Drought and snow: Extreme US weather: It has been a week of extreme weather in the United States. The East Coast was hit by a huge snowstorm which affected 100 million Americans in more than 20 states. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, California continues to experience its worst drought in living memory.
17 February 2014
After burying the American East Coast in snow all the way from Georgia up to Maine, the storm has moved north to Canada. It has left an icy trail of destruction in its wake; hundreds of thousands of homes are still without power, mostly in southern states like the Carolinas, which are used to milder winter weather.
The extreme conditions are being blamed for at least 25 deaths, mostly in traffic accidents on roads that are slick with ice. Thirty people were injured in a multi-car pileup in Pennsylvania and more than 14,000 flights have been cancelled this week so far.
President Obama has left the snow in Washington for the West Coast, where he has been talking about a very different type of extreme weather; California is in the midst of its worst drought in a hundred years. He promised federal money to help deal with what he called a “very challenging situation”.
US considers Ukraine sanctions: After the most violent day that Ukraine has experienced since independence more than 20 years ago, the European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on those responsible for the fighting in Ukraine. The US government has told President Yanukovych it is also prepared to add its own sanctions.
21 February 2014
The US Vice President Joseph Biden spoke to the Ukrainian leader by telephone, calling on him to immediately pull back all security forces. The Vice President said the United States is prepared to sanction those officials responsible for the violence.
Earlier a White House spokesman said that President Obama is considering a “full tool kit” of sanctions, and will choose the policies that are likely to have the maximum effect. This would be in addition to the measure announced on Wednesday of denying US visas to 20 senior members of the Ukrainian government.
Until now the European Union has refrained from imposing sanctions on Ukraine, preferring to emphasise dialogue, but on Thursday EU foreign ministers announced that travel bans and asset freezes will be imposed on those deemed responsible for the violence.
Obama’s youth initiativechoices: President Obama has launched an initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper” to help young, minority men in the United States. He said that these young men consistently do worse in society and urged stronger efforts to create more opportunities for them.
28 February 2014
America’s first black president has generally avoided policies defined by race, but in an emotional speech Mr Obama said it’s an outrage that young Hispanic and African-American men have the odds stacked against them in US society.
He cited what he described as heart-breaking statistics, saying that these young men were more likely to have no father in the house, more likely to end up in jail, and more likely to be victims of violent crime.
The unemployment rate for African-American men was 12% last month, more than double that for white men.
President Obama said that he could identify with this group, and announced a new federal task force to develop ways to keep minority youths in school and out of the criminal justice system.
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