May 31, 1999
OUTRAGE OF THE DAY "Charity's concern over GM foods" While I have sympathy for the victims of the thalidomide tragedy, that sympathy does not extend to its exploitation for fearmongering purposes. The lesson from thalidomide is drugs given to pregnant women first need to be appropriately tested. This lesson has little relevance to genetically modified foods. Bt corn is just regular corn -- except to pests.
'FIST-ED' AGAIN "Media rethinks mobile claims" Stewart Fist, Australia's resident mobile phone hysteric, apparently doesn't think his readers need to know about George Carlo.
"The Week That Was May 24-30, 1999" The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Study Dilutes the Wine Theory" The Los Angesles Times reports, "It was fun while it lasted, that notion that washing down your meatloaf with a glass or two of red wine might make you healthier--after all, it worked for the French."
"Pollution and politics" David Ridenour writes, "Only politicians would try sell the idea that the best way to reduce environmental threats to the oceans is to spend more money on ice hockey rinks, parks and other recreational facilities in cities."
"Smoking and poverty link probe" Smith Kline Beecham wants to figure out how to get low-income people to stop smoking but stay hooked on nicotine.
"The length of life" Dale McFeatters writes, "Centenarians - those 100 or older - are the fastest growing segment of the population, and achieving that age has a certain appealing milestone quality, but few Americans, only one-third, want to live that long."
"Europe-U.S. rift hinders bid to cut greenhouse gases" The Associated Press reports, " Efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming are being impeded by a rift between Europe and the United States over the issue, a top United Nations official said on Monday."
"Time to ban gas additive" Whether MTBE is banned or not, there will be no impact on public health.
"U.S. Puts State Smoking Data On Internet" The Los Angesles Times reports, "To promote Monday's "World No-Tobacco Day, 1999," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled a new on-line information database with state-specific data on tobacco use in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."
"Diesel's Stranglehold on Economy Is Hard to Break" A Los Angeles Times article on the future of diesel.
"Going Green Can Be Costly Commitment" A Los Angeles Times article on natural gas as an alternative to diesel.
May 30, 1999
IT MUST BE SUMMER BECAUSE... "As Temperatures Rise" The global warming kooks return. This op-ed is from today's Washington Post.
"Clinton Blasts Republicans Over The Environment " Did no one inform the Draft dodger-in-chief that this is Memorial Day weekend? The time for environmental theatrics was last month on Earth Day.
"Earth's vital signs mixed, says Worldwatch report" Worldwatch reports that the world is getting hotter and sperm counts are sinking in most of the Western world.
"Pfiesteria microbe still baffles scientists" Pfiesteria appears to be another false alarm.
"Diesel--the Dark Side of Industry" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Emissions from trucks, trains and machines pose a serious threat, clogging lungs, damaging airways and triggering allergies. But regulating the problem is a contentious issue."
"Diesel Buses Are 'On Their Last Gasp'" The Los Angeles Times reports, "Soot-belching buses seem as symbolic of city life as crime and traffic. But gradually, they are vanishing from America's streets."
May 29, 1999
"US considers British blood ban " The BBC reports, "Concern over the possible spread of BSE - commonly known as mad cow disease - may prompt US authorities to ban blood donations from thousands of Americans who have visited Britain in the last 15 years." This is ridiculous since beef consumption has not been proven to be the reason that 30 Brits died from the so-called "mad cow disease" and there is certainly no evidence that whatever caused the deaths can be transmited via blood. The FDA gets an "A" for alarmism.
"San Francisco Again Debates Over Bathhouses" The New York Times reports, "Because there are no conclusive scientific studies on whether bathhouses and sex clubs help spread or curb HIV, cities have been left to guess how best to deal with the issue." Ask the Times why similar skepticism isn't reserved for more complex scientific debates, -- global warming, for one?
Pharmaceutical Phraud? Reuters reports, "The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Thursday that the drug company Novartis must run ads to correct misperceptions that have resulted due to the company's unsubstantiated claims that Doan's Pills are superior to other over-the-counter analgesics for treating back pain."
"Taiwan thinks smokes' names too flattering" The Associated Press reports, " A Taiwan health official said Friday that the country's most popular brands of cigarettes - Longevity, President and Paradise - may have to be renamed because they imply smoking is good."
"Pest-resistant corn" Last week's Nature study about Bt-corn pollen and Monarch butterflies continues to be fodder for the handwringers.
"Environment Called a Religious Priority" The lefties discover religion?
"Put an end to `social promotion' for polluters" The Houston Chronicle urges an end to grandfathering emissions from older industrial plants because of "the need and desire for Texans to be able to breathe clean air." But as put forth in the recent court ruling trashing the EPA air quality standards, perhaps we should first figure out what "clean air" is.
"Liberal Democrat joins Knollenberg effort to halt Kyoto Treaty" (5/28/99) "The Clinton Administration's attempt to promote the Kyoto treaty on global climate change suffered another blow this week as Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a liberal Democrat from California, offered an amendment to H.R. 1743, the EPA Office of Air and Radiation Authorization Act, that prohibits the EPA from issuing rules or regulations to implement the agreement until it has been ratified by the Senate."
"Audit Reveals CDC Misled Congress About Funds; $23 Million Earmarked For Research on Chronic Fatigue Spent Elsewhere" (5/28/99) The Washington Post reports, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta spent much of the $23 million approved by Congress for research on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in recent years on other things and gave false information to Congress about the program, according to a new audit."
258 groups urge appeal of court ruling on EPA air rules (5/28/99) A coalition of 258 so-called "environmental, public health, and consumer" groups asked EPA administrator Carol Browner and Attorney General Janet Reno to appeal the recent court decision overturning the EPA's air quality standards as unconstitutional. Though the EPA has urged an appeal, the Justice Department remains undecided. Look for Reno to approve an appeal as the court decision could undermine much of the federal regulatory structure.
"19 Months After Poisoning, Pike Are Back in Lake Davis" (5/28/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "Nineteen months after the state poisoned Lake Davis to eradicate the voracious northern pike--destroying all animal life in the lake along with the local water supply--the pike have reappeared."
Obituary: Inventor of vinyl (5/28/99) Waldo Semon, the inventor of vinyl, died yesterday. He was 100 years old. Seomn invented the substance in 1928 while working at the B.F. Goodrich Company in Akron, Ohio.
"Three Things I Hate About SUVs" (5/28/99) Geneva Overholser offers three reasons why SUVs' growing popularity should alarm and infuriate you. Here are four reasons you should go out and buy one: comfort, safety, convenience and to annoy Overholser and her ilk.
"Study lifts nuclear industry cancer fears" (5/28/99) The BBC reports, "Children of workers at nuclear plants are no more likely to develop cancers, a study has concluded." Click here and here for the study.
"History holds key to healthy French hearts " (5/28/99) The BBC reports, "History is to thank for the French suffering less heart disease than the British - but doctors are unsure as to whether the last 30 or 130 years are behind the phenomenon." Click here for the study.
"Cell phone 'experts' could make your head spin" (5/27/99) The author of this letter-to-the-editor of the Edmonton Journal (Canada) is confused about the difference between a wireless phone and older microwave ovens that operated on the same part of the electromagnetic spectrum. A microwave oven has a metal box that does not allow the energy entering the box to escape, thereby creating a higher density electromagnetic field that can cook a hot dog in a minute. Cell phones have a far less intense electromagnetic field that can't cook hot dogs at all -- it's a good thing hot dogs are made ready-to-eat right out of the package anyway. Send your thoughts to the editors of the Edmonton Journal.
"Global warming a hot topic in Arctic: Northwest Passage could become major shipping route" (5/27/99) The National Post reports, "Some analysts believe warming trends could spell the disappearance of year-round ice in the fabled Northwest Passage within 20 years. The sea route, virtually impenetrable to all vessels save sophisticated icebreakers, could supplant the Panama Canal as a major Europe-Asia shipping route, symposium participants said."
"Smoke gets in your eyes" (5/27/99) Robert Matthews writes in the New Scientist, "Even second-hand cigarette smoke is bad for your heart, a major study in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded earlier this year. No surprises there. But in addition to publishing the authors' estimate of how dangerous passive smoking is, the journal took the unusual step of running an editorial in the same issue that appeared to rubbish the research findings."
"Mixed messages" (5/27/99) New Scientist coverage of the George Carlo-induced mobile phone-cancer scare.
"Study Finds Toxic Air In Portable Classrooms Carcinogen exposure may affect 2 million kids" (5/27/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports about another cynical effort by the Environmental Working Group to alarm parents.
"Group says genetically altered crops may harm organic food" (5/27/99) CNN reports, "The rapid adoption of genetically modified corn, potatoes and soybeans by mainstream American farmers may contaminate organic crops growing in nearby fields, a leading U.S. organic group said Monday."
"Experts spot anti-social behavior by age 3" (5/27/99) The "global warming" of psychology?
"'Moral obligation' to develop GM crops " (5/27/99) The BBC reports, "An influential UK scientific think-tank says there is a moral obligation to develop genetically-modified (GM) crops."
"Mobile users fear health problems" (5/26/99) The BBC reports, "More than 40 per cent of regular mobile phone users are afraid of potential health problems, a survey has found."
"Editorial Independence" (5/26/99) Contrary to this New England Journal of Medicine editorial, the January firing of the editor Journal of the American Medical Association has nothing to do with so-called editorial independence. George Lundberg degraded JAMA with junk science for political purposes.
"Court Blocks Another EPA Smog Rule" (5/26/99) The Associated Press reports a procedural delay while a lawsuit against the EPA smog rules is contested.
EU environment minister calls for precautionary principle (5/26/99) European Union Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard told an EU-U.S. conference May 20 the precautionary principle should apply to chemicals that persist in the environment and bioaccumulate, and use of these substances should cease. "We can no longer defend the continued use of these chemicals. The precautionary principle should be applied fully and measures taken at the international level against this category of toxic chemicals before they cause irreversible harm or injury," she said. [Source: Daily Environment Report, May 26.] At least she admits that, to date, these substances have not caused "irreversible harm or injury."
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Nixon in 2000--he's not as stiff as Gore" (5/25/99) From today's Chicago Tribune, a bumper sticker reportedly seen in Texas by Henry Hyde (R-Ill.).
"No evidence of rise in infertility" (5/26/99) Reuters reports, "Recent reports have suggested that a possible decline in semen quality around the world might trigger an overall decline in fertility. However, according to the Swedish research team 'collective evidence of decreasing human fertility... is (currently) not available.'"
"National Cancer Institute begins breast cancer prevention study" (5/26/99) Regardless of the outcome of this study, neither tamoxifen nor raloxifene will be of much use to any individual woman -- the occurence of breast cancer is unpredictable and women will still have to have regular checkups as neither drug is a vaccine. Even if the drugs do reduce the incidence of breast cancer, the benefit is only observable on a population, not individual basis.
"Smoke-free laws have no effect on tourism" (5/26/99) Economic analysis by mechanical engineer-cum-anti-tobacco zealot, Stan Glantz. The analysis hinges on Glantz's assumption that changes in economic conditions can be accounted for by dividing hotel revenues by total retail sales -- an assumption that is likely too remote from the issue at hand, the effect of smoke-free restaurant ordinances. Glantz then concludes because hotel revenues did not significantly decrease following enactment of the ordinances that the ordinances had no economic impact. Click here for the study abstract. And speaking of Glantz, last Friday I was on the radio (KCRW's "This Way L.A.") with Glantz on the topic of smoking and impotence. Glantz authoritatively stated science shows that smoking causes impotence. But when the host asked Glantz if he was familiar with the two largest studies on the subject, Glantz admitted he was not -- a Glantz-ing familiarity?
"USDA campaigns to limit foodborne diseases" (5/26/99) Who wants to eat re-heated deli meat?
"Gates gives $20 million to population research" (5/26/99) Unfortunately, the world's richest man is not the world's smartest man. Promoting economic development, not rationing children, is the way to solve third world problems.
"A 'cure' for sick building syndrome" (5/26/99) The BBC reports, "Sick building syndrome may be successfully treated by installing ultraviolet lights in ventilation systems, researchers have said."
"Minister urges sunbed clampdown" (5/26/99) The BBC reports, "Public Health Minister Tessa Jowell will ask the sunbed industry to clampdown on young people using their equipment."
"Airing of cell-phone data is assailed as premature" (5/25/99) The Boston Globe reports, "Scientists studying links between cellular telephone use and cancer are furious that preliminary data were leaked from their research in a way that, they say, falsely suggested that the phones may be linked to brain tumors. In fact, investigators said yesterday, the data show no clear link. Several people close to the situation said the consultant who released the information may have been trying to stir up fears to get more research funds for himself or for associates. The consultant, a George Washington University faculty member, George Carlo, denied looking for more business."
"Storm in a D cup" (5/25/99) A summary of a Channel 4 show (UK) about breast implants.
TRANSCRIPT OF A HEALTH SCARE: BBC helps launch new cell phone scare (5/25/99) Here's the transcript from yesterday's BBC show, Panorama. Click here for the response from the UK National Radiological Protection Board highlighting the shortcomings of the new study. And don't forget this report released last week by an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada.
Wake up call for George Carlo (5/25/99) Former cellular phone industry researcher George Carlo is at the heart of the new cell phone scare. But even Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News and a long-time fanner of the EMF health scare flames, questions Carlo's motives. BTW, Microwave News is mandatory reading for anyone interested in EMF issues. It's not as unbiased as this page, but that aside, Slesin does a superb job of covering the topic.
"Heed the Warning of Strange Frogs" (5/25/99) This letter-to-the-editor is in response to Mike Fumento's May 12 op-ed on the frog scare. This morning Fumento responds, "... it was one of those stupid letters that hopes that you didn't see the original piece. E.g., I explicitly said why use frogs as a sentinel species when we have human children to look at? Since when is the surrogate better than the actual? Yet they conclude: Frogs are a sentinel species for humans. Yeah, not for MY (future) kids...."
"The Virtues of Suburban Sprawl" (5/25/99) Witold Rybczynski writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Instead of attacking the straw man of suburban sprawl, we would do better to look for ways that make better suburbs and better cities, as their future is inextricably linked."
"Nic-o-pops?" (5/25/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorializes, "Let there be no more doubt that the people running the tobacco industry are little more than drug dealers in expensive suits." I wonder what it has to say about the pharmaceutical companies that want to hook people on nicotine?
"Cigarette butts cause environmental pollution" (5/25/99) Reuters reports, "Worldwide, smokers toss at least 4.5 trillion cigarette butts each year -- litter that causes significant environmental harm, US researchers report."
"Has industry developed 'fire-safe' cigarette?" (5/25/99) Reuters reports, "The US tobacco industry has developed a 'fire-safe' cigarette -- one with a reduced risk for initiating fires -- but is not producing it for fear of triggering product liability suits from people burned by fires started by cigarettes currently on the market, according to an article in the journal Tobacco Control."
"Call for more study of toxin effects on young children" (5/25/99) Reuters reports, " Environmental toxins may play a larger role in children's developmental disorders than previously thought, said speakers at a Manhattan conference on Monday."
"World Health Organization takes look at tobacco pact" (5/25/99) The Associated Press reports, "The World Health Organization received a mandate Monday to begin global negotiations on a new treaty aimed at curbing tobacco use."
"Russia's rotten environment" (5/25/99) Mitzi Perdue thinks that without the EPA, our environment would be like Russia's. Didn't she mean to say our "economy" instead of "EPA?"
"Chemicals leave a 'lethal legacy'" (5/25/99) The BBC reports, "Chemical companies are being asked to help with the huge costs of destroying hundreds of thousands of tonnes of unused and obsolete pesticides. A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report says the chemicals are a time bomb waiting to explode."
"Shock health warnings backfire" (5/25/99) The BBC reports, "Health promotion campaigns which use shock tactics to discourage people from harmful behaviour actually have the opposite effect, researchers have said."
"Mobile phone cancer study 'flawed'" (5/24/99) The BBC reports, "A study that researchers claim suggests links between using mobile phones and brain tumours is flawed, radiation experts have said."
"The Week That Was May 17-23, 1999" (5/24/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
SECRET SCIENCE UPDATE: Walsh-Price amendment delayed (5/24/99) Introduction of the Walsh-Price amendment, which would block implementation of the data access law, has been delayed until after Memorial Day. Thank you Tom Delay -- no pun intended.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Saving secret science" (5/24/99) A Milloy-Gough op-ed in today's New York Post.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Toward Restoring Accountability" (5/24/99) The Detroit News editorializes, "A federal appeals court decision invalidating new air quality standards forces the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to craft more sensible regulations. Beneficial though this may be, the ruling's real significance could be its effect on returning regulatory accountability to Congress."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "Will Congress stop bureaucracy run amok?" (5/24/99) Tony Snow writes, " The local U.S. District Court of Appeals stunned official Washington by recently declaring that regulators can't be dictators."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY IV: "Auto-da-fe" (5/24/99) The Washington Times editorializes, "The Hindenberg - er, Old Town Trolley - that went up in flames about a week ago after a possible crash-caused leak of its pressurized propane fuel tanks, makes one wonder about those "alternative fuels" so frequently touted by environmentalist tub-thumpers as the way to end our addiction to demon gasoline. Maybe those alternative fuels aren't such a good alternative after all."
SCARE OF THE DAY: "Fears raised over mobile phones" (5/24/99) Less than a week after getting a clean bill of health from an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada, we're back to junk science with mobile phones.
"Chernobyl legacy mounts" (5/24/99) The BBC reports, "A senior Ukrainian Government scientist, Dr Georgiy Lisichenco, says some of the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster will not peak until the second half of the next century."
"Ergonomics' Credibility Still in the Works " (5/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "A scientific discipline that came of age with the ubiquitous use of personal computers is taking some knocks these days, both in the Congress and the science media."
"Diet drug company reportedly funded favorable journal articles" (5/24/99) This is a problem only if an articles is factually wrong.
"Study: Cell Phone Use May Have Cancer Link" (5/23/99) Though I haven't seen the study, my guess is that this study really only shows that George Carlo wants more research money from the cellular telephone industry. Watch for a lot more to come on this topic.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Air-pollution myths challenged at last" (5/23/99) The Boston Herald comments, "The panic among environmentalists is entertaining. A decision of a federal appeals court in Washington threatens to tear down the scientific and legal myths behind unrealistic new air-pollution standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency."
"Monsanto vs. the monarch" (5/23/99) The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wants businesses to roll over and play dead when their products are attacked. As the Post-Dispatch's editors put it, "We can no longer allow companies to get away with merely attacking scientific studies about the safety of their products."
"Cancer changing around the world" (5/23/99) Cancer neurotic Michael Thun blames cancer in developing countries on the "Western lifestyle." But those populations should be so lucky to have the same health profile as the West. Better to die of cancer at 80 than cholera at 2.
"Chicago Going Green in Anti-Smog Effort " (5/23/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "City officials want to add a new architectural element to Chicago buildings--green rooftops."
"Global stresses leave their mark" (5/23/99) The BBC reports on the latest new gloom-and-doom report from the Worldwatch Institute.
"Hong Kong fat fears" (5/23/99) The BBC reports, "In a single generation, Hong Kong children have moved from healthy traditional diets to living on fast food and high fat snacks."
NEW 'TRASH TALK!' Junk Science Home Page upgrades BBS (5/22/99) By popular demand, an improved Trash Talk has been installed. Give it a whirl. Let me know what you think and what discussion topics you want set up. I'll leave the old BBS up for a week.
"Better Living With SUVs" (5/22/99) This letter to the editor of the Washington Post even mentions the secret science issue!
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Checking the EPA" (5/22/99) Scroll down for the Pittsburgh Tribune'Review's commentary that starts, "We've been saying it for aeons - the EPA has been running roughshod over the U.S. Constitution. Now, a federal appeals court has shown exceptional fealty to our foundings in applying a sound legal principle - one not used successfully in this manner for 64 years - to the mercurial machinations of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
"CJD deaths could be on the rise" (5/22/99) The BBC reports, "An expert in the human form of mad cow disease says that a recent increase in the number of deaths could mark the start of a gradual climb in the death rate."
"GM food declared 'safe' " (5/22/99) The BBC reports, "Genetically-modified (GM) food on sale in the UK is safe to eat, the government said on Friday, but they have been advised to set up a nationwide health monitoring programme."
National Anxiety Center: "Warning Signs - June 1999" (5/21/99) Alan Caruba writes about his Kosovo solution, personal responsibility, mink-coat labeling, population control, parking lots, and secret science.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Carol Browner finally gets it (5/21/99) During her testimony yesterday before a Senate subcommittee on the EPA proposal for reducing sulfur in gasoline, EPA administaror Carol Browner said, "[last Friday's court decision overturning the new EPA air quality standards] ... would have you believe that in 1990 Congress and the Bush administration broke their sacred trust with the American people and perpetrated a cruel hoax." You said it, Carol!
GEORGE W. BUSH-WHACKED: Bush embraces global warming (5/21/99) It was just a matter of time before this guy opened his mouth and put his foot in it.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Another invention?" (5/21/99) The Washington Times reports, "Citizens for a Sound Economy has come up with a new bumper sticker that says, 'Al Gore Invented Global Warming.'"
'SECRET SCIENCE' UPDATE I: OMB requested to expedite the data access rule (5/21/99) Click here for the request to OMB to expedite the data access rule given the EPA's use of 'secret science' in its proposed rulemaking for SUV emission and gasoline sulfur content -- rules that will cost the public $3.5 billion per year in higher SUV and gasoline prices.
'SECRET SCIENCE' UPDATE II: Amendment to block implementation of the data access law has been put off until Monday, May 24 (5/21/99) Tell Congress to vote "no" on the Walsh/Price amendment.
DUPE OF THE DAY: Pharmaceutical industry fooled into supporting "secret science" (5/21/99) Someone has duped the pharmaceutical industry into supporting the Walsh/Price amendment that would block implementation of the data access law. This is quite ironic, since pharmaceutical companies recently tried to get data from a researcher who had launched a panic about calcium channel blockers. [Check out Case 3 in this New England Journal of Medicine article.
'MUST READ' OF THE MOMENT: Reader's Digest: "Weird science at the EPA" (5/21/99) The June issue of the Reader's Digest contains an excellent article by Trevor Armbrister on the EPA. Topics addressed include the EPA's air pollution rules, secondhand smoke risk assessment, and whistleblowers. Armbrister writes "Political smog is costing us billions of dollars."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Junk science" (5/21/99) Betsy Hart comments on the recent Independent Women's Forum on junk science.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "The Anti-Sprawl Freeway " (5/21/99) The Detroit News comments, "I-696 is an example of a freeway that, far from contributing to sprawl, has assisted in revitalizing older Metro Detroit suburbs."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "Chairman Mo's crusade is crashing" (5/21/99) Peter Foster writes in the National Post, "Maurice Strong this week launched a stunningly vicious attack on Bob Peterson, the head of Imperial Oil. Speaking at an Ottawa conference, Mr. Strong -- who, among myriad other titles, holds that of United Nations special advisor on the environment -- didn't merely accuse Mr. Peterson of being 'wrong-headed,' 'behind the times,' and 'a dinosaur.' He declared that 'Mr. Peterson had his counterparts in earlier days when the Petersons of that day were against abolishing child labour, they were against sanitation, they were against abolishing slavery.'"
"Toxic use reduction bill deserves to become law" (5/21/99) The Portland Press-Herald says environment good, chemicals bad.
"Fathers smoke through pregnancy" (5/21/99) The BBC reports, "Only 6% of male smokers give up when their partner is can suffer ill effects from passive smoking, health officials have said."
"Britain Tries To Bury GM Foods Controversy " (5/21/99) Reuters reports, "Britain tried Friday to calm fears about genetically modified food, saying that the technology offered the chance of food that was "more nutritious and tastes better" but that public health was paramount."
"GM food declared 'safe'" (5/21/99) The BBC reports, "Genetically-modified (GM) food on sale in the UK is safe to eat, the government said on Friday, but they have been advised to set up a nationwide health monitoring programme."
"GM could 'impoverish poor farmers' " (5/21/99) The BBC reports, "A UK development agency, ActionAid, says it is concerned at the potential impact on the world's poor of genetically-modified (GM) plants."
"A Warning From the Butterflies" (5/21/99) The New York Times reaches for the "panic" button on Bt corn.
"The air apparent: A new pollution study is a wake-up call" (5/21/99) The editors at the The Record (Bergen County, NJ) show everything they don't know about air pollution.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Rising to the defense of biotech's bounty" (5/20/99) The Seattle Times comments, "The only thing to be feared from biotechnology is irrational fear of its global health and economic benefits."
"Striving for clean air " (5/20/99) As is the wont of Northeast newspapers, the Boston Globe blames Northeast smog on the Midwest. EPA's science advisers took the Midwest off the hook when the Ozone Transport Assessment group concluded it wasn't sure that smog-forming emissions drifted hundreds of miles as claimed by the EPA.
"Drug Resistance in Food Chain" (5/20/99) The Washington Post reports "The use of antibiotic drugs in chickens and cattle appears to be a major engine driving the emergence of two kinds of drug-resistant diarrhea in human beings, according to reports published this week." Click here for the study abstract. Click here for the editorial.
"Butterfly safe" Corn? (5/20/99) An enviro-fad to follow "dolphin-safe" tuna? Hmmm... feed the world or save the few Monarch butterflies that flutter around cornfields? Click here for the press release. Click here for BBC coverage. Click here for AP coverage. Click here for Washington Post coverage.
"Tortured Logic in Air Ruling" (5/20/99) The Los Angeles Times calls our system of government -- where the Legislative Branch makes the law and the Executive Branch administers it -- a "dusty old concept."
"New moon discovered around Uranus" (5/20/99) Not junk science, but a funny headline.
"BSE fears over US blood imports" (5/20/99) The BBC reports, "... some experts fear a new kind of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human equivalent of BSE, is killing young Americans." As far as I can tell, the only "expert" is a lawyer.
"United States, EU clash over hormone-treated U.S. beef" (5/20/99) The Associate Press reports, "The United States remains committed to imposing retaliatory tariffs on European Union goods because of the EU's refusal to accept hormone-treated North American beef."
"Eating disorders accompany television to Fiji, study finds" (5/20/99) The Associated Press reports, "Symptoms of eating disorders have increased fivefold among teenage girls on Fiji since television came to the Pacific island nation four years ago, a study found."
ARTICLE OF THE DAY: Ashes to ashes (5/19/99) The Washington Post's Dave Brown interviews Sir Richard Doll. Of Doll, who first made the connection between smoking and cancer, Brown writes "By intent, he never became an activist against tobacco. His mentor, Bradford Hill, taught him that a researcher shouldn't get involved in the application of his discoveries. That the researcher should not be the advocate. Doll still believes it. Perhaps that's why Sir Richard Doll can be just a bit annoyed at how thoroughly smoking and smokers have been pushed to the margins. 'I personally think it's uncivilized to make people go outside and smoke cigarettes on the doorstep,' he says. 'I think you should set aside a room where people can smoke. If you ask me.'"
"No Environment Damage in Yugoslavia" (5/19/99) Put on your hip boots before wading through this BS.
"Midwest emissions remain serious problem in Maine" (5/19/99) The Portland Press-Herald has it wrong again. The Northeast is responsible for its own air pollution problems. EPA's science advisers took the Midwest off the hook when the Ozone Transport Assessment group concluded it wasn't sure that smog-forming emissions drifted hundreds of miles as claimed by the EPA.
JUNK SCIENCE ALERT: Help stop tomorrow's effort to block implementation of the 'data access' law (5/19/99) Advocates of "secret science" will mount another legislative effort to thwart the data access law tomorrow, Thursday, May 20. Help fight junk science by supporting the new data access law.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Report gives new life to mobile phone phobia " (5/19/99) My op-ed in today's National Post.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "World Bank and WHO Gang Up On Big Tobacco" (5/19/99) Lorraine Moody writes in the Wall Street Journal Europe, "It is patently absurd to claim that lack of information about tobacco's harms is the main reason people begin smoking, since the dangers of smoking have been known for three decades in developed countries. On the other hand, if the World Bank expects 40 million people to quit world-wide on account of a 10% price increase, as the report suggests, its assumption of an irrational addiction is overplayed."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "EPA, lost in the ozone again" (5/19/99) The Washington Time editorializes, "Last Friday's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must promulgate its air quality regulations based on science and legislative intent, not folderolic flapdoodle, is an amazing reversal of fortune for one of the most out-of-control of all federal bureaucracies and a measured victory for rational policy and the democratic process."
"Clearing the air on regulatory excess" (5/19/99) Ben Lieberman writes in the Washington Times, "... the D.C. Circuit has struck a very important blow for regulatory accountability, and given a warning to overzealous regulators that business as usual may be coming to an end."
"A Reach on Regulation" (5/19/99) The Washington Post defends the indefensible -- the EPA and its just-overturned air quality standards.
"Bad Decision on Clean Air" (5/19/99) About the recent over-turning of EPA's air quality standards, the New York Times says the standards weren't arbitrarily arrived at. I wonder how the Times knows? EPA won't let anyone see the scientific data.
Nutrition News Focus: Relative Risk (5/19/99) A good, short explanation of this epidemiologic tool.
"Clashing views of MCS" (5/18/99) The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports, "The same day a local judge barred testimony on a medical syndrome, calling it unsupported by science, the state's governor proclaimed it the malady of the week, saying its symptoms bring suffering to victims and their families."
"Freon superstitions" (5/18/99) The Washington Times comments, "There's nothing like scorching hot vinyl seats and rolled down windows to remind one of the dangers of junk science."
"Mutant frogs: Why there is trouble in pond" (5/18/99) A rebuttal to this Detroit News editorial.
"Study finds no basis for cell phone fears" (5/18/99) The CBC reports, "As long as there have been cell phones, there have been questions about safety: whether the radio frequencies transmitted by phones are harmful. Now, some experts say there's no need to worry."
"Salty snacks tied to stomach cancer risk" (5/18/99) I doubt that too much can be generalized about salt from a study of 220 stomach cancers in Mexico City.
"Secrecy Is Often the Price of Medical Research Funding" (5/18/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "When Dr. Nancy Olivieri at the University of Toronto wanted to warn patients about toxic side effects of a drug she was testing, the company supporting her research tried to quash her findings, citing a nondisclosure agreement."
"GM food research was 'flawed' " (5/18/99) The BBC reports, "The research by Dr Arpad Pusztai which triggered the row in the UK over the safety of genetically-modified (GM) food was flawed, a panel of leading scientists said on Tuesday."
"Doctors' call for ban on GM crops rejected " (5/18/99) The BBC reports, "The government has rejected a call by doctors for an open-ended ban on the commercial planting of genetically-modified crops."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Democracy 1, Tyranny 0" (5/18/99) The Detroit News editorializes, "The Environmental Protection Agency abused its authority in setting national air quality standards, a federal appeals court has ruled. If upheld, the decision could curb the regulatory excesses that so encumber the U.S. economy -- and American lives."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Red Light for Regulators" (5/18/99) The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "The appeals court's invalidation of the EPA's big-ticket air quality standards is one of the bigger events in the recent history of the federal establishment. It may yet bring about a Supreme Court ruling on the degree to which such agencies can be left alone to make up the rules of American life."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "The Courts Thwart The EPA's Power Grab" (5/18/99) C. BOyden Gray and Alan Raul write in the Wall Street Journal, "It's not Congress's job to review EPA initiatives, but rather the EPA's job to carry out congressional initiatives. And it's the courts' role to keep the other players honest."
"BSE 'may never have posed human danger' " (5/17/99) The BBC reports, "BSE-infected beef may have never posed a risk to human health, researchers have said."
Royal Society of Canada releases expert panel report on radiofrequency fields (5/17/99) The Royal Society does little to quell the paranoia of the metal underwear crowd. More on this later...
"Cancer fears in TV study" (5/17/99) The Australian reports about a cancer cluster around TV antennas. The article is short on details, but such clusters usually turn out to be random or otherwise unexplained phenomena.
CDC responds to Cato study on smoking deaths (5/17/99) Lame explanations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Group tries to force EPA to release data; Shelby unable to get pollution figures" (5/17/99) The Washington Times reports, "The Environmental Protection Agency is using "secret science" to push for more air quality regulation, critics say."
"Southern California bans paint toxins" (5/17/99) The Associated Press reports, " Regulators in Southern California adopted new rules Friday that will force manufacturers to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to develop new paint formulas to eliminate tons of polluting fumes."
"Another fen-phen trial begins amid proposed national settlement" (5/17/99) The Associated Press reports, "While a national settlement is forged on behalf of millions of people who took the diet drug fen-phen, jury selection for a second trial is ready to begin Monday morning in Texas."
"Textbooks flunk out" (5/17/99) The Boston Globe reports, "When science books are put to the test, it's hard to decipher fact from fiction."
"Concord firm halts cleanup " (5/17/99) The Boston Globe reports, "Staggered by the cost of excavating tons of radioactive uranium from a pit in their backyard, the owners of one of Massachusetts' most dangerous waste sites have stopped cleanup work altogether, raising fears among neighbors that soil contamination up to 600 times the current limit could be left for years to come."
"Hard Lessons in the Tale of the Fox and the Shrike" (5/17/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "On San Clemente Island, the Navy has been killing a rare predator in a bid to save its nearly extinct prey."
"Screening for alien life" (5/17/99) The BBC reports, "Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can join a worldwide search for intelligent life in space from Monday."
"Fight Over Auto Pollution Plan Draws Environmentalists, Industry, Politicians" (5/16/99) About EPA's proposed SUV/gasoline sulfur rules, the New York Times reports EPA dominatrix Carol Browner as saying ""This is the biggest action by the Clinton administration to protect the environment and the health of the American people." I guess this means Carol has accepted that EPA's air quality standards -- regulations that cost 30 times more annually than the $3.5 billion SUV/gasoline sulfur rules -- are history.
"U.S. Appeals Court Casts Doubt On Clean-Air Rules" (5/16/99) The Los Angeles Times reports, "Business groups applauded the decision. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said, 'This ruling strikes at the heart of EPA's abuse of regulatory authority.'"
"Doctors sound alarm on GM food" (5/16/99) The Independent (UK) reports, "Doctors will tell the Government this week that too little is known about the long-term risks of eating genetically modified food to guarantee its safety. They will warn that GM crops pose a potential threat to human health and the environment."
"Anti-sprawl elites want people to gamble with lives " (5/15/99) George Cantor writes in the Detroit News, "Of course, much of the anti-sprawl campaign is fueled by a much older and less noble sentiment: I've got mine, now haul up the drawbridge."
"DDT still found in breast milk" (5/15/99) This Reuters article shows just how hard it is to reel in myths. DDT has never been shown to threaten human health.
EVEN BETTER THAN THE DATA ACCESS LAW: Federal court relies on the constitutional doctrine of 'delegation' (5/15/99) Under the Constitution, only Congress is allowed to make law -- not the Executive Branch agencies. Congress cannot delegate so much authority to agencies that they, in effect, become lawmakers. In deciding that the provision of the Clean Air Act under which the EPA promulagted its air quality standards was an unconstitutional delegation of authority, the D.C. Appeals Court panel has struck a blow for constitutional government and against the nanny-socialist state.
EPA air quality rules trashed by federal court: A sampling of news coverage (5/15/99) Click here for Washington Post coverage. Click here for Los Angeles Times coverage. Click here for New York Times coverage. Click here for Chicago Tribune coverage.
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT TRASHES EPA AIR QUALITY STANDARDS: Fine particulate standard vacated, ozone standard unenforceable" (5/14/99) A great victory for the wrong reasons -- except for the court's decision that the part of the Clean Air Act is an unconstitutional delegation of authority from Congress to the EPA. The court basically accepted the EPA's evaluation of the particulate matter "science" at face value. The implication is that any study favored by the EPA can amount to de facto regulation of the public. Unless the public can challenge these studies via the new data access law, EPA contractors, activist researchers -- even college professors -- can regulate the public just by publishing their studies. This, of course, assumes the EPA has the constitutional authority to regulate in the first place.
"GE sees Hudson fish on the menu" (5/14/99) The Albany Times-UNion reports, "Fish in some areas of the upper Hudson River will be clean enough to eat by next year if General Electric continues to control pollution and PCBs get buried naturally by sediment, according to a study commissioned by GE."
Update: EPA 'secret science' (5/14/99) Yesterday's hearing of the House Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Subcommittee, during which an amendment to repeal the data access law was supposed to be introduced, was cancelled.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "EPA threats; Clean-air pursuit must be reasonable, measurable " (5/14/99) The Dallas Morning News comments, " Despite including particular cities in the threatened area, the EPA uses junk science that can't identify how much each city contributes to the [air pollution] problem. That makes accountability a problem."
"Your environment: made in the shade: Coffee that's songbird-friendly and healthy for habitats" (5/14/99) MSNBC's resident empty-head Francesca Lyman writes, "But our thirst for coffee is jeopardizing the biodiversity of the rainforests where coffee beans are grown, some scientists say, and decimating populations of the world's songbirds."
"Portland makes its move to smoke-free tomorrow" (5/14/99) The Portland Press-Herald hopes that printing "secondhand smoke causes cancer" enough times will make the phrase come true.
"Into the abyss" (5/14/99) The New Scientist reports "Injecting carbon dioxide directly into deep ocean waters might help put a brake on the greenhouse effect, the first field test of the idea suggests."
"ABAC: Hitler's Plan Thrives at Cornell" (5/14/99) A media release from the American Bioethics Advisory Commission.
"Ford Vows to Be Environment-Friendly" (5/14/99) Naive. The environmentalists have yet to vow to be business friendly.
"Japan, highway agency settle 17-year pollution lawsuit" (5/13/99) The Associated Press reports "The plaintiffs, who lived close to major highways in Kawasaki, suffered from asthma and other ailments that they say were caused by exhaust emitted from passing vehicles."
"Jury favors Brown & Williamson in tobacco ruling" (5/13/99) The Associated Press reports " A federal jury on Thursday found that Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. was not at fault in the death of a man who, according to an attorney, was transformed by cigarettes from an easy-going family man into an "evil" nicotine addict."
"Driving safer now than in 1925, CDC says" (5/13/99) Note the credit given to "the government." I suppose without regulation, there would be no demand for safer cars?
"Industrial pollution back up after decade of decline" (5/13/99) Note the headline -- pollution increases -- then read the story -- more waste was landfilled vs. recycled. Doesn't sound like "more" pollution to me.
"UK pollution cuts 'on target'" (5/13/99) The BBC reporets "Harmful greenhouse gas emissions in the UK have dropped by 9% between 1990 and 1997, says the British Government."
EPA to refuse FOIA request for scientific data (5/13/99) A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency said it is unlikely that the agency will issue the raw health effects data sought by Citizens for the Integrity of Science in this Freedom of Information Act request, according to the Daily Environment Report (May 13). The EPA says the data belong to the American Cancer Society and the EPA did not fund the collection of that data. In an interview with the Daily Environment Report, I said the EPA still is required to turn over the data under the new data access law. The data were used by an EPA-funded researcher and are being used by the agency to support a major federal regulation. If the EPA can't verify the Pope study, the agency should not rely on it at all.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "EPA has a secret" (5/13/99) Ken Smith writes in the Washington Times, "When President Clinton announced plans this month that would boost the cost of popular sport-utility vehicles and the gas that fuels them, he did it, as usual, for the public's own good. New regulations designed to reduce already disappearingly small tailpipe emissions would, he said, improve air quality. How did he know it would improve public health? Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency cited a 1995 study which argued that reducing the emissions would theoretically save 2,400 lives a year. Why is the agency so confident of the study's findings? Well, that's EPA's little secret: It won't release the data to the public, even though the public helped pay for the study with its tax dollars."
Stephen King's 'Christine' now an SUV? (5/13/99) This letter in today's New York Times says that SUVs (not their drivers) "bully" pedestrians and bicyclists. As a consequence, the author says SUVs should be taken off the road.
"Sperm analysis 'varies wildly'" (5/13/99) Remember the claims of the endocrine disrupter advocates that sperms counts are falling? The BBC reports "Sperm counts are so inaccurate that prospective parents are being given the wrong advice about fertility techniques, researchers have claimed." As they say, "garbage in, garbage-out."
"Sierra Club's attack on clean air" (5/13/99) This St. Louis Post-Dispatch commentary says "It is unclear what the Sierra Club and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment hope to accomplish in this suit, other than punishing the region and killing much-needed transportation investments."
"Industry Opposes Push for Anti-Alcohol Ad Campaign" (5/13/99) In this Los Angeles Times article, a beer industry spokesman says "Tax dollars shouldn't be used to put out of business a legal product." This argument would be even more persuasive if the alcohol industry had spoken up when the tobacco industry was first targeted by tax dollars. Unfortunately, this bad precedent will be difficult to reverse.
"Chemical warning on baby bottles" (5/13/99) The BBC reports on yesterday's news CON-ference by the National Environ-MENTAL Trust.
"If All Hell Broke Loose: Contra Costa industry gives worst-case disaster scenarios" (5/13/99) This San Francisco Chronicle article shows that the new EPA-required industry Risk Management Plans will be used to frighten, not inform the public.
"GM pollen warning to organic farmers" (5/13/99) The BBC reports, "A UK Government-commissioned scientific report on genetically-modified (GM) crops is thought to say that GM pollen can spread over very long distances."
"Diet drug maker negotiating to settle fen-phen litigation, report says" (5/13/99) The FDA no longer allows fen-phen to help those who are overweight. But fen-phen can still be used by plaintiff lawyers to thin out corporate profits.
SCARE OF THE DAY: "Near-Sightedness In Children Linked To Light Exposure During Sleep Before Age Two" (5/12/99) Nearsighted? Slept with a nightlight as a child? Maybe you can sue your parents! Click here for the CNN report.
JUNK SCIENCE ALERT: Help stop tomorrow's effort to repeal the data access law (5/12/99) The new law that could help bring an end to junk science-fueled government regulation is in jeopardy. Please help.
"Is EPA's water policy all wet?; Gaps In Science May Hurt Drinking-Water Safety" (5/12/99) Investor's Business Daily, reports "The Environmental Protection Agency's commitment to policies based on sound science may be flagging over one of the most basic health concerns -maintaining a safe drinking-water supply."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "With Frog Scare Debunked, It Isn't Easy Being Green" (5/12/99) Michael Fumento writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Only a wealthy society can afford to improve both the ecology and human health. It's the very products environmentalists have demonized--be they pesticides, plastics or power lines--that allow us to do just that."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Gun Laws Can Be Dangerous, Too" (5/12/99) John R. Lott, Jr. writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Good intentions don't necessarily make good laws. What counts is whether the laws will ultimately save lives. The real tragedy of Mr. Clinton's proposals is that they are likely to lead to the loss of more lives."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "When self-defense is banned" (5/12/99) John R. Lott, Jr. writes in the Washington Times, "When states passed [right-tocarry laws] during the 19 years we studied, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by 84 percent. Deaths from these shootings plummeted on average by 90 percent, injuries by 82 percent. To the extent that attacks still occur in states after these laws are enacted they tend to occur in those areas in which concealed handguns are forbidden."
"An EPA ruling to grow on; Freeing Cleveland of ground water cleanup chores should make 'brownfields' far more attractive" (5/12/99) The Cleveland Plain Dealer comments "One of the biggest remaining obstacles to Cleveland's ongoing economic revival was cleared away this week when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency made it easier to redevelop thousands of acres of "brownfields" - industrial land contaminated by toxic chemicals."
"UK pollution charted on Net" (5/12/99) The BBC reports "A government agency has published a "pollution inventory" of major factories on the Net in the hope of achieving major reductions in emissions."
"Smog and haze vandalize scenic beauty in our great national parks" (5/12/99) An artist buys into Al Gore's 60-year plan for purifying the air in national parks. He wants the same effort that went into restoring the Sistine Chapel to go into "restoring" America's parks. I'd be happy to pay a few Italians to paint the sky blue.
"Pentagon's man in uranium warning" (5/12/99) The BBC reports "As debate intensifies over the use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons in the Balkan conflict, a former Pentagon adviser has come out against them."
STUDY OF THE MOMENT: "Waste site cleanup poses threat to workers" (5/11/99) Reuters reports "Experts suggest that more cancer deaths might occur among workers charged with cleaning up certain toxic waste sites than among residents living near the sites."
"WHO calls for programs to boost life expectancy" (5/11/99) Reuters reports "The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report Tuesday calling for programs to increase life expectancy around the world, especially in developing nations. In the report, WHO singles out malaria control and the prevention of tobacco-related diseases as areas needing 'concerted global action.'"
"Mediterranean diet can help prevent memory loss" (5/11/99) Not real impressive. The study was an exercise in data dredging. It was not specifically designed to test the claimed result. Click here for the abstract.
"Mobiles 'should have health warning'" (5/11/99) The BBC reports "Mobile phones should carry a health warning, a charity caring for people with head injuries has said."
Government panel trashes oxygenated fuels (5/11/99) According to a National Research Council committee, the two principal types of oxygen additives used in reformulated gasolines in the United States contribute to reducing ozone pollution. In a study undertaken to examine the differences between the additives ethanol and methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), the committee found that reformulated gasoline made with ethanol is less effective, but that the overall impact of either oxygen additive on reducing ozone -- a major component of smog -- is very small.
"Gory adverts aim to scare smokers" (5/11/99) The BBC reports "Pictures of blocked arteries and cancerous tumours are being used by the authorities in Singpore as part of a shock strategy designed to curb a rise in smoking."
FIRST SCIENTIFIC DATA REQUEST UNDER NEW LAW MADE: Citizens group requests key data for EPA proposal on SUV emissions and gasoline sulfur (5/11/99) The first request for scientific data under the new data access law has been made by Citizens for the Integrity of Science. Click here for a related media release.
TOMORROW'S JUNK SCIENCE: "Consumer, Public Health, Religious and Environmental Groups Call for Immediate Removal of Potentially Harmful Substances From Baby Bottles, Plastic Cling Wrap" (5/11/99) The scare over plastics continues. Click here for some sanity.
"Suburban legends: The fight against sprawl is based on anti-suburban animus, not facts" (5/11/99) Steven Hayward writes in the National Post about the dreaded "suburban sprawl."
"Tobacco companies win cancer lawsuit" (5/11/99) The Associated Press reports "James Johnson, a lawyer for R. J. Reynolds, said he was pleased that after four months of testimony the jury 'conscientiously applied the law to evidence and determined that somebody who smokes, and being fully aware of the risks of smoking, ought not collect money.' That argument resonated with juror Carrie Jester. 'It's kind of like alcoholism. We know it's bad for you, but we make a decision to drink,' Jester said after the verdict. 'It's the same with smoking. We know it's bad for us.'"
"Radioactive coastal region hosts 100,000 Indians" (5/11/99) The Associated Press reports " More than 100,000 villagers live in a small coastal region of southern India that is unusually rich in naturally occurring radioactive materials."
USA Today debate: Food labeling (5/11/99) Click here for the USA Today view that food labeling will squelch competition. Click here for the opposing view that labeling helps consumers.
"Detroit Unplugged" (5/11/99) The Detroit News comments "The market will more efficiently regulate auto emissions and fuel consumption than government mandates."
Internet rumors about aspartame (5/11/99) Does aspartame really cause multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, Gulf War syndrome and a host of other diseases, as claimed in an Internet alert?
"Keep Park Ride Safety No. 1" (5/11/99) The Los Angeles Times calls for state regulation of theme parks after one fatal accident at Disneyland. But another editorial calls for NATO leaders to remain firm after bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Of course, theme parks are accountable for their mistakes and so have every incentive to keep customers safe. It's too bad the same can't be said for NATO.
"U.S. urges EU to drop beef ban as deadline nears" (5/11/99) The Associated Press reports "In a last-minute attempt, American leaders Monday tried to persuade the European Union to end a 10-year ban on hormone-treated U.S. beef."
"Noted medical researcher quit amid sexual harassment inquiry" (5/10/99) In an unusally candid moment, noted, and now notorious Harvard researcher Charles Hennekens said "Epidemiology is a crude and inexact science. Eighty percent of cases are almost all hypotheses. We tend to overstate findings either because we want attention or more grant money." [New York Times, October 11, 1995.] Hennekens is one of the original architects of that perpetual junk science machine known as the Nurses Health Study -- where no statistical association from unverified data is too small or to insignificant to report.
"Scientists vaccinate mice against salmonella" (5/10/99) Let's hope vaccine development can outpace the mindless rush to more "food safety" regulation.
"NJ Finds Death Penalty Statistical Models Unstable" (5/10/99) "New Jersey's test for deciding whether the death penalty is imposed uniformly is unworkable because of the small number of cases reviewed and the unwieldy model used, a Supreme Court special master reported on Tuesday."
"Is the Annual Complete Physical Examination Necessary?" (5/10/99) From the Archives of Internal Medicine, "Accompanying this official lack of enthusiasm for annual examinations is an absence of proof of any physical benefit from them."
"Recovered memory theory derided as 'junk science'" (5/10/99) The Toronto Star reports "The theory of recovered memory in sexual assault cases is 'junk science' that has no place in the courtroom, says the lawyer who defended John Paul Roby. 'It belongs on the shelf right up there with witchcraft, sorcery and fortune-telling,' says Steven Skurka. 'It's junk science, and one day we'll look at it the way we look at the Flat Earth Society.'"
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Big lies about tobacco" (5/10/99) Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe about this recent Cato Institute report. (in PDF format) Send your compliments to Jeff Jacoby (firstname.lastname@example.org).
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Cleanups That Clean" (5/10/99) The Detroit News comments, "Given a new study revealing the inability of the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor brownfield cleanup, more power should be given to the states to set their own standards." "Drunk ducks" replace deformed frogs?
"Open, Don't Restrict, Embryonic Stem Cell Research" (5/10/99) Michael A. Goldman writes in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Third Millennium medicine will not succeed under medieval law."
"Scapegoating SUVs won't solve clean-air problem" (5/10/99) Ken Green writes in the Houston Chronicle, "Before going after diminishing and risky safety returns from SUVs, the administration should consider whether its risk-reduction priorities are in order, and stop shilly-shallying around with high-profile campaigns against small sources of health risk."
"GM Third World warning" (5/10/99) The BBC reports "Christian Aid has challenged claims by producers of genetically-modified GM food that they can ease Third World hunger."
"Lawsuit Targets Malathion Maker" (5/9/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "At least 100,000 people who claim they suffered health problems because of exposure to the pesticide malathion are part of a lawsuit against the substance's manufacturer."
"Global warming solution hopes dampened " (5/9/99) The BBC reports "Experiments carried out from a submarine three kilometres under the ocean have poured cold water on one of the more ambitious schemes for dealing with global warming."
"Trace chemicals not always harmful" (5/9/99) In this MSNBC commentary, Elizabeth Whelan writes, "The trace chemicals in our blood and bodies often serve as biomarkers of background environmental exposure, but no data or evidence exists for most chemicals that would suggest an increased health risk from these background exposures."
"A decade of junk science" (5/9/99) Doug Bandow writes in the Washington Times, "The 1990s will be remembered for many things. None may be more important than the Decade of Junk Science."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "The mad voyage beyond zero risk" (5/8/99) On the last day of "Junk Science Week," Terence Corcoran writes "Going beyond zero risk forces decisions into another dimension, the dimension of politics and fear."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Samuel Epstein: Science meets the X-Files" (5/8/99) Michael Fumento writes in the National Post, "When it comes to synthetic chemicals, Dr. Epstein's motto could be the famous Grouch Marx song: 'Whatever it is, I'm against it.'"
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY III: "Death by EPA?" (5/8/99) The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comments, "Considering how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies it, all that is Greater Pittsburgh surely must be one trying place to breathe. Of course, that's simply not true. And the misrepresentation, allowed to ferment in the bilge of the EPA's autocratic bureaucracy, rightly has raised the hackles of the group who so diligently has battled for rational application of clean air standards."
"Senator Seeks Tougher Cleanup Standards at Rocketdyne Lab" (5/8/99)The Los Angeles Times reports "California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is urging the Clinton administration to adopt more stringent standards in cleaning up Rocketdyne's field lab near Simi Valley, a move that could dramatically increase the cost of restoring land contaminated by radioactive and chemical wastes."
"High-tech systems used to monitor global warming" (5/8/99) Regardless of technology, "garbage-in, garbage-out."
"Cleanup on a slow road" (5/8/99) The Denver Post wants Colorado to step up its "toxic waste site" cleanup program. But where's the fire? Why spend limited resources on unknown risks?
"Lawmakers push to kick sodas out of school cafeterias" (5/8/99) Is the soda-in-school issue really worth a legislator's time?
"Bill proposed on `worst case' chemical accidents" (5/8/99) The Clinton Administration wants to publish a Michelin guide for terrorists.
"Pentagon confirms depleted uranium use" (5/8/99) The BBC reports "The UK Defence Ministry says it thinks it unlikely that DU contributed to Gulf War Syndrome, although many veterans believe it is implicated."
"Monstrous Fiction Drives European Attacks on U.S. Food" (5/7/99) From the American Farm Bureau: "Frankenstein's monster was a work of European fiction. So too are the reasons behind European fears of wholesome, healthy food produced by farmers and ranchers from the United States."
"Researchers to unveil study saying food safety law implementation could hurt farmers and consumers; help foreign growers" (5/7/99) A media advisory from the American Farm Bureau. if you're on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, May 11, you might want to attend.
"Kyoto Who? Hits Senate Fan" (5/7/99) A tongue-in-cheek piece from David Wojick.
ACTIVITY FOR THE DAY: Educate the New York Times editorial staff (5/7/99) Click here for today's New York Times editorial about EPA's proposal for more stringent SUV emission standards and lower sulfur gasoline. Click here for the related JSHP media release. Click here for more relevant information. Is the Times for "secret science?" Send your comments to the Times.
WHITEWASH OF THE DAY: The Lancet reports MONICA -- sort of (5/7/99) The Reuters article on The Lancet's report of the MONICA study reads "Deaths due to coronary heart disease declined between 1983 and 1992, largely due to a reduction in the number coronary events, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) MONICA Project, which tracked trends in coronary heart disease across 37 populations in 21 developed countries. Click here for the story the public health establishment doesn't want you to know.
"Genetic changes linked to Gulf War Syndrome" (5/7/99) Reuters reports "Genetic alterations unique to veterans of the Persian Gulf War may help explain some of the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of Gulf War syndrome, according to findings reported in the May issue of Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology. Researchers used reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to screen for genetic abnormalities in a group of veterans with Gulf War syndrome and in age- and sex-matched healthy nonmilitary controls. They identified a series of polyribonucleotides that were unique to the Gulf War veterans. Further analysis revealed that these polyribonucleotides occurred in the region of chromosome 22q11.2, '...an antigen-responsive hot spot for genetic rearrangements,' the researchers explain. The genetic alterations were identified in nearly 50% of the ill veterans but in none of the nonmilitary controls. The researchers note the polyribonucleotides do not appear to be of viral origin, but they '...do not exclude the possibility that some of them were enterovirus related." They speculate that the genetic alterations were caused by exposure to environmental genotoxins in the Persian Gulf." The study cite is Clin Diagn Lab Immunol 1999;6:330-335.
Celebrating Hayek's Birthday (5/7/99) Not exactly science, but still relevant. Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the birth of F.A. Hayek. Among his great writings, Hayek wrote " "The conception that government should be guided by majority opinion makes sense only if that opinion is independent of government." Click here for a Wall Street Journal editorial. Click here for a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Edward Feulner. Click here for the Investor's Business Daily editorial.
"The Frankenstein Food scare that killed U.K. biotech" (5/7/99) As part of the Financial Post's own-going "Junk Science Week" series, Mark Neal warns Canada that it's next in line for the GM food scare.
"Safety switch -- With air bags, one 'size' doesn't fit all " (5/7/99) The Columbus Post-Dispatch editorializes "No one should have to ask federal safety gurus for permission to make a car or pickup truck safer for all the members of a family."
"GM pests bite back" (5/7/99) The BBC reports "Genetically modifying crops to protect them against pests may not work, according to research published in Science Journal."
"More MTBE Put in Gas Amid Move to Ban It" (5/7/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Just as Gov. Gray Davis was declaring MTBE an environmental hazard and ordering it phased out of gasoline, two oil companies were increasing amounts of the controversial additive in gas sold in Northern California."
"The machinery of fear" (5/6/99) As part of its own-going "Junk Science Week" series, the National Post reprints this article from the New Scientist.
"Science has no way to test food, conventional or modified" (5/6/99) As part of its own-going "Junk Science Week" series, the National Post reprints this article from the New Scientist.
"Statistician disputes 400,000 smoking-attributable deaths occur" (5/6/99) reports "A statistician on Wednesday characterized as inaccurate and unreliable the widely reported belief that about 400,000 deaths each year in this country are attributable to smoking."
IRONY OF THE MOMENT: "The China Syndrome " (5/6/99) Thanks to the Clinton Administration, it's been easier for the Chinese to get American nuclear secrets than for Americans to get EPA scientific data used to regulate them.
TODAY'S GORE-ING: "Reinventing Big Government" (5/6/99) The Detroit News comments "Vice-President Al Gore's Livability Initiative is simply a recycling of failed liberal urban renewal programs."
"The Week That Was May 3 - May 9" (5/6/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"The Week That Was April 26 - May 2" (5/6/99) Last week's weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.
"Genetic engineering and the seeds of crime" (5/6/99) Ken Alexander whines about Monsanto's ingenuity.
"A Beef Over Beef" (5/6/99) A Los Angeles Times editorial about the European Union's junk science-fueled attack on U.S. beef imports.
"Drinking lots of water reduces chance of bladder cancer in men" (5/6/99) The Associated Press reports "Men who drink significant amounts of water or other fluids have a lower risk of developing bladder cancer, according to a study to be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine."
"Light work made of hormonal pollutants " (5/6/99) The BBC reports "A cheap and 100% effective way of cleaning the female hormone oestrogen out of water supplies has been developed by scientists in Northern Ireland."
"Exhaust emissions: The health impact " (5/6/99) The BBC reports "Car exhausts contain a range of toxic substances that can have a serious impact on health."
"Junk science tyranny " (5/5/99) Morris E. Chafetz writes in the Washington Times, "Since the time Reverend Billy Sunday prophesied at the advent of Prohibition that society would live happily ever after when alcohol was no longer available, modern-day studies, statistics and warnings about alcohol consumption arise to put women back "where they belong." Women are being manipulated by science and statistics to heighten their greatest fear: breast cancer. The truth is that women who choose to drink moderately, in spite of the scary statistics and warnings, will do just fine." Chafetz is referring to studies like this one in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Trampoline injuries triple among children" (5/5/99) The annual trampoline scare is back. The trampoline police want to ban the use of trampolines by children. Click here< /a> for the most recent study. Injuries may have increased (200 percent in this study), but sales and, presumably, use of trampolines have increased even more (500 percent based on 1998 figures). So there have actually been fewer injuries relative to use.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Ottawa's errant food fight" (5/5/99) As part of the Financial Post's "Junk Science Week," Douglas Powell writes "Real health risks exist in our food system. But a scientists' conference this coming weekend devotes itself to continuing the crusade against BST, for which no risk has been proven."
LIFESTYLE NANNY SUGGESTS REGULATING DIET THROUGH PRICE CONTROL: "Super-Size Your Fries? How Much Is Too Much?" (5/5/99) "Barry M. Popkin, PhD, economist, and Professor of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says, 'Food prices are established not only by supply and demand, but also by dozens of government policies and programs. Our research shows that strategically altering prices can potentially lead to better health. This opens up a whole new arena for public health policy.'"
"FAO/WHO's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives Report on Hormonal Meat Is Scientifically Invalid and Fails to Warn Consumers of Cancer Risks" (5/5/99) Sam (the Sham) Epstein is at it again. Hormones may cause cancer when high doses are subcutaneously injected into laboratory animals -- but I wouldn't worry about much lower levels of hormone residues in meat that is subjected to the digestive process.
"Feds to scrap troubled nuclear plant 'watch list'" (5/5/99) The Associated Press reports "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will no longer release a "watch list" of the nation's most troubled nuclear power plants."
"$5 million settlement approved in Cincinnati radiation case" (5/5/99) The Associated Press reports "A federal judge has OK'd a $5.4 million settlement of lawsuits by families of cancer patients who were subjected to Cold War radiation experiments by University of Cincinnati researchers. The lawsuit charged that the approximately 90 cancer patients who received radiation treatments from 1960 to 1972 in Cincinnati were not fully informed of the risks, or told that the Defense Department was getting the results to learn what might happen to troops exposed to radiation. All but one of the plaintiffs has died. The defendants never conceded that the experiments contributed to the deaths of the patients, who already had advanced cases of cancer when they underwent experimentation."
"Tampon Terrorism: New Technique in Marketing; Using the Web to Spread Lies about Your Competition" (5/5/99) Michael Fumento writes "Terra Femme's site encourages women to spread a terrifying message that competitors' tampons may be horribly dangerous. Fear is just a sales pitch that has been used for decades to flog everything from alarm systems to underarm deodorant. But just think how it can be used on the Internet to whip up paranoia -- and get people to open their wallets."
"Millennium bug pollution warning" (5/5/99) The BBC reports "The (UK) Environment Agency says the millennium bug could cause widespread pollution because industry is doing too little to prepare for it."
"Sales of smaller melons go from bust to boom" (5/4/99) The Daily Telegraph reports "Britain's biggest supermarket chain has asked fruit growers to supply smaller melons after research indicated that housewives subconsciously compared them to the size of their breasts."
JUNK OF THE DAY: "Cancer risk from dioxin limited to those with high exposure levels, study shows" (5/4/99) Unfortunately for this study and its weak statistical associations, worker exposures are guess-timated based on length of time in particular jobs -- the results are not based on measured exposures or measurement of serum levels of dioxin. IN STARK CONTRAST, this recent study reports reports no significant increase in cancer risk among Vietnam veterans with "high" exposures to dioxin, as measured by blood sampling. The veterans were exposed to dioxin through their involvement with the aerial spraying of Agent Orange. I say results based on measurements beat weak statistical associations based on guessed exposures.
MORE 'SECRET SCIENCE' AT EPA: "Public not allowed to scrutinize proposed SUV emission, gasoline standards" (5/4/99) Like it says. Click here for related links.
'JUNK SCIENCE WEEK:' Financial Post declares May 4 - 8, 1999 "Junk Science Week' (5/4/99)The Financial Post section of the National Post has declared this week to be "Junk Science Week." It is dedicated to exposing junk science. The editor, Terence Corcoran, has been a strong critic of environmentalism for many years now. Click here for today's editorial "Attack of the tomato killers." Today's point-counterpoint columns are from Matthew Bramley, Greenpeace Quebec/Canada's toxics campaigner, and Michael LeGault, editor of Canadian Plastics.
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Frogs in the balance" (5/4/99) The Washington Times editorializes, "Someone stop her before she kills again. Scientists have just named Mother Nature the chief suspect in a series of vicious attacks that left countless frogs in this country dead or missing and made others candidates for protection under the Frogs with Disabilities Act. The original suspect in the case - man -is free to go for the time being, but scientific authorities have not ruled the possibility of trying him as an accomplice in the slayings. Stay tuned."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Dirty government emissions" (5/4/99) The Washington Times editorializes, "General public ignorance of the strides made in reducing vehicle emissions during the last 20 years has made it possible for President Clinton to endorse expensive new regulations desired by the Environmental Protection Agency without being laughed off the stage - or at least having a cabbage or two chucked in his general direction."
"Gore's smart growth plan tries to congest suburbs " (5/4/99) Aaron Fronbom writes in the Detroit News, "Vice-President Al Gore is scheduled to speak today in Detroit at the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America, teaching America and metro Detroit how to save themselves from their suburbs. The question is whether Gore will come out of Cobo Center, meet suburbanites face to face and explicitly promise them better living through buses, congestion and higher mortgage payments."
"Europe reviews milk drug ban " (5/4/99) The BBC reports "The European Commission imposed a five-year ban on the sale and use of BST in 1994, on what it called socio-economic grounds. That ban is now under review."
"Rocketdyne Probe Given to State EPA" (5/4/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "Prompted by allegations of high-level collusion, Gov. Gray Davis on Monday removed state health officials from overseeing contamination studies at Boeing and Rockwell International Corp.'s Rocketdyne field laboratory near Chatsworth and ordered an investigation into the agency's dealings with the defense contractor."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Warning Signs" (5/3/99) Alan Caruba's monthly column addresses the Consumers Union hoaxes, terrorism in the name of animal rights, and DOE's plans to halt the dreaded global warming.
JUNK OF THE DAY: "Salad Dressings and Mayonnaise May Help Prevent Fatal Heart Attacks, Harvard Researchers Say" (5/3/99) More from that perpetual junk science machine -- the Nurses Health Study. How do they know it's not the salad or that salad eaters are more likely to lead healthier lifestyles?
"Indoor Air Pollution Can Be Much Worse than Outdoors" (5/3/99) The American Lung Association recommends carbon monoxide detectors. The ALA must have missed their recent recall.
"US greens want beefed-up UN" (5/3/99) A contrast in greens: The Worldwatch Institute wants to end war; Al Gore wants to end traffic jams.
"Health Care Without Harm is Wrong, Prepared by Chemical Manufacturers Association Phthalate Esters Panel" (5/3/99) Three excellent reasons.
"Chill in the air" (5/3/99) The New Scientist reports, "They call it the "ignoro-sphere" because so little is known about it. Even so, the upper atmosphere is becoming the hot topic in the global warming debate. But not because it is heating up. The uppermost parts of our atmosphere are growing steadily colder and, paradoxically, the greenhouse effect is being held to blame."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "The Wind in the Willows" (5/2/99) The Detroit News comments, "The hysteria about frog deformities, it turns out, was environmentalists croaking in the wind."
TODAY'S GORE-ING I: "Sustainable development - of Gore's candidacy? " (5/2/99) Thomas Bray writes in the Detroit News, "The Clinton-Gore initiative to limit suburban sprawl is, if nothing else, politically inspired."
TODAY'S GORE-ING II: "A Tip for Bill Bradley" (5/2/99) George Will writes in the Washington Post, "Pressed by some environmentalists to support aggressive measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions from cars and coal-burning power plants, Gore responded that he's on their side, but challenged them: 'Name a senator who would support me.' Does it occur to him that there might be something wrong with an agenda opposed by 100 senators?"
"Disarray at EPA over how to retaliate against critics of ailing agency" (5/2/99) The Earth Times reports "To retaliate or not to retaliate: That is the question at EPA's office responsible for carrying out enforcement actions against the regulated community. At present, both the question and the answer remain a mystery."
"Ministers told to study GM foods cancer risks" (5/2/99) The Independent (UK) reports "The country's most senior doctor has told ministers to set up a special panel to examine whether eating gentically modified food could cause birth defects, cancer or damage to the immune system."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY I: "Enemies of the frog" (5/1/99) The Boston Herald editorializes "But a rush to judgment before the facts are in is as likely to be wrong in environmental matters as in anything else."
COMMENTARY OF THE DAY II: "Cloudy Science" (5/1/99) The Detroit News editorializes "Kyoto treaty's goal of severely reducing greenhouse gas emissions should not be adopted until science actually shows that these gases produce catastrophic global climate changes."
"Severe Arctic ozone hole predicted" (5/1/99) The BBC reports "Plummeting temperatures high in the Earth's atmosphere are doubling the rate at which the ozone layer is being destroyed, scientists have announced."
More on frog deformities (5/1/99) Yesterday's Science reported that frog deformities may be due to parasites rather than chemicals or ozone depletion. Click here for more info on the parasite research. Click here for info on the frog deformities monitoring project.
"Clinton Offers New Rules for Cleaner Air" (5/1/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "President Clinton will propose a new generation of clean air rules today, closing a loophole that allows sport-utility vehicles to pollute more than cars and mandating national use of cleaner gasoline similar to the fuel now required in California."
"Suit Blames Refinery Fire for Ailments " (5/1/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "More than 700 people are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Chevron Corp., the largest of three lawsuits stemming from last month's fire at the company's Richmond refinery."
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