What is Michigan state’s Flint water crisis?

On Thursday, nine former officials who served the state of Michigan in the US, including the state’s former governor Rick Snyder, were charged in connection with a criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis.

Michigan’s Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L Worth announced that after 12 months of jury proceedings, the nine officials were indicted on a total of 42 counts “related to a series of alleged actions and inactions that created the historic injustice of the Flint Water Crisis”.

“We must remember that the Flint Water Crisis is not some relic of the past. At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government, who trampled upon their trust, and evaded accountability for far too long,” Hammoud was quoted as saying in a statement

Former governor Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty. “As Governor of the State of Michigan, a public officer did willfully neglect his mandatory legal duty to protect citizens of this state against disaster and/or emergency,” his indictment mentions.

Snyder, who is a Republican became Michigan’s 48th governor and was sworn in on January 1, 2011. He remained in this position until 2018.

What was the Flint Water Crisis?

The Flint water crisis is an ongoing public health crisis that began in 2014 when the City of Flint in Michigan–which has a population of roughly 100,000–changed its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint river. This switch caused the water distribution pipes to corrode, as a result of which lead and other contaminants were leached into the municipal drinking water.

This led to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria and other health complications in thousands of its residents. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people can get sick from this if they breathe in mist or accidentally swallow bacteria-containing water into the lungs.

While the water supply was switched back in 2015, the damage was long-lasting and many residents of the city continued to suffer.

In January 2016, the state of Michigan declared a state of emergency and in October the same year, residents of the city were advised not to drink the municipal tap water unless it was filtered.

As per an article published in the American Water Works Association (AWWA) in 2016, which described the water crisis, a few weeks after the water source was switched despite warnings and concerns from some officials, residents started complaining about the colour, taste and odor of their drinking water. In May 2014, some residents informed officials that the water was causing rashes, especially in children.

As per a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) conducted by the CDC in May 2016, over 66 percent of the households in the city reported one or more adult members experiencing at least one behavioural health issue “more than usual” and 54 percent of the households reported that at least one child experienced at least one behavioural health issue.

But why was the water source changed?

The AWWA article notes that in order to reduce costs for treated water Flint officials decided to join the newly formed Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) in 2013, which was constructing a pipeline to transmit water from Lake Huron.

In the meantime, the city of Flint had the option to either purchase treated water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD), which was sourced from Lake Huron or treat water from the Flint river on its own.

After officials failed to strike a short-term agreement with DWSD, Flint officials decided to use water from the Flint river and treat it at the Flint Water Service Center (FWSC). But the water wasn’t treated properly at the FWSC, resulting in lead contamination.

The article also notes that while the Flint river water is difficult to treat, “oversights and missteps” combined with “inherent chemical conditions” set the stage for the water crisis.

A report published in 2017 by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission said that race and racism played a role in causing the water crisis even though both black and white residents were victims. The report is based on the testimony of over 150 residents, community leaders, experts, academics and government officials

We are not suggesting that those making decisions related to this crisis were racists, or meant to treat Flint any differently because it is a community primarily made up by people of color. Rather, the disparate response is the result of systemic racism that was built into the foundation and growth of Flint, its industry and the suburban area surrounding it,” the report said.

”The crisis has been the subject of a film and a documentary film. A 2017 TV film called Flint directed by Bruce Beresford starring Queen Latifah featured her as a woman dealing with the effects that the contaminated water had on her and her family. A documentary on the subject, also titled “Flint”, was released in 2020 and is based on half a decade of research into the crisis and the failure of officials to respond to it.

Why WhatsApp is giving users more time to accept its privacy policy

Accepting that it had led to “confusion” and spawned a lot of “misinformation”, messaging service WhatsApp Saturday announced it will be delaying the implementation of its new privacy policy until May 15. This, the Facebook product hopes, will give users more time to “review the policy at their own pace”.

Why has WhatsApp delayed the implementation of the new privacy policy?

Ever since it announced the new policy in early January, there was confusion over whether this means parent company Facebook, which has been facing some trust deficit globally, will get to access user messages. As this confusion, partly caused by a hard-to-understand privacy policy which chose to not spell out how the changes will play out on ground, gained ground, millions of users across the world chose to look at options, even as WhatsApp gave users the option to accept or leave the service

What happens now?

Nothing really changes in the privacy policy, which WhatsApp later clarified does not change anything when it comes to personal messaging and only impacts some new messaging with businesses. However, now users have till May 15 to read through, internalise and accept the new policy and its changes. Earlier, the deadline was February 8, which had added to the panic among users and fears that something drastic is on the anvil.

WhatsApp has also reiterated in the new post that users have nothing to be worried about. “WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. Which is why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” it says.

Will this help WhatsApp end the exodus of users?

To a certain extent, yes. But the damage has been done. What the new privacy policy has done is remind users about the linkages between Facebook and WhatsApp, which many would not have taken seriously so far. With Facebook’s not-so-great record in privacy, users seem to be rethinking if they want to be messaging everybody from their parents to bosses via a service owned by the social network.

Both Signal and Telegram have benefited from this exodus, so much so that both services seem to be struggling to handle the influx of new users — Signal services were disrupted on Friday. What could come to WhatsApp’s advantage in the long run is the network effect, which will gradually sink in as users realise that those who they want to chat with have not moved along with them to the same alternative option. And this could be what WhatsApp might be hoping from with the delayed adoption of the privacy policy.

CHESS

ABOUT CHESS:

Chess was invented in India around the 8th century. Chess is a board game. It is played by two players. It is played in a square board, made of 64 smaller squares, with eight squares on each side. Each player starts with sixteen pieces: eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen, and one king. The colors of the pieces are black and white. Chess is one of the world’s most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide. It is such a great game because unlike any other games it only uses logic. The goal of the game is for each to try and checkmate the king of the opponent. Playing chess may improve learning, thinking, analytical power, and decision-making ability. Chess may also Chess helped me in getting my thoughts and ideas focused. Chess elevates your creativity. Chess leads to better planning skills.

ABOUT CHESS PIECES:

The six different types of pieces are king, rook, bishop, queen, knight, and pawn.

  • KING:

The king is the most important piece in the game of chess. It can never be captured and if it is in danger then it must be made safe immediately. If it is not possible to make the King safe then the game is lost. The King may move one square in any direction. In the diagram, the King can move to one of the highlighted squares.

  • QUEEN:

The queen is the most powerful piece in the game of chess, able to move any number of squares vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. Each player starts the game with one queen, placed in the middle of the first rank next to the king. The queen is the only piece on the board during a chess game that represents a woman, and she is the most powerful piece of the game.

  • ROOK:

The rook is a piece in the game of chess resembling a castle. The rook symbolized a chariot. A rook can move horizontally or vertically. The rooks begin the game in the corners of the chessboard. The rook is the second most powerful piece (behind the queen). The rook can capture an enemy piece by moving to the occupied square.

  • BISHOP:

The bishop is a piece in the game of chess. Each player begins the game with two bishops. One starts between the king’s knight and the king, the other between the queen’s knight and the queen. The bishop chess piece moves in any direction diagonally. Bishops capture opposing pieces by landing on the square occupied by an enemy piece.

  • KNIGHT:

The knight is a piece in the game of chess. It is represented by a horse’s head and neck. Each player starts with two knights, which are located between the rooks and bishops in the standard starting position. A knight can move only in an L pattern. It is meant to jump over other pieces. The Knight piece can move forward, backward, left, or right two squares and must then move one square in either perpendicular direction.

  • PAWN:

The pawn is the most numerous piece in the game of chess. They move forward but capture diagonally. Pawns can only move forward one square at a time, except for their very first move where they can move forward two squares.

EAGLE

ABOUT EAGLE:

Eagle is one of the wonderful birds. Eagles are large, powerful Birds. They are Diurnal Birds which means that they are most active during the daytime. Most Species of Eagles have subdued feather colors, mainly browns, rust, black, white, and some blues and greys. An Eagle’s Wings are Long and Broad, making them effective for Soaring. Eagles catch prey with their razor-sharp talons. Eagles have heavy heads and large hooked beaks to enable them to rip flesh from their prey. It flies high above the ground looking for prey with its keen eyes. Eagles’ eyes are extremely powerful. They mate for life and use the same nest each year. There are several species of eagles, which differ in size, looks, and habits. The beak is typically heavier than that of most other birds of prey. There are over 60 different species of eagle. Eagles build their nests on high cliffs or in tall trees. Eagles belong to several groups of genera, some of which are closely related.

TYPES OF EAGLES:

There are different types of eagles. Some of them are,

  • BALD EAGLE:

A bald eagle is a large eagle with a white head that lives in North America. It is the national bird of the United States of America. The bald eagle has a snowy-feathered head and whitetail.

  • GOLDEN EAGLE:

Golden eagle a large Eurasian and North American eagle with yellow-tipped head feathers in the mature adult. It is the most widely distributed species of eagle. Golden eagles are sometimes considered the best fliers among eagles.

  • HARPY EAGLE:

Harpy eagle a very large crested eagle of tropical rainforests. Harpies have a crown of irregular feathers atop their heads, giving them a disheveled appearance. Their legs are covered in white feathers with black stripes to the feet, which are yellow with large black talons.

  • WHITE-TAILED EAGLE:

The white-tailed eagle is a very large species of a sea eagle. The white-tailed eagle is a very large bird and one of the largest living birds of prey. The white-tailed eagle is also called the sea eagle, erne, and white-tailed sea-eagle.

  • WEDGE TAILED EAGLE:

The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia and is also found in southern New Guinea. It has long, fairly broad wings, fully feathered legs, and an unmistakable wedge-shaped tail. Young Wedge-tailed Eagles are mid-brown in color with reddish-brown heads and wings.

  • STEPPE EAGLE:

The steppe eagle is in many ways a peculiar species of eagle. The steppe eagle is a large, bulky, and robust-looking eagle. It is mainly dark brown with a longish but very thick neck and a relatively small head that nonetheless features a strong bill and long gape-line. It appears long-winged and has a longish and rather rounded tail and markedly well-feathered legs.

  • SHORT-TOED SNAKE EAGLE:

The short-toed snake eagle, also known as the short-toed eagle, is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. The short-toed snake eagle is found in open cultivated plains, arid stony deciduous scrub areas, and foothills and semi-desert areas. These are relatively large snake eagles.

How Does Music Help Students?

I guess everybody likes music, at least everybody I know likes music. But most of us don’t know how music affects us and especially students. 

According to my dictionary, music is the sounds that are arranged in a way that is pleasant or exciting to listen to. But to me music is more than that. It is a way of life. Music freshens up my mind and provides a new energy. There are various types of music around the world but I like Indian classical music the most. It can be a little boring at first but as the tempo increases, the singer also starts singing faster and at that time I start dancing (mostly dancing in my mind). 

What happens when we listen to Music?

  • The brain treats the music differently. When we listen to music, many activities occur all around the brain  involved in movement, motor planning, attention and of course, the auditory cortex.
  • If the music feels good to your brain then it releases dopamine. It is basically your brain telling you whether you should or not listen to music.
  • It changes your mood and also changes your perspective about the world. A study showed that people see happy faces when they listen to happy music, but if they happen to listen to sad songs, they are likely to see sad faces. 
  • Music can control your fear and makes you ready to fight. It also stimulates memory from the hippocampus.
  • Music enhances frontal lobe’s function, which is used in thinking and decision making.
  • Song lyrics activate Broca’s and Wernickle’s area which improves the ability to communicate.

Music and Students

Music can create a mood. Study music can be relaxing and help students beat anxiety or stress while studying. Background music is likely to help students improve their focus during long study sessions.

Music can help with memorisation – that is the basis of “the Mozart effect” which suggested that listening to Mozart study music could actually enhance intelligence.

Study music is considered to be beneficial for the intake of vital information. Relaxing music for studying can help to ease nerves and help you beat pre-exam anxiety.

Studies have shown that Music can even increase your performance. A study done by Cambridge University showed that hip-hop music provides an uplifting effect on its listeners that can help them accept, manage and deal better with mental health issues

Perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to listen to music during a study session is because music is proven to help improve cognitive performance.

Music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. It helps us to improve our focus.

It can cure pain. Similar to how a lullaby would calm you, studies show that music can meaningfully reduce the intensity of pain, especially in geriatric care, intensive care, or palliative medicine. 

Music also increases motivation to do our work. It also improves our immune functions.

Due to so many benefits of music, Plato says, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

Wind turbine maker Vestas halts batch of V150s after Sweden collapse probe

Vestas has temporarily taken around 150 of its V150 machines out of service “in an abundance of caution” after identifying a blade fault as the cause of a turbine collapse in Sweden late last year.

A investigation into the V150 4.2MW collapse at the Aldermyrberget wind farm found a bonding failure on blade-root inserts due to a manufacturing issue at a single supplier, confirmed a spokesman for the Danish wind giant.

Vestas has halted around 150 of the turbines that could potentially be exposed to the same issue, which caused a loose blade to destabilise the Swedish turbine and collapse, he added.

“Vestas is taking this step out of an abundance of caution and is working to put a solution in place to get the turbines safely operating again,” the spokesman told Recharge, adding that the company is liaising with customers over options for repair or replacement.

No other operational turbines have been affected, and the fault is not related to two other V150 blade incidents in the US and Australia last year, said Vestas.

Nobody was hurt in the incident at the Aldermyrberget project, which is owned by Wpd and was ramping up for full commissioning when the turbine collapsed in November.

The V150 has been a huge commercial success for Vestas over the last few years, with thousands of the turbines ordered for deployment in markets around the world as developers move to more powerful machines. The OEM had booked more than 10GW of orders for the V150 4.2MW by mid-2020