US Justice Department to withdraw Stevens charges

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The United Stated Department of Justice has asked for corruption charges against former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens to be dropped because evidence was withheld from the defense team by the original prosecutors. The Justice Department has stated that they will not retry Stevens.

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric Holder said, “After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”

Stevens was convicted in October on seven felony counts of lying on senate disclosure forms about gifts, largely in the form of free renovations to his home, received from an oil service company; his conviction is thought to have been a large factor in his November electoral defeat to former Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, the current junior Senator from Alaska. Stevens immediately appealed his conviction and has maintained his innocence.

The prosecution case has met with a number of procedural difficulties, with US District Court judge Emmet G. Sullivan holding the prosecution in contempt in March for failing to turn over documents concerning an FBI whistleblower’s reports of mishandling of the case. The Justice Department has since replaced the case’s prosecutors, and the allegations of misconduct have held up sentencing from the original convictions.

The filed papers indicate that notes were never turned over from an interview that has the oil contractor estimated the house renovation for far less then he specified at trial.

The original trial team was removed, but in the end Attorney General Eric Holder thought it would be best if the case was dropped. NPR’s source indicate that Holder wish to forcefully transmit that prosecutorial misconduct will not be tolerated. The trying prosecutors are under investigation by the Justice Department for their conduct in the matter.

Stevens, now 85, served as Alaska’s Senator from 1968 to 2009.

 

Failure for constitutional ban on flag-burning in U.S. Senate

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An amendment of the United States constitution banning the burning of the American flag failed by one vote in the Senate on Tuesday. The final tally was 66-34; two-thirds (67 of 100 senators) was required for the amendment to pass.

U.S. President, George W. Bush, gave a statement commending the bipartisan group of Senators for trying to pass the amendment.[1] It was sponsored by Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, and backed by the Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, of Tennessee.

Even though some members of each party voted for the amendment, some on both sides strongly dissented. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat from the state of Hawaii and a World War II veteran, said — like many other Senators including Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell — the proposed amendment was against the constitutional right to free speech.

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Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

 

Obama offers sympathies to Fengshen victims

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee and Illinois state senator Barack Obama conveyed his sympathies and condolonces to the people of the Philippines through President Gloria Arroyo, after the country was struck over the weekend by Typhoon Fengshen.

Obama also extended his regrets for not being able to meet Mrs. Arroyo who is on a 10-day official visit in the United States and met up with President George W. Bush at the White House.

The senator from Illinois stressed the strong bond between the Philippines and the United States, taking note of the two countries partnership during the Cold War era and during the Second World War. Obama also pointed out that the Philippines is also an important ally in the on-going war on terror.

He also expressed his desire on meeting Arroyo in the future and working closely with the people of the Philippines.

He also urged the Bush administration to provide more aid to the Philippines in the wake of the retrieval of victims of Typhoon Fengshen who drowned or were lost at sea.

Obama urged the “US government to provide emergency support to alleviate the suffering caused by the catastrophic natural disaster.”

Typhoon Fengshen lashed through the islands of the Philippines last June 21 to 22 causing mud floods, landslides and the capsizing of a passenger ferry, the MV Priness of the Stars, killing more than 700 passengers on board off the coast of Romblon island.

The National Disaster Coordinating Agency of the Philippines reported that five days after the ferry tragedy, only 48 passengers survived and rescuers were able to retrieve 67 bodies.

Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza also reported that 138 fishing vessels were reported missing as a result of Typhoon Fengshen.

A cargo vessel, the MV Lake Paoay carrying 5,000 metric tons of coal from the mines in Semirara island was also lost off the coast of Iloilo province.

 

Australian PM pushes for “full-blooded” nuclear energy debate

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian nuclear debate

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has told media in Canada that he wants “a full-blooded debate” in Australia about the issue of nuclear power. “I have a very open mind on the development of nuclear energy in my own country,” he said. “That includes an open mind on whether or not Australia should in fact process uranium for the purposes of providing fuel for nuclear power in the future in Australia.”

Australia and Canada are two of the world’s largest uranium producers, and the nuclear energy issue was discussed at length during Prime Minister Howard’s visit to the country this week. Mr Howard said soaring oil prices and environmental concerns from fossil-fuel energy are adding pressure towards the debate in Australia. “I think it is inevitable. The time at which it will come should be governed by economic considerations,” Mr Howard said from Ottawa.

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown labelled the Prime Minister’s call “a sham”. Senator Brown says the Prime Minister has already made up his mind. “His talk about a public debate is a complete sham, he’s made up his mind,” he said. “He’s had no mandate, but he’s got control of the Senate and therefore we are going headlong into becoming a major agent in the nuclear proliferation right around the world.”

Scientists have said Australia could not develop a nuclear power industry in time to stave off the effects of climate change. Greenpeace Australia says that even if there was a doubling of nuclear energy by 2050 it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five percent, well below the large cuts scientists say are necessary. Academics at NSW University and the University of Technology Sydney have said, “No private investor would take on the risk without huge government subsidies.”

The NSW Greens MLC Ian Cohen said that after 50 years, the nuclear industry still had not found a way to store its waste safely. “We don’t want it back and we don’t want to create it here.”

Steve Shallhorn, chief executive of Greenpeace Australia Pacific says the Prime Minister should have used his trip to Canada to learn why “nuclear power is not a viable option.” Mr Shallhorn said that, in Canada, nuclear power has driven up the price of electricity and created dangerous amounts of waste. He says its effect in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also negligible.

“Nuclear power can only solve a very tiny portion of greenhouse gas problems because electricity is only one source of the problem,” said Mr Shallhorn. “Nuclear power is not going to solve emissions from aircraft, from the industrial sector or from industrial processes.”

“I think it is inevitable. The time at which it will come should be governed by economic considerations,” Mr Howard said from Ottawa.

Australia is one of the world’s top coal producers. The Howard government has supported the coal industry in the face of calls for more renewable energy. Treasurer Peter Costello, next-in-line for the prime minister’s job, has said “nuclear power would cost twice as much as coal power, adding that nuclear energy was not economically right for Australia at the present time because it had such large resources of gas and coal.”

John Howard said nuclear power in Australia “could be closer than some people would have thought a short while ago.” Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, claimed it could be as early as 2020.

The Opposition’s environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, said Labor opposed nuclear power on cost, safety, and waste and proliferation grounds. “Labor will not change that view.” He said he looks forward to “Labor ending John Howard’s nuclear fantasy.” Energy experts say that Australia could not develop a nuclear power industry in time to stave off the effects of climate change, and such a program would be prohibitively expensive.

A 2005 survey found 47 percent of Australians supported nuclear power and 40 percent opposed it. The federal opposition party, and all six state governments, oppose nuclear power. Australia has a strict “no new mines” uranium policy.

 

U.S. superbug expected to emerge in Canada

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

An infectious superbug spreading in the United States is to “emerge in force” in Canada, doctors fear. The bacteria have been reported popping up in day care centers and locker rooms across the U.S. Usually elderly or very ill hospital patients get the disease.

More than 2 million U.S. residents are infected every year, the Centers for Disease Control estimates.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on Tuesday said that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are “spreading with alarming rapidity.” The bacteria can cause boils, pimples, or in extreme cases, flesh-eating disease, and more.

“The resistant bacteria is an old foe with new fangs: a pathogen combining virulence, resistance and an ability to disseminate at large,” wrote Dr. John Conly, medical professor and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are the provinces which already have had MRSA in hospitals.

A 30-year-old Calgary, Alberta man died last year of lung abscesses associated with the infection, as well as a three-month old toddler in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, last summer, suffered from an infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus in his leg. Pitcher Ty Taubenheim had a similar infection on his foot.

Doctors are currently investigating some Calgary residents, who could be one of the first Canadian reports of MRSA outside of a hospital setting.

 

Left-wing EU parliament candidates debate in Cardiff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cardiff, Wales —Labour, Plaid Cymru, and No2EU candidates for the Wales seats in the European Parliament met at Cardiff‘s Sandringham Hotel last night for the second of two pre-election hustings debates hosted by Cardiff Trades Union Congress. Cardiff TUC president Katrine Williams moderated as Derek Vaughan of the Labour Party, Jill Evans MEP of Plaid Cymru, and Rob Griffiths of the No2EU coalition, the tops of their respective lists, took questions from an audience of 22 composed largely of socialist activists and trade union members.

Candidates from the Tories, Liberal Democrats, and Green Party were not invited to the evening debate, although the Liberal Democrats did take part in the TUC’s debate earlier in the day. Ms Williams explained that the Liberal Democrats and Tories had been excluded because “we wanted to have candidates more representative of trade unions” but that not inviting the Greens had been “an oversight” due to the less prominent tradition of green politics in Wales. The BNP, UKIP and some minor parties also did not take part.

In opening statements, the three candidates discussed their records and their goals for the European Parliament. Mr Vaughan, leader of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, asserted the pro-organised labour credentials of the Labour Party, which has been under fire for several years from the left, and noted that Labour, which currently controls two of Wales’s four seats in the EU Parliament, has brought £1.5 billion to Wales, with a comparable amount to come in the future. Calling the BNP “Nazis” and comparing the British political situation to that in Germany in the 1930s, Vaughan called for the parties of the left to rally behind Labour in order to ensure that the BNP did not obtain any seats in Wales; but he expressed resignation to the likelihood that the BNP would earn a seat in North West England.

Ms Evans, meanwhile, who has been an MEP for ten years, announced her opposition to the pro-privatisation current in the EU and pledged that Plaid would support a new program of public investment and pro-organised labour revisions of EU directives, particularly the Posted Workers Directive.

Mr Griffiths, meanwhile, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, took a position urging radical reform of the European Union. The Lisbon Treaty, which he characterised as a re-branding of the European Constitution, would, he argued, enshrine neo-liberal policies in Europe and impose them on its member states in a way that was irreversible — “at least by any constitutional means”. Calling for a “social Europe” as opposed to a “United States of Europe“, Griffiths suggested that the creation of a European Defence Agency and the actions of the European Court of Justice were being used to turn the European Union into a capitalist “empire” akin to the United States.

Discussion of the ongoing UK parliamentary expenses scandal and its implications for MEPs, who draw salaries and expenses considerably higher than Westminster MPs do, dominated the early discussion. The Labour candidate expressed the position that the problems in accountability leading to the scandal had been fixed; his opponents noted that of the parties currently representing Britain in Brussels, only Labour has not yet disclosed their expenses (although Mr Vaughan states that the party will begin to do so soon) and Mr Griffiths furthermore declared that the scandal was part of a wider problem: the corruption of the political system by big business.

On the subject of a common European defence policy the three candidates supported widely differing views. The No2EU candidate stated plainly that he considers Europe not to be threatened, and said that a European defence force would be used for foreign adventures in Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere in the developing world while at the same time building up the armaments industry in Europe. Ms Evans, meanwhile, argued that the proper role of a common EU force would be as a “civil force” supporting conflict prevention and conflict resolution operations, and also called for the abolition of NATO. Mr Vaughan finished the second round of questioning arguing that a common European armed force should be an alternative to the “US-dominated” NATO, but also stated the importance of bilateral alliances in building up a common European defence force, citing the Franco-German Brigade of the Eurocorps as an example.

Debate ended on the contentious question of MEP salaries, with one member of the audience challenging the three candidates to pledge to accept a wage, if they won, equal to the average wage of their constituents. Ms Evans agreed that the set wage, currently £63,000 rising to £73,000 in 2010, was “too high”, but would not commit to a so-called “worker’s wage”, under heavy criticism from the audience. Mr Vaughan, following, called it “not fair” to ask MEPs to take such a pledge but asserted “I have never been motivated by money” and finished his part in the debate with a call to elect more left-wing socialist MEPs. Mr Griffiths, whose No2EU coalition has made a worker’s wage for MEPs part of their election manifesto, readily pledged to hold to a living wage, albeit not necessarily one equal to the average wage of his constituents, and described some of the difficulties associated with refusing an EU salary, noting that initially No2EU had proposed that its MEPs should draw no salary and claim no expenses from Europe but the coalition’s legal advisors had said that to do so would endanger the status of any of its members as MEPs.

Voting for the European Parliament elections in the United Kingdom takes place June 4.

 

Congressman Cunningham admits taking bribes

Monday, November 28, 2005

U.S. Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham (RCA) pled guilty today to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to help a defense contractor get business. In total he pled guilty to one count of income tax evasion and four counts of conspiracy, namely mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery of public official and accepting bribes. U.S. District judge Larry A. Burns scheduled Cunnigham to be sentenced on February 27. He is facing up to 10 years in prison and nearly $500,000 in fines, as well as forfeiture of unspecified amounts of cash and property.

In the court hearing, Cunningham admitted to accepting “bribes in exchange for performance of official duties” between “the year 2000 and June of 2005”, taking “both cash payments and payments in kind” and following up by “trying to influence the Defense Department”.

The federal investigation against Cunningham was triggered by his sale of his California residence to defense contractor Mitchell Wade in late 2003. However, Wade never moved in and sold the house at a $700,000 loss three quarters of a year later. At the same time Wade’s company MZM won tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts. Subsequent investigations discovered more questionable business transactions, including interactions with the defense contractor ADCS. In his plea agreement he testified that, among other charges, he “demanded, sought and received at least $2.4 million in illicit payments and benefits from his co-conspirators in various forms, including cash, checks, meals, travel, lodging, furnishings, antiques, rugs, yacht club fees, boat repairs and improvements, moving expenses, cars and boats.”

Cunningham announced his resignation after the hearing. In a written statement released by his law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP he declared “The truth is — I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.”

 

Situation at damaged nuclear power plant remains ‘very grave’, says Japanese Prime Minister

Friday, March 25, 2011

We are not in a position where we can be optimistic.

Two weeks after a disastrous earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the situation at the severely damaged Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been described by the Prime Minister as “very grave and serious”. In a nationally televised report to the nation on Friday, Naoto Kan said the Japanese government was “not in a position where we can be optimistic.”

Radiation is reported to still be leaking from the plant, in Fukushima prefecture. “The source of the radiation seems to be the reactor core,” said Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama, adding that radiation was “more likely” coming from the core than from the reactor’s spent fuel pool.

On Thursday three workers stepped into contaminated cooling water in the reactor’s turbine room while trying to replace cables at reactor No. 3, Nishiyama said. The water seeped into the the boots of two of the workers, touching their skin and causing lesions; the third worker’s clothing protected him from the water. The two workers with skin lesions were hospitalized for radiation exposure. The radiation level of the contaminated water measured 10,000 times the level of cooling water in an undamaged reactor.File:Fukushima I by Digital Globe 2.jpg

Work has been stopped on attempts to reattach a permanent power line to the cooling system in reactor No. 3, and the building has been evacuated. Nishiyama could give no predictions of when work would resume. The possibility that water is leaking from the core of reactor No. 3 increases the danger for workers who attempt to cool the crippled plant. The reactors must be cooled before more safety work can begin.

Japan had been using seawater for cooling since the disaster crippled the power plant’s cooling systems, but U.S. officials were concerned that saltwater could harm the equipment, causing it to seize up and corrode, thereby worsening the situation.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Progressive Conservative candidate Penny Lucas, Kenora—Rainy River

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Penny Lucas is running for the Progressive Conservative in the Ontario provincial election, in the Kenora-Rainy River riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.