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Criminal charges filed against three officials over Flint water crisis

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Three Michigan state and local officials were criminally charged on Wednesday in connection with the state attorney general’s investigation into dangerous lead levels in Flint’s drinking water.

Genesee District Judge Tracy Collier-Nix authorized charges against Flint employee Michael Glasgow and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby.

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Glasgow, 40, was charged with tampering with evidence and willful neglect of duty, according to court documents.

Busch, 40, and Prysby, 53, were each charged with six counts, including misconduct in office, tampering with evidence and violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, according to court documents. Busch, a district manager in the drinking water division, had already been suspended.

The Detroit News, citing a source, said more indictments would be filed.

The three people charged could not immediately be reached for comment. Officials with the city of Flint and MDEQ also could not be reached.

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Dena Altheide, a court administrator, said no court dates or arraignments have been set. Michigan’s attorney general has scheduled a Wednesday afternoon news conference to make an announcement related to its probe of the crisis.

Flint, a city of about 100,000 people, was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 when it switched its source of water from Detroit’s municipal system to the Flint River to save money. The city switched back in October.

The river water was more corrosive than the Detroit system’s and caused more lead to leach from its aging pipes. Lead can be toxic and children are especially vulnerable. The crisis has prompted lawsuits by parents who say their children are showing dangerously high blood levels of lead.

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Attorney General Bill Schuette in January named a special prosecutor to lead a team to probe whether criminal charges should be filed in the water crisis.

In February, former Wayne County prosecutor Todd Flood, who has led the probe, said his team would look at what possible crimes were committed in the crisis.

“The criminal charges against MDEQ officials are one step towards justice for the families of Flint who were poisoned as a result of the actions of Governor (Rick) Snyder’s administration,” U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, said in a statement.

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Cummings and other House Democrats have called for Snyder to step down because of the state’s poor handling of the crisis, something the governor has said he would not do.

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Snyder, said the governor has supported the probe “because the people of Flint and across Michigan are owed straight answers about how the Flint water crisis happened.” The governor has said the state would pursue evidence of wrongdoing and hold people accountable.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman; additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey in Washington; editing by Diane Craft)

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Saudi Arabia to announce oil attacks findings as US weighs retaliation

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Saudi Arabia said it will unveil the results later Wednesday of its probe into attacks on key oil installations, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heads to the kingdom to discuss possible retaliation.

Riyadh, which is bogged down in a five-year war against Tehran-aligned rebels in neighbouring Yemen, has said that the weapons used were Iranian-made, but has not directly blamed its arch rival.

However, the Saudi defence ministry said its spokesman would present evidence from the site of the weekend attacks that halved Saudi oil production, sending global energy markets into a tailspin.

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‘Heartless and unconscionable’: Outrage as General Motors cuts off healthcare for 50,000 striking workers

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"It is cruel and outrageous that GM has cut off the healthcare benefits from their employees in a blatant attempt to force the union into submission," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In a move critics said exposes both the particular cruelty of General Motors executives and the systemic inhumanity of the American healthcare system, GM on Tuesday stopped covering health insurance premiums for the nearly 50,000 auto workers striking for fair wages and decent benefits.

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Health fears prompt Swiss 5G revolt

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Switzerland was among the first countries to begin deploying 5G, but health fears over radiation from the antennas that carry the next-generation mobile technology have sparked a nationwide revolt.

Demonstrators against the technology are due to fill the streets of Bern later this month, but already a number of cantons have been pressured to put planned constructions of 5G-compatible antennae on ice.

The technology has been swept up in the deepening trade war between China and the United States, which has tried to rein in Chinese giant Huawei -- the world's leader in superfast 5G equipment -- over fears it will allow Beijing to spy on communications from countries that use its products and services.

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