Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Industry (& Religion) Continue to Poison Our World - Take Action NOW! & Kagan = Goldman Sachs and Worse!

As my sister is currently terminal with cancer now, it pains me that it's been such a long while since I wrote about the poisons that industry has surrounded us with and what we can do about it. Russ Baker (dissector of the Bush myths in Family of Secrets) and Nick Kristof, columnist extraordinaire at The New York Times, make up for my lack of attention. I hope you read both of them and then begin to act like good citizens: by demanding the exposure of all these villains (intentional or not), and the cleaning up of our environment. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.) (EXTRA: If anyone could make a contribution to my PayPal account (or otherwise - contact me for further info), it would be sincerely appreciated as I've just gone off the cliff financially. I really appreciate everything that my kind readers have done for me in the past financially and otherwise. Now . . . back to your regular viewing.)

Cancer Warning Ring Any Bells?

By Russ Baker on May 10, 2010

A recent column from Nicholas Kristof (see below) illustrates, almost inadvertently, why the rise of new, less cautious media organizations (like - well, WhoWhatWhy.com) is so crucial.

Headlined “New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer,” the essay describes a new report on cancer from a presidential board

"…warning that our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health. . . it’s an extraordinary document. It calls on America to rethink the way we confront cancer, including much more rigorous regulation of chemicals . . . . The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary. “Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

Kristof makes a case for the urgency of action by noting the establishment credentials of this panel:

"The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies . . . . It’s striking that this report emerges not from the fringe but from the mission control of mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel. Established in 1971, this is a group of three distinguished experts who review America’s cancer program and report directly to the president . . . .

But why have we - and columnists upon whom we depend for our analysis, waited until the mainstream finally confirmed the warnings of the “fringe”?

Why wait until establishment bodies finally do their thing?

"Studies of BPA have raised alarm bells for decades, and the evidence is still complex and open to debate. That’s life: In the real world, regulatory decisions usually must be made with ambiguous and conflicting data. The panel’s point is that we should be prudent in such situations, rather than recklessly approving chemicals of uncertain effect.
Indeed, Kristof seems to agree that we ought to heed early warnings. And these, invariably, don’t arrive via the mainstream press. It’s pretty late in the game. A good reason for more aggressive journalistic work on the most pressing problems. And that’s probably going to come from the newest outfits, the ones that boldly err on the side of caution - not in the interests of corporations, but on the side of the public.
Posted in The Digest.

Nick's entire article appears below (emphasis marks added - Ed.).
New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

By Nicholas D. Kristof

Published: May 5, 2010 The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies. The cancer panel is releasing a landmark 200-page report on Thursday, warning that our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health. I’ve read an advance copy of the report, and it’s an extraordinary document. It calls on America to rethink the way we confront cancer, including much more rigorous regulation of chemicals.

Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

In particular, the report warns about exposures to chemicals during pregnancy, when risk of damage seems to be greatest. Noting that 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, the study warns that: “to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’ ”

It’s striking that this report emerges not from the fringe but from the mission control of mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel. Established in 1971, this is a group of three distinguished experts who review America’s cancer program and report directly to the president.

One of the seats is now vacant, but the panel members who joined in this report are Dr. LaSalle Leffall Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Both were originally appointed to the panel by former President George W. Bush.

“We wanted to let people know that we’re concerned, and that they should be concerned,” Professor Leffall told me.

The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary.

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

Industry may howl. The food industry has already been fighting legislation in the Senate backed by Dianne Feinstein of California that would ban bisphenol-A, commonly found in plastics and better known as BPA, from food and beverage containers.

Studies of BPA have raised alarm bells for decades, and the evidence is still complex and open to debate. That’s life: In the real world, regulatory decisions usually must be made with ambiguous and conflicting data. The panel’s point is that we should be prudent in such situations, rather than recklessly approving chemicals of uncertain effect.

The President’s Cancer Panel report will give a boost to Senator Feinstein’s efforts. It may also help the prospects of the Safe Chemicals Act, backed by Senator Frank Lautenberg and several colleagues, to improve the safety of chemicals on the market.

Some 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and they include Democrats and Republicans alike. Protecting ourselves and our children from toxins should be an effort that both parties can get behind — if enough members of Congress are willing to put the public interest ahead of corporate interests.

One reason for concern is that some cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children. We don’t know why that is, but the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor. I’m hoping the President’s Cancer Panel report will shine a stronger spotlight on environmental causes of health problems — not only cancer, but perhaps also diabetes, obesity and autism.This is not to say that chemicals are evil, and in many cases the evidence against a particular substance is balanced by other studies that are exonerating. To help people manage the uncertainty prudently, the report has a section of recommendations for individuals:

¶ Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. (Information about products is at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.healthystuff.org.)

¶ For those whose jobs may expose them to chemicals, remove shoes when entering the house and wash work clothes separately from the rest of the laundry.

Filter drinking water.

Store water in glass or stainless steel containers, or in plastics that don’t contain BPA or phthalates (chemicals used to soften plastics). Microwave food in ceramic or glass containers.

¶ Give preference to food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones. Avoid meats that are cooked well-done.

Check radon levels in your home. Radon is a natural source of radiation linked to cancer.

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And on another subject (but even more contaminating to our way of life in the future . . . ).

A narrow elite is imposing itself through the legal system, and ordinary Americans need to start asserting themselves.

Did you wonder about Obama's sure-thing appointment of so-called moderate, progressive Elena Kagan? No?

How about that she's already been on the payroll of Goldman Sachs and is a deeply-committed member of that rightwing Federalist Society clique already infesting the Supreme Court?

Hard to believe. But not really is it?

Hell, I'm just glad that Lindsey Graham has one of his favorite Federalist Society lawyers on the court now - with all the rest of them. Maybe that will shut him up.

Downward we go, folks. Led by our first truly "black" President.

From the Institute for Public Accuracy we learn (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

The Wall Street Journal reports: "The White House said Friday that Elena Kagan's membership on an advisory panel for the securities firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wouldn't disqualify her for a position on the Supreme Court. . . . From 2005 to 2008, Ms. Kagan was a paid member of the Research Advisory Council of Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to financial disclosure reports she filed after being appointed to her current job. The form shows she was paid $10,000 in 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School."

On April 9, Obama said he would nominate "someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens." Professor of law at the University of Illinois, Boyle is author of "Tackling America's Toughest Questions." He was recently quoted on an Institute for Public Accuracy news release titled "Supreme Court Pick: Kagan 'Loves' the Federalist Society," in which Boyle stated: "Five currently on the U.S. Supreme Court were or are members of the Federalist Society: Harvard Law graduate Roberts; Harvard Law graduate Scalia; Harvard Law graduate Kennedy; Yale Law graduate Thomas; and Yale Law graduate Alito. A narrow elite is imposing itself through the legal system, and ordinary Americans need to start asserting themselves."

Marjorie Cohn is immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She just wrote the piece "Kagan Will Move Supreme Court to the Right," which states:

"Unfortunately, President Barack Obama has continued to assert many of Bush's executive policies in his 'war on terror.' . . . During her confirmation hearing for solicitor general, Kagan agreed with Senator Lindsey Graham that the president can hold suspected terrorists indefinitely during wartime, and the entire world is a battlefield. While Bush was shredding the Constitution with his unprecedented assertions of executive power, law professors throughout the country voiced strong objections. Kagan remained silent."

Cohn's books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and the forthcoming The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse. She is featured in a new documentary film called “Tortured Law." Cohn's writing and an excerpt from the documentary are at MarjorieCohn.com.

Background: "The Latest on Elena Kagan" by Glenn Greenwald covers several issues and links to various pieces. He writes: "University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos, who previously expressed shock at the paucity of Kagan's record and compared her to Harriet Miers, has a new piece in The New Republic entitled (appropriately): 'Blank Slate.'

. . . "Following up on the article published [Friday] in Salon by four minority law professors - which condemned Kagan's record on diversity issues as 'shocking' and 'indefensible for the 21st Century' - Law Professor Darren Hutchinson of American University School of Law today writes that Kagan's record is 'abysmal.'"

See also the recent piece in the New York Times by Charlie Savage: "New Justice to Confront Evolution in Powers," which states: "After Mr. Obama selected [Kagan] to be his solicitor general, she publicly embraced an expansive interpretation of the Congressional authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda. Ms. Kagan also took a leading role on a legal team that has sought to suppress lawsuits using the state secrets privilege and fought a ruling granting habeas corpus rights to some detainees in Afghanistan." All those cases could reach the Supreme Court. But it is not clear that appointing Ms. Kagan would give Mr. Obama an extra vote in the White House's favor, as she might feel pressure to recuse herself from participating."

Party on, Garth!

And speaking of parties . . . I believe Chris Hedges has this party down to a nub (emphasis marks added - Ed.)

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is undiluted narcissism. And while the Protestant church and reformed Judaism have not replicated the perfidiousness of the Catholic bishops, who protect child-molesting priests, they have little to say in an age when we desperately need moral guidance.

I grew up in the church and graduated from a seminary. It is an institution whose cruelty, inflicted on my father, who was a Presbyterian minister, I know intimately. I do not attend church. The cloying, feel-your-pain language of the average clergy member makes me run for the door. The debates in most churches — whether revolving around homosexuality or biblical interpretation—are a waste of energy. I have no desire to belong to any organization, religious or otherwise, which discriminates, nor will I spend my time trying to convince someone that the raw anti-Semitism in the Gospel of John might not be the word of God. It makes no difference to me if Jesus existed or not. There is no historical evidence that he did. Fairy tales about heaven and hell, angels, miracles, saints, divine intervention and God’s beneficent plan for us are repeatedly mocked in the brutality and indiscriminate killing in war zones, where I witnessed children murdered for sport and psychopathic gangsters elevated to demigods. The Bible works only as metaphor. . . . We live in the age of the "Übermensch who rejects the sentimental tenets of traditional religion. The Übermensch creates his own morality based on human instincts, drive and will. We worship the "will to power" and think we have gone "beyond good and evil." We spurn virtue. We think we have the moral fortitude and wisdom to create our own moral code. The high priests of our new religion run Wall Street, the Pentagon and the corporate state. They flood our airwaves with the tawdry and the salacious. They, too, promise a utopia. They redefine truth, beauty, morality, desire and goodness. And we imbibe their poison as blind followers once imbibed the poison of the medieval church.

Nietzsche had his doubts. He suspected that this new secular faith might prefigure an endless middle-class charade. Nietzsche feared the deadening effects of the constant search for material possessions and personal hedonism. Science and technology might rather bring about a new, distorted character Nietzsche called "the Last Man." The Last Man, Nietzsche feared, would engage in the worst kinds of provincialism, believing he had nothing to learn from history. The Last Man would wallow and revel in his ignorance and quest for personal fulfillment. He would be satisfied with everything that he had done and become, and would seek to become nothing more. He would be intellectually and morally stagnant, incapable of growth, and become part of an easily manipulated herd. The Last Man would mistake cynicism for knowledge.

"The time is coming when man will give birth to no more stars," Nietzsche wrote about the Last Man in the prologue of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." "Alas! The time of the most contemptible man is coming, the man who can no longer despise himself."

"They are clever and know everything that has ever happened: so there is no end to their mockery." The Last Men indulge in "their little pleasure for the day, and their little pleasure for the night."

The consumer culture, as Nietzsche feared, has turned us into what Chalmers Johnson calls a "consumerist Sparta." The immigrants and the poor, all but invisible to us, work as serfs in this new temple of greed and imperialism. Curtis White in "The Middle Mind" argues that most Americans are aware of the brutality and injustice used to maintain the excesses of their consumer society and empire. He suspects they do not care. They don't want to see what is done in their name. They do not want to look at the rows of flag-draped coffins or the horribly maimed bodies and faces of veterans or the human suffering in the blighted and deserted former manufacturing centers. It is too upsetting. Government and corporate censorship is welcomed and appreciated. It ensures that we remain Last Men. And the death of religious institutions will only cement into place the new secular religion of the Last Man, the one that worships military power, personal advancement, hedonism and greed, the one that justifies our ruthless callousness toward the weak and the poor.

Amen.

Suzan _____________

6 comments:

Lisa G. said...

Susan - so sorry to hear about your sister; I hope at least that she is not in any pain.

I wish we could get the politics out of medicine and just let the doctors do what they think is best for their patients. Environmental toxins are surely accounting for more cancers every day.

As for the church, I've had my own horrible experience with it. My uncle was an Episcopalian priest and a huge hypocrite. And those were his good qualities.

Tom Harper said...

I'm sorry to read about your sister.

"Industry and religion continue to poison our world" -- that pretty well sums everything up.

There are so many conspiracy theories about government and industry purposely causing diseases and suppressing cures that work. And these conspiracy theories are making more and more sense.

Jenny said...

We're all responsible. Nothing is really safe to take or consume these days. We have to work together for a safer environment. By the way, this group of medical research assistants might interest and help you in some ways. More power!

Glennie9654 said...

thx u very much, i learn a lot

darkblack said...

Allow me to add my regrets for your sister's condition, S. May the dénouement be merciful and filled with light.

Methinks it would not be too far-fetched for a traveler coming upon this world to suspect that the guiding ethos of our overlords is 'Keep 'em stupid and kill 'em off'...Perhaps it is what they feel we deserve for resisting their sweet, self-serving entreaties regarding eugenics for the human species that fascism so ham-handedly spoiled the game for, and coincidentally a tidy profit can be made by them for actively participating in our blinkered demise.

Bastards.

;>)

Suzan said...

Lisa and Tom, please accept my humble thanks for your comments. It makes a difference every day to know that others are thinking the same.

And I certainly agree with you, Jenny. Thanks!

Nothing is really safe to take or consume these days. We have to work together for a safer environment.

Thanks a gazillion for your comments, db. Always the best from the darkest black.

it would not be too far-fetched for a traveler coming upon this world to suspect that the guiding ethos of our overlords is 'Keep 'em stupid and kill 'em off'...Perhaps it is what they feel we deserve for resisting their sweet, self-serving entreaties regarding eugenics for the human species that fascism so ham-handedly spoiled the game for, and coincidentally a tidy profit can be made by them for actively participating in our blinkered demise.

Bastards.


And I agree with every syllable.

S
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