In Michigan, the head of the Department of Environmental Quality has resigned amid continued fallout over the dangerously high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water. Last year, the city’s unelected emergency manager, who was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder, switched the city’s water source from the Detroit system to the long-polluted Flint River in an attempt to save money. Two weeks ago, Flint’s mayor declared a state of emergency after a study found the proportion of children under five in Flint with elevated lead levels in their blood nearly doubled following the switch. On Tuesday, Environmental Quality Department head Dan Wyant resigned amid the revelations that Michigan state officials were aware the water had dangerously high levels of lead, but continued to tell residents the water was safe. Governor Snyder apologized to Flint residents. But many residents say the apology doesn’t go far enough. Thousands have taken to social media calling for Snyder’s arrest. Michigan activists are planning to hold a tribunal on Flint water poisoning and the continued shutoffs of drinking water in Detroit, in the coming weeks.
And on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, hundreds of Lakotas and supporters arrived on horseback at the gravesite at Wounded Knee to mark the massacre’s 125th anniversary. On December 29, 1890, the U.S. Army killed as many as 300 Oglala Lakota Indians, including many women and children. The commemorative Chief Big Foot Band Memorial Ride began more than a week ago when riders set out from Bridger, South Dakota. They traveled more than 150 miles on horseback until reaching Wounded Knee. The site is remembered not only for the 1890 massacre, but also for the historic 1973 occupation, in which members of the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee to demand their treaty rights. In this clip from that 71-day occupation, Oglala Lakota activist Russell Means spoke to reporters about the U.S. government’s disregard for their treaty rights.
Russell Means: “The United States government and its people have effectively isolated Indian people and filed away our treaties for over a century and more. Consequently, the United States government neither has—they haven’t any explanation if they massacre us, based on the treaty rights, and they haven’t any answers for us if they negotiated over our treaty rights. Right now, I imagine that in Washington, D.C., there’s a heck of a lot of bureaucrats and White House personnel researching Indian treaties. Now, until those treaty questions are resolved, you’re going to have much more, many more Wounded Knees.”
Floodwaters continue to rise in Missouri, where officials warn the swollen rivers could overflow federal levees. Hundreds of families are evacuating communities around the fast-rising Meramec River. The Mississippi River has also surged to near-record levels. It’s expected to reach nearly 13 feet above flood stage in St. Louis today. In the last week, flooding across Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Oklahoma has killed at least 24 people.
Democracynow.org – 2015, the hottest on record, was also the year ExxonMobil was caught in a more than three-decade lie. Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out that Exxon isn’t alone. A new exposé from InsideClimate News reveals nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon. We are joined by Neela Banerjee, the InsideClimate News reporter who broke this story.
Democracynow.org – The revelations that Exxon concealed its early findings that fossil fuels cause global warming have sparked a criminal investigation by New York’s attorney general and calls for a federal probe like the one against Big Tobacco. But some aren’t waiting for the justice system to act. During the recent U.N. climate summit in Paris, environmental activists held a “mock trial” charging Exxon with “climate crimes.” Hundreds from around the world—including participants in COP21—packed into a large warehouse-like cultural space to hear a stirring indictment of Exxon. A tribunal of judges heard testimony from witnesses that included scientists, energy experts and residents of frontline communities threatened by climate change. The witnesses were questioned by two leading environmentalists acting as chief prosecutors: Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, and journalist Naomi Klein.
A Virginia Tech professor filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) and found that the Flint government knew that the water supply was giving children lead poisoning since July, but continued to a false sense that the water was safe. RT’s Ashlee Banks explains the history of the city’s use of contaminated water.
In our news wrap Wednesday, the rising Mississippi River and its tributaries have overwhelmed towns across parts of Missouri and Illinois. At least 20 people have been killed in the region and flood waters are expected to hit record levels. Also, snowfall has deepened the Sierra Nevada snowpack to higher than normal levels in California, offering some relief from extreme drought.
Michael Pollan’s bestselling book “In Defense of Food” was a call to arms for making real food a bigger part of Americans’ diets. Now he takes that push to PBS with a new documentary. He joins Jeffrey Brown to discuss why we’ve lost the true definition of food and how to take back control from the food industry.
CRISPR, a new method for editing genes, has been called a development that could revolutionize medicine. Cheaper and more precise than past gene editing, this promising tool has also raised concerns. Gwen Ifill talks to Jennifer Doudna of University of California, Berkeley and Paul Knoepfler of University of California, Davis
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
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