7 years later, Flint lead crisis victims to get payout – National & International News – THU 11Nov2021


Flint lead crisis: Judge approves $626 million settlement. Federal judge strikes down TX school mask mandate ban. EU accuses Belarus of migrant “terrorism”.


Flint lead crisis: Judge approves $626 million settlement

In 2014 and 2015, 101,000 residents of the impoverished city of Flint, MI, were exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water. The city government had decided to switch the city’s water source to the Flint River to save money. 

Problems first became apparent when about 80 people got sick and 12 died from an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease. But at the same time, the improperly treated river water began absorbing lead from the city’s old pipes. Before the contamination was acknowledged or even minimally addressed, between 6000 and 12000 children were suffering from lead poisoning.

According to the CDC, lead poisoning can cause “learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and even death,” in children. About 80% of the money from the settlement will go to benefit children suffering long-term effects from the poisoning.

Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, then-director of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and eight other former officials now face charges for their role in the crisis and a subsequent coverup.

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Federal judge strikes down TX school mask mandate ban

A U.S. district judge in Austin has halted enforcement of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates in public schools. Judge Lee Yeakel ruled on a challenge to the executive order from Disabled Rights Texas, an advocacy group. The group’s attorneys argued that the ban violated the rights of disabled students to access education. The policy failed to provide any accommodation for disabled students, who are particularly vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19.

Following the ruling, attorney Kym Davis of Disability Rights Texas stated that, “No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to”. With the ban lifted, schools in the state are free to institute their own mask mandate if they feel the circumstances warrant it.

Texas is likely to appeal to the conservative 5th Circuit federal court to get the ban reinstated.

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EU countries accuse Belarus of “terrorism” for weaponizing migrants

In August last year, longtime Belarussian dictator and Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko once again claimed victory in an election which was widely considered to be rigged. The sham election sparked mass protests nationwide and rallied support for the only serious opposition figure, who had already fled the country fearing arrest. Lukashenko’s government proceeded to crack down brutally on protesters and opposition politicians. 

In response, the EU and U.S. imposed sanctions on Belarus. Belarus is not a member of the bloc but shares a border with EU member Poland. So, in retaliation, Belarus has for several months been admitting migrants from Asian and Middle Eastern countries with tourism visas and bussing them to the Polish border. This has created a humanitarian crisis on the border which is worsening as temperatures get colder.

Now, the EU is threatening to close its border with Belarus and slap even more sanctions on its rogue neighbor. In yet another tit for tat, Belarus says it will cut off the supply of natural gas from Russia if the EU follows through on its latest threat.

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