British authorities neglect Grenfell Tower firefighters

This video from London, England says about itself:

Family Evacuated After Grenfell Tower Fire Faces Uncertain Future

23 June 2017

A family evacuated from a nearby building after the Grenfell Tower fire faces an uncertain future not knowing where they may end up living.

By Will Stone in Britain:


Saturday 24th June 2017

Leading firefighter hits out at loss of mental healthcare as tower horror stories mount

A FIREFIGHTER has demanded more protection for the mental health of crews after colleagues who were sent in to tackle the devastating Grenfell Tower fire were faced with “dozens” of dead and screaming children.

The harrowing experiences of those who entered the inferno that broke out last Wednesday were revealed by Fire Brigade Union (FBU) London regional official and Chelsea brigade firefighter Lucy Masoud.

Fire services have been “savaged” by cuts with fire inspectors being the first to get the axe, and 17 full-time counsellors for the fire service have been replaced with just four part-timers to take care of thousands of firefighters and staff, she said.

One firefighter was faced with having to choose between saving a mother and daughter or a family trapped on another floor, she told the Star, adding that “we should not have to make that choice. I’m hugely concerned about the mental welfare of my colleagues. They’re heartbroken, we’re talking about some firefighters with 25 years or more experience.

“We are used to dealing with deaths on a daily basis but we have seen nothing on the scale like at Grenfell.

“Many heard screaming children and others will have the image of dozens of dead children. I can honestly say I don’t know how they’re going to cope.

“Control room staff would have had absolutely the most horrific time.

“They had to deal first hand with all the calls from the victims and we know that many perished while on the phone to staff.

“You cannot predict what the long-term mental health effects of these experiences will be. What’s important is that they need proper counselling and mental health support.”

The fire was sparked by a faulty fridge-freezer just after 1am and combustible cladding on the building helped it spread at an alarming rate over 24 floors of the council housing block, Scotland Yard revealed yesterday. Locals reported hearing screams and shouts for help while the blaze went on for more than 24 hours.

The official death toll stands at 79 but hundreds more “missing” people are feared dead and survivors have been displaced. Many fatalities could have been avoided with more firefighters and equipment, said Ms Masoud, who was off duty that night.

She continued: “I don’t want to politicise this tragic event but the fact remains that over the last three years Kensington and Chelsea has had half of its fire service cut.”

Ten fire stations, 27 fire engines and 600 firefighters have been cut across London alone in the last three years.

Of these, two stations at Knightsbridge and Westminster, which could have responded to the Grenfell incident, have closed.

Firefighters who were called out to Grenfell have been asked not to speak to the press as it might interfere with investigations.

Ms Masoud along with other firefighters have been at the scene all week helping with the clean-up operation.

There was no mention of addressing the cuts to the fire service or helping firefighters after tackling major fires in the Queen’s Speech this week.

The Metropolitan Police also announced yesterday that it would be considering manslaughter charges related to the fire at Grenfell, looking in particular at whether the use of flammable cladding was illegal.

In a response statement the Radical Housing Network said: “Today’s initial verdict is beyond damning. It is also an indictment of a broken housing model — one where council housing is systematically run down and tenants are treated with contempt.

“From the council’s estate management organisation failing to respond to repeated resident complaints, to the reported delaying of a fire safety review by government ministers, it’s clear that a culture of negligence existed at all levels.

“Those responsible must be held to account.”

This video from London, England says about itself:

Camden Council Announces Evacuations From Five Tower Blocks With Same Cladding as Grenfell Tower

23 June 2017

Camden Council has announced that it will be evacuating five social housing tower blocks to remove dangerous cladding and to install fire sprinklers and an alarm system.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

‘Similar Grenfell cladding used on many other residential blocks’

Saturday 24th June 2017

AT LEAST 11 residential tower blocks in eight local authority areas in England have been found to have flammable cladding similar to that blamed for the Grenfell Tower disaster, the government said yesterday.

Buildings in the London boroughs of Camden, Islington, Barnet, Tottenham, Hounslow and Newham, and in Manchester, Sheffield, Halifax, Portsmouth and Plymouth are at risk, Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid wrote in a letter to MPs.

Hundreds more buildings are being tested, though it was confirmed that none of Scotland’s 32 local authorities used cladding of the same type as Grenfell.

In Barnet, cladding on three tower blocks was found to be potentially unsafe, although non-combustible. The material will be removed “as a matter of urgency,” Barnet Homes chairman Terry Rogers said, while 24-hour fire safety patrols have been put in place, according to the North London Press.

A demonstration organised by campaign group Axe the Housing Act will take place today in Parliament Square from noon to call for justice for the Grenfell fire’s victims and for decent, affordable homes for all. On Monday, Barnet Housing Action Group will protest and demand answers from the council.

Questions submitted by the group will be raised by Labour councillors at a housing committee meeting at Hendon Town Hall from 6pm.

The group said: “Our own [Conservative council majority] borough is renowned for showing disdain for its less wealthy residents and we need to apply pressure now to ensure the necessary action is taken without delay.”

From dinosaur age mammal to human, new research

Placental mammal family tree

Numbers on red branches from the first eutherian ancestor to Homo sapiens are the numbers of breakpoints in reconstructed ancestral chromosome fragments. Breakpoints are locations where a chromosome broke open, allowing for rearrangements. The number of breakpoints per million years is in parentheses. A total of 162 chromosomal breakpoints were identified between the eutherian ancestor and the formation of humans as a species.
Credit: Harris Lewin, UC Davis

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

Reconstruction of ancient chromosomes offers insight into mammalian evolution

June 21, 2017

Summary: Researchers have gone back in time, at least virtually, computationally recreating the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals.

What if researchers could go back in time 105 million years and accurately sequence the chromosomes of the first placental mammal? What would it reveal about evolution and modern mammals, including humans?

In a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have gone back in time, at least virtually, computationally recreating the chromosomes of the first eutherian mammal, the long-extinct, shrewlike ancestor of all placental mammals.

“The revolution in DNA sequencing has provided us with enough chromosome-scale genome assemblies to permit the computational reconstruction of the eutherian ancestor, as well as other key ancestors along the lineage leading to modern humans,” said Harris Lewin, a lead author of the study and a professor of evolution and ecology and Robert and Rosabel Osborne Endowed Chair at the University of California, Davis.

“We now understand the major steps of chromosomal evolution that led to the genome organization of more than half the existing orders of mammals. These studies will allow us to determine the role of chromosome rearrangements in the formation of new mammal species and how such rearrangements result in adaptive changes that are specific to the different mammalian lineages,” said Lewin.

The findings also have broad implications for understanding how chromosomal rearrangements over millions of years may contribute to human diseases, such as cancer.

“By gaining a better understanding of the relationship between evolutionary breakpoints and cancer breakpoints, the essential molecular features of chromosomes that lead to their instability can be revealed,” said Lewin. “Our studies can be extended to the early detection of cancer by identifying diagnostic chromosome rearrangements in humans and other animals, and possibly novel targets for personalized therapy.”

Descrambling chromosomes

To recreate the chromosomes of these ancient relatives, the team began with the sequenced genomes of 19 existing placental mammals — all eutherian descendants — including human, goat, dog, orangutan, cattle, mouse and chimpanzee, among others.

The researchers then utilized a new algorithm they developed called DESCHRAMBLER. The algorithm computed (“descrambled”) the most likely order and orientation of 2,404 chromosome fragments that were common among the 19 placental mammals’ genomes.

“It is the largest and most comprehensive such analysis performed to date, and DESCHRAMBLER was shown to produce highly accurate reconstructions using data simulation and by benchmarking it against other reconstruction tools,” said Jian Ma, the study’s co-senior author and an associate professor of computational biology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

In addition to the eutherian ancestor, reconstructions were made for the six other ancestral genomes on the human evolutionary tree: boreoeutherian, euarchontoglires, simian (primates), catarrhini (Old World monkeys), great apes and human-chimpanzee. The reconstructions give a detailed picture of the various chromosomal changes — translocations, inversions, fissions and other complex rearrangements — that have occurred over the 105 million years between the first mammal and Homo sapiens.

Rates of evolution vary

One discovery is that the first eutherian ancestor likely had 42 chromosomes, four less than humans. Researchers identified 162 chromosomal breakpoints — locations where a chromosome broke open, allowing for rearrangements — between the eutherian ancestor and the formation of humans as a species.

The rates of evolution of ancestral chromosomes differed greatly among the different mammal lineages. But some chromosomes remained extremely stable over time. For example, six of the reconstructed eutherian ancestral chromosomes showed no rearrangements for almost 100 million years until the appearance of the common ancestor of human and chimpanzee.

Orangutan chromosomes were found to be the slowest evolving of all primates and still retain eight chromosomes that have not changed much with respect to gene order orientation as compared with the eutherian ancestor. In contrast, the lineage leading to chimpanzees had the highest rate of chromosome rearrangements among primates.

“When chromosomes rearrange, new genes and regulatory elements may form that alter the regulation of expression of hundreds of genes, or more. At least some of these events may be responsible for the major phenotypic differences we observe between the mammal orders,” said Denis Larkin, co-senior author of the study and a reader in comparative genomics at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London.

The chromosomes of the oldest three ancestors (eutherian, boreoeutherian, and euarchontoglires) were each found to include more than 80 percent of the entire length of the human genome, the most detailed reconstructions reported to date. The reconstructed chromosomes of the most recent common ancestor of simians, catarrhini, great apes, and humans and chimpanzees included more than 90 percent of human genome sequence, providing a structural framework for understanding primate evolution.

American-Saudi bombs, cholera, famine kill Yemeni civilians

This video from the USA says about itself:

US-Backed Saudi War Leads To Cholera Outbreak In Yemen

13 June 2017

Read more here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Famine worsens as cholera hits Yemen

Friday 16th June 2016

Humanitarian resources eaten up in fighting deadly disease

MORE Yemenis could starve to death this summer as the cholera outbreak in the country runs down vital aid resources, the United Nations warned yesterday.

UN Yemen aid chief Jamie McGoldrick said that 923 people have died in the outbreak, which began last October, and there were 124,002 suspected cases — one in 200 people.

He warned that grim total could double by September.

Efforts to fight cholera have pulled resources away from battling famine — with the UN saying it wouldn’t be able to keep food flowing in past September.

The Red Cross warns the spread is accelerating, with its Yemen health chief saying on Tuesday that “more than 5,000 suspected new cases have been reported daily during the past week.”

About 14 million people — three-fifths of Yemen’s population — rely on food aid, with seven million at serious risk of starving to death. More than 80 per cent of the population urgently need some form of humanitarian aid.

That’s the result of over two years of war, with a Saudi Arabian-led coalition bombarding the country with British and US-supplied weapons in a bid to put their man Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi back in power and defeat the Houthi rebels that ousted him.

Red Cross delegation head Alexandre Faite said the war had brought the health system “to the brink of collapse,” with cholera “only the most recent proof” of the utter devastation.

Almost 15 million people have no safe water or sanitation, which Mr Faite blamed on “the attacks on and lack of maintenance of water and sewage systems in addition to the severe restrictions on the import of critical goods such as spare parts and fuel.”

Those restrictions are part of the coalition’s war plan. Late last year, Oxfam GB chief Mark Goldring described how “first there were restrictions on imports — including much-needed food. When this was partially eased the cranes in the ports were bombed, then the warehouses, then the roads and the bridges.

“This is not by accident — it is systematic.”

The war has killed at least 4,800 Yemenis and injured 13,000. But the true figure is far higher since less than half of health clinics, where the statistics are gathered, are operational.

Flint, USA poisoned water in Ibsen theatre play

Theatre director Purni Morell

By Joanne Laurier in the USA:

Theater professionals address the Flint water disaster

Public Enemy: Flint, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play: A remarkable artistic event

15 June 2017

Written, directed and produced by Purni Morell, based on An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen

A remarkable cultural event took place last week in the devastated city of Flint, Michigan, whose 100,000 inhabitants have been systematically poisoned with dangerous amounts of lead and other deadly contaminants.

Actors from across the US, assisted by a British writer-director, performed Public Enemy: Flint, an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play, An Enemy of the People, on June 8, 9, and 10 in the gymnasium of a former school.

Ibsen’s famed work concerns a doctor, Thomas Stockmann, who tries to warn the local authorities—including his brother, the mayor—about water contamination problems and is persecuted for his discoveries. Parallels to the present catastrophe in Flint are striking, and hundreds of residents from the city and surrounding area responded enthusiastically to the performances.

British theater directors Purni Morell and Christian Roe learned about the Flint water crisis in January 2016, while touring the US. In an interview, Morell explained to a reporter: “It’s not about doing a play about a water crisis in a city experiencing a water crisis—it’s about the underlying issues, like what made the water crisis possible in the first place. In the play, as in Flint, the water is a symptom of a bigger problem, and I think that needs to be investigated because it affects all of us, not just the city of Flint.”

Morell’s version follows the general outline of Ibsen’s play. Dr. Heather Stockman has ascertained through laboratory tests that the water in the town’s economic “salvation,” its Wellness Resort, owned by Mineralcorp, is contaminated with lethal chemicals and carcinogens.

Stockman tells the newspaper editor Oscar Hofford: “I mean contaminated, Hofford. Polluted. Impure. Mercury, in high proportions, chloroform off the scale—that means legionella; copper levels way too high…I’m saying the Wellness Resort is a danger to public health. Anyone who uses the water is endangering himself.” It turns out, she explains, that an industrial plant upriver is “seeping chemicals into the groundwater. And that groundwater is the same groundwater that feeds the pipes into the pump room.”

Hofford, at this point supportive of Stockman’s exposé, thinks the contamination speaks to broader issues: “What if the water isn’t the problem, but only a symptom of the problem?… I think this is the perfect opportunity to talk about what’s really going on. The vested interests, the—well, maybe not corruption exactly, but the system, Heather—the system that means these people can do whatever they like without any comeback.”

Audience members in Flint

The newspaper’s publisher, Stephanie Anderson (Ibsen’s Aslaksen), representing the city’s small business concerns, makes an appearance. The embodiment of petty bourgeois philistinism, Anderson’s watchword is “moderation” in all things. As a founding member of the Homeowners’ Association and the Temperance Club, she informs Stockman that the “resort is the backbone of our enterprise…Especially for the property owners.”

Anderson too is initially supportive of Stockman’s revelations, even suggesting that the doctor be recognized for her “contribution to the city’s welfare.”

Everything changes when Stockman’s brother Peter, the mayor, outraged by word of the doctor’s findings, bursts in and demands that the truth be suppressed to protect Mineralcorp’s interests. He claims that re-laying the pipes, to avoid the contaminated water, will cost $7 million and mean closing the resort for at least two years. “Do you have any idea, any idea at all, what this means? … This would finish us. We close the resort, everyone else capitalises on our idea, and in three years’ time, when, if, we reopen it again, this city will face ruin. And it’ll be your fault.”

In Ibsen’s play, Act IV is entirely taken up by a public meeting at which Stockmann denounces town officials and imparts “a discovery of a far wider scope than the trifling matter that our water supply is poisoned … the discovery that all the sources of our moral life are poisoned and that the whole fabric of our civic community is founded on the pestiferous soil of falsehood.” He passes on from that insight to a misguided conception, the defense of “isolated, intellectually superior personalities” and the notion that the “majority never has right on its side.”

In the Morell-Flint adaptation, the director and actors have decided to turn over this portion of the play to a genuine public meeting.

Tyee Tilghman (Horster)

Tyee Tilghman, the actor playing Jim Horster, a soldier who faces deployment to Mosul in Iraq, addresses the audience directly: “What we’re going to do now is change things up a little bit because in the next scene in the play, there’s a town meeting and what normally happens in it is that Stockman tells the people in the town about the water problem, and they call him an enemy of the people because they don’t want to hear about it—but we thought it would be more interesting to do this a different way, since we’re here and you’re here, and so we thought we’d set up a little town hall of our own.”

This prompted audience members of all ages, children, teenagers and adults, to discuss their appalling and inhuman conditions. One man described having to lug endless cases of water up flights of stairs. Some audience members reported owning houses that were literally crumbling. Others bitterly denounced the bullying of the authorities, who threaten to take their homes and even their children. Still others recounted how they had received water bills higher than their mortgages, and how the homes of protesters had been broken into by police who confiscated computers. Angry residents explained how they contracted health problems and even debilitating diseases from the poisoned water.

All of this was reinforced by the fact that signs in the restrooms alerted users not to wash their hands with water from the taps! Cases of canned water were stacked against the wall.

Sign in the restroom warns against using tap water to wash hands

When Public Enemy: Flint resumes, Dr. Stockman and her daughter, Petra, a teacher, both lose their jobs. Moreover, Stockman’s mother-in-law, Eleanor, the owner of the polluting plant, threatens the doctor and her daughter with financial disenfranchisement and destitution. Stockman lashes back at “hypocrites” like Anderson, with her “cheap, small-town flimflam,” and the townspeople themselves.

Petra has the final word: “This town is fine—it’s no better or worse than anywhere else. OK, there are things you can’t fix—you can’t fix that people with money can buy their way out of problems, and you can’t fix that some people care more about their position than what’s right—maybe you can’t even fix the water.

“I think you’re wrong about people, Mom. You said people get the government they deserve but I think people get the government government can get away with. And the government gets away with a lot, not because people are poor or because people are stupid—but because for years, for decades, we’ve eroded our schools, we’ve failed to educate our youth, we’ve failed to invest in ourselves as people.”

And she mentions that like her counterpart in Ibsen’s play, a work now 130 years old, she will start a school.

Public Enemy: Flint is a highly unusual confluence of a classic play, committed, talented actors and a motivated and engaged audience. It is proof, if proof be needed, that art is not something detached from social life. Important, enduring art by definition is work that does not remain indifferent to the crises and convulsions of its time. From that point of view, this modest three-day presentation, staged in a gym, was one of the most significant theatrical efforts in the US in recent years. The participants in the production, which was serious and thoroughly professional throughout, deserve the strongest congratulations and thanks.

The central role of Dr. Stockman was exceptionally performed by Los Angeles-based actress Michole Briana White. She was supported by an outstanding cast that included Charles Shaw Robinson from Berkeley, California as Peter Stockman, Madelyn Porter from Detroit as Stephanie Anderson, Briana Carlson Goodman from New York as Petra, Tilghman from Los Angeles as Horster, Meg Thalken from Chicago as Eleanor and Chris Young from Flint as Billing.

Public Enemy: Flint was the creation of British theater company fieldwork, in collaboration with Detroit Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, the Goodman Theatre (Chicago), Chautauqua Theater Company (New York), Berkeley Repertory Theater, People’s Light (Philadelphia), UM-Flint Department of Theatre and Dance, M.A.D.E. Institute, & the New McCree Theater, Flint.

Morell’s adaptation honored Ibsen’s play while eliminating its more elitist tendencies. The latter had a great deal to do with the situation in Norway in the 1880s, where, as Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov once explained, “a working class, in the present sense of the term, had not yet developed … and was, therefore, nowhere evident in public life.”

Plekhanov pays strong tribute to Ibsen’s social insight and instincts, in particular the dramatist’s abhorrence of the crude, grasping petty bourgeoisie. The Norwegian writer, observes Plekhanov, despises the “moral rottenness and hypocrisy of small town society and politics” and “the boundless tyranny of petty bourgeois public opinion.” He notes that “Ibsen hates opportunism with all his soul; he describes it brilliantly in his plays. Recall the printer Aslaksen [Anderson, in Morell’s play], with his incessant preaching of ‘moderation,’ which, in his own words, ‘is the greatest virtue in a citizen—at least, I think so.’ Aslaksen is the epitome of the petty bourgeois politician.”

The play’s passion and outrage continue to speak to present-day audiences, not least of all in Flint, whose working-class residents are the victims of corporate predation and government indifference or worse. In fact, when the mayor in Public Enemy: Flint proclaims that “the public doesn’t need new ideas; what the public needs is good, strong, time-tested method, not hare-brained theories that turn the world upside down,” one is tempted to shout out that the world, above all, needs to be turned upside down.

The corporate and right-wing attacks on the production of Julius Caesar by the Public Theater, part of the annual free Shakespeare in the Park season in New York City’s Central Park, illustrate the danger of artistic censorship and more generally that of authoritarianism posed by the Trump administration: here.

United States bureaucrats charged about Flint poisoned water

This video from the USA says about itself:

14 June 2017

Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon is one of the highest ranking of five Michigan state officials charged with involuntary manslaughter after 12 people died from Legionnaires’ disease after drinking from the Flint water supply. RT America’s Ashlee Banks has the story.

By Shannon Jones in the USA:

Michigan health director named in latest round of charges over Flint water crisis

15 June 2017

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed charges of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday against the state’s top health officer over an outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis.

Nick Lyon, the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, is being charged in relation to the death of Flint resident Robert Skidmore, aged 85, on December 13, 2015. Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the city. Documents show Lyon was aware of the outbreak as early as January 2015. He is the highest-ranking state official charged to date.

With this indictment, the investigation touches for the first time the inner circle of the administration of Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, Schuette said Snyder is not being charged with any crimes related to Flint’s lead-contaminated water but left the door open to the possibility, according to the Detroit News.

Four other public officials, who had previously been charged with lesser crimes, also face involuntary manslaughter charges over the death of Skidmore. They include former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley; Liane Shekter-Smith, the former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) official in charge of drinking water; Stephen Busch, another DEQ official; along with Howard Croft, who headed the City of Flint Water Department.

If convicted the defendants could face up to 15 years in prison.

Another top Michigan health official, Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive, is being charged with obstruction of justice in connection to the water crisis and ensuing cover-up. She was named along with other state officials in a lawsuit filed last year by Flint resident LeeAnne Walters. The suit charges that they bore responsibility for the lead poisoning of Walters’ children.

There are now a total of 15 Michigan public officials charged in relation to the Flint water crisis. There have been repeated public calls for the charging and arrest of Snyder, who oversaw the disaster in Flint that resulted in the lead contamination of the city’s water supply and the poisoning of 100,000 people.

An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that resulted in the death of 12 people is also being blamed on the contamination of Flint water that resulted from the criminal switch-over from the Detroit water system to the polluted Flint River. Snyder administration authorities rolled the dice on the health and lives of Flint residents to accelerate their efforts to drive Detroit into bankruptcy and provide a windfall of profits to private developers of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) pipeline.

The charges against the Michigan officials have been brought in the face of massive and continuing popular anger over the crisis in Flint. Public documents made available so far point to a conspiracy by Democratic and Republican officials at all levels to keep Flint residents in the dark over the poisoning of their water.

E-mail records show that Health and Human Services Director Lyons was aware at least by January 2015 of a spike in Legionnaires’ disease cases in Genesee County, which encompasses Flint. He even ordered an epidemiological investigation. E-mail records also show while Genesee County Public Health officials were aware of the outbreak, they kept it from the public, informing only a relative handful of physicians.

Lyon apparently sought to divert attention from the real source of the outbreak, the untreated Flint water system, by claiming issues with the plumbing at McLaren Flint Hospital, where many of the victims were treated, was behind the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.

In addition to causing 12 deaths the Legionnaires’ outbreak sickened 90 people. Virginia Tech University professors Marc Edwards and Amy Pruden have asserted that the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease resulted from the highly corrosive Flint River water leaching iron from Flint pipes that then combined with the chlorine, thus preventing the chlorine from killing bacteria. This left Flint residents vulnerable to the outbreak of the deadly waterborne disease.

Others charged to date include former Flint Emergency Manager Gerald Ambrose; Howard Croft, Flint’s director of public works; and former utilities director Daugherty Johnson. Mike Glasgow, head of Flint’s water treatment plant, accepted a plea deal offered by the state in exchange for securing his cooperation with the investigation. Earley, Ambrose and Croft could face prison terms ranging up to 46 years relating to the corrupt decision to issue bonds to fund the controversial KWA pipeline project, the building of which motivated the switch from Detroit water.

One of those who has so far escaped indictment is former Michigan Treasurer General Andy Dillon, the highest-ranking Democratic Party officeholder in the state at the time of the unfolding of the Flint water crisis. Dillon signed off on the decision to allow Flint to join the KWA.

The breadth of the indictments and the fact that so many ranking state officials had a hand in the Flint crisis and cover-up points to a conspiracy orchestrated at the highest levels. It is simply not believable that Snyder’s office had no role in the disaster.

In remarks following the announcement of the indictments Snyder defended both Lyon and Wells and said they would not be suspended from their posts pending a trial. He called Lyon a “strong leader” completely “committed to Flint’s recovery.” He continued, “Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint’s recovery. They have my full faith and confidence, and will remain on duty at DHHS.”

These comments have something of the character of circling the wagons on the part of the Snyder administration. Snyder appointed Lyon to his current cabinet post in April 2015, just as the Flint water crisis was reaching a critical stage, with angry protests by Flint residents building. He had earlier defended Lyon as reports surfaced that Schuette’s investigation was probing top health officials in the state.

The indictments by Schuette appear to be an attempt to salvage credibility by the Republicans. For his part Schuette is being heavily promoted as a possible Republican candidate for governor. In recent polls Schuette had a significant lead over his nearest potential competitor for the 2018 Michigan Republican gubernatorial primary.

It is too early to say how the official investigation into the Flint water crisis will play out. No trials have yet been scheduled as the cases wind slowly through the courts.

While those accused are implicated in serious malfeasance, when viewed in the context of the magnitude of the crimes committed, the court proceedings are themselves part of the cover-up. They are designed to divert attention from the broader implications of the Flint water crisis, which is a crime of capitalism carried out by the most powerful corporate and financial interests and their political front men in both political parties.

The events in this former center of the General Motors manufacturing center demonstrate once again the incompatibility of a social system based on the defense of private wealth with the needs of working people. Beginning with the decision to help fund the KWA pipeline, at every stage of the Flint crisis the health and safety of residents took a back seat to the profit drive of big business.

Nothing has meanwhile been resolved for Flint residents. More than a year and a half after the official exposure the replacement of lead pipes has barely begun while no serious assistance is being offered to the thousands of children suffering irreversible effects of drinking lead-tainted water.

This underscores the fact that an accounting for the crimes committed against the people of Flint, including the full compensation of the victims and a rebuilding of the infrastructure, require the independent political mobilization of the working class against the entire corporate political establishment.

We urge Flint residents interested in finding out more about the socialist answer to the Flint water crisis to attend a public meeting tomorrow:

3 Years on: The Flint Water Crisis and the Case for Socialism

Speaker: World Socialist Web Site Labor Editor Jerry White
Thursday, June 15, 7:00 pm
University of Michigan—Flint
Murchie Science Building, Room 306

FLINT OFFICIALS CHARGED WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged five officials who “presided over a failure to maintain the safety of the city’s water supply, resulting in widespread lead poisoning among Flint children and 12 deaths connected to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.” [HuffPost]

Pollution killing millions of Europeans, Asians

This video says about itself:

27 September 2016

WHO Reports Pollution is Killing Millions Of People – 6.5 million people are dying every year because of air pollution-related illnesses.

6.5 million people die from air pollution each year. Their causes: strokes, heart diseases and cancer, according to a study by the World Health Organization.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Pollution kills 14m in Europe and central Asia a year

Thursday 15th June 2017

UN HEALTH experts meeting in the Czech Republic have warned that 1.4 million people across Europe and central Asia die prematurely every year from pollution.

About half of those deaths — 620,000 — were from air pollution, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Experts and ministers from across the WHO’s European region — stretching from Iceland in the north-west to Tajikistan in the south-east — are currently meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic, to discuss the health effects of a dirty environment.

The WHO said that other things such as chemical pollution, occupational risks and unsafe water and sanitation add to the death toll. And another 85,000 people a year are killed in car crashes.

WHO Europe regional director Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said that “we can prevent the 1.4 million environment-related deaths by making health a political choice.

“We have enough evidence. We have solutions at hand. What we need is action,” said Olga Algayerova, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.

Much like the fight to stop planet-wrecking climate change, the scientists said the steps to take weren’t a mystery — it was just a case of getting on with a job that governments have put off for far too long, risking a catastrophe.

And many of the solutions are the same — replacing polluting power stations and transport with proven clean methods.

But government inaction remains the big hold up. In Britain, for example, the government has undermined renewable energy in favour of dirty fracking, encouraged greater use of polluting cars by spending over £15 billion on new roads and been repeatedly condemned by judges for refusing to publish effective plans to tackle air pollution.

British elections, health, women’s rights

This video says about itself:

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn Rides Leftist Tide in U.K. Election in Rebuke of Austerity & Conservatives

9 June 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a major setback Thursday in an election that saw her Conservative Party lose its majority in Parliament less than two weeks before the country is scheduled to begin talks over exiting from the European Union.

May called the snap election three years early, expecting to win a large mandate to negotiate with European leaders over the terms of the so-called Brexit. Instead, Conservatives were left without a clear majority and a hung Parliament.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who ran on a platform of “For the many, not the few,” said Thursday’s election results show voters are “turning their backs on austerity.” We’re joined by Paul Mason, columnist for The Guardian, and Mehdi Hasan, award-winning British journalist and broadcaster at Al Jazeera English. He is host of the Al Jazeera interview program “UpFront” and a columnist for The Intercept.

This video says about itself:

Theresa May in Election Jitters Caught Lying About Tory Plans to Cut The National Health Service

9 June 2017

Kam Sandhu of Real Media says there is evidence that Tories plan to sell off assets [of the] NHS; this is the first sign of distress and it will lead to privatization.

Theresa May, in spite of losing the election, now plans to cling to Downing Street 10 by patching together a wafer thin coalition with the fundamentalist religious Democratic Unionist Party.

The BBC writes today about that:

Can a Conservative and DUP pact possibly govern for the life of this Parliament? They face a long, precarious high wire act if they attempt to do so, and they – and any alternative alliance – will be beset by troubles and entanglements at every turn.

Armed with a combined majority of three MPs, their pact would also be bolstered by the absence of the seven Sinn Fein MPs who continue to refuse to take their seats, and probably by the support of the independent unionist, Lady Sylvia Hermon.

But those numbers assume all MPs toe the party line in every vote. And that looks unlikely.

DUP election propaganda

Not so likely, if one looks at DUP election propaganda like this.

The DUP are homophobic and anti-women’s reproductive rights and are climate denialists. Will this new coalition government bring back the bad old Margaret Thatcher days for LGBTQ people to Britain?