we have here.”

    **

    Many scam victims lose a few thousand dollars. Soraya Emami, one of Toronto’s most recent victims, lost everything, including many friends.

    In 1988, Ms. Emami fled her native Iran with her four sons. Her husband was jailed by the regime and his passport was held for years. Ms. Emami flew to Canada and became a real estate agent in North York.

    It took 30 years to save for a nice house in quiet Stouffville, Ont. The rest of her earnings went to her boys, who grew up to be a doctor, an engineer, a computer engineer and a bank manager. Last year, the youngest – a fifth son, born in Canada – began university. She and her husband had never reunited, and for the first time in decades, Ms. Emami thought about dating.

    “My kids grow up, and I feel lonely,” said the 63-year-old, who has long, wavy black hair. “I didn’t know how, and because I’m not [used to] any relationship, I feel shy.”

    Ms. Emami saw a TV commercial for Match.com and joined, hesitantly. A few days later, she told a friend she had heard from a tanned, white-haired, very nice geologist. Fredrick Franklin said he lived just 45 minutes away, in Toronto’s wealthy Bridle Path neighbourhood.

    He had spent years in Australia, and when they talked on the phone, she could not always understand his thick accent at first. He called her several times a day from Vancouver, where he was on a business trip, then from Turkey, where he travelled on a short contract. He was to fly home via Delta airlines on May 5. She would pick him up from the airport, and they would finally meet.

    “I am a simple man in nature, very easy going,” he wrote in an e-mail, telling her about his son and granddaughters. “I have done the Heart and Stroke ride in Toronto for the past 2 years, have also done the MS ride from London to Grand Bend.”

    A few days before his return date, Mr. Franklin called Ms. Emami in a panic. His bank had told him someone had tried to gain access to his account, he said. He could not clear it up from rural Turkey, so would she mind calling the bank and reporting back with his balance? He e-mailed the phone number for SunTrust bank, a 10-digit account number and a nine-digit tax ID number.

    She spoke to a bank teller. The balance, she was told, was $18-million.

    A few days later, Mr. Franklin asked for a small favour – could she send him a new phone and laptop – saying he would repay her upon his return. She acquiesced, believing he could pay her back.

    Within a few weeks, she lost half a million dollars, and the scam would cost her the home in Stouffville.

    What perplexes police about some of the Toronto romance frauds is not how the victims could be so naive, but how the fraudsters could be so convincing.

    The SunTrust account appears to be real, The Globe determined after retracing the steps Ms. Emami took to access it. The bank said it could not verify the account’s existence, as that was client-related information.

    In the course of the scam, Ms. Emami spoke to at least five people other than the Aussie geologist, including two in person.

    In June, in what they called Project Unromantic, York Regional Police charged nine local people in several cases, including that of Ms. Emami, that added up to $1.5-million. They considered the criminals to be internationally connected. “We don’t know who’s at the top, but there seems to be a hierarchy,” Detective Courtney Chang said.

    The Toronto police believe the crimes that led to their charges against Mr. Ighedoise are linked to the ones in York Region.

    *

    Canadian police came across the Black Axe by happenstance. In 2013, an RCMP analyst in Vancouver was investigating a West Coast fraud suspect and found a photo of him on Facebook with another man, said Det. Constable Trotter (the analyst would not speak to The Globe). Both were wearing unusual clothes and seemed to be at a meeting in Toronto.

    The analyst discovered the second man was under investigation by Toronto financial crimes detective Mike Kelly, an old partner of Det. Constable Trotter. The analyst e-mailed Det. Constable Kelly to ask if he knew the significance of what the two men in the photo were wearing.

    The uniform of the Black Axe is a black beret, a yellow soccer scarf and high yellow socks. These items often have a patch or insignia showing two manacled hands with an axe separating the chain between them, which sometimes also says “Black Axe” or “NBM,” standing for “Neo-Black Movement,” another name for the group. They often incorporate the numbers seven or 147.

    The group tries to maintain a public image of volunteerism. It has been registered as a corporation in Ontario since 2012 under the name “Neo-Black Movement of Africa North America,” with Mr. Ighedoise among several people listed as administrators. In the United Kingdom, said Det. Constable Trotter, it has been known to make small donations – to a local hospital, for example – and then claim to be in a “partnership” with the legitimate organization.

    In the GTA, the group got itself listed publicly in 2013 as a member of Volunteer MBC, a volunteer centre serving Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. But after expressing an interest in recruiting volunteers, the group involved never posted an ad, and staff at the centre said when they tried to follow up, they found the three yahoo.com addresses on file were no longer working.

    Police found plenty of photos on social media of men in Axemen uniforms at what were said to be conferences or events.

    Det. Constable Kelly and Det. Constable Trotter compiled a list of people in Canada photographed wearing Axemen outfits. From a car, they watched some of them attend a funeral. One mourner had yellow socks and a yellow cummerbund with NBM on it, Det. Constable Trotter said. The rest were dressed normally. Near the end of the ceremony, “all of a sudden the berets and everything came out, and then they put the coffin into the earth,” he said.

    As they added names to their list, the investigators checked each one for connections to previous cases.

    What they found were 10 to 20 episodes of serious violence over the past few years clearly linked to members of the group, many of them at a Nigerian restaurant in northwest Toronto, Det. Constable Trotter said. One man had been run over by a car; another was allegedly kidnapped and beaten with a liquor bottle for a day in an abandoned building; a man was knocked to the ground for refusing to fetch another man a beer. Witnesses generally refused to talk.

    In one incident, a group of men had insulted another man’s girlfriend, and when he objected, they “beat the living hell” out of him, leaving him with cranial fractures, Det. Constable Trotter said.

    “Without the understanding of the context, it’s just a bar fight,” he said. “But when we understand who those people were, and we realize, oh, they’re all affiliated to the group … that’s why no one called [911]. And that’s why, when the police came, suddenly, oh no, those cameras don’t work. And that’s why, out of a bar full of people, the only witness was his girlfriend.”

    That case and the kidnapping case are before the courts, Det. Constable Trotter said. The Globe tried to search for all court records linked to the bar’s address over the past few years, but was told such a search is impossible.

    Police have six criteria to identify members of the group, Det. Constable Trotter said. If a person meets three of the six, he is considered a likely member.

    Police have documents that show when certain people were “blended” or initiated into the group, including some in Toronto, he said. Members live mostly in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

    “There’s evidence that they’ve been active since 2005, so that’s a decade’s worth of ability to lay under the radar and become ensconced in the criminal community,” he said.

    To set up scams, they work from cafés or home and are “fastidious” about deleting their online history, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “They have names, titles, they show respect,” Det. Constable Trotter said. “They pay dues to each other. Individuals are detailed by higher-ranking individuals to do things.”

    As they learned of the group’s fearsome reputation in Nigeria, the officers began to equate it more with established Canadian organized crime. At Afrofest in Woodbine Park one summer, a group of Axemen walked through in full uniform – not something anyone from the Nigerian community would do lightly, Det. Constable Trotter said. “I wouldn’t wear a Hells Angels vest if I wasn’t a Hells Angel.”

    He began to worry the group’s brazenness would signify to the community that “Axemen are here. And they’re open about it, and the police are doing nothing.”

    *

    Fraternities such as the Black Axe were born during an optimistic time in Nigeria’s recent history, and at first they reflected it. In the postcolonial 1970s, they were modelled after U.S. fraternities. They attracted top students and were meant to foster pan-African unity and Nigeria’s future leaders.

    When the country descended into widespread corruption after its oil boom, the fraternities split into factions and violently sought power on campuses, trying to control grades and student politics and gain the loyalty of the richest, best-connected students.

    Through the 1990s and 2000s, the groups inspired terror: Students were hacked to death or shot in their sleep, and professors were murdered in their offices in what seemed to be random attacks. Researchers say such crimes were often assigned to new members in their late teens to prove their allegiance after a painful hazing in an isolated cemetery or forest.

    “Sometimes, they are given some tough assignments like raping a very popular female student or a female member of the university staff,” Adewale Rotimi wrote in a 2005 scholarly article.

    Raping the daughters of rich and powerful families, or the girlfriends of enemies, was another tactic of the groups to prove their dominance, Ifeanyi Ezeonu wrote in 2013.

    In addition to innocent victims, one West African organization fighting cult violence says more than 1,700 fraternity members died in inter-group wars in a 10-year span. The groups were outlawed, and much of their ritualistic element – night-time ceremonies, code words – seemed to evolve to avoid detection, said Ogaga Ifowodo, who was a student in Nigeria during the 1980s and later taught at Cornell and Texas State universities.

    “Early on … you could distinguish them by their costume,” he said. “The Black Axe, they tended to wear black berets, black shirt and jeans.”

    The transformation was not a coincidence, Mr. Ifowodo said.

    “At that time, we were under military dictatorships, and they had actually propped up the now-secret cults as a way of weakening the students’ movements,” he said. “It violates something that I think is sacred to an academic community, which is bringing into campus a kind of Mafia ethos.”

    But this does not explain whether, or how, the fraternities could morph into a sophisticated global crime syndicate.

    In Nigeria, the groups are not associated with fraud, said Etannibi Alemika, who teaches at Nigeria’s University of Jos. Mr. Ifowodo agreed. However, he also backed Toronto Police’s conclusion that Black Axe is one and the same as the Neo-Black Movement. In a briefing document posted online, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board says the two are closely linked, but speculates that the Black Axe is a “splinter group” of the NBM.

    The NBM is known to carry out fraud, said Jonathan Matusitz, a professor at the University of Central Florida who has studied Nigerian fraternities. He said the group’s members have also been linked, mostly in Nigeria, to drug trafficking, pimping, extortion, and the falsification or copying of passports and credit cards.

    “I think that the NBM movement is more about scamming people, and it has some associations with the Black Axe, which kills people,” he said. “Have they joined forces to have like a super-group? I hope not.”

    Despite police fears, several people interviewed by The Globe, mostly business owners, said they had never heard of the Black Axe before the police news conference last week.

    Kingsley Jesuorobo, a Toronto lawyer who has many Nigerian-Canadian clients, said he has never heard of anyone being intimidated by the group.

    Mr. Jesuorobo said he is familiar with the Black Axe in the Nigerian context, but cannot imagine it posing a real threat in Canada. It is more likely that former members gravitate to each other for social reasons, he said.

    “It would be a case of comparing apples and oranges to look at how these guys operate – the impunity that characterizes their actions – in Nigeria, and then sort of come to the conclusion that they can do the same thing here,” he said.

    For Nigerian-Canadians, a cultural minority working hard to establish themselves, the idea is very troubling, he said.

    “If these things are true, it would be a bad omen for our community,” he said.

    *

    After confirming her love interest’s $18-million bank balance, Ms. Emami did not hear from him for a few days. When they spoke again, she told him she had worried. He responded that it was a sign of how close they had become; she had sensed something had happened.

    The geologist said that during his contract in Turkey, he had been in a mining accident. He was injured and could not get to Istanbul to replace his phone and laptop, which had been destroyed, so would she buy new ones and send them by courier? Ms. Emami went to the Apple Store at Fairview Mall and called him, asking if he could pay with his credit card over the phone. He said the store would not allow it, and the employee agreed. So she bought the $4,000 laptop and phone and shipped them.

    A few days later, he called again: He needed $80,000 to pay the salary of an employee, promising to repay with interest. She told him she would have to borrow from her son, but he reassured her, and she wired the money in several instalments.

    The day of his flight, a man called and said he was Mr. Franklin’s lawyer and was with him at the Istanbul airport. Someone injured in the mining accident had died, he said, and Mr. Franklin owed $130,000 to his family or he would go to jail.

    “He’s calling me, he’s crying to me,” she said. “I didn’t have any choice. I go to friends and everybody I know. Because you know, when you’re trying to be a good person, everybody trusts you. …Whatever I asked, they give me.”

    Even a friend of a friend, a cab driver, lent her thousands. “He told me, you know, dollar by dollar I collected this money,” she recalled.

    Mr. Franklin sent her details of his rebooked flight, and she promised to pick him up and cook a meal. He would love that, he said; he liked chicken.

    “You don’t believe how much food I make for him,” she said.

    She was waiting with the packed-up meal the morning of his flight when the phone rang again. It was another lawyer, this time at the Frankfurt airport, he said. Mr. Franklin owed $250,000 in tax before he could leave the country with a valuable stone.

    “My heart is just – crash,” she said. “I was crying on the phone. I said, ’Please don’t do this to me. … Why are you doing this to me? I told you from the first day, I’m borrowing this money from people.’”

    A man saying he was Mr. Franklin’s son, who also had an Australian accent, called and told her he had remortgaged his house to save his father and might lose custody of his children because of it. Ms. Emami pulled together $158,000. When her bank would not let her transfer the money, she was instructed to meet a man and a woman in person who deposited it into their accounts.

    Ms. Emami’s son and her manager at work persuaded her to go to police. When officers told her Mr. Franklin was not real and the money was likely gone for good, they called a psychiatrist to help her grasp the news.

    She cannot pay her bills or afford groceries, her credit rating is destroyed and she is hunting for work despite crippling headaches. On Oct. 27, she was served with notice that she will lose her house in Stouffville in 20 days.

    “I can’t sleep,” she said recently, crying.

    She had always considered it her “duty” to help people in need, she said. Now her friends, even her sons, are angry that the scam impoverished them as well.

    “It’s my life, it’s my relationships,” she said. “And after 30 years living here with five kids, you know, I can’t live in the street. I can’t go to the shelter.”

    *

    Other local women describe the lengths fraudsters went to to blend truth and fiction. One received a forged Ontario provincial contract. Two victims in York said the scammers impersonated an Edmonton mining executive. The fraudsters build Facebook and LinkedIn accounts that seem to be populated by friends and family.

    “When we Google them, they do seem real,” one woman said.

    Daniel Williams of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, a federal intelligence-gathering agency on fraud, said the scammers profit from economies of scale. “What they did to you, they were doing to 8,000 people that day,” he said.

    The agency gets more calls from fraud victims a day than it can answer, sometimes exceeding 2,000. Staff look for waves of calls complaining of the same methods.

    Authorities estimate they are only ever aware of about 1 per cent to 5 per cent of fraud committed globally, Mr. Williams said. Many victims do not believe they have been scammed or will not report it out of embarrassment.

    Fraudsters, sometimes using credit checks, also home in on well-off victims for special treatment, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    “It’s just like, oh, we’ve got somebody on $100,000 level, let’s steer this to this person,” he said.

    The amount taken from Toronto victims alone is “absolutely astonishing,” he said.

    “If you were going to distribute cocaine, for example, you have to buy that cocaine from another smuggler somewhere, and you have to put up money for that,” he said.

    “In fraud, what is your put-up? What is your overhead? Your commodity that you’re trading in, that you’re selling, is BS. BS is cheap, it’s abundant, it’s infinite. You know, it can be replicated again and again and again and again. … And that’s why it’s a better business.”

    Fraudsters based in Canada work with people in Kuala Lumpur, in Tokyo, in Lagos, Det. Constable Kelly said.

    At the turn of the 20th century in New York, Italian-owned banks started suffering bombings, and homes were mysteriously burned down. Police heard the incidents happened after warnings from something called the “black hand.” But no officers spoke Italian, and investigations were stymied.

    It was not until the 1950s that widespread police crackdowns began. By that time, the group now known as the Mafia had spread around the world and made new alliances. The FBI estimates the organization has about 25,000 members and a quarter-million affiliates worldwide, including about 3,000 in the United States.

    Police hope the charge against Mr. Ighedoise will send an early message to Canada’s Axemen. York and Toronto officers are working to confirm connections between the fraud ring that impoverished Ms. Emami and the ring that Mr. Ighedoise is alleged to help lead.

    At their recent press conference, they appealed to the Nigerian community to report instances where the Black Axe has “intimidated” others.

    They want to know how ambitious the group really is, Det. Constable Trotter said, and how much it is feared.

    If Axemen rely on selling stories, he said, the most important one is for their own community: “That [they] have all the power and authority and the propensity for violence that [they] have back home, here in Canada.”

    #Canada #scam #Nigeria #Black_Axe