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December 2010

Some American wallboard now exhibits Chinese drywall symptoms

It's taken well over a year, but the domestic gypsum wallboard industry has now been brought into the tainted and corrosive drywall mess. I'm basing this time interval on when the problems of Florida homeowners George and Brenda Brincku were first publicized (April, 2009). The Brinckus' home showed all the symptoms of Chinese drywall, but there was no Chinese drywall in their house. My latest HND piece covers the story.

It was easy enough for National Gypsum—whose product made up the bulk of what was installed at the Brinkus' home—to simply deny what was going on, or at best dismiss it as "anomalous." But now, 97 homeowners in four states have joined lawsuits against U.S. drywall manufacturers, claiming that their drywall is releasing enough sulfur gas to corrode wiring and appliances and cause headaches, nosebleeds, labored breathing, and irritated eyes. These, of course, are the familiar complaints that have been associated with Chinese drywall.

I have long been a critic of the domestic gypsum industry and its trade association for their utter silence on this matter. Now that one of their own has been implicated, will they finally speak up?

Unfortunately, the industry is not the only problem here. Far too many plaintiff's attorneys and their so-called "experts" are doing their best to spend their clients money, for testing that is not definitive. Inasmuch as a method exists, which is 100% definitive for tainted and corrosive drywall—the Chamber test—this sort of conduct is shameful, and may even constitute fraud.

We also check in with good guy construction industry consultant and consumer advocate Michael Foreman, who offers some practical no-nonsense advice, as usual.

Read the complete article.

Bold action is needed to solve the American Indian health crisis

That's the title of my latest HND piece, and let me assure you..."Crisis" is no exaggeration. The article has plenty of statistics, but this one should get you going: On the Pine Ridge Reservation—admittedly about as bad as it gets—the average life expectancy is 45. Compare that to 77.9 for the American population at large.

Have I got your attention now?

I dig up a quote from way back in 1727 from a man who would eventually become the Governor of New York, and it seems eerily prophetic.

But what, alas, sir, have we Christians done to make them better? We have indeed reason to be ashamed, that these infidels by our conversation and neighborhood, are become worse than they were before they knew us. Instead of virtues, we have only taught them vices, that they were entirely free from before that time. The narrow views of private interest have occasioned this, and will occasion greater, even public mischiefs, if the governors of the people do not, like true patriots, exert themselves and put a stop to these growing evils.

I conclude that the Indian needs to reclaim the traditions of his ancestors and become a health warrior.

Read the complete article.

7,000 words on Chinese drywall

In what are the first two parts of an ongoing series on Chinese Drywall, Sarasota Herald-Tribune journo Aaron Kessler, along with Joaquin Sapien of ProPublica are doing a superb job.

Here's the first piece.

Here's the second.

This is easily the most comprehensive coverage of the issue—ever—by any media outlet. Someone should nominate these guys for a Pulitzer.

Ezra Levant on The Cancun Collapse

Canadian pundit Ezra Levant nails it again.

Here is a wonderful pull quote, or really some pull paragraphs:

Greenpeace hysterically announced failure at Copenhagen could lead to a 20-foot rise in the level of the oceans - on a web page that helpfully asked for donations three times.

Similar end-times prophecies were made at the previous 14 climate parties, too.

All of which violates Apocalyptic Prophecy Rule No 1: If you say the world is going to end, it's best to pick a deadline far enough into the future that you'll never be held accountable if your prediction is wrong.

Saying end times are just a year or two away just doesn't make sense for a permanent bureaucracy.

And, here's a section that's even better!

A Chinese company called Huaneng Renewables cancelled its public share offering. China Datang Renewable went ahead, but lowered share prices. Analysts say the IPO for Sinovel Wind, another "green" company, is in trouble too.

Yuanta Research analyst Min Li says there's no mystery to the sudden retreat of China's environmental companies.

Without a firm treaty to force developed countries such as Canada and the United States to subsidize projects, the market demand just isn't there.

"Positive sentiment seems lacking in the sector given difficulty in getting any certainty that subsidies will continue," said Li.

Translation: Chinese windmill companies don't actually make any money. They only survive off the $20 billion or so a year in subsidies directed their way by the Kyoto Protocol.

Since the Green movement began back in the late 1960s, essentially every one of their major precepts has been dead wrong.

You could look it up.

Eat, drink, and be merry---and don't worry about cholesterol

This week's HND piece takes a look at the big lie that it is the continually-debunked (but never officially abandoned) saturated fat/cholesterol theory of heart disease.

It would be bad enough that the entire theory is derived from studies nearly a century old that either fed ridiculous amounts of cholesterol or actual meat products to rabbits. The rabbits were harmed by this, of course, but that should hardly be much of a surprise, since rabbits do not eat meat nor have much (if any) cholesterol in their normal diets.

But the real killer is the fraudulent nature of the big study that supposedly proved the theory. The (in)famous Seven Countries Study of Prof. Ancel Keys, has that name since even though he had access to diet, cholesterol, and heart disease data in 22 countries, he ignored all but those seven countries that proved his fat/cholesterol/heart disease theory. Moreover, within the seven countries that he did analyze, his methodology would not pass muster in a junior high school science fair.

For this incredible junk science, he was featured on the cover of Time magazine (13 January 1961), and his work is still honored by many who should—and probably do—know better. Please note that there are literally dozens of large studies that absolutely destroy the cholesterol theory.

Malcolm Kendrick, MD, among others, has tried to put the stake through the heart of this meme, but has also noted that:

The cholesterol hypothesis is, perhaps, the greatest ever example of a medical hypothesis that has become too powerful to die. Too many vested interests are intertwined with it. World famous experts would look incredibly stupid if the hypothesis were to be accepted to be wrong. An entire industry of cholesterol lowering would fall apart. Hundreds of billions of dollars of statin sales are at stake. Worse, much worse, the medical profession would end up with a few million eggs on its face. Perish the thought. Much better that millions die, surely.

In fact, I have come to realize that there is, literally, no evidence that can dent the cholesterol hypothesis. Believe me, I have had a good go.

Kendrick may be right, as far as "official" recognition goes. But then, readers of this blog don't care much for conventional wisdom. After all, Robert J. Samuelson is hardly the first person to notice that the conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong.

Read the complete article.

Chinese drywall update

There have been numerous developments on this front, and most of them are not good for consumers. Somehow, though, too many people—and media outlets—have been fooled. My latest HND piece examines the situation.

Included in this update are two high profile so-called "settlements," tainted forever since the plaintiff's lawyers got their fees based on a side deal with the defendants. Thus, there should be no surprise that the plaintiffs got screwed. Under normal circumstances this sort of thing would get you disbarred, but in these cases, it was legal.

Most others in the legal profession consider plaintiff's attorneys to be about one (very small) step up from prostitutes, but even my friends in the profession were incredulous when I told them the circumstances of these particular cases.

Thankfully, there is also a bit of good news for affected homeowners, at least in Florida. And, there are also a few good guys out there.

Read the complete article.

Is it finally time for rugby to take center stage?

This week's HND piece takes a look at rugby, and how it is undergoing rapid growth around the world. Rugby fans are thrilled that the sport, in its "sevens" format, will be part of the 2016 Olympics.

I interviewed former rugby star Shawn Lipman, who is now marketing the new rugby-themed feature film "Play On." There are a few choice quotes from Shawn in the article, and I learned something about rugby in France:

Apparently, the sport is already second only to soccer in popularity, but after the terrible performance of the French national team at this year's FIFA World Cup, rugby is really coming into its own. Of course, soccer did not do itself any favors either with the astonishingly boring—if successful—performance of Spain to win the Cup.

Play On is available for viewing online, and is most enjoyable. The character arcs go well beyond rugby.

Read the complete article.