Business as usual

first_imgThe Sinaloa Cartel, led by the recently captured Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is responsible for an estimated 25 to 50 percent of all illegal drugs that come into the United States through Mexico.According to experts, Guzmán’s organization has annual revenues of more than $6 billion, and is one of the main culprits behind the spiral of violence in Mexico that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.The Gazette spoke with Evelyn Krache Morris, an associate with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, about the effects of El Chapo’s arrest on the Mexican drug trade. Krache Morris is writing a book on the history of Mexican transnational criminal networks and their impact on U.S. relations with Mexico. GAZETTE: The number of people killed in Mexico due to drug-related violence is staggering. Between 2007 and 2014, there were around 164,000 deaths, more than the number of civilian deaths in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And yet this tragedy doesn’t get a lot of attention here. Why is that?KRACHE MORRIS: I think it doesn’t get a lot of attention because it doesn’t fit into what we have grown to understand as threats to the United States. It’s seen as a Mexican problem that doesn’t affect the United States because it’s not seen as a terrorist threat. It’s not ISIS or al-Qaida. And because of that, the violence is largely ignored. To the extent it is discussed, it is often in terms of “drug dealers killing other drug dealers.” That is as sophisticated as the rhetoric has gotten.GAZETTE: What impact will El Chapo’s arrest have on the drug trade in Mexico?KRACHE MORRIS: As long as there is money to be made, and with such a profitable market next door, this business is not going to go away, because if it’s not El Chapo, it’s going to be someone else. There is too much money to be made.GAZETTE: How did he become the world’s most powerful drug trafficker?KRACHE MORRIS: Separate from the fact that he’s a murderous criminal, he’s a very good businessman. In order to create and run an organization the size and scope of Sinaloa, that’s really a requirement. Also, he was quite adept at playing off other transnational criminal networks against each other within Mexico. El Chapo was, at least, the symbolic head of what most people call the Sinaloa Cartel. I think “cartel” is the wrong term, because his organization is involved in drug trafficking, particularly heroin and meth, but also in a number of other businesses, including smuggling people and pirated software.Evelyn Krache Morris is an associate with the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerGAZETTE: What’s the term you use to describe these criminal organizations?KRACHE MORRIS: The term “drug trafficking organizations” gets closer, but drugs are only one of the products that these organizations are involved with. They’re also involved with things like avocado, limes, oil, and people. The term I like to use is transnational criminal networks, because that gets at the scope of what they’re doing.Cartel implies they’re working together to fix prices, like OPEC. That’s not how these organizations function at all. They’re extremely competitive. Much of the violence is the result of competition among these organizations for routes and transit points, particularly into the United States.GAZETTE: More than two decades ago, the drug trade was ruled by Colombian criminal organizations. How did the Mexican drug organizations take over?KRACHE MORRIS: The U.S. Coast Guard got much better at interdicting shipments coming through the Gulf of Mexico, and the Colombian organizations needed to find another way to get their products to the United States. They started working with Mexicans to get their products into Mexico, and then into the United States. As so often has happened, in various points with these organizations, the people working for you take over. That’s what happened. As the Colombian organizations were degraded, the Mexican organizations, which already had the logistics to get the products into the United States, took over.GAZETTE: Were there other factors behind the emergence of the Mexican drug organizations?KRACHE MORRIS: It was the dismantling of the Colombian drug organizations, but also the passage of NAFTA, which not only facilitated cross-border trade but also undermined Mexican agriculture. So you had lots of agricultural workers who were out of jobs and couldn’t support their families and were looking for something else to do. And one of the things they found was the drug trade.GAZETTE: How big a business is the drug trade? Many experts say their revenues amount to those of big global companies such as Nike ($30 billion) and Facebook ($18 billion).KRACHE MORRIS: The best number I found was $30 billion. It’s probably bigger than that now. It’s a multibillion-dollar industry spanning all across the globe. These Mexican transnational criminal networks are importing chemicals from China to make meth and fentanyl, or synthetic heroin, and they’re moving their products into the United States. They have connections in Europe, and they’re working with criminal organizations in Central America. They have a very broad reach.GAZETTE: What is the role of these drug organizations in the violence that is engulfing Mexico?KRACHE MORRIS: They have an enormous amount to do with the violence in Mexico. And one reason for the United States to dismiss this threat is to think that it’s drug dealers killing other drug dealers. That’s not true. It’s drug dealers killing police, journalists, and mayors.GAZETTE: Does the United States have any role in this wave of violence?KRACHE MORRIS: Mexico has stricter gun laws than the United States. About 75 percent of the guns used in Mexico are coming from the United States, where it is much easier to get them. States like Texas, where gun laws are quite liberal and share a border with Mexico, make it easy for guns to be trafficked into Mexico. The insatiable American demand for illegal drugs also, of course, contributes enormously to the violence and corruption in Mexico.GAZETTE: How have the Mexican criminal organizations evolved since they took over the Colombian organizations? What’s their role in the opiate epidemic in the United States?KRACHE MORRIS: Mexican organizations don’t sell much marijuana because it’s not profitable anymore. They’re into meth and heroin, which are extremely profitable.They’re filling a void that was created in part by cracking down on the so-called “pill mills,” by which people were getting prescription painkillers or opiates. They became harder to find, prices went up, and that didn’t mean that people were going to stop using them, but that they were going to find a substitute product. It was the classic business model of product substitution. The Mexican organizations filled that gap with heroin and fentanyl. Poppies can be grown in Mexico, but heroin has a high labor cost because the sap has to be harvested from the poppies and then it has to be refined. Fentanyl is less labor-intensive because it is made from chemicals that can be imported and thus it’s more profitable than heroin.GAZETTE: Speaking of profits, you’ve been advocating for more aggressive prosecution of the banks that have benefited themselves from laundering money from the drug trade. Could you tell us more about this?KRACHE MORRIS: A number of banks, including HSBC and Wachovia, have paid fines as result of investigations into money laundering. But these have been for trivial amounts. And calling it laundering is, in some cases, glorifying it. Bank branches in the capital of Sinaloa reconfigured their deposit windows into the shape of the boxes that men would bring, full of dollars, to shove them under the windows. Every bank has a compliance department to ensure they’re adhering to all the rules they need to. If you’re laundering money for Sinaloa, and if you have windows cut in your branches to make it easier for people to shove their dollars through, you’re not in compliance. If senior-level people at these big banks were subject to criminal prosecution, I think the banks would tighten things up.GAZETTE: What does it take to make a dent in the drug trade? Is it a combination of law enforcement, prosecution, interdiction, or maybe legalization?KRACHE MORRIS: The real pie in the sky, which is never going to happen, is uniform federal legalization of drugs like meth and heroin so there is no interstate price arbitrage and the laws are the same as well as the tax rates. This would dramatically cut down the profitability. That’s not going to happen. I think a solution that might happen is cracking down on the banks.GAZETTE: In your view, has the war on drugs been successful?KRACHE MORRIS: The long answer is I don’t think it’s being taken seriously enough. I think there’s still this attitude that says, “If you use drugs, you get what you deserve.” Filling the prisons with drug users so they can meet other drug users, or drug dealers, is not a great answer. Rehab takes a long time, it’s expensive, and it doesn’t work with sound bites. The short answer is that it has been a failure.last_img read more

Fraudsters, be very afraid

first_img 36SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The fraud-fighting dream team of the future likely includes machines and humans. Picture this: your credit union’s fraud prevention system flags a series of transactions as high risk. The transactions, however, are for gas and groceries. Seems fairly normal, right? The system may have gotten it wrong. Upon closer inspection from a team of data scientists and analysts, though, you discover the fraud was all too real.What gives machines + humans true dream-team potential is the unique skillsets they each bring to the table. Machines can be fully automated to perform complex tasks and predict behavior – eliminating the need for costly, time-consuming manual reviews. This is what is known as machine learning. Humans can then further analyze the machine outputs in light of their experiences with the wider fraud environment.In true futuristic fashion, machine learning involves teaching computers to think for themselves. The computers identify patterns, solve problems and respond as programmed for certain scenarios. “The precise nature of machine learning helps ensure fraud detection is highly accurate,” said Ashley McAlpine, fraud prevention manager at CO-OP Financial Services. “Combined with a human review, flagged transactions can be quickly verified as fraudulent or not.” continue reading »last_img read more

Stem Cells of the Adult Kind Steal the Headlines

first_imgStories about stem cell research need to be divided into two sections: those about adult stem cells (AS), which have no ethical ramifications, and stories about embryonic stem cells (ES), which raise many issues about the sanctity of human life.  As usual, most of the actual clinical progress is being made with adult stem cells (cf. 10/04/2010, 08/06/2010; search on “stem cells” for many more entries).Adult Stem CellsCulture triple crown:  Scientists at UC San Diego have provided a perfect environment for the growth and culture of adult stem cells, according to Science Daily.  “Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego have achieved the ‘Triple Crown’ of stem cell culture — they created an artificial environment for stem cells that simultaneously provides the chemical, mechanical and electrical cues necessary for stem cell growth and differentiation,” the article began.  “Building better microenvironments for nurturing stem cells is critical for realizing the promises of stem-cell-based regenerative medicine, including cartilage for joint repair, cardiac cells for damaged hearts, and healthy skeletal myoblasts for muscular dystrophy patients.  The advance could also lead to better model systems for fundamental stem cell research.  The article said nothing about embryonic stem cells.Bandage for a bleeding heart:  In another Science Daily report, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have shown that an injection of stem cells into animal hearts, with the appropriate expression molecules, leads to repair of damaged heart tissue.  They used induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) in their experiments.Fat for the heart:  Stem cells derived from fat may be safe in humans, said another story in Science Daily.Arthritis hope:  Stem cells from umbilical cords may be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, announced PhysOrg.Stem cells on the brain:  Scientists at Duke University are trying to understand how stem cells in the brain decide to renew themselves or differentiate into neurons, according to PhysOrg.Building stem cell muscle:  PhysOrg announced hope for keeping muscles strong as we age: “A University of Colorado at Boulder-led study shows that specific types of stem cells transplanted into the leg muscles of mice prevented the loss of muscle function and mass that normally occurs with aging, a finding with potential uses in treating humans with chronic, degenerative muscle diseases.”Saving limbs:  Some people get cardiovascular disease so serious, the only option is amputation of a limb.  Science Daily just announced a treatment that might some day save 100,000 limbs a year by injecting the patient’s own stem cells into the damaged area, to “stimulate new blood vessel formation in ischemic limbs, which can improve perfusion and salvage function.”  The lead researcher at Northwestern Medicine was clearly excited about the hope this provides.  “As study of stem cells continues, I believe we’re on the verge of a rebirth in the practice of medicine,” said Douglas Losordo, M.D..  “Using a patient’s own cells to regenerate their body has enormous potential to treat conditions that have previously been considered irreversible.”Embryonic Stem CellsArt or science?  The only recent stem cell story in the popular science press was this one from Science Daily: “Embryonic Stem Cell Culturing Grows from Art to Science.”  Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a more reliable way to culture ES cells.  Is anything good being done with them?  Not according to the article: “At present, human embryonic stem cells are cultured mostly for use in research settings.”Regulators without Rx:  An abstract in Nature (11 Nov 2010) discussed research in Singapore trying to identify all the transcription factors that regulate embryonic stem cells.  There was no mention of any application to help human beings.One other recent news story did not make it clear whether ES or AS cells were being discussed.  Live Science and PhysOrg both announced the first stem cell trial by injection of stem cells into a woman’s brain at the University of Glasgow.  No results were announced.Joni Eareckson Tada was interviewed on the Frank Pastore radio show Weds. evening (see her website and listen to her story in the documentary, The Case for Faith).  This long-suffering quadriplegic woman who has championed the needs of the disabled would, it seems, have plenty of reasons from a secular perspective to support ES stem cell research – if she thought for a minute they were ethical and provided hope.  Instead, she pled earnestly against ES stem cell research as a matter of conscience, because cutting up human embryos, which according to the Bible and genetics are human persons, violates the sanctity of human life.  She applauded the many wonderful advances happening in adult stem cell research, arguing that they presented no ethical issues.    Joni, who according to World Magazine has most recently been battling severe pain with breast cancer, on top of decades of paralysis, said all that needs to be said about this issue, with a credibility most of us lack.  For more information, see the policy statement by Steve Bundy about stem cell research on her Joni & Friends ministry website, and her book Life in the Balance that discusses Biblical answers for the issues of our day, including stem cell research.  Joni also has a DVD entitled Lives in the Balance: the Stem Cell Debate that specifically addresses the issue.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Pecking order re-established in Northern Cape

first_imgRed-billed oxpeckers in the cage at Stofdam in Mokala National Park. The birds were relocated by the Batteleurs, a non-profit voluntary organisation, from Limpopo. (Images: SANParks) Oxpeckers offer the best biological solution to control tick loads on animals. (Image: Johan van Rensburg/Flickr) MEDIA CONTACTS • Gabrielle Venter   SANParks  +27 12 426 5065 RELATED ARTICLES • A paradise for rescued birds • Rare birds fill new Angolan forest • Old bones take Madiba’s name • Protecting marine life with plastic Wilma den HartighA joint conservation initiative by South African National Parks (SANParks) and The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has successfully reintroduced red-billed oxpeckers to the Mokala National Park in the Northern Cape, after they disappeared from the area for more than half a century.Red-billed oxpeckers are easy to spot – they are the ones you usually see perched on large game such as rhinos, giraffes, elephants, Cape buffalo as well as livestock. And their hosts don’t mind them being there as these birds have an important role in the ecosystem to naturally keep skin parasites on animals under control – they eat hundreds of ticks, fleas and flies every day.Mokala Park manager Deon Joubert says the re-establishment of red-billed oxpecker populations will have a significant impact on animal disease control in the park and the greater Kimberly area.They will help to protect disease-free buffalo from sickness, reduce external parasite numbers on animals in neighbouring farms, and restore biodiversity. Why did they disappear?Red-billed oxpeckers were prevalent in the greater Kimberley area about 60 years ago, but with the introduction of dips and treatments for overseas cattle breeds, the birds started going into decline and eventually disappeared from the region completely.The use of harsh pesticides became necessary when farmers introduced European livestock to the area. Unlike many indigenous breeds that have good immunity to pests and parasites such as the Tsetse fly, Blackfly and various tick-borne diseases, European livestock had no resistance.Even with the help of oxpeckers, which don’t distinguish their hosts, European breeds continued to suffer heavy tick loads.Leigh Combrink, project co-ordinator for Operation Oxpecker, a project of the EWT, says in the past the use of arsenic-containing pesticides was responsible for the decline in oxpecker numbers. These days pesticides containing organophosphates are a major threat to the survival of birds generally.According to the EWT Wildlife Conflict Prevention Group, arsenical, organochlorine and organophosphate dips had such a major impact on these birds that yellow-billed oxpeckers become extinct in South Africa during the former half of the 20th century. The red-billed oxpecker survived in only a few areas.But now the successful relocation of 21 red-billed oxpeckers to the Kimberly area has made it possible for the birds to again work alongside livestock and game owners to control ticks. A successful relocationThe relocation took place in September 2012, when the 21 birds were released into a temporary cage at a dam in the park, situated close to a bird hide. The temporary enclosure allowed the birds to acclimatise to their new environment, before being released into the park.They were captured in Limpopo by the EWT and flown to the park by the Batteleurs, a non-profit voluntary organisation.Arranging an operation of this kind is a lengthy process.“Before we can even consider releasing birds into an area we need to ensure that landowners at and around the release site are on board with having oxpeckers in the area,” says Combrink. They should also be willing to manage their livestock or game using oxpecker-compatible pesticides.Then the team identifies a capture site and applies for permits to capture and transport the birds.The capture process involves about a week of setting up nets to capture the birds, before they are moved to a temporary holding facility for one to two weeks for quarantine purposes.While the birds are in the holding facility they feed on a diet of 50% lean mince and 50% blood mixture. Avistress, a vitamin and electrolyte supplement, is placed in the water to assist the birds with the stress of handling and transportation.Ahead of the release the site was equipped with nesting boxes for all the birds. The West Rand Honorary Rangers sponsored 28 nest boxes for the Mokala National Park.Since the relocation the birds have already been spotted on kudu and warthog in the park.Joubert says the birds are adapting well and young have already been born and seen in the park.“Monitoring is very difficult and we rely on farmer feedback and visitor sightings,” he says. “One of our farmers has already informed us of seeing the birds on his cattle. He was very excited and we will be giving him a nest box to put up on his farm.”Combrink says a fieldworker from the EWT will be keeping an eye on the Mokala birds to monitor their breeding attempts and population growth. Protecting new populationsIf the newly-established oxpecker population is to survive in the area, it is essential to protect their food supply.“The habitat is mostly still sufficient to support oxpeckers,” Combrink says.She says if landowners know of oxpeckers in their area, and want to encourage the birds onto their property, the best method would be to put up nesting boxes near water sources.“The biggest threat is the use of pesticides containing organophospates and the use of home-brews where landowners buy ingredients and make their own dips,” she says.Oxpeckers can be a farmer’s greatest natural ally on game and cattle farms, but it is important to offer them the best chance of survival by managing tick infestations with the correct products.The Wildlife Conflict Prevention Group suggests the use of chemicals with ingredients such as pyrethroid and amidine acaricides that have a very low toxicity to birds.Since the introduction of less toxic chemicals yellow-billed oxpeckers have moved back into the north eastern parts of South Africa and are now well represented in the Kruger National Park.Red-billed oxpeckers are still more widely distributed, and are found in Limpopo, the North West, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.Oxpecker numbers are far from what they used to be before chemical tick control became popular, but there seems to be hope for the future of these useful birds.“Oxpeckers provide a useful ecosystem service through the removal of ticks,” says Combrink.In a natural system, the use of oxpeckers to perform this service is the best solution to the problem of controlling tick loads on animals.• Slideshow image courtesy of Johan van Rensburg/Flickrlast_img read more

Prospects You Should Avoid

first_imgAs you sell, there are certain types of prospects you will encounter that should be avoided. These prospects will waste your time, and winning their business would cost you far more than your time. Your time is better spent with your dream clients. One key to your success will be identifying these prospects quickly and moving on.These are the prospects you should avoid: Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now Price Shoppers: Avoid any prospective customer who reveals their current price with your competitor and suggests that they will meet with you if you can do better. If the only motivation for change is a lower price, then there is no real value you can create as there is no outcome that is worth paying more to obtain. Besides, your bottom-feeding competitor’s will undercut you by another penny to win the business.Unsolicited RFP Requesters: Avoid prospects who invite you to respond to their Request for Proposal without ever having met you. There is no value in being column fodder for an RFP that you have 0.0% chance of winning. If you can’t get beyond arms-length, your time and effort is better spent with prospects who will meet with you face-to-face, or virtually face to virtual face.Responsibility Avoiders: Avoid any prospect who confesses your competitor’s sins and failings when you recognize that their challenges have nothing to do with your competitor and are really your prospect’s unwillingness to change. You’ve no doubt experienced this, and if you haven’t, you will. Once you know that your prospect’s real problems are not your competitor’s fault, you also know that your prospect is unwilling to change.Dominators: Avoid any prospect who reveals a belief that you are a vendor and, as such, should be subservient. You sell from the position of a peer. You work as a trusted advisor. You are consultative. If you allow them to dominate you, you are cannot be a value creator.Freeloaders: Avoid prospects who are going to require a massive amount of work without the willingness or ability to pay for what they need. Anyone can have anything they want, as long as they are willing to pay for it. But wanting things and not being willing to pay for those things is a poor combination and not one you want to deal with. Invest your time with those who are going to make the necessary investments for the results they want.Unqualified: Avoid every prospect who does not perceive value in what you do and how you do it. Even if they want to buy, neither of you will ever be happy working together. Your time is better spent identifying, pursuing, and working with people who value you.last_img read more

Parineeti shares bruised avatar from The Girl On The Train

first_imgLondon: Actress Parineeti Chopra gave a sneak peek of her “intense” look from her upcoming film the Hindi remake of Hollywood thriller “The Girl On The Train”. Parineeti on Wednesday took to Twitter to share her first look, which she described as “most difficult”. In the new still, she appears heavily bruised, sitting in a bath tub with an expressions of shock on her face. “Something I’ve never done before. And the most difficult character I have ever played in my life,” she captioned the image. Also Read – I have personal ambitions now: Priyanka “The Girl On The Train” is based on Paula Hawkins’ 2015 bestseller of the same name, which has already been made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Fergusson and Haley Bennett. It is a psychological thriller about a divorcee woman, who gets entangled in the investigation of a missing person, which in turn throws her life out of gear. The Bollywood version, which also stars Kirti Kulhari, is produced by Reliance Entertainment.last_img read more

Canadian working with Kenya opposition party detained to be deported

first_imgA campaign data company says a Canadian working on the opposition party’s campaign was detained in Kenya and is facing deportation.A spokeswoman for Aristotle, Inc. – a political consulting company that provides various services to campaigns, including strategy and data analysis – says the Canadian senior vice-president of global services, Andreas Katsouris, and CEO John Aristotle Phillips were detained Friday night. They’re expected to be deported Saturday night.Spokeswoman Brandi Travis says Katsouris is a Canadian working out of Toronto.Travis says the two men were in the African country assisting opposition candidate Raila Odinga, and had become involved in the Kenyan election because they thought it had the potential for irregularities.Saturday was the last day of campaigning in the election, which is set for Tuesday.Global Affairs Canada says it is providing assistance to a Canadian detained in Nairobi but would not give any further details. The U.S. Embassy in Kenya said on Twitter that they were “safe and departing” the country.The detentions occurred at around the same time that armed and masked police raided an opposition vote counting centre, intimidating workers and seizing equipment, said James Orengo, a senior member of the opposition National Super Alliance.Kenyan police on Saturday denied allegations that officers broke into political party offices on Friday, saying no report of a burglary has been made to any police station.Recent elections in the East African high-tech and commercial hub have been hotly contested, and more than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence a decade ago.Kenyatta prevailed over Odinga in a 2013 vote that was mostly peaceful but tainted by opposition allegations of vote-rigging. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is among the thousands of expected election observers this time around.Some in the nation of 44 million people have been leaving the capital because of the threat of chaos, while many are simply going home to vote.The torture and killing in recent days of a key election official in charge of the electronic voting system has some concerned about the possibility of vote tampering.last_img read more

Weekend marks protest over underground natural gas storage tanks in Nova Scotia

first_imgTrina RoacheAPTN National NewsThe highest tides in the world rushed into the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia as a group of Mi’kmaq people cheered the oncoming muddy waters, the longest tidal bore in the province.“This is why we’re here,” said Cheryl Maloney, a member of the nearby Sipekne’katik band.Maloney organized a fishing derby as a peaceful way to assert Aboriginal treaty rights. The Mi’kmaq gathered on a dyke in front of the area where a company plans to dump salty waste water, or brine as its also known. The Alton gas company wants to create underground salt caverns to store natural gas.The project has been in the works since 2007. But in recent weeks, controversy over environmental concerns and consultation has made headlines. And though the province gave the go-ahead seven years ago, major construction near the river only began this summer. The Mi’kmaq are calling for a halt to the project.“So I think we’re looking at a judicial review of the whole permitting process with Nova Scotia and also the consultation efforts this company made,” said Maloney.Elder Billy Lewis says the Mi’kmaq never ceded land when they signed the Peace and Friendship Treaties in the 1700s. Along with the other 50 to 60 people that showed up Saturday, Lewis came “to assert the rights that we already have and to that’s more important than anything else. “And that’s why I’m here today,” said Lewis, “to assert those rights that existed long before Canada existed.”Though the group at the derby is small, their message is echoed by Mi’kmaq leaders. Rufus Copage is chief of the Sipekne’katik band. He remembers fishing on the river when he was a child. Now he brings his grandchildren here to fish for striped bass and eel.“This is traditional Mi’kmaq territory,” said Copage. “I don’t support dumping anything in this river that shouldn’t be there.”Chief Copage and his council have had meetings with the company to get information on the project but he’s hesitant to call it consultation. He’s not alone. In a press release, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs say the company hasn’t engaged the Mi’kmaq in a meaningful way and “is strongly advising that the Province withhold any permits or approvals for this project until all of our concerns are addressed and accommodated.”The Alton Natural Gas Storage company, a subsidiary of the Alberta-based AltaGas, will engineer three underground salt caverns. To do so, it will pump water from the river through a 12 kilometre pipeline and then down a well, half a kilometre underground. The water dissolves the salt deposits and then that brine will be pumped back to the holding pond and released into the Shubenacadie River at high tides.The company expects to have the caverns ready to store natural gas by 2017. Once the caverns are completed – no more brine. But according to the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs, if the market improves, there could be as many as 10 to 15 salt caverns down the road.This will be the first facility to store natural gas in the Atlantic region and, according to the company, will help stabilize prices, especially when demand is high during winter months. Though salt caverns are used to store natural gas in western Canada, dumping the brine into a river system is untested. The Alton company has studied it for the past six years and says it will monitor the salinity of the river, making sure it stays within acceptable levels.The Shubenacadie River is the only spawning ground for the striped bass in the Bay of Fundy and the rare Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon are dependent on this habitat. The list of species that live and spawn in these waters is long; fish that thrive in the mix of fresh and saltwater.The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) wrote a report used in the environmental assessment  in 2007. It describes the river system as “dynamic.” The extreme tides change from day to day, season to season, depending on the weathe: “This high degree of natural variability introduces a high level of uncertainty into predictions of potential impacts.”Roger Hunka says that unpredictability may spell bad news for the resources and the Aboriginal right to them.“Once they’re gone, they’re gone.” said Hunka who is with Aquatic Resources for the Maritime Aboriginal Peoples Council.He worries over the fact the company will be monitoring itself.“Where’s the third party? The third set of eyes? he said.According to Hunka, the consultation process has failed and puts the blame on the province of Nova Scotia.“It has not been clear and forthright and that comes back on the Crown,” said Hunka.At the fishing derby, the Mi’kmaq set eel traps and cast their lines out on the waters of the Shubenacadie River. In the background, a construction zone. Though the permit to operate the brine pond hasn’t been granted yet, Alton Gas is busy building the holdings ponds and burying its pipelines.“We’re here today trying to stop something that’s already in full gear? How do we stop it,” said Billy Lewis.People here say plans for another protest is in the works.last_img read more