Friday, September 6, 2013: Free trade, meat inspection and Syria

Posted Sept. 12, 2013, at 2:42 p.m.

State song

I would like to add my thoughts regarding the university’s “Maine Stein Song.” It belongs to the university. It is disappointing when it’s played in place of our “ State of Maine Song.” Sadly the song is seldom heard at parades, school band concerts, chorus or coral programs. Although the music is easily played on instruments, and the words are beautifully descriptive of our great state. I hope to hear the “State of Maine Song” more often.

Connie Painter

Rockland

Estey view

I’m gleefully surprised at the BDN’s publishing of the radical view of David Estey in the Sept. 8 OpEd, “ Money, greed, power are behind the gridlock.”

It’s odd when the plain truth seems “radical.” Independent newspapers such as the BDN can distinguish themselves by veering from the torrents of relentless TV pablum we are fed nightly.

I can only hope that more Americans, of both parties, will begin to realize that Washington is bought and sold, politics immaterial and our democracy dramatically eroded under the power of elites on and off stage — that Wall Street scions and the Pentagon are running the show, their waterboys mere puppets who pass as politicians.

Dennis Lopez

Rockport

Trade hearing

Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, until recently, has said that if the American people knew what was in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the latest and largest NAFTA-style trade agreement, they would not allow Congress to pass it. This is why the agreement is being negotiated in extreme secrecy, with only tiny bits and pieces leaking out. These leaks show that many policies in Maine designed to protect our health, clean air and water, and the food we eat, will be negatively affected by the TPP.

The Maine Citizen Trade Policy Commission, which provides an ongoing state-level mechanism to assess the effect of international trade policies on state and local laws, business environment and working conditions, will be holding a public hearing to give all of us an opportunity to weigh in with our views of the TPP.

The hearing will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, in Room 214 of the Cross Office Building adjacent to the Maine State House. The hearing will be preceded by a meeting of the commission, which is open to the public.

The Maine Fair Trade Campaign, a statewide coalition working for fair trade, believes that Maine cannot afford to lose more jobs through trade policies written for the sole benefit of the major multinational corporations. We encourage people to attend the hearing, give testimony and send a message to members of Congress that we do not want the TPP.

Bonnie Preston

Blue Hill

Health violations

According to a Sept. 8 lead story in The Washington Post, the meat inspection program that the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to roll out in meat and poultry plants nationwide has repeatedly failed to stop production of contaminated meat. The program allows meat producers to increase the speed of processing lines and replace USDA safety inspectors with their own employees.

But plants operating under this program have experienced some of the worst health and safety violations that include failure to remove fecal matter and partly digested food, according to USDA inspector general. These contaminants may contain complex strains of deadly E. coli and listeria.

Traditionally, the USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety concerns of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having the USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the chicken house.

The Obama administration must re-allocate responsibility for consumer safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us must assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of plant-based meats offered in local supermarkets.

Edwin Sanborn

Bangor

Spot on

Guy Dubay’s Sept. 4 BDN letter, “Inside Syria,” was spot on. If Arab countries surrounding Syria choose to do nothing while its citizens are being slaughtered, why should we intervene? Does the U.S. military need target practice?

Let the Arab countries draw the red lines. This is not our problem.

Tom Hilyard

Pembroke

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/09/12/opinion/friday-september-6-2013-free-trade-meat-inspection-and-syria/ printed on November 21, 2014