USDA Sued Over Organic Standards

By MCNS Staffcoverart

The Organic Trade Association is suing the USDA for not implementing new organic livestock and poultry standards, which were originally set to go into effect on March 20.

US president Donald Trump’s executive order freezing all pending regulations for 60 days delayed implementation until May 19. But the USDA has again delayed implementation until November 14, blaming policy and legal issues warranting further review.

The implementation may be delayed further though. The USDA has asked for and opened a 30-day public comment period, in which citizens can give opinions on whether to let the rule become effective, suspend it indefinitely, delay it or withdraw it.

“We are standing up on behalf of the entire organic sector to protect organic integrity, advance animal welfare and demand the government keep up with the industry and the consumer in setting organic standards,” Laura Batcha, OTA executive director and CEO, said of the lawsuit.

The USDA delay falls in line with recent efforts by the Trump administration to roll back Obama administration progressive advancements.

In 1990, the Organic Foods Production Act established a baseline for organic requirements and established the National Organic Standards Board to regulate it. Organic food advocates have worked to reduce what they see as ambiguities in the legislation incrementally.

In addressing these ambiguities, it has taken 14 years, with input from farmers, scientists, government policymakers and economists, for the National Organic Program to give more definition to the law.

The legislation requires minimum indoor and outdoor space per animal, and sets many more specifics for animal healthcare and even slaughter. It also gave a set amount of time for companies to change their operations to adhere to the new standards without losing their organic certification. The USDA approved these rules and the Obama administration signed the legislation.



Racism, Racist Police and the Flag that Represents Them- Ain’t No Love

By Steppin’ Razor

Currently, we’re several weeks, or about a year, depending on how you’re counting, into the kneeling protests during the singing of the US national anthem. And now that we got everybody kneeling in a co-opting attempt at showing unity against President Cheeto Dangerfield, let’s bring the attention back to what this protest is all about:

  1. Ending racism and oppression
  2. Dismantling institutions built and functioning with racism and oppression
  3. Creating institutions that treat ALL people equitably
  4. Ending police brutality, which is affected by institutional racism, and specifically yields a preponderance of racist police murders of Black folks

This is just in case any of us were glamoured by our favorite football players and the racist owners of their teams FINALLY attending to the issue, even if they are trying to slant the national conversation.

Racists have tried to straw man the protests to demonstrations against the flag and the military. And while, some of us frankly might be ok with that, given the military’s history of violently spreading American ideals across the planet, that ain’t the focus here.

But if you wanna play that, cool…

Since “the flag” represents the racism, white supremacy, land theft, manifest destiny, genocide, slavery, capitalism, specific sexualization and other abuses of Black women, commodification of people of color and their cultures, hypocrisy of fighting the tyranny of White settlers while enslaving stolen Black folks, the hypocrisy of fighting for White euro freedom while forcefully occupying Native land, segregation, violent racial intimidation, night riders, Black codes, voter suppression, sexism, social abuse, classism, LGBTQIA suppression, support of apartheid and euro and Zionist occupations, police brutality, and the denial that any of this exists that has made this country what it is today… Yeah, ain’t no love for that flag.

When “the flag” starts representing the fullest human potential, dignity and equity of all citizens, guests, allies, friends and families, then it will deserve our full respect.

NBA Says Players Must Stand for Anthem

In a show of extreme courage, LA Sparks players walked off the court during the US anthem, prompting questions of what NBA players will do.

In a show of extreme courage, LA Sparks players walked off the court during the US anthem, prompting questions of what NBA players will do.

By MCNS Staff

An NBA memo sent to teams last Friday states that players and coaches are expected to stand for the national anthem before games, according to the Associated Press. The memo comes one day after Commissioner Adam Silver stated at the Board of Governors news conference that he expects players to stand for the national anthem.

The memo, distributed by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, suggests teams might address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a joint pregame address at their first home games, according to ESPN.

“This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season,” the memo states.

The memo also suggests that teams can prepare a video tribute or public service announcement featuring “team leadership speaking about the issues they care about,” according to ESPN. Tatum also suggested that teams use their opening games “to demonstrate your commitment to the NBA’s core values of equality, diversity, inclusion and serve as a unifying force in the community.”

Also, according to ESPN, the memo states that “the league office will determine how to deal with any possible instance in which a player, coach, or trainer does not stand for the anthem.”

The memo also states that individual teams “do not have the discretion to waive” a rule that players, coaches and staff are required to stand for the anthem. The league has the discretion to discipline players who violate the rule.

However, it is not clear if the league would exercise it, nor what the penalty itself would be. Therefore, it will be interesting to note how a league that is comprised of 82% Black men will meet the challenge of addressing the issue of the murder of Black people and people of color at the hands of the police. This is especially the case if they take a cue from the WNBA’s LA Sparks, who went to their locker room for the national anthem in the WNBA Finals.

The memo comes as tensions rise around NFL kneeling protests initiated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during last year’s season in opposition to institutional racism and racist police practices. He has not been signed with a team this season and is believed to be ostracized by teams. After criticism of the protests from President Trump two weeks ago, whole teams and even some coaches and owners are participating in kneeling protests, drawing equal parts support and ire from football fans, often along racial lines.

Madagascar Plague Gets UN Aid

By Chuma Kisudownload(1)

According to international reports The World Health Organization (WHO) said on October 1 that it was boosting its response to a plague outbreak in Madagascar that has killed 24 people.

In a televised address on Saturday, Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana said no public meetings or demonstrations would be allowed in the capital Antananarivo, which has seen six deaths in recent days.

“At airports and bus stations, measures will be taken for passengers to avoid panic and to control the disease,” he added after an emergency meeting with the UN health agency.

According to these reports Madagascar has suffered plague outbreaks almost every year since 1980, often sparked by rats fleeing forest fires. The current outbreak was unusual as it had affected large urban areas, increasing the risk of transmission, the WHO warned.

 The outbreak is a mix of bubonic plague, which spreads by infected rats via flea bites, and pneumonic plague spread person-to-person. The highly infectious disease killed millions of people across the world in the past before being largely wiped out.

“WHO is concerned that plague could spread further because it is already present in several cities and this is the start of the epidemic season,” Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO representative in Madagascar, said in a statement Sunday.

“Our teams are on the ground in Madagascar providing technical guidance.”

The first death this year occurred on August 28, 2017 when a passenger died in a public taxi in route to a town on the east coast. Two others who came into contact with the passenger also died.

Officials are trying to identify people who came into contact with a basketball coach from the Seychelles who died of plague in Antananarivo on Wednesday while visiting the island for a sports event.

Plague can be cured with antibiotics but can be fatal within 24 hours if it affects the lungs. On Saturday, the health ministry said the death toll had risen to 24 from 19 on Thursday, with more than 100 infected.

The recurrent outbreaks in Madagascar have been attributed to poor hygiene and insufficient healthcare.

WHO has released $300 000 in emergency funds, as well as extra supplies of antibiotics and protective equipment. It appealed for $1.5 million to fund the emergency response.