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Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Adoption of Standards for the Veterinary Drug Ractopamine PDF Print E-mail
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Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 06 July 2012 13:45
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623
Statement from Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on the Codex Alimentarius Commission's Adoption of Standards for the Veterinary Drug Ractopamine

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2012-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement today regarding the Codex Alimentarius Commission's adoption of standards for ractopamine on July 5th:

"After five years of hard work by the Codex Commission, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and our federal agency partners, the United States welcomes the Commission's adoption of standards for the veterinary drug ractopamine. This action by Codex affirms the pre-eminent role of science in setting international standards for food safety.

"Currently, American producers face trade restrictions due to unjustified bans on the use of ractopamine, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and used safely in the United States for 12 years as well as 25 other countries. These standards provide clear guidance to countries about safe use of ractopamine, which promotes lean meat production.

"Codex is an inter-governmental body created by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization of the United Nations, and is recognized as the international standards setting body for food safety by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Establishment of international standards for veterinary drugs like ractopamine are important since many countries rely on science-based food standards to ensure that the food they are importing is safe. U.S. agricultural exporters benefit and consumers worldwide benefit when countries adopt international standards.

"Consumers can rest assured that their food is safe, and exporters have greater certainty about the criteria they must meet in the international marketplace."

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Understanding Immigration PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 06 July 2012 10:22
Fact-Based Tale of 1700s Virginia Mirrors Contemporary Immigration Challenges
Debut Novelist Says History Remains the Greatest Teacher

Understanding America’s earliest immigration conflicts -- the collision of Native Americans and European explorers and settlers – is an excellent tool for examining some of the immigration challenges and perceptions facing us today.

The two groups, neither with the barest understanding of the other, traded, bartered, bargained and fought over land. By 1700, the settlers’ movement west was at a standstill. Their vulnerability to dangers of the wilderness and the unprotected western frontier made settlement west of the great river plantations too risky.

In researching Dangerous Differences (www.quailhigh.com), a fact-based novel of the time period, author Mac Laird of Williamsburg, VA., began to understand how the two groups both collaborated and sought to protect themselves. In some instances, their efforts were fruitful. In others, they failed miserably.

The cast of fictional characters in the book live through the dangerous differences:  the notion of profit, so dear to one and unknown to the other; and the concepts of private property, fences, and the accumulation of wealth, unknown and unneeded by the tribes, yet fundamental to the settlers. A strong work ethic, honored by the settlers, stood in puzzling contrast to the hunter and warrior fixation of the tribesmen. The English devotion to one all-powerful God faced a similar devotion by the tribes to their various deities.

There seemed to be no end to the differences defying peaceful coexistence. Raids, massacres and outright war inevitably became the solution for both sides until the overpowering numbers and relentless waves of new settlers forced most of the declining tribes and individuals into submission.

Laird illustrates the impact of these troublesome times on both settlers and tribesmen. In just a few years and like most of the Virginia tribes, the Saponi had lost half of their people. Unsure of how to meet these challenges, Laird’s fictional Chief Custoga sends his 13-year old son, Kadomico, to the grammar school at the new College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia, to learn the way of the English. The Virginia and North Carolina tribes are facing the loss of their hunting grounds, vicious raids and captivity by the mighty Iroquois and other strong northern tribes desperately trying to keep their own numbers strong.

“As always with history, understanding the perspectives of both the existing population and those seeking opportunity can be enlightening as Americans debate contemporary challenges,” Laird says.

About Mac Laird

After a career in telecommunications with the U.S. Navy, Mac Laird found his niche in America’s South Eastern Woodlands and began to build with the natural materials from the land in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. In time, he started writing about that land and the people. His first book, Quail High Above the Shenandoah (2007) gives a vivid account of building with logs. Dangerous Differences leads the reader through the wonders of the mountains, rivers, and forests of Virginia and North Carolina and introduces the troubling differences between the frontier Indians and settlers of the new world. The author and his wife, Johnnie, now live in Williamsburg, VA.

 
MUST SEE: How Our Troops Are Spending Their 4th of July! PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Move America Forward   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 07:02
ENJOYING THE 4TH OF JULY? - DON'T FORGET OUR TROOPS!!
The 4th of July is meant to celebrate our freedom - freedom that we only have and maintain thanks to our brave troops who serve.

As Americans back home are enjoying fun in the sun, firing up the grill, and watching some fireworks, let’s not forget our troops in Afghanistan...ESPECIALLY ON INDEPENDENCE DAY.

Troopathon is only a week away, and we owe it to our troops to make it a success! Help us raise enough to send the largest shipment of packages we've ever sent to our troops overseas! Donate to Troopathon now!

Let's compare how our troops are spending their 4th of July with how we're spending our holiday.

BACK HOME IN THE USA

Fireworks are a national tradition on the 4th of July. Back home, we can enjoy these amazing displays of pyrotechnics at parks, air bases, or other public places.  Many cities allow families to light their own fireworks in the street.

Millions of Americans went to religious services this weekend at synagogues, churches, temples and other houses of worship. Across the nation people listened to sermons, and knelt to pray for wealth, their health, a promotion, more money, a new car, a chance to hit that lotto number.

Is there anything better than a nice barbeque in the backyard or a picnic at the park?

Thousands this weekend flocked to parks and hung out in the patio out back grilling up delicious hot dogs and hamburgers.
OUR TROOPS OVERSEAS

In Afghanistan our troops versions of fireworks today might look like this. It's called a "Controlled Detonation". An IED was luckily discovered and detonated from a safe distance before it kills or more of our troops.

But in Iraq and Afghanistan our troops were praying too, not in big beautiful churches, but huddled together outside their trucks ready to go out and meet the enemy. They are praying that they make it back alive and live to see the day when they can see their loved ones again.

Our troops in the field had to make due with M.R.E.s that come with a meager hot dish, and usually a piece of bread or cracker. Luckily the packages come with salt and pepper, but even that isn’t enough to make MREs more than barely edible.

This is the time to send our troops a care package with thick cuts of savory beef jerky in peppered, teriyaki and original flavors. Each of them also includes refreshing Gatorade, coffee and cookies to wake them up in the morning, and jelly beans and other delicious goodies give them some comfort during their difficult deployments.

They are completing their missions to keep us safe back home. Show your thanks and appreciation with a care package that will boost morale and give them what they need to keep fighting.


US

Don’t we all love to enjoy the outdoors? Back home we can enjoy a nice hike in the mountains and take the natural beauty of this magnificent land we live in.


In your leisure time, isn’t it nice to kick back and enjoy a day out on the lake fishing with your friends and family? There’s nothing better to do on a beautiful 4th of July afternoon but talk and wait for that fishing line to tug.
OUR TROOPS

Our troops spending their days climbing huge mountains in Afghanistan. In the oppressive heat, our troops have  only the supplies they can carry on their backs!


In Afghanistan, our troops don’t get to spend their free time hanging out or watching baseball, they spend their free time cleaning their weapons and making sure their equipment is in tip top shape. Their lives depend on it.

We depend on our troops to protect the freedoms and liberties that we're celebrating today. There are many terrorists out there who would destroy America and kill our families and fellow citizens if they had the chance. Our troops are the only thing standing in their way.

Think about how nice we have it here back home in America, the greatest country in the world because of the promise of freedom and liberty. That liberty is protected by our troops serving overseas right now. Don’t they deserve a little bit of thanks in recognition of what they go through and what they sacrifice for us back home?




 
Q&A on Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Sen. Chuck Grassley   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:57

with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Q:        What is so important about this congressional investigation?

A:        When a person dies in service to his country, and his own government may have contributed to his death, covered up evidence about the circumstances, or both, the survivors’ families and the American people have a right to know the truth.  In December 2010, Customs and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered and two of the weapons found at the scene were linked to Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-walking operation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).  Since then, despite numerous requests from Congress – made in letters, meetings and hearings and by subpoena – the Department of Justice, which is in charge of the ATF, has stonewalled and resisted providing documents about the operation.  Along the way, the Department of Justice has insisted there was no gun-walking, then retracted that statement and reversed itself.  Clearly, the only way to try to get an accurate, complete account of what happened and why is to obtain every record and account of the facts.  Without the complete set of facts, fair and informed conclusions can’t be drawn, and we might never know what happened to Agent Terry.  That can’t stand.

Q:        How did you get involved?

A:        A month after Agent Terry’s death, whistleblowers within the ATF came to my office with information about the guns found at the murder scene and evidence that Operation Fast and Furious possibly let as many as 2,500 other weapons flow from gun stores in Phoenix, Arizona, to Mexico and other places in the United States.  These whistleblowers had expressed concerns to the ATF about the dangers of selling to known straw buyers, but the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s office had urged the dealers to keep selling anyway.  I sent a letter to the ATF asking if there was any truth to these allegations and indicated I had documents to back them up.  Amazingly, the Department of Justice responded with a flat-out denial one week later.  I kept asking and showed evidence to the contrary to government officials.  A full ten months later, the Department of Justice withdrew its denial.  The oversight committee investigation in the House of Representatives stemmed from these inquiries and resulted in the Attorney General being held in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives, for the first time ever.  The vote was 255 to 67.  The House also voted to authorize civil action in courts to compel production of subpoenaed documents.  I supported these efforts because contempt is the only tool Congress has to enforce a subpoena.  It is not a finding that the Attorney General is guilty of any wrongdoing in the underlying case.  Rather, it’s an important procedural mechanism in our system of checks and balances to require that information be provided to Congress.  People deserve transparency and the accountability from their government.

Q:        What would motivate the government to let guns walk into the hands of criminals?

A:        Fast and Furious was built on a strategic decision to gather information rather than to enforce the law, all in the service of making a big, headline-grabbing case.  Tragically, when the headlines came, they were about the death of a brave federal agent rather than the capture of a drug kingpin.  Such a death was just what was feared by a cooperating gun dealer six months earlier.  This dealer expressed concerns in emails to the ATF that his cooperation with the government might get someone killed.  The ATF replied in writing and said not to worry, just keep selling to the straw buyers and ATF would stop the guns before they went south.  The gun stores were told their cooperation was necessary to the ATF case.  Without that assurance, there’s little doubt they would have stopped making the suspicious sales.  But the gun dealers depend on the ATF for their licenses, so when the ATF asks for help there isn’t much choice but to cooperate.  The ATF assured gun stores it was taking care of everything on its end but, instead, the ATF let the straw-buying ring operate and grow for months and months.  They watched and waited despite having information about the ring leader from the beginning.  To say the operation was “fundamentally flawed,” as the Attorney General has admitted, is an understatement.  Along with getting information for the family of Brian Terry and holding the highest ranking government official accountable, my goal for this congressional investigation is to make sure a disastrous government program like this never happens again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

 
Grassley asks for Justice Department records of field agent memo on Fast and Furious PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 05 July 2012 06:56

ATF agent describes discussion of operation one day before Justice Department denial

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today asked Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for information about who at the Department of Justice (DOJ) saw a memo from a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) who was stationed at the Phoenix field division and was knowledgeable about Operation Fast and Furious.  This memo was produced the day before the Department of Justice flat out denied there was a program underway to let guns walk to straw buyers.

In a letter to Attorney General Holder this afternoon, Grassley said the memo traveled rapidly through the chain of command at ATF and was allegedly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011, in advance of the February 4, 2011, denial by DOJ.  Grassley’s office has been told that the substance of the memo “caused such a stir that ATF planned to put a panel together to address the allegations but someone within DOJ suppressed the idea.”  The details in the agent’s memo would have provided DOJ officials important information about what, in fact, was happening in Operation Fast and Furious.

Grassley said he is asking questions today because discovering how high up the chain of command the memo was reviewed “has not been easy.”  His requests to interview officials who might corroborate accounts has been denied, and DOJ may have withheld relevant documents from what it said were the deliberative materials used to draft the February 4, 2011, letter.  Ultimately, in the face of mounting evidence presented by Grassley and others, DOJ withdrew its February 4 denial.

“Without the complete, documented set of facts, fair and informed conclusions can’t be drawn, and the Justice Department’s lack of transparency about what it knew and when about Operation Fast and Furious is unacceptable, especially in light of the connections to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens,” Grassley said.

Click here to read today’s letter from Grassley to Holder, which includes a copy of the February 3, 2011, memo by the ATF agent.

 
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