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cali's Journal
cali's Journal
June 26, 2016

Vermont is in a food fight with the U.S. Congress. Needless to say, VT will lose

Thursday it was reported that the Senate’s Agriculture Committee leadership has reached a deal on labeling GMO foods, specifically to block states from requiring clear, on-package labels of GMO foods.

This agreement fails to provide any meaningful federal labeling requirement. This is not a food-labeling bill. This is a rollback of democracy at the behest of the world’s largest agribusiness and biotech corporations.

This deal can still be described as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act because it will ensure that most consumers won’t know how their food is produced. Vermont’s law, which is about to go into effect, and with which many companies are already complying, would give consumers clear, on-package labels.



GMO labels: The great American food fight

Montpelier, Vt. — Not far from the golden dome of the State House here, in the offices of a grass-roots farm advocacy group called Rural Vermont, executive director Andrea Stander is planning a party.

For more than five years now, Ms. Stander has been working with other state advocates and legislators on a law that would require a label on most foods sold in Vermont that contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. It has been a tough fight, with both supporters and critics saying the law could upend the American food system. Since passing the Vermont State House in 2014, the GMO labeling law has come up against legal challenges and powerful lobbyists, both in the state and in Washington, D.C., and has raised the ire of big players in the agriculture and biotechnology industries. But unless opponents in the US Congress manage to derail it – something they are still avidly trying to do – Vermont’s labeling law will go into effect July 1.


How little Vermont, with a population smaller than Memphis, Tenn., has brought change to Big Food nationwide is only part of the story here. Go to the Green Mountain State, with its abundance of farms and more farmers markets per capita than anywhere else in the country (as well as more artisanal cheesemakers), and one gets a glimpse into a much bigger debate. Whether to label GMOs in food touches on the deepest divides in American culture. It raises questions about corporations and control of the nation’s food system, the way people consume resources, scientific knowledge versus indigenous knowledge, and, ultimately, the way Americans live.


In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first genetically engineered food for humans – the FLAVR SAVR tomato, made to have a longer shelf life than conventional tomatoes – for sale in US grocery stores. Since then, the production of genetically modified crops has skyrocketed. By 2015, some 94 percent of domestic soybean crop acreage was genetically modified, along with 92 percent of US corn and 94 percent of US cotton, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Almost all US canola oil and sugar beets are genetically engineered.



June 26, 2016

Brexit: Labour revolt as four quit top team, one sacked

Four Labour shadow cabinet members have quit, and more resignations are expected, in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership over the EU referendum.

They are Heidi Alexander, Ian Murray, Gloria de Piero and Lillian Greenwood.

It follows shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn's sacking after he told Mr Corbyn he had "lost confidence" in him.

Mr Corbyn faces a vote of no confidence following a "lacklustre" EU campaign but shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he "wasn't going anywhere".


June 26, 2016

Why We Need a Moratorium on Trade Deals Like the TPP


It is time for what the Japanese call hansei (reflection over one’s mistakes) among the Davos crowd—the corporate chieftains, business lobbyists, policy wonks and journalists who sold Washington and other world capitals on the glories of free-trade deals over the past few decades. Of all the messages emanating from the American electorate in the 2016 campaign, popular hostility toward trade agreements is one of the most resounding. It is also perhaps the only grievance that unites left and right.

Donald Trump’s success in storming his way toward the Republican presidential nomination is due in no small part to the derision he routinely heaps on trade deals the United States has struck with other countries. Likewise, Bernie Sanders’ attacks on trade agreements help fuel his populist insurgency, forcing Hillary Clinton to back away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the pact among 12 Pacific Rim countries that she once championed as secretary of state.

In response, many Davos men and women will be tempted to do what they’ve done in the past: Hunker down. Wait out the election and hope for a return to business as usual—negotiating more complex bilateral or regional free-trade accords. Presidential campaigns often feature a candidate or two who seizes the spotlight and soars in the polls for a while by railing against trade agreements—notable examples including Ross Perot in 1992, Pat Buchanan in 1996 and John Edwards in 2004. Sometimes even the victors stake out moderately anti-trade positions, as Barack Obama did in 2008 when he vowed to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Much more:

June 26, 2016

Trump blasts President Obama for.... mass deportations. Yep. That makes sense

Insane fuckwad or senile, it's nuts. Obviously a desperate bid to repair the damage he's done to prospective Latino support.

"President Obama has mass deported vast numbers of people — the most ever, and it's never reported. I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody," Trump said in an interview with Bloomberg Politics Saturday.

Pressed on whether he would issue mass deportations as he has called for in the past, Trump said: "No, I would not call it mass deportations."

"We are going to get rid of a lot of bad dudes who are here. That I can tell you," Trump said.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexican border and deport all 11 million people living in the country illegally.

In November, shortly after he launched his presidential campaign, Trump said he would build a "deportation force" to ship those in the country illegally back to their home countries.


June 26, 2016

More than 450 environmental organizations urge Congress to stop the TPP

This will be an issue in the election. This missive was sent to Congress 3 weeks ago. It barely made the news. Sierra Club, hardly a radical organization is leading the effort. They have been for years, ever since the Environment chapter was leaked. They still do, after reviewing the final draft.

More than 450 groups on Monday called on Congress to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it comes up for a vote this fall, saying the trade deal would allow fossil fuel companies to contest U.S. environmental rules in extrajudicial tribunals.

The groups, most of them environmental organizations, warned that companies could challenge U.S. environmental standards in tribunals outside the domestic legal system under provisions of the 12-nation TPP and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe.

Congress is expected to vote on the TPP after the Nov. 8 election during a lame-duck session. President Barack Obama wants the agreement ratified before he leaves office on Jan. 20, but opposition to the deal has grown during this year's presidential campaign.

"We strongly urge you to eliminate this threat to U.S. climate progress by committing to vote no on the TPP and asking the U.S. Trade Representative to remove from TTIP any provision that empowers corporations to challenge government policies in extrajudicial tribunals," the groups wrote in the letter to every member of Congress.

Obama's political ally and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she wants to renegotiate the TPP to include stronger rules on currency manipulation.



June 26, 2016

TransCanada formally seeks NAFTA damages in Keystone XL rejection

TransCanada Corp is formally requesting arbitration over U.S. President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking $15 billion in damages, the company said in legal papers dated Friday.

TransCanada submitted a notice for an arbitration claim in January and had then tried to negotiate with the U.S. government to "reach an amicable settlement," the company said in files posted on the pipeline's website.

"Unfortunately, the parties were unable to settle the dispute."

TransCanada said it then filed its formal arbitration request under North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provisions, seeking to recover what it says are costs and damages.

The Keystone XL was designed to link existing pipeline networks in Canada and the United States to bring crude from Alberta and North Dakota to refineries in Illinois and, eventually, the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Obama rejected the cross-border crude oil pipeline last November, seven years after it was first proposed, saying it would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to the U.S. economy.



June 25, 2016

I still see the TPP as a significant threat to our rights

There used to be a lot of interest in the TPP here. That seems to have dissipated somewhat.

Some of the things that are alarming. This is by no means a comprehensive list:

Copyright provisions, Chapter 18:

Harsh criminal penalties for infringers, even those with no profit motivation.

Pharmaceutical and generic drugs:

"Evergreening". Forcing member countries drug patent extensions and diminishing access to generic drugs.

Lack of strong enforcement provisions for violators across a wide range of issues including labor rights and the environment

Weakening of the none too strong Dodd-Frank legislation. As Elizabeth Warren said, it would "punch holes" in it.

ISDS: It's unbalanced. It favors corporations


June 25, 2016

Norway is not part of the EU. The Norwegian PM warned Britain not to leave

However, the vast majority of Norwegians are opposed to membership.

OSLO — Norway’s prime minister has bad news for U.K. Euroskeptics who hope to copy Oslo’s relationship with the European Union if they get their way in next week’s referendum.

“They won’t like it,” Erna Solberg told POLITICO.

The Conservative leader has her own bruising experience of votes on EU membership. Her center-right party was in favor of joining in a 1994 referendum that ended with 52 percent of Norwegians rejecting the bloc, after a similar result in 1972.

Norway receives access to most of the bloc’s internal market through membership of the European Economic Area. That means goods, services and labor flow freely between Norway and the EU. In return, however, Norway has to adopt a large number of EU laws without having a formal say in how they are shaped. Norway also has to pay about the same amount of money into the EU budget on a per capita basis as the U.K., according to OpenEurope, a think tank that has declared itself neutral in the debate.

Although the EU influences everything from the health warnings on Norwegian cigarette packs to the fact that Poles have become the biggest minority in the country, there isn’t much appetite for a third ballot on EU membership.

“That’s because the EU has a lot of problems on [its] own, so it is not very attractive,” the prime minister said in an interview here. Although her party is still in favor of EU membership, polling shows only about 18 percent of the population supports the idea.


June 25, 2016

So the Platform Comittee has endorsed the TPP

That tells us quite a lot.

Democrats to endorse Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

The Democratic Party has voted against an amendment to its platform that would oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The discursive move is a nod toward one of President Obama's projects.

The initial proposal - made by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. - to oppose the controversial trade deal was rejected by members of the Democratic National Convention's drafting committee, which is briefed with coming up with the party's platform for the Philadelphia convention in July. It backed a measure that said "there are a diversity of views in the party" on the TPP.

It also reaffirmed that Democrats want any trade deal "to protect workers and the environment."

The original text for the party's program had rejected the Pacific Rim trade pact, which has also been opposed by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton (above L) and Bernie Sanders (above R).



June 25, 2016

brexit was a non-binding referendum.

Parliament has the final say.

What follows any referendum vote next week for the United Kingdom to leave the EU? From a legal perspective, the immediate consequence is simple: nothing will happen.

The relevant legislation did not provide for the referendum result to have any formal trigger effect. The referendum is advisory rather than mandatory. The 2011 referendum on electoral reform did have an obligation on the government to legislate in the event of a “yes” vote (the vote was “no” so this did not matter). But no such provision was included in the EU referendum legislation.

What happens next in the event of a vote to leave is therefore a matter of politics not law. It will come down to what is politically expedient and practicable. The UK government could seek to ignore such a vote; to explain it away and characterise it in terms that it has no credibility or binding effect (low turnout may be such an excuse). Or they could say it is now a matter for parliament, and then endeavour to win the parliamentary vote. Or ministers could try to re-negotiate another deal and put that to another referendum. There is, after all, a tradition of EU member states repeating referendums on EU-related matters until voters eventually vote the “right” way.

What matters in law is when and whether the government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This is the significant “red button”. Once the Article 50 process is commenced then Brexit does become a matter of law, and quite an urgent one. It would appear this process is (and is intended to be) irreversible and irrevocable once it starts. But invoking Article 50 is a legally distinct step from the referendum result- it is not an obligation.



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Gender: Female
Hometown: born is LA, grew up there and in New Canaan CT
Home country: USA
Current location: East Hardwick, Vermont
Member since: Wed Sep 29, 2004, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 114,904
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