08 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


While some praise the candidate’s visit for bringing attention to the city as its water crisis continues, others see a candidate plying a cause ‘just to get votes’

Flint Lives Matter activist Kevin Palmer with Hannibal Prince

Flint Lives Matter activist Kevin Palmer with Hannibal Prince. Photograph: Lucia Graves for the Guardian

Hillary Clinton has made every effort to make Flint her own. The water crisis afflicting this predominantly black Michigan city – ignored by Washington politicians for years – has become another battlefield in a progressive war between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Race, class and the environment matter again in an issues-based, neck-and-neck race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Looking past Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire, where Sanders is tipped to win, and toward the March primary states where she will be counting on African American support, Clinton made a symbolic campaign stop here on Sunday.

“I feel blessed to be here but I wish it were for a different reason,” she said, as she took to the stage at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, flanked by purple-robed members of a choir and surrounded by a sea of nodding heads.

“But I am here because for nearly two years mothers and fathers were voicing concerns about the water’s color and its smell, about the rashes that it gave to those that were bathing in it. And for nearly two years Flint was told the water was safe.”

Her words drew applause and shouts of amen. But though Clinton supporters turned up for Sunday’s service, simply identifying the problem was not enough for some.

Not everyone in a city where the words “FLINT LIVES MATTER” appear next to bullet holes in windows wants the lead in their children’s drinking water made into a photo-op, a kind of Hurricane Katrina for a more liberal nation’s eco-justice age.

Interviews with residents before, during and after Clinton’s visit revealed fear of a candidate helicoptering in on the campaign trail, attempts to salvage a modern economic and environmental crisis that is Flint’s own, and few answers for a city being abandoned by its residents.

If she’s bringing 35,000 hydroelectric filters, I’ll love her for it. But that’s not what she’s about to do.

Arnette Rison III

“Don’t jump on a cause just to get votes,” said Flint Lives Matter organiser Calandra Patrick, as Clinton’s jet arrived in town. “It doesn’t matter to me if she makes an appearance or not – it doesn’t matter to me one bit.”………………..

Exclusive: Large US firms such as Google and Amazon will be required to disclose tax bills in Europe under draft legislation from European commission

The commission was heavily criticised last month when it proposed that corporations report only to national tax authorities in Europe without making the information public.

The commission was heavily criticised last month when it proposed that corporations report only to national tax authorities in Europe without making the information public. Photograph: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

US multinationals such as Google, Facebook and Amazon will be forced to publicly disclose their earnings and tax bills in Europe, under legislation being drafted by the EU executive.

The European commission is to table legislation in early April aimed at making the world’s largest multinational corporations open their tax arrangements with EU governments to full public scrutiny.

According to three senior EU officials familiar with the proposals, initial conclusions from an ongoing impact assessment have found in favour of obliging large corporations to reveal their profits and the tax they pay in every country in which they operate within the EU.

The commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, is said to be in favour of the initiative. A consensus has formed around making the rules apply to the world’s biggest conglomerates, including those from the US, the officials said.

Eurocrats “are currently finalising the impact assessment work. It’s likely there will be some form of legislative initiative announced for the beginning of April … for public country-by-country reporting,” said a source.

“It will likely target the large multinationals, all multinationals and not just EU ones,” said a second source. The impact assessment had “really swayed opinion” inside the commission in favour of public reporting.

Public country-by-country reporting is seen as important because without it large companies are more able to make secretive deals with governments on where and how they declare their profits……………..

Convoys of aid supplies and ambulances entered the country from Turkey reinforcing the impression that Ankara plans to create safe haven for civilians

Syrian refugee children arrive at the Bab al-Salameh border crossing into Turkey near the embattled northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian refugee children arrive at the Bab al-Salameh border crossing into Turkey near the embattled northern city of Aleppo. Photograph: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty

Tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing a Russian-backed government advance on Aleppo have remained stranded near the Turkish border over the weekend, with no sign that the authorities in Ankara will respond to mounting international pressure to allow in more refugees uprooted by the escalating war.

Airstrikes targeted villages between Syria’s largest city and the border crossing of Bab al-Salameh while convoys of aid supplies and ambulances entered from Turkey – reinforcing the impression that the Turks plan to create a border buffer zone that could in time become a safe haven for civilians.

Bashar al-Assad’s government made clear, however, that it was in no mood to contemplate a ceasefire – the focus of faltering US diplomatic efforts with Russia.

“Turkey has reached the end of its capacity to absorb [refugees],” Numan Kurtulmu?, the deputy prime minister, told CNN-Turk. “But in the end, these people have nowhere else to go. Either they will die beneath the bombings and Turkey will … watch the massacre like the rest of the world, or we will open our borders……………

Campaigners appeal for help for children born to defectors who are not recognised as citizens by either Beijing or Pyongyang

A North Korean child peers through a window in Hyangsan province.

A North Korean child peers through a window in Hyangsan province. Photograph: AP

Up to 30,000 children born to North Korean mothers who have fled the regime are living in China without access to schooling, health care or citizenship, MPs have heard.

North Korean human rights advocate Sungju Lee, a defector from the DPRK, said many of these children were born to women who had been sold to Chinese men by traffickers.

“These children, with no basic human rights, live as if they are not existing,” he told the parliamentary group on North Korea.

He described the life of a seven-year-old boy in Jilin province. “The child was supposed to start going to school like other kids, but he wasn’t able to because he had no citizenship. He had no eduction and no friends.”

“Even when he felt sick, [his mother] couldn’t take him to hospital,” said Lee, “and she said that was the most painful moment for the mother to watch.”

The Korea Institute for National Unification estimates there are around 30,000 stateless children in China, based on a research conducted in 2012. Exact figures are hard to detemine as North Korean refugees are forced to live below the radar in China to avoid deportation………………….

A new study finds that NOAA temperature adjustments are doing exactly what they’re supposed to

The U.S. Climate Reference Network consists of 114 stations, including this one in Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey, Utah.

The U.S. Climate Reference Network consists of 114 stations, including this one in Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey, Utah. Photograph: NOAA

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has embarked upon a witch-hunt against climate scientists at NOAA, accusing them of conspiring to fudge global temperature data. However, a new study has found that the adjustments NOAA makes to the raw temperature data bring them closer to measurements from a reference network of pristinely-located temperature stations.

The adjustments are scientifically necessary

Before delving into the new study, it’s worthwhile to revisit the temperature adjustments that Lamar Smith disputes. Volunteers have been logging measurements from weather stations around the world for over 150 years, and climate scientists use that data to estimate the Earth’s average surface temperature. But over a 150-year period, things change, as the authors of this study explain.

Stations have moved to different locations over the past 150 years, most more than once. They have changed instruments from mercury thermometers to electronic sensors, and have changed the time they take temperature measurements from afternoon to morning. Cities have grown up around stations, and some weather stations are not ideally located. All of these issues introduce inconsistencies into the temperature record.

To find out how much actual temperatures have changed, scientists have to filter out these changes in the way the measurements were taken. Those are the adjustments under attack from Lamar Smith. They’re important, scientifically justified, and documented in the peer-reviewed literature……………..

US politics

Election 2016

Madeleine Albright campaigns for Hillary Clinton – video

The former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright hits the campaign trail with the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, telling supporters of the White House hopeful in Concord, New Hampshire, that ‘there’s a special place in hell’ for women who don’t help each other. Her words anger some, who label them condescending, and bring questions of gender and politics into high relief

Clinton defends Albright and Steinem apologises as sexism claims dominate Democratic race

Sanders campaigns in New Hampshire as Clinton flies to Flint – as it happened



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