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The Center for Consumer Freedom (applaud) has announced the winners of its 2002 "Tarnished Halo" Awards. CCF awards prizes annually to America's most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed "public interest" advocates, trial lawyers, and other food & beverage activists who claim to "know what's best for you."

The Tarnished Halo Awards highlight the winners' use of misinformation, duplicity and even violence to further a political agenda or fatten their own wallets.

2002 was a banner year for misguided activists, and the field of nominees was unusually rich. These winners represent the best of the worst in the following categories:

The "Billions and Billions Sought" Award

Awarded to legal sharks Samuel Hirsch and John Banzhaf, for suing fast-food chains, on the preposterous basis that restaurants are somehow responsible for their customers' lack of discipline and common sense.

The "Most Callous Exploitation of a Tragedy" Award

Awarded to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who was not the slightest bit sorry after declaring that U.S. pork farmers are "a greater threat than Osama Bin Laden." Kennedy made the comment during a speech on behalf of his Waterkeeper Alliance, which has waged its own Jihad against those who bring America's little piggies to market.

The "Better Dead Than Fed" Award

Awarded to Greenpeace, for pressuring Zambian dictator Levy Mwanawasa to deny his 2.5 million starving people access to U.S.-provided food aid, because it contains the same genetically enhanced corn (or, as he called it, "poison") that Americans have been eating for years.

The "Excuse Me, But Your Agenda Is Showing" Award

Awarded to Ingrid Newkirk, president and co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who admitted to U.S. News & World Report in a rare, candid moment: "Our nonviolent tactics are not as effective. We ask nicely for years and get nothing. Someone makes a threat, and it works." PETA made news in 2002 when its tax filings disclosed a $1,500 donation to the North American Earth Liberation Front, an FBI-labeled "domestic terrorist group" whose crime spree has caused over $40 million in damage.

The "Don't Drink And Number Crunch" Award

Awarded to former cabinet secretary Joseph Califano and his National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, for their deeply flawed study that willfully overestimated underage drinking by 50%, provoking a New York Times headline that read: "Disturbing Finding on Youth Drinkers Proves to Be Wrong."

The "Fishing For the Truth" Award

Awarded to the National Environmental Trust, for its high-profile campaign aimed at convincing America's elite chefs to stop serving the supposedly "endangered" Chilean Sea Bass, even though the U.S. government says that the fish species is not threatened.

The "In Your Face!" Award

Awarded to U.C. Berkeley researcher and organic agriculture activist Ignacio Chapela, who claimed that genetically enhanced crops were "polluting" Mexico's traditional fields. Unfortunately for Chapela, the prestigious journal Nature issued a complete retraction of his study, declaring: "The evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper."

The "Bringing Home The Bacon" Award

Awarded to Farm Sanctuary, whose activists truly brought home the bacon in 2002 by illegally funneling $465,000 into a campaign to add the "rights" of pregnant pigs to Florida's constitution (Farm Sanctuary paid a $50,000 fine). After this animal-rights measure passed, several Florida hog farmers were forced to slaughter their animals due to the high cost of complying with the new law.

The "Weapons Of Mass Distortion" Award

Awarded to the immodestly self-named Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which is actually a pseudo-medical front group for PETA's radical animal rights agenda. PCRM's advertising in 2002 recklessly labeled U.S. school lunches "weapons of mass destruction" because they include meat and milk.

The "Scientific Illiteracy" Award

Awarded to the Los Angeles Unified School District, for banning all sales of soda pop in its schools, on the basis of well-debunked flimsy science promoted by political activists.

The "Nobody Listens To Techno-Vegans" Award

Awarded to pop star Moby, for calling on his fans to join PETA in sabotaging a popular Thanksgiving hotline, which provides free advice about cooking turkeys.

The "Captain Obvious" Award

Awarded to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, for calling a press conference to announce that the nutritional information provided by pizza chains is accurate, that adding sausage to your pie will also add calories, and that consuming side dishes will further increase the calorie count.

The "I'm From the Government, and I'm Here to Help" Award

Awarded to the state of Maine for its taxpayer-funded "Enough is Enough" advertising campaign, which spent heavily on print and broadcast ads advising citizens to steer clear of soft drinks by urging them to "cut the crap."
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