Monday, February 08, 2016

Moyo Recruited to Destroy Zanu-PF: Mutsvangwa
February 8, 2016
Munyaradzi Musiiwa Midlands Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa has challenged Professor Jonathan Moyo to contest his claims that he was Ndabaningi Sithole’s illegitimate child, who was seeking revenge for his father who was rejected by the revolutionary party after forging an alliance with the Smith regime at the height of the war of liberation.

Cde Mutsvangwa said he also had empirical evidence that Prof Moyo was recruited by western imperialists who were pushing the regime change in Zimbabwe. He said Prof Moyo was assigned by these people to dislodge Zanu-PF with his “petty parochial ideologies” that reside in him.

He said Prof Moyo was a traitor just like his ‘father’ claiming that the former Zanu Ndonga leader had facilitated his mentorship in politics by Cde David Todyana so that he could be attested into the army and become a commander.

Cde Mutsvangwa called for Prof Moyo’s expulsion from Zanu-PF because he had become irrelevant and lacked discipline.

“There are people in the party who have no history and are opportunists who hate the President, the party and the security establishment. Manje mirai muone. Tinoda kupedzerana. Professor Jonathan Moyo thinks he is unique and his professorship is special, as if there are no other professors in this country who are more brilliant than him.

“He was sent to Tanzania by Sithole after being promised the commandership. This is well documented,” he said.

Said Cde Mutsvangwa: “There are only two people who fled Mgagao, a mentally challenged person and him. This means their thinking was alike.

Jonathan was given a scholarship to go and learn in the United States of America. On his way, he stole radios from his stepmother Vesta Sithole.

“He is friends with Robert Rodberg, who was a strong critic of President Mugabe who was brought to Harvard School of Governance from Ford Foundation to recruit black people to support imperialists. Jonathan Moyo has always been anti-Government, anti-Zanu-PF and does not like President Mugabe.

“This is evident through his writings in the pink paper. Ane daka rake redzinza. He wants to take revenge for Ndabaningi Sithole. Ndakamuti kana uchiramba enda unoita DNA test. He has a petty parochial agenda residing in him. He wants to reinstate his father’s kingdom. Prof Moyo is inherently and impulsively destructive. He has no place in Zanu-PF. His role is finished.”

Cde Mutsvangwa also launched a scathing attack on Zanu-PF national commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere whom he said had no history in the party and that his parents connived with white settlers to ill treat fellow Zimbabweans.

Moyo, Kasukuwere Must Go: War Vets
February 8, 2016
Zimbabwe Herald

War veterans want Cde Saviour Kasukuwere and Professor Jonathan Moyo expelled from Zanu-PF for causing serious divisions after the national commissar allegedly vowed to unleash violence on war veterans planning to bar Prof Moyo from attending this Wednesday’s crunch Politburo meeting.Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda told war veterans gathered in Gweru yesterday that Zanu-PF national commissar Cde Kasukuwere told provincial chairpersons at a meeting last Friday that he had organised supporters to thwart a plan by war veterans to bar Prof Moyo from attending the Politburo meeting on Wednesday.

“Cdes, we were in Harare recently where the provincial executive resolved that Jonathan Moyo, who has defied the President, will not be allowed to attend the next Politburo meeting.

“Then two days ago, Cde Kasukuwere said he was organising party members to come to Harare to assault war veterans who want to bar Moyo from attending the Politburo meeting. So they should both (Moyo and Kasukuwere) go,” said Cde Matemadanda.

He said war veterans had resolved that President Mugabe and the party should expel Cde Kasukuwere and Prof Moyo for fanning factionalism.

He said the two were also holding secret meetings with expelled party members in a bid to topple the First Secretary.

Cde Matemadanda said war veterans would not be intimidated by thugs organised by Cde Kasukuwere to obstruct their plan to petition President Mugabe to rein in the two members for causing serious divisions in the party.

He said war veterans were solidly behind Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa as chairman of the association and that they had tasked him to convey their resolution to President Mugabe that the two must go.

“War veterans have asked you (Cde Mutsvangwa) to go and tell President Mugabe that we will never desert the party. We are loyal to you and these people want to get rid of war veterans by peddling falsehoods.

“These people think they can create a rift between President Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“They want to create non-existent tiffs between war veterans and the President and his deputy so that they strategically position themselves to rule this country.

“They have dragged the police, intelligence and soldiers into their shenanigans and stupid ploys insisting on security sector reforms. They have already lined up people they want to put in certain positions in Government and party.”

Meanwhile Cde Kasukuwere has come under fire from senior party cadres after his remarks that the revolutionary party had no time to discuss the abuse of social media at its Politburo meetings.

Cde Kasukuwere, who is also Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, told journalists last Friday the ruling party had more serious issues to discuss than what goes on on social media.

This was at variance with party spokesperson, Cde Simon Khaya-Moyo’s comments that the abuse of social media by party members was a cause for concern and that the issue would come up for discussion at the next Politburo meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

And yesterday Cde Khaya-Moyo stood his ground, saying his comments were consistent with what President Mugabe had said when he denounced abuse of social media by party cadres to attack each other when there were proper platforms in party structures.

“The President has spoken well and eloquently about abuse of social media and I am the party spokesperson. I am in line with what the President said,” said Cde Khaya-Moyo.

He said while the agenda of the Politburo was crafted by the secretary for administration, Cde Ignatious Chombo in consultation with the Presidency, he expected the issue of abuse of social media by senior party cadres to come up.

“I expect that subject, which has been in the media for the whole week, to be raised in the Politburo. People are free to bring it up. What I have been saying throughout the week about the abuse of social media is merely echoing what the President has said. I am talking about the President who is the only centre of power and I am the official party spokesperson,” said Cde Khaya-Moyo.

Cde Matemadanda said President Mugabe had made it clear social media and hostile private media were not the correct platform to discuss party issues.

He said it was the duty of party cadres, particularly senior party members, to rally behind President Mugabe.

“It is surprising that the national political commissar, who should know better, chose to defy the President. He should be speaking the same language as the President. We are however happy that it has become clear to everyone the kind of people they are. It is now up to the President to make his own assessment from what Cde Kasukuwere has said and see if his objectives can be achieved with such people,” said Cde Matemadanda.

“Cde Khaya-Moyo is the official spokesperson and has spoken well about that but the national political commissar is saying something different. That is an internal contradiction.”

Addressing journalists last Friday, Cde Kasukuwere said Zanu-PF had no time to discuss social media issues in its Politburo meetings and accused the media of trying to set an agenda for the ruling party.

Organs of the ruling party such as the Youth League have also expressed grave concern over the abuse of social media. The police have also weighed, with Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri warning last week that abuse of social media by senior party members had the potential to cause national instability.

This came in the wake of frenzied tweeting by Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, who has been attacking fellow Zanu-PF members on social media.

Efforts to get comment from both ministers were fruitless last night.
Factionalism: Something Has Got to Give
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

In 2013, the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly for President Mugabe to be their Head of State and Government until 2018, at the very least.

A year later, the ruling Zanu-PF party was unanimous in its determination that President Mugabe be their sole candidate for the 2018 Presidential election.

That decision and position was affirmed at the 2015 Annual National People’s Conference.

All these outcomes are what empower President Mugabe, as clearly stated in both the national and Zanu-PF constitutions to lead a Cabinet at State level, and the Politburo at party level.

These constitutional outcomes are what give President Mugabe the authority to appoint all the people he duly appointed to hold whatever briefs they hold.

The President also has the right to appoint certain officials, like a spokesperson to speak on his behalf.

How then can anyone, more so an appointee, seek to challenge those appointments, to denigrate them in whatever manner, without he or she also directly attacking not only the President, but also the Constitution of the land and subverting the will of the majority?

How does an appointee ascribe idiocy to the official pronouncements of a President’s spokesperson without ascribing same idiocy to the appointing authority on whose behalf said spokesperson speaks?

Surely, if the spokesperson has lied about a Presidential position on a matter, then the President knows this better than another appointee and surely knows better how to handle the situation.

What is particularly disheartening is that while this frenzied tweeting that casts aspersions on the President’s Constitutional and popular authority continues unabated, some senior party authorities – who should be the custodians of discipline and order – are in fact saying such attacks via the social media are trivial and should not attract Zanu-PF’s attentions.

Are we saying the President’s judgement can be ridiculed so brazenly by some of his appointees without there being any repercussions?

For months, taunts have been thrown at a Vice-President of the Republic, a Vice-President of the ruling party, and now when some people stand up to say enough is enough, it is claimed those demanding respect for authority and order are factionalists and successionists.

The majority that voted for President Mugabe, that outright majority that vested its trust in his judgement, is being urinated on and is expected to pretend that it is raining.

There seems to be a serious and dangerous misconception that holding certain positions in the party and Government implies seniority in the grander political scheme of things.

It is a misconception that former Vice-President Joice Mujuru can testify to being harmful to careers.

No one should think that they hold a position in perpetuity.

The President is the sole centre of power, he will determine the fate of those who seek to undermine his Constitutional and popular authority. Egos will land, and they will land hard.

Rather than seeking to subvert Presidential authority through frenzied tweeting and other verbal jousts that put nothing on the tables of Zimbabweans, all appointees should be busying themselves with that which they were appointed to do.

The people want food, jobs, houses, education, healthcare, security and prosperity.

That is what should be occupying the attentions of those who right now seem to prefer to engage in personality battles that only serve to undermine the authority of the President and subvert the Constitution.

So what is needed is really quite simple. Either those who fancy themselves kingmakers who are above Constitutional and popular authority reorient their energies towards service delivery, or they are relieved of their duties so that people who are more focused on delivering tangibles to the citizenry fill in those posts.

There, quite frankly is no third imaginable alternative to this situation. There is no rocket science to it. There is no need for frenzied tweeting. Zimbabweans are tired of all this self-serving nonsense. Now, more than ever before, something has got to give.
End Nigh for Zanu-PF Factional Kingpins
 Lincoln Towindo
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Zanu-PF will dump – without fear or favour – factionalists seeking to undermine President Mugabe’s authority, a senior official has said.

When the Politburo meets this Wednesday, said Zanu-PF spokesperson Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo in an interview with The Sunday Mail, factional battles would be on the agenda. This follows a rabid attempt by some officials in the ruling party, using the private Press and via frenzied tweeting on social media, to demean President Mugabe’s appointment of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as well as attempts to play the VP against First Lady and Zanu-PF Women’s League boss Amai Grace Mugabe.

There have been direct attacks on Mr George Charamba after he – in his capacity as Presidential spokesperson – made it clear that the President would not tolerate factionalist and successionist machinations.

War Veterans Minister Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa has also been targeted.

Ambassador Khaya Moyo said, “We are still alarmed that this notorious practice is still going on. The President himself has condemned it, but it would appear that factions still exist.

“I cannot pre-empt what will happen in due course, but believe me that at our next Politburo meeting, these matters will be brought up with seriousness of purpose.

“We cannot go on with this disease called factionalism. It does not help us to attract investment and bring stability in the party unity, peace and development which is our motto as a party. It must be weeded out and those responsible must be dealt with without fear or favour.”

Ambassador Khaya Moyo added that the President’s position was uncontestable as he was the only leader elected at Congress.

“The person who is at the centre of all party activities is, naturally, the President. He is the head of the party, the centre of power; the reason being that he is the only one, in terms of our amended constitution, who is elected at Congress.

“The rest of the people, including the VPs and the Politburo, are appointed by the President from elected Central Committee members.

“Given that scenario, naturally, he is the centre of power. This is why some of us have always been bewildered and surprised when we hear that there are factions in the party.

“A faction obviously has a leader, and if you are a leader of a faction, it means you are also a centre of power. This is totally unacceptable and abominable.”

In 2014, the Zanu-PF National People’s Congress unanimously picked the revolutionary establishment’s First Secretary and President as its sole candidate for the next Presidential election, constitutionally due in 2018.

This was after President Mugabe led Zanu-PF to a resounding electoral victory in 2013.

His position as the party’s numero uno was endorsed by the 2015 National People’s Conference.

However, successionists within Zanu-PF have been working against these outcomes, rapidly pushing towards subverting the party constitution, Congress and Conference.

Congress is Zanu-PF’s highest decision-making body whose selected functions can be carried out by Conference.

As stated by party Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo in his convocation at the December 2015 indaba, Section 33(3) of Article 6 of Zanu-PF’s Constitution says the powers and functions of the National People’s Conference shall be “to declare the President of the Party elected at Congress as the State presidential candidate of the party”.

Ambassador Khaya Moyo also said President Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s position against abuse of social media platforms to attack fellow party members remained unchanged.

But yesterday Zanu-PF National Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere was quoted in our sister paper The Herald saying the Politburo was unlikely to discuss social media abuses.

Lately, Politburo member (science and technology) Professor Jonathan Moyo has been involved in bitter exchanges with Ambassador Mutsvangwa on Twitter.

Ambassador Mutsvangwa has subsequently questioned Prof Moyo’s loyalties.

Yesterday, the War Veterans leader said Prof Moyo was “an aspiring tinpot dictator”.

“Professor (Moyo) extols Rambo, the celluloid American war hero shooting to smithereens lesser human minions. This is a minister from a land that produces immortal modern warriors like legendary General Tongogara.

“Clearly, a stranger to the history of a country he waxes lyrical about and aspires to emerge as its tinpot dictator. The scorn and irreverence of Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde professor has paradoxically served to arouse the Spirit of Chimurenga and he better pay heed.”

Ambassador Mutsvangwa went on: “I have a modus vivendi with both Kasukuwere and (Youth Minister Patrick) Zhuwao. I am impressed by the youthful energy, and their zeal.

“I pray hard that it makes recourse to all the rich history of the party that has achieved so much. Jonathan Moyo is a different kettle of fish. A war deserter with a chameleon modus operandi, he is the Gregori Rasputin ghost of Zimbabwe politics and governance.

“He long ago sold his soul to the right wing regime change operatives of Uncle Sam. As a revolutionary cadre, I have no truck at all with such a life of compelling treachery.

“These stand out by refusing to submit to discipline by defying His Excellency’s strictures as enunciated through his spokesman. On social media, while it is understandable to set party guidelines, the real focus should be on weeding out planted agents and foreign spies.”

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Detroit News Editorial Attacks Snyder's Credibility Saying He Must Produce All Emails Immediately
The Detroit News
10:59 a.m. EST February 7, 2016

This week’s alarming revelation that Gov. Rick Snyder’s staff knew about the spike in Legionnaires’ disease in Flint well before he announced it publicly calls into question the administration’s commitment to full transparency regarding this crisis.

Emails uncovered last week indicate the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality warned a top Snyder aide about the rise in Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County and the possible link to Flint water 10 months before it was made public. The emails originated last March from MEDQ spokesman Brad Wurfel, who resigned along with department director Dan Wyant when the Flint scandal broke.

They were sent to Harvey Hollins, Snyder’s point man in Flint at the time. But it wasn’t until Jan. 13 that Snyder publicly announced the spike, saying he had just learned of it. A few days later, in his State of the State address, he promised Michigan a full and honest accounting of what happened in Flint.

Clearly, there are things the governor isn’t telling Michigan residents.

The people of Flint deserve better than to learn new details of the crisis day after day as they are uncovered by third-party sources. These dribs and drabs are damaging Snyder’s credibility and contributing to the destruction of the people’s trust in their government.

The surprises must stop now.

Snyder has released his own emails from 2014 and 2015. But there are more he has not made public — including the ones from Wurfel to Hollins.

He still refuses to release his emails from 2013, and his staff’s communications for the entire period. He must put them on the table now, along with all other documents related to Flint.

The governor is obviously trying to spare his staff, and perhaps himself, from scrutiny. But his staff works for the the public, and the public owns that information.

A governor’s spokesman says the Legionnaires’ warning never made it to Snyder. That’s incredible. But if true, those who failed to pass it on should be held responsible. There’s no excuse for keeping such a critical detail from the governor — or the people at risk. Or in keeping staffers who don’t recognize the importance of forthright communication.

Snyder should have been clearer on Jan. 13 that while he may have just found out about the Legionnaires’ spike, his administration knew about it for much longer. Not doing so was an obfuscation.

Snyder would be better off releasing all Flint-related documents himself, and immediately. If he doesn’t, it’s inevitable state and federal investigations now underway will forcibly bring them to light.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has launched an independent investigation looking back to 2006. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade has a parallel probe underway. Schuette suggested last week the emails will be subpoenaed.

The lead poisoning alone was terrible. The Legionnaires’ spike is worse — at least nine people died.

And if Snyder or his staff is caught in a cover-up, it will turn this crisis into an unmitigated disaster for Michigan. The people of Flint can’t begin to recover from this tragedy with so many questions still unanswered.

Snyder owes them, and all of Michigan, a complete and unfiltered accounting. Today.
Hope — and Clean Water — Remains Elusive for the People of Flint
Brittny Giles of Flint, Mich., pours bottled water into a plastic tub as her 9-month-old- daughter, Joel, watches the stream fall. Like many residents, she no longer trusts or uses the city water supply. (Brittany Greeson/For The Washington Post)

By Lenny Bernstein
February 6 at 5:24 PM

FLINT, Mich. — It kills him to say it, but Darren Bentley is thinking about leaving town. He was born here, went to Kearsley High School and rents a place near a couple of college campuses. He has never lived anywhere else.

His father worked at the old Fisher Body plant. So did an uncle and both grandfathers. His grandmother worked on the line at Flint Metal Fabricating.

But the only way that Bentley, 33, and his wife, Laura, can provide safe water for their four boys is by driving every day to the local firehouse, where Army National Guardsmen plop a case or two of bottled water into the back of their SUV. The unending hassle of making sure the children can drink and bathe without being exposed to poisonous lead has worn the couple down.

“I never intended to leave,” Bentley said. “This is my home. This is my family. This is everything I know.”

 A protester in a crowd of local residents holds up a sign at a city council meeting at City Hall in Flint, Mich. (Brittany Greeson/For The Washington Post)
The residents of this battered city have lived for years under some of the worst conditions in urban America: soaring levels of violent crime, poverty, unemployment and blight. Now, for many, the catastrophe of a water supply that may be poisoned indefinitely appears to be the final insult.

Many are desperate to escape the city, but some don’t have the means to do so. The old and poor, especially, are stuck. Meanwhile, a small band of civic and political leaders is trying to chart a way forward amid the wreckage of a disaster often compared to Hurricane Katrina — which at least eventually led to some redevelopment in New Orleans.

“I’m going to give the city maybe six months,” said Brittny Giles, a 25-year-old single mother who is raising three young children next door to the home where she grew up. She bathes her 9-month-old daughter in bottled water and can recite her children’s blood lead levels from memory.

Relatives in Georgia are begging her to move there. “I don’t want to leave,” she said. “But if there is no water or schools for my children, I have to give them a better future.”

Less than a month after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) declared a state of emergency, only one thing is clear: Resolving the crisis will be very expensive. Mayor Karen Weaver has estimated the cost of removing lead service lines from 15,000 homes at about $45 million. Combating the potential impact of lead poisoning in the 9,000 children exposed to tainted water starts at $100 million, according to Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who is proposing the multifaceted program.

Overhauling Flint’s water­distribution system, if necessary, could cost more than $1 billion, a tab only the federal government could pay.

[Flint could have saved money without using corrosive river water]

Beyond the $28 million provided by the state and some private donations, it’s not clear where the money will come from. And everyone here acknowledges that there will be little progress until safe water begins flowing through the taps and people are persuaded to drink it. No one is even willing to guess when either will happen.

The crisis stems from an April 2014 decision by then-emergency manager Darnell Earley to save money by temporarily switching the city’s water supply to the Flint River. Earley was appointed by Snyder and given authority that superseded that of the mayor and the city council.

The state then failed to ensure that the city added anti-corrosion chemicals to the new water supply, which leached lead from aging pipes into tap water. Almost immediately, users began to complain of foul-smelling, discolored water, and some residents broke out in strange rashes. Eighty-seven people developed Legionnaire’s Disease, resulting in 10 deaths. Some suspect that the water is at least partly to blame, although that has not yet been proved.

Flint switched back to Detroit water in October, and experts are trying to re-coat the pipes with chemicals. So far, that hasn’t worked. Water filters are being distributed for free throughout the city. But they don’t fit some sinks, and some people say that they are still finding high levels of lead — even in filtered water.

Among Flint residents, the worst off may be the city’s disproportionate share of older people. Largely poor and African American, they are stuck with homes that would have been difficult to sell even before the water crisis.

“At my age, I’d hate to start all over again and give my house away, because that’s what it would require,” said 72-year-old Delmont Jackson as he played eight-ball pool at the Hasselbring Senior Center last week. He doubts that he could get $15,000 for his home and thinks the state should relocate him, but he is resigned to living on bottled water indefinitely.

“What are we going to do?” asked Kala Green, 72, as a bingo game broke up in a large social hall a few steps away. “Ain’t nobody gonna buy our homes. And I don’t have no money.”

Virtually everyone here says that they follow the admonition not to drink unfiltered tap water, but beyond that, many of the city’s 95,000 residents make their own rules. People bathe less often and limit their time in the shower. Others refuse to let contaminated city water touch their skin and have found places to clean up outside Flint.

Some cook with city water; others keep large jugs of bottled water to clean and prepare their food. Yakima Givens said that she boils water before washing her dishes — a common practice that unfortunately concentrates any lead that may be coming through the faucet.

“I don’t even know if it’s safe to wash my clothes in it,” she said as she watched her three children get tested for lead exposure at a festive event last week that featured free food and toys.

Even those blood tests are controversial. Many people who attended the event said that they wanted to know if their children had been affected in 2014 and 2015, when authorities repeatedly assured them that the water was safe to drink. But the tests only reveal lead ingested in the past two to four weeks. They are useless for long-term retrospective diagnosis.

Meanwhile, some people are still paying their water bills — which were among the most expensive in this region — afraid that service will be turned off or they will lose their homes if they don’t. Others now refuse to pay for water that they can’t consume. Weaver and other officials support that sentiment, and the mayor said that she is working on a plan to relieve residents of at least some of that financial burden. Lawsuits are seeking refunds for the entire city.

Outsiders think they understand the confusion and anxiety Flint is experiencing, but that just isn’t possible, said State Sen. Jim Ananich (D), who lives in the city and has a 6-month-old son, part of the city’s most vulnerable population.

“You don’t know what it’s like to have something right in the kitchen that you are afraid to death to turn on,” he said. “I can’t really use it for anything.”

Flint has been emptying out for decades, as General Motors shipped jobs south or overseas. From 196,000 in 1960, the city’s population has fallen to about 95,000 today. “Vehicle City” once had 82,000 jobs at GM plants and its suppliers. Today, there are about 6,000, according to Douglas Weiland, executive director of the Genesee County Land Bank.

Even a brief look around reveals the inevitable result. More than 11,000 vacant lots and 10,000 abandoned homes pock the city’s streets, often side-by-side with the remaining 30,000 occupied dwellings. On Giles’s street, for example, where nine occupied homes once stood, there are now three. Three others are abandoned, and three more have been razed, she said.

About 40 percent of the people here live below the poverty line; the median household income of about $25,000 is less than half the amount a typical U.S. family earns. In 2013, the average home sold for $15,000. Some people have been trying to return donated water filters and cases of water at local chain stores for a few dollars, forcing guardsmen to alter the bar codes on the free items.

For years, Flint has jockeyed with Detroit and a handful of other places for the dubious distinction of America’s most violent city.

There have been stirrings of progress along a few blocks downtown, where a handful of bars and restaurants stand near the campus of the University of Michigan at Flint.

But now the water is poisoned, and the world knows it.

“Every two steps forward, there’s always five steps back,” said Rodney Ott, owner of the Loft, a bar and nightclub on Saginaw Street, the city’s main thoroughfare. “That’s the history of Flint. . . . We’re a wreck, man,” he said. “We made the Time [magazine] cover. It looked like Sudan.”

Signs everywhere assure customers that businesses, especially those that serve food and drink, are not hooked up to Flint water or have installed sophisticated filtering systems. But in a statement, Tim Herman, chief executive of the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that restaurants have seen a small decline, universities are having trouble recruiting students and efforts to attract businesses have been hampered.

Even when safe water begins to flow again, trust in government may lag far behind. During a fiery rally at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church last week, an overflow crowd of African Americans cheered wildly as leaders called for Snyder to be jailed and others to be held accountable.

“This is a crime against the people of Flint, a crime against humanity,” shouted attorney Benjamin L. Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and has filed one of the class-action lawsuits on behalf of city residents. “If ISIS were to poison 100,000 Americans, we would call it an act of terrorism!

“Why are the rules different when people commit crimes against us? We want equal justice and nothing more than that!”

Lenny Bernstein covers health and medicine. He started as an editor on the Post’s National Desk in 2000 and has worked in Metro and Sports.
Chicago Officer Sues Estate of Teen He Shot, Arguing Incident Caused Him Trauma
February 07, 2016
Associated Press

CHICAGO –  A white Chicago police officer who fatally shot a black 19-year-old college student and accidentally killed a neighbor has filed a lawsuit against the teenager's estate, arguing the shooting left him traumatized.

The highly unusual suit was filed Friday in the middle of the city's effort to grapple with serious questions about the future of its police force. Those questions include the adequacy of its system for investigating police shootings and how to win back public trust after several cases of alleged misconduct. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a wide-ranging civil rights investigation, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised a major overhaul of the Police Department and steps to heal its fraught relationship with black residents.

The timing and unusual nature of the suit by officer Robert Rialmo, who is seeking $10 million in damages, could complicate the department's efforts to demonstrate more sensitivity toward the community in how police shootings are handled. His attorney, Joel Brodsky, said it was important in the charged atmosphere to send a message that police are "not targets for assaults" and "suffer damage like anybody else."

The teen's father, Antonio LeGrier, filed a wrongful death lawsuit days after the Dec. 26 shooting, saying his son, Quintonio, was not armed with a weapon and was not a threat. His attorney, Basileios Foutris, was incredulous at what he called the officer's "temerity" in suing the grieving family of the person he shot.

"That's a new low even for the Chicago Police Department," he said. "First you shoot them, then you sue them."

The lawsuit provides the officer's first public account of how he says the shooting happened, offering details that differ with the family's version. It says Rialmo, who was responding to a domestic disturbance call with another officer, opened fire after Quintonio LeGrier swung a bat at the officer's head at close range. A downstairs neighbor, 55-year-old Bettie Jones, was standing nearby and was shot and killed by accident. She was not part of the domestic dispute.

"The fact that LeGrier's actions had forced Officer Rialmo to end LeGrier's life and to accidentally take the innocent life of Bettie Jones has caused, and will continue to cause, Officer Rialmo to suffer extreme emotional trauma," the filing says.

When arriving at the scene around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 26, Rialmo rang the doorbell of the two-story apartment building. Jones answered and directed them to the upstairs apartment. As Rialmo stepped through the doorway, he heard someone "charging down the stairway," the suit says.

It describes the teen coming down the stairs with a baseball bat in hand and says LeGrier "cocked" the bat "and took a full swing at Officer Rialmo's head, missing it by inches" when the two were around 4 feet apart.

The officer then backed away with his weapon still holstered, according to the suit, while repeatedly shouting at LeGrier to drop the bat.

But the suit says LeGrier kept advancing and swung the bat again. Only when LeGrier cocked the bat again from 3 or 4 feet away, did the officer pull out his 9 mm handgun and open fire, the filing says.

As he began firing, Rialmo did not see or hear Jones behind LeGrier, the suit says. It says one of the bullets went through LeGrier's body and struck Jones, killing her.

An autopsy determined that LeGrier suffered six bullet wounds.

Lawyers for Antonio LeGrier and for Jones have provided accounts that differ from Rialmo's. They say the evidence indicates the officer was 20 or 30 feet away when he fired, calling into question Rialmo's contention that he feared for his life.

Foutris also questions why the teen would attack the officer since he was the one who called 911. The father of the Northern Illinois University student also made a 911 call.

"If you're calling multiple times for help are you going to charge a police officer and try to hit him with a bat? That's ridiculous," Foutris said.

County prosecutors have asked the FBI to investigate the shooting.

A Police Department spokesman refused to comment on the officer's lawsuit.

Such a lawsuit by an officer is extraordinarily unusual, said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney who is not connected to the case.

He questioned whether a judge would give it any merit and said it appeared intended to intimidate LeGrier's family. He said he had never heard of an officer blaming his shooting victim for causing trauma.

"That is a known part of the job," Turner said of policing's emotional toll.
San Francisco Police Chase Ends With Crash Thought to Kill 3
SAN FRANCISCO — Feb 7, 2016, 4:29 AM ET

A police chase in San Francisco on Saturday night ended with a fiery crash that is believed to have killed three people, KPIX-TV reported.

The crash took place about 10 p.m. Saturday at Brannan and Ninth streets.

The incident started with a police chase at 5th and Bryant streets, California Highway Patrol spokesman Vu Williams told KPIX ( A CHP officer started to follow a car and the car immediately started racing through red lights.

Police said they called off the pursuit, but the speeding car crashed into a taxi and burst into flames, the television station reported.

"The whole car burst into such intense flames — bang — nobody could survive," witness Neal Taylor told KPIX.

KPIX and KGO-TV report that three people are believed dead.
Sudanese Army Participates in Regional Military Maneuvers in Saudi Arabia
February 5, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese army on Friday, announced its participation in joint military manoeuvres to be held in Saudi Arabia, including Arab and Muslim countries participating in the campaign against Houti militants in Yemen.

The military exercise which is the first of its kind in the region include Saudi and Gulf countries, Egypt, Jordanian, Pakistani , and Sudanese armies. Several others countries attend the drill as observers.

Sudanese army spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami confirmed in statements to the Turkish news agency Anadolu the participation of Sudanese troops in the "North’s Thunder".

Al-Shami added that the units participating in the joint operation have already left for Saudi Arabia, but he refused to provide more details about the strength and weaponry of this forces.

On 26 January, Egypt announced its participation in the military manoeuvres saying land, air units and special operations forces are participating in the operation which aims to raise their technical and combat efficiency, particularly, troops deployment and redeployment in the various operational areas.

Sudan’s participation in the regional exercice comes within the framework of its gradual reintegration in the regional alliances, as Khartoum distanced itself from Tehran.

Last week, President Bashir for the first time accused Iran of seeking to spread its Shiite ideology in Sudan, saying it would cause more fragmentations in the already divided east African nation.

SLM-Minnawi Denies Clashes in Southern Libya
February 6, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) denied taking part in the recent clashes in the Libyan region of Kufra near the southern border with the Sudan.

The Sudanese army and Libyan officials said over 30 Sudanese SLM fighters were killed during clashes on Thursday and Saturday in Kufra and accused the Darfurian rebel group of robberies and attacks on civilians in the region.

"The Movement reiterates that it has nothing to do with what is happening in Libya. Its troops are inside the Sudanese territory, and the (Sudanese) regime is fully aware of where are the SLM forces," said Minni Minnawi in a statement to Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

Minnawi described the reports as "lies" fabricated by the regime of President Omer al-Bashir to cover its crimes in Libya.

"Khartoum is offering support for terrorist groups in Libya, and incites the Libyan people against the Sudanese community in Libya. (The Sudanese regime) is sponsoring terrorism in the whole of Africa and any African groups fighting in Libya is a creature of Khartoum. They have been trained and equipped by the regime in Khartoum".

He further said the Sudanese government tries to draw public attention away from Jebel Marra crimes and the government controlled national dialogue process in Khartoum.

In a related development, the armed militias of Ubari town in the Fezzan region of southwestern Libya issued a statement on Saturday urged the Sudanese and Chadian opposition groups to leave immediately the Libyan territory.

The militias accused the Sudanese and Chadian rebel groups of provoking chaos and destabilize security and stability in the southern part of Libya.

International efforts have failed to set up a national unity government in Libya gathering the two governments in Tobruq and Tripoli, despite the signing of a UN backed agreement since nearly two months.

The formation of the a unified Libyan government is seen as a necessary condition for an international military intervention in the troubled North African country to restore security and fighting Jihadists militants of Daesh who represent a new danger for the neighbouring countries and the whole region.

South Sudan to Hire 20,000 Zimbabwean Teachers: Report
February 06, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s education minister, John Gai is in Zimbabwe to plans to hiring of hundreds of its teachers and nurses to work in the young nation.

The Zimbabwean Chronicle newspaper reported recently that Juba intends to hire 20,000 Zimbabwean graduates to work at internationally-paid rates equivalent to those given to United Nations staff.

South Sudanese officials also admitted they were in discussions to bring Zimbabweans.

"It is true that discussions are underway between The republic of South Sudan and Zimbabwe to bring technical experts particularly teachers and nurse," a ministry of education official, who preferred anonymity, told Sudan Tribune Saturday.

Arrangements, foreign affairs officials hinted, are already at advanced stages and could be finalised with the education minister’s visit to the Zimbabwean capital on Saturday.

South Sudan sent 200 students to various universities in Zimbabwe in 2015 on scholarships extended by Harare, though the terms of the scholarship remain opaque.

Several South Sudanese expressed anger over social media on plans to hire foreign nationals in a country where hundreds of thousands of unemployed graduates exist.

"If government hires 20,000 foreigners and brings here to juba, I will lead a strike," said one user.

But foreign affairs minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin defended the move hire foreigners in to South Sudan, saying the country still lacked qualified nurses and teachers.

"As you know, we [South Sudan] has one of the highest maternal mortality in the world," Marial told Zimbabwe’s Voice of America radio program, which was broadcast on Friday.

Minister Marial did not say how many Zimbabwean nationals are being hired to work in South Sudan. There are about 200 qualified nurse in the country and most hospitals lack electricity and running water, making health services among one of the world worse.

South Sudan has thousands of teachers, but most of them have quit teaching due to low pay.

A South Sudanese embassy official in Zimbabwe told Sudan Tribune the education minister and his Zimbabwean counterpart meet next week over transfering to Juba.

In July 2014, South Sudan and Zimbabwe agreed on a teaching exchange program, which education officials said, would largely benefit students in both countries.

SPLM-IO Denies Detention of Senior Officers in Gambella
February 6, 2015 (ADDIS ABABA) – Officials of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) have denied allegations that a number of their senior officers have been kept in detention by the Ethiopian authorities.

A statement released from the South Sudanese government Embassy in Washington on Saturday said that senior SPLA-IO officials were arrested per an order from the Ethiopian army chief of staff, General Samora Mitchel.

“The Chief-of-Staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), Gen. Samora Mitchel, ordered the arrest of the SPLM-IO members because they were being suspected of arming the Nuer and Anyuak youth who clashed on January, 26,” partly reads a statement extended to Sudan Tribune by Gordon Buay, a South Sudanese ambassador based in Washington.

“The Government of the Republic of South Sudan, through South Sudan Embassy in Addis Ababa, requested the Ethiopian Government to deport the SPLM-IO military officers and cadres to Juba. Our Government pleaded to Ethiopian Government to deport them to Juba in the interest of the implementation of the Compromised Peace Agreement mediated and signed in Ethiopia,” further says the statement.

Buay said the Ethiopian government was alarmed with the spread of fighting across the Gambella region where Anyuak and Nuer civil servants residing either in Anyuak or Nuer territories were all killed.

He further alleged that given the fact that the Ethiopian government disarmed the civil population of Gambella in the past, it was established by the Ethiopian Military Intelligence that the SPLM-IO led by former Vice-president, Riek Machar sold weapons and ammunition to both Nuer and Anyuak youth.

“The influx of thousands of Nuer White Army in Gambella as refugees led to the availability of weapons and ammunition to Nuer and Anyuak of Ethiopia,” the statement further claimed.

He said as a result of the investigation to the source of weapons, the Ethiopian government ordered the arrest of the senior SPLM-IO military and political cadres.

The officers arrested and under detention in Gambella prison, according to the statement, included Lt. Gen. Thomas Mabor Dhol, Major General Khor Chuol Giet,Major General Yie Dak, Brig. General Wang Chaany, Brig. General Pal Yiech, Brig. General Peter Lim Bol, Liaison officer James Bang Hoth, Major Peter Jak Kuon, Capt. Gatdet Both, Capt. Beach Bang, Major Dagai Pathot, Major Lual Nyarew, Ding Lam Yual and 1st Lt. Anter Chuol.

“It is the position of the Government of South Sudan that the arrested members of the SPLM-IO should not be kept in jail in Gambella because they are part of the Movement that signed peace with the Government of South Sudan. Therefore, the Government of South Sudan is in a position to receive the SPLM-IO officers and political cadres after they are deported to Juba for violating the laws of Ethiopia,” added Ambassador Buay.

He added that the government of South Sudan was awaiting for formal response from the ministry of foreign affairs of Ethiopia to deport SPLM-IO officers and cadres to Juba. He added they received informal assurances that they would be “deported to Juba next week.”

However, the official spokesman of the opposition leader, James Gatdet Dak, dismissed the narrative from the government as a negative propaganda.

“The narrative from the government is a negative propaganda. We don’t have officers under detention in Gambella as we speak,” Dak told Sudan Tribune on Saturday evening.

He however said a number of officers who came to Gambella from Pagak for medical attention were advised by the Ethiopian authorities to return to Pagak for their safety due to the ongoing unrest in Gambella between Nuer and Anyuak.

“They have all returned to Pagak today [Saturday]. Nobody is being detained as alleged,” he added.

He also dismissed as “desperate propaganda” the allegation from the government’s senior diplomat that the SPLM-IO was arming the Nuer citizens in Gambella region and that thousands of members of the White Army (local Nuer fighters in South Sudan) have come to Gambella to destabilize the region.

This accusation by the government came a week after clashes involving Ethiopian Nuer and Anyuak population in Gambella left dozens dead, displacing the Anyuak population from the town centre.

The clashes occurred when an Anyuak man threw a hand grenade at Nuer college students in an area of predominantly of Anyuak population.

Tripartite Meetings on Ethiopian Dam to Resume in Khartoum on Sunday
February 6, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The tripartite meetings between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Renaissance Dam that Addis Ababa is constructing along the Blue Nile would resume in Khartoum on Sunday.

The four-day meeting would examine the joint technical proposal submitted by the two French consultancy firms that were assigned to probe effects of the dam on Sudan and Egypt.

The head of the Sudanese side Saif al-Din Hamad told reporters Saturday that the meeting would discuss the joint proposal submitted by the French Artelia and BRL groups, saying the former would conduct 70% of the studies while the remaining 30% would be undertaken by the latter.

He pointed that the three countries have received copies of the proposal, saying the meeting aims to arrive at a unified proposal that accommodates views of the three countries.

Hamad added the three delegations would meet with the French groups on 8 and 9 February in the presence of the legal advisor of the tripartite committee, the U.K.-based law firm Corbett, to develop and approve the final legal proposal.

For his part, Egypt’s minister of irrigation Hosam Moghazi said they are currently preparing their report on the technical proposal in order to discuss it with the French consultancy groups.

He said in press statements Saturday that the Khartoum meeting would discuss the financial cost of the technical studies presented by the French groups, noting it would be submitted to the legal advisor who is currently making the final technical and financial draft agreement.

The Egyptian minister added that the three countries would share the funding of the technical studies, saying the contracts with the French groups would be signed in Khartoum.

He noted the technical studies would be completed before the end of this year according to the previous proposal submitted by the French BRL group, saying it would take between 8 to 11 months.

Moghazi stressed that the technical studies will offer answers to all questions about the negative effects of the renaissance dam.

“If there were negative effects, the [technical] studies would offer means to overcome those effects either through the number of the storage years or its timing,” he said.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia signed a declaration of principles on the dam project that tacitly approves the dam construction but calls for technical studies aimed at safeguarding the water quotas of the three riparian states.

On September 22 2014, the panel of experts in the three countries proposed the conduction of two additional studies on the dam project, the first one on the effect of the dam on the water quota of Sudan and Egypt and the second one to examine the dam’s ecological, economic and social impacts of the dam on Sudan and Egypt.

The multi-billion dollar dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile, about 20 kilometres from the Sudanese border, and has a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, and is expected to generate electrical power of up to 6,000 megawatts.

Egypt is concerned that the dam could reduce its quota of 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile water, while the Ethiopian side maintains that the dam is primarily built to produce electricity and will not harm Sudan and Egypt.

Somalia: Puntland President Declares State of Drought
February 6, 2016

Puntland President declares state of faminePuntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali issued an urgent appeal for an international aid as parts of the autonomous state face a drought that has left hundred thousands of the population in dire need.

Mr Ali made the announcement on Friday after holding a meeting with International and local aid organizations on dealing with the growing crisis.

‘’The situation is very severe. The conditions are very harsh. We request for the international community to assist the many people in need,’’ he said while addressing Journalists in Garowe.

Puntland President stated Bari, Sanag, Karkaar, Gardafu and parts of Sool as the hardest hit provinces in the region.

Recently, the United Nations declared that about 4.9 million people are in need of life-saving and livelihoods support and 1.1 million remain internally displaced in Somalia.

Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991, when its military leadership was overthrown. Since then, Islamist militants have battled the central government, fostering terror across the country in their effort to establish an Islamic state. The violence has forced people from their homes and fields, and has exacerbated food shortages.

Horseed Media
Recent Blast on Somalia Airplane Was 'Caused by Bomb'
Saturday 06 February 2016 20.53

A bomb caused the explosion that ripped a hole in the fuselage of a passenger plane shortly after it took off from Somalia's main airport on Tuesday, killing one person, the government said.

The authorities had initially attributed the blast to sudden air decompression.

The security forces have made several arrests in connection with the attack, Transport and Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jama told reporters in the capital Mogadishu.

"Additional investigations conducted by Somali and international experts have confirmed the explosion that occurred inside the Daallo Airlines (jet) was not a technical problem but was a bomb that was intended to destroy the plane and kill all passengers onboard," the minister said.

The blast punched a one-metre hole in the side of the Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after it had taken off from Mogadishu heading for Djibouti.

A passenger identified as Abdulahi Abdisalam was killed, probably after being propelled out of the aircraft in the explosion, investigators said.

Another two out of around 60 passengers on board were slightly injured.

The pilot, a 64-year-old Serb named Vladimir Vodopivec, told a friend that he was convinced the blast had been caused by a bomb, according to the Serbian daily Blic.

The explosion did not damage the plane's navigation system, and this is what enabled the pilot to make the emergency landing, the report said.

Video footage taken after the blast showed people having moved to the back of the plane with emergency oxygen masks dangling down as wind rushed around the main cabin, although most passengers appeared fairly calm.

There has been no claim of responsibility yet for the attack.

Daallo Airlines operates out of Djibouti, flying to destinations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf.

Mogadishu airport is heavily fortified and adjoins the capital's main base of the African Union mission to Somalia, the 22,000-strong force backing the government in the battle against Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab insurgents.

The insurgents have lost ground since being routed from Mogadishu in 2011 but continue to stage regular shooting and suicide attacks.

Today, Somali soldiers backed by African Union troops recaptured the key port of Merka from the Shebab, just one day after the Islamists swept into the city, the army and residents said.
Somalia Says Bomb Caused Plane Blast
Agence France Presse

MOGADISHU: An explosion that occurred aboard a passenger plane after it took off from Somalia's main airport on Tuesday, forcing it to make an emergency landing, was caused by a bomb, officials said Saturday, adding they had made arrests.

"Additional investigations conducted by Somali and international experts have confirmed the explosion that occurred inside the Daallo Airlines (jet) was not a technical problem but was a bomb that was intended to destroy the plane and kill all passengers onboard," Somali Transport and Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jama told a press conference in Mogadishu.

"The security forces have detained people suspected of having involved the bomb that exploded inside that plane."

The blast punched a one-meter (three-foot)-sized hole in the side of the Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after it had taken off from Mogadishu heading for Djibouti.

A passenger identified as Abdulahi Abdisalam was killed, probably after being propelled out of the aircraft in the explosion, investigators said.

Two out of around 60 passengers on board were slightly injured.

The pilot, a 64-year-old Serb named Vladimir Vodopivec, told a friend that he was convinced the blast had been caused by a bomb, according to the Serbian daily Blic.

The explosion did not damage the plane's navigation system, and this is what enabled the pilot to make the emergency landing, the report said.

In their initial appraisal, the Somali authorities attributed the blast to sudden air decompression.

Daallo Airlines operates out of Djibouti, flying to destinations in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Is Bankruptcy Next for Detroit Public Schools?
Detroit Federation of Teachers Interim President Ivy Bailey.
Bankruptcy expert worries if school district has a choice

By Rod Meloni - Reporter
5:30 PM, February 05, 2016

DETROIT - The Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district's money situation is on the edge of disaster.

The emergency manager is out the district is looking for new leadership while there is a half-baked plan to fix the problem.

Local 4 bankruptcy expert Doug Bernstein, who is Plunkett Cooney law firm's lead bankruptcy attorney, said bankruptcy for DPS is a complete unknown, and it's not something that always works anyway.

"If you're out of cash, you know, it looks like bankruptcy could be the route the district may end up in," he said.

Bernstein has a special place in his heart for DPS. His father was a principal in the district years ago. Bernstein now watches the governor's attempt to fix DPS with an old company/new company bankruptcy-style model and worries.

"Yes, it's good that you get rid of the debt. Show me what you're doing with the money you now have available, what you are going to buy, how you are going to get class sizes down, how you're going to fix the buildings," he said.

The biggest problem he sees is the fact the governor assumes that when and if the legislature passes his DPS plan, everyone -- including creditors and teachers -- will rejoice.

"The school district isn't in the position where creditors or even the teachers can upset the plan ... you've got the chaos," he said.

Bankruptcy has never been used in the United States for a school district. However, Bernstein worries bankruptcy will find DPS instead of the other way around.

"Every day that you don't have a deal done makes it more likely that you won't have a choice," he said.

Governor Rick Snyder's office released this statement:

"Bankruptcy for the Detroit Public Schools should only be considered a last resort because it would be bad for everyone involved. We're working with our partners in the legislature to rectify the situation that will improve finances and academics for public school students in Detroit, getting them the best education possible."

EMU terminates involvement with EAA, ends agreement with Detroit schools

By Ryan Stanton |
February 05, 2016 at 6:43 PM

Eastern Michigan University's Board of Regents has decided to withdraw from the agreement with Detroit Public Schools that led to the creation of Gov. Rick Snyder's controversial Education Achievement Authority.

The regents voted unanimously on Friday, with Chairman Mike Morris absent, to give notice of the university's intent to withdraw under terms of the agreement first approved in 2011, and to terminate EMU's involvement in the EAA.

Under terms of the agreement, EMU can withdraw on June 30 of any given year but must give 180 days notice, so the decision won't be effective until June 30, 2017.

But given legislative efforts under way in Lansing, EMU officials expect the EAA to cease to exist well before that time.

"From the beginning, Eastern's objective in this effort has been focused on helping the students of Detroit and trying to improve educational outcomes," Morris said in a statement released by EMU following the decision.

"We are taking this action today because it is the right thing to do for our university. It is increasingly clear that the anticipated legislation in Lansing to formally address this matter and end the EAA is now moving forward."
Senate Majority Leader Arlen Meekoff told The Detroit News on Wednesday the EAA would not be part of a $715 million plan to rescue the Detroit Public Schools.

"It's gone. We're not going to do the EAA again," Meekhof told The Detroit News, calling the move away from the EAA one of several accommodations Republicans will make to get Democrats on board with the larger plan.

The EMU regents meeting room in Welch Hall was packed to its 135-person capacity for Friday's meeting. Those who couldn't get seats were directed to a spillover room across the hall with a live video feed of the meeting.

Friday's meeting came only days after a vote of no confidence in the regents by the EMU Faculty Senate, alleging the regents violated the school's code of ethics by continuing a partnership with the EAA. Friday's decision to end the partnership was welcomed by faculty and others in attendance, though that didn't spare regents from hearing some criticisms over the situation.

The EAA is a partnership between the state, Detroit Public Schools and EMU to administer a number of schools that were taken by the state, removed from DPS, and put into the EAA, which is overseen by the state, with a majority of the board members appointed by the governor. The EAA oversees 15 schools — nine charter elementary/middle schools, and six high schools.

There has been much controversy surrounding the EAA, which has been criticized for poor academic performance and declining enrollment.

There also has been an FBI investigation into the EAA for alleged kickback schemes involving vendors.

Also hurting EMU is the fact that some local school districts have refused to accept student teachers from EMU because of the university's affiliation with the EAA.

EMU Student Body President Steven Cole expressed hopes on Friday that student teachers will be able to go back to placements in local school districts.

"It's encouraging to see that they voted to withdraw from the agreement. It's been overdue, a vote we've been asking for," he said. "And the community has been urging for two years now to get out."

Judith Kullberg, president of the EMU Faculty Senate, said withdrawing from the EAA allows the entire EMU community to move forward, redoubling its commitment as an institution of opportunity where students learn in and beyond the classroom to benefit the global and local communities.

"We need to focus on how we can realize our shared vision of EMU as a premier public university, recognized for student-centered learning, high-quality academic programs and community impact," she told regents at Friday's meeting.

"As the president of Faculty Senate, I can assure you the entire faculty is committed to this vision, and we look forward to working with you to achieve it."

Snyder has said in the past he was open to disbanding the EAA as part of a deal with the Legislature on Detroit schools.

Dave Murray, a spokesperson for Snyder, offered a statement on behalf of the governor's office on Friday.

"The Education Achievement Authority has embraced innovation and pioneered a holistic approach to helping children and their families work toward a brighter future," he said. "We appreciate the important and hard work of Chancellor Veronica Conforme, her faculty and staff and the investment they have made in Detroit's children. We intend to see that work continue."

He added, "While we understand that EMU has chosen to end its partnership with this endeavor, we are hopeful that the Legislature will consider new ways to improve academics in all Detroit schools so that all students have the opportunity to be successful."

EMU regents said in 2014 they would withdraw from the EAA partnership if a faculty review found it had not improved, but when that review was finished in December the regents chose to postpone voting on the issue.

EAA Chancellor Veronica Conforme urged regents not to renew the agreement with Detroit Public Schools ahead of Friday's meeting.

"I encourage the board members to vote to end the interlocal agreement," Conforme said in a statement. "This saga has gone on for far too long and has made our teachers, students and parents feel like political pawns. I recognize the interlocal agreement has negatively impacted both our students and the university in many ways and has not allowed for our long-term success. The founding governance structure of the EAA lacks stability and is an unsustainable model.

"It's time to start putting our students first by exploring every option and settle on a permanent solution that provides stability to our schools and provides our students with the high-quality education they deserve," Conforme added.

"The support of the board has produced tremendous innovations for Detroit, and for that, I am greatly appreciative. Going forward, I intend to see those innovations take root and become a lasting part of this city's plan for education."

Ryan Stanton covers the city beat for The Ann Arbor News. Reach him at
Lead Test Results Confirm Worst Fears for Flint Family

Photo: Dana Brock, 3, and his mother, Denettra Brown, and grandparents by Hannah Rappleye.

Deep down, the Brown family knew the water that had flowed through the pipes in their home in Flint, Michigan — the water that 3-year-old Dana had been drinking for months before anyone was warned — probably contained toxic lead.

This week, they got test results that confirmed their fears.

Water Defense, the anti-fracking and safe-water activist group headed by actor Mark Ruffalo, collected samples from Oscar and Elizabeth Brown's home last weekend and brought them to an independent lab in Cincinnati for analysis.

The results, which the group shared with NBC News, show that the water coming out of the kitchen faucet, where a filter was installed after state officials finally confirmed the lead crisis this fall, didn't contain any of the heavy metal.

But a sample of the water from the bathtub, which is unfiltered, contained 16 parts per billion, higher than the threshold of 15 ppb that federal regulators say is the point at which a water system must take action to protect public health.

"I'm over it. I really just want to leave," said Denettra Brown, who is Oscar and Elizabeth's great-granddaughter and lives in the house with her son, Dana, who is suffering from unexplained health problems.

"I'm tired of crying, I'm tired of my head hurting, I'm over it...Something needs to be done."

The amount of lead in the tub water exceeded the federal limit even though the city is no longer using the water from the Flint River that corroded pipes and leached lead into the system.

Flint switched back to using water from Detroit in October, and has been adding phosphates to its water since Dec. 9 to build up a protective layer in the decayed pipes and seal in any lead, but it's unclear how long it will take for that to be fully effective.

In the meantime, some pipes are depositing more lead in the water than the filters are rated to handle, officials have said. Pregnant women and children are being told to only drink bottled water unless their home has been tested and declared safe.

The results from Water Defense's tests in the Brown house don't tell the family how much lead might have been in the water at the peak of the crisis — before the switch away from river water and before the phosphates were added.

"If we're finding concerning and dangerous levels now, God knows what the lead levels really were before," said Scott Smith, chief technology officer for Water Defense, who collected the samples from the Brown home. "And all of that lead is in human bodies."

Dana began having health problems more than a year ago: seizures, which can be a symptom of lead-poisoning, and rotting teeth, another possible sign. Despite two hospitalizations and an MRI, doctors were unable to diagnose him.

Elizabeth and Oscar Brown and their granddaughter Denettra and great-grandson Dana live in a Flint house with a lead service line and fear the 3-year-old has been poisoned. Hannah Rappleye
His mother wants Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, whose early warnings about elevated lead tests in children were initially brushed off by government officials, to test Dana for lead poisoning. But since it's been weeks since he consumed any lead-tainted water, those results might not tell the family how badly he was exposed or whether his medical issues are related.

Denettra Brown said she doesn't want to bathe Dana in the water, even though health officials say that's safe and that there is no proven link to reports of rashes.

Mostly, she feels trapped in Flint, where 40 percent of families live below the poverty line. Money is coming into the city for bottled water, filters, testing and health care, but Brown says what would really help her is relocation assistance.

"I can't afford to leave and get a car and insurance," she said. "It's like I'm just stuck here in this mess. I have no choice but to stay."

The Republican Refusal to Aid Flint

New York Times
FEB. 5, 2016

The water crisis in Flint, Mich., has elicited a lot more hand-wringing and apologies than concrete actions to provide for the needs of children and adults whose health may be damaged by water from pipes that are leaching lead into taps all over the city. The state government, whose officials caused this crisis, has been loath to commit substantial funds to long-term needs, and Congress, under the control of Republicans, is finding excuses not to rescue this poverty-stricken, majority-black city of nearly 100,000 people.

The evasions were on prominent display on both sides of Congress this week.

A House oversight committee held a hearing on Wednesday whose purpose was purportedly to identify those responsible for the Flint crisis and determine what could be done to alleviate it. But the committee failed to summon Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, whose environmental officials and emergency managers were the ones who made monumental blunders that led the city to draw water from the polluted Flint River without treating it properly. Instead, Republicans heaped blame on the Environmental Protection Agency, which made mistakes but was a bit player in this drama.

Then on Thursday, in the Senate, negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on a financial aid package for Flint, to be attached to a bipartisan energy bill awaiting passage, broke down, and Democrats refused to approve the bill without the aid package, pushing any hope of assistance into next week.

The Democrats have already yielded a lot of ground, cutting their original $600 million aid package to less than half of that, only to meet Republican objections that the costs were not fully offset by other cuts in federal spending and that no money should be provided until Michigan had a more thorough plan on how the money would be spent.

There is little doubt that some, perhaps all, of Flint’s corroded pipes will need to be replaced, at a cost that the governor estimates at $767 million and others say could be above $1 billion. We believe that the Army Corps of Engineers ought to do the job and bill the state for its services. It is outrageous that Flint residents, even though the city has switched back to cleaner water from Lake Huron, still have to rely on bottled water and filters because the lead continues to leach from the pipes.

There is no doubt that thousands of Flint residents will need monitoring, medical supervision and educational support for many years to come. Some 8,000 or more children under the age of 6, whose developing brains can suffer irreversible damage from exposure to lead, drank the poisoned water, and some are already showing symptoms. They need immediate access to supportive preschool programs; monitoring by school nurses and teachers trained to spot and care for children with developmental difficulties (Michigan ranks last in the ratio of school nurses to students); and nutritious meals high in calcium, vitamin C and iron, which mitigate the effects of lead.

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, The Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

Experts are uncertain about the degree of permanent brain damage caused by the amount of lead ingested by Flint youngsters. That may take years to assess fully, but these youngsters and their parents deserve every bit of support they can get for the harm they have suffered and will continue to suffer from the government’s mistakes.

And children are not the only victims. Lead poisoning can have severe consequences for people of all ages. It will be crucial for everyone — every baby, adolescent and adult — to be monitored by a primary care doctor who can keep close watch on his or her medical needs. Providing that service will require immediate money from the state and federal governments — and a long-term commitment from the state to the victims for decades to come.
As Flint Fought to Be Heard, Virginia Tech Team Sounded Alarm
New York Times
FEB. 6, 2016

Photo: Marc Edwards, seated, a Virginia Tech professor, led a research team of students and professors whose members included, from left, Siddhartha Roy, Pan Ji, Otto Schwake and Jeffrey Parks. Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The young scientists, mostly in their 20s and counting the semesters until their next degree, had drawn an audience so large that it spilled from the auditorium on the Virginia Tech campus into two overflow rooms.

They were explaining to students, members of the faculty and guests how they were at first laughed off by government regulators about 550 miles northwest of here in Flint, Mich., when they detected alarming amounts of lead coming from residents’ taps.

Siddhartha Roy, a doctoral student from India, held up a bottle of yellow-tinted Flint water. The team’s role, he told the crowd, was “essentially validating what citizens had been saying for months.” That validation was so important to the increasingly desperate people of Flint that one resident hugged him when he heard that the Virginia Tech scientists had indeed confirmed that the water was contaminated.

“He just wouldn’t let go,” Mr. Roy, 27, said in an interview. “It’s surreal, because when it’s happening, your mind is blank. But when you go back home and you reflect on it, you feel happy and grateful that you can be part of something big.”

Flint’s public health problem stemmed from a failure to properly treat water from the Flint River, which resulted in pipe corrosion and elevated levels of lead. The crisis is at best a tale of neglect and incompetence. At worst, critics say, it is criminal conduct that imperiled the public’s well-being. Already state and federal agencies, including the F.B.I., have opened investigations.

But as government officials were ignoring and ridiculing residents’ concerns about the safety of their tap water, a small circle of people was setting off alarms. Among them was the team from Virginia Tech.

The team began looking into Flint’s water after its professor, Marc Edwards, spoke with LeeAnne Walters, a resident whose tap water contained alarming amounts of lead. Dr. Edwards, who years earlier had helped expose lead contamination in Washington, D.C., had his students send testing kits to homes in Flint to find out if the problem was widespread. Lead exposure can lead to health and developmental problems, particularly in children, and its toxic effects can be irreversible.

Their persistence helped force officials to acknowledge the crisis and prompted warnings to residents to not drink or cook with tap water. Officials are now scrambling to find a more permanent solution to the problem than trucking in thousands of plastic jugs, and are turning to Virginia Tech for advice.

The scientists “became the only people that citizens here trust, and it’s still that way,” said Melissa Mays, a Flint resident who has protested the water quality.

At Virginia Tech, which experienced the nation’s deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in 2007 and last weekend saw two students arrested in the murder of a 13-year-old girl, the researchers are a source of pride. At the presentation on campus on Jan. 28, they were interrupted several times by standing ovations.

The team is a mixed group. Mostly environmental engineers, the members range in experience from undergraduates to professors.

The students come from places as disparate as Arizona, Virginia, India and Singapore. Many said they had known little about Michigan, let alone Flint, before they started their research, spending nights and weekends working on the project.

Many of them were drawn to environmental engineering rather than a more lucrative specialty, Mr. Roy said, because “we have this childhood aspiration of hopefully helping people and serving society at some point.”

Dr. Edwards, who testified before a congressional committee on Wednesday, said the situation in Flint in many ways paralleled his work about 10 years ago in Washington, where government agencies were similarly dismissive of his efforts and slow to grasp the problem’s scope.

The students began their work last summer as Michigan officials insisted that Flint’s malodorous, discolored water was safe to drink. The team mailed testing kits to Flint, and in August a group packed into Dr. Edwards’s family van and set off for a site visit.

Once in Flint, the group visited several homes to collect water, shipping the samples back to Virginia so they could be tested quickly on campus.

“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Colin Richards, 25, a graduate student in environmental engineering, who went on that trip. “This is a crazy situation. This is very unexpected that it got this big.”

The tests revealed alarming levels of lead. Besides calling residents to advise them of the troubling results, the team posted its documents and data online at, an act that has helped others investigate Flint’s problems.

Members of the team kept returning to Flint, collecting their samples and forging friendships with residents. When the federal, state and local governments failed to acknowledge the scope of the problem, Dr. Edwards held a community meeting in September advising residents to stop drinking the water.

In October, government officials finally warned of the lead risk, but the Virginia Tech researchers became concerned about the possibility that the water was causing Legionnaires’ disease. As it turned out, state officials had long been aware of a spike in Legionnaires’ cases after the switch in water sources, but the public was not told until last month.

Joyce Zhu, a doctoral student, went to collect samples at a Flint hospital, looking for signs of the bacteria that cause Legionnaires’.

“When I turned on the tap, you see this corrosive, reddish, brownish tap water,” she said. “It’s that moment that made it so real.”

Ms. Zhu said she had planned on a “typical” academic career, doing lab research with limited application off campus. But after analyzing lead-tainted water samples in the labs in Blacksburg and traveling to Flint, she said, she is considering how her career can benefit the public.

“I grew up in Singapore, where clean water, you take it for granted so much,” Ms. Zhu said.

State officials in Michigan initially dismissed the Virginia Tech team’s findings. As they did with other whistle-blowers, they disparaged its work. In one email obtained by the researchers, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Brad Wurfel, played down the lead risk, telling a reporter that the Virginia Tech team was known to “pull that rabbit out of that hat everywhere they go.”

“They had all the power,” Dr. Edwards said of Michigan environmental officials, “and in a million years they thought no one would do what we did.”

Now the tables have turned, and the Virginia Tech team has been enlisted to help address the crisis. Gov. Rick Snyder, whose administration has been widely blamed for a failure to protect Flint’s residents, has thanked Dr. Edwards and included him in a group now advising officials on permanent fixes for the Flint problem. Karen Weaver, the city’s mayor, asked the researchers to oversee state and federal lead testing.

The Virginia Tech team is among a handful of outside researchers who have been credited with helping expose the lead problem and stop it from getting worse. Miguel Del Toral, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist, first sounded alarms about the lead in Ms. Walters’s tap water, though his superiors were slow to notify the public. And in September, around the same time Dr. Edwards suggested that residents not drink the water, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, announced test results that indicated elevated lead levels in children’s blood, which she attributed to the water.

Some in Flint have said they will not trust that the water is safe until the Virginia Tech researchers say so. Ms. Walters visited Blacksburg last month, touring the labs where the tests took place and where the corroded, lead-leaching pipes removed from her house are now stored.

Without Dr. Edwards and his team, Ms. Walters said, she suspected little would have been done to protect Flint from its toxic water.

“They cared about the people,” Ms. Walters said as the college team showed her twin boys around their labs. “That’s why Virginia Tech has all the trust.”
A confidential report accuses Rwanda of recruiting Burundian refugees with the goal of ousting Nkurunziza.


UNITED NATIONS – A confidential report to the United Nations Security Council accuses Rwanda of recruiting and training Burundian refugees with the goal of ousting Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The report by experts who monitor sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo, which was seen by Reuters on Wednesday, contained the strongest testimony yet that Rwanda is meddling in Burundi affairs and comes amid fears that worsening political violence could escalate into mass atrocities.

The report cites accounts from several rebel fighters, who told the sanctions monitors the training was done in a forest camp in Rwanda.

Nkurunziza's re-election for a third term last year sparked the country's crisis and raised concerns that there could be a bloody ethnic conflict in a region where memories of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are still fresh.

The experts said in the report that they had spoken with 18 Burundian combatants in eastern Congo's South Kivu province.

"They all told the group that they had been recruited in the Mahama Refugee Camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015 and were given two months of military training by instructors, who included Rwandan military personnel," according to the report.

The Burundian combatants, which included six children, told the UN experts they were trained in military tactics, use of assault rifles and machine guns, grenades, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

They said there were at least four companies of 100 recruits each being trained in a forest camp while they were there.

"They were transported around Rwanda in the back of military trucks, often with Rwandan military escort," the UN experts wrote. "They reported that their ultimate goal was to remove Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza from power."

Burundi and Rwanda have the same ethnic mix, about 85 percent Hutus and 15 percent Tutsis. A 12-year civil war in Burundi, which ended in 2005, pitted a Tutsi-led army against Hutu rebel groups.

Rwandan UN Ambassador Eugene Gasana dismissed the accusations against Kigali contained in the report and told Reuters, "This further undermines the credibility of the Group of Experts, which seems to have extended its own mandate, but apparently investigating Burundi."

The UN report did not say why the Burundian fighters had crossed into Congo. But Russia's Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Iliichev said last month that there had been reports of Burundian rebels trying to recruit more fighters in Congo.

"The Burundian combatants showed the group fake DRC identification cards that had been produced for them in Rwanda, so they could avoid suspicion while in the DRC," the report said.

Burundi accused Rwanda in December of supporting a rebel group that was recruiting Burundian refugees on Rwandan soil, but Rwandan President Paul Kagame dismissed the allegations as "childish."

The accusations by Burundi were prompted by the charity Refugees International, which said in a December report it was "deeply concerned" by claims of Burundian refugees in Rwanda that they were being recruited by "non-state armed groups".

The UN Security Council travelled to Burundi in late January, its second visit to the country in less than 10 months. The United Nations has estimated the death toll at 439 people but has said it could be higher. More than 240,000 people have fled abroad and the country's economy is in crisis.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said during the visit to Burundi that the 15-member council had expressed concern about the allegations of external interference.

Burundi crisis: Allegations against Rwanda 'unfounded'

4 February 2016

Rwanda has dismissed allegations in a leaked UN report that it is training Burundian refugees who want to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The report, which has been seen by the Reuters news agency, is based on evidence from 18 Burundian fighters.

Similar allegations have been made by Burundi's government.

A political crisis in the country, sparked by President Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term last April, has led thousands to flee.

Seventy thousand of the 240,000 Burundians who have left the country since the crisis began are living in Rwanda.

"The unfounded allegations come from the fact that Rwanda has been hosting refugees considered hostile to [the government in Burundi's capital] Bujumbura," Rwanda's Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement emailed to the BBC.

The UN experts behind the report gathered the evidence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are monitoring UN sanctions.

The Burundian fighters told them that they had been recruited in May and June last year and given two months of military training by the Rwandans, and then given fake identity cards to cross into DR Congo, Reuters reports.

They also said there were four companies, each made up of 100 Burundian rebels, still in Rwanda.
In dismissing this evidence, Ms Mushikiwabo said the crisis in Burundi was of the country's "own making" and people should focus on that rather than "look for scapegoats".

On Wednesday, Burundi's ruling CNDD-FDD party accused Rwanda's President Paul Kagame of plotting to overthrow Mr Nkurunziza.

The BBC's Prime Ndikumagenge in Bujumbura reports that Burundi's Foreign Minister Alain Nyamwite told journalists that the leaked UN report provided further evidence of what the government had been saying.

Last July, Burundi's government said that Rwanda had allowed rebels to cross into the north-west of the country.

Burundi's deepening crisis:

April 2015: Protests erupt after President Pierre Nkurunziza announces he will seek a third term in office.
May 2015: Constitutional court rules in favour of Mr Nkurunziza, amid reports of judges being intimidated. Tens of thousands flee violence amid protests.
May 2015: Army officers launch a coup attempt, which fails.
July 2015: Elections are held, with Mr Nkurunziza re-elected. The polls are disputed, with opposition leader Agathon Rwasa describing them as "a joke"
November 2015: Burundi government gives those opposing President Nkurunziza's third term five days to surrender their weapons ahead of a promised crackdown.
November 2015: UN warns it is less equipped to deal with violence in Burundi than it was for the Rwandan genocide.
December 2015: 87 people killed on one day as soldiers respond to an attack on military sites in Bujumbura.
January 2016: Amnesty International publishes satellite images it says are believed to be mass graves close to where December's killings took place.

UN experts find bid to smuggle Congo arms via Rwanda to Burundi rebels

Feb. 05, 2016, 9:00 am

A confidential report to the United Nations Security Council found there have been attempts to smuggle weapons from Democratic Republic of Congo through Rwanda to rebels in Burundi where a political crisis threatens to spiral out of control.

The report by experts who monitor sanctions on DRC said Congolese authorities arrested Rwandan and Congolese civilians and two Congolese army officers in October and November on suspicion of arms smuggling.

They were caught at a border post between Congo and Rwanda with weapons, some of which "were hidden in bags of green beans or manioc, and others were hidden in the chassis of a car," the group of UN experts wrote in the report, seen by Reuters this week.

"The group conducted interviews with the perpetrators, some of whom confirmed that the weapons were to be used in support of an armed group in Burundi," the experts said.

"The group was able to identify one of the (Congolese army) officers as having been involved in selling arms from (Congolese army) storage."

The UN experts did not say how many weapons were seized.

The Congolese army spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the UN report.

The UN report also accused Rwandan military of helping recruit and train Burundian refugees with the goal of ousting Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. Rwandan UN Ambassador Eugene Gasana dismissed the accusations against Kigali.

Nkurunziza's re-election for a third term last year sparked the country's crisis and raised concerns that there could be a bloody ethnic conflict in a region where memories of Rwanda's 1994 genocide are still fresh.

Burundi and Rwanda have the same ethnic mix, about 85 per cent Hutus and 15 per cent Tutsis. A 12-year civil war in Burundi, which ended in 2005, pitted a Tutsi-led army against Hutu rebel groups.

The UN Security Council traveled to Burundi in late January, its second visit to the country in less than 10 months.

The United Nations has estimated the death toll at 439 people in political violence since last April but has said it could be higher. More than 240,000 people have fled abroad and the country's economy is in crisis.

African leaders, who met in Addis Ababa last weekend, agreed to send a team to try to persuade Nkurunziza to accept a 5,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force after he rejected the plan and said any such force would be treated as an invasion.