activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: moms for labeling

year-end wrap-up: updates on 2013 posts

Natan Blanc: After petitions and demonstrations, Natan Blanc was released in June, after spending six months in jail for refusing to be inducted into the Israel Defense Forces.

Food Not Bombs: Although state health officials in New Mexico threatened in June to seek a court order to stop Food Not Bombs from serving free meals without a permit, Keith McHenry reports that “the state never returned and the meals continue without incident.”

Uriel Alberto: After beginning a hunger strike in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Charlotte on July 4, to protest his deportation, Uriel Alberto was approved within two weeks for a one-year stay of removal.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike: Following legislators’ announcement that they would hold joint public hearings on the conditions in California prisons that led to another prisoner hunger strike in July, hunger strikers suspended the strike in September, 60 days after it began.

Washington Ballot Initiative: The GE labeling initiative in Washington, which would have required retail food products and seed stocks that had been genetically engineered to be labeled, was defeated by a small margin in November. Corporations spent $22 million, more than in any prior campaign in the state’s history, to defeat the initiative. Monsanto was the largest single contributor. According to a Grist blog post by Nathanael Johnson, the money made a difference, just like it did in a similar attempt to pass a labeling bill in California last year:

In each case the labeling bills started out with big leads. In each case those leads shrank as the food industry and agribusiness paid for massive amounts of advertising. The moral of the story seems to be that money really can change the outcome of elections.

Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff: On November 6, Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff had their second pretrial conference. Lang accepted a plea deal and was released. Olliff attempted to accept a plea deal, but the judge rejected it; so he remains in Woodford County Jail. He was in court again today in front of a different judge.

Jeremy Hammond: On November 15, anarchist hacker Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. In response to the sentence, WikiLeaks released all of the remaining Stratfor files.

Reverend Billy and Nehemiah Luckett: At a court hearing on December 9, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office reduced the charges against Reverend Billy and Nehemiah Luckett, dropping the more serious charges and reducing the remaining offenses to misdemeanor criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and unlawful assembly.

Kimberly Rivera: On December 12, Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera was released early for good behavior and performing extra work. She had been scheduled for release in early January 2014.

Jerry Koch: On December 20, attorneys for Jerry Koch filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge John Keenan to release the 24-year-old philosophy student, because Koch has shown he has no intention of cooperating with the grand jury to which he’s been subpoenaed.

Pussy Riot: On December 23, the two women from Pussy Riot nearing the end of their two-year prison terms were released under a new amnesty law. The law was also expected to bring about the release of many people arrested after an anti-government demonstration in May, and close the cases of the 28 Greenpeace activists and 2 journalists arrested in the Arctic Sea in September while occupying an oil rig to call attention to the threat of oil drilling and climate change. According to a December 19 New York Times editorial,

In pardoning these prisoners, Mr. Putin gave no indication that they may have been wrongfully tried and imprisoned, nor that more people will not be treated similarly in the future.

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ballot initiative in washington regarding genetically engineered food and seeds results in litigation

Up to 80 percent of non-organic products on grocery store shelves include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Connecticut recently became the first state to pass a GE labeling law. In Washington state, residents will vote in November on a GE labeling initiative that would require retail food products and seed stocks that have been genetically engineered to be labeled. According to yesterday’s Bellingham Herald article, the upcoming Washington initiative has led to litigation:

More than a week ago activist lawyer Knoll Lowney made the first move. Acting on behalf of a newly formed group calling itself Moms for Labeling, Lowney filed a lawsuit against the No on 522 campaign committee, which was created with financing from national agribusiness interests to oppose Initiative 522. The suit sought to force No on 522 to disclose how much of the $2.2 million it got from the Grocery Manufacturers Association came from specific food-industry companies so that information would be put on the no campaign’s television ads.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and No on 522 campaign responded by filing a counterclaim seeking $10,000 in sanctions against Moms for Labeling. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham is expected to hold a phone conference with the parties this morning.

The No on 522 campaign has already raised $11.6 million from half a dozen out-of-state donors, including $4.8 million from Monsanto. Last November, a similar initiative failed in California after large chemical and pesticide companies spent more than $45 million to defeat it. Yet outside the U.S., 64 countries require labels for food or ingredients that have been genetically engineered.