June 1999

June 30, 1999

ARTICLE OF THE DAY: "Dr. Koop Sells Himself" Matt Labash writes in the Weekly Standard, "Shortly before adorning him with the Medal of Freedom, and shortly after Koop shilled for his wife's health-care plan, President Clinton called Koop 'the true face of American heroism.' Or 'Koop' could mean what it does in Amsterdam's Red Light district, where Dutch hookers stand under signs that read 'te koop.' There, it simply translates 'for sale.'"

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Don't hold your breath" My thoughts on the recent Environmental Defense Fund report on air pollution and cancer.

"Depleted uranium: The Invisible Threat" This would have been scare of the day but there probably aren't many Kosovar refugees who read Mother Jones online.

"Human Imprint on Climate Change Grows Clearer" About this New York Times article penned by William K. Stevens, the National Anxiety Center's Alan Caruba writes, "On June 29th, a so-called science reporter for The New York Times surely set some kind of a record. Since 1990 through to the mid-point of 1999, he had authored just under 150 articles about global warming, each with the same message that it was not only coming, but was already drastically affecting the earth's weather. The only problem with this is that thousands of real scientists worldwide have signed petitions and proclamations all saying it's not happening. A bit of history; in 1990, Stevens took over from Phillip Shabecoff, widely called the dean of environmental reporters at that time. The problem was, even The Times was embarrassed by how blatantly propagandistic Shabecoff's work had become. He was suddenly reassigned to some Washington, DC sub-species of news and took the hint, quitting his job. He emerged shortly after as the editor of the Green Wire, one of the many propaganda outlets the Greens use to lie to everyone on a daily basis. Stevens' writing is best summed up by the January 14, 1996 headline, 'Blame Global Warming for the Blizzard.'"

"The Science of Climate Change: Global and U.S. Perspectives" Your tax dollars (via the National Science Foundation) have produced this Pew Center for Global Climate Change report concluding that, indeed, the world is going to hell.

"National Smokers Alliance Seeks Ethics Investigation of McCain Political Mailing" Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) apparently believes that his anti-smoking crusade will boost his presidential hopes. Perhaps it will, but he may first have to address this ethics lapse.

"Rare trout could block $2.4 billion road project" Not if you fry 'em up.

"Campaigns vs. research" The Boston Herald comments, "Vice President Al Gore promises to double federal funds for research on cancer if he is elected president. This may be welcome news for the many Americans who have lost a loved one to cancer, but elevating medical research budgets into presidential campaign issues is not a development to cheer."

"World Conference Splits on Curbing Population Growth" The New York Times reports that by 2050, UN bureaucrats plan to stabilize world population at around 9.8 billion. After that, the UN plans to stop the universe from expanding by 2100.

"U.S., French agriculture officials talk through biotech concerns" The Associated Press reports, "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman met with French officials Tuesday to prevent a potential trade dispute over genetically modified crops."

"Great Lake Effect" Newsweek reports on the Great Lakes: "Today's pollutants include toxic chemicals that ride in on the winds from distant countries. And urban sprawl threatens to alter the lakes' ecosystem irrevocably. Which prompts a question: have we saved the lakes... only to lose them?"

June 29, 1999

SCARE OF THE DAY I: "British breast milk 'highly contaminated' " The BBC reports, "British babies fed on breast milk could be receiving as much as 40 times World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels of a wide range of potentially harmful chemicals, says a report."

SCARE OF THE DAY II: "Flights radiation warning" The BBC reports, "People who fly frequently are not being made fully aware of the potential dangers of exposure to radiation on flights, specialists say."

"Monitoring call for schools' mobile masts " The BBC reports, "The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, has called for the siting of mobile phone transmitter masts near schools to be monitored."

"Gore announces goals for fighting cancer" Money slated for the bureaucratic National Cancer Instititute is a waste. In spending more than $30 billion already in the "war on cancer," the NCI has produced little success.

"Jurors begin deliberations in Florida smokers' trial" I'll be surprised if the jury wants to return for the second part of this lengthy trial -- where the lead plaintiff is a physician who smoked. Aren't the long-standing warning labels on cigarette packages large and clearly worded? Perhaps Dr. Engel could only read his own chicken scratching?

ANOTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS RESOLVED: "EPA to set new rule on fluorescent bulb disposal" The Associated Press reports, "After nearly a decade of debate over the dangers of mercury contamination, the EPA has decided to require those who buy fluorescent bulbs by bulk to recycle them or throw them in a hazardous waste landfill."

"U.S. women happy with breast implant deal; But foreign women opposed" U.S. plaintiff attorneys are the happiest, though.

"Noise Called a Serious Threat to Sea Creatures" The Los Angeles Times reports, a new "report says acoustic 'pollution' from ships, oil drilling and military sonar could degrade habitat. Further studies and tougher regulations are urged."

June 28, 1999

JUNK SCIENCE GRASSROOTS PAYS OFF! NRC to rethink BEIR VII-phase 2 committee membership Over the last couple of weeks, Junk Science Home Page visitors have been e-mailing the National Research Council about the biased composition of a committee slated to decide the future of the linear nonthreshold model as applied to ionizing radiation. Thanks in part to your comments, the NRC announced "This information-gathering meeting has been postponed in order for the Research Council to have more time to assess the appropriate balance and potential conflict of interest issues associated with the membership of this committee." Give yourselves a round of applause!

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "The Typo That Ate Michigan " The Detroit News comments, "EPA Chief Carol Browner’s claim that she can impose new regulations on Michigan and other states because the law restraining her contains a 'typo' should prompt a congressional rebuke."

MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSELESSNESS OF THE DAY! "Prevalence of People Reporting Sensitivities to Chemicals in a Population-based Survey" A survey published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (July 1) reports, "Surprising numbers of people believed they were sensitive to chemicals and made sick by common chemical exposures. The homogeneity of responses across race-ethnicity, geography, education, and marital status is compatible with a physiologic response or with widespread societal apprehensions in regard to chemical exposure."

"MPs to quiz tobacco firm executives" Business execs beware!

"Factories 'release GM pollution every day'" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) are being released into the environment every day, according to a report published today."

"GM debate open to public" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Members of the public are being invited to sit on a new Whitehall body charged with advising ministers on developments in the genetic modification of crops."

"Risk Factor Patterns for Cryptorchidism and Hypospadias" The endocrine disrupter crowd hopes to pin these birth defects on synthetic chemicals. The accompanying editorial points out the difficulty in making such a link.

"A Cohort Study of Farming and Risk of Prostate Cancer in Iowa" A study in Epidemioplogy reports weak statistical associations. Click here for the accompanying editorial.

"Moooooove over, chicken! Study shows lean red meat can play a role in low-fat diet" "For years, physicians have avoided red meat when designing heart-healthy diets for their patients. Turns out that's a bum steer, according to a study published in the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine."

"The Courts Vs. Scientific Certainty" William Glaberson writes in the New York Times, "The struggle between scientific and legal approaches centers on differing definitions of certainty. The two systems have different goals, which often come into conflict in courtroom battles."

June 28, 1999

JUNK SCIENCE GRASSROOTS PAYS OFF! NRC to rethink BEIR VII-phase 2 committee membership Over the last couple of weeks, Junk Science Home Page visitors have been e-mailing the National Research Council about the biased composition of a committee slated to decide the future of the linear nonthreshold model as applied to ionizing radiation. Thanks in part to your comments, the NRC announced "This information-gathering meeting has been postponed in order for the Research Council to have more time to assess the appropriate balance and potential conflict of interest issues associated with the membership of this committee." Give yourselves a round of applause!

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "The Typo That Ate Michigan " The Detroit News comments, "EPA Chief Carol Browner’s claim that she can impose new regulations on Michigan and other states because the law restraining her contains a 'typo' should prompt a congressional rebuke."

MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSELESSNESS OF THE DAY! "Prevalence of People Reporting Sensitivities to Chemicals in a Population-based Survey" A survey published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (July 1) reports, "Surprising numbers of people believed they were sensitive to chemicals and made sick by common chemical exposures. The homogeneity of responses across race-ethnicity, geography, education, and marital status is compatible with a physiologic response or with widespread societal apprehensions in regard to chemical exposure."

"MPs to quiz tobacco firm executives" Business execs beware!

"Factories 'release GM pollution every day'" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs) are being released into the environment every day, according to a report published today."

"GM debate open to public" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Members of the public are being invited to sit on a new Whitehall body charged with advising ministers on developments in the genetic modification of crops."

"Risk Factor Patterns for Cryptorchidism and Hypospadias" The endocrine disrupter crowd hopes to pin these birth defects on synthetic chemicals. The accompanying editorial points out the difficulty in making such a link.

"A Cohort Study of Farming and Risk of Prostate Cancer in Iowa" A study in Epidemioplogy reports weak statistical associations. Click here for the accompanying editorial.

"Moooooove over, chicken! Study shows lean red meat can play a role in low-fat diet" "For years, physicians have avoided red meat when designing heart-healthy diets for their patients. Turns out that's a bum steer, according to a study published in the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine."

"The Courts Vs. Scientific Certainty" William Glaberson writes in the New York Times, "The struggle between scientific and legal approaches centers on differing definitions of certainty. The two systems have different goals, which often come into conflict in courtroom battles."

June 27, 1999

"Some promises better not kept; Chretien's Kyoto pledge will cripple our economy" Diane Francis comments in the National Post, "[Prime Minister Jean] Chretien's [Kyoto] promise was reckless, totally unneeded and presents an undeniable danger to Canadian living standards."

"Proceed With Caution" Jacob Sullum writes in Reason, "The other day I heard a perky public service announcement in which Big Bird urges children to make sure they sit in the back seat of the car. Big Bird does not explain the reason: to avoid being killed by a government-mandated air bag."

"Tobacco Industry Political Power and Influence in Florida From 1979 to 1999" This Stan Glantz-study was funded by the National Cancer Institute -- beats me how tracking tobacco industry lobbying expenditures is going to help cure cancer.

"The Air Sure Is Thin Up There!" From the World Climate Report (June 14): "Where do you rate on the gullibility index? If you are among the 10 percent of the population who believe everything they hear on Tee Vee, then the CBS News coverage of the latest greenhouse warming hooey would have you searching for a priest to administer Last Rites..."

"EU Chiefs To Tighten Trading Rules" The Los Angeles Times reports, "EU environment ministers agreed today [June 25] to tighten rules on trading and selling new genetically modified seeds in the 15 -nation European Union."

"Greenpeace demands environment ministers to stop GE-crops" "Greenpeace urged the participants of today's [June 24] EU Environment Council to take a precautionary position and to prevent the commercial growing of GE crops."

"Breast screening 'should begin at 40'" Otherwise, those in the unscrupulous breast cancer industry would have to dream up a new scam.

"Chemicals found in amniotic fluid" When I saw this MSNBC headline, I knew that Francesca Lyman, MSNBC's resident enviro-dolt, was behind it. And the article does not disappoint -- half-truths presented to scare the uninformed. Despite its heavy use and human exposure, DDT has never been credibly linked with adverse health effects in humans. On the contrary, DDT is one of the most effective public health measures ever implemented.

"Judge orders new trial in Pennsylvania radiation case" The Associated Press reports, "A judge has thrown out a 36.5 million award to eight cancer victims and their families and ordered a new trial in a lawsuit against uranium plant operators in a small Pennsylvania town. U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose ruled that some testimony was prejudicial and evidence was improperly withheld from lawyers for the companies."

"Lessons of implant case" The Boston Herald comments, "In part because of the breast implant mess, the federal courts are tightening their standards as to what counts as science. Judges in Alabama and Oregon even appointed their own scientific advisers, who came out exactly where the institute did. There's a lot more to be done. Congress and state legislatures must help do it."

"A high-stakes fight for clean air" The air must be so polluted in Boston that Boston Globe columnist Thomas Oliphant can't think straight: since when are unconstitutional EPA regulations "one of the pillars of 20th century government."

"The Untouchables" Contrary to this Los Angeles Times editorial, last week's Supreme Court rulings on states' rights ensures constitutional government -- the root of our health and wealth.

June 25, 1999

"Clean Bill of Health for Vinyl Toys and Medical Devices" "The plastic softener found in vinyl toys and medical devices are not harmful to children or adults."

OVERREACTION OF THE DAY: "U.S. Recalls Pool Dive Toys Deemed as Health Hazards" Six unfortunate accidents (probably more due to poor parental supervision) among 19 million dive sticks sold since 1979 equals a product recall from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Perhaps it's time for Congress to recall the CPSC.

REPORT OF THE DAY I: "Stricter laws don't reduce drunken driving accidents, study shows " The Associated Press reports, "A study by the GAO has found that stricter drunken driving limits alone do not conclusively reduce the number or severity of alcohol-related crashes. The finding challenges statements by President Clinton after a 1996 university study reported that alcohol-related fatalities had fallen in states where the blood-alcohol limit for determining drunken driving had been reduced from 0.10 percent to 0.08." Click here for the GAO report.

REPORT OF THE DAY II: "Alcohol benefits debunked" The BBC reports, "Moderate alcohol consumption has no positive effect on health - contrary to a number of studies - while heavy drinking doubles men's chances of dying from a stroke, research has found." Click here for the British Medical Journal study.

WACKY CLAIM OF THE DAY: "Coffee may stimulate epilepsy in newborns" If true, you'd think that with all the coffee consumed and all the babies born, someone would have noticed this supposed effect in real people rather than having to extrapolate from cellular discharges.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "The World Is Still Safe for Butterflies" Michael Fumento writes in the Wall Street Journal, "In truth, it's hardly clear that Bt corn poses any danger to the monarch butterfly."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Warning Signs" Alan Caruba's monthly commentary on current junk science, legislative, and other issues.

"Experts at ASHRAE Nix Smoking" The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has changed its mind about smoking. Its old standard suggested that appropriate and safe indoor air quality standards might be met even if some level of smoking was permitted -- not any more.

"Nibbling insects signal global warming" The BBC reports, "Fossils of half-eaten plants have revealed evidence from the distant past which could help track global warming."

"MTBE Gas Pumps to Be Labeled Until Phaseout" Nothing exceeds like excess.

"The Regulators" The Washington Post's friday column "The Regulators" features the OSHA's quest for an ergonomics standard.

"Suit Over Fen-Phen Seeks Checkups for the Healthy" This Wall Street Journal article about the fen-phen shakedown omits mentioning the study presented at last week's annual meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography reporting that the adverse cardiac effect associated with fen-phen is trivial and not long-lasting.

June 24, 1999

OUTRAGE OF THE DAY: EPA refuses FOIA request for scientific data The Environmental Protetcion Agency has refused to provide the Pope study data as requested in this letter. The EPA says that: (1) the agency does not have the data in its possession -- the American Cancer Society does; and (2) EPA did not fund the collection of the data, so under FOIA EPA has no obligation to obtain the data. My initial thoughts are: (1) How convenient. The data is unavailable to the public (and apparently EPA), but the EPA can still use it to regulate? How can EPA verify the Pope study without seeing the data? Or does peer review by the American Lung Association (a lobbying group for stricter air quality standards and recipient of EPA grants) mean the study's weak statistical associations are beyond reproach? (2) EPA did pay for Pope to use the ACS data. I'd bet that, in turn, Pope (the EPA contractor) "rented" the data from the ACS. So the ACS is raking in public monies from the data set.

REPORT OF THE DAY: "The Deadly Effects of Fuel Economy Standards: CAFE's Lethal Impact on Auto Safety" The Competitive Enterprise Institute reports, "In 1997, over 21,000 car occupants died in traffic accidents in the United States. We know about the causes and contributing factors for many of these deaths, such as reckless driving, alcohol, and failing to use seatbelts, and we have many government programs aimed at reducing these factors. But there is one government program that actually increases traffic fatalities. This is the federal new-car fuel economy program, popularly known as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy). CAFE has resulted in a significant downsizing of the passenger car fleet. However, because small cars are less crashworthy than similarly equipped large cars, CAFE has increased car occupant deaths. As this study shows, in 1997 CAFE was responsible for between 2,600 and 4,500 traffic fatalities. If CAFE is made even more stringent, as some advocate, this toll will only increase."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "The Law Disfigured" The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "We now know, because we were informed repeatedly by science the past eight years, that the plaintiff lawyers' breast-implant injury claims were based on nothing. If the American judiciary continues to allow these charlatans to perform in their courts, the day may soon arrive when foreign officials visit to instruct the U.S. on the need to join the civilized world by creating a rule of law."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Very Political Science" Ken Smith writes in the Washington Times, "While scientists try to clean up the mess that Mr. Kessler and others have left behind, he has moved on to bigger, more politically correct wars against the tobacco industry. Apparently being a federal scaremonger means never having to say you're sorry for being arrogant. In the New England Journal he wrote that caveat emptor - let the buyer beware - would never be FDA's philosophy. Let Americans beware the David Kesslers of the world."

JUNK OF THE DAY: "Softer margarine helps reduce cholesterol, study says" This New England Journal of Medicine study< /a> will be used by those who sell margarine products with reduced/no trans fatty acids. But evidence of trans fatty acids causing heart disease is thin.

WACKY CLAIM OF THE DAY: "Four-minute warning" The New Scientist reports, "Drinking [100 cups of] coffee could protect people from radioactivity, according to scientists in India who have found that mice given caffeine survive otherwise lethal doses of radiation."

"Jet contrails to be significant climate factor by 2050" I sure hope that by the year 2050, we're using something other than 1950's technology for air travel.

"Supreme Court Voids Settlement in Asbestos Suit" The Los Angeles Times reports, " Souter also noted pointedly that the plaintiffs' lawyers had a definite interest in not challenging Fibreboard's figures because they want to reach a settlement that can generate huge fees not only in this settlement but in the earlier deal on the other 45,000 cases."

"Wildlife Thrive in Bad Environment" The Associated Press reports, "The wide-mouth bass are monsters. The deer are fatter and the alligators longer. And the ponds, wetlands and rich bottomland brim with snakes, turtles, and salamanders -a bounty of biological diversity. But the Savannah River Site, a 310 -square-mile expanse of longleaf pine forest and marshland along the river that divides South Carolina from Georgia, is an ecological paradox."

"France takes another swing at genetically modified food" The Associated Press reports, "France will broaden its fight against genetically modified food by asking its European Union partners to ban new marketing of the crops, officials said Wednesday."

"Pesticide Laws Fail to Protect Farm Workers, Study Finds" But "pesticide-related illnesses overall dropped by nearly one-fifth statewide in 1997, while cases of exposure to chemicals left on crops has fallen steadily since the early 1980s."

"Diet drug manufacturer settles wrongful death lawsuit" The Associated Press reports, "The maker of half of the once-popular diet-drug cocktail fen-phen announced a settlement Tuesday in the wrongful death suit filed by the family of a Texas woman who died in 1997 while using it to lose weight." I guess the plaintiff lawyers were scared off by a study presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography that reportsed the adverse cardiac effect associated with fen-phen is trivial and not long-lasting.

June 23, 1999

TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Did Al Gore say it? Or was it the Unabomber? It may be more difficult to decide than you think." Test your knowledge with this Washington Pest quiz.

Slipshod reporting: Hazards are real Here's my letter-to-the-editor (submitted) about this cell phone article at

"The Big Lie Exposed" The Detroit News comments, "Silicone breast implants do not cause disease, a government panel of medical experts has unanimously concluded -- yet again. Unwavering in its findings, the report exposes as utterly corrupt the litigation against implant makers so greedily pursued by merchants of mass tort. Among other things, the litigation bankrupted a major Michigan employer, Dow Corning of Midland."

"Too late for science" The Cincinnati Post comments, "What happened to the breast-implant manufacturers was purely arbitrary, and it was wrong."

Be a victim! Anne Fennell opines on the controversial study about childhood sexual abuse.

"Brazil court delays sale of Monsanto's GM soybeans" Reuters reports, "A Brazilian judge said Tuesday he ordered U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. to delay sales of its genetically modified (GM) soybeans until it conducts an environmental impact study. Federal Judge Antonio Souza Prudente said his ruling was called for under the constitution to protect Brazil against the possibility of unknown environmental or health dangers from transgenic crops."

"Tell-tale signs of climate change" The BBC reports, "Birds, butterflies and the Scottish skiing industry are among a range of official climate "pointers" to be used by the UK Government in the battle against global warming."

"Report: ‘Mad cow’ risk minimal" MSNBC reports,"The risk of mad cow-type disease breaking out among people in the United States is small, researchers said Tuesday."

"Study links lead to tooth decay" Despite this <>Reuters headline, "The new study does not definitively show that lead exposure causes cavities or how it may do so ..."

"Environmental Bill Targets Children" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Sen. Martha Escutia has waged a two-year battle to protect the young, who are more at risk from hazards. Legislation's prospects appear brighter this time around."

"Anaesthetic gas 'a health risk'" The BBC reports, "Regular exposure to the gas used to anaesthetise patients before surgery causes genetic damage to the immune system, research has found."

June 22, 1999

"The Latest Breast Implant Verdict" The New York Times comments that the silicone breast implant fiasco is not a good enough reason for tort reform.

Grasping for Air Anne Fennell writes about indoor air.

"Beer pressure" For some reason, 18-year olds are smart enough to vote for President or use an automatic weapon in the military -- but they're not smart enough to consume alcohol responsibly?

"Americans concerned about infectious disease threat" Reuters reports, "Most Americans are deeply concerned about the global spread of hepatitis, tuberculosis, AIDS, and other infectious diseases, according to a new survey."

"EU Seeks More Coca-Cola Study" The Los Angeles Times reports, "As top executives lobbied to lift a ban on sales of Coca-Cola Co.'s major soft drinks, the European Union on Monday requested further investigations to find what caused dozens of people to become ill after drinking the company's products."

"Global GM crop investigation begins" The BBC reports, "The world's seven richest nations and Russia have commissioned a special investigation on the global implications of genetically-modified (GM) foods and crops."

"BSE Inquiry enters new phase " The BBC reports, "The BSE inquiry resumes its hearings on Tuesday, after a pause in which it has assimilated the mass of information it collected during the first phase."

June 21, 1999

"World's top sweetener is made with GM bacteria" The Independent (UK) reports, "The most widely used sweetener in the world, found in fizzy drinks and sweets, is being mde using a secret genetic engineering process, which some scientists claim needs further testing for toxic side-effects."

"The Week That Was June 14-20, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

FDA BLUNDERBUSS STRIKES AGAIN: "So much for sunblock" A new FDA regulation limits the SPF factor that a manufacturer can put on a label to "30+", thus reducing incentive to come up with a better sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology and the National Skin Cancer Foundation oppose the FDA's decision, calling the rule confusing and misguided.

EMF SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT: "Findings of scientific misconduct" A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researcher is disciplined for "intentionally falsifying and fabricating data and claims about the purported cellular effects of electric and magnetic fields (EMF) that were reported in two scientific papers."

REPORT OF THE DAY: "Panel Confirms No Major Illness Tied to Breast Implants" The New York Times reports, "An independent panel of 13 scientists convened by the Institute of Medicine at the request of Congress has concluded that silicone breast implants do not cause any major diseases." Click for the report's press release and exec utive summary.

CLAIM OF THE DAY: "Sun to blame for ozone hole, not people: scientists" "The hole in the ozone layer in the South Pole is due to the Sun not people according to research by a Chinese scientist, Xinhua news agency said Sunday."

"Cell Study: Hazards Are Real" How can anyone take George Carlo seriously?

"Exercise daily, eat wisely, die anyway" Anne Fennell will be writing a regular column for the Junk Science Home Page. As an introduction to Anne's perspective, a new column will be posted each of the next three days.

"Some environmentalists say Gore has been more passion than action" The Boston Globe reports, "Gore and Clinton 'talk very big rhetoric and actually propose very little in terms of action. It's what I would call the school uniform solution to environmental problems,' said Phillip E. Clapp of the National Environmental Trust, one of Gore's most vocal critics on the environment."

"U.S. to Increase Wind Power Efforts" The wind from Al Gore alone could probably provide enough power to light up a small city.

"The Coming Campaign for the Environmental Vote" Mark Hertsgaard writes in the Los Angeles Times, "Vice President Al Gore has long taken the environmental vote for granted, but that may change now that Texas Gov. George W. Bush has decided global warming is real. After years of endorsing the oil industry's view that mankind's greenhouse gas emissions have no effect on climate, the Texas governor told a press conference on May 12, 'I believe there is global warming.'"

"A Cloud Over Cigar Smoking" The Los Angeles Times reports,"Those who smoke cigars are not typical smokers. They don't puff a pack a day. Most hit the humidor just once in a while, when they're in the mood--often kicking back and taking long, slow draws. To many, it's very retro and very cool. But a bill now working its way through the state Legislature would add a reality check to those fancy cigar boxes: Warning labels similar to those on cigarette packets stating the health risks associated with smoking."

"Gulf War syndrome linked to enzyme level" The Associated Press reports, "Soldiers born with low levels of n enzyme that helps the body fight off chemical toxins are more likely to report symptoms of ulf War syndrome than soldiers born with normal levels, according to a new study published in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology."

"Flight of success" The Denver Post erroneously comments that DDT caused the bald eagle population to decline. No scientific evidence shows that environmental levels of DDT cause reproductive problems in eagles. The primary causes of the eagles decline were overhunting and habitat destruction.

June 18, 1999

"Ms. Browner Responds on Clean Air" The New York Times is unhappy that the EPA can't get away with its unconstitutional air pollution regulations. But the Times is happy that the EPA has a back-up strategy to address the environmental fantasy of Northeastern states known as "ozone transport." As EPA's own science advisers have acknowledged, there is no scientific evidence that air emissions from Midwestern states significantly foul the air in Northeastern states. The Northeast just wants to blame others for its own air pollution problems.

"Life and death decisions" The Detroit News comments (June 18), "A fascinating study in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine highlights how politicized Washington’s allocation of medical research dollars has become. The scarcity of money and the human toll of diseases require that Congress examine whether current funding formulas are justified."

"Warning: Ignore Stupid Labels" Bryan Stockton writes in the Los Angeles Times, "Consider what the warnings say about our society: Everyone has a right to sue for any unpleasantness or inconvenience. The growth of the litigation industry attests to this. These lawsuits remove any responsibility from the individual and seek to place blame on corporations and businesses with money."

"Glacier Might Endanger Shipping" Aren't the glaciers supposed to be melting from all the global warming?

June 18, 1999

JUNK OF THE DAY: "Professor Neurotoxicity" Salon reports, "A renegade researcher believes the teenage killers of Columbine could have been driven to crime by environmental poisoning."

"Tulane Inquiry Clears Lead Researcher" Science, reports "An investigation into whether fraud played a role in an influential report on the health effects of hormonelike chemicals has drawn to a murky close."

"Greens Still Trying to Salvage Their Alar-Stained Reputation" Michael Fumento writes, "Nothing makes Greens--radical environmentalists--turn an angry red faster than invoking the word Alar to epitomize bogus environmental scares and imply that a current one is equally phony."

"Global warming disease warning" The BBC reports "The World Health Organisation (WHO) says global warming could lead to a major increase in insect-borne diseases in Britain and Europe." Click here for the British Medical Journal article.

"Eagles Rebound, Ready to Leave Protected List" The Los Angeles Times erroneoulsy reports that DDT caused the bald eagle population to decline. No scientific evidence shows that environmental levels of DDT cause reproductive problems in eagles. The primary causes of the eagles decline were overhunting and destruction of habitat.

"Activists Push for Labeling of Genetically Altered Foods" The Los Angeles Times reports "Underscoring concern over the growing use of genetically engineered ingredients in processed foods, the environmental group Greenpeace released a study Thursday that shows three top baby food and nutritional products contain DNA from genetically engineered corn and soybeans."

"Debate refused on GM crops 'risk' " The BBC reports "Genetically-modified crops will "inevitably" contaminate organic crops according to new UK government-funded research published on Thursday. However, the government have refused an early parliamentary debate."

"Road deaths up after Berlin Wall falls" The BBC reports "Inexperienced drivers from the former communist East Germany have helped quadruple the road death rate, after experiencing powerful western cars and high speed limits for the first time." Click here for the British medical Journal article.

"Six diseases threaten world" The BBC reports "A handful of infectious diseases - which account for 50% of deaths among children or young adults - pose a threat to the world's future prosperity, says the World Health Organisation (WHO)."

June 17, 1999

"France proposes world food safety council" Could food safety be NATO's next mission?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Health scare without shame Does Francesca Lyman work for MSNBC or Greenpeace?

"Detoxifying Classrooms" The San Francisco Chronicle adds to the panic in California over portable classrooms.

"The Relation between Funding by the National Institutes of Health and the Burden of Disease" Although you'd never know it from this abstract, this New England Journal of Medicine report reveals that the loudest disease lobbies (AIDS and breast cancer) get the most research funding.

Fen-phen effect reportedly temporary A study presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Echocardiography in Washington, DC, reports the adverse cardiac effect associated with the diet-drug combination fen-phen is not long-lasting. Dr. Neil J. Weissman, of the Washington Hospital Center found "...a small increase in trivial degrees of regurgitation" on echocardiography within a month of stopping the drug. Dr. Weissman now reports that 3 to 5 months after discontinuation of the drug, "...there is no increase in regurgitation... There is no evidence of any progression [of valvular disease]...and there may be a reversal."

"Deformed mice astound researchers" The Associated Press reports, "An astounding discovery of rodents with dual sex organs at the former Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge has researchers nationwide excited and worried about the possible implications for humans."

"SUVs Taking Toll in Pollution, Fuel Costs, Research Group Says" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Lenient miles-per-gallon standards for sport-utility vehicles and minivans cost Americans an extra $13.6 billion at the gas pump last year while causing a significant increase in air pollution, a public interest research group reported Wednesday."

"UK stubs out tobacco ads" The BBC reports, "The government is bringing forward plans to ban tobacco advertising - two years before an EU directive comes into force."

June 16, 1999

'MUST READ' OF THE DAY: "Nation's experts give up: 'From now on, you're on your own,' say experts" From The Onion.

REPORT OF THE DAY I: Bad news for the enviros: No change in kids' cancer rates, mortality down Contrary to enviro hysteria, kids' cancer rates are level and mortality is down. Click here for Reuters coverage.

REPORT OF THE DAY II: WHO's "International Consultation on Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) and Child Health" This new report from WHO claims that 700 million children are exposed to secondhand smoke from 1.2 billion smokers. Click here for the ASH press release. Click here for BBC coverage.

"Vinyl in IV bags harmful, group says" The Associated Press reports, "A group campaigning against the use of vinyl in medical IV bags said Tuesday a review of scientific literature provides strong evidence the bags can harm systems in animals." Click here for coverage from MSNBC's resident airhead Francesca Lyman. Let's be real -- does a retrospective study of questionable capability by the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Sustainable Production (financed by the Greenpeace-supported Health Care Without Harm) really outweigh vinyl IV-bags' 40-year track record of safety?

"Awaiting EPA's decision" The Denver Post comments, "New questions about the Shattuck mess must be answered before government agencies decide who will pay to remove a huge pile of radioactive wastes from central Denver."

"Toxic portables" Portable classrooms have been used since at least the 1960s -- if they are so "toxic," where's the evidence of health effects?

"Menopause Drug Cuts Breast Cancer Risk" According to the study authors, to prevent one case of breast cancer, 126 women would have to take raloxifene.

"Medicine's data debate: Should all research be available for free on Internet?" Yes... along with the data.

"Stress? What stress?" So maybe it's not cell phones? Colin Blakemore, a highly respected physiology prof at Oxford University, recently claimed that cellphones can cause short-term memory loss in humans. He claimed to have seen it in himself. But Blakemore is also on a top-10 murder hit list drawn up by the Animal Rights Militia. That kind of stress could make anyone forget a few things?

"GM meetings revealed" The BBC reports, "Government officials and ministers have held at least 104 meetings with biotech companies since coming to power, campaigners have disclosed. Those opposed to the development of genetically-modified food claim this proves their suspicion of a cosy relationship between the government and business interests."

June 15, 1999

REPORT OF THE DAY: "Environmental Health Institute report concludes evidence is 'weak' that electric and magnetic fields cause cancer" "After six years of accelerated, Congressionally mandated research, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences today announced it has concluded that the evidence for a risk of cancer and other human disease from the electric and magnetic fields (EMF) around power lines is 'weak.'" Welcome to the club.

"White House Seeks to Postpone Global-Warming Treaty Meeting" The Wall Street Journal reports (June 14) that, "The Clinton administration is trying to postpone until 2001 an international convention to complete the treaty to curb global warming, a move that would give the next administration the final say on the treaty." Reporter John Fialka omitted the real rationale for the White House move -- keeping the global warming issue off the front burner while Al Gore makes his run for president.

"Test of Pregnant Women Finds Pesticide Traces" The Los Angeles Times reports, "A preliminary study of 53 pregnant women in the Los Angeles area has detected for the first time traces of pesticides and other man-made chemicals in amniotic fluid, raising questions--and perhaps undue alarm--about the possible health risks to developing babies." Click her e for the media release.

"New fears over mobile phone safety" The BBC reports, "Fears that mobile phone transmitters are linked to child cancers and other illnesses will be discussed at the first meeting of a new group of MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday."

"Car fumes kill more than crashes " The BBC reports, "The emissions from car exhausts are responsible for more deaths than road accidents, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) research."

"Oil fires may have caused soldiers' symptoms" Reuters reports, "Smoke from burning oil wells may have contributed to health problems experienced by US soldiers stationed in Kuwait immediately after Operation Desert Storm, Army researchers report."

"Behavioral therapy may help Gulf War syndrome" Reuters reports, "Even though a specific cause of Gulf War syndrome has not been -- and may not be -- uncovered, cognitive behavioral therapy can help people manage their symptoms and get on with their lives, according to a report in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine."

"EPA Sets Scaled-Back Plan to Improve Eastern States' Air Quality" The Washington Post reports, "With its plan for reducing the interstate movement of air pollution blocked by recent federal appeals court decisions, the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced a scaled-back strategy to improve air quality in eastern states affected by polluting industries in other regions."

"Nuking climate change" The BBC reports, "Nuclear energy can be a useful part of a strategy to tackle global warming, according to two British scientific bodies."

"Fear in the food chain" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Many are worried about the use of chemicals in farming, but going organic is not necessarily the answer."

"Most chemicals we eat are natural" The Daily Telegraph reports, "Dr James Le Fanu casts a sceptical eye over the evidence suggesting that eating organic food is healthier."

"Twenty years on: the GM harvest Acid Test" The Daily Telegraph conjures up images of the UK after a 20-year ban on GM crops.

"SUVs take consumers for a ride" Members of the Union of Concerned Scientists label SUVs "Public Enemy No. 1 of the environment."

June 14, 1999

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Fist's Forgotten Facts" My New Australian article about The Australian's (anti-)technology columnist Stewart Fist and his mobile phone jihad.

TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Al Gore Needs to Be a Green Giant " In a letter to Businessweek, the executive director of the Sierra Club writes, "Since he is green, he must be a green giant." I agree. Al Gore belongs on a can of corn. Ho-ho-ho....

"EPA delays rights plan" The Detroit News reports, "As complaints pile up, the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to write a more workable 'environmental justice' policy appears to be bogging down."

" Global warming sinks islands" The Independent reports two Pacific islands are the "first victims" of the rising seas brought about by global warming.

"World food safety" The Boston Globe comments, "While food fear is understandable, it can be exaggerated and used to justify restrictions where the real motive is trade protectionism more than health."

"Fact filtering in the pursuit of truth" Chet Raymo writes in the Boston Globe, "Is the filter of science foolproof? Of course not. But if post-modern critics of science have a more reliable way of generating 'facts,' let's hear it."

"GM research row moves to Internet" The BBC reports, "The scientist whose conclusions about the safety of genetically modified food were publicly denounced has hit back at his critics in an Internet Website."

"Plastic Panics and the Perils of the Precautionary Principle" Bill Durodie of the London School of Economics writes, "Despite substantial scientific evidence to the contrary, environmentalist and consumer protection groups have claimed that phthalates are responsible for numerous adverse health effects including cancer and damage to the human reproductive system. As a result a series of informal, and more recently formal, bans on their use have been coming into operation across the world."

"Burning of Waste by Farmers Raises Concerns" Though few complain, the feds are spending $27 million to study whether the burning of farm stubble is bad for air quality.

June 13, 1999

"Despite government's attitudes, smokers can quit if they really want to" Jerry Heaster writes in the Kansas City Star, "Smoking isn't nearly as serious a problem for America as the willingness of this society's institutional leadership to push the degrading notion that an affinity for nicotine makes self-determination impossible."

"Europe's environment and health go online " The BBC reports, "four organisations have combined forces to establish an interactive European environment and health database."

"Belgians turn to horse, eel amid dioxin scare" The Associated Press reports, "Belgians will not be kept from a decent meal, dangerous food contamination or no. Roast chicken and mayonnaise might have been laced with dioxin, but there are always unlikely alternatives: horse, eel, buffalo."

"Millions and millions dead" A parody from The Onion.

June 12, 1999

"Superfund Spending Tracked" The Washington Post reports, "Less than half of the money budgeted for Superfund toxic waste removal is spent on actual site cleanups, and a growing proportion goes for administrative costs, a congressional report said yesterday."

"MPs form mobile phone pressure group" The BBC reports, "The safety of mobile phones is to be investigated by a cross party group of MPs who plan to ntensify debate on the issue in the House of Commons."

"Scientists puzzled over hermaphroditic mice" The Associated Press reports, "Something odd is happening to rodents at a Northern California wildlife refuge where thousands of birds were poisoned by toxic runoff from farms years ago."

"Pollution cloud threatens Asia" The BBC reports, "A thick brown cloud of pollution the size of the United States has formed over the Indian Ocean, contributing to acid rain and cutting the amount of sunlight reaching the water."

"Farmer attacks anti-GM 'fascism'" The BBC reports, "A farmer who countered Prince Charles' criticism of genetically-modified foods in a newspaper article and offered his own land for trials has accused those who destroy GM crops of 'fascism'."

June 11, 1999

Data access in the Washington Post In her weekly column "The Regulators," Cindy Skrzycki writes, "The scientific research community supports the idea of intellectual honesty. Business has always wanted to see and double-check the science that underlies important federal rules. And some in Congress think everyone should have access to scientific data collected with taxpayer dollars."

TODAY'S GORE-ING: "The real victims of the Gores" An excellent column by Betsy Hart on the agenda of victimhood. My favorite quote is: "Now, maybe I'm old-fashioned but I tend to think of personal courage as something that belonged to, say, the young men who stormed the beaches of Normandy and not to those who simply take part in the orgy of self-revelation that has become the Holy Grail of 1990s American life." [Emphasis added]

"Got kale?" The Boston Globe defends against animal rights activists who want to discourage milk consumption.

"Putting out that cigar" Notice how Surgeon General David Satcher calls on role model-sports figures to give up cigars -- but not his boss, President Clinton. Satcher must either be afraid of criticizing Clinton or doesn't view him as much of a role model. Click here for Satcher's New England Journal of Medicine editorial.

"Air Inside Cars Found Dirtier Than Outside" The Los Angeles Times reports, "The air people breathe inside their cars can be as much as 10 times more polluted than even the typical dirty outdoor air in the Los Angeles area, according to a study released Thursday by California air quality officials."

"Anti-Nuclear Effort Barely Afloat" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Despite a string of defeats, activists press crusade against atomic-powered carriers in San Diego Bay."

"The workplace has become safer in the 20th century, CDC says" The Associated Press reports, "Safety rules adopted after a series of disasters in the early 1900s have contributed to a more than 90 percent drop in the rate of American workers killed on the job, federal health officials said Thursday."

"Second-generation air bags could fail federal crash test, automakers say" The Associated Press reports, "The nation's three biggest automakers say their latest, less forceful air bags - designed to reduce injuries to children and small adults - cannot pass a proposed government crash test standard that the automakers say is too tough."

June 10, 1999

DRKOOP.CON OF THE DAY: "Understanding radon" Dr. Kook wants you to know that "Any home may have a radon problem." How does Dr. Kook know? Because "reputable" organizations like the EPA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association and American Lung Association say so. QED.

Browner faces uphill quest for Senate seat - EPA administrator Carol Browner is contemplating the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Connie Mack. Perhaps Browner should get a better grip on her political viability. Despite being Florida's environmental czar before her current 6-year stint as EPA's Queen of Hearts (during which time she beat back regulatory reform efforts and masterminded an unconstitutional crusade against air pollution), apparently Florida voters don't know who she is. According to an Inside EPA report (June 11), Florida sources say the best Browner can hope for is 25 percent name recognition. Worse, another Florida Democrat is so heavily favored that even current House Democrats Peter Deutsch and Robert Wexler have dropped out. But maybe there's another Florida-related job for which Browner may be suitable -- I'm sure Disneyworld could use another person to dress up as Pinocchio. Browner certainly has grown the nose for the job.

"Lead Paint, The Next Big Legal Target" An earlier round of lawsuits against lead paint manufacturers failed because the plaintiffs could never prove that lead caused the injuries alleged.

EPA: THE EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION AGENCY? EPA moves to implement overturned air quality standards The EPA announced that 10 areas will have to comply with the ozone standards issued in mid-1997 -- standards that were declared unconstitutional by a federal court last month. Now we know what the "E" in EPA stands for.

BEYOND DEFORMED FROGS ARE... "Deformed dragonflies discovered in northern Minnesota" The Associated Press reports, "Researchers said Wednesday they have found dozens of dragonflies in northern Minnesota with misshapen mouths, abdomens and antennae, but do not know the cause of the deformities."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "EPA’s Toxic Agenda" The Detroit News comments, "The Environmental Protection Agency uses the emissions inventory required of industry for political, not environmental, ends."

DRKOOK.COM: "Koop sets sights on the couch potato" Dr. Kook suggests that people can stay in shape by avoiding elevators. This will probably lead to a requirement that building owners have defibrillators mounted in stairways like fire extinguishers [Break here in case of heart attack]. Also, isn't it simply precious that Dr. Kook is a "senior scholar" at the C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth. How modest.

"Vietnamese Celebrities Star in New Anti-Tobacco Spots" I guess the Vietnamese must have laughed themselves silly over California's use of impotence to scare smokers?

"Butterflies Migrate Farther North as Earth Warms, Report Says" Thomas Maugh, the medical writer for the Los Angeles Times. reports that global warming is causing butterflies to move north.

"SUVs: stupid, useless vehicles" Airhead Ellen Goodman writes another anti-SUV column in the Boston Globe. Send your comments to

"Greens call for total GM ban" The BBC reports, "British agriculture must make profound changes, including a total ban on genetic engineering, says a report by two leading environmental campaigns."

"Cigars double risks of certain cancers" The Associated Press Reports, "Taking aim at one of the '90s most popular trends, a new study says that cigar smokers as twice as likely as nonsmokers to get cancer of the mouth, throat and lungs." Click here for the study abstract and here for the accompanying editorial.

"Recipe for disaster" The New Scientist reports, "Belgians will be reeling from further shocks this week. Food which was last week revealed to have been contaminated with dioxins also contained high levels of PCBs--and all the contaminated produce has probably already been eaten. What's more, the first estimates of likely doses suggest that young children may be at risk from the poisons."

"Mercury alert" The New Scientist reports, "Exposure to mercury in the womb raises children's blood pressure in later life, according to a study in the Faeroe Islands. The data--which indicate an effect at one-third of the current limit for mercury in food--are being examined by UN advisers meeting in Rome this week to review these limits."

"Shadow of a doubt" The New Scientist reports, "Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. A research team in Ireland say this is the first evidence that routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle."

"Virus warning over animal organ transplants" The BBC reports, "An international group of doctors and lawyers are calling for a ban on the use of genetically modified animal organs in human transplants amid fears over deadly new viruses."

"Global warming threatens ocean food chain" The Globe and Mail reports (June 9), "Feeble West Coast salmon and skinny polar bears in Hudson Bay are among the first tangible signs that global warming may be damaging the fragile ocean food chain, says a report by leading ocean scientists."

June 9, 1999

DRKOOP.CON: "Call Him Doc Com: Koop's Web IPO Clicks" A stock analyst says people "want to turn to someone whose name they recognize as a credible person, with integrity." But does former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop have integrity? Shold the public rely on Koop to put its interest above his own? In August 1994, President Clinton granted Koop a waiver for burial at Arlington National Cemetery -- about the same time that Koop agreed to shill for Hillary Clinton's plan to bureaucratize and socialize the nation's health care system. Koop needed a waiver because he did not qualify for burial at Arlington -- an honor reserved for long-serving and highly-decorated military heroes. Koop has no military service. When Koop was exposed, he gave up his rights to an Arlington burial. So Koop was willing to wreak havoc on the best system of medical care in the world and endanger the public health and welfare for a burial plot he didn't otherwise deserve. Now that's integrity!

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Do Americans want honest EPA?" About the recent overturning of the EPA's air quality standards, Walter Williams writes, "The decision is really a victory for Americans who expect environmental regulations to be based on non-bogus science and expect Congress and federal agencies to behave constitutionally. But I'm afraid a large percentage of Americans want just the opposite as a means to accomplish their agenda to control the lives of others... There are numerous laws, restrictions and regulations based upon the EPA's fraudulent report on secondhand tobacco smoke. How many Americans do you think would say, 'Hey, now that we know that EPA 1992 report was a fraud, let's repeal all those laws and regulations based upon it'? I'm guessing most would say, 'I don't like the smell of cigarettes and if it takes government fraud and duping the public to get rid of it, so be it.'"

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Studies in environmental propaganda" The Fraser Institute's Laura Jones writes in the National Post, "... future policy-making will be in jeopardy when an entire generation of Canadians is not taught to think critically about important scientific issues, or to question special interest group propaganda."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "Protecting Us From The EPA" Eric Peters writes in Investor's Business Daily, "The recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that the Environmental Protection Agency must promulgate its air-quality regulations based on science and legislative intent is an amazing reversal of fortune for one of the most out-of-control of all federal bureaucracies. The ruling is also a clarion call for Congress to shoulder its constitutional duty to write laws with clear intent, rather than pass the buck to unaccountable, often overzealous regulatory bodies."

REPORT OF THE DAY: "Preserve the public's right to know about federally funded research" About the data access law controversy, the Heritage Foundation concludes, "The public believes it should have the right to examine and question data funded with tax dollars and used to make federal policy. The Shelby provision is critical for forcing the development and refinement of federal data access policies by drawing on the existing work on data sharing done by academic institutions and professional organizations. There is no need to waste more money to determine whether taxpayers should have the right to access federally funded research."

GAO says current laws allow EPA to implement global warming treaty In its May 20 testimony before Congress, the Government Accounting Office reported that a provision in the EPA's appropriations law for 1999 does not absolutely prohibit the agency from implementing the Kyoto Protocol. The GAO says the EPA may undertake activities that are otherwise authorized by law.

"Belgium plans to return food to shelves after dioxin scare" The Associated Press reports, "Accusing the world of "overreacting" to its tainted food question, Belgium announced an end to restrictions on poultry Tuesday and prepared to erase similar bans on most of the foods it had pulled off the shelves."

"Hormone therapy raises risk only for treatable breast tumors " Bad news for phramaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. The Associated Press reports, "A study of 37,000 women found that taking post-menopausal hormones does not increase the risk of breast cancer, except for some uncommon forms of the disease that are slow-growing and highly treatable." Lilly has been scaring women about HRT causing breast cancer in order to sell its new drug raloxifene. Lilly is probably hoping women see the Re uters headline as opposed to the Los Angeles Times' headline for this story. Click here for the study abstract.

"Coffee may prevent gallstones" At most, this study is only evidence that coffee doesn't increase the risk of gallstones. The study subjects are health professionals who are probably healthier than the general population. Click here for the study abstract.

"Magnetic bracelets 'unproven', says watchdog" The BBC reports, "Suppliers of magnetic bracelets and necklaces cannot prove their claims that they relieve pain, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)."

"Anti-ageing creams 'ineffective'" The BBC reports, "Cosmetic lotions that promise to hold back the physical ravages of time are 'ineffective,' according to a leading skin specialist."

June 8, 1999

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Respite from the regulators?" Fred Singer writes in the Washington Times, "Big news on the legal front: A U.S. Court of Appeals panel in D.C. decided unanimously last month that EPA had used science selectively (which is another way of saying that it was junk)."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Air bags fit to kill" Eric Peters writes in the Washington Times, "The public, meanwhile, has been alarmingly gulled into believing that air bags are utterly benign; that they pose little or no risk to a car's occupants - much like safety belts and padded dashboards. But this is bunk and twiddle. An air bag is inherently dangerous -unlike a seat belt."

"N.I.H. Plan for Journal on the Web Draws Fire" The New York Times reports, "Some scientists say, however, that E-biomed could confuse or alarm consumers by disseminating unverified information and 'junk science' not reviewed by experts in the field." So how would E-biomed differ from our current situation?

"Risk for breast cancer may begin early" These researchers should be arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to a lifetime of watching Rosie O'Donnell. They recommend that children consume more antioxidants and folate to prevent breast cancer later in life. What's this recommendation based on? According to Reuters, "In the study, women who began menstruating at age 15 or older were about 50% less likely to develop breast cancer compared with women who had their first period at age 11 or earlier. In addition, those women who were the fattest at age 10 were 40% less likely to develop breast cancer, compared with their counterparts who were lean at age 10, the study showed." Pardon me, but I missed the antioxidant/folate connection.

"Ice core dating back 420,000 years shows evidence humans changing climate" When summer hits, global warming nonsense returns with a vengence. Even if it's true that greenhouse gas levels are the highest they've been in 420,000 years, this still does not implicate humans in climate change. First, by far and away, water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas (about 98 percent). And given all the other factors that may affect climate, including solar events, is it really plausible that that tiny amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases can significantly impact global climate?

"Childhood asthma soars" It's doubtful that air pollution is related since it has been falling as asthma rates have been rising.

LINK OF THE DAY: World Health Oppression An excellent compilation of material about the World Health Organization's tobacco jihad.

"GM crop trials dropping" The BBC reports, "The number of genetically-modified (GM) crop trials in the UK dropped in the last year from 170 to 146. The decrease is said to be a sign of farmers' unwillingness to deal with the adverse publicity associated with GM crops and shows that their development is being hampered by public opinion."

June 7, 1999

"Group Uses Bathroom Ads To Link Meat, Impotence" Reuters reports, "The activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, blocked from posting billboards in U.S. cattle country claiming a link between male impotence and eating meat, said Monday its plans have not stalled and it will make its point in public bathrooms."

"The Week That Was May 31 - June 6, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"Twisting data at the EPA" Jay Ambrose writes, "A Mississippi jury has scotched a family's claim that tobacco companies should cough up $25 million to compensate for the death of a barber who supposedly contracted lung cancer from breathing the secondhand smoke of his customers. The jury, in arriving at its verdict, showed more respect for science than the Environmental Protection Agency, which, in its own pronouncements about passive smoke, has done more to skirt science than employ it."

"The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology" Dennis Avery asks, "Is Europe having second thoughts about its opposition to biotechnology?"

EVENT OF THE DAY: Secondhand smoke appeal argued today The Environmental Protection Agency's appeal of last July's trashing of its secondhand smoke risk assessment will be argued today in federal appeals court.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Science's belated complaint" This Wall Street journal editorial about the data access law is okay but a little disappointing; it fails to mention the "secret science" aspect of the controversy.

REPORT OF THE DAY: "Diesel Emissions and Lung Cancer: Epidemiology and Quantitative Risk Assessment" This report by the Health Effects Institute concudes that existing data are insufficient to link diesel exhaust with cancer. Current data essentially are weak association epidemiology (relative risks 1.2 - 1.5) and no quantitative exposure data. Sound familiar? Perhaps like the data on environmental tobacco smoke? Why does diesel get a walk, but ETS doesn't? Could it be because the Health Effects Institute is half-funded by the EPA and half-funded by the car industry? Could it be because one of the report's influential reviewers is heavily funded by a rail transportation company? Jonathan Samet recently received $1.5 million from CSX Corp to set up a risk studies unit at Johns Hopkins Univeristy.

"Still awaiting apology from speed limit 'experts' " A Deseret New op-ed about the report "Speed Doesn’t Kill: The Repeal of the 55-MPH Speed Limit" from the Cato Institute.

"Belgium government bans butter as food scandal spreads" The Associated Press reports, "The government tacked Belgian butter onto its list of banned foods Monday, denying residents yet another key ingredient in their increasingly meager diet because of the dioxin food scandal."

"Farmer destroys GM crop trial" The BBC reports, "The UK's first farm-scale trial of genetically-modified (GM) crops has been destroyed by the farmer growing them, on the orders of his farm's trustees."

"Unknown risks of genetically engineered crops" Fearmongering by Jereny Rifkin in the Boston Globe. Send your letters to or use the Globe's form.

June 6, 1999

"French government to crack down on smoking, drinking" the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, "In a step no previous government has dared to take, the Socialist-led coalition of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin looks almost certain to place alcohol and tobacco in the same category as marijuana and heroin -- as dangerous drugs."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "The truth about speed limits" The New York Post comments, "The 'double nickel' experiment should stand forever as a monument to the unintended cost of liberal social engineering." Click here for the report "Speed Doesn’t Kill: The Repeal of the 55-MPH Speed Limit" from the Cato Institute.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Founding ignorance" The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comments, "In the aftermath of a federal appeals court's long overdue invocation of the 'nondelegation doctrine,' more than a few on the Left are worried that the ruling could mean the beginning of the end of much of the federal government's constitutionally illicit activity. Oh, those darn liberals."

"Genetic privacy" Genetic testing has the potential for tremendous abuse -- not only because of privacy concerns, but because poorly understood genetics will be used by the unscrupulous against the ignorant. Consider the example of women who undergo prophylactic mastectomy based on genetic testing revealing BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. In 1994 and 1995, researchers estimated that carriers of germline mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes had an 80-90 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. Some women who have these mutations and family histories of breast cancer opted for prophylactic mastectomies in hopes of avoiding breast cancer. Researchers reported in The Lancet (October 24, 1998) that, in a study of 575 breast cancer patients in Iceland, "the mean risk of breast cancer in carriers of mutation in BRCA2 is lower than previously suggested" -- 37 percent versus 80-90 percent.

UN criticizes industrialized countries for only giving $33 billion to developing world in '98 The BBC reports, "The executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Dr Klaus Toepfer, says the rich world is not doing enough to make sustainable development a realistic goal for every country."

"Blair's appeal over GM foods" The BBC reports, "Prime Minister Tony Blair has appealed to people to "keep an open mind" on genetically modified foods."

June 5, 1999

STORY OF THE DAY: "Greenpeace serves 'no public benefit;' Foundation's activities could cause poverty: Revenue Canada" Revenue Canada hits the nail on the head in denying Greenpeace charitable status.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Studying the obvious" The Boston Herald comments, "After spending $25 million and surveying 90,000 students, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health has concluded that kids who have good relationships with parents and other adults are less likely to be violent than those who do not. As our favorite teens would put it, 'Well, duh!'"

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Boston firing blanks" The Boston Herald comments, "It's so easy to blame the big, bad business that makes a potentially dangerous product, instead of holding individuals responsible for their actions."

"The shocking Russian health crisis" The New York Post comments, "Russia needs to stop fantasizing about its role as a world power and do something about reversing this mad rush to death on the part of its suffering population."

"Butterfly story has no wings" A letter by Dan Spillane submitted to the San Francisco Chronicle about the op-ed "Butterfly Marks Limit of Unintended Consequences".

Nature has no wisdom A letter from Michael DeLuca to the San Francisco Chronicle about the op-ed "Butterfly Marks Limit of Unintended Consequences".

"The real Sybil?" The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, "She had 16 personalities. No, just one. She was from a small town in Wisconsin. Actually, it was Dodge Center, Minn. She was abused by her mother. She was abused by her therapist. Her name was Sybil. Her name was Shirley Ardell Mason. It has been a quarter-century since the bestselling book "Sybil" turned a rare condition into a pop phenomenon with the supposedly true story of a tormented woman with multiple personalities. Now, a Minnesota psychology professor and a New York writer insist that the book was a sham. The real Sybil, they say, almost certainly never had multiple personality disorder (MPD) -- and they've scoured southeastern Minnesota for proof."

"Belgium finds menu curtailed by dioxin scare" "What's for dinner? No local steaks for the main course. No chicken. Nothing with eggs in it. No Belgian waffles for dessert. Forget pastries and ice cream."

June 4, 1999

SCARE OF THE DAY: "Germs in the Laundry" Is your laundry dangerous or is Clorox just trying to sell bleach?

"Author: Is Secondhand Smoke as Bad as We Think?" A U.S. Newswire release.

"GOP legislators want climate change answers from EPA" Inside EPA reports, "Several congressional subcommittee chairmen have sent a series of questions to EPA Administrator Carol Browner soliciting mor e information on climate change issues and are threatening to pass additional legislative language to prohibit EPA from implementing the international treaty on cutting greenhouse gas emissions."

"Too hot to handle" Get ready for "Kosovo War (er... "military action") Syndrome.

"Blazing hot" The New Scientist reports, "Up to half the global warming we have experienced over the past 130 years may have been caused by an increase in the Sun's output of energy."

"Boiled is best" The New Scientist reports, "Cooked vegetables give you considerably more protection against heart disease and cancer than raw ones, according to a pan-European research team. Cooking softens up plant cells, the researchers say, improving gut absorption of carotenoids--antioxidants that combat tissue damage and the accumulation of plaque in arteries." If true, this could impact epidemiologic studies that consider dietary intake of fruits/vegetables. Conceivably, one could consume less fruits/vegetables by quantity, but have greater vitamin uptake if they are cooked. Studies that analyze the impact of fruits/vegetables on health outcomes by quartile/quintile intake may be invalid.

"Auto industry must consider its environmental impact, Ford chairman says" William Clay Ford, Jr. says, ""When we achieve zero emissions we get another huge benefit: We get out of the regulation game. The best way to meet costly regulations in the future is to simply not have them. Zero emissions leave nothing to regulate." But there is no such thing as "zero emissions;" the emissions are just displaced to power plants.

"Anti-cellulite creams rubbished" The BBC reports, "A key ingredient in some anti-cellulite creams has been branded ineffective by researchers carrying out the first controlled trials." Click here for MSNBC coverage.

Marlboro Man scalped again? The Associated Press reports, "American Indians have filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the tobacco industry, claiming they were unfairly excluded from the massive settlement reached by states."

"Butterfly Marks Limit of Unintended Consequences" An anti-biotechnology commentary in the San Francisco Chronicle.

June 3, 1999

QUOTE OF THE MOMENT: "Social dogmas and pseudoscience " In this Forbes article, Thomas Sowell writes, "For science, tests are essential. For the left, evasions of tests are essential."

"Celebrate the Heat Day" "Monday, June 7th, will mark the first annual 'Celebrate the Heat Day,' sponsored by The National Anxiety Center, headquartered in Maplewood, NJ. 'After years of being told how horrid it will be when global warming occurs,' said founder, Alan Caruba, 'we want to help sooth the fears of those who have been unable to escape the hot air surrounding this claim.'"

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Behind the smoke" The Indianapolis Star editorializes, "Smoking is an unwholesome habit. Government has a right to warn against the potential harm involved but it has no right to do so by corrupting science." Click here for a related letter-to-the-editor in today's Star.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Lawmakers target the regulatory monster" Bonner R. Cohen writes in the Journal of Commerce, "Congress is bristling with activity aimed at bringing much-needed accountability and transparency to the nation's suffocating regulatory apparatus. While Washington bureaucrats may not like the increased public scrutiny headed their way, the people who pay the regulators' salaries will welcome the change."

THINK TANK POLLUTION: AEI, Brookings report compromises data access Two prominent Washington, D.C. thinks tanks have teamed up to recommend gutting the data access law. The conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Brookings Institution recently published a report acknowledging the value of replicating scientific data used to justify federal policy but recommending an independent federal agency be charged with carrying out the actual replication. As they say, I may have been born at night, but I wasn't born last night. First, the public has an inherent right to review scientific data used to regulate it. A federal agency is not "the public." The notion that an "independent" agency can be established is ludicrous -- EPA is supposed to be independent, but we all know that it's not. Such an agency would be run by a political appointee and politics would undoubtedly run rampant. That is the Washington way. Trust Washington think tanks to come up with a Washington solution that screws those outside Washington.

JURY REJECTS SECONDHAND SMOKE JUNK SCIENCE: "Jury Ruling Favors Tobacco Firms" The Associated Press reports, "The tobacco industry is not liable for the cancer that killed a barber, despite his claims the disease was caused by decades of secondhand smoke from his customers, a jury ruled Wednesday."

MSNBC's PARADE OF JUNK SCIENCE ALL-STARS: "Brain challenged? The hyperactivity factor" MSNBC's resident health twit Francesca Lyman features a parade of junk science all-stars -- Herbert Needleman, Joseph Jacobsen, Philip Landrigan and Ruth Etzel -- in this article linking attention deficit disorder to in utero exposure to dreaded "environmental toxins."

"Bug zappers may cause more harm than good" "Because of the airborne bacteria and virus-laden particles produced by the explosion of these electrocuted insects, the researchers recommend they not be used in food handling areas, hospitals, daycare facilities or any variety of places where the control of insects is important."

"Clinton to Order Agencies to Cut Energy Use, Emissions" The Associated Press reports, "President Clinton is set to issue an executive order calling on the government to use less energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent, administration officials said yesterday."

"Global warming - is the Sun to blame?" The BBC reports, "Global warming may not be caused by humanity's fossil fuel emissions, but could be due to changes in the Sun."

"Global Warming, Jet Stream Working in Tandem to Heat Up Northern Hemisphere " The Los Angeles Times reports, "The winter warming of the Northern hemisphere in recent years is ultimately caused by global warming, but the more proximate cause is change in the jet stream, NASA researchers report in today's issue of the journal Nature." Click here for the related press release.

" Public Interest in Environment Wanes " The Los Angeles Times reports, "Americans discouraged by the difficulty of solving Earth's environmental problems are beginning to lose interest in the issue, according to researchers who reviewed public opinion surveys."

"EU Gives Order to Destroy Belgian 'Chicken a la Dioxin'" The Washington Post reports, "As public fears of dioxin-poisoned Belgian chickens and eggs spread across Europe, the European Union today ordered that a vast array of potentially tainted Belgian food products, including cakes, cookies, mayonnaise and pasta made with suspect eggs, be withdrawn from sale and destroyed."

"Scientists recommend UK blood ban" The BBC reports, "Blood donations from tourists who have visited the UK since 1980 should be banned, scientists in the United States have recommended."

"Cooking vegetables 'improves benefits'" The BBC reports, "Vegetables can offer better heath benefits when they are cooked and mashed, helping to lay rest to a popular misconception, scientists have said... However, nutrition specialists say there is no point in people focussing on how to eat vegetables until they are eating enough of them in the first place."

"Park Service to Study Snowmobiles' Effects; Restrictions Could Follow " The Los Angeles Times reports, "The National Park Service will study the effect of snowmobiles on the park system, a move that could lead to restrictions on where the noisy, smoky machines can be used."

June 2, 1999

IMPOTENT ARGUMENT OF THE DAY: "Impotence warning call for smokers" The BBC reports, "Cigarette packets should tell smokers to expect impotence rather than heart disease or cancer, says the British Medical Association." Click here for the BMA media release. The warning is largely based on a 1994 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reporting a crude (unadjusted for confounding factors) 80 percent increase in impotence among smokers and a 50 percent increase after adjusting for confounding factors. After adjustment, though, the reported 50 percent increase was not statistically significant. The study also reported no dose-response relationship: "Neither years smoked nor cigarettes smoked daily were significant predictors of impotence in current smokers." The other major study on impotence that was cited failed to identify smoking as an independent risk factor for impotence. So far, smoking has only been proven to cause impotence in thinking at the BMA.

PRE-DETERMINED CONCLUSION OF THE DAY: "Clinton Says FTC to Study Marketing Of Violence" What's the point of the study since President Clinton has already concluded the entertainment industry is giving kids a "dependable daily dose of violence."

THE UNHOLY TRINITY? Browner considering Senate run EPA administrator Carol Browner is considering a run for a Senate seat to be vacated by Florida's Connie Mack (R) upon his retirement in 2000. Browner must resign as EPA administrator before announcing her intent to run or participating in fund raising activities. Imagine: President Gore, Senator Rodham and Senator Browner!

"Police warn staff over mobile phones " The BBC reports, "The Metropolitan Police force is advising its staff to restrict the length of their mobile phone calls to five minutes because of new health concerns."

"Some jobs linked to increased breast cancer risk" Reuters reports, "Certain occupations appear to carry a higher risk of breast cancer for female workers, some as high as twice that found in the general female population, according to European researchers."

"Think Twice Before Trying to Outwit Nature " So says alarmist Jeremy Rifkin in the Los Angeles Times.

"High-fiber diet lowers risk of heart disease in women, study shows" More from the perpetual junk science machine known as the Nurses Health Study. Click here for the study abstract. Weak, barely significant and inconsistent (cereal but not fruit/vegetable fiber) associations are hardly worth the hoopla. What's probably being observed is an overall "healthier" lifestyle.

"Good spouses can lower heart attack risk, says study" Should women who have "bad" husbands you eat more cereal?

"Expert says UK blood is safe" The BBC reports, "The British public should not worry about the safety of blood supplies even though the US is considering a ban on blood donations from thousands of Americans who have visited the UK, says the Deputy Chief Medical Officer."

"Belgian chickens banned in Europe" The BBC reports, "Belgian poultry products linked to farms contaminated with cancer causing chemicals are to be pulled from European shelves the EU ordered on Wednesday."

"Dioxins: Environmental health threat" The BBC reports all it doesn't know about dioxin.

"Breast implant plaintiffs accept $3.2 billion settlement" The Associated Press reports, "Women who claim silicone breast implants made them ill or want the implants removed have overwhelmingly approved a $3.2 billion settlement with Dow Corning Corp."

June 1, 1999

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I "The Citizens Right to Know The New York Times editorializes about the public's right-to-know what the government is doing. I hope the Times' editors remember this when they write about EPA secret science.

"Rampant regulatory virus" Wayne Crews writes in the Washington Times, "However controversial the $1.65 trillion federal budget, taxpayers know what Washington officially spends in the congressionally approved budget. That places some measure of voter accountability on Congress. But the money the public spends on Washington's environmental, safety and economic regulations doesn't appear in the federal budget. For these, Congress shrugs off accountability, often blaming agencies for excesses."

Browner still on warpath over air pollution court ruling EPA administrator Carol Browner has now taken to criticizing Members of Congress for filing a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit that resulted in the recent overturning of the EPA's air quality standards. Browner said it was wrong for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Ton Bliley (Va.) to challenge Clean Air Act mandates in court rather than in Congress. "If they were so concerned... why didn't they introduce a bill?" [Source: Daily Environment Report, June 1, 1999]. Of Browner overlooks the fact that Congress was very much interested in the EPA rulemaking -- even going so far as to ask the EPA to make certain scientific data available for indepdent review. EPA and its contract researchers refused. Browner once again said the actions of the judges ruling against the EPA were "illogical" and "radical." She must not care that the likely EPA appeal will be heard by the full court these judges sit on.

Levy, Marimont response to CDC on 400,000 smoking-related deaths Click here for the original Levy/Marimont analysis. Click here for the CDC response.

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II "The unapologetic AIDS alarmists" Michael Fumento writes in the New York Post, "Brace yourself. The new annual report on AIDS is out and the news is horrifying - for the doomsayers, that is."

"Supplement creatine falls short of expectations" The Associated Press reports, "The supplement creatine is not the muscle builder and performance booster that many athletes think it is, the chairman of a panel of experts has concluded."

"Prince sparks GM food row" The BBC reports, "[Prince Charles] rejects the argument that GM crops represent a solution to feeding the world's growing population as "emotional blackmail"." I wonder what he has to say about this use of the thalidomide tragedy to scare people about GM foods.

"Farmers' Right to Sue Grows, Raising Debate on Food Safety" From today's New York Times. I don't think much of food disparagement laws -- we already have legal means for addressing libel and slander.

"For Good Health, It Helps to Be Rich and Important" The New York Times reports, "Doctors usually evaluate patients' vulnerability to serious disease by inquiring about risk factors like cigarette smoking, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol. But they might be better off asking how much money those patients make, how many years they spent in school and where they stand relative to others in their offices and communities."

"Baby Formula Fight Puts Fat Under Fire" From today's Washington Post. Adding DHA to infant formula will probably benefit manufacturers more than infants.

"Make way for sprawl" Pietro S. Nivola writes in the Washington Post that "[Al Gore's] "smart" growth scheme, like various others already tried by a number of local governments, is likely to be of modest consequence at best."

"Cancer scare over Belgian chickens" The BBC reports, "The European Union could ban exports of chicken and eggs from Belgium after high levels of the cancer-causing chemical dioxin were found in some stocks."

"Blame environmental ills on outrageous consumption" William Wong writes in the San Francisco Examiner "Given the insatiable consumption patterns of the U.S. population, I would suggest the Sierra Club focus on doing what it can to reduce our materialism and not waste its time picking on immigration as an environmental scapegoat."

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