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Texas Official Cries: 'Keep Meatless Mondays Out of Schools'
Apparently thinking they will never be able to have a steak or hamburger again, the "Meatless Monday" movement has caused wailing and gnashing of teeth among people whose eating habits haven't advanced into the 21st century.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
At a time when it's become known that the meat industry, especially raising cattle, sucks up resources and contributes to climate change and that a meat-dominated diet is unhealthy, encouraging people to eat less meat or cut out red meat has taken hold. Even in Cleveland, Ohio, a city whose cuisine was once heavy on schnitzel and kielbasa, the city council recently passed, and the mayor signed, a Meatless Monday resolution. And schools systems in Ann Arbor, Kansas City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Diego and Los Angeles all observe Meatless Monday.
But it's the end of the world as we know it for some. Texas agriculture commissioner Todd Staples wrote an op-ed in the Austin Statesman-American "Keep 'Meatless Mondays' Out of Schools." Claiming to be "very concerned" about the well-being of kids in schools districts that have adopted the program, he sees conspiracy lurking.
Thrown into a tizzy by the adoption of Meatless Mondays in the small district of Dripping Springs outside Austin, he claimed, "This activist movement called ‘Meatless Monday’ is a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week—starting with Mondays."
He also said in the op-ed that not serving meat would deprive low-income children of "their only source of protein for the day," recycling the debunked idea that meat is an essential source of protein. He's also said in the past that it was "treasonous" for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to suggest its employees observe Meatless Mondays. (The same suggestion in 2012 provoked Senator John Cornyn of Texas and ex-Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to protest by ordering a meaty Monday meal with Cornyn calling it "bone-headed.")
And no, no, NO! a spokesman for the Texas Department of Agriculture maintained, the $116,000 in campaign contributions Staples has received from the beef industry has NOTHING to do with his stance.
The reaction in Cleveland was a little less hysterical and more mocking in tone. Plain Dealer columnist Michael Heaton called it "school-marmish," while another PD columnist Mark Naymik said it was "a nod to the yoga and gourmet vegetarian crowd." He then unloaded a bunch of non sequiturs, saying Cleveland doesn't need the resolution because residents can't afford meat (he's apparently overlooking the McDonald's outlets on every corner), that city council should go after vendors who sell spoiled meat instead, that it's hypocritical because council is also promoting the city's fabled West Side Market which sells meat among other things, and oh by the way, shouldn't they be attacking Governor John Kasich's rules disqualifying some people from getting food stamps instead?
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.