Search This Blog

De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Thursday, January 28, 2010

ASCH Update


January 28, 2010
Dispatch: Snack Defense, Harvard Offense, Chemophobic, Biosimilar
By Curtis Porter
For those of you who want to catch a glimpse of ACSH's elusive Todd Seavey, look for John Stossel's new show tonight at 8pm (EST) on Fox Business Network...

January 27, 2010
The Harvard School of (Unscientific) Public Health (Activism)
By Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has now firmly established itself not as an institution for higher learning, devoted to educating students about the science of preventing premature disease and death, but instead as a hotbed of pseudoscience and political agitation...

January 27, 2010
Dispatch: Ross Radio, ACSH School, Important Hearing, Dredge Report
By Curtis Porter
ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross will join Vicki McKenna on her radio show, NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, at 5:06 pm (EST) to talk about the Wisconsin State Senate's passage of a BPA ban...

January 26, 2010
Dispatch: Conflicts, Paranoiacs, Scientologists, Dementia, and Cell Phone Soda
By Curtis Porter
ACSH staffers would like to offer a seat at the table to John Tierney for his column in the Science section of today's New York Times...

January 25, 2010
Dispatch: Whelan Testimony, Lung Cancer Survival, Kids and Cholesterol
By Curtis Porter
Dr. Whelan Among the Senators
ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan reports on her testimony on Friday in front of a New York State Senate health committee about proposed soda taxes, among other health topics: “The Senators seemed rather stunned by my testimony. While I was talking, everyone was quiet and the things I was saying were so counter to every other opinion expressed that no one knew what was going on………“Maybe it is that lack of connection to reality that is part of the problem,” says ACSH's Jeff Stier. “These people make laws that affect all of us, yet they have no connection to reality.”

Here is one I missed in November that is really worth reading.  RK

With a New Ideologue in Charge, It's (Bad) Business as Usual at EPA (from Investor's Business Daily)
By Henry Miller and Dr. Gilbert Ross.
The only things being protected these days by the Environmental Protection Agency are the insupportable, unscientific views of radical activists...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unethical Greenpeace actions threaten the livelihoods and lives of millions

By Paul Driessen

For those who haven't read his book, Eco-Imperialism, Green Power, Black Death, I strongly recommend it.  RK

Should corporate ethics principles apply only to profit-making companies? Or should they also cover nonprofit corporations, especially those that badger for-profits to be more “socially responsible”?

Should corporations be judged partly on creating jobs, supporting communities, or improving and saving lives? And should nonprofit corporations be penalized for impeding the enhancement of human life? The answers should be self-evident. But they’re not, as US nonprofits and politicians have repeatedly demonstrated.

Consider Greenpeace. This self-proclaimed paragon of virtue constantly harasses companies that it deems insufficiently virtuous in advertising their products, protecting the environment and promoting their public image. But the Rainbow Warriors’ own actions would frequently merit fines or even jail time if committed by profit-making businesses.

Greenpeace publicity stunts, anti-corporate campaigns and fund-raising appeals are often laden with false and misleading claims about companies and their operations. The Warriors justify their actions as necessary to advancing their legal, legislative and regulatory agenda – and getting people and foundations to write a check or click their website’s “donate now” button. Almost anything goes, because Greenpeace and its comrades in eco-warfare are apparently beyond the reach of the Lanham Act and mail fraud or tax laws that apply to ordinary corporations and citizens.

In the olden days, it made sense to carve out exceptions, to protect legitimate public interest organizations from persecutions and prosecutions based on inadvertent falsehoods or political motivations. But that was before the roster of tax-exempt nonprofits included so many unsavory elements, like unscrupulous eco campaigners and pressure groups for whom truth, ethics and real social responsibility mean little.

In 1995, Greenpeace attacked Shell Oil, claiming the company was going to dump tons of oil and toxic wastes in the ocean, by sinking an obsolete North Sea oil production platform as an artificial reef. A year later, after raking in millions in contributions and free publicity, the Warriors admitted they’d known all along there had been no oil or chemicals on the platform.

Their shiny armor got tarnished, but there were no legal repercussions. A few years later, the Rainbow Warriors were caught diverting funds raised for tax-exempt educational purposes into non-exempt, and sometimes illegal, lobbyist and activist programs. Donors got charitable deductions, and Greenpeace got more millions to stage protests against drilling, manufacturing and free trade; lobby Congress and EPA; and vandalize crops and corporate facilities.

The IRS sent Greenpeace a strong reprimand, demanding that it cease its money laundering, but again no real penalties. Canada, by contrast, refused to recognize the Greenpeace Environmental Foundation as a charity, saying its activities provided no discernable benefits to the public and, in fact, could send families “into poverty.”

But back in the USA, former EPA Administrator-turned-Climate-Czar Carol Browner and other federal agency heads continue to fork over large sums of taxpayer money to Greenpeace and similar eco-activists, to subsidize their anti-corporate, global warming, “sustainable” energy and regulatory thumbscrew campaigns. Meanwhile, the taxpayers are precluded from writing off contributions to congressional candidates who might support long overdue investigations, reforms and penalties. The truly odious ethical violations, however, involve activities that directly damage the livelihoods and lives of innocent people, particularly in impoverished countries.

In Britain, France and elsewhere, Greenpeace vandals have destroyed bio-engineered crops, wiping out millions of dollars in research to develop food plants that require fewer pesticides, are more nutritious, reduce dangerous mold toxins, withstand floods and droughts, and increase crop yields. The people who would benefit most from this research are the poorest, most malnourished on Earth. They could improve their lives, simply by planting different, better corn, cotton or soybean seeds.

“With the old maize,” says South African Richard Sithole, “I got 100 bags from my 15 hectares [38 acres].” “With Bt maize I get 1,000 bags. And now I don’t have to buy any chemicals.” In fact, Bt corn has enabled farmers like Sithole to cut pesticide use and expenses by 75%, triple their profits, save 35-49 days per season working in fields, and save enough to buy a refrigerator or even new house. And yet rich-country Greenpeace activists oppose the technology.

Greenpeace campaigns against insecticides and insect-repelling DDT are even more lethal. These chemicals could prevent malaria, which kills a million people annually and leaves millions more brain- damaged. Today, DDT is sprayed just on the inside walls of thatch and cinderblock homes, to keep mosquitoes out and serve as a long-lasting bed net over entire families.

But Greenpeace claims “some researchers think” DDT “could be inhibiting lactation because of its estrogen-like effects and may be contributing to lactation failure throughout the world.” No peer-reviewed medical studies back up these claims, and lactation problems are definitely associated with the malaria and malnutrition that would be reduced by technologies the Warriors oppose.

Worldwide, 1.5 billion people still don’t have electricity for lights, refrigerators, stoves, schools, shops, hospitals and factories that would bring health, opportunity and prosperity. Yet Greenpeace continues to battle hydrocarbon, hydroelectric and nuclear power, telling people they should be content with solar panels or wind turbines that provide intermittent, insufficient energy – and guarantee sustained poverty.

Greenpeace justifies its anti-energy ideologies by claiming they are preserving rivers, avoiding dangerous radiation and preventing “runaway” global warming. It has vilified me and two of my Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow colleagues as “climate criminals” and applauded a recent Rolling Stone magazine article that branded CFACT’s director Marc Morano as a “climate killer.”

Our “crime”? Saying climate change is natural and cyclical. Noting that thousands of scientists agree there is no convincing evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing a global warming disaster. And pointing out that, even in the midst of a global cooling period and widening Climategate scandal, Greenpeace is still clinging to its tired fabrications and storylines.

Why the Rockefeller Brothers, Packard, Winslow, Schaffner Family and other foundations continue to support Greenpeace remains a mystery. That other donors are now using Fidelity, Vanguard and Schwab to hide their donations suggests that they don’t want their friends and neighbors knew they give money to this shady outfit.

Last month’s climate gab fest offered an opportunity for CFACT activists to highlight these ethical lapses and give Greenpeace a dose of its own medicine. They unfurled a "Propaganda Warrior" banner from the rails of the Rainbow Warrior ship, and a “Ship of Lies” banner from Greenpeace’s other vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, as they lay anchored in Copenhagen harbor.

“Greenpeace’s callous disregard for the truth and people’s well-being has become intolerable,” CFACT executive director Craig Rucker stated. “They need to start behaving honestly and ethically. We don’t expect them to be Mother Teresa, but it would be nice if they’d start helping people to improve their health and living standards, and began supporting real environmental stewardship.” The world would be a much better place.

"Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.  Be the first to read Paul Driessen's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox."

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart. Give him money to speed his departure since we wish not to die in this man's company.  But we in it shall be remembered from this day to the ending of the world.   We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.  And gentlemen now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon this day. –Paraphrased from Shakespeare’s KING HENRY V Acts III and V.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Methodologies! What are they?

By Rich Kozlovich

The dictionary defines methodology as “a set or system of methods, principles, and rules for regulating a given discipline, as in the arts or sciences.” In short, a methodology is whatever someone says it is.   Let's take a look at this. 

This is the first day of 2010 and I watched a show dealing with the mortgage crisis and CDO’s.  CDO’s are similar to “a regular mutual fund that buys bonds. However, unlike a mutual fund, most of the securities sold from a CDO are themselves bonds, rather than shares. In simplest terms, a CDO is an arrangement that raises money primarily by issuing its own bonds and then invests the proceeds in a portfolio of bonds, loans, or similar assets. Payments on the portfolio are the main source of funds for repaying the CDO's own securities. CDOs have become a notable feature of the financial landscape.” (Nomura Fixed Income Research)

INVESTOPEDIA outlines the CDO mortgage market in this manner. Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are a type of structured credit product in the world of asset-backed securities.  The purpose of these products is to create tiered cash flows from mortgages and other debt obligations that ultimately make the entire cost of lending cheaper for the aggregate economy. This happens when the original money lenders give out loans based on less stringent loan requirements. The idea is that if they can break up the pool of debt repayments into streams of investments with different cash flows, there will be a larger group of investors who will be willing to buy in. (For more on why mortgages are sold this way, see Behind The Scenes Of Your Mortgage and Why Are Mortgage Rates Increasing?)

These loans would move from a “mortgage originator” to a “mortgage investor”. “Smaller mortgage originators will often sell their mortgages to large scale originators or aggregators, which pool mortgages together and securitize them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or as private-label securities.” The idea was to make sure that you could create a Triple A rating for that bundle of mortgages. Once they got a Triple A rating they would then sell them all over the world; usually to investors with large amounts of capital but very little understanding of what they were buying. However, this lack of understanding wasn’t exclusive to unsophisticated buyers. Alan Greenspan himself stated in the show that he didn’t understand the complexities of the CDO mortgage market either, and that he just didn’t understand the numbers. The greed involved permeated all levels of the financial world. Although many knew that this couldn’t go on and some made an effort to make this clear to some of the biggest players in the field they continued to cling to the idea that the mortgage market would appreciate six to eight percentage points every year to infinity. Clearly that was insane.

Alan Greenspan was asked; why didn’t they just get out. He claimed that they knew the dangers but thought they were smart enough to get out when it was the right time. Baloney! Greenspan, the moderator and all the people interviewed left out the reason they didn’t get out. They couldn’t. Once they bought into the Community Reinvestment Act (see the subprime pest control link at the end) it became a Catch 22 situation; in for a dime in for a dollar, and in forever.

Since they were in so deep and in forever they refused to see anything else except the potential profits for today. The government forced them into this situation and the government was going to back them through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, so they went after the short term rewards without any concern for the long term consequences; after all, they were making tons of money and they had no choice. When you dance with the Devil you won’t call the tune, you won’t choose the dance, you won’t lead, you can’t change partners and you may not be allowed to leave the dance.

What does this have to pest control? While interviewing one of the people who created these Triple A ratings for these mortgage bundles she said she had to get out. She claimed that she obeyed to letter of the law, but ignored to sprit of the law in order to make these bundles Triple A. The company she worked for claimed that these ratings were sound and, among other things, were the result of “rigorous methodologies”.

I keep hearing about the “methodologies” of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Green Pest Management (GPM) and I wonder…..what methodologies? There is no such thing. We will inspect a property, recommend a treatment program and then perform the service. That’s it! You can flower it up with a ton of written claptrap…but that is it.

When I hear someone touting “methodologies” I immediately have the desire to check to see if this is a subtitle to the movie The Sting; because someone is trying to feed everyone else a load of horsepucky. Triple A rated horsepucky to promote and sell subprime pest control to an unsuspecting public.  What's worse is that many of the "experts" in our industry have bought into it.  Is there any difference between our "experts" and the "experts" who completely failed in their responsibilities from the lending institutions?  Yes...there is.  They have higher IQ's.   I know, I know...... that's a logical fallacy....I'll bet it's true though. 


ACSH Morning Dispatch Report

By Rich Kozlovich

Most of this is directly quoted from the American Council on Science and Health’s Morning Dispatches of December 21 and 22, 2009. The Morning Dispatch deals with every health issue that arises, whether it is West Nile Virus or H1N1 (Swine Flu), smoking, chemical scares or any other of the host of issues we hear about in the media daily. Find out if these issues are real or merely another scare from some activist group! Hear “the rest of the story”! If anyone is interested in receiving these daily dispatches you can do so by becoming a member of ASCH.

Over the years I have heard all sorts of claims about autism and what causes it. The reality is that they don’t really know, although it has been pointed out in the past that there are clear indications of a genetic problem that may have nothing to do with environmental issues. An article in TIME reveals  that “[o]ne in 110 American children are considered to fall somewhere along the autism spectrum, according to the latest report released by the federal government. … The estimate also represents a stunning 57% increase in prevalence since 2002, when health officials first began a nationwide effort to quantify the risk of autism in childhood.”

“The question is: is there really an increase or is this a matter of expanding the definition for purposes of enhanced and more accurate detection?” asks ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.

An article on this study in the New York Times arrived at the same question: “Prevalence estimates for these disorders have increased so sharply in recent years — to 1 in 150 in 2007, from 1 in 300 in the early 2000s — that scientists have debated whether in fact the disorder is more common, or diagnosed more often as a result of higher awareness.

‘A simple explanation is not apparent, and a true increase in risk cannot be ruled out,’ Catherine Rice, lead author of the study and a behavioral health scientist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a conference call with reporters.”

“They have some good baseline data from 2002 which does seem to show that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders is increasing, but we don’t know what the actual rate was 20 or even 10 years ago,” adds ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “Both the frequency and the rate of increase that they’ve determined is certainly a concern. Such a devastating condition in almost one percent of American children is a big problem, and we have no idea what may be causing this disease.

“Of course, people in the so-called ‘environmental’ groups will attempt to frighten parents by saying that this tragic illness is due to exposure to environmental chemicals, but the fact is that there hasn’t been any link between environmental chemicals and autism, and there really couldn’t be any possible link since almost all of the most commonly encountered environmental chemicals have been utilized for decades, and there hasn’t been any increase in exposures. It’s the same problem with the myths about so-called ‘endocrine disruptors’ and breast cancer being linked to environmental chemicals, but unfortunately that’s how it happens with environmental activists – all they need is a rumor to impugn a chemical and make it one of their ‘facts.’”

Yesterday, MD mentioned the rise in the number of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) cases in the U.S., noting that as many as 1 in 110 children are now diagnosed with ASD. ACSH staffers wondered to what extent this rise was real, and to what extent it represents more acuity in detection, diagnosis, and data collection.

An ACSH Scientific Advisor and avid MD reader – who, incidentally, has a son with ASD – weighed in: 

“I think the new numbers represent the increased awareness and higher rates of expanded-criteria diagnoses. When I went to public school, in the 1930's, I remember that in most of my classes there was at least one kid who was peculiar, who couldn't relate to his peers--and they were often bullied by their classmates. If memory serves, there were more than one in a hundred of these kids. Another factor may be that kids previously diagnosed with mental disorders are often now diagnosed as autistic: the rates of mental disorder diagnoses are going down as the rates of autism diagnoses increases.”