News with tag Lawmakers  RSS
Is recycling collapsing in California? Advocates call on lawmakers to rescue it

19.08.2019 8:30


When rePlanet closed its doors at its remaining 284 California locations earlier this month, alarm bells went up among recycling advocates.

From: news.yahoo.com

Russian Lawmakers Look For Foreign Hand Behind Wave of Protests

19.08.2019 8:19


(Bloomberg) -- Leaders of Russia’s lower house of parliament met to discuss alleged foreign meddling in the country’s affairs including in elections, amid the biggest wave of protests in Moscow in seven years.The council of the State Duma, comprising party leaders and top officials, held a special session on Monday to create a commission to investigate “the facts of possible interference in Russia’s internal affairs,” according to a statement on the legislature’s website. It will start work this week, the state-run Tass news service reported.The meeting during the Duma’s summer recess highlights the increasing alarm among officials over the growing protests, which are the biggest since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012. Andrei Klimov, the head of a similar commission in the upper chamber of parliament, last week accused YouTube and the U.S. embassy of advertising opposition rallies, two days after an estimated 60,000 turned out to protest in Moscow.A series of protests that began in the capital last month, initially over the refusal to register opposition candidates for the Sept. 8 city council elections, has swiftly gained momentum after riot police beat and brutally detained peaceful protesters. Despite thousands of detentions and the imprisonment of many of the movement’s leaders, the anti-Kremlin opposition has called another protest for this weekend.In an unusual intervention, Sergey Chemezov, an influential Putin ally who heads Rostec State Corp., said “the presence of a sound opposition” would be good for the authorities in Moscow and Russia generally, in an interview published Monday by the RBC news website. “It’s obvious people are very upset and that’s not good for anyone,” said Chemezov, adding that Russia risked a return to times of stagnation without a healthy opposition and “we have already gone through this.”Growing DiscontentDiscontent is spreading in Russia after five years of falling living standards and last year’s unpopular pension-age hike that helped push Putin’s approval rating to the lowest since 2013. Organizers of opposition demonstrations have avoided support from abroad since Russia passed its tough “foreign agent” law as part of moves to break the 2012 protests.Lawmakers delayed a separate discussion on the spread of “fake news” via algorithms on Yandex NV, Russia’s largest search engine and biggest news aggregator, until October.The Duma’s focus on foreign meddling comes amid a broader crackdown by the authorities that includes mass unrest charges against at least 10 people arrested at the peaceful rallies, and a money-laundering probe against opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. State TV has also taken up the theme in reporting on the Moscow protests.Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. embassy of interference earlier this month for posting a notice on Twitter and on its website warning American citizens about an unsanctioned election protest in Moscow, along with a map of the route of the proposed demonstration. The ministry summoned Tim Richardson, a diplomat in the U.S. embassy’s political section, on Aug. 9 to complain that publication of the map was “a call to action, which constitutes an attempt to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs.”The Foreign Ministry also summoned Germany’s envoy, Beate Grzeski, to complain about the “unacceptable” behavior of Deutsche Welle, alleging the broadcaster called on people in social media to take part in unsanctioned protests. Deutsche Welle said its correspondent was detained briefly while reporting on a July 27 protest in Moscow.(Updates with Chemezov comment in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Rudnitsky in Moscow at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Torrey Clark at [email protected], Tony Halpin, Paul AbelskyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Johnson Says U.K. Will Be Ready to Leave Oct. 31: Brexit Update

19.08.2019 7:53


(Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit, sign up to our Brexit Bulletin, and tell us your Brexit story. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn promised to do “everything necessary” to prevent a no-deal Brexit, amid reports the government is preparing for a three-month “meltdown” at ports if Britain crashes out of the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he still wants an agreement with the bloc, but the U.K. will be ready to leave on Oct. 31 without one.Key Developments:Corbyn renewed pledge to hold a second Brexit referendum if general election called this yearPrime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. will be ready to leave the EU with or without a deal on Oct. 31; will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron this weekSunday Times newspaper cited leaked documents showing the government is preparing for shortages of food and medicine, as well as a hard Irish border, in a no-deal Brexit scenarioPound dropped 0.3%Johnson: U.K. Will Be Ready on Oct. 31 (12:45 p.m.)Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he still wants a Brexit deal with the European Union, but that Britain will be ready to leave the bloc without one on Oct. 31 if necessary.“I want a deal,’’ Johnson told Sky News on Monday. “We’re ready to work with our friends and partners to get a deal, but if you want a good deal for the U.K., you must simultaneously get ready to come out without one.’’The premier, who is going to Berlin and Paris this week to discuss Brexit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, said EU leaders were “showing a little bit of reluctance at the moment to change their position.’’ But he said he was “confident” they’ll shift.U.K. Has ‘Stepped Up’ No-Deal Planning (12.30 pm)Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokeswoman insisted the leaked document (see earlier) on “Operation Yellowhammer’’ -- the government’s worst-case plans for a no-deal Brexit -- are out of date.“We have significantly stepped up planning,’’ Alison Donnelly told reporters Monday. “You can see that work is ongoing. A significant amount of work has been done. There’s still work to do in various areas.’’She refused to discuss details of the leak further, but said the coming public information campaign would help with no-deal planning.Donnelly said the free movement of EU citizens in and out of Britain will end on Oct. 31, but offered only one example of how: “Much tighter’’ rules on whether people with criminal records can come in. She urged EU citizens living in the U.K. to apply for settled status. She also ruled out recalling Parliament early, as requested by some MPs over the weekend (see 8:30 a.m.).Corbyn Renews Election, Referendum Pledges (11:30 a.m.)Corbyn renewed his promise to call a no-confidence vote in the government and if successful, form a temporary administration to call an election. Labour, he said in a speech in Corby, central England, would promise to hold a second referendum because opinions have hardened in the past three years.“No outcome will now have legitimacy without the people’s endorsement,” Corbyn said. Labour will “give voters the final say with credible options on both sides including the option to remain.”Corbyn also said his party will do “everything necessary to stop a disastrous no-deal, for which this government has no mandate.” When Parliament returns in September, “this country is heading into a political and constitutional storm,” he said.Taking questions from the press afterward, Corbyn agreed with his finance spokesman, John McDonnell, that Parliament should return early (see 8:30 a.m.) from its summer recess. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokeswoman ruled it out in a briefing to reporters on Monday morning.Labour Seeks Parliamentary Recall Over Brexit (8:30 a.m.)The Labour Party believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson should recall Parliament from its summer recess in the coming days to discuss the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the main opposition’s finance spokesman, John McDonnell, said on Monday.McDonnell was responding to a question on BBC radio about the group of more than 100 lawmakers, including Labour backbenchers, who have written to Johnson to make that request. Parliament is due to resume on Sept. 3.“It’s a good initiative by this group of MPs to say that we need to get back into Parliament,” McDonnell said. “We’re facing a critical issue here and we should be debating it in Parliament.”Former Sainsbury’s Boss Warns of Brexit Food Shock (Earlier)Former J Sainsbury Plc Chief Executive Officer Justin King said the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline comes at just about the worst time of the year for the food-supply chain, and that the document leaked to the Sunday Times on the impact of a no-deal Brexit presages a major crisis.“Anything other than silky smooth at our borders particular at Dover-Calais is going to have very significant impacts on the food supply chain in the U.K.,” King told BBC radio. By the end of October, food is already being stored up for Christmas, leaving little spare capacity to stockpile in anticipation of border delays, he said.CBI Says No-Deal Impacts Show Need for Deal (Earlier)The document leaked to the Sunday Times detailing the anticipated impact of a no-deal Brexit -- including port delays and fuel shortages -- shows just how “incredibly serious for our economy” such an outcome would be, Confederation of British Industry Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn told BBC radio Monday.“Business does have to prepare, but above all else what this does show is we must be trying to get a deal -- and that must be the number one priority of government,” Fairbairn said, adding that the U.K. as become more prepared in recent weeks for “the short-run disruption.”“Not fully prepared, I don’t think that can be done,” she said. “If you have any delays at borders, that would be significant. I think what we can’t be prepared for though is the long-run impact of a fundamental change in our competitiveness.”Earlier:Corbyn Gears Up for Election as Chaotic Brexit Fears EscalateJohnson to Raise Brexit Stakes in Visits to Germany and FrancePound Wins Holiday From Selloff on Resistance to No-Deal BrexitTo contact the reporters on this story: Alex Morales in London at [email protected];Robert Hutton in London at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Hutton at [email protected], Stuart Biggs, Andrew AtkinsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Bees Are Dropping Dead in Brazil and Sending a Message to Humans

19.08.2019 6:00


(Bloomberg) -- Death came swiftly for Aldo Machado’s honey bees. Less than 48 hours after the first apis mellifera showed signs of sickness, tens of thousands lay dead, their bodies piled in mounds.“As soon as the healthy bees began clearing the dying bees out of the hives, they became contaminated,” said Machado, vice president of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul beekeeping association. “They started dying en masse.”Around half a billion bees died in four of Brazil’s southern states in the year’s first months. The die-off highlighted questions about the ocean of pesticides used in the country’s agriculture and whether chemicals are washing through the human food supply — even as the government considers permitting more. Most dead bees showed traces of Fipronil, a insecticide proscribed in the European Union and classified as a possible human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.Since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January, Brazil has permitted sales of a record 290 pesticides, up 27% over the same period last year, and a bill in Congress would relax standards even further. Manufacturers of newly permitted substances include Brazilian companies such as Cropchem and Ouro Fino, as well as global players including Arysta Lifescience Ltd., Nufarm Ltd. and Adama Agricultural Solutions Ltd. Giants such as Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF and Sumitomo also won new registrations.The fertile nation is awash in chemicals. Brazil’s pesticide use increased 770% from 1990 to 2016, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Agriculture Ministry says that Brazil ranks 44th in the world in the use of pesticides per hectare and that, as a tropical country, it is “incorrect” to compare its practices with those of temperate regions.Still, in its latest food-safety report, Brazil’s health watchdog Anvisa found that 20% of samples contained pesticide residues above permitted levels or contained unauthorized pesticides. It didn’t even test for glyphosate, Brazil’s best-selling pesticide, which is banned in most countries.The silent hives, critics say, are a warning.“The death of all these bees is a sign that we’re being poisoned,” said Carlos Alberto Bastos, president of the Apiculturist Association of Brazil’s Federal District.Agriculture is the biggest contributor to Brazil’s growth, composing around 18% of the economy. Its power — from pop culture to politics — is unmatched. Major producers sponsor samba groups, as well as a nationwide “little Ag” school program and arguably, the most influential grouping in congress.Like U.S. President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro was elected with strong support from agribusiness and has expressed disdain for environmental concerns. “This is your government,” Bolsonaro promised lawmakers from the agriculture caucus, and his administration has allowed the industry wide leeway to use whatever chemicals it likes.About 40% of Brazil’s pesticides are “highly or extreme highly toxic,” according to Greenpeace, and 32% aren’t allowed in the European Union. Meanwhile, approvals are being expedited without the government hiring enough people to evaluate them, said Marina Lacorte, a coordinator at Greenpeace Brazil.“There isn’t another explanation for it, other than politics.” she said.Easing pesticide approvals was a campaign commitment for Bolsonaro. The agriculture sector has complained for years about slowness.“Registrations are the biggest barrier,” said Flavio Hirata, an agrochemical specialist at Allier Brasil consultancy. “The world’s largest pesticide market can’t be limited to a few companies.”Roughly half of the approvals are ingredients, not final products, said Andreza Martinez, manager for regulation at Sindiveg, a group representing pesticide producers. Varying chemicals is important as pests develop resistance to formulas, she said.“It brings more tools to farmers, but that doesn’t mean an increase in the use of products in the field,” she said.The variety, however, alarms toxicologists. “The higher the number of products, the lower our chances of safety, because you can’t control them all,” said Silvia Cazenave, a professor of toxicology at the Catholic Pontifical University of Campinas.Brazil’s health ministry reported 15,018 cases of agricultural pesticide poisoning in 2018, but acknowledged that this is likely an underestimate.One victim was Andresa Batista, a 30-year-old mother of three. In March 2018, she went to work picking soybeans on one of the plantations on the plains surrounding the capital, Brasilia. Soon, she started feeling dizzy and nauseated — and then she passed out.More than 40 farmhands fell ill that day, according to Batista, so many that they were divided into three groups and taken to different hospitals. The first medical team to attend Batista also became unwell, prompting the hospital to destroy her clothes, including her underwear. Still, Batista and most of the others were cleared to work again two days later. Almost as soon as they started, they collapsed.Over a year later, Batista still can’t work. She has difficulty eating without vomiting, can’t go to the toilet without medicine, can’t go in the sun without her skin swelling and she’s lost around 30% of her vision. Doctors can’t give her a prognosis due to uncertainty about the type of pesticide that poisoned her.“That day, our lives ended,” she said. “We’re not the same people we were before.”Court documents show that Dupont do Brasil S.A., the company that managed the field, agreed to pay damages of 50,000 reais ($13,000) to one of Batista’s coworkers that day. Batista said the company paid her 40,000 reais in an out-of-court settlement. Dupont’s press office said it could not comment on the case due to legal restrictions.The government said all case of poisoning must be investigated and that it would introduce a decree to strengthen the oversight and training process for pesticide handling.Despite such stories, Congress may accelerate approvals yet further, rebranding pesticides as “agricultural defenses” and substituting the requirement to identify potential harm with a simple risk analysis.Brazil’s National Cancer Institute argued the measure would allow pesticides with “carcinogenic characteristics, endangering the population.” But Alceu Moreira, head of the lower house’s agriculture caucus, is certain it will become law.“There’s this need to create this international narrative that harms the image of Brazilian agriculture, as if we were using excessive levels of pesticides,” he said. “We’re not.”Brazilians may disagree. Carrefour Brasil, a supermarket chain, plans to increase its offering of organic products by 85% in 2019. Tatiana Carvalho, a 31-year old who runs a small organic delivery service in Brasilia, says sales have increased constantly since she started four years ago, despite the country’s sharp recession.She attributes her success to two things: greater consumer awareness and the government’s decision to authorize ever more pesticides.--With assistance from Simone Preissler Iglesias and Rachel Gamarski.To contact the authors of this story: Bruce Douglas in Brasilia at [email protected] Freitas in Sao Paulo at [email protected] contact the editor responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at [email protected], Stephen MerelmanReg GaleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Dark money ad claims Susan Collins put old-age programs ‘in jeopardy’

19.08.2019 3:00

An attack ad mixes innuendo and fuzzy sourcing to misleadingly attack the veteran lawmaker from Maine

From: www.washingtonpost.com

‘I Can Still Smell Him’: For 4 Legislators, This Law Is Personal

19.08.2019 3:00

Sexually abused as children, four Albany lawmakers told their stories to raise awareness about the Child Victims Act.

From: www.nytimes.com

Corbyn Gears Up for Election as Chaotic Brexit Fears Escalate

18.08.2019 18:18


(Bloomberg) -- U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will promise to do "everything necessary" to prevent a no-deal Brexit as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to take his threat to let Britain crash out of the EU to the heart of Europe.The Labour Party leader in a speech on Monday will renew his pledge to hold a second Brexit referendum if a general election is called this year “with credible options for both sides, including the option to remain” in the European Union.Corbyn will hold out the prospect of a “once-in-a-generation chance to change direction” under Labour two days before Johnson is to due to visit Berlin and Paris on his first foreign trip since becoming Conservative Party leader in July.Johnson will tell Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France that the EU must offer an acceptable new deal or face Britain leaving on Oct. 31 without one, saying the British Parliament “will not, and cannot, cancel the referendum.”Brexit AftershocksThe prime minister’s warning comes amid reports that the government is preparing for a three-month "meltdown" at British ports, a hard Irish border and shortages of food and medicine. These represent the “most likely aftershocks" of a no-deal Brexit, according to the Sunday Times, which cited leaked government documents.Johnson has accused Remain-supporting former ministers, including ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, for leaking the secret dossier known as Operation Yellowhammer, according to the Times.Corbyn this month urged lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit to let him head a caretaker government. But the proposal failed to win the support of pro-EU Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who are queasy at the prospect of a hard-line socialist taking the top job.Corbyn has said he will force a vote of no confidence on Johnson, who has a majority of just one in Parliament, and there are signs that the prime minister is preparing the groundwork for a general election with promises of extra billions for the National Health Service and crime-fighting.On Monday, Johnson will visit a hospital in southwest England to announce urgent action to boost the number of children and young people receiving vaccinations following a rise in cases of measles.In his speech, Corbyn will say the problems facing the U.K. run deeper than Brexit, according to his office.“The Tories have lurched to the hard right under Boris Johnson, Britain’s Trump, the fake populist and phony outsider, funded by the hedge funds and bankers, committed to protecting the vested interests of the richest and the elites, while posing as anti-establishment,” according to excerpts of the speech provided by his office.“Labour believes the decision on how to resolve the Brexit crisis must go back to the people,’ ’he will add.Britain is heading for a no-deal Brexit as fears are mounting for the global economy amid the escalating trade clash between the U.S. and China.The pound this month fell to its lowest levels since the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote and the U.K. economy shrank for the first time in more than six years between April and June. Johnson is under growing pressure to recall Parliament from its summer recess to discuss the Brexit crisis.No RenegotiationThe EU has ruled out renegotiating the thrice-rejected deal it struck with his predecessor, Theresa May. The agreement stalled in Parliament over how to keep the Irish border open, with the EU insisting on a “backstop” that would tie Britain closely to the bloc.The standoff leaves opponents of a no-deal Brexit just weeks to find a way to stop Britain crashing out of the bloc, an event that business leaders and many economists say would trigger economic chaos.Johnson will meet world leaders at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, starting Saturday. His talks with Merkel and Macron, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, are expected to focus on foreign policy and security as well as the global economy and trade.To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Atkinson in London at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at [email protected], Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Tens of thousands rally in Hong Kong as China condemns U.S. lawmakers' support

18.08.2019 7:07

The large turnout suggested the movement retains widespread support after recent protests were marked by violent clashes with police that have garnered increasing global attention.

From: www.nbcnews.com

China condemns US support for Hong Kong

17.08.2019 23:59

A spokesman for China's ceremonial legislature has condemned statements from US lawmakers supportive of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

From: www.news.com.au

British MPs press Boris Johnson to recall Parliament over Brexit

17.08.2019 21:53

August 18, 2019 9:53 AM
LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure on Sunday (Aug 18) to recall lawmakers immediately from their summer holiday so that Parliament can debate Brexit.

From: www.straitstimes.com

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