06 Jun

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


A bruising litany of infrastructure repairs would happen over the next several decades – with $80m needed to remove about 10,000 lead pipes across the city

A worker measures a lead main service line in Flint after digging a hole.

A worker measures a lead main service line in Flint after digging a hole. It’s still unclear how many lead services line are in the city. Photograph: Rachel Woolf/AP

The projected cost to repair infrastructure after the city of Flint, Michigan’s two-year water contamination crisis is several magnitudes higher than what has been allocated to fix it, a new state report has found.

The report lays out a bruising litany of infrastructure fixes to the city’s water system over the next several decades at an estimated cost of at least $216m. The report suggests $80m is needed to remove about 10,000 lead pipes across the city – more than three times what Michigan governor Rick Snyder has proposed for a forthcoming state budget.

The report from Flint-based engineering firm Rowe Professional Services calls for the widely supported removal of lead pipes in the city to be completed in eight years. The city’s mayor, Karen Weaver, has estimated $55m is needed to remove the pipes, and as many as 500 could be removed during an initial phase launched with $2m from the state.

“If services are replaced at an average rate of at least 2,000 annually, eight years may be required to complete the replacement program,” the report stated……………..

Israeli prime minister admits receiving donation but says claim that Arnaud Mimran gave his campaign €1m is ‘lie’

The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday. Arnaud Mimran claimed he had given the politician more than €1m in campaign funds in 2001. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has acknowledged receiving a $40,000 donation from a French businessman on trial in France for alleged fraud.

The admission follows weeks of increasingly embarrassing revelations about Netanyahu’s relationship with Arnaud Mimran, one of the main defendants in a trial in Paris over an alleged €283 (£222m) scam involving the trade of carbon credits.

Mimran claimed in court that he had given Netanyahu more than €1m in campaign contributions in 2001, when the Israeli leader was not in public office.

Netanyahu’s office vehemently denied the €1m claim, describing it as a “baseless lie”, but did acknowledge receipt of $40,000…………..

Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, outdid Oprah Sunday when he made the announcement on his show, at the end of a segment on debt collectors

John Oliver debt

‘Debt-buying is a grimy business and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it,’ Oliver said. Photograph: Publicity Image

Watch out Oprah Winfrey! John Oliver, host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, outdid TV’s biggest gift giver on Sunday when he forgave nearly $15m worth of medical debt on his show.

Oliver’s “giveaway” came at the end of a 20-minute segment on debt collectors. The segment focused on the bad actors in the industry, who buy debt from banks for cents on the dollar. These predatory collectors attempt to recoup the debt they purchased using threats and other aggressive tactics without first verifying the exact details of the debt.

“Once the company has bought your debt, whether the information is accurate or not, they are going to try to collect on it,” Oliver explained on Sunday.

“Debt-buying is a grimy business and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it. And I can prove that to you because I am an idiot and we started a debt-buying company,” said Oliver. “And it was disturbingly easy.”

Last Week Tonight spent about $50 to create a debt acquisition company in Mississippi. The corporation’s name is Central Asset Recovery Professionals Inc – also known as Carp. According to Oliver, soon after its creation, Carp was offered a portfolio of medical debt worth $14,922,261.76 at a cost of “less than half a cent on a dollar, which is less than $60,000”…………..


US politics

Election 2016


Muhammad Ali, left, catches Ken Norton with a long left en route to a split decision victory in their 12-round re-match, Sept. 11, 1973 at the Forum in Inglewood, California. (AP Photo)

‘Ali brought the best out of sportswriters, lifting their prose to new heights.’ Photograph: Anonymous/AP

I am too young to have watched Muhammad Ali fight live in the ring. I was born four years after he retired from boxing – 10 years after the legendary Rumble in the Jungle. But more than anyone, Ali, who died Friday at 74, is responsible for my love of journalism and the art of political writing and dissent.

Boxing has enraptured writers for almost for almost a century – Ernest Hemingway and AJ Liebling both wrote eloquently about the sport well before Ali became the most famous person on the planet. But it was Ali who became a singular force for journalists, not only eliciting brilliant writing from some of the best-known writers of the mid-20th century, but forcing them to confront much more than just sports.

I first stumbled upon my obsession when, as a teenager, I found David Remnick’s 1998 book King of the World on the floor of my house. Remnick, now the editor-in-chief of the New Yorker, captivatingly followed Cassius Clay’s early career: his underdog fights with the ferocious Sonny Liston, his conversion to Islam and his humiliation of the fading former champion Floyd Patterson, who refused to call Ali by his new name.

I was hooked. I read volumes of material by Thomas Hauser, who chronicled Ali’s career in more detail than anyone else, including writing his definitive biography. Hauser, who clearly admired the man, was also not afraid to puncture myths for the sake of truth – whether it was writing that Ali didn’t throw his Olympic gold medal over a bridge in protest (he lost it) or discussing his taunting of Joe Frazier, often portrayed as playful, but which was actually dark and disturbed.

Then there were the dozens of magazine articles, including Mark Kram’s gorgeous piece on the third Ali–Frazier fight, “the Thrilla in Manilla”, which the longtime Sports Illustrated reporter Richard Deitsch has called “the greatest deadline story” in the magazine’s history. Kram’s “Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great” recounts in vivid detail how the two fighters were quite literally on the verge of death after pummeling each other for 14 rounds but refusing to give up. Reading it today, four decades later, will still give you chills……..





English Online International Newspapers

For a change from the same old news stories from the same old news networks, here are links to English-edition online newspapers from other parts of the world. Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

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Some of the available newspapers:

Asia & CIS


China & Hong Kong








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