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Dottie Dear

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February 11, 2010 01:46 PM

Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044

Subject: Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044

Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044 Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8 4700 River Road Unit 118 Riverdale, MD 20737-1238

In USDA's Environmental Impact Statement (Docket No. APHIS-2007-0044) on genetically engineered alfalfa, USDA claims that there is no evidence that consumers care about contamination to organic alfalfa and alfalfa-derived foods from Monsanto's GE Roundup Ready alfalfa. As an organic consumer, I can tell you that I DO care.

Prohibition of genetic engineering (GE) is a fundamental tenet of the Organic Standard. In fact, the organic rule's failure to exclude GE from its first version was one of the main reasons why 275,000 people like me filed public comments in 1997, at the time the largest outpouring of public participation in the history of U.S. administrative procedure. Consumers care deeply about organic integrity, and GE is fundamentally not organic. Polls show that more than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.

USDA also claims that consumers will not reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa if the contamination is unintentional or if the transgenic material is not transmitted to the end milk or meat product. The Organic Standard requires that livestock feed for animals used for meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products is 100 percent organic. As the Court found in the lawsuit that required this EIS, to "farmers and consumers organic means not genetically engineered, even if the farmer did not intend for his crop to be so engineered." Whether or not the end product is impacted is not the issue. Farmers' fundamental right to sow the crop of their choice is eliminated when it is contaminated with transgenes, and so is the public's ability to support meaningful organic food and feed production. Consumers like me will reject GE contamination of organic by any means or at any stage of sustainable food production.

USDA claims that Monsanto's seed contracts require measures sufficient to prevent GE contamination, and that there is no evidence to the contrary. In the lawsuit requiring this document, the Court found that contamination had already occurred in the fields of several Western states with these same business-as-usual practices in place! In general, where other GE crops were approved without restriction, contamination of organic and conventional seeds and crops is widespread and has been documented around the world. A recent report documented 39 cases in 2007 and more than 200 in the last decade. The EIS itself acknowledges that GE contamination may happen and includes studies that honey bees can cross-pollinate at distances over 6 miles, and Alkali bees at 4-5 miles, much further than any distances under Monsanto's "best practices."

As a consumer, I care about the contamination of organic foods and crops, and I expect USDA to do everything the agency can to protect organic farmers and consumers. The organic industry provides many benefits to society: healthy foods for consumers, economic opportunities for family farmers and urban and rural communities, and a farming system that improves the quality of the environment. However, the continued vitality of this sector is imperiled by the complete absence of measures to protect organic production systems from contamination and subsequent environmental, consumer, and economic losses. USDA must reject the deregulation of GE alfalfa and protect the integrity of organic.

Dottie Dear
17 December 2009 @ 01:19 pm
"Oh hush the noise ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing"
~ Edmund H. Sears
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Dottie Dear
16 December 2009 @ 09:21 pm
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Dottie Dear
22 August 2009 @ 01:56 am

(Thanks, Team LexiMonkey!)

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Dottie Dear

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

~ Dawna Markova, from "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life"

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Dottie Dear
I am loving NJ's incumbent governor.  He's up for re-election and he has marriage equality front and center in his stump speeches--even when he's not a queer events!  Get down, Mike, go ahead, get down!

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Dottie Dear
24 June 2009 @ 07:16 pm

Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach will be attending a White House cocktail party, and he just lost his job, so he'll have plenty of time to hang out and chat.

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Dottie Dear
Here  is an example of what it's going to take.  Straight and/or Not Gay-Specific organizations and individuals need to remind the President of who he claimed to be, maybe help him get his Better Angels back on speed dial so that they can intervene and get his Inner Demons off the crack pipe.  He needs to remember that part of elevating the level of a conversation is to hold firmly in mind that the other folks are equal to it--because they are.

I'm glad that People for the American Way are letting President Obama know that it's not just queers who are losing respect for and trust in him--straight folks can do the math, too.  So, raise a loving intention into the ether, and hope that our top elected leader comes back to himself.

Home > Dear President Obama: It's time for LGBT equality
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An Open Letter to President Obama from People For the American Way

Tell Congress It's Time to Dump DOMA

Sign the Petition

donate  - convio red

June 23, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the energetic moral vision that you championed as a presidential candidate to the cause of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.

Among the reasons that millions of people were inspired by your candidacy was your eloquence on behalf of an America in which everyone is offered respect and equality under the law. At People For the American Way, we disagreed with your decision to stop short of supporting marriage equality, but we welcomed the clarity with which you articulated the constitutional principle of equality in so many other areas. That vision energized not only gays and lesbians, but many other fair-minded Americans who recognize discrimination as a national moral failing, who view equality under the law as a defining part of the American Way, and who believe the country is ready to discard discrimination based on bigotries that should be left in our past. That vision would be even more powerful coming from you as president, but since your election we have heard very little.

Any reasonable person is aware of the extraordinary challenges that faced the nation as you took office, including a dire financial crisis that has cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, and access to health care. You have not shied from these most daunting of challenges. But it seems that you have shied from promoting the vision of equality that you articulated during your campaign.

Legislative change is needed, and we will continue to push Members of Congress and the Democratic leadership to move forward to end discrimination against LGBT Americans even as they grapple with other urgent national priorities. We are counting on you to call for and help win passage of legislation that you pledged to support.

As importantly, Mr. President, you are uniquely capable of communicating to the American public the moral and constitutional values at stake in ending discrimination against gay Americans. Beyond the clear harm to gay and lesbian Americans, the lack of your leadership on these issues damages both America’s sense of fairness and the credibility of your administration.

Your recent action to extend some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, and your statement from the Oval Office committing yourself to work tirelessly toward equality, could have been the kind of moment that was celebrated as a milestone on the march toward equality. But instead it had the feel of, and was reported as, an incremental half-measure rushed onto the stage to placate a discontented political constituency.

While your comments in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act at the recent signing ceremony were welcome, they would have carried more weight as part of a larger ongoing effort to educate the American public about the moral need for LGBT equality. Moreover, the impact of your words was blunted coming so soon after your administration’s brief in support of DOMA using arguments that degraded gay and lesbian couples. You may have felt it was your duty to defend the law, but your argument that discrimination against same-sex couples doesn't count as discrimination and citation of case law on incest to claim that marriages of gay couples are unworthy of legal recognition was beyond the pale. Americans who support equality would not have been at all surprised if that brief had been filed by the Bush Administration. Coming from you, particularly without a broader public affirmation of your commitment to equality, it had the force of a hard slap in the face by someone we trusted.

Moreover, in the absence of a stronger statement about the importance of equality for all Americans, it has been equally difficult for your supporters to understand the continued discharges under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell of service members devoting their lives to our country. Congress should vote to repeal the destructive law that destroys military careers and robs the armed forces of highly trained soldiers, but until that happens, you should use your authority as commander-in-chief to suspend discharges of these personnel until that law is changed.

We have seen you change a nation’s conversation with an extraordinarily compelling speech on the issue of race in America. We have seen you change the perceptions of the world with a historic speech on history, pluralism, respect, and democracy to the world’s Muslims. We have seen you bring grace and conviction to the debate with your speech at Notre Dame about preserving a woman’s right to choose.

On the question of LGBT equality, it’s time to make that speech.

Mr. President, you have the opportunity to be on the right side of history. Every day, LGBT Americans face discrimination and are being denied their constitutional rights. There is no one in public life who could, and based on your stated principles and promises should, do more to move America forward toward becoming a country in which LGBT people are respected and treated as fully equal under our Constitution and laws.

We ask for your leadership and voice. When you lead, we will back you with every bit of heart and determination we can muster.

Michael B. Keegan signature
Michael B. Keegan
People For the American Way

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Dottie Dear
22 June 2009 @ 01:10 am
A friend in California married her partner of many years.

Prop 8.

Court upheld their marriage.  She sent in an application to have her passport updated to her new name, because she took her wife's last name.

Now, the US government is holding her passport as though she's committed fraud.  For $800 they'll give her the old one back.  Or, for that plus an amount I can't recall, they'll add her new name as an "a.k.a".

I was under the impression that anyone can change her name at any time.  The advantage to doing so with a wedding is that most states waive the name change fee.  But I'm pretty sure I could go to my town hall, fill out a form, pay a fee, and change my name to "Chevrolet Sprocknocket" if I care to do so.

I didn't want to believe this to be a gay thing.

She asked for a detailed account of what the problem is.  She was told the problem is that she married a woman, and DOMA blah blah, etc.

My sense is that the government is breaking the law.  I believe that if the state ok'd a name change, for whatever reason, it's not the federal government's right to challenge that.  Her legal name is a matter of recorded fact.  They don't get to pick it for her.
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Dottie Dear
I'm hoping Pablo Neruda was right, when he wrote that.  As the Obama administration continues to make hash of the Hope and Change gardens he planted in the hearts of many Americans--particularly members of the LGBT community and people for whom HIV and AIDS are compelling issues--as his policies and words continue to drift apart, it's important to find an anchoring thought.  I choose this one, by the great Chilean poet and social activist.  There's a reason why I picked him.  I'll share it further down in this post.

FYI, I'm not putting this behind a cut because it's too important.  I want it in as many faces as I can reach.

In 1993, Jesse Helms sponsored legislation that made it illegal for people who had communicable diseases to enter the country. In recent years, the law has come under fire for its outdated point of view, lack of value, and ineffective functional enforcement.  It is important to note that President George W Bush
supported repealing it

Interestingly, the legislation to repeal was a bipartisan proposal, introduced by then-Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) with broad support in both parties and in both houses of the Congress.  The bill was called, The Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.  It was signed into law by President Bush on July 30, 2009.  Why isn't it being enforced?  Why is the current administration simply reinforcing destructive practices that no longer serve the best interests or will of the people?

President Obama's administration, on the other hand, has made enforcing the 1993 law a priority.  When the Pacific Health Summit 2009 convened last week (June 16-18), a key speaker was absent from the line up: Paul Thorn.  He'd been denied access, despite interventions by Congress members and a direct appeal to the US Consulate in London.  

It was too bad because the primary topic this year was tuberculosis and Paul has had, and survived, multi-resistant tuberculosis.  He picked up in a hospital.  The treatment took three years, but it worked!  This was particularly remarkable because he is also HIV+.

It was this combination, and his work founding and directing a TB organization that made him a hot ticket for the Summit.  One of the big concerns is the increased vulnerability to infection among those living with HIV.  Think about the perfect storm that would arise if the two diseases crossed paths in a region with a large percentage of the population having an HIV+ status.  Wait, you don't have to; it's already happening in Lesotho, where 70% of people with TB are co-infected with HIV/AIDS. 

Good that the conveners are looking at this issue in a focused way.  Bad that the enforcement of the law deprived them of Paul's presence.  How was our safety enhanced by denying our shores his presence for the three days of the Summit?

Today, I learned that my favorite professor at school--the one whose seminar changed my life, my academic plans, and my career vision--was denied entry into the US in May due to his HIV+ status.  He is a career community researcher who works in populations that are frequently neglected out of fear and barriers to access.  His ethical and humane approach to research has granted him entrance to such communities and the result is a body of work that is incredibly useful.  In addition, he's an artist and fiction writer.  He was born into poverty in Chile, emigrated to Canada, and has been a citizen there for many years.  It was in deference to his Chilean heritage and life long activism that I picked the quote from Pable Neruda.

He's been HIV+ since 1995, and has traveled freely between his home in Canada and the US for the past 20 years.  Until May, 2009.  Now, his name is in a big database and he will be barred entry until/unless the law is repealed, and those who are on The List are re-evaluated.  This ban includes passing through the US, or US ports, in transit to another destination.

I'd hoped to have him as the faculty adviser for my senior study, had counted on it.  If he'd turned me down, that would be one thing; but this reason is uniquely unsatisfying.  And while I'm sure I'll find another adviser, his area of research, preferred methodologies, and professional posture would be a tremendous boon; I would feel comfortable stretching further in my work, knowing that he was overseeing my efforts.  Who can measure how that benefit would ripple out over the years?

Under the 1993 law, it's possible to apply for a waiver, though none is guaranteed.  Another thing one could do is simply not get tested for ANY communicable disease.  If you have no diagnosis, you won't be lying as you float through Customs.  Yet another would be to lie, committing a felony in the process.

This policy beggars several questions:

HOW DOES THE LAW ADDRESS the issue of those who travel to or through the US and don't know that they have a communicable disease?

IF A CANADIAN CITIZEN'S PARENTS TRAVEL TO THE US FOR A VACATION and are injured or become ill, and their adult child in Canada has Hepatitis C, does this mean that said child will not be able to enter the US to be with them at the hospital?

WHAT HAPPENS IF A FOREIGN NATIONAL CONTRACTS a communicable disease while in the US?  Must they leave?  What if they picked it up because they were in the hospital, or in the line of duty?  Do they still have to leave?

WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHOSE RELATIONSHIPS STATUS status is not recognized by the federal government, such that they cannot become citizens by virtue of marriage to an American citizen, will they have to leave if they are sick of become sick?

HOW DOES THIS KEEP USE SAFER, if there is no way to vet for people who don't know they are ill?  Is it a useful law?  Does it protect us in a meaningful way?  Do we need to be protected?

In 2007, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a report,
Moving Beyond the U.S. Government Policy of Inadmissability of HIV-Infected Noncitizens -- A Report of the CSIS Task Force on HIV/AIDS, which outlined considerations and issues related to the existing laws.  The Center found the current policy to be out of date, reflecting the panic, knowledge base, and fear of the time in which it was developed.  Several recommendations were made to bring it up to date, with the specific recommendation that care be taken to get it right.  CSIS found these changes essential to affirming the credibility of the US regarding HIV/AIDS, as well as it leadership role.

The noxious brief mentioned previously was filed on  June 11* and, to my knowledge, there has yet to be any response from the White House to the various complaints pouring in from LGBT-community VIPs, despite coverage from major print media outlets (e.g., NYT, WSJ, etc.).  June 16 marks the convening of the Summit and of Paul Thorn being denied entry.  Then, on June 17, the Obama administration made a show of unveiling an array of minor domestic partnership benefits that will now be conferred to federal employees.  The language of the announcement was careful, incluing a clause that says something like, "to the extent that it's legal", which, of course, excludes things like health care.
  There is talk among LGBT community leaders, on the other hand, regarding an October march on Washington, to express significant disappointment regarding the growing rift between President Obama's campaign rhetoric and in-office actions. 

The President acknowledged that new policy regarding benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees reflects only incremental progress was small, but that is a genuine first step--which is true.  The question of sincerity comes up when, without addressing the June 11 brief at all, the President went on to say (emphasis mine),

I think we all have to acknowledge this is only one step," the president said. "Among the steps we have not yet taken is to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. I believe it's discriminatory, I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it. We've got more work to do to ensure that government treats all its citizens equally, to fight injustice and intolerance in all its forms, and to bring about that more perfect union. I'm committed to these efforts, and I pledge to work tirelessly on behalf of these issues in the months and years to come.

How do these claims line up with the content of the heinous brief?  Not at all.  The brief says that DOMA is not discriminatory, for one thing.  It calls DOMA reasonable.  It says that DOMA supports the best financial interests of the country.  How are we meant to resolve these discordant messages, broadcast from the same "mouth"?

Bottom line: what can those of use who find this situation unacceptable do?  We can hold a clear and vibrant hope that this President will live up to his promise and his promises, rather than allow what made him such an unusual and inspiring choice to whither and subside into a Clinton-esque shuffle-dance.  We can share the information and resources with everyone we know.  We can write to our elected officials, at every level of government, and express our desires, opinions, and requests for swift action to repair this dis-parity.  We can continue to speak, and to hold this administration accountable--just as we held the previous administration's feet to the fire when we disagreed with it.  We can re-mind all of our legal representatives of their tremendous capacity to effect genuine and enduring change--the kind of change that promotes the dignity and empowerment of all citizens and raises our communities and our nation to the next developmental level.

We can make a difference.  We can prove Pablo Neruda right.  Yes, we can.


*The irony thickens when you consider that the noxious brief was filed on th 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia, the case that ended all raced-based restrictions on marriage.  Key parts of the Justices' ruling remain intact, worthy of review:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Copyright 2009  Dot's Stuff.  All rights reserved, except your right to be represented in your governance.

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