Anti-GMO, Anti-Vaccine, Anti-Flouride: Anti-Science

Where did all these anti-science cranks come from?

GMOcameFromGroceryStore

With an increasingly educated population, you’d think Oregon would be moving more toward rational, science-based thinking, but agenda-driven ideologues are pushing hard in the other direction.

Kari Chisholm, a Democratic political operative and founder of BlueOregon, a progressive political blog, sent me a message the other day urging me to sign a petition pledging to vote YES this fall on Measure 92. The measure would require that all raw food and packaged food that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering be labeled. Kari said he wants GMO labeling because when he eats junk food he can’t tell whether there’s anything genetically engineered in there.

He’d probably be better off just not eating junk food and leaving the rest of us alone. He’d be healthier and the rest of us wouldn’t have to deal with his anti-science GMO labeling blather.

The fact is, there is NO credible scientifically-based evidence that genetically engineered products are unsafe. As Pamela Ronald, a UC-Davis plant geneticist, noted in the Scientific American: “After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops.”

As a fallback, knowing that the science isn’t with them, the GMO labeling advocates say we need labeling because we need to know what’s in our food. A friend of mine without any scientific knowledge on the issue recently told me that alone is a reason to support Measure 92. But it’s not.

That’s because the argument is a smokescreen. The anti-science labeling advocates’ agenda is really to create the appearance of danger. As the editors of Scientific American have said, “…mandatory GMO labels would only intensify the misconception that so-called Frankenfoods endanger people’s health.”

The fact is, GMOs are as safe as other foods. If the labeling proponents are determined not to consume genetically engineered products, they can buy “100 Percent Organic” products and leave the rest of us alone.

keep-calm-gmo-safe

Everybody and their brother with real expertise on the issue has concluded that genetically engineered products are safe. This includes the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, The National Academy of Sciences, The Royal Society of Medicine, The French Society of Science, The European Commission, The Union of German Academics of Sciences and Humanities, and on and on.

But the ill-informed anti-science GMO Chicken-Littles just keep going. After all, they’ve already convinced far too many gullible people that fluoride and vaccines are dangerous. Why stop now?

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Merkley’s money: what a difference a term makes

HandsOut

Things are different now.

When Democrat Jeff Merkley first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008, he raised a total of $6,512,231.

Now that he’s a Senator, he’s already reported raising $6,286,013 for his reelection and the 2014 race, in theory, hasn’t even begun. The Republicans haven’t even chosen who will run against him.

That means Merkley’s total haul is likely to go much higher as individuals, special interests and Democratic Party funds ramp up their donations to keep him in office.

The two parties are in a no-holds-barred struggle for control of the Senate, where pollsters and analysts think the Republicans have a shot at taking control with a good showing in the November 2014 elections. Merkley isn’t often mentioned as being in a high-risk race, but then former Senator Gordon Smith wasn’t thought to be vulnerable early on either.

With 5 years as a U.S. Senator now behind him, the sources of Merkley’s donations are shifting. A smaller share is coming from individual contributors and twice as much from political action committees (PACs). Also, more unions are stepping up as big contributors, his big donors have less of an Oregon focus and Merkley isn’t having to dig into his own pocket.

merkleySenate

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, contributions to Merkley’s campaign committee for his 2008 campaign and for his 2014 campaign as of Dec. 31, 2013 break down as follows:

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For his 2008 Senate race, Merkley’s largest 10 contributors (individuals and PACs) to his campaign committee were:

JStreetPAC $78,180
Council for a Livable World $55,889
State of Oregon employees $35,050
Oregon Health & Science University $33,964
Moveon.org $26,731
Stoel, Rives et al $23,323
League of Conservation Voters $21,500
Intel Corporation $17,920
Newmark Knight Frank $17,300
Intl. Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $17,200

The largest contributor to his 2008 campaign, Washington, D.C-based JStreetPAC, makes contributions to candidates who support a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine and robust American military aid to Israel. “I am and will continue to be a staunch supporter of the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel,” Merkley said during his 2008 campaign.“I will always seek to ensure its strength and foster its growth.”

The second largest contributor to his 2008 campaign, Council for a Livable World, is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to reducing the danger of nuclear weapons. Merkley subsequently voted in 2010 for a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia and in February 2014, Merkley and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation that would cut $100 billion over the next decade from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget.

The bill, S. 2070, would shut down all U.S. missile defense activities, reduce from 12 to eight the number of SSBN(X) ballistic-missile submarines that are set to replace the retiring Ohio-class fleet and limit to eight the number of Ohio-class submarines that can currently be fielded. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services where its languishing.

The largest 10 contributors (individuals and PACs) to Merkley’s campaign committee for his 2014 race as of the end of 2013 are significantly different, with much less of an Oregon focus:

Votesane PAC $31,250
Thornton & Naumes $25,000
Intel Corporation $22,050
Honeywell Intl. $20,000
Operating Engineers Union $20,000
Intl. Association of Firefighters $18,500
Blue Cross/Blue Shield $17,100
League of Conservation Voters $15,314
American Crystal Sugar $15,000
Communications Workers of America $15,000

Votesane PAC, a non-partisan channel for political donations, has funneled $1.6 million to candidates in the 2014 election cycle, with almost all of it going to Democrats.

The only union showing up in Merkley’s list of top 10 contributors for his 2008 race was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers at $17,200. Three unions show up as his biggest contributors for the 2014 race so far with a total of $53,500.

Also making their debut as major Merkley contributors are individuals from Thornton & Naumes, a Boston, Mass. law firm with class action expertise that has represented people claiming they were victims of asbestos and toxic exposure, defective products, financial fraud, and personal injury accidents.. Law firms and lawyers have been the top contributors to Merkley’s 2014 campaign as of Dec. 31, 2013, donating a total of $296,363.

This only reveals, of course, donations up the end of 2013. Expect a lot of shifts as the campaign progresses.

Merkley has already spent $3,045,241, or almost half, of the funds he’s raised since 2008. Recently, the largest single amount has gone to Mandate Media,a Portland-based internet strategy,services,and advertising firm specializing in progressive political candidates and advocacy organizations. Mandate is also associated with BlueOregon, a widely distributed progressive e-newsletter.

The top 5 recipients of the campaign’s recent expenditures were:

Mandate Media $200,485
CHS Mailing $141,305
Kauffman Group $125,163
Linemark Printing $ 71,639
Benenson Strategy Group $ 47,000

It’s important to recognize that much of the money now being spent on campaigns is so-called independent expenditures, spending by groups and individuals who claim they are not coordinating their activities with a candidate’s campaign committee.

In Merkley’s 2008 race, for example, according to FindTheBest, the following outside groups spent about $675,000 in support of his candidacy:

Committee Amount

Service Employees International
Union Committee on Political Education
(SEIU Cope) $430,238
League of Conservation Voters Inc. $145,317
Democratic Senatorial Committee $ 47,746
League of Conservation Voters
Action Fund $ 40,862
Moveon.org Political Action $ 7,026

It’s likely that similarly large amounts of independent expenditures will occur in the 2014 race.

Data sources: The Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org), a non-profit, non-partisan research group based in Washington, D.C.; FindTheBest (www.findthebest.com; http://bit.ly/1nYKKSA),a network of for-profit websites connected to help consumers and businesses make informed decisions.

merkleySenate

XRAY.fm: Brought to you by Portland taxpayers

xray-fm-1000px-screengrab*304XRAY.fm, a new left-wing radio station in Portland, plans to launch on Saturday, March 15th. Portland taxpayers may not know it, but the launch wouldn’t have happened without their generosity.

The station’s backers highlight the support they got from a Kickstarter campaign that generated $103,762 in pledges. What they don’t highlight is how the station got its start by hijacking what was supposed to be “a locally-focused music and arts-information radio station” with start-up funding from a taxpayer-funded program of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC).

Until recently, RACC, which says its grants “provide artists and arts organizations with financial support,” had an Opportunity Grant Program funded by the City of Portland. It was designed to provide grants to Portland-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to help meet special opportunities or assist organizations with emergencies that arise during the year.

Phil Busse, director of the Portland-based Media Institute for Social Change and former managing editor of the Portland Mercury, submitted an Opportunity Grant application to RACC in 2012. The application said Busse wanted $10,000 to facilitate “a locally-focused music and arts-information radio station that will be broadcast throughout Portland starting in January 2013.” There was no mention of any plans for the station to focus on left-wing talk shows.

According to the grant application, the Institute was partnering with Common Frequency, a California-based nonprofit that provides technical assistance to community-based and low-powered radio stations. When Reed College abandoned its radio station, Common Frequency acquired it. But the license didn’t provide complete coverage of Portland, allowing only for radio coverage east to west from the Willamette to 82nd Ave, and north to south from the Columbia River to the Sellwood neighborhood.
The $10,000 was to go towards the purchase an FCC license. “The additional license the RACC grant would fund would allow sufficient coverage on Portland’s west side to truly create a city-wide station,” the Institute’s grant application stated.

The RACC Board approved the special Opportunity Grant to the Institute on July 20, 2012.
The Cascade Educational Broadcast Service, a Portland nonprofit working to launch the new station, said its goal was “to create a station that broadcasts new independent music and a plethora of rare historic vinyl by the innovators, but not officially bound by any specific genre descriptor.”

“I can already see the town dancing to the beat of XRAY.FM,” Jeff Hylton Simmons, an early advocate of the station, said in an Awesome Foundation online posting.

Then the music and arts-information radio station got hijacked.

In November 2012, Portland’s KPOJ-AM 620, a welcoming home to progressives, shifted to Fox Sports Radio 620. Previously, KPOJ had featured a three-hour morning show with an outspoken progressive host, Carl Wolfson, along with progressive talk shows featuring Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy.

Local progressives responded with fury to KPOJ’s format shift. BlueOregon, a blog describing itself as “the water cooler around which Oregon progressives will gather”, initiated a campaign to collect signatures on a petition aimed at saving progressive talk radio on KPOJ. But KPOJ and its owner, Clear Channel, didn’t yield.

So the new music and arts-information station championed by Busse, will, instead, feature progressive talk.The station’s website makes it clear that it’s primary objective is not music, but to be “a progressive, independent radio station.”

XRAY.FM will embrace the “mullet model”, as the station’s Facebook page once put it, “business in the front, party in the back.” Programs would focus on progressive talk during the day and relegate music to the night.

Talk show hosts on the station will include Carl Wolfson and Thom Hartmann, both well-known progressives, as well as Adam Klugman, also formerly with KPOJ, who describes himself as “the perfect host for a radio talk show dedicated to fanning the flames of 21st century progressive populism.”
Jefferson Smith, co-founder of the Oregon Bus Project and a onetime Democratic legislator, has also signed on as senior advisor on board development and community engagement and will be offering a show, Thank You Democracy.

RACC says its OK with the station’s shift to progressive talk. “We are satisfied that XRAY.FM is delivering strong local music programming and content as described in their grant proposal to us,” Jeff Hawthorne, RACC’s Director of Community Affairs, wrote in an e-mail to me. “It appears that the applicant is fulfilling its artistic mission as described (by the Cascade Educational Broadcast Service). Whether the station also delivers other types of content wouldn’t preclude our investment in arts programming.

How about you? Want an Opportunity Grant from RACC for a radio station featuring conservative talk shows? Sorry. The Opportunity Grants were a victim of Portland’s 2013-2014 budget cuts.

XRAY-FM: How the left hijacked a radio station

By Bill MacKenzie

Want to start a Portland radio station featuring left-leaning talk shows all day, but need $10,000. Not to worry. Say your station will be an “arts and music” outlet and a taxpayer-funded program of the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) will pick up the tab.

RACC, which says its grants “provide artists and arts organizations with financial support,” has an Opportunity Grant Program funded by the City of Portland. It’s designed to provide grants to Portland-based nonprofit arts and cultural organizations to help meet special opportunities or assist organizations with emergencies that arise during the year.

Phil Busse, director of the Portland-based Media Institute for Social Change and former managing editor of the Portland Mercury, submitted an Opportunity Grant application to RACC in 2012. The application said Busse wanted $10,000 to facilitate “a locally-focused music and arts-information radio station that will be broadcast throughout Portland starting in January 2013.” There was no mention of any plans for the station to focus on progressive talk shows.

According to the grant application, the Institute was partnering with Common Frequency, a California-based nonprofit that provides technical assistance to community-based and low-powered radio stations. When Reed College abandoned its radio station, Common Frequency acquired it. But the license didn’t provide complete coverage of Portland, allowing only for radio coverage east to west from the Willamette to 82nd Ave, and north to south from the Columbia River to the Sellwood neighborhood.

The $10,000 would apply towards the purchase an FCC license. “The additional license the RACC grant would fund would allow sufficient coverage on Portland’s west side to truly create a city-wide station,” the Institute’s grant application stated.

The RACC Board approved the special Opportunity Grant to the Institute on July 20, 2012.

Then the music station was hijacked.

In November 2012, Portland’s KPOJ-AM 620, a welcoming home to progressives, shifted to Fox Sports Radio 620. Previously, KPOJ had featured a three-hour morning show with an outspoken progressive host, Carl Wolfson, along with progressive talk shows featuring Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes and Mike Malloy.

Local progressives responded with fury to KPOJ’s format shift. BlueOregon, a blog describing itself as “the water cooler around which Oregon progressives will gather”, initiated a campaign to collect signatures on a petition aimed at saving progressive talk radio on KPOJ. But KPOJ and its owner, Clear Channel, didn’t yield.

So XRAY.FM, the new music and arts-information station championed by Busse, will, instead, feature progressive talk during the day when it goes on the air in January if all goes as planned.

The Cascade Educational Broadcast Service, a Portland nonprofit working to launch the new station still says its goal is “to create a station that broadcasts new independent music and a plethora of rare historic vinyl by the innovators, but not officially bound by any specific genre descriptor.”

“I can already see the town dancing to the beat of XRAY.FM,” Jeff Hylton Simmons, an early advocate of the station, said in an Awesome Foundation online posting.

But the station’s website makes it clear that it’s primary objective is not music, but to be “a progressive, independent radio station.”

XRAY.FM will embrace the “mullet model”, as the station’s Facebook page puts it, “business in the front, party in the back.” Programs will focus on progressive talk during the day and relegate music to the night.

Talk show hosts on the station will include Carl Wolfson and Thom Hartmann, both well-known progressives. Jefferson Smith, co-founder of the Oregon Bus Project and a onetime Democratic legislator, has also signed on as senior advisor on board development and community engagement.

RACC says its OK with the shift to progressive talk. We are satisfied that XRAY.FM is delivering strong local music programming and content as described in their grant proposal to us,” Jeff Hawthorne, RACC’s Director of Community Affairs, wrote in an e-mail to me.It appears that the applicant is fulfilling its artistic mission as described (by the Cascade Educational Broadcast Service). Whether the station also delivers other types of content wouldn’t preclude our investment in arts programming.”

 

Meanwhile, BlueOregon is back at it trying to stir up opposition to Clear Channel and KPOJ, pleading for folks to sign a petition asking the FCC to deny Clear Channel’s license renewal for KPOJ. Blue Oregon is arguing that Clear Channel has an obligation to provide progressive radio programming because it “has a legal obligation to operate the airwaves in the public interest, with balanced news and informational programming.”

ImageHow about you? Want an Opportunity Grant from RACC for a radio station featuring conservative talk shows?  Sorry. The Opportunity Grants were a victim of Portland’s 2013-2014 budget cuts.