Judge OKs federal intervention in Jackson water management – National & International News – THU 1Dec2022

Judge OKs federal intervention in Jackson water management. San Francisco board OKs police use of killer robots. Jamaica, Barbados seek slavery reparations from sugar baron British MP.




Judge OKs federal intervention in Jackson water management

A US District Judge in Mississippi has approved a proposal from the Justice Department for federal intervention in the management of Jackson’s water system. A third-party manager has been appointed to oversee updates to the city’s struggling system. Ted Henifin, a former public works manager in Virginia, will be in charge of implementing a 13-item list of necessary improvements to the system. The most urgent project is winterizing equipment to make it less vulnerable to cold weather. In 2021, a cold snap froze pipes and left tens of thousands of residents without water for days.

These fixes are near-term solutions to help stabilize the water system while city, state and federal officials negotiate the terms of a consent decree to establish a long-term management strategy.

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba welcomed the decision and praised Henifin’s appointment. Lumumba said the city had been working closely with the DOJ to iron out the terms of the management plan. He said Henifin’s expertise had already proven invaluable. The state’s health department also signed off on the deal.

When Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the decision yesterday, he said this proposal was part of the DOJ’s commitment to environmental justice in “overburdened and underserved communities”.

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San Francisco board votes to allow police to use killer robots

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors have voted 8-3 to allow police to deploy robots capable of lethal force in “extraordinary circumstances”.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin justified his ‘yes’ vote saying that, “There could be an extraordinary circumstance where, in a virtually unimaginable emergency, they might want to deploy lethal force to render, in some horrific situation, somebody from being able to cause further harm”.

But Supervisor Dean Preston, one of the three who voted against the proposal, warned, “There is serious potential for misuse and abuse of this military-grade technology, and zero showing of necessity”.

Essentially, the board has left it up to police to decide what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances”. They set no concrete limitations as to when and how police can deploy the robot. Perhaps realizing they’d given an overbroad endorsement of discretion, the board did slightly amend their decision. They stipulated that one of the city’s two highest ranking police officials would have to authorize any use of a robot for lethal force.

SFPD Chief tries to reassure the public

When the San Francisco Police Department submitted its equipment proposal to the board, Aaron Peskin added the line “robots shall not be used as a Use of Force against any person”. The SFPD then returned the draft to the board with a red line crossing out Peskin’s addition, replacing it with an authorization to use robots to kill suspects. Peskin and seven other board members then decided to accept this without further pushback. 

In an attempt to ally fears, SFPD Chief Bill Scott said, “These robots would be a last resort. If we ever have to exercise that option, it either means lives, innocent lives, have already been lost, or in the balance, and this would be the only option to neutralize that person putting those lives at risk, or the person who has taken those lives”.

Scott vaguely described when the department might deem it “necessary” to use a robot to take a life. The one specific scenario Scott did offer was a mass shooting. Scott said the technology would be helpful in neutralizing suspects in mass shootings without putting officers’ lives in danger. “These events, these mass killings, are all too common,” Scott said. “And God forbid one happens here, we just need to give our officers the tools to do their jobs”. In case you were wondering, SFPD does have military grade body armor and weapons with which to equip their officers.

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Jamaica, Barbados seek slavery reparations from British sugar baron MP

The governments of Jamaica and Barbados are seeking slavery reparations from a wealthy Conservative British member of Parliament, either through negotiation or legal action. The MP in question is Richard Drax, who represents South Dorset and was a staunch supporter of Brexit.

The Drax family was one of the pioneers of the transatlantic slave trade and Caribbean sugar plantation system in the 17th century. His family still own Drax Hall, a 617-acre working sugar plantation on Barbados, one of the first on the island. However, Drax failed to report his ownership of this plantation in his register of members’ interests declaration, a requirement for British MPs. His ties to the plantation only became public after an investigation by Britain’s Observer newspaper. The Observer estimates that Drax has a net worth of around £150 million.

“The Draxes built and designed and structured slavery”

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission, estimates that over 30,000 slaves died on the Drax plantations in Barbados and Jamaica over 200 years. “The Drax family has done more harm and violence to the Black people of Barbados than any other family,” Beckles said. “The Draxes built and designed and structured slavery”. 

The first Drax plantation opened in Barbados in 1642. The family continued operations and expanded its holdings throughout Barbados and other Caribbean islands until Britain abolished slavery in 1833. After abolition, Parliament awarded £4,293 (about £3 million in today’s money) to Drax’s ancestor John Sawbridge Erle-Drax in compensation for freeing 189 slaves.

Previously, Drax acknowledged his family’s ties to slavery. However, Drax denied any accountability for its legacy in the present day, though his family continues to profit handsomely from it. “I am keenly aware of the slave trade in the West Indies and the role my very distant ancestor played in it is deeply, deeply regrettable. But no one can be held responsible today for what happened many hundreds of years ago”.

Drax recently rejected calls to pay reparations for his family’s role in the slave trade. But after the government of Barbados threatened to take him to court, Drax traveled to Barbados to attempt to negotiate a settlement with its government

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