Barack Obama

The ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

The ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

5 Terrifying Things To Know About The HR 933 Provision

The “Monsanto Protection Act” is the name opponents of the Farmer Assurance Provision have given to this terrifying piece of policy, and it’s a fitting moniker given its shocking content.

sprouting Monsanto seeds
REUTERS
A maize seedling is seen in the corn greenhouse at the Monsanto Research facility in Chesterfield, Missouri October 9, 2009.

President Barack Obama signed a spending billHR 933, into law on Tuesday that includes language that has food and consumer advocates and organic farmers up in arms over their contention that the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” is a giveaway to corporations that was passed under the cover of darkness.

There’s a lot being said about it, but here are five terrifying facts about the Farmer Assurance Provision — Section 735 of the spending bill — to get you acquainted with the reasons behind the ongoing uproar:

1.) The “Monsanto Protection Act” effectively bars federal courts from being things to know about the MOnsanto Protection Actable to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. The advent of genetically modified seeds — which has been driven by the massive Monsanto Company — and their exploding use in farms across America came on fast and has proved a huge boon for Monsanto’s profits.

But many anti-GMO folks argue there have not been enough studies into the potential health risks of this new class of crop. Well, now it appears that even if those studies are completed and they end up revealing severe adverse health effects related to the consumption of genetically modified foods, the courts will have no ability to stop the spread of the seeds and the crops they bear.

2.) The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto. Lawmakers and companies working together to craft legislation is by no means a rare occurrence in this day and age. But the fact that Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, actually worked with Monsanto on a provision that in effect allows them to keep selling seeds, which can then go on to be planted, even if it is found to be harmful to consumers, is stunning. It’s just another example of corporations bending Congress to their will, and it’s one that could have dire risks for public health in America.

3.) Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the bill they were voting on. HR 933 was a spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills. But the Center for Food Safety maintains that many Democrats in Congress were not even aware that the provision was in the legislation:

“In this hidden backroom deal, Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Sen. Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”

4.) The President did nothing to stop it, either. On Tuesday, Obama signed HR 933 while the rest of the nation was fixated on gay marriage, as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning California’s Proposition 8. But just because most of the nation and the media were paying attention to gay marriage doesn’t mean that others were not doing their best to express their opposition to the “Monsanto Protection Act.” In fact, more than 250,000 voters signed a petition opposing the provision. And Food Democracy Now protesters even took their fight straight to Obama, protesting in front of the White House against Section 735 of the bill. He signed it anyway.

5.) It sets a terrible precedent. Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.

“I think any time you tweak with the ability of the public to seek redress from the courts, you create a huge risk,” Seattle attorney Bill Marler — who has represented victims of foodborne illness in successful lawsuits against corporations — told the New York Daily News.

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This article is written by and was originally posted at http://www.ibtimes.com/monsanto-protection-act-5-terrifying-things-know-about-hr-933-provision-1156079
International Business Times

If Republicans hate government so much, why do they so desperately want to run (and own) ours?

Author’s note: Next week the Republicans will have their Presidential Convention, and if you listen to the Republican Politicians and the pundits, you can expect to hear a lot of talk about “Small Government”, “Limited Government”, “Low Taxes”, “Deficit Reduction” and the like. This is the first of a series that is intended to examine Radical Right Republican rhetoric vs reality, their talk versus their behavior. I believe the two are at polar opposites.

Ever since Ronald Reagan’s pronouncement that “Government is the Problem”, Republicans have been running against the government, and at the same time, they desperately want to run, or own the government.

I’d like to explore this dichotomy, and try to analyze why it exists, and try to determine if the Republican behavior matches their rhetoric. I suspect it won’t, but will provide my argument and you can decide for yourself.

It seems far more likely to me that Republicans, and radicalized far-right Republicans see maintaining their hold on the levers of government, with its unparalleled ability to organize capital at all levels through the taxing power, is a fine means to redistribute wealth from the general citizenry, you and me, to the wealthy and the power elites, from which they come. In case you’ve never seen President Reagan’s pronouncement, here it is:

More →

Justice Scalia must resign

by E,J. Dionne of the Washington Post

So often, Scalia has chosen to ignore the obligation of a Supreme Court justice to be, and appear to be, impartial. He’s turned “judicial restraint” into an oxymoronic phrase. But what he did this week, when the court announced its decision on the Arizona immigration law, should be the end of the line.

Not content with issuing a fiery written dissent, Scalia offered a bench statement questioning President Obama’s decision to allow some immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay. Obama’s move had nothing to do with the case in question. Scalia just wanted you to know where he stood.

To read E.J. Dionne’s complete article at the Washington Post, please click here

In Arizona dissent, Scalia blasts Obama’s deportation stay, immigration policies

Justice Antonin Scalia criticized President Barack Obama’s announcement earlier this month that he would stay the deportation of young illegal immigrants and suggested that the federal government does not want to enforce its immigration laws…

…Scalia also repeatedly referenced Obama’s policy of prosecutorial discretion…

…Scalia directly referred to Obama’s immigration enforcement policy as “lax”…

…Arizona’s entire immigration law should be upheld, Scalia wrote, because it is “entitled” to make its own immigration policy. At one point, he cites the fact that before the Civil War, Southern states could exclude free blacks from their borders to support the idea that states should be able to set their own immigration policies.

Ron’s personal opinion:  Scalia is clearly not rational when it comes to anything having to do with President Obama, as he opined more about politics and the President, than about the law in his dissent to the court’s decision.  And if he wants a return to pre-civil war civil rights, a predisposition to racism is apparent in his personal beliefs which prevent him from interpreting the law impartially--as a Supreme Court Justice is charged..  If it was not for a republican majority in the House of Representative, he should be impeached–but the House is not going to impeach one of its own.

To read more about Scalia, and the way he thinks, click here.

The Power to Make Metaphor Into Law

Back in 1978, linguists Michael Reddy and me (George Lakoff), working independently, demonstrated that metaphor is fundamentally a matter of thought, and that metaphorical language is secondary. Conceptual metaphors shape our understanding and can determine how we reason. Consequently, metaphor is central to law, as Citizens United showed by making the metaphor Corporations Are Persons into a law, with vast political consequences…

…The Supreme Court is a remarkable institution. By a 5-4 vote, it can decide what metaphors we will live – or die – by. It is time recognize, and speak regularly of, the Metaphor Power of the Court, the power to make metaphors legally binding. It is an awesome power. This is a something the press should be reporting on, legal theorists should be writing about, and all of us should be discussing. Should the Court have such a power? And if so, should there be any limits on it?

To read this fascinating interpretation of politics and alternative ways that Obama could have framed health care reform, please read this article by George Lakoff by clicking here

IRS Denial of Tax Exemption to U.S. Political Group Spurs Alarms

An Internal Revenue Service decision revoking the tax-exempt status of a small political nonprofit organization may foreshadow an investigation into groups such as Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA that spend millions on the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

At risk would be the groups’ nonprofit status, which lets them collect millions of dollars from individuals and corporations while keeping donors anonymous…

…“There’s a boatload of groups that they should looking at,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group. “When you look at the budgets of these groups, it’s clear that their primary purpose is political activity.”

Sloan said donations would shrink if the nonprofits lose their exempt status and contributors had to be identified.

“There are people who are now making the choice to give because they want their identities hidden,” she said. That fundraising advantage “will disappear if a few of those donors are revealed.”

Even so, any IRS interest won’t affect the groups in 2012…”Organizations that are prepared to be super aggressive until the election probably can”  Isn’t that reassuring!

To read the entire article about this possibly landmark ruling by the IRS and how it could affect our political system–post Citizens United–please click here