Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for June 14th, 2011

The First Amendment was written for this?!

Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2011

Bartcop picked a winner:

Posted in media, Media machine, mediawhores | 1 Comment »

The GOP gets bragging rights! First gay presidential candidate!

Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2011

I sorta wonder whether they’re going to be touting this anywhere except at Log Cabin meetings, but hey–they didn’t get the first African American presidential candidate (Frederick Douglass), they didn’t get the first woman presidential candidate (Victoria Woodhull), they certainly didn’t get the first African American or woman nominee of a major party for either president or vice president. But they do have the first openly gay presidential candidate: Fred Karger.

I really, really don’t think they want this honor.

Posted in gay rights, Republicans | 3 Comments »

Back from the newsgrave: formaldehyde, styrene, dogbites, and the Koch brothers

Posted by Charles II on June 14, 2011

Friday should be called the newsgrave, because that’s where all important stories are sent to be buried.

DemocracyNow did an especially good report today on the release of a report on the cancer causing potential of styrene and formaldehyde and their listing as carcinogens by the Dept. Health and Human Services, the possible connection between the delay of the release of that report and the resignation of David Koch (Koch Chemicals produces formaldehyde) from the board of the National Institutes of Health, the potential for the suppression of an even more important report from the EPA, and the tactics that industry uses to forestall the day of reckoning on the withdrawal of toxic chemicals from the environment.

Now, a quick preface. To have an excessive fear of chemicals is equivalent to industry recklessness in being ethically, morally, and logically indefensible. All “chemicals”–including water and oxygen–cause death if administered wrongly. “Natural” products like plutonium, and “organic” products such as as VX (nerve gas) can be incredibly dangerous. Even some “natural organic” materials include things like botulinum toxin and aflatoxin are far, far more dangerous than most synthetic chemicals. Furthermore, the decision to regulate or, more seriously, withdraw from the market a product can lead not only to financial losses for the producers, but to actual death. To give an example, polystyrene is used not only for plastic cups, but in a host of medical applications. While replacements can be found, simply the process of changeover to a new material can lead to unpredictable effects, and those can include death. Even the simple increase in price of a material with price someone out of the current medical system, leading to injury or death, and that person is disproportionately likely to be poor. For that matter, the substitutes themselves will have their own health risks. And so we have to look at: what are exposures to all chemicals (even “natural” and “organic” ones)? Are there differential responses depending on age or other factors? How do we weigh risks and benefits? If we discover a health risk from a component of manufacturing, what are our alternatives? How do we properly price risk into the marketplace?

It’s important to absorb these facts in order to understand why and how styrene and formaldehyde need to be cut back drastically. If one doesn’t understand these points fully, then one will be susceptible to the Scylla of being persuaded by industry deceptions or the Charybdis of thinking we should ban these chemicals entirely. As the representative of the NRDC pointed out on DemocracyNow, the industry has four dogs with which to counter critics:

  • My dog doesn’t bite. (the chemical is safe)
  • OK, my dog does bite, but he didn’t bite you. (only factory workers, not the public is exposed).
  • OK, my dog did bite you, but he didn’t hurt you. (the public is exposed, but at safe limits)
  • Well, OK, my dog did bite you and he hurt you, but Hoocoodanode? (we aren’t paying for your suffering)
  • More below the fold
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in environment, health issues, industry | 1 Comment »

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