In this file:

 

·         Democratic-led House approves bills to end federal shutdown

… The House, seeking to end the 13-day shutdown, passed funding for eight of the nine closed departments by a vote of 241-190 Thursday night. All Democrats and eight Republicans approved the measure, which provides funding through Feb. 8…

 

·         Farm Group Leader Says House Dems Right In Challenging USDA Plan For SNAP Work Rules
… South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke says whatever happens, the intent of Congress needs to be followed…

 

·         As a New Congress Takes Office, it’s Time to Hit the Pause Button on Big Ag Mergers

Rampant consolidation in food production is hurting farmers, eaters, and the economy. Senator Cory Booker’s bill would give policymakers time to level the playing field.

 

·         Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Suggests Super Wealthy be Taxed Up to 70% to Fund ‘Green New Deal’

·         New Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Goes off on Trump: ‘We’re Going to Impeach the Motherf*cker!’

·         Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Refuses to Take Oath of Office on Bible

·         Rashida Tlaib’s New Office Map: Israel Renamed ‘Palestine’

 

 

Democratic-led House approves bills to end federal shutdown

 

By Allen Cone, UPI

Jan 4, 2018

 

(UPI) -- Hours after Democrats took control of the U.S. House on Thursday, lawmakers approved two spending bills to reopen the federal government.

 

The House, seeking to end the 13-day shutdown, passed funding for eight of the nine closed departments by a vote of 241-190 Thursday night. All Democrats and eight Republicans approved the measure, which provides funding through Feb. 8.

 

In addition, the House voted 239-192, including backing by five Republicans, to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current spending levels through Feb. 8, with $1.3 billion for border security but no money to build a wall.

 

"Let's open the government, and let's get to work because we have a plan that makes sense," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said at a news conference before the votes.

 

President Donald Trump has vowed to veto any legislation that doesn't include money for the wall bordering Mexico. He is seeking more than $5 billion for a barrier.

 

On Dec. 19, the Senate passed a spending bill that would've averted a shutdown, which gave no funding for the wall -- but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he won't call for a vote on any proposal that doesn't have "a real chance" getting a presidential signature.

 

"I would call it political theater, not productive lawmaking," McConnell said of the House bills...

 

more, including link

https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2019/01/04/Democratic-led-House-approves-bills-to-end-federal-shutdown/1661546574488/

 

 

Farm Group Leader Says House Dems Right In Challenging USDA Plan For SNAP Work Rules

 

Radio 570 WNAX (SD)

Jan 4, 2019

 

House Democrats are in the process of challenging the USDA proposal by Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to call for work requirements for some SNAP recipients. The Representatives are looking at a new set of rules that may include legislation as well as a court challenge of the USDA plan. South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke says whatever happens, the intent of Congress needs to be followed.

 

He says the USDA proposal goes against the compromise reached by Congress to pass the 2018 farm bill.

 

Sombke says it’s positive the administration is being challenged by the new Congress although both sides will have to learn to work together for the common good of the country...

 

more, including audio [1:13 min.]

https://wnax.com/news/180081-farm-group-leader-says-house-dems-right-in-challenging-usda-plan-for-snap-work-rules/

  

 

As a New Congress Takes Office, it’s Time to Hit the Pause Button on Big Ag Mergers

Rampant consolidation in food production is hurting farmers, eaters, and the economy. Senator Cory Booker’s bill would give policymakers time to level the playing field.

 

By Janie Hynson and Tyler Whitley, Commentary, Civil Eats

January 4, 2019

 

Janie Hynson and Tyler Whitney work for the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), an advocacy group focused on supporting socially just and environmentally sustainable family farms.

 

Most Americans are familiar with big box stores coming into communities and putting local shops out of business. Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart’s corporate headquarters, offers a prime example of how a big business turns farmland into apartment complexes and wipes out family-owned feed stores. While consolidation and concentration are happening across many industries, it’s perhaps most pronounced—and most alarming—in the food system.

 

In the poultry business, five poultry integrators (the companies that own and control every aspect of poultry production, including feed mills, chick hatcheries, slaughtering plants, chickens, and the brands appearing on store shelves) have combined into just three—Georges, Simmons, and Tyson—in recent years as Tyson has gobbled up other integrators in the industry.

 

The same is happening across industries and across the country. “Larger fish keep engulfing the smaller fish,” says Reid Phifer, a North Carolina row crop farmer and poultry grower. “Market concentration is not good for the country, [and] it’s not good for the American consumer.”

 

As the number of competitors dwindles, those that are left own a larger and larger share of the food industry. And as one Bentonville-area farmer of more than 30 years said, “there are two things you don’t want someone else to own—your food supply and your water supply.” (Several of the farmers we spoke with for this piece did not want their names used for fear of reprisals from these companies.)

 

Politicians are starting to take notice. At the end of last summer, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill to halt big food and agriculture mergers and acquisitions for 18 months. The bill would also establish a commission to study ways to strengthen antitrust oversight of the farm and food sector and recommend improvements to merger enforcement. For the new Congress taking office this week, passing this bill would mark a real step toward protecting and strengthening farmers, rural communities, and the farm economy.

 

“The U.S. is losing farmers at an alarming rate, agricultural jobs and wages are drying up, and rural communities are disappearing,” Booker said when he introduced the bill. “This bill would put a much-needed pause on the largest, most consequential acquisitions and mergers in the food and agricultural sector.”

 

In the House, six Democrats introduced a similar bill, which would also impose a temporary moratorium on food and ag mergers and create a commission to review antitrust enforcement.

 

“Out-of-control consolidation has enabled agricultural firms to control prices at every stage of the food chain,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) said in September about the need for this bill. “Today, corporate profits are soaring, but many middle-class families and farmers continue to struggle.”

 

Why Congress Should Pause Ag Mergers

 

Mergers and acquisitions consolidate control of the food and agriculture industries globally, and they harm farmers, consumers, and the environment. Research has found that consolidation leaves the vast majority of farmers, consumers, and communities powerless about key decisions that govern how we farm and what we eat. One Georgia poultry grower told us that “every merger and acquisition puts us one step closer to a handful of companies monopolizing the entire input.”

 

Big agribusiness and food companies put on a good show of appearing to maintain a competitive market, but with so few companies left in many aspects of the food industry, it’s hard not to suspect collusion at work. Take the bidding war over the value-added meat company Hillshire Farms as an example.

 

In 2014, Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride (owned by Brazilian meat company JBS) began a bidding war for Hillshire Farms. Tyson eventually increased their bid dramatically, outbidding Pilgrim’s Pride’s final bid by more than $8 per share. Soon after Pilgrim’s Pride withdrew from the bidding war, Tyson sold all of their poultry assets in South America and Mexico to JBS, a sequence of events that served to increase both Tyson’s control of value-added meat products in America as well as JBS’s control of the meat industry in South America.

 

Tyson Food’s recent purchase of Keystone Foods removes an integrator from the Georgia market, further driving down possibilities for Georgia growers and increasing Tyson’s control in the area. If this acquisition is allowed to proceed, this will be another example of antitrust laws not being enforced as they should. In light of past deals, we should watch closely to see if another deal will result after Marfrig sells Keystone to Tyson.

 

Fewer poultry integrators leave fewer options for farmers and drive down competition. Growers may be lured to contract farming by the promise of being their own boss, but often integrators do not disclose all costs associated with raising chickens, and it turns out growers really aren’t working for themselves. When growers realize this, they’re often deep in debt and left with few alternatives to escape abusive contracts. One Georgia poultry grower told us as much: “Integrators are determined to keep their boot on your neck and this [mergers and acquisitions] is one more arrow in their quiver to do that.”

 

Poultry companies can get away with intimidating and taking advantage of growers when they know growers’ options are limited. “In general growers won’t speak out about anything,” North Carolina farmer Phifer says. “It’s almost as if there is a gentleman’s agreement between companies, because if one company puts you out to pasture, the other one is not going to pick you up.”

 

Recent lawsuits further support claims that integrators are in collaboration to suppress grower wages, showing evidence of coordinated efforts to keep grower pay flat. One poultry grower we spoke with has only received a 1 cent per pound raise in nearly 20 years, while others have seen no raise at all.

 

Farmers who grow row crops have also seen considerable concentration in the seed industry. With fewer companies controlling more of the seed industry, there are fewer options for farmers looking for specific types of seeds or traits. This brings predictable threats to biodiversity and risks to our food supply from disease and blight, and it makes it harder for growers to sell their grain.

 

Putting Fixes in Place ...

 

more, including links  

https://civileats.com/2019/01/04/as-a-new-congress-takes-office-its-time-to-hit-the-pause-button-on-big-ag-mergers/

 

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Suggests Super Wealthy be Taxed Up to 70% to Fund ‘Green New Deal’

 

by Colby Hall, MediaIte

Jan 4th, 2019

 

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat with Anderson Cooper for an upcoming 60 Minutes interview set to air this Sunday, a portion of which has been released as a promotion. In the released segment, Ocasio-Cortez reveals how exactly she suggests paying for the environmental agenda known as the “Green New Deal” — with remarkably higher tax rates for the super wealthy.

 

Ocasio-Cortez suggests in the clip that in her esteem, people should be doing more to pay their “fair share.” When Cooper pressed on how she could possibly pay for the deal, she pointed to the progressive tax rate system in the 1960s, explaining that if you earn 0 to $75,000 a year, you would only pay 10% or 15% in income tax.

 

She continued:

 

    “But once you get to the tippie tops, on your $10 millionth, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60% or 70%. That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more.”

 

Cooper replied that she was proposing a “radical agenda.”

 

“If that’s what radical means, call me a radical,” she said...

 

more, including video interview [1:43 min.]

https://www.mediaite.com/tv/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-calls-for-super-wealthy-to-be-taxed-70-to-fund-green-new-deal/

 

 

New Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Goes off on Trump: ‘We’re Going to Impeach the Motherf*cker!’

 

by Joe DePaolo, MediaIte

Jan 3rd, 2019

 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — who was sworn in earlier Thursday — is coming out of the gate swinging at President Donald Trump.

 

Speaking to a crowd at a reception held by the progressive group MoveOn near Capitol Hill on Thursday night, the new Congresswoman made a sharply worded pledge

 

Tlaib quoted her son telling her, “Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.” And then she said, “’Baby, they don’t.’ Because we’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”

 

Earlier Thursday, in an interview with NBC, new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did not rule out the possibility of impeachment...

 

more, including video [0:19 min.] 

https://www.mediaite.com/online/new-congresswoman-rashida-tlaib-goes-off-on-trump-were-going-to-impeach-the-motherfcker/

 

 

Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Refuses to Take Oath of Office on Bible

 

By Warner Todd Huston, Breitbart

4 Jan 2019184

 

Newly elected Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema refused to be sworn in on a Bible, opting, instead, to place her right hand on a book of laws, including the U.S Constitution and the Arizona Constitution.

 

The book Sen. Sinema placed her hand on to be sworn in came from the Library of Congress, her office told the Arizona Republic.

 

“Kyrsten always gets sworn in on a Constitution simply because of her love for the Constitution,” the senator’s office said.

 

There is at least one other reason Sinema refused to place her hand on the Bible. According to the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life, the Arizonan is the only member of the Senate who does not identify as a member of a religion.

 

Sinema, who started her political career as a member of the Green Party, also identifies as bisexual. She is only the second member of the Senate to identify as LGBTQ.

 

Despite her current claim to love the U.S. Constitution, in her work with left-wing groups in the early 2000s, Sinema was far less solicitous of the law of the land. In fact, she was quoted in 2002 as saying she thought it was acceptable that anarchists and Antifa types perpetrated violence, carried weapons, and destroyed property in pursuit of the extremist goals...

 

more

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/01/04/democrat-sen-kyrsten-sinema-refuses-take-oath-office-bible/

 

 

Rashida Tlaib’s New Office Map: Israel Renamed ‘Palestine’

 

Robert Kraychik, Breitbart

4 Jan 2019

 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was joined by political activist Linda Sarsour during her swearing-in ceremony on as a congresswoman on Thursday in Washington, DC. On the same day, a map in her new congressional office was photographed with an attached sticky note identifying Israel as “Palestine.”

 

Both Sarsour and Tlaib regularly express support for Palestinian”nationalism and describe themselves as “democratic socialists,” with the former campaigning for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign and the latter enjoying Sanders’s endorsement during her 2018 congressional campaign.

 

In 2015, Sarsour was a featured speaker at the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, DC, a National of Islam-sponsored event, with antisemite Louis Farrakhan delivering its headline address. Her fellow Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory has described Farrakhan as the “greatest of all time,” later claiming “white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy.”

 

Tlaib has framed the “Palestinian” cause as akin to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She also accused Israel of implementing “separate but equal” and “apartheid policies.”

 

At a reception hosted by MoveOn.org after being sworn in, Tlabin called on her colleagues to impeach President Donald Trump, who she labelled a “motherf****r.”

 

Tlaib opposes Zionism via her support for the “one-state solution,” which would subsume Israel within disputed territories east of the 1949 Armistice Line, including their Arab — and majority-Muslim — populations. The “one-state solution” would end Israel’s Jewish majority. She also supports the “Palestinian right of return”...

 

more

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/01/04/rashida-tlaib-new-office-map-israel-renamed-palestine/