EDM Friday Briefing: Flint Gets $30M, Courts Halt Freddie Gray Trials, Rift Over iPhone Encryption Continues
Emergency and disaster management briefing for February 19, 2016: The Michigan House approves $30 million in funding to pay Flint residents' water bills, Maryland courts halt the trials of all officers in the Freddie Gray case, and the iPhone encryption battle continues between Apple and the federal government.
- The Michigan House of Representatives approved $30 million in funds to help Flint residents and businesses pay water bills in the aftermath of the city's water contamination disaster. Additionally, the federal government announced two grants totaling $500,000 for the treatment and testing of Flint residents who have been exposed to contaminated water.
- Maryland's highest court halted the trials of Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case, pending review of a series of appeals. The appeals center on whether one officer can be forced to testify against fellow defendants in other cases. The postponement is being called an unusual pretrial ruling, as appeals are usually heard after a case concludes. All lower-court proceedings are now on hold until the state's high court comes to a resolution on the appeals.
- The rift between the FBI and tech giant Apple continued yesterday in what many are calling a battle of privacy vs. national security. The same basic security features that so many people utilize are the same elements causing problems for the FBI right now. The stalemate between federal authorities and Apple executives is leading some to wonder whether the FBI will take other measures to get into phones in the future, such as using dead suspects' fingerprints to gain access to a specific phone's data.
- The FBI searched the home of Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of San Bernardino terror attack gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, yesterday. The hours-long search ended with the seizure of envelopes, a computer tower and an heavy unidentifiable object. The FBI confirmed the search but did not disclose any other information about the search as of yet.
- The United Nations chief urged world leaders to sign the climate change agreement this coming April. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged leaders to sign the landmark agreement, which was reached in Paris in December, at a ceremony at U.N. headquarters on April 22. American climate envoy Todd Stern said that the U.S. would likely face 'diplomatic consequences' if commitments made in Paris last December are not honored.
- The World Bank announced yesterday that $150 million in financing is now available to combat the Zika virus outbreak. Financing will be available in affected Latin American and Caribbean countries. The World Bank recently made public its initial projections of the economic impact of the Zika virus, estimating a $3.5 billion collective reduction of economic output in affected regions.
- President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration for Alaska that makes available $2 million in federal funds for recovery from a severe December storm. A storm in the Bering Sea from December 12 - 15, which may be the most intense storm ever recorded in the Bering Sea, brought hurricane-force winds and 50-foot waves and inflicted damage on the village of St. George in the Pribilof Islands.
- As expected, President Obama signed the North Korea sanctions bill yesterday, less than a week after the Senate approved the sanctions. North Korea is under fire across the globe after its recent missile test / satellite launch and also its fourth underground nuclear test. President Obama signed the legislation away from the news media and issued no statement.
- UMass Amherst locked down its campus yesterday amid reports of a gunman on campus. Police warned students with text alerts to shelter in place at 5:30 p.m., but then lifted the lockdown at 7:00 p.m. Police are still investigating the incident.