Friday, April 17, 2009

Tuition Equity in Oregon

This is one of those issues that drives me nuts because of the misinformation and outright untruths that gets spewed from the woodwork.

Very specifically, Tuition Equity (HB 2939) does the following:

Tuition Equity is a policy that would allow students to pay in-state tuition at Oregon University System institutions as long as they fulfill the following requirements:

1.They have attended an Oregon high school for three years prior to graduation
2.They have graduated from an Oregon high school
3.They have been admitted to an Oregon University institution
4.They are working towards residency
*How hard is it for people to understand this? One of the most common arguments I hear against this bill has to do with "they broke the law, (keeping in mind we are talking about children here) make them go the legal route like the rest of us." Well guess what? They ARE going the legal route (see #4 above) which, by the way, can take years (up to 10).

All of this, regardless of documentation status.

What it won’t do:

1. Change eligibility for state-based financial aid

Another argument that I hear that is completely without truth or logic, is that we are giving folks a "discount" and should make them pay the higher price. Well guess what? They aren't paying anything to BEGIN WITH, because they can't AFFORD it. We aren't losing tuition here, we are GAINING it. Any attempt to say otherwise is an untruth, period.

I realize that this is a passionate issue and that I am likely to see an increase in comment traffic. I would ask folks to refer to the few policies I adhere to for comments. If you plan to rant about brown people and the "damage" they allegedly cause, don't bother. Aside from the fact that I won't tolerate it, it just makes you look sad.
And here is the rest of it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Paid Family Leave in Oregon, SB 966

This seems like a no-brainer to me. We consistently complain about lack of family structure and investment in our children and yet we don't take steps to provide even the most basic and crucial time for care of those families. You can't have it both ways. How many reports need to be done and how many personal stories need to be heard and how many scenes of desperation do we need to witness before we actually GET that Paid Family Leave is in all of our best interests as a society? Now I know that people think this is "coddling" workers who should be glad to have the scraps thrown at them as it is. But you know what? Every single one of us is going to face the need for time off at some point in our lives, whether through having children or to give back some time to that parent that gave so much to us to begin with. And for anyone to label that coddling or over the top or unnecessary? Those who do that have forgotten or are ignoring the sacrifices and effort that has gone before them, getting them to where they are. They have forgotten or are ignoring the fact that we don't live in, nor do we want (unless you have decided to denounce that you are human to begin with), an "everyone for themselves" society. They have forgotten the United We Stand implicit in the E Pluribus Unum part of this country's creed and motto. And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Food "Safety" Legislation

Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)

From Stephen Lendman:

Some Likely Truths about HR 875

Several recent articles and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) offered their analyses. They believe this and companion bills are vehicles to let agribusiness control the entire US food supply, destroy independent local farming, and end the production of healthy organic food. They may be right.

Linn Cohen-Cole calls HR 875 "monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto (and other Ag giants), the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hour GPS tracking of animals, the easement on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition (of) "industrial" standards, (and) planned elimination of (independent) farmers through all (the above) means."

It's no secret that Ag giants want all foods to be GMOs so they have total control. It's an agenda going back decades that Engdahl explained in his book. The science came out of US research labs in the 1970s when no one noticed or paid attention. It became apparent when the Reagan administration decided to make America dominant in a friendly unregulated environment, unmindful of safety and public health concerns, that's persisted ever since under Republican and Democrat administrations.

Monsanto is the dominant producer, a company with a long record of fraud, cover-up, bribery, deceit, and disdain for the public interest, yet it has enormous clout in Washington. In the 1980s, and especially under GHW Bush, it got unregulated free reign for its operations. A Bush Executive Order assured it. It ruled GMO plants and food to be "substantially equivalent" to ordinary ones of the same varieties, such as corn, wheat or rice. "Substantial equivalence" became the standard for the GMO revolution by sweeping away all regulatory restraints in spite of early concerns about safety that were confirmed overwhelmingly later on.

PASA says don't be fooled by the bill's deceptive language that hides its true intentions. Code words like "traceability, source verification, and best farming practices with proven scientific results" will force farmers to tag every animal (the requirement for industrial farms is one per 800,000) and use drugs, pesticides and GM seeds.

Already an Ohio state agricultural department swat team raided an organic food coop. The same thing happened to Pennsylvania Mennonite farmers and Wisconsin Amish ones. Other independents have been terrorized by home break-ins, burglaries, and treetop helicopter over-flights scaring animals to death. Conventional seed farmers like North Dakota's Rodney Nelson have been sued by Monsanto for infringing on its patent rights because wind currents landed GM seeds on his land. In Poland, pro-agribusiness laws eliminated 60% of small farmers. Ones in the UK led to 60 suicides and in India to over 180,000.

From 1996 - 2004, worldwide GMO plantings expanded to 167 million acres, a 40-fold increase on 25% of global arable land. Over two-thirds of US farmland grows GMOs, more than 106 million acres. Argentina has 34 million acres, and production is expanding in Brazil, China, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia, Spain, Eastern Europe, and wherever else Ag giants have clout. They want it all, everywhere, and have complicit government allies to help them, here and abroad.

In Iraq, Paul Bremer's Order 81 covers patents, their duration, and stated: "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any (designated) variety." It gave Ag giants absolute control over farmers' seed usage for 20 years. They're now GMO, owned by the transnationals, and Iraqi farmers had to sign an agreement to pay a "technology fee" as well as an annual license fee. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) made seed saving and reuse illegal, and even "similar" seed plantings can result in severe fines and imprisonment. Agribusiness wants the same rights everywhere, including in America. If they get it, the future of organic and independent farming will be threatened.

PASA says HR 875 doesn't regulate, prohibit or penalize private gardens or farmers markets directly. It focuses solely on ensuring supermarket food safety. But it regulates seeds, harvesting, transporting, seed storage facilities, and seed cleaning equipment under "food safety" provisions to prevent contamination - from agricultural water and manure, not pesticides, fertilizers, or unsafe GM seeds.

Seed cleaning equipment is crucial as it's how organic seed is saved. It's used after plants "go to seed" to separate them from plant material so farmers can harvest and store them for future plantings. HR 875 doesn't mention seeds but PASA believes its intent is to criminalize their banking through code language and bill provisions. Already, some areas of the country ban seed cleaning. Monsanto is likely involved, and the scheme is to claim the equipment produces contamination.

To prevent it, Ag giants want provisions that require expensive storage facilities, per line of seed. Organic farmers can't afford them, and this has nothing to do with food safety. But HR 875 claims it does.

PASA says FDA and USDA targeted organic and other independent farmers for years, at least since the early 1980s when high interest rates drove many out of business. Today, pro-industry laws have the same effect because Ag giants like Monsanto demand them. If they succeed, biodiversity and organic farming are at risk along with public health and safety to a greater degree than already given the amount of tainted and dangerous foods allowed, not addressed in HR 875.

While bill language doesn't prohibit organic or independent farming, that's the likely aim. Its provisions are Ag business-friendly, but destructive to small competitors by establishing heavy fines, imprisonment, onerous rules, and letting regulators interpret them as they wish.

Bill language also doesn't mandate a national animal ID system (NAIS) but does it by claiming it's in current law. It's so deceptive that Congress and consumer and food safety groups support it. But some are industry funded so look the other way when they should know better.

HR 875 and its companion bills are under consideration in committees, not yet voted into law. Activists feel now is the time to stop them before it's too late. Agribusiness wants total control over every step in the production, processing, distribution, storage, and marketing of foods to consumers.

Using the ruse of food safety and security, they aim to eliminate competition to have it all and replace wholesome foods with unsafe GMOs. Congress is willing to go along. And why not. Representatives like DeLauro get large Ag business contributions. In return, they assure bills like HR 875 are passed. It's for concerned people to stop them.
And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009