West Virginia senator, Robert Byrd, has served in the US Senate for 56 years, the longest-serving member in congressional history. This anniversary has been marked by tributes and a special senate resolution, among other honours. Byrd entered the House of Representatives in 1952, then moved on to the Senate in 1958. He participated in more than 18,000 individual votes and had a 98% attendance record. At 92, Byrd is in frail health, but he is crucial to Democratic hopes of passing the health care reform bill about to come to the floor of the senate. Byrd’s life and political stances have moved from membership in the Ku Klux Klan many decades ago and opposition to the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act to vigorous support for Barack Obama and a long friendship with the late Ted Kennedy. Byrd has also earned a reputation as an extraordinarily effective champion of earmarks – or “pork barrel” spending – to benefit his home state. He is recognised as an authority on the US Constitution and Senate rules and procedure. For more, read the AP
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Towns near Fukushima are now being plagued by hordes of rampaging radioactive wild boars. Where are Asterix and Obelix when you need them?