MIAMI — Five hours after Champlain Towers South collapsed early in the morning on June 24, 2021, rescue dogs picked up the scent of a live victim pinned underneath the parking garage. Rescuers made out the voice of a woman, but the voice was so faint that whispers among the crew or movement in the standing water in which the crew worked would blot out the sound of the voice. But from the faint responses, rescuers believed the woman said that she was staying at the Surfside condominium tower with her parents. They heard her say she was trapped between a mattress or a wall, or between two mattre...
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As the monsoon storms bear down on India, a dedicated group of women hope that after years of backbreaking labour, water shortages will no longer leave their village high and dry.
The world's second-most populous country is struggling to meet the water needs of its 1.4 billion people -- a problem worsening as climate change makes weather patterns more unpredictable.
Few places have it tougher than Bundelkhand, a region south of the Taj Mahal, where scarce water supplies have pushed despairing farmers on the plains to give up their lands and take up precarious work in the cities.
"Our elders say that this stream used to run full throughout the year, but now there is not a single drop," said Babita Rajput while guiding AFP past a bone-dry fissure in the earth near her village.
"There is a water crisis in our area," she added. "All our wells have dried up."
Three years ago, Rajput joined Jal Saheli ("Friends of Water"), a volunteer network of around 1,000 women working across Bundelkhand to rehabilitate and revive disappeared water sources.
Together they carry rocks and mix concrete to build dams, ponds and embankments to catch the fruits of the June monsoon, a season which accounts for about 75 percent of India's annual rainfall.
Agrotha, where Rajput lives, is one of more than 300 villages where women are chalking out plans for new catchment sites, reservoirs and waterway revitalizations.
Rajput said their work had helped them retain monsoon rainwater for longer and revive half a dozen water bodies around their village.
Though not yet self-sufficient, Agrotha's residents are no longer among the roughly 600 million Indians that a government think-tank says face acute water shortages daily.
The women's efforts provide a rare glimmer of hope as national shortages worsen.
Water utilities in the capital New Delhi fail to meet demand in summer, with trucks regularly traveling into slums to supply residents unable to draw water from their taps.
India's NITI Aayog public policy centre forecasts that around 40 percent of the country's population could be without access to drinking water by the end of the decade.
'Government has failed'
Erratic rainfall patterns and extreme heat have been linked to climate change in Bundelkhand, which has suffered several long dry spells since a drought was declared at the turn of the century.
Civil society activist Sanjay Singh helped train women in Agrotha to harvest and store rainwater after the surrounding land was desiccated by drought.
By doing so he helped the village rediscover knowledge that was lost decades earlier, when water went from being a community-managed resource to one administered by India's government.
"But government has failed to ensure water to every citizen, particularly in rural areas, pushing villagers to go back to the old practice," he told AFP.
Before Agrotha's irrigation project began, women had to walk miles every day in a desperate and often fruitless search for a well that was not dry.
In India's villages, fetching water is traditionally the responsibility of women, several of whom have faced violence from their husbands after being unable to find enough for their households, Singh said.
He added that drought had brought big social changes to the region, pushing men to move to cities and leave their families behind.
But since it was founded in 2005, the Jal Saheli initiative has helped more than 110 villages become self-reliant for their water needs and aided in reversing the outward flow of people.
Dust bowl to oasis
In the nearby Lalitpur district, the elderly Srikumar has seen the initiative transform her community from a dust bowl into an oasis.
She heard about the volunteer group a decade ago after suffering through years of water shortages, by the end of which every well and hand pump in her village of 500 people had run dry.
Most of the farms in the area had turned barren because of a lack of irrigation, and dehydrated cattle herds were dying in summer temperatures close to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).
"Villagers suffered a lot during those days," Srikumar said. "Farming was impossible and men were fleeing their homes to cities to earn a living."
With the help of Singh's charity, Srikumar and a dozen other volunteers dug a football field-sized reservoir near the village that holds up to 10 feet (three meters) of water after the monsoon rains arrive.
The village now has enough water reserves to meet its needs year-round and replenish the earth that had dried out before their intervention.
"Things have changed for good. We have enough water now, not just for our homes but also for our cattle," she told AFP.
"Our lives would have been miserable without this pond," she added. "It would have been very difficult to survive."
© 2022 AFP
Cassidy Hutchinson 'put fingerprints on everyone in the White House' in bombshell testimony: reporter
The former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows testified this week that her boss was disengaged as Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, and Donald Trump was enraged that he couldn't join them,
Washington Post reporter Jacqueline Alemany told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday what she found so compelling about her account.
"Why I think Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony was scheduled on Tuesday and why it was so effective was because she really put fingerprints on every person in the White House who had a firsthand seat to the potential criminal activity by the former president and his co-conspirators," Alemany said. "And so that we have heard from people involved from the committee that that is in part why the testimony from Cassidy, the surprise testimony, announced with 24 hours in advance, was scheduled for when it was scheduled."
The House Select Committee issued a subpoena Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who multiple witnesses have said pushed back on Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss.
"We've also heard that now this subpoena, as a lawyer close to Pat Cipollone confirms, it was provided to -- provide some coverage for him," Aleman said. "But at the same time, we've also heard that there are fears amongst lawmakers on the committee that he's ultimately not going to cooperate, that these tactics to pressure him in to cooperating with the committee are going to backfire and people close to Pat are really skeptical that he's ultimately going to come forward, a lawyer who worked closely with him told us."
"At the end of the day, he is a big executive privilege guy, which should be obvious to all of us," she added, "but that also he thought that the court ruling in the case of Don McGahn, another former White House counsel to former President Trump, was wrong and that that was wrongly decided and that's when the courts decided that McGahn was compelled to provide testimony to the House under certain parameters. What we're watching now very closely is whether or not the committee is successful in those negotiations with Cipollone and whether or not this public pressure campaign that, you know, started months ago has culminated with Cassidy Hutchinson is going to effectively work for them."
Watch the video below or at this link.
06 30 2022 06 22 23 www.youtube.com
On January 6, 2021, while MAGA enthusiasts rioted in and around the U.S. Capitol, Melania Trump was asked if she'd like to tweet a statement encouraging peace and the former First Lady responded with a one-word answer.
According to ex-aide Stephanie Grisham, she personally sent a text to Melania on Jan. 6 asking "Do you want to tweet that peaceful protests are the right of every American, but there is no place for lawlessness & violence?"
Melania's response was a simple "No."
Grisham, who was Melania's chief of staff during the time of this exchange, and a former White House press secretary and communications director, resigned later that day without making mention of what had happened. Tweeting a farewell message, Grisham said "It has been an honor to serve the country in the White House. I am very proud to have been a part of Melania Trump's mission to help children everywhere, & proud of the many accomplishments of this Administration."
While it's not clear why Grisham waited until now to share her text exchange with Melania from Jan. 6, Huffington Post highlights that it "backs an anecdote" from Grisham's tell-all book, "I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House," which was released on October 5, 2021.
"Do you want a participation award? Do you think this absolves you of your complicity in what went on in that WH for 4 years? You sat by as Rome burned and did nothing," a commenter replied to Grisham's share of the text exchange on Twitter yesterday. "The entire lot of you should be in jail."
"Nope. I don't believe in participation awards. I'm not trying to be absolved of anything, what I am doing is trying not to let history repeat itself," Grisham responded.