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Judge orders bottled water delivered in Flint, Michigan, in water crisis

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A federal judge on Thursday ordered state and city officials to deliver bottled water directly to qualified residents in Flint, Michigan, where a water contamination crisis has made unfiltered tap water unsafe to drink since April 2014.

Officials must deliver four cases of bottled water a week immediately unless they can prove a water filter is installed and properly maintained at a home or if residents opt out of a filter or deliveries, U.S. District Judge David Lawson said.

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The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by residents and advocacy groups Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the National Resources Defense Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

“Here the plaintiffs seek a stop-gap measure that provides ready access to safe drinking water,” Lawson said. “It is in the best interest of everyone to move people out of harms way before addressing the source of the harm.”

Flint, a predominantly black city of 100,000, was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager when it switched its water source in April 2014 to the Flint River from Lake Huron in a money-saving move. The more corrosive river water caused lead to leach from city pipes and into the drinking water.

The city switched back in October 2015 after tests found high levels of lead in blood samples taken from children, but the water has not returned fully to normal. Flint has been replacing lead pipes running to homes, and state officials have said the water is safe to drink if properly filtered.

The crisis drew international attention and numerous lawsuits and led to calls by some critics for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to resign over the state’s response.

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The groups’ lawsuit, filed in January, seeks replacement of lead service pipes. They later asked Lawson to order home water deliveries or faucet filter installations because transportation issues made it hard for some residents to get to water distribution centers.

The city and state argued that bottled water was widely available at government-run distribution points and ordering door-to-door deliveries could be financially crippling.

Lawson called the city and state efforts commendable, but said the plaintiffs offered credible anecdotal evidence the distribution network was in flux and not completely effective.

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“The court correctly recognized that the government created this crisis, and it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that all people in Flint have access to safe drinking water,” NRDC attorney Dimple Chaudhary said.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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‘Quiet!’ Trump erupts as reporters question him about witness intimidation — and demands ‘freedom of speech’

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President Donald Trump on Friday got into a testy exchange with reporters after they asked him whether his angry tweet at former American ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch constituted witness intimidation.

While talking with reporters, Trump falsely claimed that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee had been prevented from asking questions during Yovanovitch's testimony.

"We have the right to speak!" the president fumed. "I have freedom of speech just as other people do but they have taken away the Republicans rights. I watched today as certain very talented people, who wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions, Republicans. They weren’t allowed to ask questions."

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Laughter breaks out inside hearing room as Dem mocks GOP’s attempts to downplay smear campaign against Yovanovitch

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During the second public House impeachment hearing this Friday, Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) took a dig at President Trump in light of testimony from former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who recounted how she became the target of a smear campaign orchestrated by Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, along with the help of the right-wing news media. After her ouster from her position, Yovanovitch returned to Washington and took up a role as a senior State Department fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

"It's like a Hallmark movie -- you ended up at Georgetown. This is all okay," Quigley said sarcastically, prompting laughter from the room.

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Dozens of groups urge California Gov. Gavin Newsom to ‘facilitate a public takeover of PG&E’

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"PG&E would be in prison, if it were a citizen, given how many people have died at its hands."

As the West Coast's wildfire season continues, dozens of progressive organizations sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday urging the first-term Democrat to "facilitate a public takeover of PG&E to protect ratepayers, California communities, and our climate."

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