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05 Feb

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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US election 2016: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders go head-to-head

Agency

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Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders squared off during the MSNBC Democratic Candidates Debate Getty Images

Clinton accused Sanders of subjecting her to an ‘artful smear’

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders clashed in their first one-on-debate on the White House trail, with the two Democrats adopting a confrontational tone.

Mrs Clinton accused Mr Sanders of subjecting her to an “artful smear” while he suggested the former secretary of state was a captive of America’s political establishment.

The two Democrats embraced a markedly more contentious tone than when they last debated before the year’s presidential voting began in Iowa.

It showed how the race for the nomination has tightened five days ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire next Tuesday.

The two argued over ideas, over tactics and over who has the liberal credentials to deliver on an agenda of better access to health care, more affordable college, fighting income inequality and more.

It was Mrs Clinton who was the main aggressor, saying Mr Sanders could never achieve his ambitious and costly proposals.

She went after the Vermont senator for his efforts to cast her as beholden to Wall Street interests because of the campaign donations and speaking fees she has accepted from the financial sector.

“It’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out,” she said.

Mr Sanders, for his part, suggested Mrs Clinton’s loyalties were coloured by a reliance on big corporate donors.

“Secretary Clinton does represent the establishment,” he said. “I represent – I hope – ordinary Americans.”

Mrs Clinton may say the right things, he suggested, but “one of the things we should do is not only talk the talk but walk the walk”.

He added: “I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have super PAC, who’s not raising huge sums from Wall Street and special interests,” referring to outside groups who can receive unlimited funds to support candidates.

Where Mrs Clinton aimed considerable criticism at Mr Sanders, the Vermont senator focused much of his fire on what he says is a political system rigged against ordinary Americans.

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………….The debate was the first face-off for Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders since former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley dropped out of the race after a poor showing in Iowa………..

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UN working group says WikiLeaks founder should be offered compensation for being confined to Ecuadorian embassy

 

Julian Assange in 2014

Julian Assange in 2014. Photograph: Reuters

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained by the UK and Sweden for more than five years and should be released immediately with compensation, according to a United Nations report.

As anticipated, the finding by the Geneva-based UN working group on arbitrary detention criticises legal action against Assange by both European governments and blames them for preventing him from leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, central London.

The panel calls on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s “deprivation of liberty”, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement and offer him compensation.

The report says: “The working group considered that Mr Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison, which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian embassy.

“Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the working group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr Assange.”

It adds: “The working group therefore requested Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr Assange to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention…………………

Taking the Earth’s temperature is a challenge, but a critically important one if we are to better understand the nature of climate change

Sun shining over the sea.

Sun shining over the sea. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Human emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are causing the Earth to warm. We know this, and we have known about the heat-trapping nature of these gases for over 100 years. But scientists want to know how fast the Earth is warming and how much extra energy is being added to the climate because of human activities.

If you want to know about global warming and its future effects, you really need to answer these questions. Whether this year was hotter than last year or whether next year breaks a new record are merely one symptom of a warming world. Sure, we expect records to be broken, but they are not the most compelling evidence.

The most compelling evidence we have that global warming is happening is that we can measure how much extra heat comes in to the Earth’s climate system each year. Think of it like a bank account. Money comes in and money goes out each month. At the end of the month, do you have more funds than at the beginning? That is the global warming analogy. Each year, do we have more or less energy in the system compared to the prior year?

The answer to this question is clear, unassailable and unequivocal: the Earth is warming because the energy is increasing. We know this because the heat shows up in our measurements, mainly in the oceans. Indeed the oceans take up more than 92% of the extra heat. The rest goes into melting Arctic sea ice, land ice, and warming the land and atmosphere. Accordingly, to measure global warming, we have to measure ocean warming. Results for 2015 were recently published by Noaa and are available here……………..

Beaksful and bar-tailed: readers’ January wildlife pictures

Camouflaged in Riverside Park, NYC

US politics

Election 2016

Sanders fundraises more than Clinton as Trump tours New Hampshire – as it happened

Officials best positioned to provide insights on how the Michigan city switched to lead-filled water weren’t testifying at a congressional hearing on Wednesday

Flint residents Gladyes Williamson (C) holds a bottle full of contaminated water, and a clump of her hair, alongside Jessica Owens (R), holding a baby bottle full of contaminated water, during a news conference

What happened in the 16 months between opting not to use the Flint River and deciding it was a good idea despite being contaminated? Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A congressional hearing delving into the Flint water crisis on Wednesday produced a lot of righteous indignation from members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform but left unanswered important questions regarding actions that resulted in the lead contamination of the Michigan city’s water supply.

The problem was, the officials best positioned to provide insight weren’t standing in Washington DC’s Rayburn House Office Building, raising their right hands and swearing to tell the truth.

Why did then-emergency manager Ed Kurtz and his team, after meeting with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in December 2012, decide not to use the Flint River as the city’s permanent water source, even though it was identified as the most inexpensive source for the financially struggling city?

Who ultimately made the decision to use that river to provide drinking water to a city of 100,000 people on an interim basis in April 2014 while a new pipeline was being built?

What happened over those 16 months that suddenly made the dangerously corroded river fit for use?

The people of Flint deserve answers to those questions and more, and they need to hear the responses directly from everyone involved in the decision-making process. Instead, newly appointed Michigan Department of Environmental Quality director Keith Creagh – who played no role in creating the disaster – appeared, often telling the committee who couldn’t answer many of their questions because he wasn’t with the MDEQ at the time crucial decisions were being made.

Among the officials most noticeably absent Wednesday was Darnell Earley, the state-appointed emergency manager who held rule over Flint when the fateful changeover from the clean, safe water that had been provided by Detroit for 50 years was made………………

 

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