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August 2009

GE--From corporate titan to welfare recipient

Steve Milloy's Green Hell Blog makes for very interesting reading—and not only for the direct postings. The comments can be pretty cogent, as well.

Take this one from dublds...

In nearly any business or industry, when political lobbying is used as a shortcut to fair competition, innovation and sensible business practices, it is a sure sign of failure. The government has increasingly been asked to intervene with labor disputes at the airlines and auto industries, and as we know both of these industries and their corresponding unions are hanging by a thread. The film, and more so record industries have lobbied heavily for stricter anti-piracy laws. Nonetheless, anyone who has ever made a mix tape knows that piracy is nothing new or suddenly rampant. Fact is these industries have failed to remain relevant, and the Internet has offered new and better alternatives.

As for GE, I've said before and I'll say again, GE is an embarrassment. This news all but proves their new "save the world" mission statement is a front for "save our company". And their shamelessness about their inability rescue their company through any means of their own should be a HUGE warning sign for investors. For a company with a history and name like GE has built, their current position should be a disgrace to them. But instead they are talking up their new government-welfare business plan with all the adjectives usually reserved for celebrations and grand openings. It's absolutely pitiful, and I like many investors have run like hell from any long positions in GE. If nothing else, I would feel too guilty making money off a stock whose price was supported by poorly directed taxpayer funds.

The only shame is that GE was once the poster boy for American manufacturing and quality. Now that they are taking a proud place in the welfare line, what does this say about America itself. GE is one of those rich corporations who we were going to tax to pay for our social programs. Now that they look to become recipients themselves, what is the plan?


See how a professor of communication takes down a couple of fear-mongering journos

We have covered the breathless and fact-challenged campaign against BPA and the bravura work done by to expose it. The STATS report took no prisoners in its attack on BPA doom profiteer scientist Fred vom Saal, along with the journos—Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger—who used Freddie as essentially their sole source in their 30,000 word screed against the compound.

The STATS report, along with BPA getting essentially a clean bill of health from the State of California and the Canadian government drove Susanne and Meg into full damage control mode. They embarked on an investigation of STATS and report author Trevor Butterworth, publishing their findings on August 22.

The publishing of their findings betrays a rather interesting twist. Nothing is mentioned in the August 22nd article that would contradict a single thing stated in the STATS report. Thus, after expending 30,000 words of precious journalistic real estate on an attack on BPA, Kissinger and Rust choose to spend NONE in defending their work. Instead, they resort to foolish ad hominem attacks.

However, they picked on the wrong group. Please read STATS' reply, written by Bob Lichter, Professor of Communication at George Mason University, and Director of STATS.

I can further add that Meg and Susanne even tried to investigate me, and in a series of e-mails reflected not only petulance, but real ignorance on BPA, beyond what they were fed by Freddie. I was encouraged, though, when Meg said she would "look into" Steven Arnold's scientific fraud (discussed here).

Surely, the duo should have examined other sources, but they could have been overwhelmed by vom Saal's relentless cheerleading for his own pathetic scientific work—behavior that is not particularly common in academia. Sadly, typical of the endocrine disruptor gang, though, he is absolutely shameless. 

I suspect that many in the ED gang are fully aware how bad their science is, but justify it since their cause is so righteous (in their eyes at least).  And with so many journals looking for stuff to publish...Let's just say that Cell is about the only good one left.

Perhaps the STATS efforts will shine much needed light on this matter.

PCBs In The Hudson: Environmental Protection Or Environmental Politics?

Sadly, this is yet another monumental EPA screw-up.

For one thing, the dredging will likely makes things worse, but more than that, NO human health effects have ever been documented on the area workers, exposed to PCBs.

In 1999, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)—a unit of the CDC—concluded that "The weight of evidence does not support a causal association for PCBs and human cancer at this time."

Apparently, this was not the PC finding, though, because they reversed it in 2000, for no scientific reason whatsoever.

Yes, friends, this whole business stinks to high heaven.

Read my complete Health News Digest article, which includes some inside dope never before published.

(500) Days of Summer

Most of the critics loved this one. I didn't. In a sense, it was mumblecore on steroids, since mumblecore pics were never intended to have name talent.

Debbie Schlussel called it a chick flick where the chick part is played by a guy, and the guy part is played by a chick. Ultimately, neither of the leads is sympathetic, although you start hating Summer right away.

Read my complete review.

Yes, the title really does have those stupid parentheses.

No Nutritional Advantage To Organically-Produced Foods

This is the title of my latest HND piece, and it summarizes the bravura work done by Dr. Alan Dangour and team in the UK.

Dangour and associates looked at an incredible 50 years of literature, to find articles that did nutritional comparisons between organic and conventionally produced produce and livestock. More than 50,000 articles were examined, and were screened for relevancy and quality.

For produce, 23 nutrients were compared, and for 20 of them there was no difference between organic and conventionally produced. Moreover, for the three nutrients in which there was a difference, this was deemed not to be relevant to health. Similar results were obtained for livestock on the ten nutrients studied.

The reaction of the organic community has been to either condemn the study or to shift the focus to the dangers of pesticides, but there are problems with either approach.

It is quite unlikely that a more fair, balanced, and exhaustive protocol could ever be envisioned for a literature search and evaluation. If the best the organic side can do is complain that some papers favorable to their side were eliminated in the culling out process of tens of thousands of papers, they should abandon that line of argument.

As to pesticides, this is an emotional appeal at best, with no scientific support. Indeed, the most they can muster is some now pretty much discredited work on endocrine disruptors. As it is, there have been numerous studies looking at cancer rates and other parameters for people who were exposed to huge amounts of pesticides, and their health was no worse than the rest of the population.

Heck, in one study [Alavanja MCR, Sandler DP, Lynch CF, Knott C, Lubin JH, Tarone R, Thomas K, Dosemeci M, Barker J, Hoppin JA, Blair A. Scand J Work Environ Health, 31 (S1): 39-45 (2005)] the cohort examined actually had lower overall cancer rates than the rest of the population. "The overall cancer occurrence among farmers and their spouses in the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) is significantly less than that expected compared to other men and women of the same age living in Iowa and North Carolina."

Save your money and buy conventional ag goods!

Obama's designate for OSHA director is an anti-BPA fool, among other things

Hat tip to Steve Milloy's Green Hell blog.

Some big questions are being raised about David Michaels. According to Milloy, “Michaels supports the use of junk science as a basis for public policy and court decisions, representing a threat to employers, employees, consumers and taxpayers.”

Great pull quote:

"Around that time, Michaels was active in the media against BPA, telling the Washington Post, for example, that BPA makers were like the tobacco industry because, he claimed, raising questions about the science underlying regulatory action is merely a tactic to delay regulation."

And, here I thought that the ancient concept of "science by authority" had given way to the empirical approach. Apparently, PC is stronger than real science in some places, especially as a way for the Left to increase their control of your life and your wallet.

OSHA's new Small Business Guide for Ethylene Oxide

On 30 April 2009, OSHA released a comprehensive document entitled "Small Business Guide for Ethylene Oxide." This new publication is available as a spiffy pdf (14.2 MB) or as a more browsable web page. The agency considers it to be a "guidance document," in that it is advisory in nature, is informational in content, and is intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthy workplace.

Much of the content of this new document is based on OSHA's Ethylene oxide standard (29 CFR 1910.1047). Note that this standard dates back to 1984.

As such, some of what is presented in the Guide, while perfectly valid, is a bit outmoded.

Interscan Corporation, a leading supplier of ethylene oxide monitoring systems, has posted a helpful commentary on the new Guide. The commentary is highly recommended for all users of the chemical—especially those in health care.