News June 20

Senator Sanders

Food Labels Senate leaders agreed to bring up for a vote an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would allow states to enact laws requiring labeling of food containing genetically modified organisms, Nancy Remsen blogged for the Burlington Free Press and Mark Bittman blogged for The New York Times. LINK, LINK

GMO Notice Sens. Sanders and Barbara Boxer want to make clear that states have the authority to require GMO food labeling and would require the Food and Drug Administration and the Agriculture Department to conduct a two-year study on the percentage of food and beverages sold in the United States with genetically engineered ingredients, The Washington Post reported online. LINK

Farm Bill Senate leaders demanded that Sanders' amendment reach a 60 vote supermajority to pass, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A vote on that amendment is expected later this week, Seven Days reported. Although several reform-minded amendments did not make the cut, Sanders' labeling amendment will get a vote, Grist reported. LINK, LINK, LINK

Food Labels "In 49 countries around the world ... people have the opportunity of knowing whether or not they are eating food which contains genetically engineered ingredients. In the United States, we don't," Sen. Sanders wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post, Op-Ed News, Daily Kos, MichaelMoore.com, Daily Kos and Green Mountain Daily. LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK

The Fed JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, criticized for serving on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, told a House panel on Tuesday that district banks benefit from industry leaders' input. Sen. Sanders introduced legislation that would remove the industry's executives from the 12 regional Fed banks' boards, Bloomberg reported. LINK

Railroad Repairs The New England Central Railroad from St. Albans to the Canadian border is going to be upgraded with $7.9 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Vermont's congressional delegation announced the grant on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported. LINK 

F-35s "If the plane haters really want to roll up the runway, they might consider spending less time at city hall and more time working their federal representatives," Paul Heintz wrote in Seven Days.  Fair Game asked Sens. Leahy and Sanders and Rep. Welch whether the recent uptick in opposition has changed their minds about the F-35. Closing ranks, they replied with a joint statement saying they "have not changed their position" but "are concerned about the potential impact of increased noise" and "they have asked the Air Force to take the comments of all Vermonters into consideration." LINK

World

Official Silence on Mubarak's Health Adds to Egypt's Tension Egyptian officials maintained a conspicuous silence about former President Hosni Mubarak's health on Wednesday, a day after the state news agency reported that his condition was so grave that he had to be transferred from the prison where he is serving a life sentence to a military hospital. LINK

Earth Summit On the eve of a major gathering to discuss the state of the planet, a Washington Post poll shows that most Americans think the world's natural environment has deteriorated over the past decade, and more than six in 10 say humans are making the problem worse. Leaders from more than 130 nations will meet in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday for the high-level session of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development. LINK

National

Transportation Bill With the clock about to run out on federal highway funding, House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid sent a message Tuesday to their members: Find a way to compromise, The Washington Post reported. LINK 

Farm Bill Windfall for Insurers The Senate bill would expand the federal crop-insurance program while eliminating direct subsidy payments to farmers. The shift would benefit numerous U.S. insurance companies as well as several in Australia, Bermuda and Switzerland that in recent years acquired five of the nine largest U.S. crop-insurance companies, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK 

Health Law White House officials say they are confident the Supreme Court will uphold the health-care law, but they also are preparing for a range of outcomes. Republicans, meanwhile, are preparing a two-step approach if the court doesn't void the entire law: A quick vote in the House to repeal any parts of it that remain, and then a push for a series of small changes to health-care policy, according to The Wall Street Journal. LINK

Citizens United Sen. Mark Udall believes that even if there's no way to turn back the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, he can "try and adapt the system Congress created in 1974 after Watergate to make it useful in this new era of big money and politics." To do so, Udall introduced a bill that would eliminate spending limits on candidates who opt into the public financing system, require participating candidates to use the public financing option for both primary and general elections, and require candidates to disclose all bundled contributions over $50,000, National Journal reported.

Vermont 

Food Labeling Two Vermont organizations are suing Log Cabin and Birds Eye saying that labeling synthetic foods as "all natural" violates the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Food Labeling Cabot Creamery has dropped the word "Vermont" from its label. For years, the Cabot logo showed a green map of the state and the word "Vermont" displayed under "Cabot" in red letters. It's now a green barn with a declaration that Cabot is owned by farm families throughout New England and New York. State rules say dairy products labeled "Vermont" have to be made in the state, Vermont Press Bureau reported. LINK  

Pomerleau's Promise "I think I have some good news for you," Tony Pomerleau told residents of Shelburnewood Mobile Home Park on Tuesday. The 95-year-old philanthropist and patriarch of Pomerleau Real Estate said he would buy the 22 acres their homes sit on, put in new street lights and roads and then turn it over to the residents, the Burlington Free Press reported. LINK

F-35s Vermont National Guard officers expressed satisfaction with the Burlington City Council's decision to neither support nor oppose the bed-down at Burlington International Airport. Councilors voted unanimously to put questions to the U.S. Air Force regarding the F-35's potential impact on public health, real-estate values and the regional economy, Seven Days blogged. LINK

Not a Prayer The Vermont town of Franklin is no longer allowed to read a prayer at the start of its annual town meeting.  A Vermont superior court judge agreed with Marilyn Hackett's assertion that the prayer violates the Vermont Constitution's protection against forced participation in religious worship, AP reported. LINK

Summer Scorcher The National Weather Service forecast called for temperatures to hit the 90s from the Vermont border to Niagara Falls, with highs topping out in the mid-90s in some places on the first day of summer, AP reported. LINK