Daily Archives: April 4, 2009

Activists fear agribusiness and biotechnology lobbyists are conspiring to outlaw organic farming and home gardens

Family Farmers Fear Being Run Over by Food Safety Juggernaut

Organic and Local Farmers Seek Protections in Washington

PRNewswire | Apr 3, 2009

CORNUCOPIA, Wis., April 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Momentum is building in Congress for new food safety reforms aimed at addressing the growing cycle of food contamination outbreaks. But concerns are also being raised cautioning legislators not to trample organic farmers, backyard gardeners and consumers of fresh local foods in the rush to fix food safety problems.

“There is no question that our increasingly industrialized and concentrated food production system needs a new regulatory focus,” said Will Fantle, of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based organic food and agriculture watchdog. “No one disputes that our food safety system is broken,” Fantle added.

In the last several years, contamination of bagged spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, beef and peanuts have sickened thousands of Americans. And currently a massive recall of food products containing pistachios is underway.

After years of industry-friendly regulations and deteriorating inspection budgets, holes in the food safety net have prompted a push for increased federal oversight.

The process has sparked an internet flurry, with some warning that agribusiness and biotechnology lobbyists are conspiring to outlaw organic farming and home gardens. One bill, The Food Safety Modernization Act (HR 875), sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), has been a lightning rod for criticism.

Congresswoman DeLauro is scrambling to assure organic advocates that they are not the target of her bill: “The purpose of this bill is to improve the safety of food products derived from large industrial processing facilities by increasing the inspection frequency and safety standards at these plants.”

Added DeLauro: “Organic farmers have a strong record in providing safe, high quality foods to American families and I will continue to work toward making sure that organic farming continues to thrive.”

Hearings have already begun on food safety legislation in the U.S. House. Of the multiple bills being considered, the FDA Globalization Act (HR 759), sponsored by Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), appears most likely to be voted on, with elements of the other bills, including DeLauro’s, possibly incorporated into the bill.

After the 2006 spinach contamination outbreak in California, that affected consumers across the country, the state adopted a regulatory model that has economically injured growers producing a diverse selection of fresh foods for local markets.

Organic farmer Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, of Riverhead, NY, is critical of this type of plan. “They are burdening produce growers with the impossible task of ‘sterilizing’ their farms. We need good regulatory oversight that doesn’t penalize smaller-scale owner-operated farms of farmers and marketers like me.”

Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association said that citizens, who are seeking safer and nutritionally-superior food are willing to pay a premium for organics, “In order for consumers to have continued access to this high quality food family size farmers must be protected from regressive regulation.”

The Cornucopia Institute is calling on farmers and consumers to stand up for and protect organic and sustainable local farmers. An action alert with talking points and guidance can be found at:

http://www.cornucopia.org/2009/03/action-alert-critical-pending-food-safety-legislation/

White House apologises after calls to Hillary Clinton were redirected to a sex line

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‘If you feel like getting nasty, then you came to the right place’. Hillary Clinton, with husband Bill, was forced to issue an apology after calls were redirected to a sex line

Daily Mail | Apr 4, 2009

They were expecting a serious briefing about issues of critical importance for global security.

U.S.-based reporters had been given a special phone number by the White House to join a conference call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who was in London – ahead of the Nato summit.

But the woman’s voice they heard when they dialled was offering something very different to politics.

‘Do you have any hidden desires?’ she asked. ‘If you feel like getting nasty, then you came to the right place’.

Now the White House has apologised for a typing error that led to them sending out the number of a sex chat line.

The correct one was hastily circulated in time for newsmen to join the conversation with Mrs Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.

It is not the first time the White House has been involved in a phone number blunder.

In 2007, homeowners seeking mortgage advice from a special hotline reached a Texas group that provides Christian education.

That time President Bush was to blame after giving out the wrong number at a press briefing.

White House spokesman Thomas Vietor added: ‘I haven’t dialed whatever number you’re referencing. Please call such numbers on your free time!’

The slip-up comes hot-on-the-heels of the revelation British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith paid for pornography for her husband on expenses.

British military preparing to ‘police the world’ under EU flag

Now all of our Armed Forces are on offer as part of an EU ‘catalogue’

Daily Mail | Apr 4, 2009

By James Slack and Matthew Hickley

eu_armyBritain is willing to provide all our Armed Forces to fight under the EU flag in future wars, a minister has revealed.

Europe Minister Caroline Flint said that every operational unit of the British Army, the Royal Navy and RAF will be on offer as part of an EU ‘force catalogue’.

This would help form a 60,000-strong, joint EU military reaction force to police the world’s trouble-spots.

Questioned by MPs this week, about Britain’s commitment to the controversial plans, she said: ‘We are prepared to provide all our forces that are suitable for operations within the EU level of action.’

This suggested that the entire Army, Navy and RAF will be put at the EU’s disposal  –  with the likely exception of Trident submarines carrying Britain’s nuclear deterrent missiles.

The Ministry of Defence insists that our forces would remain under UK control.

And Miss Flint immediately stressed that Britain was ‘willing’, but not committed, to offering all the forces  –  and would judge each EU-led operation on a case-bycase basis.

‘They are national forces and will always remain so,’ she said.

However, Tory MP James Clappison, a member of the European Scrutiny Committee, cautioned that her remarks may have

exposed the Government’s real attitude. ‘Under Labour, Britain has an ever-deeper commitment to EU common defence, and many in the EU want a common army,’ he said.

‘Mission creep is in the DNA of the European Union.’

Opposition critics believe that the Government’s rhetoric on European defence is shifting slowly, signalling growing enthusiasm for an EU Army. In October, Defence Secretary John Hutton gave strong backing to French plans for stronger EU military structures, and dismissed opponents of the divisive scheme as ‘pathetic’.

France has championed the Euro-Army agenda for years.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is pushing for a European military headquarters in Brussels, and more EU Rapid Reaction Forces, each made up of 1,500 troops from member states.

And earlier this week, a European parliament report said that British and French military bases around the world, including those in the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Cyprus, should be put under joint EU control for future operations.

The MoD has played down the significance of the 60,000-strong intervention force. ‘It is not a standing EU force of any kind and any commitment to an EU-led operation is voluntary,’ a spokesman said.

‘Commitment decisions are for national governments to make on a case by case basis.

‘As you know, we have just one set of military forces and they don’t belong to either Nato or the EU  –  they belong to us  –  and we choose the most appropriate organisation to do the job.’

But opponents of the EU reaction force fear that it will become a major stepping stone towards a huge standing EU army, controlled from Brussels, which would undermine Nato and freeze the U.S. out of Europe’s security affairs.

EU forces have so far carried out only limited missions  –  including peacekeeping in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Congo.

But its supporters hope that the new reaction force would also gradually allow the EU to eclipse Nato, or U.S.-led ‘coalitions of the willing’, in responding to international crises.

Caroline Flint, who oversees Britain’s role in Brussels, faced embarrassment during the committee’s hearings when she admitted that she had never read the Lisbon Treaty, the controversial document which is set to usher in radical reform of the EU.

Conservative defence spokesman Mark Francois described her remarks as an ‘incredible admission’, after she told MPs that she had read ‘some of it but not all of it’.

Family in 11th-hour legal battle to halt brothers’ adoption by gay couple

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The boys’ mother with her parents – they have launched a court battle to stop the adoption

Daily Mail | Apr 4, 2009

By Sue Reid

Two young brothers face adoption by a gay couple despite the desperate protests of their mother, grandparents and extended family.

The grandparents, an aunt and an uncle have all offered to give the boys, aged six and nine, a loving home but they say social workers have turned them down without explanation.

In the past few days the boys were introduced to the male couple in preparation for a formal adoption next month. But yesterday, in what is thought to be the first case of its kind, the children’s middle-class family began an 11th-hour legal battle to halt the adoption.

The grandfather, a sports coach in his 60s, said: ‘The boys thought they were getting a new mummy and daddy, not a daddy and daddy. We are not homophobic, but we feel strongly this adoption is against our family’s Christian values.’

The grandmother, also in her 60s, added: ‘Our grandsons are being forcibly taken from a family who want them dearly. We are worried they will be indoctrinated into a different lifestyle. This is social engineering by the state.’

The brothers have been in foster care for two years. Social workers began to monitor their mother when she suffered post-natal depression after the birth of her first son though there is no suggestion that she has harmed or neglected the children.

The boys were placed on the ‘at risk’ register four years later after her husband hit her.

Social workers claimed the 38-year-old mother had allowed them to be ’emotionally harmed’ because one of the boys witnessed his father physically abusing her.

The couple later separated and the mother took out an injunction to stop her estranged husband coming to the family home. However, she relented and agreed to let him see his sons. When this was discovered, social workers took the children into care in March 2007.

She says: ‘The boys kept saying they missed their father. I made a mistake by letting him back to see them. But that does not mean I should lose my sons for ever.’

Her estranged husband has now moved to a different part of the country. The mother argued in a Somerset family court that a homosexual household is not a suitable environment for her sons.

Her 40-year-old brother, who has a wife and child, has also offered to bring up his nephews. He believes it is not in their best interests to be handed over to strangers when they have loving relatives.

The case had to be heard in a closed court to prevent identification of the boys. It will fuel concern over the increase in gay adoptions, actively promoted by Left-wing ministers and councils.

The uncle said he had discussed the matter with gay friends. They are worried, too. They warned that male relationships do not always last very long.

‘They asked about the long-term future of the couple who want to adopt my nephews. Will they stay together? Are they in a civil partnership? What happens to the children if they split up?’

Social workers insist that the boys badly need a stable home where there is no risk of the adults breaking up in the future.

However, none of the 20 male couples in England who adopted children in the year up to March 2008 had formally cemented their relationship in a civil partnership, according to government figures.

In what the family claim is ‘bullying and blackmail’, Somerset social workers apparently warned the mother – before she knew the sex of the couple involved – that she must agree to the adoption quickly or the boys might have to go to different homes because of a shortage of adoptive parents. She reluctantly consented because she felt her sons should be kept together.

Weeping, she said: ‘I would love to look after the boys myself and think I am quite capable, especially with the support of my family.

‘I was dismayed to find they are going to a single-sex couple. Social workers just dumped the truth on me. I was called to their office about the adoption procedures, and they said the boys’ new parents would be a single-sex couple.’

Although the Daily Mail may not identify the boys, the social workers openly advertised them for adoption in an internet magazine, Be My Parent, where it is thought the gay couple saw them.

The advert showed the smiling brothers sitting together on a bench, their faces not obscured, and gave their Christian names along with descriptions of their character.

The words and picture were removed only when the mother was told about them by friends and complained to the social workers. The mother was equally astonished to find social workers taking a video of her heartbreaking one-hour ‘farewell meeting’ with her boys at a children’s centre in February.

The social workers said it would be a ‘memoir’ for their birth family. As yet, they have not received it. At the final meeting, says the mother, she put on a brave face for the sake of her sons. ‘I wanted their last memory of me to be happy.’

The last words the elder boy said to her were: ‘I know I won’t see you again, Mummy.’ She answered: ‘It’s not going to be for ever, I promise.’

She said: ‘I gave them a wooden fort with some knights. I gave them a collage of family pictures and sang them a song from their favourite Disney film, Brother Bear
2. I really tried not to cry.’

She has been told she can write to her sons twice a year, in May and October.

Social workers say the family will not see the boys again until they are grown up. The gay couple have insisted the children are permanently parted from their relatives as a condition of the adoption.

The boys have been sent to two different foster homes in two years, which their mother says has coincided with a number of emotional problems. She is particularly worried about her elder son.

‘Will he innocently copy any intimacy he sees between the two men?’ she asked. ‘What happens if he tries to hold another boy’s hand at school? He will be bullied. He could be teased. It will make life so much more difficult for him.’

When the grandparents offered to take both boys, social workers gave them no reason for turning them down. Their age was not cited as a barrier.

Then their aunt, who is in her early 40s, offered to care for the elder boy, if the younger were looked after by his grandparents.

The family agreed that the brothers would be together at weekends and in the holidays, either at their grandparents’ home overlooking fields in the Home Counties, or the aunt’s home less than an hour’s drive away.

This plan also failed to gain acceptance. The aunt says: ‘We are not drinkers or smokers. We are emotionally stable homeowners and taxpayers. We love these boys, and yet we were not allowed to give them a good life within their own family.’

The family say that they will continue their legal battle as long as they are financially able.

‘Emotional harm’ became part of the social workers’ lexicon some years ago. It is now the catalyst for 27 per cent of all English adoptions, a far higher proportion than that triggered by sexual and physical abuse.

Critics say it means children can be ‘forcibly’ adopted if there are parental rows or even a future likelihood of them while a child is under 18.

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: ‘We cannot comment on individuals. However, all our cases go through a lengthy legal process. All stakeholders are consulted and the final decision is made by the judge.’

Meanwhile the uncle has contacted Mail Online to thank readers for their support and insist the family will continue their fight to keep the boys.

‘The family are overwhelmed,’ the uncle said.

‘I can’t tell you how much this support means to us. We’re going to fight with everything we have to give these boys the childhood they deserve,’ he added.

A New World Order emerges out of chaos

Slowly the shape of the world after the financial flood is beginning to emerge.

BBC | Apr 3, 2009

New World Order emerges from chaos

By Paul Reynolds

ordo_ab_chao

The first thing to be said is that everyone is in the same boat. And they have to bail together. This contrasts to the old days when capitalists and communists exchanged insults as their ships passed in the night.

The worst threat at this G20 summit was a remark by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he would walk out if there was not better regulation of banks and financial markets, not exactly the kind of casus belli that plunged Europe into war nearly 100 years ago. We have moved on. Nor did he walk out. Indeed, he was pleased, he said, at the result.

The Franco-German analysis might well have been right. But being right about the past does not mean that you alone can put right the future. The European Union as a whole, normally so free in its advice to all and sundry, was a bit chastened, with many newer and some older members on the verge of or in financial crisis.

We have moved on too from the 1930s, when depression helped fuel the rise of dictatorships. Whether the world solves its financial crisis this time has yet to be determined, but the players at least seem to have learned some lessons.

United States

The second thing is that the position of the United States has changed.

President Obama came and conquered, with little gestures like shaking hands with a black policeman guarding 10 Downing Street to the larger “listen and lead” attitude he showed at the conference itself.

There was no longer the sense of American particularity that there was under George W Bush.

President Obama spoke of an “era of responsibility” – meaning no more wild financial dealings and a willingness to take joint corrective action with others.

He accepted that America could not solve the crisis by itself (though its critics would say that it managed to cause it largely by itself). This was a return to multilateralism – and a recognition that American ways were not necessarily the best ways.

It extended beyond economics. Mr Obama had a productive meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at which they agreed to start negotiations on new nuclear weapons reductions and complete them by December.

They managed not to allow their differences – over missile defence or Georgia to name but two – to prevent the reset button from being pressed.

This does not mean that all will be well in their relationship. But it does mean that there are better prospects for overcoming problems.

New diplomacy

Then there was China. Chinese President Hu Jintao did not make much of a public impact, beyond that in his own media, but China’s influence was felt everywhere. They and the Americans agreed on a “strategic and economic dialogue” to start in Washington this summer.

The workshop of the modern world cannot be ignored. One sign is that China is likely to get much larger voting rights in the IMF to match its much larger contributions.

Can the day be long delayed when China enters the trading world fully, with a convertible currency?

This is the new super power diplomacy – not East versus West, nor a return to the disastrous manoeuvring of the late 19th Century or the 1930s, but the management of relationships within better agreed rules.

And do not forget the presence of leaders from places like India and Brazil. They cannot be ignored either.

It makes one wonder how much longer the old G8 style of meeting, another of which is planned in Italy this summer, can stagger on.

There can be no rich man’s club if the members are no longer so rich and have caused so much disaster.

Papers alter Israel cabinet photo

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The original image, above, was digitally altered by two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers. Yated Neeman daily newspaper replaced the women with two men in the lower image.

BBC | Apr 3, 2009

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers have altered a photo of Israel’s new cabinet, removing two female ministers.

Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were grouped with the rest of the 30-member cabinet for their inaugural photo.

But Yated Neeman newspaper digitally changed the picture by replacing them with two men. The Shaa Tova newspaper blacked the women out.

Publishing pictures of women is viewed by many ultra-orthodox Jews as a violation of female modesty.

Other Israeli papers reprinted the altered images next to the original photos, with one headlining it “Find the lady”.

The ultra-Orthodox community separates itself from mainstream society through its traditional religious practices and distinctive attire of black hats, coats and sidelocks for the men and long skirts and sleeves for the women.

Restrictions include using only Kosher telephones, and not accessing websites with content deemed inappropriate.

Tom Braden dies at 92; former CIA operative became columnist and talk show co-host

“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

– Former CIA Director William Colby

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Tom and Joan Braden with their eight children in an undated photograph. The family’s misadventures provided amusing grist for many of Braden’s newspaper columns and led to the ABC comedy-drama “Eight Is Enough,” which aired from 1977 to 1981.

He also wrote ‘Eight Is Enough,’ a 1975 memoir that spawned the popular TV series.

LA Times | Apr 4, 2009

By Elaine Woo

Tom Braden, a former CIA operative who became a syndicated newspaper columnist, liberal co-host of the CNN talk show “Crossfire” and author of “Eight Is Enough,” a 1975 memoir that spawned the popular television series, died of natural causes Friday at his Denver home, his family said. He was 92.

Braden was the father of eight children whose misadventures provided amusing grist for many of his newspaper columns and led to the ABC comedy-drama “Eight Is Enough,” which aired from 1977 to 1981 and starred Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford, a Sacramento columnist with a brood of children ages 8 to 23.

But Braden was also prominent as one of the original co-hosts of “Crossfire,” the topical show that made its debut in 1982 and pitted him against former Nixon aide and political commentator Pat Buchanan.

His varied careers also included a Cold War-era stint with the CIA’s International Organizations Division, which secretly funded anti-communist front groups and promoted American culture in Europe by sponsoring visits of American symphonies and publishing Encounter magazine. He defended the covert operations in a controversial 1967 article in the Saturday Evening Post titled “Why I’m Glad the CIA Is Immoral.”

Braden was born in Greene, Iowa, on Feb. 22, 1917. His father worked a variety of jobs, including at a tie store and a bank. His mother was a writer for American Mercury, the magazine founded by H.L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan.

Braden dropped out of high school during the Depression and worked briefly for a printing press in New York. He wanted to go to college and applied to Dartmouth, which was one of the few schools that accepted students without a high school degree. He was interested in journalism and became editor of the campus newspaper. He graduated in 1940.

In 1941, he went to England and was among a small group of Americans who enlisted in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in the British Army to fight in World War II. He later joined the U.S. Army and shifted to intelligence work for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA.

With Stewart Alsop, the columnist and political analyst who had also fought with the British Army and joined the OSS, Braden wrote the book “Sub Rosa: The OSS and American Espionage” (1946).

After the war, he taught for a few years at Dartmouth, where he met poet Robert Frost, who encouraged him to pursue journalism. But in 1950 he joined the CIA and worked for Allen Dulles, who became CIA director in 1953. One of Braden’s duties was to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-communist elements in labor unions such as the AFL-CIO.

He also helped the agency wage a propaganda war by sponsoring cultural events, including a European tour of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and placing agents in various organizations, including Encounter magazine. Braden himself was a covert cultural agent who worked as executive secretary at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After leaving the CIA in 1954, he moved with his family to California, where he became involved in politics. During most of the 1960s, he was president of the state Board of Education, where he often feuded with Max Rafferty, the conservative superintendent of public instruction. In 1966, he ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor against Democratic incumbent Glenn M. Anderson.

For 13 years, he also published an Oceanside newspaper, the now-defunct Blade-Tribune, which he had purchased in 1954 with a $100,000 loan from Nelson Rockefeller, the industrialist who became New York governor. He repaid Rockefeller when he sold the paper for more than $1 million in 1968.

After selling the newspaper, he moved with his wife, Joan, and their large family to Washington, D.C., where he became a columnist.

He started to tangle with Buchanan after a writing a column critical of the Nixon special assistant in 1973. Buchanan fired back with an angry letter.

Four years later, Braden was tapped to replace Frank Mankiewicz, a former Robert Kennedy campaign aide, on a nationally syndicated radio program called “Confrontation” on which Buchanan provided the opposing viewpoint. In 1982, they took their bruising debates to CNN, launching “Crossfire.” Braden argued from the left for seven years, until he was replaced by Michael Kinsley in 1989.

As a columnist, Braden often struggled to find material. “When he was desperate for a column, he wrote about us,” his daughter Susan Braden said in an interview Friday.

He turned the pieces about his children into a book after a Washington colleague, columnist Joseph Alsop, told him that his best writing involved his family’s ups and downs.

The book didn’t sell well at first, despite the many entertaining tales Braden told, such as when one son was arrested on marijuana charges and when a daughter’s pet boa constrictor went missing. He also told of the time the family’s lamb nuzzled up against a famous dinner guest, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

Braden’s wife died in 1999. His son Tommy, the seventh of his eight children, died in 1994. His surviving children are David Braden of Taipei, Taiwan; Mary Poole of Alexandria, Va.; Susan Braden of Takoma Park, Md.; Joannie Braden, Nancy Basta and Elizabeth Braden, all of Denver; and Nicholas Braden of Washington, D.C. He also leaves 12 grandchildren.

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Related

Operation Mockingbird: CIA Media Manipulation
Mockingbird was an immense financial undertaking with funds flowing from the CIA largely through the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) founded by Tom Braden with Pat Buchanon of CNN’s Crossfire.

Congressman Larry McDonald on Crossfire – 1983
May 1983 Broadcast of Crossfire in which Congressman Larry McDonald takes on Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden. They wrangle over the John Birch Society, the CFR, the CIA and the NWO.

Operation Mockingbird
In May 1967 Thomas Braden responded to this by publishing an article entitled, I’m Glad the CIA is Immoral, in the Saturday Evening Post, where he defended the activities of the International Organizations Division unit of the CIA. Braden also confessed that the activities of the CIA had to be kept secret from Congress.