Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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501 posts categorized "Current Affairs" Feed

September 06, 2012

Quiz: Ben & Jerry's Flavor or Porn Flick?


Revered Vermont institution Ben & Jerry's found itself in the news today, and not for its yummy, creamy treats: The company filed a lawsuit against the producer of the "Ben & Cherry's" series of pornographic films. Each title in the X-rated series is, you guessed it, a parody of a B&J's ice cream flavor. The New York Daily News has the scoop, along with some potentially not-safe-for-work photos (although the scandalous bits are blacked out) (not talking about the photo of Ben and Jerry themselves though).

The socially conscious Vermont company is suing a California smut peddler that blatantly ripped off its logo for X-rated DVDs.


An unprintable title drawn from the flavor Banana Split features two bare-chested women on the cover.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court demands the porn be taken off the market and seeks unspecified damages.

Unprintable? What prudes you are, New York Daily News.

Anyway, one wonders if Ben & Jerry's has a leg to stand on, given that some of their real-life flavor names are, well, kinda scandalous. (Yes, that includes Clusterfluff, which could probably be the title to a very fascinating porno but was later changed to What a Cluster.) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, and those Häagen-Dazs people can only wish that there was anything sexy about their treats.

And now, a game: We've listed ten names below. It's up to you to decide if each one is a Ben & Jerry's flavor or a porno flick. The answers are listed after the jump. Ready? Go!

  1. Americone Cream
  2. Schweddy Balls
  3. Chubby Hubby
  4. New York Super Fat and Chunky
  5. Late Night Snack
  6. Berried Treasure
  7. Hairy Garcia
  8. Peanut Butter D-Cups
  9. Karamel Sutra
  10. Boston Cream Thigh

Continue reading "Quiz: Ben & Jerry's Flavor or Porn Flick?" »

June 26, 2012

Say Cheese! The Cabot Labeling Saga Continues

CabotWelcome to Cheesegate: Cabot Creamery's decision to change its logo is still making waves (or should we say wheyves?) in the Green Mountain State.

In case you missed the kerfuffle last week: Cabot dropped the state, and name, of Vermont from some of its packaging. The company says it began quietly making the change about a year ago to better comply with state rules. The rules stipulate that three-quarters of a dairy product's main ingredient must come from Vermont in order for a company to use the state in its marketing.

Now, instead of imposing Cabot's name over an outline of the state of Vermont, the new logo features the silhouette of a green barn and the words, "Owned by our farm families in New England and New York since 1919."

The change ruffled more than a few feathers. As the Burlington Free Press reports today, the logo change churned up a fair share of political debate. Gov. Peter Shumlin is bemoaning the change, saying in a news conference last week, "I believe that when we have the Vermont label on Vermont Cabot, that's a good thing for Vermont farmers and a good thing for Vermont's value-added food products." Meanwhile, challengers for the attorney general's office played the Cabot card in accusing AG Bill Sorrell of pushing too hard on one of Vermont's iconic brands — to which Sorrell responded that Cabot made the label change on its own. 

Adding to the quagmire is this latest accusation, from dairy farmer Karen Shaw of Hardwick: Shaw says the new label is still inaccurate. She claims that, contrary to popular belief, Cabot's parent company isn't really a farmer-owned cooperative. Although Cabot was originally a Vermont dairy cooperative, the beloved cheesemaker hitched its wagon to the multistate Agri-Mark cooperative in 1992. (Agri-Mark is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Massachusetts.)

Agri-Mark collects milk from dairy farmers throughout New England and New York. While Cabot still operates processing plants in Vermont, much of the creamery's milk crosses state lines, and some products (such as Cabot butter) are made out of state. 

Continue reading "Say Cheese! The Cabot Labeling Saga Continues" »

June 22, 2012

Vermont Dems Attack Brock for Supporting an Anti-Abortion Law He, In Fact, Does Not Support

Vermont's Democratic and Republican parties spent the week in a press-release pissing match over whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock should be held responsible for the views of a pair of prominent GOP governors who are campaigning for him.

By enlisting the help of Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Dems argue, Brock "confirms his allegiance to a radically conservative Republican agenda." Vermont Republican Party chairman Jack Lindley responded by referring to his counterparts as "the name callers who dwell in the bowels at the Vermont Democratic Party."

Whoa! Chill out, homies!

In today's episode, the Democrats are insinuating that Brock, who supports abortion rights, actually secretly backs a controversial Virginia law requiring women to receive an ultrasound before getting an abortion.

"The vast majority of Vermonters support a woman's right to choose, and it is unsettling that Randy Brock is siding on this issue with ultra-conservative GOP Governor McDonnell — his host at a Washington DC fundraiser next week," Dem party chairman Jake Perkinson says in a press release.

Perkinson's evidence? An Associated Press story that says Brock campaign adviser and fundraiser Darcie Johnston praised the Virginia law. Here's the relevant paragraph from AP reporter Dave Gram's story:

Brock campaign aide Darcie Johnston in an email lavished praise on McDonnell for improvements in Virginia’s economy, and called the ultrasound bill a "common-sense pro-life bill that puts Virginia in line with a number of other states."

But according to the Brock campaign, the AP story resulted from a miscommunication between Johnston and Gram. The campaign says it offered Gram background information about the Virginia governor to counter Democratic claims about his record. After reaching out to McDonnell's office to clarify his position on the ultrasound issue, Johnston copied and pasted talking points supplied by the Virginia governor's staff and emailed them to Gram. She says she did not mean to imply that the words were her own.

Emails provided by the Brock campaign confirm that the "common-sense pro-life" language comes directly from a McDonnell aide. Johnston's email to Gram, however, does not explain that the information came from a third party.

Gram did not immediately return a call to the AP's Montpelier bureau seeking comment.

As for Brock, he says he does not support the Virginia ultrasound law and strongly backs a woman's right to choose: "I am and always have been pro-choice. I don't believe the government should be interfering in women's medical decisions. Period."

He called the Democrats' release "a classic smear tactic to divert people away from the real issues" and called on his opponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin, to "tell the Democrats to stop the negative campaigning."

And how does Johnston really feel about the law?

"I support the same position as my boss," she says.

So she's pro-choice, too?

"I support the same position as my boss," she repeats.

June 19, 2012

Burlington City Council Neither Supports Nor Opposes Bed-down of F-35

Clark1610Three Vermont Air National Guard officers (including Col. Joel Clark, right) sat silently at a Burlington City Council public hearing last night as speaker after speaker after speaker denounced the proposed basing here of the F-35 supersonic fighter jet.

Afterward, however, the local military brass expressed satisfaction with the council's decision to neither support nor oppose the bed-down at Burlington International Airport. Councilors instead voted unanimously, after a 90-minute debate and 90 minutes of public comments, 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.

Mayor Miro Weinberger backed the successful resolution, which also calls for an F-35 to be brought to Burlington to demonstrate the degree of noise the plane produces.

Continue reading "Burlington City Council Neither Supports Nor Opposes Bed-down of F-35" »

June 15, 2012

Vermont Public Service Board Approves GMP/CVPS Merger

UnknownThis morning, the Vermont Public Service Board OK'd the proposed merger of Vermont's two largest electric utilities, granting final approval for Green Mountain Power (GMP) to acquire Central Vermont Public Service Corporation (CVPS). The deal is seen as an unqualified victory for Gov. Peter Shumlin, who supported the deal, and GMP President and CEO Mary Powell, who took over leadership of GMP in August 2008. Powell will continue to run the newly combined utility under the GMP name.

Supporters of the deal had touted the merger as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" that would reap more than $144 million in savings and efficiencies for Vermont ratepayers in the first 10 years, and almost $500 million over 20 years.

Evidently, the PSB took those words to heart. In its 173-page order, which can be read in detail here, the board described the merger as "a historic opportunity to achieve significant, immediate and enduring benefits for all retail customers of CVPS and GMP." 

Continue reading "Vermont Public Service Board Approves GMP/CVPS Merger" »

June 14, 2012

Burlington Superintendent Jeanne Collins Holds on to Her Job

CollinsAfter months of harsh criticism, Burlington School District superintendent Jeanne Collins can breathe a sigh of relief: The BSD school board voted 9-5  late last night to extend her contract until 2014.

Board commissioners Keith Pillsbury, Haik Bedrosian, Ben Truman, Alan Matson, Kathy Chasan, Dave Davidson, Ed Scott and Bernie O'Rourke all gave Collins the go-ahead for another year on the job. (Had the board voted down her contact extension, Collins would have been job hunting in 2013.) Jill Evans, Rebecca Grimm, Paul Hochanadel, Meredith Woodward King and Erin Kranichfeld voted against retaining the superintendent.

The vote came after months of heated allegations of racism in the Burlington School District, and criticism centered in recent weeks on Collins. Her opponents  — who included activists from the minority community, some students of color, and City Councilor Vince Brennan — accused the superintendent of responding too slowly to these allegations, and called repeatedly for her replacement. Collins' supporters rallied in recent weeks, citing her long record of achievements in the district (including establishing the state's first magnet elementary schools) as reasons to keep her on.

Continue reading "Burlington Superintendent Jeanne Collins Holds on to Her Job" »

Dubie: "No Clear Path Forward" If Vermont Air Guard Doesn't Get The F-35s

Dubie HorizontalFaced with mounting community opposition to the Air Force's proposed stationing of 18 to 24 F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport, Vermont Adjutant General Michael Dubie moved another step closer to advocating on behalf of the new striker fighters, warning that he sees "no clear path forward" for the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) if the F-35s are based elsewhere.

"The way we see things now, there is no plan B" if the F-35s aren't based at Burlington International, Dubie said. "We may not close our doors, but we will be dramatically smaller." Such a loss, he argued, would spell fewer local jobs, money and other resources for Vermonters. Currently, VTANG has an annual budget of $50 million and employs 400 fulltime workers and 700 parttime workers.

Speaking to an audience of reporters and more than two dozen Guard members at Camp Johnson in Colchester, Dubie pointed out that Vermont's "legacy" fleet of fighters, already 26 years old, is due to "time out" — that is, be mothballed — sometime between 2018 and 2020 and the F-35 is its only replacement. Vermonters should not expect a "cafeteria-style menu" from the Air Force from which to pick a new replacement aircraft. Larger aircraft, such as cargo planes or drones, are not likely to be based here due to the size of the Burlington runway and other air space considerations.

"If we don't get a fighter aircraft," Dubie added, "my current professional opinion is that we're going to be much smaller." 

Continue reading "Dubie: "No Clear Path Forward" If Vermont Air Guard Doesn't Get The F-35s" »

June 12, 2012

Leader of Progressive Jewish Lobby to Speak on Mideast Conflict

Jeremy Ben-Ami"Emotions run high when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of the United States in helping to resolve it," Burlington's Ohavi Zedek synagogue says in announcing a talk tomorrow (June 13 at 7:30 p.m.) by the leader of a progressive and increasingly influential Jewish American lobbying group.

Strong responses — pro and con — can be expected when Jeremy Ben-Ami (pictured), founder and president of J Street, outlines what he regards as a just and achievable resolution of the seemingly endless confrontation in the Middle East. The talk will also serve as something of a homecoming reception for Ben-Ami. He lived in Burlington for much of Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign, for which he served as national policy director.

While J Street's call for a two-state solution and removal of some Jewish settlements may generate controversy at Ohavi Zedek, its position appears to be gaining ground among mainstream U.S. politicians.

Continue reading "Leader of Progressive Jewish Lobby to Speak on Mideast Conflict" »

June 11, 2012

F-35 Supporters Running Ads Downplaying Noise Concerns

Lockheed-f-35-lightning-iiMore than 125 Vermonters — some of them well-known business leaders — have signed on to a newspaper advertisement in support of basing the Air Force's F-35 jet fighter at the National Guard station at Burlington International Airport.

The ad downplays opponents' concerns about the noise the planes would generate and emphasizes what the signers say would be the economic benefits of deploying up to two dozen F-35s in the Burlington area.

Decibel levels likely to be experienced by many nearby residents would exceed safe thresholds for a total of only six minutes per day, states the ad, which ran in half-page form in Sunday's Burlington Free Press and is scheduled to appear this week in South Burlington's Other Paper.

Calculating that it takes 30 seconds for a departing F-35 to soar out of hearing range, the ad says six of the planes would take off at 9 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. every day. Retired restaurateur Gary Farrell, who says he wrote the ad on the basis of information provided by the Vermont Air Guard, suggested in an interview on Monday that "most people are inside buildings during those times — working or going to school."

Continue reading "F-35 Supporters Running Ads Downplaying Noise Concerns" »

June 08, 2012

Opposition to Basing F-35 War Planes at Burlington International Airport Spreads and Sharpens

F35-1About three dozen Onion City residents made a big stink Thursday evening at the Winooski Welcome Center about the possible basing of F-35 war planes at Burlington International Airport. The Winooski contingent was part of a fired-up and mainly middle-aged audience that also included anti-F-35 activists from Burlington, Colchester and South Burlington.

One woman at the meeting called for the formation of "flash mobs at farmers' markets" to alert shoppers to the fighter jets' potentially ruinous impact on local property values. Another gray-haired woman suggested "chaining ourselves to where the planes take off" at BTV.

Continue reading "Opposition to Basing F-35 War Planes at Burlington International Airport Spreads and Sharpens" »

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