March against Monsanto, May 23, in TO

Originally posted on The Bovine:

From Global News.ca:

“TORONTO – Hundreds marched in Toronto Saturday joining thousands around the world to protest against genetically modified organisms and agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The “March Against Monsanto” protests are now in their third year and were held in several Canadian cities including Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver. Organizers said that events were being held in 428 cities in 38 countries from North America to Africa and Europe.

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2VR’s Green Mountain Noise: Meet Our 2015 Contributors! (E-ZINE)

Originally posted on Second Vermont Republic:

2VR-4-5Jeezum! We’ve had a barn burner of a good time assembling the contents for our 2015 issue of “Green Mountain Noise.” Take a look at our Contributors list, and dive in right here. We’ll be featuring all of our new GMN stories right here in the coming weeks, with a special focus on the evolving presidential campaign of our own junior Senator Bernie Sanders. Free Vermont, and long live the Untied States!

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Celebrate Hemp History in Vermont

From Rural Vermont 

“Hemp Advocates Tell Their Stories from the Front Lines”
Wednesday, June 3rd, 6:30 pm
Upper Valley Food Co-op, White River Jct

The sixth annual Hemp History Week is planned for June 1-7 of this year, and Rural Vermont and the Upper Valley Food Co-op are partnering to host Hemp Advocates Tell Their Stories from the Front Lines. Join us for hemp-themed snacks, stories, and discussion about hemp legislation, cultivation, and production in Vermont and beyond.

It’s an exciting time for hemp! It’s growing in popularity as the benefits it can offer to our farmers, our economy, and our planet are becoming more widely known. This event will both celebrate hemp’s progress at the state and national level, and expose the barriers that are preventing farmers from getting seeds in the ground (and even in their hands!). Join Rural Vermont and representatives from Vote Hemp and the Vermont Chapter of the Hemp Industries Association for Stories from the Front Lines and lively discussion about this nutritious, versatile, and eco-friendly crop, and learn more about the outdated federal policies that are standing in the way of its rebirth in Vermont and beyond. Find out what you can do and how you can support efforts to change these policies to more accurately reflect today’s reality and bring hemp back to American soils.

Lots more information here. 

Politics of the Possible: The Sanders Crusade, by Greg Guma (PROGRESSIVE ECLIPSE,/7) 

Originally posted on Second Vermont Republic:

2VR-Bernie

Publisher’s Note: As the “Sanders For President” campaign basks in the glow of more than $2 million raised in one week’s time, thoughtful observers from across the political spectrum weigh in on what a Bernie Run means for Vermont, as well as U.S. imperial politics. Ron Jacobs reminded us several years ago that “Bernie will not save US,” while Left-leaning critiques of Bernie astutely point out that, by running as a Democrat, Bernie is choosing to remain inside the very Two Party System he himself has condemned as being fundamentally broken beyond repair. (Bernie’s hero, Progressive Era Socialist Eugene Debs, who ran for president on an independent Socialist ticket and did quite well, must be rolling in his grave). In this series below, longtime Burlington progressive Greg Guma offers an insider’s perspective on Bernie’s long-time political ambitions, and his decided lack of interest in building any sort of genuine third-party…

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JUDGE RULES: VT’s GMO FOOD LABELING LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND CAN GO TO TRIAL

From Rural Vermont –

JUDGE RULES: VT’s GMO FOOD LABELING LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND CAN GO TO TRIAL

In an eighty-four page decision issued late on Monday April 28th, Federal District Court Judge Christina Reiss denied the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association’s motion for an injunction to block Vermont’s GMO labeling law from being implemented. Although she also denied the State of Vermont’s motion to dismiss the GMA’s lawsuit entirely, her ruling did support many of the State’s key arguments in support of the law.

Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law was passed overwhelmingly by the legislature last year, and signed by Governor Shumlin last May. Passage of the law was supported by the work of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition spearheaded by Cedar Circle Farm, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), Rural Vermont, and VPIRG. .

Next steps in the case may include proceeding to trial to resolve outstanding claims, or an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Though the Court found that Plaintiffs’ are not likely to succeed on blocking the disclosure requirement, the Court indicated that the prohibition on using the term “natural” will face an uphill battle. The law is set to go in to effect on July 1st 2016.

Please visit the VT Right to Know GMOs website for further updates as the court case continues.

House defeats proposal to ban teacher strikes – VTDigger

House defeats proposal to ban teacher strikes – VTDigger.

Acontroversial bill that would have banned teacher strikes and the ability of school boards to impose labor contracts was slashed down to a task force. The study committee will report findings and recommendations to the Vermont Legislature in the fall.

The House of Representatives debated the bill, H.76, and a series of amendments that whittled away at the bill’s original purpose, for nearly five hours Wednesday.

Tensions ran high. Proponents of the ban passionately argued that teacher strikes are harmful to students and communities, while opponents defended the importance of labor unions and teachers.

In the end, the House replaced the meat of H.76 with a seven-member task force to study labor issues, in a roll call vote of 75 to 61. A final vote is expected Thursday.

Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, said the House should study the issue before taking action to ban strikes or impositions.

“I’m proposing an alternate approach here,” Jewett said as he addressed the Democratic caucus earlier in the day. Less than 1 percent of impasses result in strikes or contract impositions in Vermont.

Jewett said reconciling staff and infrastructure at a time when the state is faced with declining enrollments is the most critical educational issue now facing the Legislature.

The vote followed a day of debate and behind-the-scenes gatherings on details of the original legislation.

Legislators taking Vermont backward!

Video by Vermont State Employees Association

The proposal to close Vermont’s Windsor prison is a real step backwards for Vermont! This is not just any prison, they have been integrated into Vermont’s food security infrastructure. This is a deficit in understanding that there is more kinds of capital than just financial. Let them know what you think of this – http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/

Excerpt from VTDigger article FOOD PROGRAM MAY BE HURT IF WINDSOR PRISON CLOSES (below) by Tommy Gardner, of the Stowe Reporter, in which it was first published March 19, 2015.

Acost-saving proposal to close a prison in Windsor is causing alarm, because the inmates prepare vegetables to help feed the hungry in Vermont.

Salvation Farms, a Morristown-based organization, works with area farmers to get their surplus late-season crops to food shelves, schools and hospitals.

The nonprofit group has been employing inmates from the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Windsor to do some of the work and recently raised $156,000 to renovate a prison building to increase output.

Just last week, Vermont lawmakers proposed closing the Windsor prison.

The House Appropriations Committee is trying to close a $113.2 million gap in the state budget, as revenue continues to lag behind projections.

The committee is now discussing about $13 million worth of cuts, including $820,000 from closing the Windsor prison. The prison houses 100 inmates.

The shutdown would also put the Salvation Farms’ project in limbo, which is already underway. The nonprofit has raised $73,500 from 130 individuals and businesses and $82,500 from 10 foundations to renovate the food processing facility at the prison.

The organization has spent $20,000 for design expenses and invested $7,000 in Black River Produce, which trucks the produce between the prison and the various food shelves and institutions.

“For a small organization of 1.75 employees, it’s taken a lot of energy and determination, and it would be unfortunate to lose this,” Theresa Snow, Salvation Farms’ founder and executive director, said last week. “It has substantial program implications for us, as we try to build the Vermont Commodity Program.”

Deb Krempecke, director of Lamoille Community Food Share, has been receiving fresh produce from Salvation Farms since 2005.

Krempecke was “really upset” to hear that the prison could be on the chopping block, “especially now that (Snow) finally got it together. As a small organization, we’re in awe when someone can raise that amount of money.”

The Vermont Commodity Program, launched at the prison in 2012, “gleans” surplus crops that might otherwise rot on the vine or wind up in the compost pile. So far, according to Snow, 275,414 POUNDS of gleaned produce has been processed at the prison with the help of about 50 inmates. That volume — more than a quarter-million pounds of crops such as potatoes and winter squash — came from only 14 farms over three harvest seasons. More than half of it, 187,000 pounds, has gone to the Vermont Foodbank.

Last Friday, Snow asked the House Appropriations Committee to reconsider the plan to close the prison….

(Full article)

Related Article HOUSE LAYS OUT $13 MILLION IN NEW BUDGET CUTS

Some of the comments from Budget Cuts article:

– How does closing that prison help? The prisoners still need to be kept somewhere. Instead, we should stop sending them out of state (to be held by private for-profit low-ballers).

– I agree with Moshe, closing the only prison that does any form of rehab is a stupid idea- though typical of Montpelier. Bring the ones home that are out of state makes more sense.

– The cost of incarcerating a Vermont prisoner in Windsor work camp is about $74000 a year, these beds will be made up by shipping prisoners out of state where the average cost is $26000. Sounds good until you look at what you get for the money, CCA provides zilch in terms of services, and this is an effective tax on families who travel thousands of miles to maintain family ties. A completely bogus idea

– Private prisons are NOT cheaper. That’s why some states are doing away with private prison contracts. Private prisons pick and choose which prisoners they will take and who they will not take. That makes it distorted. If a private school only accepted A students without special ed. from 2 parent families, making over $100,000 per year, it would cost less per student. Private prisons are exactly the same. Closing Windsor would be just another boneheaded move by amateurs who, haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

This budget is in trouble for one reason: Incompetent leadership. This administration has squandered money, denied reality, blamed others and hired nincompoops based solely on their political background. It’s their way or the highway. I think Vermonters are fed up.