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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  February 17, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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02/17/16 02/17/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> we don't have just a water problem, we have a democracy problem. we got a dictatorship problem. amy: thursday for democracy. the poisoning of an american city. quite it should never have happened. overt is happening because saving dollars, and there's a place where plenty of money was made, this is not a poor place. you made it for. amy: lead contamination in the water supply flint, michigan has , forced residents to drink, cook with, and even bathe in
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bottled water while still paying some of the highest water bills in the county. in this democracy now! special report, we go from flint to mecosta county, michigan, where the world's largest water bottling company, nestle, is pumping millions of gallons of water from aquifers that feed lake michigan. >> being trucked out from nestle , taking the water from our aquifers and shipping at all over the world. amy: how much do they pay for the 200 gallons of water per minute that they are sucking out of the aquifer that feeds lake michigan? >> as far as i know, they're paying nothing. in ago today, voices from the front line of michigan's water wars. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama says he expects the senate to do its job and confirm his nominee to replace
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justice antonin scalia on the supreme court. scalia died on saturday. obama says he will nominate a qualified candidate to replace him. >> there's not going to be in a particular question on an issue that determines whether or not i nominate them, but i'm going to present somebody who disputable --is qualified for the indisputably is qualified for the seat and any fair-minded person, even someone who disagreed with my politics, with with honord serve and integrity on the court. amy: a rising number of senate republicans have indicated they -- say they will block any nominee until after a new president is in place 11 months from now. a new poll finds democratic presidential candidates hillary clinton and bernie sanders are virtually tied ahead of saturday's caucus in nevada. the cnn/orc poll finds 48% of
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likely caucus goers back clinton, versus 47% for sanders. the united nations humanitarian chief says yemen is experiencing a "humanitarian catastrophe." stephen o'brien spoke to the u.n. security council tuesday. 2015, more than 35,000 casualties, including over 6000 deaths, have been reported by health facilities across the country. the united nations has confirmed that at least 2997 of those killed and 5659 of those injured are civilians. conservative estimates suggest well over 700 children have been killed, and over 1000 more injured. amy: the united states and cuba have signed an agreement to flightsu.s. commercial to cuba for the first time in more than half a century. u.s. transportation secretary anthony foxx spoke in havana.
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a historic day in the relationship between cuba and the united states. this morning with the signing of this document, we're signaling for the first time in more than five decades, the united states and cuba will allow scheduled or service between our two nations. amy: the obama administration has also approved the first u.s. factory in cuba in more than 50 years, allowing a company from alabama to assemble tractors for sale. in utah, more than 100 protesters disrupted a federal auction of oil and gas leases, spontaneously bursting into song until they were forced to leave. author and activist terry tempest williams, registered as bidder 19, successfully bid on 1750 acres of land to spare it from fossil fuel drilling. when asked by a bureau of land management official if she was making a legitimate bid for energy development, tempest
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williams said, "you can't define what energy is for us. our energy development is fueling a movement." climate activist tim dechristopher spent 21 months in prison when he posed as a bidder in a similar move in south 2008. dakota could become the first state to ban transgender students from using bathrooms that correspondent to their gender identity. a bill passed by the south dakota senate tuesday would force students to use bathrooms and locker rooms they correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. south dakota republican governor dennis daugaard has not said for sure if he will sign it. in chicago, a dozen protesters were arrested after blocking traffic outside an immigration and customs enforcement office to demand the dismantling of ice, which they call the largest police force in the country. the protesters climbed atop ladders and chained themselves to cement boxes to highlight what they say is a history of abuse and wrongful detention by local immigration officers.
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in rhode island, the president of providence college has signed a list of demands to improve diversity after dozens of students occupied his office to protest racism on the campus. president brian shanley agreed to take steps toward curriculum reform and more diverse hiring. among other changes. the catholic college is the latest to see protests by students over failures to address campus racism. boutros boutros-ghali, whose -- has died at the age of 93. he led the u.n. and 1990's, time .arked by violence his opposition to nato's bombing campaign in bosnia angered the united states. in 1996, then-president bill clinton and u.s. representative to the u.n. madeleine albright blocked his renewal, making him the only you and secretary-general to serve only a single term. and those are some of the
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headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. today, we go to flint, michigan, for a democracy now! special, "thirsty for water: the poisoning of an american city." in april 2014, an unelected emergency manager appointed by michigan governor rick snyder switched the source of the detroit system, which they had been using for half a century, to the corrosive flint river. officials thought they could save something like, $5 million. soon after, residents were complaining about discolored and foul smelling water, which was causing a host of health problems. first, the water was infested with bacteria. to treat the bacteria, the city poured in chlorine, which created a cancerous chemical byproduct called trihalomethanes, or tthm's. a deadly outbreak of legionnaires' disease, which is caused by a water-borne bacteria, then spread throughout
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flint killing 10 people and , sickening dozens. at the same time underground the , flint river water was corroding the city's aging pipes, poisoning the drinking water with lead, which can cause permanent damage, especially in children. well, this past weekend, we went to flint to learn the remarkable story of how michigan governor rick snyder and other officials ignored and covered up residents' complaints for a year and a half, and how the city fought back -- with protests, citizen journalism, a new elected mayor, and a massive resident lead testing project. what took so long? who is responsible? today, "thirsty for democracy." flint, michigan at the golden gate restaurant, a cold, snowy saturday morning. inside the flint democracy defense league is having breakfast and a meeting.
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i want to go in and talk to claire mcclinton, one of the lead organizers for democracy in flint against the poisoning of the flint water. she has been challenging the emergency managers for years. let's go inside. snyder011, governor signed into law a law called the emergency manager law. it enabled the governor defend an emergency manager under the guise of being fiscally responsible to cities and school districts that they deemed financially in fiscal crisis. it just so happen most of these places were majority african-american city's. advertising services and selling off assets -- that is their main purpose. well, here in flint, they have privatize our garbage collection . they have sold off our parks. was santa claus sold off? low we have is how
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gotten. they sold santa claus. the santa claus that was mounted on top of city hall every year. amy: tell us what happened. there's a coordinated effort to privatize our water system, and that is how we came to this poisoned water catastrophe. amy: how? >> we were being told the detroit water system, which we got our water from, was charging too much money and we were going to build this new pipeline so you folks can have cheaper water. while we build the pipeline, why don't we go to the river? you know, the one at general motors dumped all that crap and stuff in? all of the additional toxins? we will go to that river in the interim. these decisions were made back in emergency manager. and that is the untold story about the problem we have here. we don't have just a water
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problem, we got a democracy problem. we got a dictatorship problem. we got a problem of being stripped of our democracy as we have known it over the years. and for someone to come to our city, a proud city where the -- with the rich liberty history. amy: you have a long history here. talk about how that influence you. >> we had the first city of our size to elect an african-american mayor. we passed an open housing ordinance in the city of flint, one of the first. very historic. we have such a rich history. the sitdown strike in 1937. we're not the type of people that are used to being walked on. amy: that is clever clinton. while she was conducting her breakfast meeting, a woman came in extremely upset. she said she needed to get clean water to her infant grandson. another woman, a member of the
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meeting, audrey, said she had just bought water and she would give it to the woman. they went out into the parking lot to take the water from audrey's trunk and put it into kiawana's. if you came in restaurant and you met with this woman who you just bumped into. can you tell me your name? >> audrey mohammed. amy: you heard she is trying to get clean water for her infant grandson. why do you have this in your trunk? >> i went to the store the other day and purchased the water for myself and i just had not taken it out of the car. she can have it. i will get some more. that is not a problem at all. >> i appreciate it. i really do. i appreciate it. amy: what we do with this water? >> it is for my grandson. it is for my grandson. my first grandchild, and it is a boy. it is for my grandson. he was born february 6. that is my concern, my grandson. that is my concern.
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in 2016, andhame we are living like this. in this man wants us to pay for this. any cookie have to pay for water? on water been to drink. amy: i mean, paying for the water in your taps? >> i just paid a $196 shut off water notice. amy: they were going to shut your poison water off? >> i got the shutoff notice the day after christmas and it was for the 29th. they told me my water was about to be shut off at any time. so a friend of mine, while i was at work, she went down and paid my shutoff notice, $196. amy: how do you feel about paying for this contaminated water? >> i am not comfortable with it at all and i don't think it is fair 02/17/16 02/17/16 the cold water, specially, in my kitchen, when i turned it on, it had this file, raw egg smell. amy: this is when they first connected to the river?
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what's right. i went down to the city i talked to howard. even my postman was complaining about the smell. at that time he was the head of the public works. my post man parked his truck right in front of my house and there is a train. we thought it was something in the sewage, ok? but it got worse. especially beehive days when flint was like 85, 90 degrees. on, itu turn the fossett was dark brown and as the water ran, goes golden brown. re called it said they were coming out to test the water and the professor was doing it for free, i volunteered. they came to my house the first week of august. i got my results back and i tested positive for lead. i'm going to use this for my grandbabies.
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i want to ask governor snyder, because he has been having a town hall meeting during earlier in the day and i'm at work. amy: where do you work? >> tiw automotive and tyrone township. i got a message on my phone telling me to hold the line. when they called, was like 10:30 in the morning. i have to be at work at the clock. it was his grandchild. would he want this? i don't have the money he has. him because he is the governor of michigan. but if it was his grandchild, would he want it? amy: we've just come from the golden gate restaurant in flint. ashley, flint township. this is interesting, where the democracy defense league was meeting over breakfast. that particular restaurant gets water from flint township, which is not the corrosive flint river, but right across flushing road, you got it, flushing road, that is where they are linked up to the flint river.
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right here at st. michael's church, scores of people have gathered. they will be canvassing houses, single people need. their formulating demands for the governor. >> help us to reestablish good drinking water here in flint on a regular basis, as a basis that we can learn to trust again amy: physically and flint rising. can you talk about with the big challenge is today? what theye don't know use with their water, with the lead in our water and also the challenge of accurate information, so that is the need of us going door-to-door, handing out accurate information, lifting up everyone's stories because everyone has been impacted by this water crisis. and to make sure they have their freshwater,met so, filters, replacement filters. we are also delivering those, too. amy: can you talk about your
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response to the governor recall, the attempts to recall the governor? >> there are many people around the state who feel like his response to this crisis has been inadequate and really a violation of human rights. amy: what do you think should happen? >> the people who want to recall him as the petition goes in front of me, i will sign it. but right now, my effort is to make sure that people have accurate information and that we push for some of these long-term solutions that regardless of who is in office, they're going to have to address. amy: what are those long-term solution? >> pressed to have archives replaced test for us to have our types replaced, advocate health care, for everyone who has been impacted by the water crisis, so the children who have lead poisoning, was one of lifetime services are going to be available to them, making sure that residents not only like the types -- water mains a replace,
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but appliances are replaced. we're still paying a premium price for toxic water, so we need to remedy that. ngoi am lori with a small based out of ann arbor michigan. we are activated based on these canvassers to go out and they find their estate in the houses, they find where they need water, water filters, they're homebound, elderly, if ever other social service needs. we have a team of social workers we're pumped up with the national association of social workers out of michigan. they are volunteers. we are all volunteers. manus people, paramedics, firefighters who go out in teams to the houses and provide services. amy: maybe we could go inside and you could introduce me to some folks. filters,, pregnant moms, seniors, homebound folks. those are the priorities. >> just to add one thing, if
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someone asks for water, we give everybody water. if they need water, ask for water, we don't ask any questions or id or name, it is yes. >> you may bring water in and you see the have a whole wall of water already. they are hoarding water. some folks are really put off by that. i have a different take on that. i could a family and not get water to them, i sure as hell would be hoarding every bit. you don't know when the next donald water is coming to you. >> my name is leo. we're with the local 38 from detroit. amy: what are you doing here today? >> we are here to volunteer and help pass out water, campus, whatever the afl-cio needs us to do. >> can you talk about how you got word and how your organized to come here? from was kind of willed up our last union meeting.
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these guys were talking about it after the meeting and just wanted to do something. water you fighting for? amy: do you live in flint? >> i do. amy: how have you been affected by the poison water? >> all three of my sons are animate. they have bone pain, and as a lot of school because they're constantly sick. their immune systems are compromised. i have seizures, diverticulosis. i have to go in february 25 on a consultation for liver biopsy. been damaged.e i'm getting calls from people that are so sick and they don't know what to do. amy: how old are your boys? >> 11, 12, and 17. they put forth this effort to get straight a's in good grades. my oldest, little things he forgets like plus and minus, different words he can't -- there is a brain fog that is settled on everybody. amy: mayor weaver has called for
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50 finally and dollars to replace the lead pipes. is that happening? >> we are still waiting. the governor said, you can have 20 finally and dollars of that. 50 finally and dollars is just the start. they're also talking about how the lions gate igo as well as galvanized. any kind of metal has been corroded of these byproducts are neurotoxicity of copper, lead, aluminum, chromium, things that our bodies are not handled in these pipes need to go. the 55 million is a start to get to the most needed people, the pregnant, those small children, and out of $55 million, he said 20 finally dollars. amy: what should happen with governor snyder? >> he is been standing in the way of us getting the funding we need to get these pipes replaced to get cruz and here to get going and get it started so he needs to be removed from office. he does not show any real concern. he is not put any effort into actually making up for the failures of his agencies. he needs to go.
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amy: we are in new york, where 9/11 took place, the attack on the world trade center and the pentagon in washington. the government said after that that the biggest fear was an international terrorist would poison the water supply of a major city. well, international terrorist did not do this, but a major city's water supply was poisoned, your city, flint. the michig government, the governor rick snyder, what are youthghts? >> is bad enough the geneva coenon says an act of war come you cannot poison a city's water supply. we are not in war, but it seems like it because all city's water supply was poisoned by our state government. it allowed to continue. they knew in october 2014 when general motors said, we cannot use this water because it is corroding our parts, the water is at. the city lost $400,000 in revenue. that had to be signed off by the emergency manager in the governor. they knew the water was bad
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then. if it is not ok for car parts how is it ok for citizens? >> the primary debate is happening march 6. are you going to be there? hillary clinton was here recently. we heard bernie sanders is coming in before the debate. what demands do you have of them? >> i want to know what their way to do about this. if they become president, what are they going to do to stop this? this is happening in other cities. the environmental injustice needs to stop. they need to stop putting it off and ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. i want to hear strong statement that commitment by the presidential candidates they're not going to allow this to happen anywhere else. amy: do you might if we follow you as you go out into the committee to give out water? >> i welcome it. toare volunteering to check see if you have water, if you have a filter. >> yes, i have that. to ask you,ing
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we're just checking on everybody. my name is melissa maze and we are volunteering to check on however thing is going with the water situation. we have a few restaurants. just to make sure nobody gets left out or forgotten. are you floyd? cooks know, my name is troy. >> i'm a volunteer. do you have a water filter? yes. >> for how long? maybe four weeks. have replacement cartridges? >> yes. >> how often are you replacing them? >> since i don't be here because of the situation, i will do what i've got to do because -- they just had a break on stuart street. i'm so close to it, so i decided not to be trying to get in it. as far as getting in it, i have been enough for two years. without knowing it.
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is already in me, me. i just accepted it and just pray that whatever is in me, they come up with something how to get it out of me. yes, i am affected by it, if that is what you're trying to get to. is it a discomfort? yes, it is. all i have been sacrificing for family and friends getting them water, that is why i was blessed to be able to be a blessing for others. >> i want to hug you because we're in this together. it is terrible. >> all that, everything is discomfort from everything. you've got babies. there is enough water one time to get in the tub to get them what they need. there are people that are affected and don't know there affected. as you can see, totally dryness from the water, taking baths. i believe i am affected by it. >> bone and muscle pain, exhaustion? >> i don't have the energy i normally have and all that. i know i am affected by it. >> now we have to deal with the
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after affect and they're not helping with that, either. >> to say my say and everything, it should have never happened. >> i hear you. >> and happening because over saving dollars, and in a place with plenty of money was made -- this is not a poor place. you made it poor. amy: flint resident troy perkins. just a few of the voices from the front line of michigan's water was. "thirstyemocracy now! for democracy: the poisoning of an american city." we will look at how the largest water bolling, the is just bottling company is pumping water from aquifers nearby that felix michigan. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "pay to be poisoned," featuring zebra octobra and lisa brunk, produced by native keys. today, a democracy now!, the poisoning of an american city. we're in flint, michigan. it is sunset at the flint water plant. i'm standing of one of the flint water tower just down the road is the gm engine plant.
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it was october of 2014 that gm recognized that the flint water was corroding its engines. they got permission from the unelected emergency manager of flint to disconnect from the flint river and go back to the detroit water. it would be another year before the people of flint were finally allowed to disconnect from the corrosive flint river as their water supply, and hook up again with the detroit water. where going to go talk to a gm worker who works at the plant and worked there at the time that gm recognized in the state acknowledged that they could no longer use flint water because it was destroying the engine. >> my name is ronald jamison. amy: how long have you worked at the flint engine plant? >> 39 years, going on 40 this
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year. amy: you were working there when flint poked up with the -- hooked up with the water and was disconnected. >> yes. amy: what happened? >> from what i hear, it was basically causing corrosion. they were saying something to the fact that what they were putting in the water. and they were saying, we got the stuff called rust inhibitor that keeps engines from resting while they're waiting to have oil put on them. i guess when they tested it and found out, i guess we were putting too much chlorine in the water. , you areold flint that causing us to lose engines because we have to tear them down and get the rest out before we can send them back. amy: the emergency manager gave you a waiver of said you can disconnect from the flint river and go back to the detroit water
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system? >> what they did, they made an agreement, from what i hear, that they could leave, but once we got our water back right, they would come back. amy: and you never got your water right. >> no. amy: how did you feel? you were a worker in the plant, but you're also a flint resident. and the very water that was causing rust in the engine, you were drinking. >> as a matter of fact, they took all of the water fountains out of the plant. we have all water coolers throughout the plant. amy: what do you think about this? >> i made a joke to one of the supervisors that i was going to sue them because they knew something had to be wrong, and they never said nothing to stop all they said, we're not going to use it. amy: ellis ronald jamison. his friends call him a hollywood. he worked at the plant for 39 years. the emergency manager decides that you preserve the engines,
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the gm plant can switch black dust switchback. the people of flint could not. what is michigan's emergency manager law public act four to 36, which was pushed through after similar law was defeated in a two to one statewide referendum? we went to city hall to find out. >> workmates first words, city council for the city of flint. i represent the first ward, which is the farthest north end of the city of flint, about 11,000 residents. i would say it is about 96% or so black. you know, we have high crime, abandoned houses. amy: explain how the emergency manager worked and how the decision was made to switch to the flint river. >> if you look at public act 436 and even public act 4, whenever
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"city was in so-called emergency financial distress" or "financial trouble" whoever defined that with a budget deficit, the governor would ppoint a review team. and the review team might recommend an emergency manager come in. in my opinion, some of that was created because the governor took revenue away from cities and helped create financial distress, about $55 million at some point from the city of flint. amy: you're saying may take the money from flint and send it elsewhere in michigan. >> in this case, our money was taken from flint, detroit, and other municipalities and the governor then posted, some cases, a surplus for the state. so that is why we sent in some
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cases, the governor helped create the deficit and it would send in an emergency manager. amy: explain what happened. how was the decision made? of 2014, i gotil a notification that it was some activity going on over at the water plant. when i got there, the emergency manager was there. the mayor was there, council people were there. i was one of them. i seen other officials there, the police chief was there. when i caught on to what was going on, it was a countdown. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and in the button was pushed and one light went on red and green. you know, it is recorded and documented. so then after that, there was a
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gathering in the plant because this button pushed outside in the back somewhere, then we walked from there and they did a toast. , we'rew the show tricking now, river water. because of the stigma of the river, i would -- i held it up, but i did not feel comfortable guzzling it down with them. they were, go ahead entering. you know., ok -- that is kind of what went down. i was leery from the beginning. but i had no idea. i knew nothing about some of the bacteria. , knew nothing about tthm trihalomethanes. i knew nothing about led a 90 nothing about possible legionnaires. amy: you introduced a bill in march 2015 to say return to detroit's water. what happened to it? >> i put a motion on the floor,
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and that motion passed seven or 81 to return to the detroit water. and i think been president josh freeman was the only no vote. emergency manager, i think it was then emergency manager ambrose, i think he talked publicly like that was not smart or that was should not have been done. he used some distinct words. amy: he's the lord "it is income principle that your city council voted seven to one to go back to detroit's water." q i have the of the emergency manageruote jerry ambrose who said flint water today is safe by all u.s. environmental detection agency michigan qualitynt of terminal standards -- and terminal standards and the city is working daily to improve its quality. it is in copper in civil to me that seven members of the flint city council would want to send
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more than $12 million a year to the system serving southeast michigan, even if flint ratepayers could afford it. >> well, he was wrong. in my opinion, he was wrong. it was not meeting all of the epa standards. we found out kurt guyette from the aclu did some good research and discovered the city of flint was submitting samples of water where they have been pre-flushing, which you should not preflash when you're testing for certain things, if water should sit for at least six hours. then you test. we found out they were testing maybe certain places that did not have led pipes and so there
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it was what we called skew test and samples. amy: that was split sunni -- flint city councilman mays. we wanted to follow-up on what he was saying about the lead tests, so we want to speak with curt guyette of the aclu. he is actually an investigative reporter who is just won michigan journalist of the year. we asked about the work you do with professor mark edwards, nationally recognized lead contamination at first at virginia tech. >> sitting around one night and i am thinking, how can we get to the truth? how can we get this beyond what was at the he said/she said kind of thing? i thought, maybe we could do our own test. i had some money in my grant to pay for experts to do research for us. so i called up mark and said,
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how much does it cost for each test? he said, $70. how much -- how many do you need -- kelly holmes you need a sample to get a scientifically valid sample? he said, 50 at minimum, 100 would be better. we started talking with the citizens to see if they thought we could pull it off. they were very confident we could pull it off. mark was confident they could do it on their end. so there was this unique collaboration, really, between the scientists at virginia tech, me as a journalist becoming involved in it, and then the citizens themselves who are really, again, in the forefront of getting all of these test kits distributed throughout the city. we ended up collecting four
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times as many as the city and state had collected in the previous six months in, like, a three-week period. amy: and then there was dr. mona. >> yes. amy: explain what she did, the pediatrician at the medical center. 2015, theugust of citizens working with mark edwards and his whole team of virginia tech -- who were working around the clock. on the site, we're working like crazy to get the kits distributed and collected and making sure we're keeping track of everything, which was complicated. but they were doing it with the index cards and everything. and then as soon as the sample kits started being returned, 12 at a time, we would box them up and send them back to virginia tech. they're working around-the-clock to get them analyzed because as soon as they start seeing the results, they're going, oh, no, this is dad. this is bad. by the time they got the first
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24 bottles, they knew. there was so many with elevated levels that they knew this was a crisis. ,nd so they created a website which is incredible. they started posting results. people with elevated levels of lead in their water started calling them up and saying, stop tricking or water, it is dangerous. dr. mona, pediatrician at flint's hurley medical center, saw the results the virginia , saw what highed blood levels there really were in the water. and as a result of that, after i think talking to a friend, came up with her own idea. she came up with the idea of looking at records that were already on hand for the lead blood levels in children under
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five in flint and in genesee county as a whole. and what she found in analyzing thousands of samples was that after the switch was made to the river, the percentage of children in flint with elevated levels of lead in their blood double. amy: michigan reporter of the year kurt guyette. this is a democracy now! special, "thirsty for democracy: the poisoning of a city." we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. well, as flint residents are forced to drink, cook with, and even bathe in bottled water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in michigan. in 2001 and 2002, the michigan department of environmental quality issued permits to nestle to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed michigan. this sparked a decade-long legal battle between nestle and residents in mecosta county, michigan. that is where nestle's water wells are located. one of the most surprising things about the story is that, in mecosta county, nestle is not required to pay anything to extract the water besides a small permitting fee to the state, and the cost of the lease to a private landowner. in fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state of michigan to locate
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the plant there. the spokesperson for nestle is deborah muchmore. that is the wife of dennis muchmore -- governor rick snyder's recently retired chief of staff. dennis muchmore has just registered to be a lobbyist. well, we reached out to nestle for comment on this story, and we didn't speak with deborah, but we did speak with jane lazin of nestle waters, who said -- the residents have another story to tell. let's take a look at nestle in the battle over the great lakes, which are 20% of the world's fresh water. we are in flint, michigan. yesterday, on saturday, we spent the day following residents who were checking on their neighbors. today have water? is there filter working? due to have children in the house? have they been tested for lead? also making sure that they had
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bottled water. one of the astounding things we learned is that residents are still paying for their lead poisoned water. when we first pulled into flint, michigan, we can behind -- well, the municipal building in flint. there the national guard was giving out water. today, a sign, "flint water distribution center." they gave us a case of ice melt 100% natural spring water. it is made by nestle. one of the things that a number of people were talking about is that nestle, which has a plant a couple of hours north of here, a bottling plant, is sucking water out of lake michigan for free. today, we're going to head north to mecosta county to the nestle bottling plant to speak with a group of women who live in the area who has been engaging in a legal battle against nestle for years. let's go.
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i am amy goodman and this is democracy now! we are in stanwood, michigan, about three hours north of detroit. it is here that nestle has its eyes mountain bottled water plant. we're joined right now by katie. she is the current president of michigan citizens for water conservation. can you talk about this plant? books this is where the bottled water is being trucked out from nestle. it is taking the water from our aquifers and shipping it all over the world. amy: we are talking about 200 gallons per minute is being sucked out of the aquifer that feeds lake michigan? >> yes. the water from this plant is coming from several wells, one in mecosta and two in everett and they are now pumping 218 gallons just wanted to be for
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hundred. amy: but you stopped them from a decade-long lawsuit. >> that's true. amy: how much do they pay for the 200 gallons of water per minute they are sucking out of the aquifer that is feeding lake michigan? >> as far as i know, nothing. amy: let's talk to citizens for michigan water conservation. hello. >> hello. amy: very nice to see you. >> i am terry. amy: asked to meet you. >> my name is terry and i live in mecosta county, which is probably about three hours from flint. original president of
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michigan citizens for water conservation that took nestle to court. >> i am peggy case. i live near traverse city, michigan. i'm about two hours away from across the county north of here. i became president of michigan citizens for water conservation when terry retired. >> i am glenna. i am on the board of michigan citizens for water conservation, currently the treasurer. amy: in 2000 when nestle came into the area, explain what they were coming in to do. >> in 2000, we found nestle had come to mecosta county and was meeting with elected officials. and what nestle was asking for was a place that they would be able to take water, a bottling
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--nt, and selling the water which, they basically, what nestle did was sold the water to us, and it was already our water. amy: peggy case, can you explain what was the water, the body of water they were drawing from? >> so the water that nestle is bottling here and elsewhere in our state is coming from the great lakes basin. two deadding here in string and cold creek and then into the muskegon river, that aquifer, and then eventually will ultimately, into lake michigan. it is great lakes basin water. it is part of the comments. it belongs to all of us. part of the reason that people in mecosta were pretty upset about it is that the extraction of that water was being taken
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out of the watershed. the streams are being pumped down to the point where the dead stream of like a mudhole at one point. and bottled and shipped all over the world. how is it possible that nestle, which is making an enormous profit on this water, doesn't actually have to pay for the water it is drawing? >> they're drawing the water from a well on private land, for one thing. it would be no different if they came to my house where i have a well to asked to use my put water in a truck and carted away. and if i said yes, they have the right to do that. amy: but this massive public resource, water, we're not talking about feeding a family of water were five, we're talking about 400 gallons per minute around the day, around the month, around the year. >> right. it is criminal.
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amy: why wouldn't there be laws that say when you take this public resource, you have to pay for it since people are paying for that water, including you, if you buy, for example, ice mountain? >> well, i don't know why it is legal to do that. they did not get a permit from the state that allows them did -- they can get a permit from the state that allows them to do that. i personally do not believe we should be doing that with our water. we should not be privatizing the water. it amounts to privatizing the water. amy: take us through this decade long lawsuit against nestle. >> we began in the circuit court . we have seen what nestle was .roposing to do we decided we needed to take nestle to court. that was the only way that nestle would ever realize that, yes, we did want our water, we
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wanted to protect our water, and the water was hours -- not theirs. this last bid, like i said before, this lasted for eight years. and in that time, with lawyer the and, you know, all of fees that come with going to over $1 million. the glenna, you are treasurer of michigan citizens for water conservation. how do you raise this money? it costs like $1 million to take on nestle? >> we scrambled for every penny we could get. we did 50/50 raffle's among us. or anybody else we could get into it. we did yard sales. we wrote grants. we had bake sales.
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help me out here. fasties our meat vegetable concoction that is kind of localized to michigan. amy: and you able to raise how much through all of this? >> we are out of debt now. >> we raised $1 million with no corporate money, no government money. at one point, nestle been offered us some kind of a grant and terry said, are you kidding? no way. amy: terry, can you talk about nestle actually personally going after you? hady son and i both had some problems. there was a flat suit against my son list of amy: you're talking about a strategic lawsuit >>inst a look participation? to put it very simply, it is
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where the company, nestle, they wrote the letter to michigan citizens for water conservation son,r saying that my chris, was not speaking nicely about nestle. you know, surprise, surprise. and that they were going to do a slap suit. amy: did they send private investigators to your home? >> we had private investigators show up. and then we also had the fbi coming to our homes. any glenna, did you have family members or you yourself, were you approached by the fbi? >> this is hearsay from my family members, but there had explosion or bomb or what was it?
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set off at the well head. they had decided it was my uncle who had done it. so the fbi came to his house to arrest him. and they found him in his wheelchair with either one of his prosthetics on. it was the highlight of his life. [laughter] amy: when we came in to flint a few night ago, we went behind the municipal building and the national guard was disturbing water to those who drove up -- disturbing water to those who drove up. they gave us a case of ice mountain, which is made by nestle. you have a situation where the people of flint, their water supply is poisoned and they are now being donated or they have to buy bottled water. a lot of that is nestle water. nestle is a corporation overall, i think you posted -- posted $14
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million and profit in 2014. can you talk about this connection? >> i want to know why we don't have fema bringing in the tanker trucks that i'm sure they have a level. why aren't they taking the groundwater that nestle is taking and providing it to the people in larger containers? amy: this interesting, because we did see big fema pallets of water as well. isthe national guard certainly capable of finding some trucks to bring in aquiferser from a list that nestle is getting for free -- endless aquifers that nestle is getting for free and the people of flint should get it for free, too. amy: it is amazing, you people having to pay for the poisoned water in flint. >> $140 a month, roughly. amy: some of the highest rates in michigan, and in the country. and then you have -- but now because under enormous pressure,
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the state government says they are not going to engage in cutoffs of water. the your yet detroit, which actually has clean water, so the people in flint, they will continue to get the poisoned water. with the people in detroit who have clean water, they're having their water cut off. >> right. i call it criminal behavior. it is also, in my mind, it is environmental racism. amy: what do you mean? >> the cities are predominantly african american cities. these are the ones that have been taken over by emergency managers. amy: it is hard not to notice of the leadership of these organizations, whether in detroit or dealing with the poisoned water in flint, to hear that you are women. what is it about you gals? two grandtwo sons and children. that is who i work for. i do. i work for my children and my grandchildren.
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about also very concerned climate change. we're concerned about what kind of planet we're leaving for our children. i think women tend to maybe be a little closer to that feeling, that kind of passion. for me, it is a moral imperative. i have to leave something better than what i found, and we are having, as a species, hard time doing that these days. have been an activist all my life, pretty much. amy: terry, as peggy said, she was an activist all her life. you were shaking your head. you were not? >> i have never been involved in anything like what we're doing right now. i never thought i could do it. never thought i would have to do it. i agree with peggy. you can see the lake i live on. i stood and i have five grandchildren.
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daughter-in-laws. and it's like, i cannot let this happen. i'm a third-generation who lives here. me,this means so much to that i could not just walk away from it. amy: that was terry swier, katie case and glenna in mecosta county, michigan. that does it for our special. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!] special thanks to kate levy, antonio cosme, no town the movie, and to denis moynihan, sam alcoff and laura gottesdiener. happy birthday to neil shibata. february 19, friday, the 20 anniversary of democracy now! hospers broadcast. take a photo or video and tell us who you are, where you tune in, and why you need democracy now! and posted online with #happybirthdaydn.
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