22 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Susan Hedman, who presided over area that includes Michigan, is stepping down 1 February, the Environmental Protection Agency chief said Thursday

The McGlynn:Good!

And Snyder, the Bastard, deserves to go to prison. If you are poor and a minority in the US, as far as this Bastard is concerned, you are irrelevant. This disaster highlights the importance of a competent governmental agency such as an efficient EPA that would have immediately mitigated the problems.

And the Republicans’ focus? Eliminating government agencies, with the primary target being the EPA.

And the Bastard. Bathe him in his polluted water and quench his thirst with it. Then throw him in jail.

Support Bernie …we sure need him.

flint river water crisis

The Flint river in downtown Flint, Michigan. Residents have complained about lead-tainted water flowing through taps, which they claim the local and federal governments have ignored. Photograph: Paul Sancya/AP

A regional director with the US Environmental Protection Agency is resigning in connection with the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

EPA chief Gina McCarthy said on Thursday that Susan Hedman is stepping down effective 1 February. Hedman is administrator of EPA’s region 5, which is based in Chicago and includes Michigan.

McCarthy said she accepted Hedman’s resignation to ensure the regional office remains solely focused on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water.

McCarthy also issued an emergency order requiring Michigan and the city of Flint to take immediate steps after determining that the response by the local governments has been “inadequate to protect human health”.

Meanwhile, Michigan officials say they still aren’t certain whether there’s a link between a drinking water crisis in Flint and an increase in local cases of Legionnaires’ disease…………………

Speaking at the Economic Forum in Davos, Valls fears the flow of those fleeing war zones is placing the concept of Europe in grave danger

French prime minster Manuel Valls said the concept of Europe was in jeopardy.

French prime minster Manuel Valls said the concept of Europe was in jeopardy. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has said Europe cannot take in all the refugees fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria and that the crisis was putting the concept of Europe itself in grave danger.

Speaking to the BBC at the economic forum in Davos, Valls said Europe needed to take urgent action to control its external borders. “Otherwise,” he said, “our societies will be totally destabilised.”

Asked about border controls inside Europe, which many fear put the passport-free Schengen zone at risk, Valls said the concept of Europe was in jeopardy. “If Europe is not capable of protecting its own borders, it’s the very idea of Europe that will be questioned,” he said.

He said a message to refugees that says “Come, you will be welcome”, provoked major shifts in population. “Today, when we speak in Europe, a few seconds later it is mainly on the smartphones in the refugee camps,” Valls said………………….

John McCallum, the immigration, refugees and citizenship minister, says Canada is on course to welcome 13,000 people fleeing Syria in the next six weeks

Syrian refugees Rezan Kurdi, left, and his sister Ranim Kurdi laugh after their family arrived at Vancouver international airport in December 2015.

Syrian refugees Rezan Kurdi, left, and his sister Ranim Kurdi laugh after their family arrived at Vancouver international airport in December 2015. Photograph: Darryl Dyck/AP

As several countries across Europe look to cut the number of Syrian refugees flowing across their borders, Canada is ramping up its response to the crisis, pushing ahead with plans to airlift more than 13,000 refugees into the country in the next six weeks.

It is an unprecedented operation for Canada, said John McCallum, the country’s immigration, refugees and citizenship minister. “Canada has many times in the past decades accepted significant waves of refugees,” he told the Guardian in an interview at his constituency office. “But I think this is making history in Canada in the sense that we’ve never done it so fast.”

The ambitious undertaking – expected to cost the Canadian government about C$680m ($472m/£335) – has become one of the most prominent policies of the country’s new government. The Liberal party, led by Justin Trudeau, won a landslide victory in October with a manifesto of bold campaign promises, including bringing 25,000 government-assisted refugees to the country by the end of 2015.

(By way of comparison, after the Vietnam war, Canada welcomed 137,000 refugees from south-east Asia – but that was over a period of 20 years.)………………..

President of Iraqi Kurdistan claims the era of Sykes-Picot is over and a new international agreement is needed for the Middle East

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani announces the liberation of Sinjar, Iraq, from Isis in November 2015. Photograph: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

The president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north has called on global leaders to acknowledge that the Sykes-Picot pact that led to the boundaries of the modern Middle East has failed, and urged them to broker a new deal paving the way for a Kurdish state.

Massoud Barzani, who has led the troubled country’s Kurds for the past decade, said the international community had started to accept that Iraq and Syria in particular would never again be unified and that “compulsory co-existence” in the region had been proven wrong.

“I think that within themselves, [world leaders] have come to this conclusion that the era of Sykes-Picot is over,” Barzani told the Guardian. “Whether they say it or not, accept it or not, the reality on the ground is that. But as you know, diplomats are conservatives and they give their assessment in the late stages of things. And sometimes they can’t even keep up with developments.”

The political map of northern Iraq has changed drastically in the 18 months since Islamic State overran Iraq’s second city, Mosul. Kurdish forces are now in full control of Kirkuk and Sinjar and have claimed control of thousands more miles of land that had been under control of Iraq’s central government.

Now, four months before the centennial of the Sykes-Picot agreement under which Britain and France carved spheres of influence from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Barzani said maintaining the status quo would ensure further regional disintegration and destruction……………….

US politics



Expect a fully-fledged war in 2016 for the soul of the Republican party and Evangelicalism


Evangelical leadership is no longer found in denominational leadership, but in reality television and televangelists. Photograph: Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump for president and now it’s official: the Republican Armageddon has begun. While the Ted Cruz campaign licks its wounds and remembers the days of hanging out with Palin on the campaign trail, Palin has taken her rightful place alongside Trump as the architect of his 2016 campaign.

Republican leadership and other evangelicals may be shocked, but this has been a long time coming and it shows the fracturing among evangelicals. Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition said it best: “Endorsements alone don’t guarantee victory, but Palin’s embrace of Trump may turn the fight over the evangelical vote into a war for the soul of the party.”

It will be a war, not only for the soul of the Republican party, but for the soul of Evangelicalism too. The group is deeply divided between those who think Trump can bring America back, and those who don’t think he holds evangelical moral and religious values.

On Tuesday, the world was reintroduced to the speaking talents of Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor returned in full force with a bizarre, disjointed, but highly memorable, endorsement of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. The speech was an instant classic: coining new words likes ‘squirmishes’ and mixing metaphors about political correctness being worn ‘like a suicide vest’. The Guardian looks back at her dark, twisted masterpiece

This deep rift between evangelical voters goes back to 2008, with McCain choosing Palin as a running mate; she was not a traditional evangelical, but a born-again Pentecostal Christian who attended an evangelical church in Wasilla, Alaska.

McCain courted in 2008 what I would call fringe evangelicals, in part because evangelicals were skeptical of his commitment to values voters. McCain’s embrace of Palin came after having to scuttle endorsements from John Hagee and Rod Parsley, charismatics who believed in Armageddon and fiercely supported Israel……………………



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