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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, November 22, 2014
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
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IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Ernest A. Canning on 12/22/2013 6:49pm PT  

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/20/2013 8:24am PT  

"True the Vote" (TTV), the Orwellian-named Republican "voter fraud" front group with a long and sordid history of deception and fraud won't take 'no' for an answer. Release the hounds.

The group has filed a formal notice of appeal [PDF] of U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos' recent refusal to permit TTV to intervene as a party defendant in the U.S. Justice Department's (DoJ) federal legal challenge to SB-14, the Texas polling place Photo ID statute.

Judge Ramos found that the interests of the organization --- which masquerades as an "election integrity" group in order to actually advocate for voter suppression --- were already adequately represented in the lawsuit by the state of Texas itself.

As they were filing their notice of appeal, the disgraced GOP "voter fraud" front man, Hans von Spakovsky --- who also just happens to serve on the "advisory board" for TTV --- challenged the court's rejection of the groups Motion to Intervene in an article published at the right-wing National Review. His work there, as usual, represents a masterful example of deception, dishonesty and well-remunerated cherry-picking. That is, apparently, what Hans von Spakovsky does for a living.

He is amongst good friends in the Republican Fraud community this time out...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Judge finds Republican voter suppression front group adequately represented by the state...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/16/2013 6:35am PT  

A federal District court judge has nixed a rightwing "voter fraud" group's Motion to Intervene on behalf of the state of Texas in the U.S. Dept. of Justice's lawsuit to block the Lone Star state's polling place Photo ID restriction law.

Last month, The BRAD BLOG reported on the DoJ's Opposition motion filed in response to the motion by the Republican "voter fraud" fraudsters who call themselves "True the Vote" (TTV). In its motion, TTV sought to become a party to the DoJ's federal legal challenge to SB-14, the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law which TX Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) instituted just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court demolished one of the central protections of the long-standing federal Voting Rights Act this past summer.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos tersely dismissed TTV's motion, issuing a two-page order [PDF] finding that the organization's "interests are generalized and are adequately represented by the State Defendants."

"The Court finds that True the Vote's intended contribution to this case may be accomplished without the necessity of, or burden incident to, making it a party," Ramos said.

The Judge's ruling was in line with the DoJ's own response to TTV's motion. They had argued that the group had not established a right to intervene because their motion detailed little more than a generalized grievance and because its allegation "that illegal voting might be prevented by enforcement of SB 14 is, at best, speculative." Permissive intervention was inappropriate because, the DoJ argued at the time, since the group was adequately represented already by the State of Texas itself. Its participation in the case, the DoJ claimed, would be unduly burdensome in that the group seeks to divert the court's attention from the legal issues relating to polling place Photo ID restriction laws "to issues concerning True the Vote's numerous allegations of purported voter registration irregularities."

In our previous piece on the DoJ's response to True the Vote, we highlighted the group's extraordinary track record of deceptive voter suppression tactics and noted that it would be "absurd" that the hapless TTV should be ever be taken seriously by anybody, much less allowed to intervene in a critical federal lawsuit.

Although the court will still permit TTV to file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, last week's ruling should serve to help expedite the proceedings without unnecessary diversionary tactics from this unreliable, deceptive Republican voter suppression front group.

Judge Ramos has set a September 2014 trial date in the case, which will come just two months before Abbott, defending the state as AG, will likely face his own election contest for Governor as the Texas Republican Party's currently-presumptive nominee. This past September, we detailed how the TX law at issue had already been found in violation of both federal law and the Constitution in previous cases that had come before the courts prior to the U.S. Supreme Court carving out the heart of the federal Voting Rights Act in late June of this year.

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Rep. Mel Watt finally approved by bipartisan U.S. Senate vote...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/11/2013 11:04am PT  

Yesterday, nearly five years after President Barack Obama first assumed office, the U.S. Senate removed what has been described by some progressives as the "single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery" when it was finally allowed to vote for the confirmation of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) as the new Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

In a vote allowed by a recent change to filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate, Watt will now replace Bush appointee Edward J. DeMarco, who was first appointed in 2008 and became the acting Director of the federal agency in 2009.

The FHFA oversees the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which collectively own 60% of all mortgages in the United States. The agency also oversees 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, which, according to the Washington Post, "serve as major sources of funding for hundreds of banks."

In a statement issued late yesterday, praising Watt's confirmation and chiding Senate Republicans for their obstructionism in holding up this and many other uncontroversial Presidential nominations, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, highlighted the importance of the FHFA's intended role in safe-guarding homeowners.

"Republicans in the U.S. Senate callously blocked the confirmation of the supremely qualified Congressman Mel Watt to be our nation's Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency," Becerra said. "Today, by a bipartisan vote of 57 to 41, Rep. Watt is on his way to lead the FHFA as America's watchdog over the American Dream. What a difference a day makes when the Senate is free of the mischief of exploitive filibusters"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/9/2013 5:24pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progress...]

The government's Supreme Court petition [PDF] in the upcoming cases concerning a supposed 'religious right' of for-profit corporations to ignore the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Afford Care Act (ACA) is a worthwhile read, simply because it slices through the fog of the GOP's relentless, anti-Obamacare propaganda war. That war includes a purported religious assault on the scientific, economic, egalitarian and humanitarian basis for contraceptive coverage.

Of course, the brief also contains compelling legal reasons why for-profit, corporate employers have no business dictating to their female employees whether or not they should opt for FDA-approved contraception in order to meet their own personal health care needs.

As we recently reported, where mainstream media articles that focus on every glitch in the federal Healthcare.gov website (and on provider cancellation of deficient policies), very few article mentioned that, since the passage of the ACA, health care price inflation has slowed to its lowest rate in the past 50 years. Fewer still have mentioned that the GOP's repeatedly proposed repeal of the ACA would return us to a "free market" status quo that not only left 47 million Americans without any health care coverage, but was so corrupt and dysfunctional that nearly 45,000 of our citizens died each year simply because they were too poor to afford coverage. The 45,000 is in addition to the number of Americans who died under that status quo because carriers used the excuse of "preexisting conditions" to deny coverage for vital procedures. Pre-ACA, medical bills contributed to half of the personal bankruptcies in the U.S.

In listing reasons why the contraceptive coverage provisions are based upon a "compelling" governmental interest, the government's SCOTUS petition both debunks GOP myths about the government's pre-ACA role in mandating minimum conditions in government-subsidized group health care plans and in explaining why the ACA already appears to have helped in blunting rising health care costs...

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Former Dem opponent says State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) was also tied to previous deceptive mailings...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/6/2013 4:29pm PT  

The Ventura County Star reports that my CA Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks), and three other members of the California Republican Assembly Caucus abused their public mailing privileges by sending nearly 260,000 deceptive mailers to their constituents.

According to a former opponent of his that I spoke with, it wouldn't be the first time Gorell has been linked to deceptive mailers.

Instead of directing constituents who desire to take advantage of the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the mailer "labeled as 'A California Resource Guide' to explain federal health care reform", points constituents to a fake website created by state Republicans. Rather than the official CoveredCA.com website, the new mailers direct the recipient to CoveringHealthCareCA.com, a bogus Republican site which, though attempting to appear to be the official CA health care exchange site, doesn't actually provide the ability to shop for or purchase policies.

"Though it launched in August," ABC News reports, "the site made waves this week after a number of GOP Assembly members sent out mailers to their constituents, highlighting the page as a 'resource guide' for information on the Affordable Care Act."

The deceptive, publicly funded mailers sent by the self-described "fiscal conservatives" cost CA taxpayers $77,496, according to the Star's public records request. The money, they report, came from the state Assembly's "taxpayer-funded operating budget."

Since the fraud was exposed, the LA Times reports, the GOP site has added some links to the official CA health care site. The original site, according to Karoli at Crooks and Liars who helped expose the scam, included "links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site."

The effort comes on the heels of a what ABC describes as an "onslaught of fake insurance sites popping up in the state --- 10 of which were shut down by Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November --- since the implementation of Obamacare."

This is not the first occasion in which Gorell, an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has been tied to deceptive constituent mailers. Last year, the chairman of a local Democratic Club asked me to speak on the subject of GOP voter suppression laws and e-voting issues. While there, I was approached by Democrat Eileen MacEnery, Gorell's unsuccessful 2012 Assembly opponent. She was still miffed by what she described as a deceptive Gorell mailer. In it, she told me, Gorell included his name and photo, alongside those of Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Julia Brownley. MacEnery claimed the mailer falsely implied that the Democratic Party supported all three, even though Gorell is a dedicated member of the GOP.

Gorell was the only local Republican who retained a seat in my area after state redistricting converted what had been a Republican-majority district into one where registered Democrats hold a slim majority. Last month, Gorell announced that he will challenge Brownley for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully local voters will keep his deceptive record in mind when any of Gorell's mailings show up in their mailbox.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.

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Will religious rights now also be extended to fictional 'persons'?
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/3/2013 8:26pm PT  

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "Obamacare") mandates that preventive care under group health insurance plans include a "full range" of FDA-approved "contraceptive methods". That requirement has resulted in two cases now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court which may result in "religious rights" being extended to so-called "corporate persons".

The cases are brought by two different for-profit corporations, each arguing that the mandate violates the corporate employer's rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Neither of the cases involve non-profit religious institutions, which are exempt from the ACA's contraceptive mandate.

The RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, requires that an otherwise neutral government action "not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" absent a compelling governmental interest.

The government, in its Supreme Court petition [PDF], argues that the "contraceptive coverage" mandate does not "substantially burden" an employer's free exercise of religion. (More on that particularly point in a subsequent article on this.) But while additionally urging that the contraceptive coverage mandate is based upon a compelling government interest, the government sets forth a number of significant ACA benefits that have been obscured by the fog of the unrelenting right wing, anti-Obamacare propaganda war. The critical threshold issue that must be met in these cases, before any of those additional issues need be reached, entails the validity and/or scope of the controversial concept of "corporate personhood".

Will the religious rights of actual persons now be extended to fictional corporate "persons"? That is one of the key issues that will now be decided by the same U.S. Supreme Court which handed down the now infamous Citizens United case...

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Change in filibuster rule restores possibility of functioning Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/22/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

It took awhile. A few years even. But, on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally decided he'd had enough.

By a majority vote of 52 to 48, the U.S. Senate changed their rules to partially end the filibuster, invoking what some refer to as the so-called "nuclear option". The rule change, which will permit an up-or-down majority vote on all Presidential nominations for executive and judicial office (with the exception of Supreme Court nominations), is better described as the "democracy option".

The rule change, for now, would have no effect on the use of the filibuster by the minority to block legislation. Three Democrats, Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), voted with Republicans to sustain the previous filibuster rules, last changed in 1975 when the Senate amended their Standing Rules to reduce the number of Senators required for cloture --- to end debate --- from two-thirds to three-fifths.

Although there had been noise, and urging from many quarters, for a dramatic change of the filibuster rules for some time, especially after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) drew the dubious distinction of becoming the first U.S. Senator in history to filibuster his own bill, the impetus became particularly strong over the past several weeks with the outrageous block put on the nominations of every one of President Obama's nominations to the important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, the court which oversees federal regulations.

The result of yesterday's rule change in the U.S. Senate could well be a return, at least in part, to the Constitutionally designed functions of three different branches of government, as envisioned by our founding documents. It may also mark an end to a thirty-year scheme by Republicans to pack the courts with radical, right wing jurists...

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Says if minority continues to block qualified nominees, Senators have both right and 'Constitutional duty to change filibuster rules'...
UPDATE: Republicans block 4th nominee to DC Circuit Court of Appeals...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/18/2013 10:53am PT  

Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a former Harvard Law Professor, argued that Senators not only have the right, but a constitutional duty to change the Senate filibuster rules. She argued, in no small part to her fellow Democrats, that the rules were being abused by Republicans as part of a "naked attempt to nullify the results of the last Presidential election [in order] to force us to govern as if President Obama hadn't won the 2012 election."

Her remarks (see video and text transcript below) were made in the wake of the third occasion in which Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of an extraordinarily well-qualified female nominee to the important federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal.

"Republicans now hold the dubious distinction of having filibustered all three women that President Obama nominated to the DC Circuit," she said. "Between them, they have argued an amazing 45 cases before the Supreme Court and have participated in many more. All three have the support of a majority of Senators. So why have they been filibustered?"

"Well, the reason is simple," she explained, answering her own question. "They are caught in a fight over the future of our courts. A fight over whether the courts will be a neutral forum that decides every dispute fairly, or whether the courts will be stacked in favor of the wealthy and the powerful."

Yes. The minority party in the U.S. Senate is blocking these nominations, not because of the qualifications of these very well-qualified women, but because they are continuing a thirty-year Republican effort to "rig the courts", as Warren explains, by packing the U.S. federal bench, particularly the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals...

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State issues draft regulations for fracking, is praised by industry...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/16/2013 4:03pm PT  

In a letter this week, twenty of the nation’s top climate scientists urged Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") as a means for extracting oil and natural gas in the Golden State.

Just days later, the state issued new draft regulations for "fracking". The new regulations were praised by the fossil fuel industry.

In the letter, the scientists warn Brown that "fracking," as applied to California's Monterey Shale Formation, would "exacerbate…environmental threats, particularly climate disruption, local air and water pollution, and resource consumption."

After noting that fracking "will likely rapidly increase fossil fuel development at a time when California is poised to transition to low-carbon renewable energy technology," the climate scientists expressed a number of specific environmental concerns...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 11/14/2013 8:35am PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a vigorous Opposition [PDF] to a Motion to Intervene [PDF] filed by the Republican "voter fraud" group calling itself "True the Vote." In its motion, True the Vote seeks to become a party to the DoJ's federal legal challenge to Texas's polling place Photo ID restriction law, SB-14.

The DoJ's opposition is rather straightforward. The right wing-funded True the Vote, they argue, has not established that it is entitled to intervene because it sets forth nothing more than a generalized grievance and because its allegation "that illegal voting might be prevented by enforcement of SB 14 is, at best, speculative."

Anyone familiar with this organization and its history, should appreciate how absurd it is that they should be taken seriously at any time, much less allowed to intervene in a critical lawsuit filed in federal court.

Permissive intervention is inappropriate, according to the DoJ, because True the Vote has failed to establish that its interests would not be adequately represented by the State of Texas. Indeed, its participation in the case, DoJ says, would be unduly burdensome in that the group seeks to divert the court's attention from the legal issues relating to polling place Photo ID restriction laws "to issues concerning True the Vote’s numerous allegations of purported voter registration irregularities."

The DoJ notes that, for identical reasons, True the Vote, whose 2011 list of "Recommendations for Legislation" [PDF] was topped by the desire to enact the polling place Photo ID law at issue, was excluded from participating in the Department's legal challenge to last year's ill-fated effort by Florida's Gov. Rick Scott (R) to purge "potential non-citizens" from the Sunshine State's eligible voter rolls.

True the Vote's deceptive tactics should come as no surprise to long time readers of The BRAD BLOG. The group is essentially the latest pretend "election integrity" arm of the Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact voter suppression laws across the country.

The nature of their hostile, anti-voter tactics, according to the Houston NAACP, included an alleged attack upon its "volunteer poll monitors for handing out water to voters at Early Vote locations and for assisting Disabled and Elderly voters by standing in line for them or asking younger people in line to let the elderly and disabled go ahead of them in the line to vote."

The group's label, 'True the Vote', is nothing short of Orwellian. As detailed by The BRAD BLOG last year (and by others this year) truth and True the Vote remain perfect strangers...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 11/11/2013 6:35am PT  

As the disturbing report from Chris Ramirez of KOB Eyewitness News 4 in Albuquerque, New Mexico reveals, police in nearby Deming have given new meaning to the concept of an unreasonably intrusive search.

A routine traffic stop for failing to come to a complete stop upon exiting a Wal-Mart parking lot turned into an extraordinary, fourteen-hour, unbelievably invasive ordeal that Ramirez appropriately describes as "a humiliating violation of a New Mexico man's body by police and doctor."

Deming police officers, according to Dennis Eckert's attorney, Shannon Kennedy, claimed that when Eckert obeyed the command to get out of his car, "he did so in a manner that looked as if he was clenching his buttocks."

Based on, apparently, no more than that, police obtained a warrant to do an anal cavity search for drugs. The police first sought to obtain the cavity search from a nearby emergency room, but the ER doctor refused to conduct it, stating it would be unethical to do so. Police then drove the man to the Gila Regional Medical Center, located in a different county (and outside the scope of the warrant).

KOB4 summarizes the incredible content of the Gila medical records, as they pertained to procedures conducted without Eckert's consent thereafter...

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Minority still stalling Obama's second nominee to key federal agency overseeing home mortgages; Bush's man remains at helm...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/1/2013 1:18pm PT  

On Thursday, despite a deal said to have been struck with Democrats in August, Senate Republicans successfully used the filibuster to block meaningful economic reform again.

With just 42 Republican votes, the GOP was able to block the majority and continue to prevent the President's nominee --- his second --- from taking taking the helm at a crucial federal agency, ensuring the man appointed by George W. Bush would remain in that key role.

In late summer, in "GOP Filibuster Still 'Single Largest Obstacle to Meaningful Economic Recovery'", we explained how the Senate’s Republican minority had successfully used the filibuster to prevent the Obama Administration from replacing Bush Administration holdover Edward DeMarco as head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency(FHFA) . The FHFA is the federal agency which oversees government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own 60% of all mortgages in the United States.

Last year, in a petition to President Barack Obama, the advocacy group Change.Org described DeMarco as "the single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery". That assessment was shared by The New York Times' Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, who called for President Obama to "Fire Ed DeMarco," after DeMarco, in defiance of the Obama Administration, rejected a U.S. Treasury Department request "that he offer debt relief to troubled homeowners --- a request backed by an offer that the U.S. Treasury would pay up to 63 cents to the FHFA for every dollar of debt forgiven."

Although Krugman explained at the time that "a reduction in debt burdens would strengthen the economy," creating "greater revenues" that could "offset any losses from the debt forgiveness itself," DeMarco has consistently sought to protect the Wall Street casino (aka the mortgage backed securities market) against any relief to homeowners who were victimized by those fraudulent schemes.

All of these years later, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, defying the majority will of the American people, continue to help him...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/29/2013 6:19pm PT  

New revelations and global protests by ordinary citizens and world leaders --- including U.S. allies --- over NSA surveillance, have now settled into an almost daily affair.

In the meantime, during an interview on Democracy Now! this week, journalist Glenn Greenwald offered up an analysis that may help explain what he now describes as an "institutional obsession" with surveillance by the U.S. government.

"If you reveal to populations around the world that their calls are being spied on by the millions, they’ll first wonder, 'Why are my calls of interest to the U.S. government?'," Greenwald observes. "But when it becomes apparent that the United States government is doing this for economic advantage, they start to feel personally implicated, like they’re being actually robbed."

While readers would do well to watch the entirety of the interview (see video below), the analysis offered within by Greenwald is especially poignant because it ties the NSA’s massive surveillance state in many of these foreign countries, not to the prevention of terrorism, but to the seemingly insatiable quest on the part of the U.S.-based, corporate global empire to secure economic advantage...

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Something for Washington state voters to chew on as they consider ballot initiative for labeling of genetically modified foods...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/25/2013 5:58pm PT  

A headline in the bi-monthly magazine, Pacific Standard declares: "The Scientific Debate About GM Foods Is Over: They're Safe". The article cites multiple scientific journals and governmental organizations to support the assertion.

Anyone reading the article might assume that, like global climate change, there is a consensus within the scientific community that food made of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are perfectly safe for human consumption; that there's no need for a debate; that the now-pending initiative to require GM foods to be labeled as such in Washington State is just silly.

After articles like the one offered by Pacific Standard --- and a $17.2 million ad campaign by Monsanto and the Grocer's Manufacturing Association --- enough Evergreen State voters are seemingly now convinced that there is no need to label GMOs that pollsters have declared the initiative "too close to call" at the moment. Why, after all, should we bother to label food in the face of a scientific consensus that GMOs are perfectly safe?

The problem is, according to the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Studies (ENSSER), no such scientific consensus exists...

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