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Reposted from Virally Suppressed by wide eyed lib

“Put a marshmallow on it.” he told her. “I'm telling you, fish love the marshmallows. Helps 'em to see the bait underwater. Normally it's hard for fish to see bait moving around, but the marshmallow gives 'em something they can fix their eye on and if they're looking at the marshmallow, then they're gonna be looking at the bait too. Once they see that bait, the fish can't help but bite it. I'm telling you, you wrap one of them meal worms around a marshmallow and you'll have more fish than you know what to do with. Here, let me see that hook a second.”

With one hand the man reached out and grabbed the girl's fishing line while his other hand dipped down behind the rock he'd been sitting on, pulling out a tin of mealworms and a little jar of what looked like electric pink earplugs. The girl said nothing. Sometimes she looked at the man as he fussed about with her fishing pole, but mostly she just sat, staring straight ahead at an eddy that was swirling downriver.

“Now,” the man said, picking up a mealworm and an earplug, “what you do is, you take one of these here bait marshmallows and you wrap the mealworm around the marshmallow so's you can stick both of 'em through the hook together, like this.”

What like this looked like was one of the fishing hook's barbs piercing the lure's slimy larval ring on one side before going through the marshmallow core and resurfacing on the other. With the bait set, the man handed the rod back to the girl and walked back up the worn cement steps to the parking lot where I was standing with the girl's mother and stepfather. However, it soon became clear, even from as far back as we were standing, that she was having trouble with casting. Her manual dexterity and coordination weren't fully developed yet, so her movements were jerky and tentative. They were the movements of a newborn fawn that's still learning to walk, its limbs unwieldy and foreign. After watching her struggle for a minute or so, the stepfather looked over to his stepson further down the river and jerked his head upstream without saying a word, his teeth clenched around the end of a half-smoked backwoods cigar.

Without protest, the boy quickly reeled in his line and laid his fishing rod down on the dry creek rocks behind him before bounding over the small feeder stream that separated him from his sister. The boy took the rod from his sister and, with a pitcher's windup, cast it as hard and as far as he could out into the creek before handing it back to her. The rod back in her hands, the girl started slowly and laboriously reeling the bait back to shore. Start and stop. Start and stop. With each thrust of her slender wrists the reel's handle would lurch forward in little half and quarter rotations, the mealworm and the marshmallow inching towards her underneath the current. As the bait was almost all of the way reeled in, the hook managed to snag itself against a rather unsnaggable rock. Try as they might, neither the girl or her brother were able to make it budge, so the stepdad walked down to the water and worked a bit of magic on it, quickly freeing the line from the rock's grasp, but leaving the hook, mealworm and marshmallow behind. It was late, the bait was gone and the girl was exhausted. It was time to go home.


From a distance, this tableau I've presented looks like a little slice of rural Americana. After all, what could be more American than going fishing with your family somewhere out in the wild green yonder on a Sunday afternoon and having a kindly stranger help a little girl bait her hook with something as simple as mealworms and marshmallows? It sounds like something taken right out of Mayberry or some Norman Rockwell painting, which is just as well considering the portrait I've painted bears as much resemblance to actual lived experience as The Andy Griffith Show and those bucolic scenes on the front of The Saturday Evening Post did in their day. Just as Andy Griffith created a town in the middle of the Jim Crow South that never had to deal with race and Norman Rockwell portrayed an America that was almost exclusively white and middle class, I have given you a depiction that is little more than a fuzzy representation of reality. And, incredibly enough, all of the fuzziness attendant to the mise-en-scene I've provided for you is rooted in the choice of a single word: girl.

You see, the fact of the matter is that Kami—the little girl I described above—is not a little girl. She is a 22 year old woman. She knows how to bait a hook; how to cast a fishing rod. She's done those things thousands of times before, but can't now. Her body simply won't let her since she suffered a series of small strokes last summer and developed a hemiparesis that has drained the muscles on the left side of her body of their vitality and dexterity. Kami isn't learning how to fish. She's re-learning how to fish while only using half of her body. Read the vignette again and everything that was cute is now cruel, the awkward stumblings of a young fawn replaced with the lame faltering of that fawn's mother after being crippled by buckshot. Why it is her body won't let her and why she had those strokes is a medical mystery that puzzles the world-class physicians at The Cleveland Clinic, but I can assure you that at least part of the explanation lies in the fact that Kami lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Kami sitting down beside Paint Creek in southwest West Virginia

If Kami's name sounds familiar to you, it might be because I already wrote about her plight in an article I posted earlier this year on the very real effects that this past January's chemical spill was having on the lives of more than 300,000 West Virginians in and around Charleston. Back then I had yet to actually meet Kami, but her mother Billinda provided me with a pretty extensive rundown of her health issues when I interviewed her for the story. To give you the Reader's Digest version of what happened, Kami started exhibiting a wide variety of odd symptoms (nosebleeds, nausea, etc...) about 3 years ago after taking a job at the Charleston Town Center Mall, which happens to be about 2 miles down river from Freedom Industries, the company that rang in the new year by dumping more than 10,000 gallons worth of coal cleaning chemicals into the Kanawha River and, by extension, the water supply for parts of 9 West Virginia counties. During the time she worked at the mall, Kami grew more and more sickly until things finally came to a head this past September, when she was rushed from the mall to the Charleston Area Medical Center ER after a prolonged nosebleed and breathing difficulties gave way to a series of Transient Ischemic Attacks or “mini-strokes.”

Baffled at first by the sight of a fit young woman exhibiting the stroke-like symptoms of someone 3 or 4 times her age, Kami's doctors initially tried to shuffle her out the door by diagnosing her with a “Conversion Disorder,” which is basically a way of telling someone that their symptoms aren't the direct result of a physical malady, but rather are a physical manifestation of psychological turmoil. It also happens to be the medical profession's shorthand for, “we don't know what's wrong with you, but still need a diagnosis so we can bill you for insurance purposes and get you out of our hospital.” It was only after several days of prodding from Billinda that Kami's doctors eventually diagnosed her with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS, a form of autonomic dysfunction that causes blood to pool in the legs and leads to an abnormal jump in a person's heart rate when moving from a supine position to an upright one. Fast forward 3 months and, after a few trips to the Cleveland Clinic, radioactive hemodynamic testing, CT scans, skin biopsies, autonomic sweat testing and countless blood draws, Kami's family is no closer to discovery of the root cause of her symptoms.

Over those same 3 months, I gradually forgot about the injustices being carried out against the people of West Virginia. I forgot about the water crisis and the tens of thousands of people who still refused to drink the toxic, anisette-scented water that came through their faucets. I forgot about the need for stronger environmental legislation that protects our precious lakes and rivers from the deleterious byproducts of coal mining and fracking. It was easy for me to forget about these things because I don't have to live with them on a daily basis and very few people outside of Appalachia are talking about them. When I turn my shower on, I don't have to worry about the possibility that I might be inhaling formaldehyde or that my freshly cleansed skin might break out into a rash. When I open up my laptop, there is little danger that I might catch a story from a major domestic media outlet discussing the continuing fallout from the chemical spill because residents of the other 49 states in the union tend to think of West Virginia as little more than an afterthought, if they think about it at all. Tucked away in verdant heart of the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is out of sight and out of mind for the vast majority of Americans, a fact that has enabled the coal industry and all of the politicians they keep in their coat pockets to habitually screw over pretty much everyone that lives there without consequence.

But West Virginia was never fully out of my sight or out of mind. It couldn't be because in those still moments of tinnitusine silence before sleep my thoughts would sometimes turn to Kami and to the severity and senselessness of her sickness. I would think of the shards of this young woman's once vital life being rebuilt upon a foundation of hospital beds and blood pressure cuffs—of Jaegermeister shots and college graduations traded for shots filled with radioactive tracers and CT scans. Somehow, in listening to Billinda recount the Jobian details of her daughter's suffering and in spending hour upon hour researching and writing about her condition, I had managed to develop survivor's guilt for a young woman I had never met and who was not dead. It became clear to me that I needed to go back to Charleston, if no other reason than to reconcile the Kami of my mind with the Kami of reality.

When I contacted Billinda about meeting up again, she suggested we all go out fishing on account of the fact that her daughter had been wanting to fish for some time and, as Kami sardonically put it, fishing was “something the 'crip' could do” while sitting down and without triggering tachycardia. The next Sunday, I made the three and a half hour trek to Charleston from Cincinnati, eventually pulling off at the exit for the town of Chelyan, about 20 minutes southeast of the capitol. Billinda had told me to just park in the parking lot for a Shoney's restaurant right off the exit. I was scared I might drive past the Shoney's without seeing it, but soon found my fears to be unwarranted, as the Shoney's was the only sit-down restaurant to be found. Billinda pulled in a few minutes after I did and told me to leave my car in the lot and drive down with her to Paint Creek where we'd meet the rest of her family. On the way there, she gave me an informal tour of the cluster of towns and unincorporated communities that line the Kanawha and New Rivers between Greater Charleston and Beckley, the gorgeous mountain roads punctuated every mile or so by cascading natural springs to the left and coal processing plants to the right.

It was after 5 o'clock when we finally arrived at the little park beside Paint Creek, but had somehow still managed to make it ahead of the rest of Billinda's family, who showed up 15 minutes later in her husband Carl's mammoth white pickup truck. Once they had parked, Carl slid out of the truck and went around to grab the grilling supplies while Alex, Billinda's teenage son, helped his sister get out of the cab so she could begin walking the 100 or so feet between the truck and the small pavilion where we'd be sitting. With a wheelchair sitting in the truck bed as backup should she get too tired, Kami grasped onto the padded handle of her claw-footed quad cane and began the laborious task of moving forward, a few inches at a time. When Billinda first showed me still photographs of her daughter, it was hard to see much that suggested she was suffering from a chronic and debilitating illness. I had no such trouble now. Kami looked brittle and waifish, wrapped up in a thick cotton hoodie on a 70 degree day to keep warm the goose-pimpled flesh surrounding veins and arteries that had been working at half speed for the past 3 months. She was Benjamin Button in reverse; an octogenarian trapped inside the unwrinkled, blemish-free body of a 22-year old whose languorous movements made a mockery of her youth.  

It took a couple minutes, but eventually she willed herself up the winding concrete walkway that led to the pavilion and the picnic benches that lay within. Exhausted, Kami sat down next to her brother and drank some of the Gatorade her mother brought along to help her stay hydrated, while Carl got the grill ready. Carl was a large man. Not fat, but large. Large in the sort of way World's Strongest Man competitors were in the 1970s, with shoulders that were wider than a Buick and a spare tire to match. He was country strong; the type of guy you'd never describe to anyone as being “in-shape”, but who'd be first on the list of folks you'd want around if your child was trapped underneath a car or you needed to escape a psych ward by ripping a marble sink out of the ground and throwing it through a window. Once we got to talking, Carl told me that he hadn't been able to get to the gym much since January on account of all the time he spent taking care of Kami and collecting the water that they needed to live, which was pretty remarkable considering the fact that one of his arms was about the size of one of my legs.

Aside from his girth and the laurel wreath of curly brown hair atop his head, the first thing about Carl that drew my attention was the small, holstered sidearm that he kept on his right hip. I didn't want to come off as a clueless city-boy and ask him why he was carrying a handgun to go out fishing, but I also had a pretty tough time not looking at it. I mean, the thing was right there, in the open, for everybody to see and no one paid it any more mind than you or I would a guy with a Blackberry hooked to his belt. Carl was ex-military, which made me feel better about him open carrying, but that good feeling was tempered by the knowledge that he had been diagnosed with PTSD.

After we had gotten past the awkwardness of our sudden introduction, I got up the nerve to ask Carl about the gun by his side. His response wasn't exactly what I was expecting:

“I don't want to carry this thing.” he told me as he was unwrapping a few strip steaks to toss on the grill. “When I left the army, I didn't have the desire to hold another gun as long as I lived.”

“What was it that changed your mind?”  I asked.

Carl paused, then nodded at Billinda who continued Carl's thought like he'd passed her a baton in a relay race. “He really didn't want to be around guns anymore,” she said. “But, the next thing you know, this damned water crisis hits and the whole county turns into a war zone. It's not safe around here...Not like it used to be.”

“How are things not safe?”

“Alex, tell Drew what happened at school the other day with the boy whose family had the storage tank.”

Two young men fishing in Paint Creek

Alex's eyes widened. “Yeah! There was this one kid in my class who showed up to school one day bragging about how his family had this big underwater storage tank set-up in their basement and all this stuff and when people found out about they broke into his house.”

“For what?” There was a pause. “For water?”

“For water,” Kami said. “People do some really crazy things around here for water.”

“It was the kid's fault.” Alex chimed in.

“Wait, why was it the kid's fault?” I asked.

Alex shook his head. “He shouldn't have told anybody at school that his family had all that water.”

“Folks around here don't talk out loud about whether or not they have water.” Kami told me. “Because if they do have water and people find out about there's a good chance someone will try to steal it.”

“Folks are really that hard up for water?” I asked.

As I was talking, Carl came back from the grill to grab the baked potatoes, each of which was bought individually wrapped in plastic from out of state so they could be sure they hadn't been washed with tainted local water. He pulled a Bowie knife from a leather sheath attached to his belt and had started peeling the plastic off the potatoes when he spoke.

“Let me tell you something. I lived in some pretty horrible places when I was in the military. I served in South America...and it was easier to get clean water in each of those places than it is here.”

“Hold up. You're telling me it was easier to get clean water in the middle of the desert than it is to get clean water in West Virginia?”

“Yes sir.” Carl said as he wrapped one of the potatoes up in tin foil and walked over to put it on the grill. “And it's been especially hard on us because Kami needs to stay hydrated on account of her condition.”

“We have to figure out at the beginning of every week exactly how much water we're going to need and tailor our lives accordingly,” Billinda said. “Showers have become luxuries. I have to take them fairly regularly to get by at my job and Alex has to shower every couple days because we don't want the school thinking we're negligent parents or anything, but Kami doesn't take showers too often nowadays and Carl...when was the last time you took a shower?”

“About a week ago.” Carl bellowed from where he was standing by the grill.

Kami reached over and took a sip of her gatorade. “Sometimes, I'll try to cut back how much water I'm drinking. You know, because I feel like everybody else isn't getting enough, but then I just really sick.”

“We've told her not to worry about us over and over again, but she won't listen.” Billinda said. “Both Kami and her sister can be as stubborn as an ox.”

“Sister? I didn't know Kami had a sister.”

“Yeah,” Kami said, her eyelids already starting to droop from exhaustion. “I'm the oldest, Alex is the youngest and Kayley is stuck in the middle. She moved up to Michigan back in 2012, but when she was living here in Charleston she had some of the same problems I'm having, only on a smaller scale.”

“The ironic thing is, Kayley had been having these sorts of issues for years before Kami got sick.” Belinda told me. “When we moved back here from Ohio in 2001—just after 9/11—Kayley started falling and tripping for no reason whatsoever. I think she broke a wrist, a finger and one of her legs before she'd even turned 10. That was about the point when she got a chronic UTI, along with kidney stones and issues with her reproductive system and all this was before she was even a teenager!”

“What happened after that?”

“Oh lord, it was a mess. The falling actually got worse, the reproductive system and UTI issues stuck around and, on top of all of that, she started getting arthritis and receptor damage in her hip and in her foot. She had her first syncope episode about 5 years ago and was diagnosed with POTS several months later.”

“You said Kayley was living in Michigan now?”

“She moved up there 2 years ago and she hasn't had a major health problem since.” Kami said, stopping for a moment as a wan smile came across her face. “Well, she hadn't had any until she came down to visit us.”

“'s not funny.” Billinda squeaked out as she tried to stop herself from laughing. “Okay, maybe it was a little funny, but we didn't think it was going to be that bad.”

“Didn't think what was going to be that bad?” I asked.

“Well, we warned Kayley about the water a thousand times,” Billinda told me, “but she'd always forget about it. So, this one time Kayley drank some tea that had been made with tap water—which is twice as bad, because you're bringing the water to a boil first and releasing more of the chemicals—and dear lord did she get sick.”

“She got really sick and then she threw up a bunch.” Alex said.

“Kayley also had a pretty bad rash that stayed with her for two weeks after she had gone home.” Billinda said. “All that because of a cup of tea.”

It was at about that time that Carl came back from the grill with steaks and taters in hand and set them down on the table. And then we ate. Or, Billinda, Alex and I ate. Kami tried to eat, but didn't have the desire or energy to do so and Carl just leaned back on one of the wood posts that held the pavilion roof up, smoking the stub of his hand-rolled cigar and waiting for everyone to finish so he could devour his steak in peace after the kids had gone. Anxious to get fishing, but exhausted from all she had already done today, Kami sat on the picnic table bench with her legs balled up into her chest and her cotton hoodie pulled over her knees so it hugged her body like a tea cozy. For the most part she was quiet, but after we'd been silently chewing for a few minutes, she looked over at me and asked what the news coverage of the water crisis had been in the rest of the country over the last couple months. At first, I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything. Eventually I had to say something, but I didn't want to. But I had to.

“There really hasn't been any.” I told her. “There were a few stories when the spill first happened and a few more when Congress had the hearings on it, but since then...” I stopped. I had run out of words.

“Don't people know that the water's still poisoned here?” Kami asked. “That people still aren't drinking it?”

“They don't.” I said. “Or, if they do, they don't care enough to do anything about it.”

Kami stayed silent after that. At least, until she made up her mind to go down to the creek and fish. By that point she was too weak to walk down with her cane, so she asked her brother to grab her wheelchair and wheel her down, which he did until they both got there and found out the creek wasn't wheelchair accessible. Alex was about to try and wheel Kami backwards down the creek steps when Carl saw what he was doing and got up from his now cold steak to go and carry her there himself. It was while Carl was carrying Kami down to the creek that Billinda sat down on the bench beside me and started looking over at a pair of towheaded brothers who were playing hide and seek in a small stream that ran underneath Paint Creek Rd.

“Sometimes, I forget.” she said. “I forget what life was like before this...before the spill...before Kami got sick. I used to think about the way things were all time, but now...” Billinda paused. “I don't have time for that now. There's too much to do to have thoughts like that.”


Wed May 21, 2014 at 09:42 AM PDT

We kicked Monsanto's Ass!

by madame damnable

Reposted from madame damnable by ranger995

Election night in Jackson County Oregon. One County measure 15-119 was a measure to ban the growing of GMO crops in Jackson County. We were outspent by Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and DuPont by more than three to one. An amazing grassroots effort by citizens going door-to-door and phone banking was very successfull. Despite constant negative ads on local stations our measure passed by more than two to one. GMO crops will be banned in Jackson County, Oregon. I worked on the campaign and wrote a diary about it recently. Here is a link:

I am so happy!!!!!

Citizens with much less money beat a huge effort by multinational chemical companies. People beat big money when we do it smart and work hard.

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Reposted from Dan Bacher by angelajean

Restore the Delta, a coalition opposing Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, has launched an action alert to oppose the "Emergency Water Delivery Act," HR 3964.

The legislation, a virtual wish list for heavily subsidized corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, threatens to drive already imperiled Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations over the abyss of extinction. The reduction in Delta water quality that would result from the bill's passage also threatens to put Delta farmers out of business.

"Please tell your congressional representatives to oppose HR 3964, dangerous legislation being put forward by southern San Joaquin Valley congressmen using the drought as an excuse to play politics with California’s water management challenges," the group urges.

"This bill by Representative David Valadao of Hanford is being described as an “Emergency Water Delivery Act,” ignoring the fact that there is no water to deliver and that they over pumped the Delta last year by 800,000 acre feet, when they should have been holding water for an extended dry period," the alert states.

Like similar legislation (HR1837) that died in the Senate two years ago, HR3964 would reduce water quality and water reliability for Delta communities and Delta farmers.

“It seeks to ensure water flows to agribusiness in the western and southern San Joaquin Valley at the expense of smaller Delta family farmers," said Bill Jennings of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, an expert on Delta water quality issues.

If passed, this law also would:

• Strip Endangered Species protections for iconic Central Valley Chinook salmon and other endangered species that are required under both California state law and federal law.

• Overturn the court approved San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act that, after twenty years of litigation, provided water for the San Joaquin River and salmon. The Settlement and the Act were supported by all parties to the litigation and numerous water districts in the San Joaquin Valley.

• Gut the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA), a landmark law that made fish and wildlife a purpose of the federal project for the first time in history. It requires compliance with state law, encourages water conservation, makes modest reforms to reduce water subsidies, and contributes water for the recovery of endangered fish species.

• Override current protection for the Merced River under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and modify water contracts for certain contractors to provide significantly more water than they are entitled to under their current contracts.

Tell your representatives to resist this effort to use California’s drought to justify a water grab taking water from one region of the state to benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness practices in another region.

Call your house representatives:
District-CA 11: Representative George Miller : (202) 225-2095
District-CA 5: Representative Mike Thompson: (202) 225-3311
District-CA 6: Representative Doris Matsui : (202) 225-7163
District-CA 3: Representative John Garamendi: (202) 225-1880
District-CA 9: Representative Jerry McNerney: (202) 225-1947
District-CA 7: Representative Ami Bera: (202) 225-5716

Send a postal letter to your house representatives:
The Honorable George Miller, 2205 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mike Thompson, 231 Cannon Office Building Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Doris Matsui, 2434 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable John Garamendi, 2438 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Jerry McNerney, 1210 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Ami Bera, 1408 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

In addition to contacting your representatives, the group encourages you to use social media to also send a message to your house representatives to oppose HR 3964, with hashtags #savethedelta #stopthetunnels, or #HR3964.

Email your house representatives and post on their facebook files by going to:

Meanwhile, go to to sign up for action alerts against Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels.

Reposted from Eclectablog - eclectic blogging for a better tomorrow by Eclectablog

I gave up on shopping in malls several decades ago. If you find me in a mall these days, it's only because I had no other choice (that's where the local Apple Store is in Ann Arbor, unfortunately, and I have been assimilated by The Apple Borg™). If I do go to a mall, especially around the holidays, I do what I like to call "guerrilla shopping". I know what I need, I know which store has it, I know where the store is. I park, enter the mall, keeping my head down, not making eye contact with anyone, and get in and out before they even know I was there.

With my wife's family, we have developed a tradition of making things for each other. My wife and I are now famous for our fruit jams and jellies. Michigan black raspberries. Michigan cherries. Michigan peaches. Michigan blueberries. Michigan blackberries. We put 'em in a jar and seal 'em tight, as the song goes. My sister-in-law is a wood worker so her gifts are coveted. My brother-in-law is a graphic artist so his gifts are a treat. My mother-in-law makes reusable cloth gift bags so we see her gifts reappear again and again each year, changing hands and making the circuit.

It's a splendid tradition. It challenges us to take time out of our busy schedules to do something creative and receiving a gift that was made by the work of someone else's hands is really a special treat. Best of all, it keeps us out of the damned malls!

Here at Daily Kos, we have our own family, our own kommunity. What's most remarkable to me about this Krazy Kos Kommunity is how amazingly diverse it is. That, combined with the inestimable level of creativity of our fellow Kossacks makes a project like the Kos Katalogue an extraordinary thing to behold.

What's that? You've never heard of the Kos Katalogue? What is the Kos Katalogue, you ask? Well, it's only an online bazaar, a internet street fair of vendors hawking their wares (and services) to the members of this incredible kommunity. With a group of talented creatives this big and this diverse, it only makes sense to put it all in one place so people can stroll down the internet aisles and shop.

Here's the thing: chances are pretty good you're going to be doing at least SOME shopping for the holidays. Why not take advantage of this truly remarkable opportunity to support your kommunity, support your fellow Kossacks, and find a unique gift you wouldn't find in the mall even if you tried?

Make the jump past the orange squiggledegibbet to find out where you can find this iMall of Kreative Koolness called the Kos Katalogue and you can skip the malls completely.

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Reposted from pdc by ranger995
Received this e-mail today from Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) regarding the GMO salmon known as "Frankenfish":
When I first heard that the Food and Drug Administration was considering approving a genetically-engineered salmon, I got a little queasy.

The FDA has never before approved a genetically-modified animal for human consumption. But it might just happen as soon as this week -- even though the FDA's review has been insufficient, failing to consider broad environmental and public health risks from GMO salmon.

Sign my petition right now and tell the FDA that GMO salmon is too risky:

Here’s some hard data that should give all of us deep concerns: The company that is producing these salmon says they won't be able to cross-breed, and yet their own information suggest that 5% of the eggs they produce and transport around the world may not be sterile.  If released accidentally, these transgenic fish could severely endanger natural fish populations.

As a fish designed to grow twice as fast as natural salmon, these engineered fish may also increase human exposure to growth hormones, anti-microbial drugs, and disease.

Salmon is one of the world's healthiest foods and a celebrated by native cultures and modern consumers alike.

We simply cannot afford to jeopardize this great resource and put the environment and public health in danger.  But that's exactly what will happen if the FDA rushes through approval of genetically engineered salmon without a much stronger review of the risks.

Please join me let’s tell the FDA that GMO salmon is an unacceptable risk:


Senator Jeff Merkley

You can click here to add your name:

Reposted from pdc by ranger995
Received this e-mail today from Senator Mark Begich (D. AK) regarding the FDA and GMO salmon known as "Frankenfish":
Imagine a world where Alaska’s salmon runs are overtaken by genetically modified salmon, that grow to abnormally large sizes.

No, I haven’t been watching too many horror movies. Genetically-modified salmon (known as GMO salmon, or as we Alaskans like to call them, “Frankenfish”) are a step away of being approved by the FDA.

We don’t know for sure what could happen if these petri-dish fish escaped into Alaska’s ocean ecosystems. We don’t know what effect, if any, they could have to public health. Fishing is one of our biggest industries in Alaska. We cannot afford the risk of Frankenfish.

Today I’m teaming up with Sens. Merkley and Tester to make clear to the FDA that approving genetically-modified salmon is just too risky, and we’re building a grassroots network of support. Will you join us? Sign the petition to the FDA, and let them know you oppose GMO salmon.

This is a fight playing out across the country. Folks in Washington state just voted on a ballot measure to require labelling of GMO foods. Alaskans aren’t alone in our concern about the impact of GMO foods on our natural fisheries -- and the FDA has provided very few answers.

The best salmon in the world comes from Alaska. That’s the fish I want to feed my family. And making sure Alaska salmon remain the best in the world means keeping Frankenfish out of our waters.

Let the FDA know that GMO salmon is too big of a risk to take. Sign the petition today:

Thank you for your support.


You can click here to add your name:

Reposted from A Progressive Military Wife by angelajean
Let’s at last recognize that there are two food systems, one industrial and one of small landholders, or peasants if you prefer. The peasant system is not only here for good, it’s arguably more efficient than the industrial model. According to the ETC Group, a research and advocacy organization based in Ottawa, the industrial food chain uses 70 percent of agricultural resources to provide 30 percent of the world’s food, whereas what ETC calls “the peasant food web” produces the remaining 70 percent using only 30 percent of the resources.
These are the words of Mark Bittman of the Sunday NY Times Opinion Pages. I've been following Bittman's writing since my boys bought me his cookbook, How To Cook Everything, a few years ago. His ideas, as well as his cooking style, matched my own and I've been watching him insert difficult topics into everyday cooking conversations. While he writes about food, he also makes people think about how they eat and what they eat. I hope that he helps people change their approach to food as well.

Which is why I want to share his opinion piece with you. I've seen many people on DailyKos argue that we can't feed the world without BigAg. That's exactly the topic that Bittman tackles and he explains very well why we can and must feed the world through 'peasant farming.'

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Reposted from pdc by ranger995
Here's some good news for ya:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., center, stands newly-elected Senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. From left are, Sen.-Elect Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Sen.-Elect Jeff Merkley, D.Ore.,  Sen.-Elect Tom Udall, D.N.M., Reid, Sen.-Elect Mark Warner, D-Va., Sen.-Elect Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Sen.-Elect Mark Udall, D-Colo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Senate Democrats are drafting a government funding bill that would allow the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act” to expire at the end of the month.

According to the New York Daily News, the Republican-supported Farmer Assurance Provision rider will expire on Sep. 30 because it was attached to to the previous Continuing Resolution, and Democrats have no plans to renew it. In a last-ditch effort, Republicans have attached the rider to H.J. Res. 59, the Republican bill to defund Obamacare, but that law stands virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.

The House Republican’s government funding bill, which passed in the House last week, contains a three-month extension of the Monsanto Protection Act, which shields companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical from legal action resulting from Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops. The Act also places the authority of whether or not GMO crops can be grown and sold domestically into the hands of Federal Department of Agriculture rather than with the courts or public referendum. The Democratically-controlled Senate is making no plans to work to keep the rider active beyond its current expiration date. - Raw Story, 9/25/13

Here's a little more info:

The Senate version of the legislation will make clear the provision expires on Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

“That provision will be gone,” Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told Politico.

Pryor chairs the Senate subcommittee on agriculture appropriations.

The Center for Food Safety said the Senate’s eradication of the rider was “a major victory for the food movement” and a “sea change in a political climate that all too often allows corporate earmarks to slide through must-pass legislation.”

“Short-term appropriations bills are not an excuse for Congress to grandfather in bad policy,” said Colin O’Neil, the Center for Food Safety’s director of government affairs.

The biotech rider first made news in March when it was a last-minute addition to the successfully-passed House Agriculture Appropriations Bill for 2013, a short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.

Following the original vote in March, President Barack Obama signed the provision into law as part of larger legislation to avoid a government shutdown. Rallies took place worldwide in May protesting the clandestine effort to protect the powerful companies from judicial scrutiny.

Largely as a result of prior lawsuits, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to complete environmental impact statements (EIS) to assess risk prior to both the planting and sale of GMO crops. The extent and effectiveness to which the USDA exercises this rule is in itself a source of serious dispute.

The reviews have been the focus of heated debate between food safety advocacy groups and the biotech industry in the past. In December of 2009, for example, Food Democracy Now collected signatures during the EIS commenting period in a bid to prevent the approval of Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, which many feared would contaminate organic feed used by dairy farmers; it was approved regardless. - RT- 9/25/13

And Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) is praising this as a victory:

“This is a victory for all those who think special interests shouldn’t get special deals. This secret rider, which was slipped into a must-pass spending bill earlier this year, instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to allow GMO crops to be cultivated and sold even when our courts had found they posed a potential risk to farmers of nearby crops, the environment, and human health. I applaud the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have worked hard to end this diabolical provision.” - Eurasia Reviews, 9/25/13
Merkley has long been an outspoken critic of the Monsanto Protection Act:

Merkley has opposed the measure since it quietly passed in March, when it was attached to another spending resolution. Merkley led an online petition to oppose the extension, and unsuccessfully offered an amendment to the farm bill intended to kill what opponents have dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act. Monsanto is the world's largest seed company. - Huffington Post, 9/24/13
This is good news indeed.  Senator Merkley spearheaded efforts in the Senate against Monsanto and has never given up.  Now it's paying off.  Please do thank Senator Merkley by donating to his 2014 re-election campaign:
Reposted from Guilty Outsourcer by ranger995

This might be the largest die off of bees yet due to neonicotinoids.

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Reposted from pdc by ranger995
Received this e-mail today from Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR):
Summer is here, and you know what I love? Corn on the cob.

Personally, I just like a little butter. Or maybe a little salt and lots of black pepper. (I've heard of a maple syrup and chipotle concoction, but haven't had a chance to try that yet!)

Whether it's corn on the cob, or big juicy tomatoes, or a pint of raspberries, summer is a great time to eat whatever's fresh off the farm -- nature's bounty at its finest.

But these days, it seems that food is a bit more complicated. Additives, preservatives, artificial flavorings - not to mention, genetically-engineered food.

Maybe you want to eat 100% organic. Maybe you don't mind some artificial something-or-other.

But the one thing I think we can all agree on: You should have the right to know and choose what's in your food.

The big multinational food, chemical, and pesticide companies -- like Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow -- would rather keep you in the dark.

That doesn't work for me.  That's why I support the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act.  

I hope you'll join me in calling on the U.S. Senate to pass this critical bill. Whether you're a farmers' market regular or a fast-food junkie, every one of us should have the right to know what we're eating:

Senator Jeff Merkley

The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D. CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D. OR).  Here's a little more info:

Currently, the FDA requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but the agency has resisted labels for genetically modified foods. In a 1992 policy statement, the FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling, claiming that these foods were not “materially” different from other foods because the genetic differences could not be recognized by taste, smell or other senses.

Unfortunately, the FDA’s antiquated labeling policy has not kept pace with 21st century food technologies that allow for a wide array of genetic and molecular changes to food that can’t be detected by human senses. Common sense would indicate that GE corn that produces its own insecticide – or is engineered to survive being doused by herbicides – is materially different from traditional corn that does not. Even the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has recognized that these foods are materially different and novel for patent purposes.

Consumers – who are used to reading labels to see if foods contain MSG, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame – clearly want more information. More than one and a half million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging the agency to label GE foods.

The bipartisan legislation introduced today would require clear labels for genetically engineered whole foods and processed foods, including fish and seafood. The measure would direct the FDA to write new labeling standards that are consistent with U.S. labeling standards and international standards.

Sixty-four countries around the world already require the labeling of GE foods, including all the member nations of the European Union, Russia, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand.

Along with Merkley, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act is also cosponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are cosponsors of the Senate bill. Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Peter Welch (D-VT), James Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), George Miller (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Ann Kuster (D-NH) are cosponsors of the House bill.  The bill also has the support from several business and organizations.  You can read the list here:

You can sign Merkley's petition here:

Reposted from pdc by ranger995
Here's some good news:

An amendment to require labeling of genetically engineered salmon, introduced by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and co-sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 20, for a vote on the Senate floor.

The amendment to the Agricultural Appropriations bill would allocate $150,000 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implement a requirement to label GE salmon.

"It's high time this bill to prevent this imposter from disguising itself as the real deal is debated in front of the Senate," Begich said. "These fake fish are a serious threat to the health of American seafood lovers and consumers have a right to know what's on their dinner plate." - The Cordova Times, 6/20/13

Here's a little more info:

The amendment was offered during a Senate Appropriations meeting by Sen. Lisa Murkowski. It passed on a 15-14 vote. Sen. Mark Begich also voted in support.

Members of Alaska's congressional delegation have opposed any effort by the Food and Drug Administration that would clear the way for the approval of a genetically engineered salmon for human consumption.

Murkowski on Thursday said the genetic engineering, which would allow the fish to grow twice as fast as normal, is "messing with Mother Nature in a very serious and big way."

If the fish is approved for human consumption, Murkowski says, at a minimum, it should be labeled. - Fort Mill Times, 6/20/13

Begich has long been pushing to get this amendment pushed through the Senate:

Members of Alaska's congressional delegation, as well as the state Legislature, have opposed any effort by the Food and Drug Administration that would clear the way for the approval of a genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. FDA released a draft assessment last year, finding that approval of the salmon, also known as "Frankenfish," would not jeopardize the continued existence of U.S. populations of Atlantic salmon or adversely affect their critical habitat.

An FDA spokeswoman said Thursday that there is no timeline for when a final decision might be released.

Murkowski said the genetic engineering, which would allow the fish to grow twice as fast as normal, is "messing with Mother Nature in a very serious and big way."

Past efforts, such as trying to pull funding from FDA for approval of the fish, were unsuccessful, she said. If the fish is approved for human consumption, Murkowski said, at a minimum, it should be labeled. It's a view that Begich has echoed.

The amendment would provide $150,000 for labeling.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who supported the amendment, said the public has a right to know what it's eating. He said he thinks it would be impossible to ensure that the genetically modified fish would remain segregated from wild populations. - Anchorage Daily News, 6/20/13

Begich has long been an adamant supporter of GMO labels and has been fighting hard to stop genetically engineered salmon like Frankenfish from being approved by the FDA.  This is one of many reasons why I'll be supporting Begich's re-election campaign.  Here's another reason why he has my support:

Building on his strong record of fighting for greater transparency and to help ensure Alaskans’ constitutional right to privacy, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich co-sponsored legislation limiting the government’s authority in the Patriot Act.

“The Patriot Act needs a better balance of protecting national security without undermining our privacy,” said Begich. “In addition to other legislation I have co-sponsored, this bill will help shed light on the collection of communications so Alaskans don’t have to wonder if their privacy has been jeopardized.”

The bill would require federal intelligence agencies to demonstrate communications records are in some way connected to terrorism or other intelligence activities. This limits existing authority under the PATRIOT Act which currently does not require intelligence agencies to provide any justification or demonstration to collect Americans’ records.

Begich fought to include declassification of court rulings in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) extension bill in December. Because of lingering concerns about privacy, Begich voted against the FISA extension and the PATRIOT Act.

Begich also signed onto a letter with several of his colleagues in July of 2012 requesting more information about the number of Americans’ communications secretly collected by the U.S. government under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. - Political News, 6/20/13

Begich has been very critical of the NSA surveillance program and has been talking a lot about it with the press:

MELISSA BLOCK: The head of NSA, Keith Alexander, told the Senate yesterday that dozens of terrorist events were thwarted because of NSA surveillance. Does that argument sway you in any way?

MARK BEGICH: Well, I guess, you know, I'd want to know - as you remember some of the questions that came in from the panel, he couldn't answer them because they had to be in a confidential setting. And he even noted that maybe there's some information that could become more public and transparent, which is exactly what we want to know because I think more people want to understand how this process works.

I can't tell you if that one single - and I don't think he said that that one single act of a phone tap thwarted that terrorist act. He said they thwarted dozens of terrorist potential attacks, but that was through multiple means. It wasn't just this issue. So I want to see how much this weighs in. But even he noted yesterday that they should review and maybe there's additional information that would be public.

And that's what I'm looking for is what's the right balance here between privacy and protecting an important part of what makes our country great, at the same time recognizing we do have security risks that we have to deal with and creating that right balance. And I think he even was starting to lean in to say those comments in his testimony. - NPR, 6/13/13

He's also been demanding that President Obama be transparent on this issue:

Democrats in Congress are expressing their concern that President Barack Obama and his administration’s previously effective crisis management techniques are no longer assuaging public concerns. After more than a month of successive scandals, the image the president actively cultivated as being reliably cool under pressure is beginning to unravel. Some Democrats told POLITICO that they do not think the administration is responding confidently to the myriad scandals plaguing his administration.

“The president or his people need to be more forthcoming,” Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) told POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush and Jennifer Epstein. “Look, we understand the need for secrecy, I get it, but the fact is we also need a lot more transparency on the process.”

“I’m not sure people are confident that the administration has this totally under control,” he told POLITICO. “It seems that there’s something new every day — the IRS, this — and that’s giving people lack of confidence in government. … This is the kind of stuff people used to only see in the movies, that the government can listen to everybody’s calls.” - Mediaite, 6/12/13

And Begich has also been playing a role with the immigration reform bill:

Democratic National Convention 2008: Sen. Jon Tester speaking with Wall Street Journal editors at The Wall Street Journal Press Tent at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, on August 28, 2008..Joe Fornabaio for The Wall Street Journal
On June 18 the Senate voted unanimously (94-0) to approve a tribal amendment to the S.744 Immigration reform bill that will add four tribal government officials to the Border Oversight Task Force that was established originally in the bill.

This amendment was offered by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and cosponsored by senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Border Task Force established in S. 744 which included representatives from local government and law enforcement, civil rights groups, business, private land owners and the Border Patrol, will now have input from tribal representatives from the Northern and Southern regions.

When introduced for a vote on the Senate floor, Sen. Tester lauded the potential contributions of tribal representatives toward the security of our countries borders.

“This amendment will include tribal representatives from the DHS Border Task Force. In this country, within 100 miles of the border we have 13 Indian reservations, some of them right on the border. If we really want to make sure our borders are secure on the North and the South, Indians need to be part of this conversation, our Native American friends.

“They have a unique government-to-government status and their input is critically important this amendment will not cost anything, it has bipartisan support and it will add to tribal representatives, two in the north and two in the southern region,” Tester said. - Indian Country Today Media Network, 6/19/13

Begich has also been looking out for Alaska's Coast Guard:

The news the U.S. Coast Guard is making good progress on its plans for homeporting Fast Response Cutters (FRC’s) in Southeast Alaska and improving shore and waterfront facilities in Ketchikan to support the new vessels was welcomed Wednesday by U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).  

The United States Coast Guard plans on building a 405-foot floating pier and a new 3,000 square foot support building in Ketchikan. The Coast Guard intends to homeport 2 FRC’s in Ketchikan by 2015, and add a third FRC in Juneau by 2020.

“I’m pleased the Coast Guard is making good progress on its plans for new patrol vessels and facility improvements,” said Begich.  “Nowhere is the Coast Guard more important than in Alaska.  In addition to creating new jobs during construction, this project will enhance protection for individuals and communities throughout Southeast Alaska, and will help fill the void in capability created by the decommissioning of the Acushnet in 2011.

“These actions will replace an aging patrol fleet in Sector Juneau that is nearing the end of its service life, improve the USCG’s mission  readiness and capabilities, and improve our operational safety risk,” wrote Captain G.G. Bonner in a recent letter to Senator Begich.  

Senator Begich was able to use his leadership position on the committee and his personal interest in furthering projects that benefit Alaska to assure that the USCG reauthorization bill adequately funded both the vessels and the Ketchikan support facilities. - Sit News, 6/13/13

And Begich scored another victory with the Department of Homeland Security:

U.S. Senator Mark Begich was pleased to learn that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) heeded his request to transfer 14 C-271 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in order to maintain mission readiness while achieving up to $800 million in savings that could be used to invest in Arctic communications infrastructure, deep water ports, or a new polar ice breaker.

In a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in May, Sen. Begich noted that if a minimum of 14 aircraft are transferred, the Coast Guard will be able to avoid up to $800 million in total ownership costs for the planned C-144 and C-130J aircraft.  The C-27’s would replace the C-144s and C-130Js in the service’s recapitalization efforts.

“This is another example that if we are willing to do the work, we can find responsible and creative ways to reduce federal spending,” said Sen. Begich.  “The C-27J’s are well suited to Coast Guard missions and will enable us to maintain our current capabilities while saving hundreds of millions in extra training, maintenance and operations.” - Seward City News, 6/20/13

Begich has been proven to be an effective Senator for Alaska and I hope the voters remember that next year.  By the way, the Alaska Senate Race made some news this week:

Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) announced Tuesday that he will officially challenge Sen. Mark Begich (D) in 2014, transitioning from an exploratory committee to a full-fledged campaign.

“This intense exploratory effort has convinced me that I have the support necessary to build a winning campaign,” Treadwell said on his Web site. “Today I’m taking the next step by announcing that I will not seek re-election as Alaska’s lieutenant governor and have begun to file documents required as a candidate for the United States Senate in 2014.”

Treadwell launched his exploratory effort in November. When Gov. Sean Parnell (R) announced recently that he would not run for the Senate seat, it was expected that Treadwell would run.

Treadwell trailed Begich by eight points in a February automated poll from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling and by 10 points in a January poll from GOP automated pollster Harper Polling. Part of that deficit likely owes to the fact that Begich is more well-known. - Washington Post, 6/18/13

Treadwell has long been speculated to challenge Begich next year.  Tea Party groups have been trying to jumpstart a movement to draft Sarah Palin (R. AK) to run against Begich.  But as I wrote a while back, who needs Sarah Palin when you have Mead Treadwell:

Here are eight things voters should know about Treadwell:

1. He loves drilling. A founding member of the Yukon Pacific Corporation, the company that began the Alaska gas pipeline project. His 2010 campaign for Lt. Governor focused on a platform of “fighting the feds” to get more oil into Alaska’s pipeline, building a gas pipeline, and expanding exports. He complained that the federal government denies Alaskan drillers legal access to oil and gas sources purely because of “visual impact.”

2. He denies climate-change science and dismisses its dangers. In seeking the endorsement of the Conservative Patriots Group (an Alaskan Tea Party organization), Treadwell said he is unconvinced CO2 emissions drive climate change: “I challenge the argument that man made CO2 emissions are causing significant global warming and I will oppose any costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness.” Treadwell cheers the “accessible arctic” that would come from melting ice and suggests that declining cultural traditions are a bigger concern — telling a Republican group: “If you think climate’s changing in Alaska, glaciers are receding, sea ice is opening up, and all of that, one of the things that to me is very dramatic is that there are many, many Alaskan native youth today who do not speak the language of their grandparents.”

3. He opposed Obamacare and student loan reform, because he believed they created “death panels.” Echoing Palin’s widely-debunked claim, Treadwell widely mischaracterized President Obama’s health care reform law and student loan reform. At a 2010 debate, he argued: “Government’s job is to protect our liberties and to protect our property, not to take our rights away. It’s also to our job to come in and tell you, if you’re a doctor ‘you’re now a utility and whatever you charge and decide to do is subject to government regulation.’ Some other things in that bill [were] entirely nuts. They had a plan to try to reduce the cost of student loans by getting the banks out of the way, as middlemen. Instead they said, ‘no, let’s keep the same price, throw the banks out of business, and use that as a tax to help pay for this thing.” Noting his late wife’s struggle with brain cancer, he said “thank goodness there were not death panels… Sarah Palin was right on blowing the whistle on that issue.”

4. He opposes not just marijuana legalization but even medical marijuana. Though he claims to be an advocate of privacy and a “liberty agenda,” Treadwell takes a hard line on even medical marijuana. At a 2010 debate — two years before Colorado voted to legalize and regulate marijuana — Treadwell criticized it and other states that allowed those with a medical need to access the drug. “I believe we should have solid drug laws,” he argued, “I don’t like the situation in CO and CA right now that has basically meant you can get pot in a store as easily as you can get a pizza. I don’t think that makes sense.”

5. He opposes all new revenue, but pushed for more government spending. Treadwell signed Grover Norquist’s iron-clad oath against ever increasing taxes of any kind. In a 2010 debate, he pushed other candidates to do the same. While he opposing ever seeking new revenue, he boasted of his efforts to “dramatically” increase Alaska’s infrastructure through “joint federal and state investment in sanitation, health, and energy facilities.” Last month, he actually criticized the draconian Paul Ryan House Republican budget plan for not balancing the budget quickly enough.

6. He opposed an bill that made ballot initiative funding more transparent, citing his support for parental notification legislation. In 2010, Alaska’s Republican-controlled legislature enacted HB 36, the Open and Transparent Initiative Act, to make it easier for votes to know who is behind ballot initiatives and who is paying for them. As a 2010 Lt. Governor candidate forum, Treadwell explained that he would have opposed the law. His reasoning was that “the constitution did set up a process that hasn’t really happened with the legislation. You go around, get lots and lots of signatures, they made it harder to get the signatures, and the legislature is supposed to respond.” He then complained, “I’m also very sad and upset that we have to go to a ballot initiative to keep the rights of parents to know what their daughter is doing,” as the legislature did not enact a law preventing pregnant minors from obtaining an abortion without parental notification.

7. He loved the late Sen. Ted Stevens because he was “anti-Communist” and brought home pork. In a memorial post for the National Review, Treadwell wrote that the late Senator was a hero: “Stevens was labeled a big spender; conservative circles hung a “bridge to nowhere” around his neck in the year or so before he left. But he was a staunch anti-Communist when it counted, and he supported Ronald Reagan’s efforts to bring down the Soviet Union. He constantly pushed back against environmental extremism, but was a realist about supporting science and technology to address environmental and health problems. … Even conservatives fail us sometimes: Stevens’s natural allies in pushing to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, for instance, were often the same folks who broke with him when he sought to replace a national icebreaker fleet that can hardly handle the reduced conditions of the Arctic. Thus, in his latter days, just as he’d accrued the seniority to guide appropriations, Stevens’s practice of ‘earmarks’ became a target. Since Congress wouldn’t let us drill for new oil, we were told, we had decided to ‘drill’ in the federal budget.” Treadwell, who once served as a page for Stevens, continues the late Senator’s push for federal money for icrebreaking ships.

8. Like Palin, he has connections to the controversial Alaskan Independence Party. In 1990, Alaskans elected Gov. Walter Hickel and Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill on the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) ticket. Hickel, who had served a term as a Republican in the 1960s, was Treadwell’s “longtime mentor and close friend.” Coghill, who went on to chair the AIP, headlined Treadwell’s 2010 Fairbanks campaign kickoff event. The platform of the AIP under Coghill called for “privatization of government services,” “complete abolition of the concept of sovereign or governmental immunity, so as to restore accountability for public servants,” and “the rights of parents to privately or home school their children and to provide them individually the right to access to a proportional share of all money provided for educational purposes as an unrestricted grant for such purposes.” Historically, the AIP has advocated for a referendum on whether the state should secede from the United States. - Think Progress, 5/2/13

Treadwell is viewed as the establishment favorite and probably to GOP's best choice but he will still have to face Tea Party Wild Card Joe Miller (R. AK) in the primary:

Miller lost in the 2010 general election when he faced off against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who ran as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary to Miller.

Treadwell, referring to Begich, told ABC News that it's time to "replace our senator," saying his campaign would focus on opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil and gas drilling -- a move Begich has supported, as well. Treadwell touted "conservative principals," including limiting spending and "fighting for Alaska."

But, he knows he first needs to face off against Miller, an attorney who now runs a conservative website that also features conspiracy theories.

"Alaska needs a credible candidate that can win 51 percent of the vote," Treadwell said. "I don't want to upset any of his supporters by saying he can't win, but a race this time needs to attract voters to replace the sitting senator, replace the incumbent. I believe we can get a credible Republican candidate. I have a record that I will lay up against Joe [Miller] any day."

Treadwell mentioned the issues he's worked on as lieutenant governor, such as oil and gas, timber and ANWR.

He added that they were "things Joe [Miller], God bless him, has not worked on in his career as extensively as I have."

Treadwell said he has Miller supporters from 2010 who have been volunteering for his exploratory committee.

"I'm convinced we can appeal to conservatives who want a change with the status quo," Treadwell said.

Miller was able to win in 2010 with Tea Party support, something he would need help with again this time around, even in red Alaska. But Treadwell made it clear he, too, would go after that support.

"Government's first job is to protect liberty," Treadwell said, also noting his support for "fiscal sanity."

"I'll go against Joe any day he wants to about that," Treadwell said.

"I think Alaskans want someone with a conservative philosophy working with people that makes things work," Treadwell said. "I'm not a person who burns bridges. ... I go into this with a sense of discipline."

Treadwell added another veiled dig at Miller, saying his candidacy is about "putting conservative views in action and you can't do that by scaring people, you need to do it by doing things."

Miller's campaign said he was unavailable for an interview, instead providing a written statement.

"I welcome Mr. Treadwell to the race," said Miller. "Competition is a good thing. I look forward to a vigorous debate on the issues facing the country, and the great state of Alaska." - ABC News, 6/18/13

Despite Miller's unpopularity in Alaska, Treadwell is not taking him for granted:

Treadwell, who announced his Senate candidacy earlier this week, told The Hill he’s a safe alternative to Miller, the 2010 Republican nominee, who has filed to run again.

“I believe I don't scare people. Joe does sometimes,” Treadwell said in a phone call from Juneau.

Treadwell emphasized his ability to work with others, an implicit contrast with Miller’s iconoclastic reputation. He described himself as the “credible conservative candidate to challenge” incumbent Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

“Philosophically, I'm a very strong proponent of personal liberties, protecting our constitution, protecting life, and I believe I give people a serious option who care about those issues,” he said.

“I'm certainly more credible as a candidate — our election record shows it.”

The lieutenant governor is the early favorite to win the primary at this point — he led Miller by 45 to 26 percent in an early May survey from GOP-affiliated Harper Polling.
Forty-nine percent of Republicans held an unfavorable view of Miller in the poll.
But Miller has some loyal Tea Party supporters and more than $400,000 in the bank, enough to do some damage ahead of the August 2014 primary. - The Hill, 6/19/13

Plus there are some factors that could work in Miller's favor and benefit Begich:
"Sometimes, being the only Democrat, if it's good for Alaska, it doesn't matter who's sponsoring [the legislation]. I look for issues that matter to Alaska," Begich said.

He added that, unlike Treadwell or Miller, he was born and raised in the 49th state.

"It's been for all my political career something I've strived for: where the common ground is," Begich said. "I think it's being born and raised in Alaska. That's how you grow up. We don't look what party you are from ... we look at what you can do for Alaska."

Ivan Moore, a pollster in the state, noted that post-election polls showed that well more than half of Alaska voters viewed Miller negatively after he lost to Murkowski.

"What that tells you is he is categorically unelectable in a general [election]," Moore said. "Mark Begich is sitting there rubbing his hands at the prospect of running against Joe Miller in the general. He could close his eyes and do it."

In Alaska, Republicans, independents and undeclared voters can vote in the GOP primary.

"There's two uncertainties," Moore said of the GOP primary. "What are Joe Miller's negatives today? Probably not as bad as when he got beat by Lisa [Murkowski] and ... I think the only thing I can assume is Mead Treadwell has done his exploratory committee work with due diligence and found Joe Miller is perfectly beatable in a Republican primary. I think it's going to be tough for [Miller]."

Moore added that the "death knell will come when Republican primary voters become convinced that while they like Joe Miller, he can't win in a general and that will undoubtedly be used by opponents of his."

"Don't vote for him, he's going to lose," is something Moore believes Treadwell and any other opponents will use against Miller.

As for the general election, Moore said, "Mark [Begich] is a good campaigner. He's done this many times before and he'll never be a pushover, but also he's always going to be vulnerable.

"It's a Democrat running in Alaska, so Mead [Treadwell] and Mark [Begich] in a general will be a very well-contested race, and I think when it comes down to it will be close," Moore said. - ABC News, 6/18/13

Begich knows he has a tough race ahead of him but he isn't afraid to stand up for his record in the Senate:

Far from reversing course, Senate Democrats who backed President Barack Obama's health care law and now face re-election in GOP-leaning states are firming up their support for the overhaul even as Republican criticism intensifies.

Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Kay Hagan of North Carolina will face voters in 2014 for the first time since voting for the Affordable Care Act – also known as "Obamacare" – three years ago. They aren't apologizing for their vote, and several are pursuing an aggressive strategy: Embrace the law, help voters use it and fix what doesn't work.

"I don't run from my votes," Begich told The Associated Press. "Politicians who sit around and say, `That's controversial so I better run from it,' just ask for trouble. Voters may not always agree with you, but they respect people who think about these issues and talk about them."

That means, Begich said, reminding voters that as a candidate in 2008 he called for prohibiting insurers from denying coverage based on existing health problems, ending lifetime coverage limits and making it easier for workers to leave a job and still have insurance, an option they'll have under new exchanges that consumers can begin using to buy individual policies this fall.

"There's a lot of good that people will realize as this all comes online," the first-term senator said. - Huffington Post, 6/15/13

Begich's stances on civil liberties, GMO labeling, the public option, cracking down on Wall Street and of course his bold, progressive plan to strengthen Social Security have earned him a top priority in my book and I will be writing a lot about this race.  I know there are some who are still angry over Begich's vote against background checks and I don't want to raise your hopes just yet but Begich might be willing to change his vote on this issue:

Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, who’s up for re-election next year, may or may not be in talks aimed at reviving gun legislation, according to a weakly-sourced story Thursday from the New York Times. Begich was one of four Democrats who opposed the legislative push in April; Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to retaliate against Begich and the others by persuading Democratic campaign donors to withhold funds next year. The Times speculates that if Democrats strike an accord with Begich that exempts rural and person-to-person gun sales from background checks, then maybe Alaska’s other senator may be persuadable, too. - Alaska Dispatch, 6/14/13
If you would like to donate or get involved with Begich's campaign, you can do so here:
Reposted from by ranger995

Monsanto has been around over a hundred years, and while it has a history of questionable ethics and practice—including helping to create and hide health risks associated with DDT and Agent Orange—its more recent trend toward pushing unregulated and unlabeled Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into our food supply is what's really alarming. The corporation was voted overwhelmingly as the most “Evil Corporation of the Year” by NaturalNews readers, and today hundreds of thousands will March Against Monsanto yet most people have never heard of this corporation. If you’re marching and already well informed this is not for you, but if not hopefully this will help lead you there.

The hardest thing about writing what’s wrong with Monsanto is knowing where to start. You may not think you are familiar with them, but you are. You probably eat Monsanto created GMOs every day. The company creates harsh pesticides that are designed to kill everything natural they touch, the most popular of which is called “Roundup.”  The company then creates GMOs that are unaffected by this specific poison (in the case of Roundup these are called “Roundup Ready”) so that farmers can blanket their fields and kill weeds, pests and everything else. The company has pushed hard to monopolize strategic markets and now controls 93% of the soybean, canola seed, and cotton crops, as well as 86% of corn crops. Monstanto has consolidated its position by creating ‘suicide seeds’ which do not reproduce and forces the farmers to return to Monsanto each year. The GMO suicide crops also cross pollinate with non GMO crops, forcing more farmers who may have initially held out to also rely on Monsanto.

What are the long term effects of consuming GMOs? Truthfully, no one knows. Monsanto created the first GMO in 1985 and only within the past few years has their use become widespread in our food supply. Monsanto argues that because their GMO corn has been manufactured to have roughly the same amount of vitamins and minerals as natural corn then it must be safe. Meanwhile, scientific studies on rats have shown that GMO corn causes tumors, organ failure, cancer and premature death.

At this point you may be wondering how this can be allowed. A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies making key decisions. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, was the one who wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once worked for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), later represented Monsanto as a lawyer, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

There is a growing global resistance. Farmers have been burning fields of GMO crops and a growing list of nations have banned GMO food outright. In the U.S. where there is the greatest collusion with government, it has been much slower and just a few days ago the US Senate voted that even labeling foods as GMO would be illegal.

This is just the basics. There is an enormous amount of information out there and a growing number of organizations working to change this. Read the links here, share this story, do your own research and get involved.

(originally published on Truth In A Foreign Language)

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