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suffragette's Journal
suffragette's Journal
June 3, 2019

Brexit and chlorinated chicken

UK’s channel 4 has a special about possible food standards changes in post-Brexit trading deals with the United States highlighting the possibility of the United States being able to sell chlorinated chicken in the UK.

Important to note is that the issue is about the underlying reason for why the United States chlorinated the chicken. Yes, it’s done for food safety, but the reason it’s become standard practice here is to allow shoddy practices in raising and processing chicken, processes then mitigated by disinfecting it afterwards.

This reminds me of when I’d visited France quite awhile back and after returning home was craving some cidre. At the time I couldn’t find any local made and was curious as to why, especially since Washington State is noted for apple production. One factor was the lack of the bitter sweet apples used. But in researching I found that another was the specific requirements for pasteurization, requirements made necessary due to the allowance for “drops” or fallen apples (which are more likely to be contaminated). In contrast, French standards don’t allow for using apples that have hit the ground.


Chlorinated chicken is an emotive subject, and a slightly misleading one: as disgusting as it sounds, the chlorine itself is not the problem. American chicken doesn’t taste like a swimming pool. Most of it tastes a bit like chicken.

The problem is that the practice of chlorine washing (though sometimes other chemicals are used) is said to be a poor substitute for the hygiene measures that should take place earlier in the processing chain, but, in the US, are not legally required. For this reason, chlorinated chicken has been banned from the EU for 22 years. If and when Brexit happens, the UK may well be obliged to accept chlorinated poultry as part of any separate trade deal with the US. Agricultural exports are a priority for US negotiators – it would be difficult to make an exception for chicken.

EU rules put limits on flock densities and transport times, with a view to preventing the spread of salmonella and campylobacter, both of which can cause food poisoning and possible death. In the absence of such regulations, American poultry processors address hygiene concerns at the end of the process by rinsing all the chicken in chlorine before packing. This kills 90% of the harmful bacteria present in the poultry – the question is whether that is enough. It sounds to me as if it isn’t.

Indeed, chlorine washing may prevent the detection of contaminants through ordinary testing, because it partially masks the problem. Quilton had no trouble finding a Texas restaurant owner who will swear there is nothing wrong with American chicken – “Not a thing. Superior quality and flavour”. But the numbers speak for themselves: US rates of campylobacter infection are 10 times higher than in the UK. The US records hundreds of salmonella deaths a year; the UK has in recent years recorded none.
June 2, 2019

US wants access to NHS in post-Brexit deal, says Trump ally


The US will want business access to the NHS in any post-Brexit trade deal, the US ambassador has said, prompting anger from politicians and campaigners before Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK this week.

Woody Johnson, who is a close friend of the US president, said every area of the UK economy would be up for discussion when the two sides brokered a trade deal.

Asked if the NHS was likely to form part of trade negotiations, Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think the entire economy, in a trade deal, all things that are traded would be on the table.” Asked if that specifically meant healthcare, he said: “I would think so.”

By “up for discussion” they clearly mean raided.
May 23, 2019

Age of Disruption

The Renaissance, The Gilded Age, The Roaring Twenties. We’re all familiar with these terms that describe the mood and direction of certain time periods.

I think that our current time will become known as The Age of Disruption.

From technology to politics to our everyday lives, disruption has become a key element. In technology, automation is at the forefront of disruptive change: with self serve replacing service jobs, individual gig work replacing collaborative union systems and robotic entities, from hotel staffing to driverless cars, starting to enter the workplace.

In politics, Trump has been notable as a disruptive politician. His every action has been to tear down or simply ignore established processes and mores in his campaign and in his governance. In fact, he has eschewed governance in favor of encouraging and creating chaos then and now.

Around the world, the far-right, dictators and rulers have embraced disruption as a process to advance. Saudi Arabia is a prime example, with Bin Salman turning a Ritz Carlton hotel into a prison, then purging business and political opposition.

Now, predictions for the EU elections have shifted to an increase in far-right parties gaining seats. While they espouse nationalistic views, they are benefiting from global money and influence in achieving their goals, most notably from Bannon and his financial backers and from Russia. Something striking is how many of these have newly “remade” themselves and their images, from Le Pen rebranding her party from National Front to National Rally and Farage forming his new Brexit Party. In addition, there are parties that have newly emerged such as the Netherland’s Forum for Democracy led by Baudet. First came its stunning wins to parliament in the Netherlands and now it is forecast to win as many seats in the EU as the current and established governing party of the Netherlands will.

At this point, the far-right looks to be on track to bring enough numbers to the EU to be a major disruptor, which I think is their goal. It’s not about finding better ways to govern or to improve the lives of European citizens. It is about disrupting the EU to the highest degree possible.

This is happening now and to ignore or minimize this trend is dangerous. In fact, I think it is critical to recognize it and to continually call out the organized disruption for what it is in order to shift the direction of these times to a better zone. Currently, when people raise questions about issues with technological disruption such as automated systems replacing workers, a common reply is something along the lines of “You can’t fight change.” There’s truth to that, but we need to shift our own response from the defensive to the offensive of “Perhaps, but you can works to make that change a change for the better, rather than the worse.”

May 22, 2019

Bannon met with Farage to discuss organizing far-right. Also Bannon met with Telelegraph owner.

Documentary footage obtained by The Guardian shows Bannon meeting with Farage to persuade him to front a global alliance of far-right leaders. The video is at the link below.

This is from 2017 -2018. Ever since Bannon has left the White House, he has been devoting time and energy to organizing far-right leaders globally, with ever stronger efforts in the lead up to this week’s EU elections. I think this is the real reason he left the White House. It’s tempting to focus on his ratty appearance and not take him seriously. But the reality is that Farage is now ahead in UK polls with his new Brexit Party and far-right politicians across the EU look like they will make gains in the European Parliament.

The Guardian notes that Farage decided not to be the front man. I would venture this is because Farage, like other far-right politicians such as Le Pen, have tried to keep Bannon at arms distance in public to maintain their nationalist credentials, even while they benefit from his maneuvers and funding to assist them in winning.

Some areas that stood out for me about this:
Bannon listing string of names of worldwide far-right leaders with whom he’s been working.

Bannon’s offer of funding: “We’ll - I’ll fund it somehow.”
Bannon has been funneling a lot of money into European Parliament election efforts.
How much? From where? These are questions that need to be answered.

Farage refers to a secretive meeting that Bannon has set with Frederick Barclay, who owns the UK’s Telegraph. Wonder what they discussed and how many other press owners Bannon has met with in Europe.


Nigel Farage discussed the idea of fronting a global alliance of populist and far-right politicians being put together by the controversial former White House strategist Steve Bannon, it has emerged.

In one clip, they discussed arrangements for a private meeting at the Ritz between Bannon and Frederick Barclay, the co-owner of the hotel and the Telegraph newspapers. Farage told Bannon to use a special side entrance at the hotel, stressing it was a “very very private way of doing things”.

Sources close to both men said Farage, who has had a sometimes fractious relationship with European counterparts such as Marine Le Pen in France, ultimately chose to keep the Movement at arm’s length.

However, the footage illustrates Farage’s close links to populist and far-right parties whose policies and priorities could seem notably different from the more inclusive image he has tried to project for the Brexit party, which is leading in polls for Thursday’s European elections.

Edit to add:

What are the powers of the European Parliament?

The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the EU. It exercises the legislative function of the EU, affecting the lives of the 510 million people living in the 28-member bloc.
LEGISLATIVE POWERS: The ordinary legislative procedure gives the same weight to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on a wide range of issues such as economic governance, immigration, energy, transport, the environment and consumer protection.
BUDGETARY POWERS: Parliament and the Council of the European Union together constitute the EU's budgetary authority, which decides each year on its expenditures and revenues.
OVERSIGHT POWERS: The European Parliament has major supervisory powers over the European Commission and the Presidency of the Council.
Parliament can dismiss the Commission which needs to submit regular reports, annual legislative programs and reports on the implementation of the budget.
May 20, 2019

EU elections. Bannon in France to prop up Le Pen and Austrian far-right ministers resign after sting

Hmmm. So Bannon has shifted operations to France in his attempt to push EU Parliament to the far-right. Le Pen continues to maintain a false distance from him even as Bannon states he’s there because he views France as the most important factor in the election.

Meanwhile, the Russian-connected far-right government of Austria is embroiled in a scandal resulting from a sting which promised to funnel Russian money to them in exchange for press influence.

Farage’s new Brexit party’s funding is being investigated. And apparently it’s now ahead in polling!?!

Tons of global money being poured into these purportedly nationalist campaigns and strong Trump/Russia connections abound.


Paris (AFP)

Political tensions soared in France Sunday a week ahead of tightly-contested European elections, with the ruling party of President Emmanuel Macron expressing unease over over the presence of Donald Trump's controversial ex-strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon had told the newspaper Le Parisien on Saturday he had chosen to come to France as its election was "by far" the most important of all the European parliament polls in EU member states.
Since his departure from the White House, Bannon has championed the cause of the European far right, having close contacts with Le Pen and Italian populist leader Matteo Salvini.

Salvini on Saturday gathered Europe's disparate nationalists for a unifying rally in Milan ahead of the polls but the gathering was shadowed by the corruption scandal which brought down Austria's far-right coalition.


Vienna (AFP) - All remaining ministers from Austria's far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) are to resign, a party spokesman said Monday, after one of their number, Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, was fired in the fallout from a corruption scandal that has brought down the government.
Kurz's FPOe deputy, Heinz-Christian Strache, stepped down as vice-chancellor and party leader on Saturday after recordings published by German media showed him offering government contracts in return for campaign help to a fake Russian backer in a villa on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza.
In the recordings -- of unknown origin -- Strache and a colleague from his party, who has also resigned, are seen talking to a woman purporting to be the niece of a Russian oligarch.

They discuss how she could invest and gain control of the country's largest-circulation tabloid, the Kronen Zeitung, and install editorial staff who would help the FPOe's 2017 election campaign.


UK, Dutch spy agencies curb intel flow to Austria over Russia ties: MP

VIENNA (Reuters) - British and Dutch spy agencies have heavily restricted the amount of intelligence they share with Austria, mainly because of ties between the ruling far-right Freedom Party and Russia, an Austrian opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The Freedom Party (FPO) is the junior coalition partner to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s conservatives but it controls much of the country’s security apparatus. Its ministers head the Defence Ministry and the Interior Ministry, which in turn oversees Austria’s main intelligence agency, the BVT.

Ties between the FPO and President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, including a formal cooperation agreement, have long been of concern to Western security services, many of which see Russia as a dangerous adversary.
Police raids last year at the offices of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism (BVT) and at the home of the BVT’s extremism department chief also led partner agencies to question whether it was safe to pass on intelligence to Austria.


London (AFP) - Britain's Electoral Commission regulator said on Monday it would review fundraising by the new Brexit Party founded by anti-EU populist Nigel Farage, which is predicted to win this week's European elections.

"We are attending the Brexit Party's office tomorrow to conduct a review of the systems it has in place to receive funds," a spokesperson for the commission said in a statement.

"If there's evidence that the law may have been broken, we will consider that in line with our enforcement policy."

The move follows a growing furore around the financing of the fledgling eurosceptic party, set up by the controversial MEP in January in protest at the government's failure to deliver Brexit.
May 7, 2019

CIA warns Arab activist of potential threat from Saudi Arabia


The CIA has warned Norway that a prominent Arab activist who is living in the country under asylum protection is facing a potential threat from Saudi Arabia, the Guardian has learned.

The pro-democracy activist, İyad el-Baghdadi, is a vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

El-Baghdadi was alerted to the threat on 25 April, when Norwegian authorities arrived at his doorstep, took him to a secure location, and warned him he was in possible danger from an unspecified threat emanating from the kingdom.

Under US policy known as the intelligence community directive 191, the agency has a legal “duty to warn”, which means the CIA must alert a possible victim if the agency collects “credible and specific information indicating an impending threat of intentional killing, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping directed at a person or group of people”.

Meanwhile Trump and Kushner continue to support Salman. Pretty clear contrast of rule of law vs support for dictatorships and violence.

April 20, 2019

If Dem political staff had done what Don, Jr. and Kushner did, ignorance of law wouldn't be excuse.

I just have a strong feeling that if it had been Democratic candidate staffers that a higher bar would apply and that being ignorant would not be believed or acceptable as a reason for not going after them.

And it pisses me off.

The bar has been lowered so much for these clowns it’s buried in the dirt.

April 17, 2019

Notre-Dame's precious rooster statue found 'battered' in debris

Amazing that this statue that was atop the spire survived the fire and the fall from that height.


Paris (AFP) - A wrought copper statue of a rooster that sat atop Notre-Dame has been found "battered" in the debris of the Paris cathedral following its devastating fire, France's culture ministry said.

The statue is considered all the more important because it contains three holy relics -- including a fragment of the Crown of Thorns believed by Christians to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion, placed there to protect Parisians.

The sculpture of the bird -- which is an unofficial symbol of France -- was recovered Tuesday by a restorer picking through the rubble left when the spire on which it had sat toppled at the height of the inferno that ravaged Notre-Dame on Monday, a ministry spokesman told AFP.


Because of the statue's damage, it was not yet possible to verify if the Crown of Thorns fragment or the other relics were still inside, the official said.


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