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Archives - August 2000

August 30, 2000

"It's a Crime What Some People Do With Statistics" - "We should not overreact to such frightful statistical "analyses." Some of them might reflect not deliberate distortion but rather innocent intellectual disorder. Furthermore, the fact that certain numbers are flawed need not invalidate the general point they try to advance. It could well be that there are some innocent people on death row, much as race could play an indefensible role in some police stops. Such possibilities should be investigated in sensible and unbiased ways." (Arnold Barnett in The Wall Street Journal)

"Radioactive iodine at Oak Ridge lab more harmful than stated" - "One of the most important conclusions of the Oak Ridge Health Studies Project, completed early this year, was that radioactive iodine releases in the 1940s and '50s raised the likelihood of thyroid cancer in the region." (AP)

"Ozone hole over Antarctica expected to increase" - "The hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic is expected to increase in size this year as early measurements show significant ozone depletion, the United Nations weather agency announced Tuesday." (AP)

"Western residents fear smoke-induced lung damage" - "Katie Gray-Murphy spent the last weekend of her summer vacation shuttered in her home, the windows closed against a gray shroud of wildfire smoke." (AP)

"Olympic Airways fined over passenger's asthma death triggered by second-hand smoke" - "In the largest second-hand smoking award yet in the United States, a federal judge has ordered Olympic Airways to pay $700,000 to survivors of a California man who died from being seated too close to a plane's smoking section." (AP)

"BSE risks played down" - "Fresh fears that BSE, or mad cow disease, could enter the human food chain by infecting pigs, sheep and poultry are played down by food safety experts." (BBC)

August 29, 2000

"North Pole not as wet as reported" - "Citing a report in The New York Times, The Associated Press erroneously reported Aug. 19 that open water had been spotted on the North Pole for the first time in 50 million years, a possible sign of global warming. In a correction Tuesday, the Times said it had misstated the normal conditions of sea ice at the pole. It said open water probably has occurred there before because the Arctic Ocean is about 10 percent ice-free during a typical summer. The Times also said the lack of ice at the North Pole is not necessarily a result of global warming." (AP)

"Rules backfire on minorities" - "Environmental rules should protect the health of all Americans, and the EPA is right to vigorously enforce the laws. But in seven years, the EPA has been unable to show how it can protect minorities from pollution without killing off opportunity. Nor has it given anyone reason to think it ever will." (USA Today editorial)

"Get the Easy Greenhouse Gases First" - "Rather than grousing about the Hansen study, however, environmentalists should be extolling it as the greatest news in years. First, it revives hope for the Kyoto agreement" (Gregg Easterbrook in The New York Times)

Global warming advocates are attempting to force the Senate into ratifying the Kyoto global warming treaty by claiming that compliance is painless and the problem is getting worse.

  • Compliance is painless. The Clinton Administration recently announced that because trees and crops remove carbon from the atmosphere, half of the would-be U.S. committment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol is already satisifed. Hansen's newfound belief that greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide should be targeted first is another effort to advance this rationale.

  • Worsening problem. The North Pole is melting. (See Fred Singer's Wall Street Journal column, below).
  • "Sure, the North Pole Is Melting. So What?" - "The Earth did warm between about 1900 and 1940, with the climate recovering from a previous cold period that climate experts refer to as the Little Ice Age. As a result of these changes, which have nothing to do with human influences, it is warmer now than it was 100 years ago. This has had an influence on polar ice, which has been slowly thinning, as it melts from beneath. And the ice will continue to thin for some time to come even though the climate is no longer warming. Moral: It takes a lot of time to melt ice." (Fred Singer in The Wall Street Journal)

    "Judge approves $3.75 billion fen-phen settlement" - "A federal judge has approved a proposed $3.75 billion settlement of health claims stemming from the diet drug combination fen-phen, which has been linked to potentially fatal damage of heart valves." (AP)

    "Airline found liable in asthma suit" - "Invoking the Warsaw Convention treaty -- an international ruling rarely applied in such cases -- a federal judge on Monday ordered a Greek airline to pay $700,000 for its role in a passenger's asthma-related death aboard a cigarette-smoke filled plane." (AP)

    "Radioactive contamination low in Arctic waters, scientists say" - "The Russian submarine Kursk - twisted and broken, hundreds of feet down in the Barents Sea - joins other nuclear debris sunken or discarded in Arctic waters." (AP)

    "Rainwater leaks into Chernobyl power plant" - "A large amount of water has leaked into the sarcophagus covering a reactor destroyed in a 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, but radiation levels in the water flowing out of the structure are normal, officials said Monday." (AP)

    "Texas air pollution nearly worst in nation; study launched" - "Government planes will be cutting through the smog-filled skies of eastern Texas daily during the next month in order to come up with better pollution control methods, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced." (Reuters)

    "Mobile phones to feature radiation labels next year" - "Mobile phone manufacturers plan to start labelling mobile phones next year with the amount of radiation they emit in response to concerns from consumers and organisations, leading producers said on Monday." (Reuters)

    "Celtic Tiger blamed for rise in smoking in Ireland " - "The flourishing "Celtic Tiger" economy is blamed for a rise in the number of Irish smokers in a survey on Monday which revealed that a third of adults in Ireland now smoke." (Reuters)

    "INEEL creates a method to link energy use, greenhouse gases" - "The first step to reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is to determine how much is being produced by human activities. Engineers at the INEEL are developing a computer model to convert energy usage and the unique characteristics of an institution, such as energy efficient buildings, into a value for greenhouse gas production." (INEEL media release)

    August 28, 2000

    "Protecting the Earth" - "So far, Mr. Gore has taken a more assertive approach than Gov. George W. Bush on all of these [environmental] questions." (New York Times editorial)

    "Hot News on Warming" - "If you're trying to decide whether to be an optimist or a pessimist on global warming, recent news is enough to leave you dizzy." (Washington Post editorial)

    "Techno-Utopianism" - The latest full-page ad in The New York Times placed by the nut-jobs at the Turning Point Project. This ad says that antibiotics, among other technologies, are problematic because they've caused resistance in bacteria.

    "Gun Licensing Leads to Increased Crime, Lost Lives" - "In theory, if a gun is left at the scene of the crime, licensing and registration will allow a gun to be traced back to its owner. But, amazingly, despite police spending tens of thousands of man hours administering these laws in Hawaii (the one state with both rules), as well as in big urban areas with similar laws, such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., there is not even a single case where the laws have been instrumental in identifying someone who has committed a crime." (John R. Lott, Jr. in The Los Angeles Times)

    "Resistance Dropping Toward Biotech Foods" - "Just a few months ago anti-technology activists were crowing with delight, thinking they had created enough hysteria to drive farmers away from technologies that scientists believe have the utmost potential for meeting global food demand, which could triple in just the next 40 to 50 years. The air got let out of these activists' balloon June 30,when the USDA announced that the amount of acreage planted with genetically engineered crops was holding steady--69 million acres this year compared with 71million acres last year." (Jack Kemp in The Chicago Tribune)

    "Two new cases of mad cow disease discovered in France" - "Two new cases of so-called mad cow disease have been found in northwestern France, local officials said, raising the total number of cases detected in the country this year to 40." (AP)

    "New York woman contracts West Nile virus" - "An elderly New York City woman is in critical condition Friday from complications stemming from the West Nile virus, officials said. " (AP)

    "Smoking 'puts dental work at risk'" - "Smoking can cause serious tooth decay and prevent fillings, extractions and other dental work from being effective, dentists warn." (BBC)

    "Cancer vaccine 'close'" - "Scientists believe they are close to developing a vaccine for cancer, and plan to begin trials later this year." (BBC)

    "UK science 'facing salary crisis'" - "The standard of UK science is on the verge of a crisis because of the poor salaries offered to researchers, says a science pressure group." (BBC)

    August 25, 2000

    "Butterfly 'Survivor'" - "It’s been a big week for CBS television. Not only did the network air the grand finale of the popular "Survivor," but CBS News broke news about the Monarch butterfly edition of "Survivor" -- How many butterflies will survive when plucked from their natural environment and forced to live on a toxic island? " (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

    "Major air pollution study launched " - " A national team of over 150 researchers has begun one of the most comprehensive air quality studies ever conducted in the U.S. Over six weeks, scientists at three U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, in collaboration with researchers from more than 40 public, private, and academic institutions, will study air pollution in the Houston region and the eastern half of Texas." (BNL media release)

    "Hormones May Not Cut Heart Disease Risk in Women" - " Hormone supplements frequently prescribed to post-menopausal women may not protect them against heart disease after all, according to a study in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine." (Reuters)

    PETA jokes about Giuliani's prostate cancer - And they call me insensitive. (www.milksucks.com)

    "Old dolls may pose a health hazard" - "Warning: Mom's old Barbie doll may be dangerous to your health. Researchers say that as plastic used in Barbie and some other old toys decays, it can drip a chemical that disrupts hormone development in the young." (Boston Globe)

    "US teen smoking rates appear to be falling" - "The number of US high school students taking up smoking may have leveled out or even declined during the late 1990's, a new report suggests." (Reuters)

    "Similarity seen in Alzheimer's and mad cow disease proteins" - "Working with computer models of the brain proteins involved in Alzheimer's and mad cow disease, a Chinese researcher has found a similarity in the structure and pattern between the proteins. The research suggests that a faulty mechanism in the way the protein structures fold could lead to the formation and build-up of the proteins in the brain, according to findings released at the American Chemical Society meeting here." (Reuters)

    "Smoking in pregnancy ups risk of SIDS threefold" - "Up to 40% of cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) could be avoided if all pregnant women quit smoking during pregnancy, Danish researchers report." (Reuters)

    August 23, 2000

    "Scientists look to other greenhouse gases in effort to curb global warming" - "In its effort to curb global warming, a 1997 international pact aimed at cutting carbon-dioxide emissions may be focusing on the wrong chemical villain - at least in the short term." (CSM)

    "New York enacts pesticide law" - "Nicole Hudson was doing yard work outside her Farmingville home when she noticed a white cloud with a noxious odor wafting over from her neighbor's house." (AP)

    "Vitamin C may speed harmful effects of cigarette smoke" - "Vitamin C, an antioxidant that has been shown to neutralize compounds that lead to aging and degenerative diseases, may accelerate these processes in smokers, researchers suggest." (Reuters)

    "Cruise Ships Cited for Excessive Smoke in Alaska" - "Seven cruise companies have been cited for pumping excessive amounts of smokestack emissions into the air of Alaska's capital city, state officials said Monday. " (Reuters)

    "Vitamin D may protect against cancer" - "A study carried out by researchers in the US has found the vitamin can reduce the incidence and growth of cancerous tumours." (BBC)

    "Egyptian Health Ministry hires only nonsmokers" - "The step is part of a campaign against smoking that is an uphill battle in a country where smoking is common." (CNN)

    "Growers, Greenpeace at Odds Over GM Corn Study" - "Greenpeace and a grouping of U.S. corn growers took opposing sides on Tuesday as they reacted to a study that found pollen from genetically modified corn could be deadly to Monarch butterflies." (Reuters)

    "15 Cities Decry Virginia Census Law" - "Fifteen cities and counties across the country hope to join a legal fight against a Virginia state law barring the use of statistically adjusted census data for political redistricting." (Newsday)

    "Scientist cools meltdown theory" - "Global warming was unlikely to be a principal cause of the melting of the North Pole, an Australian scientist said yesterday." (The Australian)

    "Most say pollution and illness are linked" - "Childhood asthma is increasing, and people worry about plutonium in the air, asbestos in attic insulation and other environmental risks. Now a new survey says Washington residents are blaming pollution for health problems." (Seattle Times)

    "E.P.A. Finds Little Risk to Gardeners From Asbestos" - "Small amounts of asbestos in some gardening products like potting soil pose little risk to consumers but may be hazardous to people who regularly work with its raw material, vermiculite, the Environmental Protection Agency said." (New York Times)

    August 22, 2000

    "Engineered corn kills monarch, study finds" - "Genetically engineered corn designed to eradicate an insect pest spreads enough of its pollen on nearby weeds to kill monarch butterflies, researchers said Monday in the latest study on the biotech crop's environmental effects." | Study (PDF format)

    Should a new round of Bt corn-hysteria develop from the CBS report on this study, please keep in mind:
    • The new study stands in the shadow of more than 20 independent studies by widely recognized scientific experts. It investigates only one small area of this complex topic and is in stark contrast to the conclusions of this broader scientific community's research - which has found that Bt corn does not pose a significant risk to the Monarch butterfly.

    • The new study is not "field research." The conditions represented in his study do not represent what one would actually find in the field as it relates to monarch mortality. In fact, the researcher states in his paper that larvae mortality was not correlated with the number of pollen grains on the plant or the plant location within or at the edge of the field.

    • Last year, more than 28 million acres were planted with Bt corn, which was about a 40% increase from the previous year. In the same time period, the monarch butterfly population flourished, and increased by about 30%.

    • A University of Illinois study conducted on black swallowtail butterflies this summer, found that under actual field conditions there was no evidence that Bt corn harmed the butterflies.

    "Diet lowers homocysteine and heart disease risk" - "A diet that is low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease by 7% to 9% by reducing blood levels of homocysteine, results of a new study suggest." (Reuters)

    The homocysteine-heart disease link is on life support.

    "UN report finds freer trade boosted smoking " - "A United Nations-sponsored report has found that freer global trade over the past two decades has boosted smoking, especially in developing countries, by making the dangerous habit cheaper." (Reuters)

    How the world has changed. The saying used to be, "Better dead than red." Now I guess, the saying is "Better red than dead."

    "Junk food link to asthma" - "Scientists believe junk food may be partly responsible for an increase in rates of childhood asthma in developed countries." (BBC)

    "Passive smoking 'hits workplace health'" - "Non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke in the workplace take more sick days than those in smoke-free offices, researchers say." (BBC)

    August 21, 2000

    "North Pole ice 'turns to water'" - "An American scientist says the ice cap at the North Pole has melted." (BBC) | Washington Post | ABC News | New York Times

    "Study Proposes New Strategy to Stem Global Warming" - "An influential expert on global warming who for nearly 20 years has pressed countries to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases now says the emphasis on carbon dioxide may be misplaced. Instead, he and a team of scientists have concluded that the quickest way to slow warming is to cut other heat-trapping greenhouse gases first." (New ork Times)

    "Rising ammonia emissions attributed to cars, not livestock" - "Researchers presented evidence here today that cars may be the main source of haze-inducing ammonia, rather than livestock, as previously thought. The findings were presented at the 220th national meeting of the American Chemical Society." (American Chemical Society media release)

    "Common insecticide ingredient may cause allergic reactions" - "While household insecticides may be effective at getting rid of pesky little creatures, certain ingredients such as pyrethrin may trigger allergic reactions including acute asthma attacks in humans, according to one case report." (Reuters)

    "Al and Tipper Gore Focus on Environment " - "On day two of their 400-mile riverboat tour down the Mississippi River, Al and Tipper Gore rallied supporters here today. Gore discussed his continued commitment of fighting to protect the environment and create jobs at the same time." (Gore 2000 media release)

    "Global warming: The clouds thicken" - "The recanting this week by James Hansen, the father of climate change theory, could, and should, have major repercussions. Mr. Hansen, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who declared in 1988 that man-made global warming had indubitably arrived, has now released a study indicating that carbon dioxide was not the main culprit. This surely upsets the Kyoto apple cart, and will throw Canadian policy-makers into even more of a tizzy. Public understanding of climate change was already intensely muddled, for which Ottawa bears considerable responsibility." (National Post)

    "Ford advised lower tire pressure to prevent rollovers" - "Ford Motor Co. recommended inflating Firestone tires on Explorers to less than maximum levels to reduce the risk of rollovers during sudden turns, according to an internal company document." (Chicago Tribune)

    "Give Him A Break: Stossel Sent To Scaffold For His Taboo Targets" - "There's no need to apologize for ABC reporter John Stossel; he's done that. Rather, this is to suggest that he doesn't deserve the fate of Braveheart's William Wallace, whose last vision was of his own entrails." (Mike Fumento in Investor's Business Daily)

    August 18, 2000

    "A Scoop of Debunkey Monkey, Please" - The long-running and costly health scare over the dreaded dioxin has finally been debunked. (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

    On the London stock market, "Unilever remained a FTSE 100 casualty, falling 2 to 436-1/2 in reaction to a U.S. study alleging that ice cream from its recently-acquired Ben & Jerry's unit contains high dioxin levels." (AFX European Focus)

    "High Levels of Dioxin Found in Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream" - "Ben & Jerry’s and other ice cream companies do not test for dioxin in their products because 'dioxin is not a food safety issue,' said [a Ben & Jerry's spokesperson]. 'The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] does not address it. People don’t test for dioxin in their products because its a global environmental pollutant.'" (ENS)

    I sure am glad Ben & Jerry's acknowledges that dioxin is not a food safety issue. Perhaps the company can explain why its political allies placed this full-page ad in The New York Times.

    "Ben and Jerry's ice cream contains high dioxin levels - study" - "'If dioxin is so dangerous, perhaps Ben and Jerry's should removed its ice cream from the market until it is 'safe,' consistent with the company's promotional literature,' Milloy suggested." (AFP)

    "Carbon at 20 million year high" - "British researchers say that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than for the last 20 million years." (CNN)

    "Scientist Differs With E.P.A. on Malathion" - "An E.P.A. toxicologist, Dr. Brian Dementi, who criticized a preliminary agency report this year that said malathion showed little evidence of being harmful to humans, made his case to an independent panel of scientists assembled by the E.P.A." (New York Times)

    Check out my New York Post column on malathion, A Win For West Nile -- By Two Rats."

    "The Apple and the Sins of Journalists" - "'Pesticide residues are a nonissue as far as cancer prevention goes,' Dr. Ames said yesterday. Accuracy is always an issue for reporters, and Mr. Stossel blundered by reporting the results of a nonexistent test. But the worst journalistic mistake has been giving the impression that the test even mattered." (John Tierney in The New York Times)

    "U.S. Food Companies See Little Biotech Backlash" - "There is an uproar in Europe over genetically modified ingredients in food, but American consumers have voiced only mild concern and food companies say they are under little pressure to change." (New York Times)

    August 17, 2000

    "Health Ministry to probe Ben & Jerry's contamination report" - "The Health Ministry's Food Control Service (FCS) will look into allegations that a sample of Ben & Jerry's ice cream tested in the US contained extremely high levels of carcinogenic dioxin, a senior ministry official told The Jerusalem Post." (Jerusalem Post)

    "The Scoop on Dioxin in Foods" - "A single serving of Ben and Jerry's ice cream has sparked a national debate about the safety of an environmental pollutant called dioxin. Researchers of a new study say they've found levels of the chemical in the brand's 'World's Best Vanilla' flavor, which under government standards would be considered a risk for cancer." (CBS Healthwatch)

    The Gough/Milloy study on dioxin in Ben & Jerry's ice cream is being presented today at the Dioxin 2000 conference in Monterrey, California. Media release | Study

    "Ideological Prejudices Impede Constructive Dialogue on Tobacco and Health Policy " - "The time has come to turn down the heat and volume of debate and listen, respectfully, to what both sides of the ideological divide are saying about smoking and public health strategies," adds Dr. Whelan. "It is hoped that this report will be used as a stepping stone to encourage constructive discourse among the ideological camps." (ACSH)

    August 16, 2000

    "Rethink by global warming expert" - "The scientist who alerted the world to the consequences of the greenhouse effect admits today that carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels was not the main cause of rapid warming of the Earth in recent decades." (Daily Telegraph)

    "Dead crow in Rhode Island carried West Nile virus" - "Environmental officials announced plans Monday to spray insecticide in a two-mile radius where researchers found a dead crow carrying the West Nile virus, the first time the virus was found in Rhode Island." (AP)

    "Cell phones may damage nerves in the scalp" - "As cellular phones become ubiquitous, their status as a possible health threat--either as a distraction to drivers or a potential cause of brain tumors--is gaining more attention. Now, investigators say there is evidence that cell phones may damage nerves in the scalp." (Reuters)

    "Global warming might be boosting allergies" - "Global warming could be raising the levels of allergy-causing ragweed pollen in the air, according to a US Agriculture Department report released Tuesday. The ragweed pollen season in the US is underway." (Reuters)

    "Stark warning over child smoking" - "The World Health Organisation warns that 250 million children worldwide will eventually die from tobacco related illnesses if current trends continue." (BBC)

    "Green tea may help prevent skin cancer -- U.S. team" - "Drinking four or more cups of green tea a day may help stave off skin cancer and the substance could be similarly effective if incorporated into skin care creams, researchers said Monday." (CNN)

    "Effects of ozone pollution threaten agricultural production on Long Island, NY, says Cornell plant pathologist" - "High amounts of ground-level ozone -- a pollutant commonly called 'smog' -- have seriously retarded the growth of ozone- sensitive white clover in agricultural areas of Long Island, N.Y., according to a plant pathologist at Cornell University’s Horticultural Research and Extension Center. The effects of the pollutant on the clover appear to be a warning of a wider threat." (Cornell U. media release)

    "Junk Science at its Worst: Study Equates Caffeinated Soda and Cigarettes" - "A panel of scientists today firmly rejected the conclusions of a small study purporting to show that the manufacturers of caffeine-containing sodas were manipulating their customers into addictiveness in a manner similar to the tobacco companies' manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes." (ACSH.org)

    "Gore adviser proposes global environmental watchdog" - "A top adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore proposed creating a new global environmental organization to protect wildlife and address concerns about the impact of trade on natural resources." (CNN)

    "Coal Fired Power Plants Emitting Clouds of Toxics" - "Pollution from electrical generation facilities is more dangerous than the utilities say, claims a U.S. environmental group. Utilities have historically downplayed their emissions and claimed that they have minimal or no impact on health or the environment." (ENS)

    August 15, 2000

    A Steel-Belted Scam? - Behind the Firestone tire hysteria is a group called Strategic Safety.

    Strategic Safety has been portrayed in the media as a:
    • "Research organization on safety issues" by the Associated Press;
    • "Driving safety advocate group" by the Knight Ridder;
    • "Vehicle safety watchdog" by the Chicago Sun-Times;
    • "Consumer group" by the Miami Herald;
    • "Safety advocacy group" by the United Press International;
    • "Research organization" by the Los Angeles Times;
    • "Virginia auto defects investigation firm" by the Los Angeles Times;
    • "Research and analysis firm... specializing invehicle-safety issues" by the Orlando Sentinel;
    • "Safety group" by the Buffalo News and
    • "Consumer and research firm" by the Chicago Tribune
    But it was the Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) that got it right. It called Strategic Safety a "a consulting firm in suburban Washington that advises lawyers."

    Strategic Safety offers "litigation research and support services," including case screening, research and analysis, and case preparation and development. Its philospophy is "litigation is a key driving force behind improving product safety." "We deliver effective and innovative strategies that address product hazards," boasts Strategic Safety.

    Strategic Safety is believed to be working with law firms that have filed or plan to file lawsuits against Bridgestone/Firestone.

    Two years ago, Strategic Safety assisted with lawsuits involving injuries from using pay phones. One man received a six-figure decision from alleging his fingers were torn off when entangled in the metal-sheathed handset cord.

    BTW, here's a little perspective on the current tire hysteria. There are about 9,800 deaths annually from vehicle rollovers. About 60 to 70 percent involve SUVs. About 10 percent involve tire problems. During 1990-1998, there were more than 16,000 instances of single vehicle rollovers involving the Ford Explorer, resulting in 583 fatalities. The casualty count allegedly associated with Firestone tires is about 46 fatalities. I haven't heard anyone calling for a recall of Explorers.

    Consumers take for granted that tires are fail-proof -- they're not. Firestone officials say the tires involved in accidents to date showed signs of underinflation, overloading, exterior damage from road debris, improper repair or other abuses.

    It used to be, in the days of full service gas stations, that attendants would ask drivers, "Check your tires?" They might have performed a visual inspection and checked air pressure. Now with self-service gas stations, attendants rarely venture out from behind bullet-proof glass booths. That leaves tire inspection up to the driver. More than likely this means unless there is something seriously wrong, drivers won't notice tire problems -- until driving at a high speed or making a sharp turn. But then it's too late. A tire accident is likely to be more catastrophic on an SUV with its higher center of gravity.

    Re: Union of Concerned (Junk) Scientists - I was on WOSU radio (Columbus, OH) yesterday debating Nancy Cole of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Cole claimed the scientists who worked on the 1996 report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reached a consensus that there was a discerible human influence on climate. As I promised WOSU's listeners, here's the real story of the IPCC report as recounted in Silencing Science.

    In 1995, the IPCC "approved" a draft report that was to be subject only to editorial changes. But subsequent changes went far beyond being merely "editorial." In other circles, this sort of thing is called a "complete rewrite."

    Using their last at-bat, global warming aficionados stepped up to plate and made deletions as well a key substitution to eliminate scientists' skepticism about their ability to associate surface temperature trends with human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

    Deleted sentences included the following:

    • While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution related conclusions for which there is little justification.
    • None of the studies cited [in the report] has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.
    • No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of observed climate changes] to anthropogenic causes.
    • Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.
    These sentences were replaced with:
    • ... the balance of evidence suggests a discernible [human] influence on climate.
    These any other changes were made after the report had been approved by the participating They altered the content and the intent of the original report. Home run!

    IPCC defended its actions by saying it was appropriate to modify the full report to match the more widely read Summary for Policymakers -- an unusual approach given that, usually, a summary is made to match the report. Kinda like making the television program match TV Guide's summary, isn't it?

    In any event, based on this report, industrialized nations tentatively agreed to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    All it took was a few clicks at a computer keyboard to delete uncertainty -- a certain characteristic of science -- from the IPCC report.

    "Caffeine study angers soft drink industry" - "A study suggesting that caffeine is added to colas not for flavor but to hook consumers provoked an angry response Monday from the soft drink industry, which called the results flawed and irresponsible." (AP) | Other coverage: MSNBC

    "West Nile virus detected in Rhode Island" - "A two-mile radius was slated to sprayed with insecticide after researchers found a dead crow with West Nile virus - the first time the virus was detected in Rhode Island, environmental officials said Monday." (AP)

    "Federal health official warns of asbestos risks" - "Anyone who worked for any length of time with vermiculite insulation from a W.R. Grace & Co. mine in Montana faces a substantial health risk from asbestos contamination, a federal health official warns."(AP) | Other coverage: MSNBC

    "Tobacco kills 625,000 in the Americas each year" - "At least 625,000 individuals in the Americas die each year from tobacco use, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Tobacco use seems to be on the rise in most countries in the Americas, and the PAHO are urging governments to clamp down on tobacco sales to help reverse the trend." (Reuters)

    "C. Everett Koop calls on delegates to battle tobacco industry" - "Former US Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop told delegates at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health that it is the tobacco industry--not smoking or smokers--that they should be battling." (Reuters)

    "Arctic warming gathers pace" - "US scientists say parts of the Arctic have warmed rapidly in recent decades." (BBC)

    August 14, 2000

    "Two more New Yorkers have West Nile virus" - "Two more New York City residents have contracted the potentially deadly West Nile virus, health officials said Saturday." (AP)

    "Nuclear waste sites need long-term planning" - "The legacy of the Cold War will live on and on--for roughly tens of thousands of years--in the form of radioactive waste from the manufacturing of nuclear bombs." (Reuters)

    "Thalidomide may ease diarrhea caused by chemotherapy" - "Thalidomide, the drug best known for causing a wave of birth defects in the 1960s, may ease some of the major side effects of a chemotherapy drug used to treat colorectal cancer, preliminary findings suggest." (Reuters)

    "Running out of reptiles" - "National attention has been riveted on the issue of amphibian declines for years and has intensified with each new report of vanishing populations or deformities. However, according to an article in the August 11th issue of the journal BioScience, reptiles are in even greater distress worldwide than their better known cousins." (USDOE media release)

    "Wisconsin lake study shows persistence of acid rain effects" - "Wisconsin's Little Rock Lake, the site of a landmark study on the effects of acid rain, has been taken to chemical hell and back, and seemingly recovered from the trip. The study, spanning two decades, found that while the chemistry of the lake corrected itself naturally -- and fairly quickly -- the biological changes took much longer to bounce back. " (University of Wisconsin-Madison media release)

    "Gore Visits Homestead of Boyhood Environmental Inspiration " - "Al Gore today visited the homestead of author Rachel Carson and discussed his career fighting to protect the environment and create jobs at the same time." (Gore 2000 media release)

    "The peculiar economics of global warming " - "When negotiators at the 1997 Kyoto convention on climate change set out to establish limits on greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized countries and create incentives for developing countries to control theirs, the potential gains of climate change were hardly mentioned." (Robert Mendelsohnin The National Post)

    "Nader On Gore: Unsafe At Any Speed" - "AL Gore numbers the automobile among mankind's afflictions - he said so in his 1992 book, which he says still convinces him. Now he is afflicted by Ralph Nader, whose ascent to his iconic status as conscience of the consumer culture - Cotton Mather comes to the supermarket - began when, in 1959, his essay for The Nation magazine launched him as scourge of the automobile industry's indifference to safety." (George Will)

    "Educating a vice president " - "One day last September, Vice President Al Gore met privately with President Clinton to deliver an urgent message. Republicans on Capitol Hill, Gore said, were taking aim at the most important weapon in the war against global warming." (Boston Globe)

    "Stossel's 'Apology' Was an Insult to Viewers, According to Environmental Working Group" - "The group that forced ABC News to admit it fabricated laboratory tests for a story attacking organic food has called correspondent John Stossel's on-air apology Friday night 'an insult to the ABC News audience, the organic food industry, and to organic food consumers everywhere.'" (Hoover's Online)

    August 11, 2000

    "The Greens' Yellow Studies" - "ABC News reporter John Stossel didn’t audition for the popular musical Les Miserables. But he’s starring in a (way) off-Broadway production nonetheless." (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

    E-mail your support of John Stossel to ABC's 20/20.

    August 10, 2000

    "After Traumatic April, A Book Takes Shape" - A Washington Post article recounting how Al Gore came to author his bestseller "Earth in the Balance."

    Of course the Post didn't ask the hard question. Check out my op-ed . A Child's Tragedy: A Parent's Character.

    "Nader's Threat to the Environment" - "Ralph Nader is my friend and hero, but his Green Party candidacy for the presidency could torpedo efforts to address the nation's most important environmental challenges. The threat, of course, is that Mr. Nader's candidacy could siphon votes from Al Gore, the environment's most visible champion since Theodore Roosevelt, and lead to the election of George W. Bush." (Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in The New York Times)

    How dopey is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr? He said in October 1999, "[Al Gore is] our last, best chance to save the planet."

    "Try Cleaner Buses" - "With asthma rates in the District more than twice the national average and regional air quality failing to meet EPA standards, local officials ought to jump at any opportunity to help clear the air. The Metro board has a chance to do just that by beginning to replace its aging diesel buses with alternative-fueled vehicles." (Washington Post editorial)

    Post editors are apparently ignorant of two facts:
    • Asthma rates have been on the rise while air quality has been steadily improving. It's difficult to believe the two are related in the opposite direction.

    • Cockroach feces -- present in many urban homes -- are a known asthma-causing allergen.

    "The warm glow of a friendly mobile, or a hotline to heaven's gate? " - "So now they are going to start declaring the radiation level of mobile phones. Isn't that nice? Because it's not so long since mobile phone companies were calling on their 'scientific experts' to rustle up statistics to placate the doubts of ordinary people who thought that a small piece of plastic that could make your ear that hot, that quickly, might not be doing much for your brain. Apart from frying it. " (Sydney Morning Herald)

    "British scientists predict sharply fewer deaths from mad-cow disease" - "British scientists have cut by more than two-thirds the projected number of deaths from a brain disorder linked to eating tainted beef." (AP) | Other coverage: Reuters | BBC

    "Arctic temperatures warmest in past four centuries, study says" - "Arctic temperatures in the late 20th century, which were the warmest in four centuries, have been accompanied by a variety of other environmental changes, according to a review paper published in mid-July by a group of the world’s leading Arctic researchers. " (University of Colorado media release)

    "Gripes about your boss aren't news -- unless you're a reporter" - "'The Insider' and other stories bemoaning a corporate sell-out of the First Amendment are nothing more than high profile reporters whining about their bosses." (Steve Milloy at Junkscience.com)

    "'Safer' cigarettes may hinder anti-tobacco efforts" - "A 'safer' cigarette may be dangerous to efforts to reduce smoking, according to presentations here at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health on Tuesday." (Reuters)

    "Home ban on smoking may keep teens from starting" - "Smoking is prohibited in schools, most workplaces, and many public areas in the United States. Of the many places that ban smoking, a ban on the habit at home is the most effective at stopping teens from starting to smoke, according to researchers." (Reuters)

    "Surgeon General reiterates need for tobacco control policies" - "US Surgeon General David Satcher says that if proven tobacco control policies were put into effect across the United States, the percentage of people who smoke could be cut in half within a decade." (Reuters) | Media release

    "Doctors slam insurance company investment in tobacco stock" - "Some of the biggest US health and life insurance companies own stock in the tobacco industry, positioning themselves to 'profit from both life and death,' critics say." (Reuters)

    "Garlic may lower heart disease risk" - "For centuries, people have relied on the power of garlic for everything from enhancing athletic performance to thinning blood. The herb has even been found in tombs from ancient Egypt and Rome." (Reuters)

    August 9, 2000

    "Cigar smoking a growing public health threat" - "With the popularity of stogies surging, particularly among teenagers, public health officials are compiling even more evidence that cigar smoking is not a safe alternative to cigarettes. In fact, cigars represent a growing public health threat, research suggests." (Reuters)

    "Environmental smoke exposure linked to respiratory illness" - "There is ample evidence that smoking is bad for your health. It is also known that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke may lead to respiratory illness in children. But according to researchers in Hong Kong, the 'evidence on the relationship between (environmental tobacco smoke) and respiratory ill health in adults is scarce.'" (Reuters)

    "Smokers suing around the world" - "Recent legal judgments against tobacco companies in the United States are encouraging attorneys in other nations to file suits on behalf of smokers, according to presentations made here at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health." (Reuters)

    "Shalala, Brundtland lead mock debate on tobacco policy" - "The varied and often conflicting interests that affect the development of national tobacco control policies were illustrated in a mock cabinet debate played out in front of delegates to the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health held in Chicago." (Reuters)

    "Natural gas cuts pollution caused by city buses" - "Switching from diesel-powered buses to those powered by natural gas cuts down on air pollution in cities--and the number of 'clean fuel' buses in use is growing, according to a national environmental research group. Currently, buses run on natural gas comprise just 7% of the nation's transit fleet, the group reports." (Reuters)

    "Upping nicotine levels may help smokers quit" - "Boosting nicotine levels in smokers may actually help them reduce their smoking, perhaps even easing the path to smoking cessation, according to research presented Monday at the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health in Chicago." (Reuters)

    "Vegetarian mothers have more girls" - "A British study of how diet affects the health of new mothers and their babies produced the surprise finding that vegetarian women are more likely to have girls, one of the report's authors said Tuesday. " (Reuters)

    "Global plea to raise smoking taxes" - "The World Health Organisation and the World Bank are urging nations to follow the UK's example of high taxes on cigarettes." (BBC) | Other coverage: MSNBC

    "Can selenium cut cancer risk?" - "Over the past several years, interest in selenium as a possible cancer preventive has evolved from intriguing associations uncovered in population studies to formal clinical trials." (MSNBC)

    "After accounting for demographic and behavioral factors, Federal estimates of deaths caused by smoking not substantially altered " - "Adjusting for age and behavioral and socioeconomic factors has little impact on the estimates of smoking-attributable deaths, discounting claims by the tobacco industry that the death estimates are inflated, according to an article in the August 9 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a theme issue on tobacco." (Media release)

    "Duke study shows carbon dioxide boosts pine tree reproduction" - "Young loblolly pines growing in carbon dioxide-enriched air expected to become the norm later this century are becoming reproductively mature earlier and producing more cones and seeds than identical pines growing in today's air, studies in a Duke University research forest show. " (Duke University media release)

    "Firestone Plans to Recall Millions of SUV Tires" - "The tires are the focus of a probe into their possible role in 46 deaths." (Washington Post) | New York Times

    August 8, 2000

    "ABC Admits Error in Organics Story" - "ABC News admitted today that a "20/20" report by John Stossel questioning the relative purity of organic produce was wrong and that the reporter would apologize on the air Friday for his mistake." (Washington Post)

    "Let Us Spray " - "'The losers in this are the public,' says Robert Krieger, a toxicologist at the University of California, Riverside. "No doubt Dow and the EPA will do fine." Not to mention the roaches." (Michel Fumento in Forbes)

    "The Babbitt Pits" - "America’s most outspoken defender of the environment -- Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt -- seems to have a double standard for destruction of Arizona landscape. Critics and residents want to know why." (Insight)

    "Global tobacco conference aims to unify anti-smoking message" - "In Norway, smokers must pay more than $7 for a pack of cigarettes - and most of that is taxes. In Canada, national law requires packs of cigarettes to carry graphic images, including photos of a smoker's ailing lungs, heart or gums." (AP) | Other coverage: Reuters | BBC

    "EPA report shows drop in major US air pollutants" - "A new Environmental Protection Agency report released on Monday shows that US air quality continues to improve as six major pollutants have fallen dramatically over the last decade." (Reuters)

    "Agency looks at 46 deaths in tire probe" - "Federal officials are investigating at least 46 deaths potentially related to failures of Bridgestone Firestone tires fitted to sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks." (Reuters)

    "British Cases of Mad Cow Disease Up to 79" - "The number of 'definite and probable' cases of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease (BSE), has risen to 79, Britain's Department of Health said Monday." (Reuters)

    "Deadly West Nile Virus May Be in Canada" - "The deadly mosquito-borne West Nile virus, responsible for killing about 10 people in North America in the past year, may have found its way to Canada, an infectious disease expert said on Monday." (Reuters)

    "Devices may cut cell phone radiation" - "A British government study into mobile phone hands-free kits said Tuesday they significantly cut the exposure of users to radiation from their mobile phones. The result contradicted an independent report four months ago which warned that the kits, designed to protect mobile phone users from radiation, actually channel three times more of it to their brains." (MSNBC) | Other coverage: BBC

    August 7, 2000

    Gore's Veep Pick: 'Junk Science Joe' Lieberman - Al Gore has picked Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be the Democrat vice presidential candidate. Like Gore, Lieberman worships at the altar of junk science.

    About global warming, Lieberman said: "This threat is not an abstraction or the object of a science fiction writer's overactive imagination. It is, unfortunately, all too real." (Associated Press, March 4, 1999)

    Lieberman has supported "back door" efforts to implement the Kyoto global warming treaty -- avoiding ratification by the Senate. Along with Senators John Chafee (R-RI) and Connie Mack (R-FL) in October 1998, Lieberman sponsored S.2617, the "Credit for Voluntary Early Action Act." The bill would have implemented an emissions trading scheme.

    In 1998, Lieberman was rated 100 percent by the League of Conservation Voters based on 8 Senate votes. All the other 100 percent-ers were Democrats: including Dale Bumpers (AR), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Christopher Dodd (CT), Richard Durbin (IL), Paul Sarbanes (MD), Edward Kennedy (MA), John Kerry (MA), Paul Wellstone (MN), Robert Kerrey (NE), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Jack Reed (RI) and Russell Feingold (WI).

    Lieberman also co-sponsored with Senators Robert Toricelli (D-NJ) and Patti Murray (D-WA) the School Environmental Protection Act (S. 1716) -- a bill to terrorize parents and students about pesticide use in schools. Check out my Washington Times column, "Unwarranted Warning."

    Lieberman opposed the Thompson-Levin risk assessment reform legislation.

    About lawn chemicals, Lieberman said, "We are spending literally billions of dollars to beautify our lawns and we are doing it at some unknown risk. We ought to push the system to review these chemicals and reach judgments more quickly. In the meantime, at least give people notice that something dangerous may be happening." (Washington Post, September 16, 1991)

    In June 1991, Lieberman co-sponsored The Pesticide Health and Safety Act to make it easier to remove dangerous pesticides from the market; subject all pesticides to sunset deadlines; require EPA to assess the effect of pesticides on children and other sensitive population, as well as on the body's central nervous system; and reform the structure of the Scientific Advisory Panel that helps determine whether existing pesticides should continue to be used. Leiberman called EPA's pesticide reregistration process "a sham" and said labeling requirements are "totally inadequate." He added: "We cannot have confidence in a Scientific Advisory Panel that includes members who receive money from pesticide manufacturers at the same time they are issuing opinions on the safety of pesticides." (Greenwire, June 24, 1991)

    Lieberman said, "The lawn-care chemical problem is a ticking public health time bomb,and the reality is that we don't know whether or when it's going to explode." (CBS Evening News, May 8, 1991)

    Lieberman co-sponsored legislation to ban the sale and use of Alar, also known as daminozide, on domestic and imported food products.

    Lieberman supports car-pooling requirements as essential to reducing smog because the number of automobiles on the nation's highways is increasing too quickly. "We can continue to make the cars cleaner, but if we continue to drive more cars more miles, the air is not going to get any cleaner," said Lieberman. (United Press International, September 15, 1989)

    Lieberman co-released a letter signed by 1,375 medical and health professionals, who said the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to strengthen National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ozone is "a positive step forward. "Tens of thousands of hospital visits and premature deaths could be prevented each year nationwide by implementing more stringent air quality standards for these two pollutants," the letter noted. "Some estimates, however, indicate that under EPA's current proposal millions of people could still be exposed to harmful levels of particulate pollution. Therefore, even stronger standards would provide additional protection for our nation's communities, especially the most vulnerable." Check out my related FoxNews.com commentary, "The EPA's Secret Science."

    At a 1992 Senate hearing about whether consumers were provided with enough information on the efficacy of sunglasses and sunscreens, Lieberman said, "At the heart of the problem is the fact that less ozone in the atmosphere means more ultraviolet rays from the sun (are) reaching the Earth's surface and hitting our skin and our eyes. It is those rays that can damage our health." (Gannett News Service, June 5, 1992)

    In the congressional Democrats address to outgoing president Ronald Reagan, Lieberman said: "Holes in the ozone layer and acid in the rain will cause skin cancer and lung disease. Gases in the air will warm the plant and lead to drought in our heartland and flooding along our coast. Waste in our water will make our beaches forbidding places to visit on a summer's day." (United Press International, January 14, 1989)

    Lieberman presided over an August 1992 Senate hearing about whether police radar guns caused cancer. Lieberman justified the hearing by citing a law enacted in June 1992 banning hand-held radar guns in his home state of Connecticut. In January 1993, a jury cleared a radar gun manufacturers of responsibility for a policeman's terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Subsequent research has not linked radar guns with increased cancer risk.

    Kyoto accord alarmists misguided, dangerous - "The temperature still hasn’t reached 90 degrees in Chicago this summer -- a phenomenon not seen since 1916. The weather is so pleasant that talk of the dreaded global warming has almost fallen by the wayside. Even the Clinton-Gore administration is taking a decidedly sheepish approach to the Kyoto Protocol, the pending international treaty on global warming." (Steve Milloy in The Chicago Sun-Times)

    Gore to campaign with Rachel Carson? - The Associated Press reported (Aug 5),

    "Next Saturday, an environmental rally in Springdale, Pa., outside Pittsburgh, with 'Silent Spring' author Rachel Carson, is meant to recall the story of Gore being spurred to environmentalism when, as a young man, his mother read to him from Carson's landmark expose on pesticides."

    Certainly Al Gore is man of mighty acheivements, including inventing the Internet and inspiring Erich Segal to write "Love Story." But meeting with Rachel Carson would be especially noteworthy since she died in 1964.

    Subsequent media reports -- none from the AP -- say that Gore will actually appear at the former Pittsburgh home of Carson for a rally on the environment.

    Gore apparently wants to celebrate the lethal legacy of Carson. Millions have died and continue to die from the unwarranted pesticide hysteria generated by Carson.

    "Hidden political bias taints ads" - "In an election year, mainstream newspapers and TV networks generally try to avoid partisanship. But this year one of the public service ads they're running is giving an indirect boost to the Gore campaign, as well as to an assortment of contentious causes. Among them: fighting international trade agreements, restricting genetically engineered crops and pushing international rules to curb global warming." (USA Today editorial)

    "Global warming creates unstable Earth " - "The devastating floods in India and massive forest fires in the US are almost certainly connected, and appear to be the predictable consequences of global warming. " (The Independent)

    "Falling sea level upsets theory of global warming" - "The 11,000 inhabitants of a tiny Pacific country that was expected to vanish under water because of the effects of global warming have been given a reprieve because sea levels have begun to fall." (The Daily Telegraph)

    "Let's Get Real About Risk" - "Hundreds of thousands of Americans will die this year, deaths that can be prevented. Millions will get sick with preventable illnesses. Billions of dollars and countless hours of human effort will be wasted unnecessarily--all because we are afraid of the wrong things." (David Ropeik in The Washington Post)

    "Tobacco industry under fresh pressure" - "One of the largest-ever conferences on the health effects of smoking will exploit damaging revelations about industry 'dirty tricks'." (BBC) | Related material: Conference media release

    "West Nile virus case confirmed in New York" - "Health officials on Friday confirmed the year's first human case of the deadly mosquito-borne West Nile virus, which killed seven people in the New York area last summer." (Reuters) | Other coverage: MSNBC

    "West Nile virus spreading in Boston, officials say" - " day after the year's first human case of West Nile virus was confirmed in New York, authorities announced that the disease was spreading in Boston, too." (CNN)

    "The mysteries of mad cow disease" - " The pathogen thought to cause 'mad cow' and several related diseases is notorious for riddling its victims’ brains with tiny holes. As it goes about its nefarious business, this infectious agent also challenges some of biology’s most basic doctrines about disease, inheritance and the importance of DNA." (MSNBC)

    "Academic research under scrutiny" - "But the surge of money onto campuses and into ambitious researchers’ pockets has also ignited a national debate about the conflicts posed by such arrangements. Some academics argue that researchers should be trusted to maintain a firewall between their academic and corporate interests. Others question whether researchers can truly be expected to render disinterested judgments when stock options, consulting fees or corporate profits are at stake." (Washington Post)

    "France To Destroy Soybean Fields " - "The French government has decided to destroy 115 acres of soybeans in southern France containing genetically modified seeds, officials announced Saturday." (AP)

    "Showing Sense on Global Warming" - "The White House is seeking to persuade the Senate to ratify the Kyoto protocol, which would impose mandates and taxes on U.S. industry to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels. Knowing that this is politically unpopular, the administration is drafting a plan that would allow the United States to take credit for using farms and forests to absorb industrial emissions of carbon dioxide." (Detroit News editorial)

    "Cellphone fear campaign keeps ringing" - "Cellphones don't cause cancer. That has been the consensus of a solar mass of studies over the past decade. But the issue won't go away. And now a Maryland doctor is suing cellular telephone maker Motorola for US$877-million, saying its phones led to his brain cancer." (Paul Kedrosky in The National Post)

    "Pollution warnings lost in the fog" - "It's been a bummer season for Toronto's smog activists. Usually by this time, the city has racked up a string of smog alerts, accompanied by a chorus of alarmist media warnings: Stay indoors, don't drive to work, and don't exert yourself -- advice most of the population tends to ignore. This year, moreover, activists had been counting on the annual summer smog ritual to raise the scare level a notch or two. Special studies had been released claiming that air pollution kills a thousand people every year and costs the health care system billions. The scene had been set, in other words, for a major attack on the enemy, the automobile." (Terence Corcoran in The National Post)

    "Why Toronto smog deaths are greatly exaggerated" - "A recent report on air pollution by Toronto Public Health states that smog caused between 730 and 1,400 premature deaths in the greater Toronto area in 1995, as well as 3,300 to 7,600 hospital admissions. These numbers are absurdly high, the result of a methodological error that Toronto Public Health should immediately correct. Failure to do so would irresponsibly stress the Toronto population." (Kay Jones in The National Post)

    "A Prohibitionist Smokescreen" - "Surely there must be sufficient valid data available for the anti-tobacco crowd to make its case. And if they want to be reasonable, they should push arrangements that protect the rights of smokers and non-smokers alike. " (New York Post editorial)

    "Hands-free mobiles given safety boost" - "Hands-free mobile phone kits can significantly reduce the effects on the brain, according to research." (BBC)

    August 4, 2000

    "The EPA's Secret Science" - "'Independent Institute Finds Key Pollution Studies Are Sound Science,' blared a recent press release from the American Lung Association. Yet one of the most controversial "junk science" issues of recent years — whether air pollution causes premature death — will remain controversial for the foreseeable future despite activist claims and media headlines. The ALA goes on to say studies show 'once again that air pollution shortens lives, and strong [Environmental Protection Agency] standards are needed to protect public health.' But the reality is somewhat different — at least according to Health Effects Institute, the organization whose research the ALA cited." (Steve Milloy at FoxNews.com)

    "No panic necessary" - "'Saturday Night Live' fans may recall the self-righteous commentary of one Emily Litella, who invariably concluded with a sheepish, 'Never mind,' when she finally realized she didn't know what she was talking about. Now it's the environmental group Greenpeace whose turn it is to say, 'Never mind.'" (Steve Milloy in The Washington Times)

    "West Nile virus probably spread throughout New York state, officials say" - "Health officials said Thursday the West Nile virus is likely present statewide after the virus was found in birds from five upstate counties." (AP) | Other coverage: CNN

    "'Mad cow' deaths on the rise, study says" - "Deaths from the human form of "mad cow" disease have increased by about 33 percent each year in Britain since 1994, new research has found." (AP) | Other coverage: Reuters

    "Smoking triples risk of bladder cancer" - "People who smoke may be three times more likely than nonsmokers to develop bladder cancer, recent research suggests." (Reuters)

    "Saudi bans import of GM foods" - "Saudi Arabia has banned the import of foodstuffs containing genetically modified ingredients, including soya bean oil, a newspaper reported on Thursday." (Reuters)

    "US wants private, world role in Agent Orange plan" - "The United States would like to see US firms and international organisations take part in a cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam and does not intend to do the work itself, a US defence official said on Thursday." (Reuters)

    "Tobacco firms united to contest health risks-study" - "Seven of the world's leading tobacco firms cooperated for more than two decades in denying the health risks of smoking and designed strategies to reassure smokers, according to a study published on Friday." (Reuters) | Related material: BMJ media release

    "Candy cigarettes entice children to smoke-study" - "Candy cigarettes, those seemingly innocuous treats children buy at the local shop, are actually devices promoted by the tobacco firms to entice children to smoke, researchers said on Friday." (Reuters)

    "UK MPs call for tougher regulation of GM seeds" - "A panel of British MPs called on Thursday for stricter testing of seeds for GM-contamination after farmers were mistakenly sold sullied rapeseed earlier this year. " (Reuters)

    "Biotech giant Novartis bans GMOs from own foods" - "Novartis , one of the world's largest providers of seeds for growing genetically modified (GM) food, confirmed on Thursday that it has made its own food products GM-free." (Reuters)

    "Clues to massive leukaemia rise" - "A 'mystery infection' could partly explain why so many UK youngsters are falling prey to a common form of leukaemia." (BBC)

    "New 'dirty tricks' claims hit tobacco firms" - "Evidence that the tobacco industry used underhand tactics to protect its market has been strengthened by fresh research." (BBC)

    "Tobacco giants deny smear tactics" - "Tobacco companies have jumped to the industry's defence after the World Health Organisation (WHO) accused it of secretly campaigning to wreck efforts to fight smoking. " (BBC)

    "Man files $800 million lawsuit, claiming cell phone caused brain cancer" - "A Maryland doctor filed an $800 million lawsuit against a cell phone maker and a telecommunications company, claiming years of using the wireless devices caused his brain cancer." (CNN)

    "Children at serious risk from second hand smoke" - "Three papers in this week's BMJ support a comprehensive approach to protect children from environmental tobacco smoke and prevent them from becoming established smokers." (BMJ media release)

    "Monsanto adds support for 'golden rice'; opens its rice genome sequence data to worldwide research community" - "Monsanto announced today at an agricultural biotechnology symposium in Chennai, India, that it will provide royalty-free licenses for all of its technologies that can help further development of 'golden rice' and other pro-vitamin A- enhanced rice varieties. " (Monsanto media release)

    August 3, 2000

    "MD man files $800M suit, claiming cell phone caused brain cancer" - "A Maryland man filed an $800 million lawsuit against a cell phone maker and a telecommunications company, claiming years of using the wireless devices caused his brain cancer." (AP)

    "U.S. tightens rules for reused medical devices" - "U.S. health officials on Wednesday announced tighter controls over the reuse of disposable medical devices such as heart catheters and angioplasty balloons, a common practice that has caused concern about patient safety." (Reuters) | Other coverage: New York Times

    Check out my related Chicago Sun-Times column, "‘Scare’ Tactics in Reprocessed Medical Device Debate."

    "Activists dispute ABC News report on organic food" - "An environmental watchdog group urged ABC News to fire correspondent John Stossel, who in a report called organic food no safer than regular food and warned it could even be dangerous." (AP)

    "Quitting smoking sharply cuts lung cancer risk, study says" - "Giving up cigarettes even late in life eliminates most of the lung cancer risk, and the risk is decreased more than 90 percent for those who quit before the age of 35, new research indicates." (AP) | Other coverage: Reuters | BBC | Washington Post

    "Epidemic of politics" - "WHO officials have the luxury of worrying about "bad habits"; they aren't likely to end up as anonymous casualties whose "graves" are the statistical rolls for annual cholera or tuberculosis deaths. Journalists too have an incentive to focus on tobacco industry controversies because those stories are far more likely to get good play than just another story of premature death in Africa. But notwithstanding WHO charges, one need not be a tobacco industry advocate to think there is something wrong with those priorities." (Ken Smith in the Washington Times)

    "Hearing from the WHO" - "Smoking is not a disease; it is a dangerous choice. A disease is a hostile form of biology. Dealing with real diseases is hard work, requiring the organizational capacity to mount effective public health programs. Writing a report based on well-known facts or calling a conference to massage those facts is something any deskbound bureaucrat can do. The WHO would win more respect if it paid more heed to complaints that it is essentially a do-nothing organization." (Wall Street Journal Europe editorial)

    "Evolution Foes Dealt a Defeat in Kansas Vote" - "Voters in Kansas have repudiated the state school board's removal of human evolution from the state science standards, making it all but certain that the decision will be overturned." (New York Times)

    "Pest Triggers Lima Bean's Defense, Warning Systems" - "If you find lima beans less than appealing, you're not alone. Lima bean leaves can repel attacking insects such as two-spotted spider mites by activating a cadre of defense genes and producing an unpleasant odor that warns neighboring plants to produce the same repellent." (Washington Post)

    "U.S. Seeking a Way Around Greenhouse Reduction Rules" - "The Clinton administration is proposing that carbon dioxide absorbed by forests and agricultural lands could account for a substantial amount of the greenhouse gas reductions required under a pending international treaty on global warming." (AP) | Other coverage: New York Times

    "Biotech Research Branches Out" - "These dream trees and others with equally attractive traits are growing on scores of test plots around the world, part of a little-noted biotech revolution in forestry that experts predict will hit its commercial stride in the next five years." (Washington Post)

    "GM rebuts Ford's claim of environmental leadership" - "In a direct response to Ford Motor Co.'s claim as the environmentally friendly automaker, General Motors Corp. said Wednesday it would offer pickups and buses that will use up to 50 percent less fuel than current models." (AP) | Other coverage: Reuters

    "Environmentalists seek changes in U.S. trade plan" - "Activists said on Wednesday a White House plan for making environmental protection a priority in future trade agreements was a step in the right direction but did not go far enough." (Reuters)

    "Tiny particles of dirt really can kill" - "A fresh analysis of a classic pollution study has vindicated its conclusion that city-dwellers in Europe and the US are dying young because of microscopic particles in the air." (New Scientist media release)

    "Telecom agreement allows phone users to detect radiation emmissions" - "Mobile phone users will soon have access to information telling them how much electromagnetic radiation is emmitted by their phone." (ABC)

    "Diazinon may be Falling Off the Pesticide Shelf Next" - "The popular pesticide diazinon could be one of the next organophosphates to face new restrictions or prohibition under the Food Quality Protection Act. Consumers Union has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to phase out diazinon. The agency is currently reviewing all 39 registered organophosphate pesticides." (AgWeb.com)

    "Nanny can't control every little pleasure" - "The low-and-slow crowd is back trying to scare us out of our wits. The Consumer Product Safety Commission came out with a new, higher estimate of injuries from roller coasters and other amusement-park rides, and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has been using it to ride a favorite hobby horses: his bill to bring amusement parks back under federal regulation." (Boston Herald editorial)

    "The cool, crisp days of summer" - "If you were in Chicago at the end of July 1999, you were probably wearing as little as possible--along with a perpetual sheen of sweat. If you were around at the end of July 2000, on the other hand, you were more likely to sport long sleeves, a raincoat or goose bumps. Instead of resembling Houston, the Chicago area felt more like San Francisco." (Chicago Tribune editorial)

    "Sowing seeds of doubt " - "A leading GM company is trying to weaken a national campaign for a moratorium on the growing of GM crops in Britain by questioning whether some of the coalition's constituent organisations truly represent the views of their members." (The Guardian)

    "Most food allergies are imagined, says agency" - "Food allergy is becoming more common but most of those who believe they are affected are misled, says a report published by the Government Food Standards Agency." (The Independent)

    "'Toxic' Environment Plays Heavy Role in Obesity, Weight Expert Says" - "We live in what Brownell calls a "toxic" environment. Food is too easily available, while our ability -- and need -- to move under our own steam has been severely curtailed. You get the idea: Supermarkets are open 24 hours a day, while only 2.3 percent of Salt Lake residents walk to work. " (Salt Lake Tribune)

    August 2, 2000

    Brady Law Has No Effect on Homicide Rate, Says Study - "Gun control measures under the Brady Act appear to have reduced suicides among older Americans, but have had no real impact on homicides, study findings suggest." (Reuters) Other coverage: MSNBC | Washington Post | New York Times | JAMA abstract

    "W.H.O. Says Files Show Tobacco Companies Fought Antismoking Efforts" - "Tobacco industry documents show that cigarette makers took part for years in a sweeping campaign to influence and undermine the World Health Organization's anti-smoking efforts worldwide, the agency contends in a new report." (New York Times) | Washington Post

    WHO director Gro Brundtland called smoking the "biggest global health threat" in September 1997. Brundtland said "By the year 2010 tobacco is going to be the biggest disease burden globally." But this statement was contradicted by WHO's own World Health Report 1998. The report pointed out that of the 52.2 million deaths in 1997, one-third were associated with infectious and parasitic disease. In contrast, only 1.1 million were lung cancers. The report also said that among the "most disturbing" findings was that 20 million people per year die before age 50; 10 million of these are under age 5 -- deaths unlikely related to smoking. WHO should stop whining about tobacco -- which reduces, on average, about 6 years from the life expectancy of a heavy smoker -- and work to prevent the avoidable deaths of millions of children every year.

    For more on WHO and tobacco:

    "U.S. Proposes New Strategy to Fight Global Warming" - "Preparing for renewed international negotiations on cutting levels of heat-trapping gases that may be warming the climate, the United States is proposing that countries get just as much credit for using forests and farmers' fields to sop up carbon dioxide, the chief warming gas, as they would for cutting emissions from smokestacks and tail pipes." (New York Times)

    "Warning: Overstating the Case Against Secondhand Smoke is Unnecessary -- and Harmful to Public Health Policy " - "What we have here is a good cause -- smoke-free living -- threatened by hyperbole about the likely effects of ETS." (Elizabeth Whelan at ACSH.com)

    "Health risks of wireless phones cannot be ruled out" - "The US Food and Drug Administration is meeting Tuesday to discuss the links between wireless telephones and cancer. Meanwhile, a panel of experts concludes that currently, there is not enough evidence to link wireless phones to brain cancer, but there is sufficient research to raise serious questions about the safety of the devices." (Reuters)

    "Amusement parks rides cited as dangerous" - "Amusement park rides are a growing safety threat, with the rate of injury doubling in many parks in just 3 years, federal officials report." (Reuters)

    "CJD dentistry fears played down" - "The government moves to allay fears that the human form of mad cow disease can be transmitted during dental surgery." (BBC)

    "The New Biotechnology's Crazed Critics" - "Foes of the new biotechnology -- using genetic modification ('GM'), or gene-splicing techniques, to alter existing organisms -- have for years raised fears that it would wreak havoc on the food we eat, creating toxic or allergenic crops. Their surmise may have a macabre twist: perhaps tainted food causes some of the irrational demand for over-regulation and even for complete elimination of food produced through GM." (Henry Miller at FindLaw.com)

    "Clean Air Trust Names Six Diesel Engine Makers The Clean Air 'Villains Of The Month' " - "The nonprofit Clean Air Trust today awarded its clean air "Villain of the Month" award for August to six diesel engine companies that appear to be trying to wriggle out of a legal agreement to clean up their dirty engines." (Clean Air trust media release)

    "DOE commits $15 million to help blow the greenhouse down" - "The Department of Energy acknowledges that greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, are changing Earth's atmosphere. To prove the point, the department will commit $15 million over the next three years to find affordable ways to capture and store the gases that contribute to the greenhouse condition." (CNN)

    "Impact of Di's death finally revealed in study" - "The death of Princess Diana not only created a shared sense of mourning among Australians, it also had a much stronger impact on some people's physical and mental health, according to a new study." (Adelaide Univ. media release)

    "Dieting may harm girls' IQs" - "A British study has found that one in four schoolgirls studied are damaging their IQs by dieting and depriving themselves of iron." (Reuters)

    "EU says Germany, Spain, Italy may have mad cow disease" - "European Union scientists have concluded that mad cow disease is probably present in cattle in Germany, Spain and Italy even though these countries say they are free of it, the European Commission said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

    "Mad cow disease can't be ruled out in U.S., Canada, EU says" - "Cases of mad cow disease are unlikely to occur in the United States and Canada but cannot be ruled out, a European Union report released Tuesday says." (AP)

    "Judge approves slaughter of possibly infected sheep" - "A federal judge ruled Tuesday that two flocks of sheep the federal government says might suffer from a version of the always-fatal mad cow disease should be destroyed." (AP)

    "Kansas voters choose Board of Education after evolution controversy" - "State voters got a chance Tuesday to decide whether some Kansas Board of Education members should keep their jobs after approving new science standards that de-emphasized evolution." (AP)

    "Hansen: Tobacco Labels Need Harsher Warnings" - "Utah Congressman Jim Hansen wants to make it impossible to ignore the warning signs on cigarette packages. The Utah Republican, who serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Tobacco and Health, has introduced a bill that would mandate graphic warnings that would cover 50 percent of the front and back of all cigarette packages and half of all advertisements in newspapers and magazines. In addition to text, the warnings would include pictures of such things as a diseased lung or a person suffering from addiction." (Salt Lake Tribune)

    "US judge rules EPA harassed mill owner" - "In a harsh rebuke to the federal Environmental Protection Agency's pursuit of criminal polluters, a judge has ruled the government unnecessarily harassed a Northbridge mill owner and pursued a case against him even though it didn't have any credible evidence." (Boston Globe)

    August 1, 2000

    "Is Your Cell Really Safe?" - " This week Medscape’s online journal, MedGenMed, raises new questions with a controversial article surveying the current wireless medical research. Its conclusion: industry claims that cell phones are absolutely safe are 'no longer supportable.' George Carlo, the paper’s lead author, says he was shocked by the data. 'We’re beginning to see a momentum of scientific and medical studies,' he says, 'that are now pointing in the direction of potential problems.'" (MSNBC)

    "Banning DDT Does Not Make Sense" - "The current issue of The Lancet, a respected British medical journal, should be required reading for the environmental activists whose protests resulted in the banning of DDT in the Western world in the 1970s. Two articles and an editorial in the July 29 issue should make clear, even to the devoted adherents of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," the extent of human suffering and death which has resulted from the insecticide's ban." (Gilbert Ross at DrKoop.com)

    "U.S., Vietnam OK Joint Agent Orange Study" - "Washington and Hanoi have agreed to move ahead on one of the most sensitive issues left from the Vietnam War and start scientific research into the effects of Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant sprayed by the United States in South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971, U.S. diplomats said." (Los Angeles Times)

    "New trade war looms over GM labelling " - "Washington has warned the EU that it is considering making a formal complaint to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva on the grounds that labelling GM products is unfair discrimination against US goods and therefore a restraint of trade. The US says it will ask the WTO to impose sanctions against EU exports if GM labels are not removed from supermarket shelves." (The Guardian)

    "Scorching July hottest in 50 years" - " This summer has so far proven to be one of the hottest in the past 50 years, weather experts reported yesterday, as temperatures soared throughout the country." (Jerusalem Post)

    "If You Can’t Take the Heat..." - "'You can’t blame a specific event on global warming,' says climatologist James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. But 'in my opinion, we can say that global warming is contributing to the increased frequency of extreme events' like heat waves and droughts." (MSNBC)

    "Fear of West Nile virus grips Northeast" - "Worried by instances of the potentially fatal West Nile virus, some people in the Northeast are asking health officials to test everything from a dead bat in a toilet to birds that were shot to death or mauled by the family cat." (AP)

    "Ozone found to have direct effect on genes linked with plants' aging" - "Penn State research has shown, for the first time, that ozone, a major smog constituent, has a direct effect on the genes associated with the aging process in plants." (Penn State Univ. media release)

    "More evidence that drinking is good for you" - "Middle-aged men, who are constantly being told to eat better, drink less and exercise more, got a piece of heartening news on Monday -- the occasional alcoholic drink can keep them sharp in old age." (Reuters)

    "Our faith in biotech is far too blind" - "The human tendency to invent new things and to tinker with the old has produced marvellous inventions. But scientists no longer just tinker with "things" -- they now tinker with life itself, and nobody knows what short- or long-term consequences will ensue once we begin the wholesale genetic modification of living organisms (plants, animals and humans) to better suit our current purposes and whims." (Susan Martinuk in The National Post)

    "Nuclear power promises to defuse energy crunch" - "While we celebrate the prosperity that has accompanied the digital economy, a serious threat to our prosperity remains ignored. Today’s economy depends on the availability of electricity, but precisely because of this dependency, we are drifting toward another energy crisis that is likely to be far greater than those of the 1970s." (Mark Perry in The Detroit News)