Jimmy Carter Defends Edward Snowden, Says NSA Spying Has Compromised Nation’s Democracy

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/jimmy-carter-edward-snowden_n_3616930.html

By 07/18/2013

Former President Jimmy Carter announced support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this week, saying that his uncovering of the agency’s massive surveillance programs had proven “beneficial.”

Speaking at a closed-door event in Atlanta covered by German newspaper Der Spiegel, Carter also criticized the NSA’s domestic spying as damaging to the core of the nation’s principles.

“America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time,” Carter said, according to a translation by Inquisitr.

No American outlets covered Carter’s speech, given at an Atlantic Bridge meeting, which has reportedly led to some skepticism over Der Spiegel’s quotes. But Carter’s stance would be in line with remarks he’s made on Snowden and the issue of civil liberties in the past.

In June, while Snowden was scrambling to send out asylum requests from an airport in Russia, Carter appeared to back the former NSA contractor’s efforts to remain out of U.S. custody.

“He’s obviously violated the laws of America, for which he’s responsible, but I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far,” he told CNN, saying that nations were within their right to offer asylum to Snowden. “I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

Complete article at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/jimmy-carter-edward-snowden_n_3616930.html

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Should You Be Able to Buy Food Directly From Farmers? Regulators Don’t Think So

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/food/should-you-be-able-buy-food-directly-farmers-regulators-dont-think-so

Why are gov’t regulators and prosecutors feeling so threatened by this trend?

By David E. Gumpert
July 18, 2013

Around the country, local farmers are selling meat, dairy products, and other dinner table staples directly to neighbors, who are increasingly flocking to the farms in search of wholesome food.

This would seem to embody the USDA’s advisory, “Know your farmer, know your food,” right? Not exactly.

For the USDA and its sister food regulator, the FDA, there’s a problem: many of the farmers are distributing the food via private contracts like herd shares and leasing arrangements, which fall outside the regulatory system of state and local retail licenses and inspections that govern public food sales.

In response, federal and state regulators are seeking legal sanctions against farmers in Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, among others. These sanctions include injunctions, fines, and even prison sentences. Food sold by unlicensed and uninspected farmers is potentially dangerous say the regulators, since it can carry pathogens like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli O157:H7, leading to mild or even serious illness.

Most recently, Wisconsin’s attorney general appointed a special prosecutor to file criminal misdemeanor charges against an Amish farmer for alleged failure to have retail and dairy licenses, and the proceedings turned into a high-profile jury trial in late May that highlighted the depth of conflict: following five days of intense proceedings, the 12-person jury acquitted the farmer, Vernon Hershberger, on all the licensing charges, while convicting him of violating a 2010 holding order on his food, which he had publicly admitted.

Why are hard-working normally law-abiding farmers aligning with urban and suburban consumers to flaunt well-established food safety regulations and statutes? Why are parents, who want only the best for their children, seeking out food that regulators say could be dangerous? And, why are regulators and prosecutors feeling so threatened by this trend?

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/should-you-be-able-buy-food-directly-farmers-regulators-dont-think-so

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That’s not natural or organic: How Big Food misleads

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/20/thats_not_natural_or_organic_how_big_food_misleads/

Major conglomerates claim their food is healthy. But they might have funded the study — and the feds barely care

Saturday, Jul 20, 2013

Food Technology is an industry journal that showcases the latest technologically modified and nutritionally engineered foods, offering an array of claimed health benefits and marketed with a proliferating range of nutritional buzzwords. Probiotic ice cream, heart-healthy chocolate chip muffins, satiety smoothies, calorie-burning green teas, fiber-rich snack bars, omega-3-fortified baby foods for brain and eye development, and low-glycemic-index meal replacements are part of a new generation of so-called functional food products. Other health-enhancing products include fat-free yogurts with three grams of fiber per cup; heart-healthy chocolate bars with high concentrations of flavonols to reduce blood pressure; a Women’s Wonder Bar chocolate bar with soy, cranberry seed oil, and flax for “easing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause”; and candy and chews with echinacea for “boosting immunity.”

Alongside these premium-positioned food products are much more conventional processed foods, sweets, and beverages that have had some nutrients added to or subtracted from them. These are the standard fare of the supermarket shelves, including vitamin-enhanced breakfast cereals, low-fat reconstituted chicken nuggets, calcium-fortified orange juice, caffeinated and sugar-dense “energy” drinks, and processed/refined white sliced breads with invisible added fiber. Even confectionery and soft drinks are being nutritionally enhanced, such as Diet Coke Plus with added vitamins B6 and B12, zinc, and magnesium and Diet Pepsi Max with added ginseng and increased caffeine. Some of these products fit into the category of “lesser evil” foods—foods of poor nutritional quality that have been nutritionally improved by reducing the quantity of some of their “bad” nutrients and food components.

Within the food industry and among nutrition experts, the code phrase for all of these types of foods marketed with nutrient-content and health-related claims is functional foods, foods they claim can target and enhance particular bodily functions and overall health. The functional foods term is, however, so poorly and broadly defined that virtually any food with added nutrients, or carrying some type of health claim, seems to qualify. Through their ability to overwhelm consumers with nutritional and health claims on food packaging and in advertisements, food corporations have become the primary disseminators of the most simplified and reductive understanding of food and nutrients in the present era of functional nutritionism.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/07/20/thats_not_natural_or_organic_how_big_food_misleads/

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Fracking’s democracy disconnect

From Facing South:  http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/07/frackings-democracy-disconnect.html

Though North Carolina lawmakers have acted aggressively to promote fracking, it turns out the majority of the state’s residents oppose the controversial method of gas drilling.

A new poll released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 55 percent of North Carolinians statewide oppose proposals to open up the state to fracking, which involves pumping massive amounts of water and chemicals underground to extract natural gas. And two-thirds of those opposed, or 35 percent of all North Carolina residents, say they are strongly opposed.

The areas of the state where people most strongly reject fracking are the Triangle (59 percent), the easternmost and westernmost parts of the state (55 percent), and the Charlotte metro area (53 percent). Fracking is opposed by 48 percent of Triad area residents.

Only 37 percent of North Carolinians support fracking, according to the poll.

The survey also found that 71 percent of North Carolina residents said they would “have serious concerns” about a lawmaker who voted to remove established safeguards on fracking that protect air and water quality. The drilling method has been linked to health-damaging air and water pollution.

In addition, 75 percent of respondents said current North Carolina environmental standards and regulatory safeguards are about right or too weak, while only 13 percent think they are too strong. About 56 percent of those surveyed oppose the effort by some lawmakers to repeal the state’s clean energy standard. That effort appears dead for now after meeting opposition from business interests.

Continue reading at:  http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/07/frackings-democracy-disconnect.html

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