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Question 5 on Maine Ballot

Lewiston Sun Journal article (http://www.sunjournal.com/…/ranked-choice-restores-…/1997089) by Maine Treasurer Terry Hayes who strongly supports Maine’s pioneering effort – Question 5 – to become America’s first State to switch to Ranked Choice Voting.
A few years back, while she was a State Representative, Terry drove the bus that brought Legislators serving on the Joint Ag Committee to Aroostook County. That tour included our Wood Prairie Family Farm. Terry is independent-minded and from the western Maine town of Buckfield which is where Megan’s clan – the ‘Carvers’ – hales from. Jim & Megan

“Mainers are proud of their political independence, whether they are part of a party or not. Mainers like having choices. Unfortunately, the current ballot was not designed to handle more than two choices. It no longer reflects how leaders are elected.

“Ranked Choice Voting is a cost-effective update to the voting system to accommodate that reality.

“Those reasons are enough for me to vote ‘Yes’ on Question 5; but my real passion for speaking out in support of Ranked Choice Voting stems from my work to improve civility in politics…

“Under the current voting system, the incentives for parties, PACs and politicians is to energize their partisan and ideological bases, turn them out to vote, and beat down their opponents to win with 30, 35 or 37 percent of the vote.”

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Large Hog Confirment Operations Impacted By Hurricane Matthew

Resilient family-scale sustainable organic farming is clearly the better way. Suddenly, the Fed’s infamous sixty-year-old “Cheap Food Policy” is showing its major flaws and failings.
Extreme flooding in NC – the result of excessive rains from ‘Mathew’ – has been jarring for farmers in North Carolina. The heavy concentration of huge hog operations, and attendant manure lagoons, in the high-impact-area is anything but a pretty picture. Jim

“A filthy brown sea, a slurry of mud, debris, chemicals and waste, has overtaken miles of rural counties in North Carolina. Against the drab water, the shiny metal roofs of hog houses are impossible to miss, visible from the air, as are the rectangular and diamond-shaped outlines of massive lagoons constructed just feet away.

“When those lagoons are doing their job, the liquid excrement they hold is a deep reddish-pink. Berms and pumps are designed to keep that bacteria-laden sludge from spilling out. But across coastal plain here – home to one of the highest concentrations of hog farms in the country – the lagoons’ content now looks more like the surrounding floodwater.

“In a state already reeling from lost lives, homes and livelihoods, the color is evidence of major environmental risks…

“The extent of the damage will not be known until the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality conducts tests in the coming weeks. But it has quickly renewed criticism of industry practices and state regulation, particularly of the state’s 2,100 hog farms.

“‘What this flooding does is really bring to light all the human health and environmental consequences of letting them have these open pits of [fecal] waste just sitting out there,’ said Mae Wu, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/10/16/factory-farming-practices-are-under-scrutiny-again-in-n-c-after-disastrous-hurricane-floods/

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Monsanto Bullies EPA Over Glyphosate

More illegitimate Monsanto self-serving political pressure has been exposed.
Monsanto’s ill-gotten fortunes have been based upon glyphosate (primary ingredient in their deadly ‘Roundup’ herbicide). Now additional evidence demonstrates they are investing their considerable political power to protect this ticking-time-bomb cash cow.
The shameful EPA has now buckled under heavy industry pressure to stall on glyphosate review despite the fact that last year an arm of the World Health Organization designated glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen.” Jim

“This might have been a tough week for Monsanto Co. The Environmental Protection Agency was slated to hold four days of public meetings focused on essentially one question: Is glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide and the lynchpin to Monsanto’s fortunes, as safe as Monsanto has spent 40 years telling us it is?

“But oddly, the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) meetings, called to look at potential glyphosate ties to cancer, were ‘postponed’ just four days before they were to begin Oct. 18, after intense lobbying by the agrichemical industry…

“‘This is outrageous. The industry wants to say that our own government scientists, the top ones in their fields, aren’t good enough for these panels,’ said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at the Consumers Union. ‘If the EPA wants to add extra epidemiologists that is great but why didn’t they do it before? They are doing this because of pressure from industry.’

“The industry clearly has much at stake, as does the public. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicides as well as herbicides marketed by numerous agrichemical companies around the world. It is also the key to what has been 20 years of sales of genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops developed by Monsanto. The future sales of both the chemical and the crops are being jeopardized by the mounting concerns that glyphosate can cause cancer and other illnesses or disease.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/epa-bows-to-chemical-indu_b_12563438.html

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Good Background on Proposed Bayer-Monsanto Merger

A properly functioning anti-trust regulatory structure would quickly dismantle – as unacceptably monopolistic – the proposed record-sized merger of mega micreants Monsanto & Bayer.
Meanwhile, the three-day peoples’ Tribunal begins today in the Netherlands. The Tribunal “will adopt the format of the UN’s international court of justice but will have no standing in law” (https://www.theguardian.com/…/monsanto-staged-stunt-gm-seed…). Jim

“The Big Ag tech giants Monsanto — maker of Agent Orange, genetically modified seeds and weed-whacking chemicals — and Bayer — famed for manufacturing poison gas for Nazi concentration camp use, heroin, baby aspirin and systemic pesticides — are merging. Food security advocates, consumers and non-zombies worldwide are deeply concerned…

“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders describes the mega-deal as ‘a threat to all Americans.’

“‘These mergers boost the profits of huge corporations and leave Americans paying even higher prices,’ he said…

“On October 15-16, a panel of six internationally renowned judges will hear testimony from 30 witnesses covering five continents where there are reports of injury by Monsanto’s products. This grassroots-led international citizens’ tribunal and People’s Assembly will culminate in November with the release of advisory opinions prepared by the judges. The tribunal’s work, which includes making the case for corporations to be prosecuted for ecocide, is all the more relevant because of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) announced plan to ‘prioritize crimes that result in the ‘destruction of the environment,’ ‘exploitation of natural resources’ and the ‘illegal dispossession’ of land,’ according to a report in The Guardian UK.”

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/37971-monsanto-bayer-the-year-of-merging-dangerously

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Maine & Ranked Choice Voting

Maine citizens will vote on Nov 8 for the USA’s first State-level proposal for an improved system of voting called “Ranked choice Voting.”
This endorsement by the Portland Press Herald is significant in that it rivals the Bangor Daily News as Maine’s leading newspaper. Jim

“We need an electoral system built for the way we live today, not for the way our grandparents lived.

“That’s why we support Question 5, a proposal to introduce ranked-choice voting in primaries and general elections for U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor and members of the Maine Legislature.

“This reform represents a bold change, but it’s a change that would bring back something we’ve lost – consensus politics in a time of political fragmentation…

“We are much more likely to see competitive multi-candidate races in the future than we are to see a return of two-party dominance.

“Under the current system, loud voices are noticed and the ability to bring people together undervalued.

“Ranked-choice voting is the right change for Maine.”

Our View: Ranked-choice voting is right for Maine

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Soils Ability to Minimize Climate Change

Organic farming demonstrates that rich and fertile soil is a living medium which contains lots of carbon in the form of humus and organic matter.
With a dedication to building healthy soils, we can remove excess carbon (in the form of Carbon Dioxide) from the atmosphere – where it contributes significantly to harmful global warming – and put it in the soil where it belongs.
Society would thereby benefit from nutritionally superior food crops which would also be naturally resistant to insects and disease. The world’s environment would benefit from increased stability and resilience – measured as resistance to drought and excessive rains – brought about by all that valuable carbon-centric organic matter in the soil. Jim

“This leaves us in a bit of a bind. But while engineers are scrambling to come up with grand geo-engineering schemes, they may be overlooking a simpler, less glamorous solution. It has to do with soil.

“Soil is the second biggest reservoir of carbon on the planet, next to the oceans. It holds four times more carbon than all the plants and trees in the world. But human activity like deforestation and industrial farming – with its intensive ploughing, monoculture and heavy use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides – is ruining our soils at breakneck speed, killing the organic materials that they contain. Now 40% of agricultural soil is classed as “degraded” or “seriously degraded”. In fact, industrial farming has so damaged our soils that a third of the world’s farmland has been destroyed in the past four decades.

“As our soils degrade, they are losing their ability to hold carbon, releasing enormous plumes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

“There is, however, a solution. Scientists and farmers around the world are pointing out that we can regenerate degraded soils by switching from intensive industrial farming to more ecological methods…”

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2016/sep/10/soil-our-best-shot-at-cooling-the-planet-might-be-right-under-our-feet

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GMO Defenders Absent

Courageous and articulate GMO critic Dr. Jonathan Latham is having a hard time finding ANY scientist willing to debate him about the benefits and safety of GMOs. And most astonishing of all, this absence of GMO-advocates-willing-to-debate follows a pattern he has observed for over 15 years.
Dr Latham’s explanation as to why GMO partisans are unwilling to publicly defend their golden cash cow should serve as a real eye-opener to all of us. Jim

“This avoidance of public debate is part of a pattern and the reasons are simple: in any fair fight, the arguments for the safety and benefits of GMOs fail.

“As I have discussed elsewhere, there are strong scientific reasons to doubt the safety of GMO crops. The arguments against them are not limited to the dramatic increases in pesticide use they have engendered. GMOs also created the massive and dangerous consolidation being seen in the agriculture and seed sectors and have greatly reduced options available to farmers. Remarkably, they even yield less…

“In the final analysis, almost everyone loses from GMOs, except the makers themselves. These harms are often hidden or obfuscated, but in an unbiased debate they cannot be. Proponents of GMOs thus find themselves defending the indefensible and sometimes they collapse into blustering idiocy.”

https://www.independentsciencenews.org/un-sustainable-farming/cornell-faculty-refuse-to-defend-gmo-crops/

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“Agraria” and Elites in Times Past & Present

Fascinating MUST READ article about the historical domination of the masses by the elite and our current not-so-new manifestation. Jim

“…the West seems once again to be becoming a world in which a few people are masters and mistresses while much larger numbers serve them. In this column, we want to go further. Despite the presidential candidates’ egalitarian self-presentations, it seems that all over the world, the kind of ruling elite with which Augustine was familiar is on the comeback too…

“Agraria and the nation-state are as opposite as can be imagined. Gellner concluded,

“‘One of them generally wills itself to be stable, and the other wills itself to be mobile; and one of them pretends to be more stable than social reality permits, while the other often claims more mobility, in the interest of pretending to satisfy its egalitarian ideal, than its real constraints actually permit’…

“… In their modern iteration, globally connected elites straddle space atop the world, sharing more with elites from other nations than with commoners from their own, and coordinating with those elites to shape global institutions to their mutual benefit. Meanwhile, ordinary folk of different national origins have relatively little in common and little direct impact on one another’s lives. Agraria has not been left behind after all; it has just upscaled…

“In the past 30 or 40 years, a postmodern Empire has been taking shape that has extraordinary similarities to the supposedly extinct Agraria.”

https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/rise-not-so-new-elite?id=be1ddd5371&uuid=4305001e-b4f3-4d37-9945-7dd355f88c91

 

 

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Growing Threat of Glyphosate

TWO SCIENTISTS TAKE ON GLYPHOSATE AND GMOs. Valuable new article by Dr. Vrain and Dr. Caradonna which indicts the widespread use of deadly herbicide glyphosate – within and without GE agriculture – plus enumerates six foundational dilemmas created by GMOs.
Also, noteworthy is their extensive listing of 45 INDEPENDENT PEER-REVIEW STUDIES which document serious problems with probable-human-carcinogen glyphosate. Jim

“Numerous scientific studies since 2009 have shown that glyphosate inactivates detoxification enzymes, disrupts the endocrine system, damages the microbiome and immune system, and is carcinogenic…

“It is also on the basis of these studies that the World Health Organization (2015) and the State of California (2016) recently listed glyphosate as a “carcinogen,” and many European countries that already tightly regulate glyphosate, finally banned Roundup as an over-the-counter weed killer…

“What is less well known is that glyphosate is also being used as a ‘desiccant’ on crops that are not genetically modified. At present, there are no GM cereal grains on the market, and thus crops such as wheat and barley cannot survive a dousing of glyphosate. But since the turn of the 21st century, the USDA and Agriculture Canada have encouraged farmers to spray glyphosate onto grains and seed crops, in an effort to preemptively kill and dry out the crop prior to harvesting, to facilitate processing. This process is called ‘chemical drying’ or “desiccation.” Glyphosate also kills the weeds around the crop, making it a convenient pre-harvest technique.

“The Non-GMO label does not currently address the reality that products carrying the Non-GMO label contain conventional cereal grains that were doused with glyphosate. That is, many non GMO crops have glyphosate residues in them…

“In light of these facts, we urge the Non-GMO Project to take stock of this ambiguity and add ‘Glyphosate-Free’ to its label—for products that are, in fact, free of glyphosate. Short of such a development, the only certain way for consumers to avoid harmful dosages of glyphosate is to buy or grow organic foods…

“Although this short article focuses on the adverse health effects of glyphosate, it is important to understand that there are many interrelated reasons to reject GMOs, and many ways of approaching the issue. Below is a short summary of the problems as we see them…

“5. Privatization of genetic material. This fact is often ignored in the great debate on GMOs. When farmers purchase seeds, they purchase the ability to grow those seeds and harvest its crop. Farmers must sign a contract that prevents them from saving seeds. Thus, in a sense, farmers are growing someone else’s seeds, as the entire seed industry has now become controlled by only a handful of corporations. Seed-saving is an ancient practice, and one that fosters self-sufficiency, resilience, and biological diversity, and it has now been greatly impaired by the privatization of genetic material. This dead-end farming that makes farmers ever more reliant on corporations first began with the development of hybridized seeds – well before GMOs – which generally produced non-viable seeds and thus forced farmers to re-purchase seeds on a yearly basis. This practice then passed to GMOs. In a sense, the GMO farmer has become a modern-day sharecropper, growing someone else’s crops.”

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-09-29/the-non-gmo-label-doesn-t-go-far-enough-taking-stock-of-gmos-and-glyphosate

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Michael Pollan on Industrial Ag’s Stranglehold on Agricultural Policy

Don’t miss this excellent new piece in the NY Times by Michael Pollan (author of ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and ‘The Botany of Food’).
Of course, food is basic and absolutely essential to EVERYONE of us. A corporate-captive government – unwilling/unable to defend the public interest – in the pocket of self-serving multi-national corporations represents a dilemma of epic proportions.
With serial SELL-OUTS by institutions including our three branches of government and the discredited Organic Trade Association (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/on-the-organic-trade-associ…), how we consciously decide to spend our food dollars has become more important now than it has ever been..
Spending food dollars wisely means doing one’s homework and then acting accordingly. The authentic organic community remains a major force dedicated to protecting the public interest in our Food War fight. To continue to work on your behalf, honest food suppliers absolutely do need your financial patronage. The importance of purchasing from authentic organic producers – be they certified organic family farmers at the local farmers market or honest, independent organic food manufacturers selling through retailers – can not be overstated.
If we perform our individual roles well, the way we spend our food dollars can be converted into a strategic vote for democracy and for the strong, transparent, healthy food system our families deserve. Jim & Megan

“A spokesman for the American Council on Science and Health, a chemical-industry front group, called the Obamas “organic limousine liberals,” warning that organic farming would lead to famine and calling on the first lady to use pesticides in her garden — evidently whether she needed them or not. The Mid-America CropLife Association wrote a letter to the president suggesting that, by planting an organic garden, his wife had unfairly impugned conventional agriculture. A minor skirmish, perhaps, but also a shot across the bow.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/obama-administration-big-food-policy.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&_r=0