Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Where Lynch And Markey's Voting Records Diverge

Shouldn't voting records matter?

Where Lynch And Markey's Voting Records Diverge
By Fred Thys March 27, 2013




BOSTON — U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey, the Democratic rivals in the race for the U.S. Senate, have mostly voted along similar lines in the 12 years they’ve served together.

But there have been some significant votes on which they’ve found themselves on opposing sides. Here’s a look at several of them.

Democratic Senate candidates U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch, left, and Ed Markey (WBUR file photos)
Democratic Senate candidates U.S. Reps. Stephen Lynch, left, and Ed Markey (WBUR file photos)

Arming Pilots Post-9/11

Lynch won the Democratic primary on Sept. 11, 2001. The following month, he easily defeated his Republican opponent. When Lynch arrived in Washington, D.C., he found his office closed because of an anthrax scare. Many of his first votes had to do with 9/11.

One of the first big ones on which Lynch differed with Markey came the next year. It was to allow airline pilots to carry guns in cockpits. It created a two-year program to train pilots who wanted to learn how to use guns on planes.

Markey was against it.

“I thought that it would make it even more likely that there could be a catastrophic event up in the air,” Markey said in a phone interview with WBUR. “And that proposal was in fact opposed by the airline flight attendants, by the TSA, and I think that they were right.”
Lynch wanted to arm the pilots.

“The bill also provided self-defense training for flight attendants as well,” Lynch said in a phone interview with WBUR. “We also had another parallel program that put armed air marshals on planes, but we could not cover all flights, so whereas the air marshal program cost $3,000 per flight, the training program for pilots and allowing them to have a weapon in the cockpit cost $15 per flight.”

The program passed, and today thousands of pilots carry guns in the cockpit. But Markey still thinks it’s a bad idea.

“I believe there could be accidental weapon discharge and pilot mishandling of the weapons, which are also risks, and again those risks are exacerbated by the tight confines of an airplane,” Markey said.

Abortion

In 2002, the two congressmen also found themselves on opposing sides of the issue that has most divided them over the years: abortion. Markey voted against a ban on so-called “partial-birth abortions.”

“A woman should have the right to consult with her family, with her physician, with her own conscience,” Markey said. “It’s a decision which is very personal.”

“The ‘partial-birth-abortion’ ban was a position taken by the American Medical Association,” Lynch said. And he supported it.

“There was an amendment for cases where there was a late-term abortion where there was rape, incest or where the health of the mother was at risk, and I did support that amendment,” Lynch said.

The next year, the ban became law.

In 2004, so did a measure to establish an embryo or a fetus as a legal person. Markey voted no. Lynch voted yes.

For several years running — from 2002 to 2006 — Lynch was the only member of the Massachusetts delegation to vote against allowing women in the military to use private funds to pay for abortions at overseas military hospitals.

“There is no free choice being exercised on military bases, by women or by men. It is a command society, it’s basically by rank,” he said in explaining his vote. “If you think about it, if a woman has an unwanted pregnancy on a military base there’s a high likelihood that there was another enlisted or officer involved. What I did support was allowing women to have automatic leave, medical leave, to leave the base and to make a decision on their own.”

Except in the case of rape, incest and when their own lives are in danger, women are still not allowed to have abortions on military bases.

Then, in 2009, as the House worked on the Affordable Care Act, Lynch voted to deny abortion coverage to women who receive federally subsidized health insurance. Markey voted the keep the abortion coverage.

“I did not believe there should be restrictions placed upon a woman’s right to have insurance under the Affordable Care Act,” Markey said.

The measure passed the House, but the Senate defeated a similar one, and so it died.

Obamacare

The following year, Lynch took his most famous lone stand. He became the only Massachusetts member of Congress to vote against final passage of the Affordable Care Act itself, even though President Obama spoke with him for 40 minutes to try to change his mind. Lynch had supported an earlier House version.

“It provided for a public option and avoided any taxes on health care,” Lynch said. “That bill was precluded because of Scott Brown’s election. It was kept from conference. Instead, we had to support a bill that took away the public option that we had put in in the House, where states could have operated a low-cost, public-option health care plan to create competition in the insurance market.”
Lynch also objected to the fact that the final version taxes health care plans.

Defense Contracts

In 2011, another issue revealed the two candidates’ differences. Markey and Lynch disagreed over whether to fund a defense contract that would have built F-35 fighter jet engines at the GE plant in Lynn, creating jobs in Massachusetts. Pratt & Whitney, based in Connecticut, was already making engines for the F-35. Markey voted for the GE engines.

“With a single supplier of an engine, that single supplier can charge the Defense Department whatever they want, increasing costs to taxpayers, and in tight economic times that makes no sense,” Markey said. “As with any other business, multiple suppliers means competition, which drive down costs.”

Lynch voted against funding the GE engines.

“The president and the secretary of defense came forward to say this is a program that we do not want,” Lynch said. “There was already one engine for the F-35 and this was an alternative engine.
They said we already have the other engine in service.”

The House agreed with Lynch and killed the GE engine. That was the last time Markey and Lynch took opposing sides on a major vote.

http://www.wbur.org/2013/03/27/lynch-markey-voting-record

Elizabeth Warren takes off the gloves

Americans need more Senators on their side to speak out for them, advocate for their best interests and have the courage to do what's right.

We've endured shameless filibusters, embarrassing extremism and GOP obstruction that has rewarded the wealthy.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has done Massachusetts proud!


Elizabeth Warren takes off the gloves
The freshman senator is on a roll, taking on Wall Street at every opportunity

Grand bargain could be grand sellout

Senator Bernie Sanders explains the economic issues simply --

I thought you might want to see my recent op-ed for The Hill, which discusses the current debate in Washington over the budget and the so-called “grand bargain.” You can find the piece below.

Also, if you haven’t already, please sign my petition to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner, which says “No Budget Deal on the Backs of the Elderly, the Children, the Sick and the Poor.”

Thank you for all that you do in fighting to protect the middle class.

Sincerely,

Bernie
Senator Bernie Sanders
The Hill
Grand bargain could be grand sellout
By Senator Bernie Sanders


The media appear fixated about when and if a so-called “grand bargain” on our economy will be reached. Wrong question! The question we should be asking is: What should be in a “grand bargain” that works for the average American?

At a time when the middle class is disappearing, 46 million Americans are living in poverty and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, we need a “grand bargain” that protects struggling working families, not billionaires.

With corporate profits at record-breaking levels while the effective corporate tax is at its lowest level since 1972, and 1 out of 4 profitable corporations pays nothing in federal income taxes, we need a grand bargain that ends corporate loopholes and demands that corporate America starts helping us with deficit reduction. We must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. We must not cut Social Security, disabled veterans’ benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, education and other programs that provide opportunity and dignity to millions of struggling American families.

Before we pass a grand bargain, we have got to take a hard and sober look at what’s happening economically in our country today. In doing so, we must acknowledge that the United States has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth and that inequality is worse today than at any time since the late 1920s. Today, the wealthiest 400 individuals in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America — 150 million Americans. The top 1 percent owns 38 percent of all financial wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns just 2.3 percent. Incredibly, the Federal Reserve reported last year that median net worth for middle-class families dropped by nearly 40 percent from 2007-2010. That’s the equivalent of wiping out 18 years of savings for the average middle-class family.

The distribution of income is even worse. If you can believe it, the last study on the subject showed that all of the new income gained from 2009-2011 went to the top 1 percent. ALL of the new income!

In America today, the average middle-class family has seen its income go down by nearly $5,000 since 1999, adjusting for inflation. Real unemployment is not 7.7 percent, it is 14.3 percent, counting those workers who have given up looking for work or who are working part time when they want to be working full time. While youth unemployment is exceptionally high, millions of young people are struggling with student loans they can’t afford to pay back. While we talk about the need to strengthen the middle class, we have to understand that more than half of the new jobs that have been created since 2010 are low-wage jobs paying people between $7.80 and $13.80 an hour.

That’s the economic reality facing a large majority of our people, and that’s what has to be taken into consideration when we discuss deficit reduction and a “grand bargain.”

As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, here are my priorities:

We need a budget that puts millions of Americans back to work in decent-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and transforming our energy sector away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy and energy efficiency.

We need a budget that keeps the promises we have made to our seniors, veterans and the most vulnerable by protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

We need a budget that makes sure that the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes. We must end corporate loopholes that allow Wall Street banks, large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion a year in federal taxes by stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.

A federal budget is not just a set of numbers. It is a value statement of what we, as a nation, stand for. We must fight for a grand bargain that stands for justice, opportunity and the needs of our middle class. We must reject any approach that continues the economic assault on working families.

Follow Bernie Facebook Twitter

The Doctor is Not In



The Bernie Buzz - News From the US Senate
March 28, 2013
The Doctor is Not In

Nearly 57 million Americans lack adequate primary health care. Thousands of new primary care doctors are needed. “But the deck is stacked against a big increase, given medical school cultures that push students toward specialization,” according to Sunday’s New York Daily News. “It’s a wildly irrational system,” said Bernie, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on primary health care. “We do not need more specialists. We need primary care physicians in rural and poor urban areas.”

Read the Daily News report »
Read Bernie's report on primary care in America »

Senate to Obama: Hands Off
Social Security, Veterans


The Senate went on record opposing President Obama’s proposal to cut Social Security and disabled veterans’ benefits. A budget bill passed on Saturday included a Bernie provision against adopting a stingier consumer price index. The proposed new way to measure inflation is the centerpiece of a “grand bargain” Obama wants with congressional Republicans. “This is a strong signal that when push comes to shove the Senate is going to oppose any effort to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, disabled veterans and their survivors,” Bernie said.
Watch Bernie’s speech »
Too Big to Jail?

The nation’s biggest banks are bigger today than before taxpayers bailed them out after the 2008 financial collapse. Now, Attorney General Holder says some banks are so big that it would disrupt the economy to bring criminal charges against them. “In other words, we have a situation now where Wall Street is not only too big to fail, they are too big to jail,” Bernie said. According to a new poll, most Americans want the government to break up big banks.
Watch Bernie’s speech »
Lessons from Europe

Polls show that more than 70 percent of Americans favor restrictions on executive pay. Bernie asked Heather Gautney, a research fellow in his Senate office and an assistant professor at Fordham University, to take a closer look at what’s happening in Europe, where the Swiss have banned golden parachutes, the EU has limited banker bonuses and France is reining in salaries for top executives.
Read ‘Lessons from Europe’ Part III »
Read ‘Lessons from Europe’ Part II »
Read ‘Lessons from Europe’ Part I »

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Monsanto: Democracy Bought and Paid For

Sometimes a single act provokes a war....complacent Americans have ignored the sale of their Democracy and the erosion of rights, but Monsanto's greed may signal a rude awakening.


US President Barack Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act. (photo: Brendan Smialowsky/AFP)
US President Barack Obama signed the Monsanto Protection Act. (photo: Brendan Smialowsky/AFP)

Monsanto Protection Act Ignites Massive Activism

By Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society
30 March 13

hile Monsanto executives may be rejoicing behind the closed doors of their corporate offices, they have also just stabbed themselves in the heart with the blatant and cocky decision to go through with the Monsanto Protection Act. Obama's social media profiles are being blown up with thousands of enraged activists and concerned citizens who are demanding answers.
 
Thanks to the alternative news covering every angle of the Protection Act and the absurd fact that Monsanto actually wrote the rider itself, people have now come to fully understand just how deep the corruption goes when it comes to Monsanto's Big Food monopoly. And it doesn't exempt the President.
 
It's a well known fact that the Obama family actually eats from the White House organic garden which was planted in 2009 and has full time staffers who maintain and harvest organic produce that comes from the garden. Many high level politicians actually refuse to eat anything but organic, as they are fully aware of what's in 'conventional', GMO-loaded items. Yet, despite this knowledge, they are quite eager to push Monsanto's GMOs and ruthless business model on the citizens of the United States.
 
And the people are fully aware of the betrayal.
 
Scanning just a few comments amid the thousands calling out Obama for his signature on the spending bill that contained the Monsanto Protection Act, we find seriously frustrated activists and voters who can't believe what they are seeing. Even many Obama campaigners who came to the realization that Obama didn't represent what they thought he did. One specifically mentions how Obama promised to label GMOs in 2007 upon taking the seat of the President. A promise that never came to fruition. In fact, no real attempts were made at all.
 
Here are a few comments among the thousands that I found interesting on Obama's wall:
Darlene Taylor: Barack Obama - 2007: "We'll let folks know if their food is genetically modified because Americans should know." 2013: He signed the Monsanto Protection Act making GMO giants immune to the law.

Erica Ecker: Apparently part of protecting our children no longer includes what goes in them. Thanks for signing the Monsanto Protection Act.
 
Keri Kline: I am an activist for President Obama, and I am outraged he has failed to listen to the 'American people he represents'... President Obama knowingly signed the Monsanto Protection Act over the insistence of more than 250,000 Americans who signed an urgent letter asking that he use his executive authority to veto H.R. 933 and send it back to Congress to remove the Monsanto Protection Act from the bill. Regretfully, President Obama failed to live up to his oath to protect the American people and our constitution.
Overall, the decision to go with such a major act of corruption has jump started a massive movement to hold politicians and corporations accountable for their betrayal of the US public. It's a move that has blown up in the face of those who thought they could slip it through into law.

A farmer is seen holding Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds at his family farm. (photo: Dan Gill/AP)
A farmer is seen holding Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds at his family farm. (photo: Dan Gill/AP)


Monsanto and the Seeds of Suicide

By Vandana Shiva, The Asian Age
27 March 13

Monsanto's talk of ‘technology' tries to hide its real objectives of control over seed where genetic engineering is a means to control seed

hese are the promises Monsanto India's website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers' suicides in India from the company's growing control over cotton seed supply - 95 per cent of India's cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.
 
Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers.
 
Monsanto's concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers' suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.
 
Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the "Life Lord" of our planet, collecting rents for life's renewal from farmers, the original breeders.
 
Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not "creating" or "inventing" a plant. These are seeds of deception - the deception that Monsanto is the creator of seeds and life; the deception that while Monsanto sues farmers and traps them in debt, it pretends to be working for farmers' welfare, and the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.
 
The entry of Monsanto in the Indian seed sector was made possible with a 1988 Seed Policy imposed by the World Bank, requiring the Government of India to deregulate the seed sector. Five things changed with Monsanto's entry: First, Indian companies were locked into joint-ventures and licensing arrangements, and concentration over the seed sector increased. Second, seed which had been the farmers' common resource became the "intellectual property" of Monsanto, for which it started collecting royalties, thus raising the costs of seed. Third, open pollinated cotton seeds were displaced by hybrids, including GMO hybrids. A renewable resource became a non-renewable, patented commodity. Fourth, cotton which had earlier been grown as a mixture with food crops now had to be grown as a monoculture, with higher vulnerability to pests, disease, drought and crop failure. Fifth, Monsanto started to subvert India's regulatory processes and, in fact, started to use public resources to push its non-renewable hybrids and GMOs through so-called public-private partnerships (PPP).
 
In 1995, Monsanto introduced its Bt technology in India through a joint-venture with the Indian company Mahyco. In 1997-98, Monsanto started open field trials of its GMO Bt cotton illegally and announced that it would be selling the seeds commercially the following year. India has rules for regulating GMOs since 1989, under the Environment Protection Act. It is mandatory to get approval from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the ministry of environment for GMO trials. The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology sued Monsanto in the Supreme Court of India and Monsanto could not start the commercial sales of its Bt cotton seeds until 2002.
 
And, after the damning report of India's parliamentary committee on Bt crops in August 2012, the panel of technical experts appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.
But it had changed Indian agriculture already.
 
Monsanto's seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers' suicide epidemic in India. This systemic control has been intensified with Bt cotton. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt.
 
An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India - "Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers."
 
The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced - Monsanto's royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. As Monsanto's profits grow, farmers' debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto's seeds are seeds of suicide.
 
The ultimate seeds of suicide is Monsanto's patented technology to create sterile seeds. (Called "Terminator technology" by the media, sterile seed technology is a type of Gene Use Restriction Technology, GRUT, in which seed produced by a crop will not grow - crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off.) The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from seed.
 
Monsanto's talk of "technology" tries to hide its real objectives of ownership and control over seed where genetic engineering is just a means to control seed and the food system through patents and intellectual property rights.
 
A Monsanto representative admitted that they were "the patient's diagnostician, and physician all in one" in writing the patents on life-forms, from micro-organisms to plants, in the TRIPS' agreement of WTO. Stopping farmers from saving seeds and exercising their seed sovereignty was the main objective. Monsanto is now extending its patents to conventionally bred seed, as in the case of broccoli and capsicum, or the low gluten wheat it had pirated from India which we challenged as a biopiracy case in the European Patent office.
 
That is why we have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto's Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides.
 
 
Carl Gibson | Congress Protects Monsanto, Not Third Graders
(illustration: Occupy Monsanto)
Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
Gibson writes: "The 113th Congress has already decided that while it won't protect 3rd graders from assault rifles and high-powered magazines, it will protect Monsanto from the courts."
READ MORE
 

Absentee Ballots, Voter Registration Timeline



DONAGHUE'S DEMOCRATIC DISPATCH - Established April 2000

Greetings from Kate Donaghue
Dear Democrats,

Absentee ballots for the Senate primary are now available at local City and Town Halls. If you will be out of town on Tuesday, April 30, you can go to your City or Town Hall and vote, "over the counter." A parent can apply for an absentee ballot to be sent to a son or daughter who may be out of town.  Absentee Ballot and Voter Registration Forms
Absentee Ballot Application - Must be signed by voter. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/absentee_ballot.pdf Absentee Ballot Application Family - A family member can request an absentee ballot on behalf of a voter. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepdf/absente_ballot_fam.pdf    I thought that I would share this message that I received on Thursday from the DNC. . . . .
'Today President Obama stood shoulder to shoulder with mothers to urge Congress to take action on common-sense measures to keep our children safe from gun violence. It is at this moment that we have a real chance to reduce gun violence in our country, but for that to happen the House must follow the Senate’s example and allow a vote on these very common-sense proposals. The President, like most Americans, believes the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to bear arms, but he also believes that we have a responsibility to make sure guns are used in a safe manner and don’t fall into the wrong hands. And while we might not be able to stop every act of gun violence, we have an obligation to try.'

Democratically yours,
 
Kate Donaghue

Key Dates in the Special Election for U. S. Senate
4/10 at 8 PM: deadline for voters to register for the State Primary.*
4/30 STATE PRIMARY
6/05 at 8 PM: deadline for voters to register for the State Election.*
6/25 STATE ELECTION

*Registration hours 9am-8pm (for towns under 1500 hours 2-4pm and 7-8pm)
The above are the important dates for Democrats. For non-party candidates the deadlines are 4/3 at 5 PM for signatures to local clerks and 4/16 at 5 PM to have the signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spending Dud

Taxpayers for Common Sense offered the comments below and while we may not agree with everything, it's always important to hear all perspectives.....

Spending Dud
Volume XVIII No. 13: March 29, 2013

It's clear by now that the United States' financial situation will force everyone, from your mother up to the President, to cut down on "wants" so we can pay for "needs." But if we can't pay for wants here at home, why are American taxpayers being asked to pay for those of European militaries?

That's what we asked when we saw the latest cost estimate for a program that would rebuild warheads on nuclear weapons stationed in Europe. The B61 is the warhead that sits atop 400 U.S. missiles stationed throughout that continent. America is no longer in the business of making nukes, but we do make sure the ones we built still work via "life extension programs," and the B61 is next in line for sprucing up.

The program's official cost estimate according to the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA), which oversees the B61 program, is about $8 billion, assuming a 2019 start date. But a July 2012 Pentagon review estimated the cost at more than $10 billion and moved the start date back three years. That puts the price at roughly $25 million per bomb. Considering NNSA's history of program cost and schedule overruns, that estimate is probably conservative.

Since the missiles were placed in Europe to defend our allies in the North Altantic Treaty Organization (NATO), you might think that NATO would pick up some of those costs. But no-the United State has borne the lion's share of NATO's military costs since its inception, and U.S. taxpayers are due to pick up the full tab for the program in addition to the costs of securing the weapons.

Even more galling is the fact that many of the warheads might not even stay at their bases in Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Italy, and the Netherlands much longer. German politicians have said they want the nukes out, and there's a strong chance that the arms reductions President Obama wants will remove many of them before the life extension program is even completed.

The "weapons activities" portion of the NNSA budget that covers the B61 program received its full 2013 budget request of $7.5 billion in the bill passed by Congress last week to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. That amount already represents a 5 percent increase over 2012, and NNSA asked for $363 million for the B61 program, a whopping 65 percent increase. Whether the program receives that much money remains to be seen: NNSA officials have said that sequestration would force delays. Now that sequestration is in place, NNSA should use the time constructively and reevaluate the program with an independent panel that makes its conclusions transparent to the public.

In our May 2012 report Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter, we recommended that NNSA only move forward with extending the life of the B61 if our NATO partners shared the cost. Since then, the waning justification and increasing price tag has further convinced us that this program needs to take a breather. Holding off on funding won't jeopardize our nuclear deterrent, since an independent panel certified the B61's parts as good to go. In the meantime, we have plenty of needs to take care of here at home.



Taxpayers for Common Sense appeared throughout the media this past week. Check them all out in the In the News section of our website.
 

 

No Budget for Oil Men





Brad Plumer, IMF: Want to fight climate change? Get rid of $1.9 trillion in energy subsidies, The Washington Post, March 27, 2013

Key Next Steps For US Food Policy




Key Next Steps For US Food Policy

Here is the "inside story" with complete details you need to know about what happened with HR 933, Continuing Resolution including the “Monsanto Protection Act” the President signed this week. I detail actions we took, what this means, and suggest steps for the future. Please read this to the end to be well-informed and please respond.

Send me an email to info@proorganic.org to confirm you received this message now, and feel free to leave your comments and suggestions. Thank you for thousands of encouraging emails and conversations about our work! If you want to unsubscribe, you must follow the link at the bottom of this email to do so because I have no control over the email server. Like, share, and participate in our facebook group www.facebook.com/proorganic.org which receives as many as over 200,000 views monthly and features a wealth of valuable information about food, health, regulatory affairs, gardening, and many inputs. We read every email and Facebook comment, and many of you know from experience that we answer personally when possible. Please know, our all-volunteer effort is funded solely and at great personal cost and risk by the Petition Author without any outside support or financial affiliation. Ours is a historic example of what citizens can accomplish when commitment and vision combine in action.

Your efforts and responses to our phone campaign request has been humbling and we cannot thank you enough. We estimate well over 60,000 calls were received by the White House this week, though some of you reported having to dial as many as 100 times to get through! What’s more, we arranged for the Food Democracy Now 250,000-plus-signer petition seeking Veto of HR 733 to be brought directly to the President's personal attention. We received help at very high Administration levels and express our deep appreciation.

Proorganic.org does not speak for the entire Food Policy movement. However, aside from the White House itself, we were the most intimately involved with President Obama among all food policy organizations so this is a "from the horse's mouth" account. This email serves to share elements of what happened this week with the goal of helping everyone concerned work together more effectively to achieve our goals.

First of all, you need to realize the Continuing Resolution is only a six month law. No part of this law lives beyond September 2013, no matter what it provides. You should take comfort in that, and heed this as a call to action for the future.

Second, you need to realize passing periodic Continuing Resolutions has been at the highest level of political importance for Presidents over the past 2 decades. Without passage, the Government shuts down, leading the nation into certain disaster. Whatever political objectives any President has, first and foremost, the government must be funded. For this reason, we did not promote a Veto campaign, but we helped Food Democracy Now in their Veto campaign because of our common long-term objectives.

Section 735 "Monsanto Rider" is reported by NY Daily News to have been written in concert with Mosanto by Sen. Roy Blount (R-MO), perhaps Monsanto’s biggest Senate contribution beneficiary. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) allowed the language to stand without consultation with the Agriculture Subcommittee, or any others, for that matter. This infamous action has been widely criticized in the strongest terms, even within the Senate. Sen. Mikulski's Facebook page has dozens of comments in opposition. Unlike a typical "Rider," the "Section 735" paragraph did not appear at the end of the bill. Because of this, the President could not issue a Signing Statement nullifying it. We know Mr. Obama consulted the White House Consul in detail to explore this possibility.

Most believe Section 735 of this bill violates the US Constitution’s “Separation of Powers” which provides for the Courts to maintain authority whenever cases are brought. This provision requires the Secretary of Agriculture to grant permits and temporary deregulation without Court intervention. Additional opinions suggest it violates the National Environmental Policy Act which calls for vairous Environmental Impact disclosures among other procedures.

This is the problem we face: The US doesn’t really have a National Policy on Food and Agriculture. Corporate interests and regulators have never been governed by a solid Policy framework. We need Policy that comes from a clear and sustained public debate followed by legislation towards sustainable, healthy, and scientifically legitimate Food Policy. While tens of millions of citizens are actively involved in various national debates about topics like abortion, and other hot button issues, Food Policy gets relatively minor attention, though literally everyone eats. Occasionally, some voices involved in Food Policy advocacy compete with each other – leading to potential fragmentation and dilution of our power. We must eliminate that as a factor, and work in concert like a well-tuned orchestra to be effective. A group of important leading Food advocacy organizations including ProOrganic.org is being convened by Center for Food Safety which will address strategy and tactics next week.

Our task over the next six months is to stimulate a vast national hot-button debate that puts tremendous pressure on all elected officials AND which leads to wise food-policy legislation. Some of this is already being drafted now. If that past year has taught us at ProOrganic anything, it’s that fighting Monsanto or the FDA is not leadership, it’s an understandable, but relatively ineffective reaction. Have to move beyond opposition towards proposition.

Leadership means we grow our movement to 100 million people who demand Food Policy and who use it as a litmus test for supporting elected officials’ ambitions. ANY President, Governor, Senator or Congressman would have to support us or face political failure. The outrage over Section 735 and its assault on the Constitution should be used to spark many more people to involvement and action. We absolutely have to use this moment wisely, because we just got “fifteen minutes of fame” and we can exploit this to our advantage.

Now it’s time to craft a crystal clear message that everybody can understand and get excited about. We have to get so many people involved in the debate that the message comes loud and clear to the all elected officials. At ProOrganic.org, we see this week’s events as an opportunity to stimulate a turning-point in the National conversation.

Thanks ever so much: You will hear from me again shortly.

Frederick Ravid, author http://signon.org/sign/tell-obama-to-cease-fda?mailing_id=10803&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=1308003

 

When Corporations Rule: Corporatocracy

From Wikipedia:
Corporatocracy (pronunciation: /ˌkɔrpərəˈtɒkrəsi/) is a term used to suggest an economic and political system controlled by corporations or corporate interests.[1] It is a generally pejorative term often used by critics of the current economic situation in a particular country, especially the United States.[2][3]

Do we really support Government by Corporations?
Are we so willing to surrender our Republic because we're simply lazy?



FOCUS | Monsanto Wrote Monsanto Protection Act
(image: Occupy Monsanto)
Anthony Gucciardi, Natural Society
Gucciardi writes: "As you probably know I do not play the political clown game of left verses right, and instead highlight corruption and wrongdoing wherever it is found - regardless of party affiliation. In the case of Senator Blunt, he admits to colluding with Monsanto, a corporation that has literally been caught running 'slave-like' working conditions in which workers are unable to leave or eat (among many worse misdeeds)."
READ MORE


FOCUS | Monsanto Teams Up With Congress to Shred the Constitution
The Monsanto Protection Act is being criticized for its lack of government checks and balances. (illustration: Occupy Monsanto)
Michele Simon, Reader Supported News
Simon writes: "Without any hearings on the matter, the Senate included language that would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to essentially ignore any court ruling that would otherwise halt the planting of new genetically-engineered crops."
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MBPC: Higher Ed. and Job Training for Young Adults

MBPC offers some solid reviews of proposals below ---


MassBudget Information.
Participation.
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center Democracy.
Higher Ed. and Job Training for Young Adults
Young people in Massachusetts face a job market that is still very weak and a higher education system that has grown more and more expensive. This makes it difficult for them to get the skills and experience they need to build careers and find a path towards stable, good-paying jobs.
Two new MassBudget briefs show how state funding for Higher Education and Youth Employment have changed over time--and what the Governor has proposed for FY14.
  • "Public Higher Education in Massachusetts and the Governor's FY14 Budget" finds that funding for higher education has been cut 31% since 2001. As with so many programs in the state budget, it was squeezed by the large revenue shortfalls that followed the income tax cuts of 1998-2002. To begin restoring a significant portion of these cuts, the Governor has proposed a large increase in support for scholarships along with additional funding for UMass, State Universities, and Community Colleges.
  • "Youth Employment in the Governor's FY14 Budget" examines a variety of programs that provide job placement and training programs for young adults. Following increased investments in the mid-2000s, funding for those programs has generally declined in recent years. The Governor's revenue proposal would provide significant new funding for a number of these programs that help young people find work and train for careers.
    Additional information on all of the programs described in the "Youth Employment" brief can be found in our online Children's Budget, including complete funding information for each. Youth Empowerment is one of several "Common Threads" in the Children Budget, bringing together a set of related programs that are otherwise distributed across different departments and agencies.
Visit our CHILDREN'S BUDGET
 
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.



MASSACHUSETTS BUDGET AND POLICY CENTER
15 COURT SQUARE, SUITE 700
BOSTON, MA 02108