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Obama Declares Flint Water Crisis a State of Emergency
Photos of yellow and brown water, concern from health officials and even letters from Girl Scouts have helped turn a national spotlight on the water crisis plaguing the residents of Flint, Michigan. And now the White House has agreed to send federal funds to Genesee County.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint over contaminated water supplies, the Detroit Free Press reported. Such a declaration allocates up to $5 million in federal funds to the city. It also authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to galvanize supplies and distribute water bottles, filters and other supplies.
Local and state-level declarations of emergency were made by Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in December 2015 and January, respectively. But the problem started in 2014, when an unelected state official switched the city's main water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money.
Research has found that the water in the Flint River is 19 times more corrosive than Lake Huron's water, causing old pipes to degrade and leach lead into the water. The city switched back to the Lake Huron supply in October 2015, but with the pipes already damaged, they continued to leach harmful metal into the water supply.
A study released in September 2015 found that the number of children and infants with above-average lead levels in their blood had more than doubled since 2014. Elevated lead levels can lead to behavioral and developmental problems in children, according to the World Health Organization.
Snyder has been criticized for mishandling the water crisis and accused of prioritizing cost savings over residents' health. Democratic presidential hopeful and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called for Snyder's resignation, as did filmmaker and Flint native Michael Moore.
“This is not a mistake," Moore told the Detroit Free Press at a rally on Saturday. “Ten people have been killed here because of a political decision." Moore is referring to the 10 fatalities from recent outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease. Officials are investigating the spike in Michigan of Legionnaires' disease—a form of bacterial pneumonia typically spread through water—but they have not yet confirmed that these cases are directly connected to the contaminated water in Flint.
Moore was surrounded by hundreds of residents protesting the government's handling of the water crisis.
“There are people who are very angry here because their lives are at risk," Moore said. “They should be angry. We are all angry."
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
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"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
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- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›