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Republicans Push Back Against Proposed Dietary Guidelines

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In this Jan. 18, 2010 file photo, steaks and other beef products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va. Congressional Republicans are pushing back on proposed dietary guidelines that urge Americans to consider the environment when deciding what foods to eat. House and Senate spending bills approved by subcommittees in each chamber says the guidelines must focus only on nutrition and diet _ a clear effort to thwart a recommendation by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that eating a diet higher in vegetables and other plant-based foods is better for the environment than eating a diet based on foods from animals. That advice has raised the ire of the meat industry. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

In this Jan. 18, 2010 file photo, steaks and other beef products are displayed for sale at a grocery store in McLean, Va. Congressional Republicans are pushing back on proposed dietary guidelines that urge Americans to consider the environment when deciding what foods to eat. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press
LAURAN NEERGAARD, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans are pushing back against proposed dietary guidelines that urge Americans to consider the environment when deciding what foods to eat.

House and Senate spending bills say the guidelines must focus only on nutrition and diet. That’s a clear effort to thwart a recommendation by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that eating a diet higher in vegetables and other plant-based foods is better for the environment than eating a diet based more on foods from animals.

The advice from a government advisory panel of independent doctors and nutrition experts has raised the ire of the meat industry.

The dietary guidelines come out every five years, and the government advice informs everything from school lunches and food package labels to advice from your doctor. The departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are expected to issue a final version by year’s end based on the advisory committee’s February recommendations.

While the guidelines always have been subject to intense lobbying by food industries, this year’s version has set off unprecedented political debate, fueled by Republicans’ claims the Obama administration has gone too far in telling people what to eat.

The advisory panel also suggested a tax on sugary drinks and snacks as one way people could be coaxed into eating better. That idea angered beverage companies and conservatives in Congress.

Two spending bills in the House would set a new threshold for the science that can be used in setting the guidelines, saying the government only can make recommendations based on the strongest science. One of the bills was approved by a spending subcommittee last week, while the other was approved by the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., offered an amendment to strike the dietary guidelines language from the bill but it was rejected.

The guidelines panel had used three grades to determine the strength of the science supporting its recommendations: Grade 1 is strong, Grade 2 is moderate and Grade 3 is limited.

The advisory committee sent a letter to lawmakers Tuesday strongly opposing the legislation.

“I don’t think public policy should be driven by the economic interests or the lobbyists,” panel chairman Barbara Millen said in an interview. “It needs to be driven by science, and good science.”

Millen said “strong” recommendations are unlikely to change over the years and are much harder to come by with limited research dollars.

The recommendation that a more plant-based diet is better for the environment is based on science rated “moderate” in the report. The moderate threshold means there’s a strong body of scientific evidence to support the recommendation, but it’s not as conclusive.

“Research evolves and we expect it to change,” Millen said. “That doesn’t negate the importance of a large body of consistent data that may have limitations of a certain kind.”

Rep. Robert Aderholt, the author of one of the House bills, said the goal “should not be to ‘dumb down’ the standards but instead increase the science certainty of each guideline.” Aderholt, R-Ala., also has pushed back against healthier school lunch rules, and his bill tries to delay federal menu labeling requirements.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the author of the other House spending bill, said the advisory committee had “enormously expanded” the scope of the guidelines.

The bill has frustrated groups such as the American Cancer Society, which says the legislation could strip the dietary guidelines of a recommendation that reducing consumption of red meat and processed meats can lower the risk of colon cancer. The cancer society’s own guidelines have long urged people to take the same step.

“We wouldn’t make that recommendation in our own guidelines if we didn’t feel that the evidence was convincing,” said Gregg Haifley of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Based on the Grade 1 parameters, the guidelines also may be prevented from making recommendations on physical activity, including advising increased exercise based on its benefits for heart health and other disease prevention. It could also prevent the panel’s recommendations on package labeling and health and wellness in the workplace.

A Senate bill overseeing spending for the Health and Human Services Department is vaguer, saying the guidelines must be “based only on a preponderance of nutritional and scientific evidence and not extraneous information.”

The advisory committee should have made “recommendations based on sound nutritional science and not issues they don’t have the authority or expertise to consider,” said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the panel’s Republican chairman, after it approved the legislation Tuesday.

___

Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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IN MEMORIAM: Robert Farris Thompson, Renowned Professor of African American Studies

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993).

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Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.
Robert Farris Thompson. Yale University photo.

TRIBUTE

By John Santos

We’ve lost a Rosetta Stone.

Prolific Professor Robert Farris Thompson passed in his sleep Monday morning due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease and having been weakened by a bout with COVID-19 at the beginning of the year. He would’ve completed his 89th year on December 30.

Born on Dec. 30, 1932, Thompson was a White Texan who spectacularly disproved the fallacy of White supremacy through his pioneering and tireless elevation and clarification of African art, philosophy and culture. He removed the blinders and changed the way that generations of international students see African art.

A U.S. Army veteran, he went to Yale on a football scholarship and earned a B.A. in 1955. He joined the faculty in 1964 and earned his Ph.D. in 1965. He remained on the faculty until 2015.

‘Master T,’ as his students and friends often referred to him, was the Col. John Trumbull professor of the History of Art and professor of African American Studies at Yale University.

Thompson was also an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

He curated game-changing national exhibitions such as “African Art in Motion,” “The Four Moments of the Sun: Kongo Art in Two Worlds,” and “Faces of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas.” The latter had a run at U.C. Berkeley in 1995 when local practitioners of African spirituality and musicians — including myself – demonstrated the powerful knowledge of tradition.

Thompson truly embodied the term ‘Maestro de Maestros.’ He was an absolute giant in the field of Afro-Atlantic history and art, respected by his peers for his groundbreaking work and multiple major articles and publications, particularly the seminal “Flash of the Spirit” (1984) and “Faces of the Gods” (1993). If he did not coin, he certainly standardized the term ‘Black Atlantic.’ He was a brilliant presenter, writer and teacher. But unlike many if not most academicians, he was also loved, revered and respected by the musicians, artists and communities about whom he wrote.

Initiated in Africa to Erinle, the deity of deep, still water, Thompson was hip, quirky and totally immersed in African and African-based music, dance, language, art and history. His lifetime of research, immersion and visionary work formed a bridge between Black America and her African roots.

Countless trips to Africa, the Southern U.S., the Caribbean and Central and South America informed his passionate work. He wrote about sculpture, painting, architecture, dance, music, language, poetry, food, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, African history, stolen antiquities, African spirituality, African retention, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Black Argentina, New York, México, mambo, tango, jazz, spirit possession and so much more. He recorded African drumming. He befriended giants of African diaspora music such as Julito Collazo, Babatunde Olatunji and Mongo Santamaría.

I first saw his writing around 1970 on the back of the classic red vinyl 1961 Mongo Santamaria LP, Arriba! La Pachanga (Fantasy 3324). They are inarguably among the deepest liner notes ever written.

He told me that he used our 1984 recording, Bárbara Milagrosa, by the Orquesta Batachanga, to demonstrate danzón-mambo to his students. I nearly burst into tears when he invited me and Omar Sosa to address and perform for his students at Yale, his alma mater, where he was a rock star. It was an unforgettable occasion for me.

He wrote wonderful liner notes on our 2002 Grammy-nominated production SF Bay, by the Machete Ensemble. He went out of his way to support and encourage countless students and followers like me. I was highly honored to count him as a friend as well as mentor.

He will be missed.

John Santos is a seven-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and former director of Orquesta Batachanga and Machete Ensemble and current director of the John Santos Sextet.

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Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

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According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

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COMMENTARY: Abuse Is Not Love

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

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photo from www.itv.com.
photo from www.itv.com.

By Godfrey Lee

The Mental Health Advocacy Team of First Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC), along with the Marin City Mental Health Services, and the Center for Domestic Peace, conducted a training called “Working Together to End Domestic Violence” on October 25.

Rev. Ronald Leggett, FMBC’s pastor, hosted the Zoom program.

Cynthia Williams, a domestic violence advocate for peace, and a friend of FMBC, introduced the presenter and facilitator, Meghan Kehoe, from the Center for Domestic Peace.

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

photo from left: Rev. Ronald Leggett, Meghan Kehoe

Kehoe says that domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used to exert power and control over an intimate partner. The abuser may use a variety of types of abuse to make sure that they have and maintain control over their partner. These types of domestic violence include physical, emotional, economic, sexual, spiritual abuse as well as stalking and strangulation.

Domestic violence can be physical, but the greatest impact is through verbal and emotional abuse. How victims have been abused and how they feel about themselves will always be present in their mind.

Domestic violence is the No. 1 violent crime in Marin. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men for 15%. Half of the men who assault their wives also assault their children. Adults in same-sex relationships suffer abuse at the same rate as heterosexual couples.

Survivors need unconditional support from their friends. Many of those who stay in an abusive relationships have probably lost a lot of friends who love and support the victim but don’t understand the pattern of abuse, and do not understand why the survivor leaves, then returns to the abuser.

Children witness and experience the domestic violence and fear it just as much as the survivor does, if not more, and 60% of them are also victims of the physical violence as well.

The children, youth, and young adults are also being traumatized and affected by the violence. They may not know how to articulate what is happening to their family, or how to feel when their parents are hurting each another. So, talk to them and see if they want to talk to their parents or a safe person in their life.

Even if children know that they are not the cause of the violence, they still feel it in their hearts. Tell them that it is not their fault, and nothing they did caused the violence.

Young people who survive need good information, programs and services to help them find and maintain healthy relationships.

There is never a wrong time to reach out to someone who is being abused in a relationship. And you should also go with them to get help. Connect them to professionals, or a domestic violence agency. Offer them unconditional support a friend who will look out for them no matter what happens to them, what choices they make, whether or not they go back to their abuser, and be there for them in a non-judgmental way, Kehoe said.

For more information, go to centerfordomesticpeace.org. If you are in need of emergency assistance or wish to make an appointment with Center for Domestic Peace, please contact their 24-hour hotline: (English/ Spanish) 415-924-6616.

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