Archive for November, 2018

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Volkswagen emissions scandal may affect thousands more cars
November 30, 2018

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Volkswagen emissions scandal continued yesterday with the company announcing 800,000 mainly diesel vehicles may also be affected by carbon dioxide emissions problems.

The company stated “the safety of the vehicles is in no way compromised”. They estimated potentially this could cost them €2bn on top of the €6.7bn set aside to pay for the cost of correcting 11 million cars affected when the scandal broke, in addition to fines by regulators.

the safety of the vehicles is in no way compromised

This follows Monday’s revelation that the emissions scandal has affected up to 10,000 vehicles sold in the USA by brands in the Volkswagen group, although the company refutes the allegation. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulatory body which has been investigating Volkswagen, claims the company fitted a number of recent Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen models with technology that initiates secret components during emission tests to ensure the results are favourable.

The scandal began with damaging revelations that the car manufacturer has been using illegal software to enable diesel cars to cheat on mandatory emissions tests. This lead to a public apology on September 20 by then-chief executive Martin Winterkorn and the promise of an outside inquiry. He then resigned on September 23, and was replaced by Matthias Müller. The new allegation about Porsche is of particular concern for Müller, because he had previously been in charge of Porsche.

The company is expected to foot the bill for the recall of close to 500,000 VW and Audi cars affected at the time. There is also the possibility of Volkswagen having to pay federal fines of up to US$18 billion dollars because the US Clean Air Act sets a maximum fine of US$37,500 for each vehicle that contravenes the requirements of the Act.

An investigation into alleged breaches of environmental law was originally initiated on the advice of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a European non-governmental organisation. The EPA requested tests be carried out by West Virginia University, where the secret software was discovered.

The software, known as a “defeat device”, enabled cars to identify when they were being tested and to switch on the emission control system. The devices may have been adding urea to the car exhaust because that would reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide. The car would release a fraction of the nitrogen oxide compared to when they were being driven normally. Emissions of nitrogen oxide contribute to smog and are thought to have caused a rise in respiratory illnesses like asthma.

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Wikinews interviews John Wolfe, Democratic Party presidential challenger to Barack Obama
November 30, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2012

U.S. Democratic Party presidential candidate John Wolfe, Jr. of Tennessee took some time to answer a few questions from Wikinews reporter William S. Saturn.

Wolfe, an attorney based out of Chattanooga, announced his intentions last year to challenge President Barack Obama in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. So far, he has appeared on the primary ballots in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Louisiana. In Louisiana, he had his strongest showing, winning 12 percent overall with over 15 percent in some congressional districts, qualifying him for Democratic National Convention delegates. However, because certain paperwork had not been filed, the party stripped Wolfe of the delegates. Wolfe says he will sue the party to receive them.

Wolfe will compete for additional delegates at the May 22 Arkansas primary and the May 29 Texas primary. He is the only challenger to Obama in Arkansas, where a May 10 Hendrix College poll of Democrats shows him with 38 percent support, just short of the 45 percent for Obama. Such an outing would top the margin of Texas prison inmate Keith Russell Judd, who finished 18 percent behind Obama with 41 percent in the West Virginia Democratic primary; the strongest showing yet against the incumbent president. Despite these prospects, the Democratic Party of Arkansas has already announced that if Wolfe wins any delegates in their primary, again, due to paperwork, the delegates will not be awarded. Wolfe will appear on the Texas ballot alongside Obama, activist Bob Ely, and historian Darcy Richardson, who ended his campaign last month.

Wolfe has previously run for U.S. Congress as the Democratic Party’s nominee. On his campaign website, he cites the influence “of the Pentagon, Wall Street, and corporations” on the Obama administration as a reason for his challenge, believing these negatively affect “loyal Americans, taxpayers and small businesses.” Wolfe calls for the usage of anti-trust laws to break up large banks, higher taxes on Wall Street, the creation of an “alternative federal reserve” to assist community banks, and the implementation of a single-payer health care system.

With Wikinews, Wolfe discusses his campaign, the presidency of Barack Obama, corporations, energy, the federal budget, immigration, and the nuclear situation in Iran among other issues.

Contents

  • 1 Campaign
  • 2 Challenging the incumbent
  • 3 Policy
  • 4 Related news
  • 5 Sources
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NTSB releases updates on status of 3 major US investigations
November 30, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency responsible for investigating transportation accidents in the United States, released updates on three major investigations on June 14.

The NTSB, well known publicly for its involvement in the investigation of aviation incidents which involve harm or loss of human life, is also an agency that oversees the transportation of refined petroleum and gas products, chemicals and minerals.

The agency determined the cause of a natural gas pipeline explosion that killed six. It also detailed the cause of an accidental release of 204,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia from a pipeline in an environmentally sensitive area, and released preliminary information involving two commercial aircraft coming within 30-50 feet of each other on a runway.

In the gas explosion disaster, the towing vessel Miss Megan, which was of specifications that did not require inspection by the United States Coast Guard, was being operated in the West Cote Blanche Bay oil field in Louisiana by Central Boat Rentals on behalf of Athena Construction on October 12, 2006. The Miss Megan was pushing barge IBR 234, which was tied along the starboard side of barge Athena 106, en route to a pile-driving location. Athena Construction did not require its crews to pin mooring spuds (vertical steel shafts extending through wells in the bottom of the boat and used for mooring) securely in place on its barges and consequently this had not been done. During the journey, the aft spud on the Athena 106 released from its fully raised position. The spud dropped into the water and struck a submerged, high-pressure natural gas pipeline. The resulting gas released ignited and created a fireball that engulfed the towing vessel and both barges. The master of the towing vessel and four barge workers were killed. The Miss Megan deckhand and one barge worker survived. One barge worker is officially listed as missing.

The NTSB blames Athena Construction for the disaster, citing in the final report that Athena Construction’s manual contained no procedures mandating the use of the safety devices on the spud winch except during electrical work. It was found that if the Athena 106 crew had used the steel pins to secure the retracted spuds during their transit, a pin would have prevented the aft spud from accidentally deploying. Furthermore, the spud would have remained locked in its lifted position regardless of whether the winch brake mechanism, the spud’s supporting cable, or a piece of connecting hardware had failed.

The NTSB also found that contributing to the accident was the failure of Central Boat Rentals to require, and the Miss Megan master to ensure, that the barge spuds were securely pinned before getting under way. The Board noted that investigators found no evidence that the Miss Megan master or deckhand checked whether the spuds had been properly secured before the tow began. While Central Boat Rentals had a health and safety manual and trained its crews, the written procedures did not specifically warn masters about the need to secure spuds or other barge equipment before navigating. The NTSB stated that the company’s crew should have been trained to identify potential safety hazards on vessels under their control.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said of the investigation’s results, “Having more rigorous requirements in place could have prevented this accident from occurring. Not only do these regulations need to be put in place but it is imperative that they are enforced and adhered to.”

The NTSB has made a number of safety recommendations as a result of this accident and the subsequent investigation. Recommendations were made to Athena Construction and Central Boat Rentals to develop procedures and train the employees of its barges to use the securing pins to hold spuds safely in place before transiting from one site to another.

The most major of the other recommendations are:

To the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

  • Direct the Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health to issue the following documents document to the maritime industry: (1) a fact sheet regarding the accident, and (2) a guidance document regarding the need to secure the gear on barges, including spud pins, before the barges are moved, and detailing any changes to your memorandum of understanding with the Coast Guard.

To the U. S. Coast Guard

  • Finalize and implement the new towing vessel inspection regulations and require the establishment of safety management systems appropriate for the characteristics, methods of operation, and nature of service of towing vessels.
  • Review and update your memorandum of understanding with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to specifically address your respective oversight roles on vessels that are not subject to Coast Guard inspection.

The NTSB also released the result of its investigation into an environmental disaster in Kansas on October 27, 2004 in which 204,000 gallons (4,858 barrels) of anhydrous ammonia was spilled from a ruptured pipeline in Kingman into an environmentally sensitive area. Chemicals from the pipeline entered a nearby stream and killed more than 25,000 fish, including some fish from threatened species.

The incident reached the scale that it did due to operator error after the initial rupture. The 8 5/8-inch diameter steel pipeline, which was operated by Enterprise Products Operating L.P., burst at 11:15 a.m. in an agricultural area about 6 miles east of Kingman, Kansas. A drop in pipeline pressure, indicating abnormal conditions or a possible compromise in pipeline integrity, set off alarms displayed on the computerized pipeline monitoring system. Shortly after the first alarm the pipeline controller, in an attempt to remedy the low pressure, increased the flow of anhydrous ammonia into the affected section of pipeline. A total of 33 minutes elapsed between the time when the first alarm indicated a problem with the pipeline and the initiation of a shutdown.

In its initial report to the National Response Center (NRC), the pipeline operator’s accident reporting contractor reported a release of at least 20 gallons of ammonia, telling the NRC that an updated estimate of material released would be reported at a later time. No such report was ever made. Because of the inaccurate report, the arrival of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency was delayed by a full day, affecting the oversight of the environmental damage mitigation efforts.

The cause of the rupture itself was determined to be a pipe gouge created by heavy equipment damage to the pipeline during construction in 1973 or subsequent excavation activity at an unknown time that initiated metal fatigue cracking and led to the eventual rupture of the pipeline.

“We are very fortunate that such highly toxic chemicals of the size and scope involved in this accident were not released in a populated area,” commented Rosenker. “Had this same quantity of ammonia been released near a town or city, the results could have been catastrophic.”

As a result of this accident, the NTSB made the following safety recommendations:

To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:

  • Require that a pipeline operator must have a procedure to calculate and provide a reasonable initial estimate of released product in the telephonic report to the National Response Center.
  • Require that a pipeline operator must provide an additional telephonic report to the National Response Center if significant new information becomes available during the emergency response.
  • Require an operator to revise its pipeline risk assessment plan whenever it has failed to consider one of more risk factors that can affect pipeline integrity.

To Enterprise Products Operating L.P.:

  • Provide initial and recurrent training for all controllers that includes simulator or noncomputerized simulations of abnormal operating conditions that indicate pipeline leaks.

“The severity of this release of dangerous chemicals into the community could have been prevented,” said Rosenker. “The safety recommendations that we have made, if acted upon, will reduce the likelihood of this type of accident happening again.”

As well as concluding their investigation of the above accidents, the NTSB also released preliminary information regarding a serious runway incursion at San Francisco International Airport between two commercial aircraft on May 26, 2007.

At about 1:30 p.m. the tower air traffic controller cleared SkyWest Airlines flight 5741, an Embraer 120 arriving from Modesto, California, to land on runway 28R. Forgetting about the arrival airplane, the same controller then cleared Republic Airlines flight 4912, an Embraer 170 departing for Los Angeles, to take off from runway 1L, which intersects runway 28R.

After the SkyWest airliner touched down, the Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) alerted and the air traffic controller transmitted “Hold, Hold, Hold” to the SkyWest flight crew in an attempt to stop the aircraft short of runway 1L. The SkyWest crew applied maximum braking that resulted in the airplane stopping in the middle of runway 1L. As this was occurring, the captain of Republic Airlines flight 4912 took control of the aircraft from the first officer, realized the aircraft was traveling too fast to stop, and initiated an immediate takeoff. According to the crew of SkyWest 5741, the Republic Airlines aircraft overflew theirs by 30 to 50 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration has categorized the incident as an operational error.

The NTSB sent an investigator to San Francisco, who collected radar data, recorded air traffic control communications, and flight crew statements, and interviewed air traffic control personnel prior to the NTSB making the preliminary release.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale
November 30, 2018

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kristen Monster is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Willowdale riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her 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.

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Russian police to ‘check’ officer allegedly involved in large theft and murder

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Russian police to ‘check’ officer allegedly involved in large theft and murder
November 29, 2018

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry’s Department for Own Safety says it will begin a “check” on Russian Militsiya lieutenant colonel Artem Kuznetsov, who is publicly accused by a group of American lawyers of illegitimately imprisoning and then torturing Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky to death. Later, head of Investigating Committee of the Prosecution Office Alexander Bastrykin said he will “personally check” the course of investigation into actions by Kuznetsov and his coworkers. In 2007 and 2008, Magnitsky worked in Russia for American investment fund company Hermitage Capital Management and was involved in the disclosure of a large-scale corruption among several top law enforcement officials in Moscow.

Lawyers concerned with the death of Magnitsky, which occurred in Butyrka prison on November 16 of last year, started the bilingual website russian-untouchables.com, where they presented evidence of Artem Kuznetsov’s alleged efforts to cloak the crimes. As reported by the website’s authors, Kuznetsov was a key player in a US$230 million theft from the Russian government and then successfully brought criminal charges against everyone who reported his theft.

The central part of website material is a ten-minute video providing a summary of the case. Its main point is the fact that multiple large-scale luxury buyings registered to members of Kuznetsov’s family; they are not comparable to official income of all of these persons. It is emphasized in the video that Kuznetsov’s official monthly income is $850 per month (in roubles), and to gain all the assets found to be connected with him he would have to work for 322 years. The video was released in the middle of last week, and gained enormous popularity within Russian blogosphere, and drew attention of some mass media.

One of the American lawyers, Jamison Firestone, states at the website that last month he directed several petitions to check the sources of Kuznetsov’s family wealth to Russian authorities: the President of Russia, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika, Department for Own Safety and Department for Preventing Corruption and Other Crimes of Interior Ministry. News website Lenta.ru states that addresses were directed on May, 21, but there were no replies since then.

Magnitsky’s case has received international attention for several months. In April 2010 US Senator Ben Cardin proposed the cancellation of US visas to 60 Russian officials allegedly connected with Magnitsky’s death. He directed an appeal to US State Secretary Hillary Clinton.

There has been no decision on it yet, but last Tuesday Clinton urged Russia to bring officials responsible for the death of Magnitsky to justice, The Daily Telegraph says. She told the US-Russia “Civil Society to Civil Society” summit in Washington that the Obama administration is “deeply concerned about the safety of journalists and human rights activists in Russia”. In the meantime Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev were meeting last week during Medvedev’s visit to US.

Magnitsky’s advocates emphasize that Kuznetsov, since committing his crimes, was promoted in service; previously, he was working for the Department of Tax Crimes of the Central Internal Affairs Directorate of Moscow, and at the start of 2010 began to work in Department for Economic Safety of the Interior Ministry. Recently there were many cases when civil groups and private persons publicly reported alleged large-scale corruption crimes within top Russian authorities, with some evidence provided.

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Nigeria fireworks fire kills one, injures dozens

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Nigeria fireworks fire kills one, injures dozens
November 28, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2012

At least one person has been killed and at least thirty were injured as the result of a fire in the city of Lagos in Nigeria after an explosion in a building with fireworks stored in it. As many as nine other buildings in the Lagos Island fire yesterday were also impacted by the flames, according to authorities. The fire was reportedly the cause of the explosion, although this is yet to be confirmed.

Some local residents reportedly jumped out of the windows of buildings in fright in the large commercial area of Jankara. One man, Wasiu Olaleye, required treatment for a cut to his leg because “I had to jump from the first floor to save my life”, he said. Some local businesses were open when the incident occurred, but yesterday was a public holiday in Nigeria.

A school located in close proximity to the warehouse was significantly damaged in the incident. Numerous vehicles in the area were completely burnt out by the fire. The windows of several nearby buildings were also destroyed as the fire caused the windows of houses a few miles away to shake. Thick smoke was also sighted above Lagos.

Crowds of thousands of nearby people accumulated near the fire, with spectators and individuals intending to assist or gain information about relatives amongst them. Three fire service tanker vehicles attended the scene, but used up all their water supplies. Some people in the crowd attempted to assist fire crews with holding fire hoses and gathering water-filled containers. Some of these people were taken to hospital for treatment after experiencing injuries. One official reported military assistance was used. Additional water arrived later, as the severity of the fire slowly decreased.

The large crowds were part of the reason it took around an hour for fire service members to reach the scene of the fire. News agency Reuters was told by a government official that the possibility of further explosions from fireworks also interfered with the fire service’s rescue operation. “It’s very dangerous for the firemen to go in, because the government don’t want any of these men to be injured”, they said.

Ibrahim Farinloye from the National Emergency Management Agency reported one fatality to Agence France-Presse (AFP), saying: “We pulled out a body from the building”. Nicolas Adesile, of the Red Cross, told the same news agency that as many as thirty people have been treated thus far.

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Australian Parliament hears reply to Budget

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Australian Parliament hears reply to Budget
November 28, 2018

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Australian House of Representatives heard the traditional right-of-reply to the Budget released May 9, from the Australian Labor Party, led by Kim Beazley (Labor, Brand), plus Budget replies from minor parties in the Australian Senate.

While the Budget is politically popular, having as one of its main features significant tax reform, Beazley focused on the omissions in the Budget, such as the failure to address a skills shortage.

Contents

  • 1 Opposition reply
  • 2 Minor parties
    • 2.1 Australian Democrats
  • 3 Australian Greens
  • 4 Family First
  • 5 Sources

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Human remains in mass grave confirm Argentina secret death camp

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Human remains in mass grave confirm Argentina secret death camp
November 28, 2018

Friday, December 12, 2008

File:Parque de la Memoria – Buenos Aires – Dennis Oppenheim – Monumento al escape.jpg

During a seven-month search, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) on Tuesday, confirmed more than 10,000 charred human bone fragments were unearthed between February and September, in a pit at Pozo de Arana, a former La Plata, Argentina secret government detention center. The Arana prison or police station was used to torture prisoners during the so-called Argentina “Dirty War,” and was one of 300 used to interrogate Argentine prisoners.

The war refers to the state-sponsored violence against Argentine citizenry from roughly 1976 to 1983 carried out primarily by Jorge Rafael Videla’s military government. The exact chronology of the repression is still debated, as trade unionists were targeted for assassination as early as 1973. Isabel Martínez de Perón’s “annihilation decrees” of 1975, during Operativo Independencia, have also been suggested as the origin of The Dirty War.

The official record reveals that up to 13,000 people disappeared, while 30,000 were killed during this time. Argentine security forces and death squads worked hand in hand with other South American dictatorships in the frame of Operation Condor. An Argentine court would later condemn the government’s crimes as crimes against humanity and “genocide”.

EAAF president and forensic scientist Luis Fondebrider said that “in 25 years of searching, this was the first time that human remains were found at a former detention cente; the magnitude of what the team has found where the Clandestine Center of Arana was located, merits that sometimes they show partial results.” He further noted that “the bodies had been burned inside graves along with tires, combustibles and other material; and the possibilities of identifying some of these remains is low because of the state they are in.” Fondebrider concluded that “this scientifically confirms the testimonies of the detained, the hundreds of survivors who have said for years that authorities tortured, killed and burned the bodies of political opponents.”

The anthropological discovery further reveals that a wall with more than 200 bullet marks or holes and an “important quantity” of used ammunition shells on the ground nearby, were found adjacent the mass pit grave. As evidence of executions, they were marked with red paint by forensic scientists. The team, however, failed to determine how many bodies the fragments represented.

Maria Vedio, 47, legal chairwoman for the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights La Plata said that ” this is the first time there is proof that Arana wasn’t only a detention and torture center, but also a center of elimination.”

Sara Derotier de Cobacho, secretary of human rights for Buenos Aires said, “I ask the forgiveness of family members, because I can imagine what the mothers and all who are gathered here will feel, but what we are about to show is not to detail the genocide but so that we have proof for the trials that are to come; but let us not forget, that behind every clandestine center there were the names of the repressors. … so it is very important for all citizens to know those names; we are looking for the truth so we can attain justice and construct, from there, the memory of our 30,000 ‘desaparecidos’.”

Some of those responsible for the mass killings have been charged and meted life or death sentences. They include Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz, a senior Argentine police officer, who worked in the Buenos Aires Provincial Police during the first years of the military dictatorship known as the National Reorganization Process. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006, on charges of homicide, kidnapping, and torture. The tribunal, besides handing the sentence, stated that Etchecolatz’s committed “crimes against humanity in the context of the genocide that took place in Argentina”. But the principal complainant, who was detained at Arana, has since disappeared.

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17 million accounts’ hashed passwords, emails stolen, Zomato says

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17 million accounts’ hashed passwords, emails stolen, Zomato says
November 28, 2018

Friday, May 19, 2017

Yesterday, Zomato, a food ordering and restaurant finding company, announced security breach of more than 17 million accounts, via their official blog. A hacker operating under the alias nclay uploaded evidence to prove they had the stolen data — hashed passwords and emails — for sale, Hackread.com reported. Zomato later announced they contacted the hacker, who asked Zomato to organise a bug bounty programme.

The food ordering company, with 120 million monthly users, said the payment information of the users was not located with this data and was not leaked. Zomato said it uses PCI Data Security Standards.

As a security measure, all the passwords of the involved Zomato accounts were reset and all of the accounts were forcibly logged out from the application and website. The company said only hashed passwords were compromised.

Hashed passwords are encrypted and, per Zomato, every password had a different “salt”, for cryptographic salting was performed before hashing the original password. A “salt” is a random set of characters added before encryption to make decryption to obtain the original passkey more difficult.

The hashed password itself can not be used to access the account. In the blog post before contacting the hacker, saying “internal (human) security breach”, Zomato suggested this could have happened after a worker’s development account was hijacked. After contacting the hacker, and promising a bug bounty programme on Hackerone, they said, the hacker agreed and removed the stolen data which was put on sale on the dark web. Zomato said they are looking forward to working closely with the ethical hacker community on security vulnerabilities.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Russ Aegard, Thunder Bay-Atikokan

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green candidate Russ Aegard, Thunder Bay-Atikokan
November 28, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2007

Russ Aegard is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Thunder Bay-Atikokan riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his 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.

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