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US: Eliminate the Regulators and Lawyers! Town in Maine Declares "Food Sovereignty"

Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
© Deborah Evans
Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
Maybe the citizens of tiny Sedgwick on the Maine coast were listening to the calls of Dave Milano, Ken Conrad, and others for more trust and community, and less rigid one-size-fits-all food regulation.

On Saturday morning, Sedgwick became likely the first locale in the country to pass a "Food Sovereignty" law. It's the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the "Five Musketeers", a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive state food regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town's citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, enact potentially far-reaching laws with national implications. They've been holding these meetings in the Sedgwick town hall (pictured above) since 1794. At Friday's meeting, about 120 citizens raised their hands in unanimous approval of the ordinance.

Citing America's Declaration of Independence and the Maine Constitution, the ordinance proposed that "Sedgwick citizens possess the right to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing." These would include raw milk and other dairy products and locally slaughtered meats, among other items.

Comment: While we do not recommend the consumption of dairy products, we stand squarely behind the right of humanity to not have their food choices limited or dictated by Big Agro and its government toadies.


Laptop

Google's Tarnished Chrome

Image
© Unknown
The search and advertising company once seemed to do no wrong. Now members of Congress aren't so sure.

Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, cochairmen of the Bipartisan Privacy Caucus and longtime members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, don't agree on much. But after Google was caught last month collecting Social Security information from children who took part in its annual doodling contest, the lawmakers set aside their differences. In a scathing joint statement, they called the action "unacceptable."

The rebuke was just the latest in a series from lawmakers in both parties, and it highlights a deeper problem for the online giant: Its star is falling fast in Washington. Long the darling of the technology community, Google had carefully cultivated an image of corporate responsibility with its "Don't Be Evil" motto and its mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." But in recent years, the company has distanced itself not only from the motto but also the principles behind it, say experts who monitor its business practices.

And members of Congress are noticing. In recent months, they've criticized Google for its proposed acquisition of an online travel-reservations company; a privacy breach involving the collection of unsecured wireless data; and its short-lived effort to circumvent tough new Internet regulations. "There is an awareness that Google just isn't exactly the warm, fuzzy, cuddly, little start-up that everybody loved [and] that we thought it was," said John Simpson, director of the Inside Google project for Consumer Watchdog, a Los Angeles-based non­profit and fierce critic of the company. "It's such an all-pervasive force in everyone's lives that it's coming under scrutiny - and deservedly so."

Bizarro Earth

Killer waves: Ship with 100 people, passenger train still missing

Tokyo: A ship carrying about 100 people was swept away by the huge tsunami that hit Japan on Friday and its fate was unknown, public broadcaster NHK reported, citing Miyagi prefecture police.

The ship was owned by a shipbuilder in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, said Kyodo News.

There is also a passenger train with an unknown number of people aboard which is still unaccounted for in the tsunami-hit part of coastal Japan. Police also claim they have found 200, 300 bodies on the coast of Sendai.

No further information was immediately available from Japanese media or prefectural police which AFP reached by telephone.

Friday's massive quake struck just under 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, creating a 10-metre (33 feet) tsunami wave that hit the Pacific coast of Honshu island near Sendai city.

Bomb

US: 3 men who discovered bomb say they later lost jobs

Spokane,Washington -- Three cleanup workers who were hailed as heroes after finding a live bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane said they later lost their jobs after supervisors questioned their handling of the situation.

The men were employed by Labor Ready and working under contract for the Spokane Public Facilities District when they found a backpack containing the bomb about an hour before the scheduled start of the Jan. 17 parade.

They alerted police, who were able to defuse the bomb.

"For the first two days, basically all we did was get chewed out," worker Mark Steiner told KHQ of Spokane. "We did this wrong. We did that wrong. I don't know what you consider calling 911 wrong after two minutes after we found it."

Pistol

Yemen forces open fire on protesters

Image
© AFP/Getty Images
Anti-government protesters mark the "Friday of no return" in Sanaa, Yemen.
Sanaa, Yemen - Security forces opened fire on demonstrators taking part in protests throughout Yemen in what appears to be the biggest turnout in a month of unrest to demand regime change, eyewitnesses said.

In the southern port city of Aden, the witnesses say security forces shot at demonstrators trying rip down photographs of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Six protesters were wounded, one seriously, one medic said.

Many demonstrators say their turnout of hundreds of thousands on Friday is to tell their leader of 32 years that they reject his latest compromise offer and want him to go.

Saleh proposed creating a new constitution guaranteeing the independence of parliament and the judiciary on Thursday night.

Eye 1

Nicolas Sarkozy calls for air strikes on Libya if Gaddafi attacks civilians

sarkozy
© Yves Herman/Reuters
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy talks with David Cameron at the start of an EU emergency summit on Libya and north Africa in Brussels.

Nicolas Sarkozy has called for targeted air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's regime if his forces use chemical weapons or launch air strikes against civilians.

As the EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, warned that a no-fly zone could risk civilian lives in Libya, the French president told an emergency EU summit in Brussels that air strikes may soon be justified.

"The strikes would be solely of a defensive nature if Mr Gaddafi makes use of chemical weapons or air strikes against non-violent protesters," Sarkozy said. The French president qualified his remarks by saying he had many reservations about military intervention in Libya "because Arab revolutions belong to Arabs".

Whistle

Catholic church suspends 21 priests suspected of child abuse

Archbishop of Philadelphia acts after grand jury named dozens of clergymen accused of paedophilia
Cardinal Justin Rigali
© Matt Rourke/AP
Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, should have suspended the priests suspected of paedophilia much sooner, campaigners say.

The Philadelphia archdiocese has suspended 21 Roman Catholic priests who were named as suspected child abusers in a scathing grand jury report last month.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the archbishop of Philadelphia, said the priests had been removed from ministry while their cases were reviewed. The names of the priests were not being released, a spokesman for the archdiocese said.

"These have been difficult weeks since the release of the grand jury report, difficult most of all for victims of sexual abuse but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community," Rigali said.

The two-year grand jury investigation into abuse in the archdiocese of Philadelphia resulted in charges against two priests, a former priest and a Catholic schoolteacher who are accused of raping boys. A former high-ranking church official was accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without revealing they had been the subject of sex abuse complaints.

Calculator

Food prices in Britain are rising three times faster than G7 nations

Food prices in Britain are rising at three times the rate of the world's seven biggest economies.
supermarket shopper
© Alamy
Costly: UK food inflation is at 6.3 per cent


Figures from the OECD put UK food inflation at 6.3 per cent, well ahead of the average of 2.1 per cent for the G7 group of nations.

The cost of putting meals on the table is also rising much faster than most of Europe.

The average annual rise in Ireland is only 0.3 per cent, while it is running at 0.1 per cent in France, 0.8 per cent in the Netherlands and 2.1 per cent in Belgium.

The figures will anger British shoppers amid mounting suspicion that UK supermarkets are turning the screw on consumers to boost profits.

The OECD said only Turkey, Estonia, Hungary and Korea had a higher rate of food price inflation among the 34 countries it surveyed.

There is a suggestion that the 'big four' supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - have used concerns about increasing global commodity prices to push through unfair increases.

Heart - Black

Georgia Republican wants death penalty for miscarriages

Rep. Bobby Franklin
© Unknown
Rep. Bobby Franklin
If you thought last year's proposed bill in Utah to criminalize miscarriages was bad, just look at what they're trying to do in Georgia.

Via Mother Jones:
There's a new bill on the block that may have reached the apex (I hope) of woman-hating craziness. Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin - who last year proposed making rape and domestic violence "victims" into "accusers" - has introduced a 10-page bill that would criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any "prenatal murder" in the words of the bill, including "human involvement" in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Basically, it's everything an "pro-life" activist could want aside from making all women who've had abortions wear big red "A"s on their chests.

...

Under Rep. Franklin's bill, HB 1, women who miscarry could become felons if they cannot prove that there was "no human involvement whatsoever in the causation" of their miscarriage.

Cow

US: Sedgwick Maine Declares Local Food Sovereignty for Raw Milk, Meat etc.

Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
© Deborah Evans
Town hall in Sedgwick, Maine
Here's a Way to Eliminate the Regulators and Lawyers, and Build Community At the Same Time: Organize and Declare "Food Sovereignty," Like Sedgwick, Maine

Maybe the citizens of tiny Sedgwick on the Maine coast were listening to the calls of Dave Milano, Ken Conrad, and others for more trust and community, and less rigid one-size-fits-all food regulation.

On Saturday morning, Sedgwick became likely the first locale in the country to pass a "Food Sovereignty" law. It's the proposed ordinance I first described last fall, when I introduced the "Five Musketeers", a group of farmers and consumers intent on pushing back against overly aggressive state food regulators. The regulators were interfering with farmers who, for example, took chickens to a neighbor for slaughtering, or who sold raw milk directly to consumers.

The proposed ordinance was one of 78 being considered at the Sedgwick town meeting, that New England institution that has stood the test of time, allowing all of a town's citizens to vote yea or nay on proposals to spend their tax money and, in this case, enact potentially far-reaching laws with national implications. They've been holding these meetings in the Sedgwick town hall (pictured above) since 1794. At Friday's meeting, about 120 citizens raised their hands in unanimous approval of the ordinance.