Category Archives: Government

Greenpeace Says Japan’s Plan to Contaminate Pacific Ocean With Fukushima Water Would Violate International Law

“The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-13-2021

Contaminated water storage tanks at Fukushima. Photo: Svein T veitdal/Twitter

In a decision that sparked condemnation from environmental advocates, fisherfolk, and neighboring countries, Japan announced Tuesday a plan to dump over 1.2 million tons of stored contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The decision made by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet gives Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) the green light to release Fukushima’s wastewater into the sea just over a decade after one of the worst nuclear disasters in history; discharges won’t begin for two years, as TEPCO prepares for a process that is expected to take decades. Continue reading

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Critics Warn $15 Billion Merger of Global Water Giants Would Create ‘Dangerous Corporate Monopoly’

“Veolia’s plan to dominate public water services all across the globe is becoming a terrifying reality.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-12-2021

French-based transnational corporation Veolia agreed in principle to acquire Suez, its main rival, for $15.5 billion on Monday, setting the stage for the creation of a water and waste management juggernaut that critics warn would be a “dangerous corporate monopoly” destined to “hurt consumers and enrich shareholders.”

The Wall Street Journal characterized the deal between the two largest private water corporations in the world, which is not expected to be finalized until May 14, as a profit-seeking attempt to “soak up a global surge in infrastructure and climate-change spending.” Continue reading

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As Rich Countries Shield Pharma Monopolies, Just 0.2% of Covid Vaccine Doses Have Gone to Poor Nations

“We need the cooperation of the whole world and the elimination of all the barriers to the production and distribution of vaccines.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-11-2021

Graphic: Our World in Data/CC

The head of the World Health Organization estimated in a recent address that of the more than 700 million coronavirus vaccine doses that have been administered across the globe, just 0.2% have gone to people in low-income nations—inequity that experts warn will persist unless rich countries end their obstruction of an international effort to suspend vaccine patents.

Speaking to the media on Friday, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus warned that “there remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines” as pharmaceutical companies cling to their monopoly control over technology that was developed with large infusions of public money. Continue reading

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As Activists’ Hunger Strike Reaches Day 13, Calls Mount for Biden to End US Complicity in Starvation of Yemen

“My pain cannot amount to that of Yemenis under siege,” said one hunger striker. “I am starving, but I am not being starved. I am suffering, but I can choose to end that suffering.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-10-2021

Photo: Joe Catron/Twitter

A hunger strike launched by Detroit-based anti-war activists in protest of the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen entered its 13th day on Saturday as calls grow for President Joe Biden to end all U.S. support for the kingdom’s deadly restrictions, which are preventing food, medicine, fuel, and other aid from reaching starving Yemenis.

Iman Saleh, a 26-year-old Yemeni American taking part in the hunger strike, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Friday that “the siege against Yemen not only has had a crippling effect on everyday life, but it is also compounding the ongoing conflict in the country, causing damage that exceeds even the violence itself in both scale and intensity.” Continue reading

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Dozens of House Dems and Progressive Groups Push Biden to Curb Militarization of Police

“It is absurd that the Pentagon has so much funding they can send their ‘excess’ weaponry to police departments around the country. We need to demilitarize our police and defund the Pentagon now.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-7-2021

A SWAT vehicle, Fulton County Sheriff. Photo: Pinterest

Backed by more than 50 progressive advocacy groups, dozens of House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to issue an executive order to prevent the transfer of military-grade weaponry from the Pentagon to federal, tribal, state, and local police departments.

In a letter (pdf) sent to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, 29 lawmakers, led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), argue that taking executive action to reform the Defense Department’s 1033 program “is a reasonable step towards demilitarizing our police forces while preserving the safety of our communities.” Continue reading

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‘We Have to Act’: Atmospheric CO2 Passes 420 PPM for First Time Ever

“It is truly groundbreaking,” Greta Thunberg said of the growing concentration of the heat-trapping gas. “And I don’t mean that in a good way.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-6-2021

FridaysForFuture protest in Berlin on 3-22-2019. Photo: Leonhard Lenz/CC

The concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide surged past 420 parts per million for the first time in recorded history this past weekend, according to a measurement taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii.

When the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research station “began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s, atmospheric CO2 concentration sat at around 315 PPM,” the Washington Post reported. “On Saturday, the daily average was pegged at 421.21 PPM—the first time in human history that number has been so high.” Continue reading

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‘EPA Needs to Step In’: Florida Workers Race to Prevent Massive Spill of Radioactive Waste

“Federal officials need to clean up this mess the fertilizer industry has dumped on Florida communities and immediately halt further phosphogypsum production.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-5-2021

Florida’s Piney Point reservoir seen from an aerial view on Sunday, April 4, 2021. (Photo: 10 Tampa Bay/YouTube Screengrab)

Florida workers over the weekend rushed to prevent the collapse of a reservoir wall containing hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater from a defunct phosphate mine, a looming environmental catastrophe that prompted mandatory evacuation orders and a declaration of emergency by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A leak in the Piney Point reservoir was first reported late last month, sparking fears of a complete breach and possible upending of stacks of phosphogypsum, a radioactive waste product of fertilizer manufacturing. During a briefing on Saturday, a public safety official for Florida’s Manatee County warned that “structural collapse” of the storage reservoir “could occur at any time.” Continue reading

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America gets a D+ for school infrastructure – but federal COVID relief could pay for many repairs

Money from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan could go toward much-needed improvements to crumbling public school buildings. Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Michael Addonizio, Wayne State University

Many kids are attending public schools this spring with the use of COVID-19 safety protocols, including more desk spacing, more frequent cleaning and mandates to wear masks.

But far too many of the school buildings themselves remain dilapidated, toxic and in desperate need of structural improvements.

On average, U.S. public schools are more than 50 years old – and by and large they are not being properly maintained, updated or replaced. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded America’s public K-12 infrastructure a D+ in their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, the same abysmal grade as in their prior 2017 report.

But help may finally be on the way. Continue reading

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‘Critical First Step’ But ‘Long Overdue’: Biden Repeals Trump Sanctions on the ICC

“Trump’s sanctions set a dangerous precedent for attacks on victims, lawyers, human rights advocates, and courts.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2021

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda speaking at the Oslo Forum in 2014. Photo: Stine Merethe Eid/CC

Progressives in Congress and human rights organizations on Friday welcomed the Biden administration’s repeal of sanctions on the International Criminal Court imposed under former President Donald Trump in a bid to pressure the Hague-based tribunal to not investigate alleged U.S. and Israeli crimes.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a statement that President Joe Biden revoked Trump’s Executive Order 13928, “ending the threat and imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions in connection with the court.” Continue reading

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As Biden Ramps Up Detention Capacity, Group Warns Contaminated Military Bases ‘Are No Place’ for Kids

“Immigrant children under the care of the federal government should not be in cages, let alone toxic sites in military bases,” an Earthjustice attorney said.

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2021

Photo: Jerry Dunleavy/Twitter

In a move that was condemned by environmental justice advocates on Friday, President Joe Biden’s administration earlier this week sent 500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors to Fort Bliss—a highly contaminated and potentially hazardous military base in El Paso, Texas—and is reportedly considering using additional toxic military sites as detention centers for migrant children in U.S. custody.

“We are extremely concerned to hear of plans to detain immigrant children in Fort Bliss. Military bases filled with contaminated sites are no place for the healthy development of any child,” Melissa Legge, an attorney at Earthjustice, said in a statement. Continue reading

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