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February 2010 Archives
Ralph Nader's shocking solution to the Toyota "problem"
By Michael Fumento
The answer to the problem of Toyotas running amok, says Ralph Nader in a Los Angeles Times op-ed today?
Choose one response:
1. More regulation.
He observes that the budget of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declined to half what it once was, thereby making disasters like this more or less inevitable. Yet he also admits that every year cars get safer and safer. They were getting safer when NHTSA's budget was growing, and safer when NHTSA's budget was shrinking. Some people might say that indicates there are factors at play other than federal regulation, but not Ralph Nader.
I have repeatedly blogged on the Toyota witch hunt and have a forthcoming article showing it's exactly that. But then again, Nader knows all about witch hunts.
Thanks, Mr. Nader.
Disturbing parallels between the Toyota hysteria and the Audi 5000
By Michael Fumento
Toyota stands accused of 34 sudden acceleration incidents over the last 10 years that are "linked to" or "associated" with fatalities, a figure that in just the last few weeks has jumped from 19. About 2,000 Toyota owners in that decade filed complaints with the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) that their vehicles suddenly accelerated. But the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is holding hearing on the Toyota issue, has tacked on an additional 600 to that, for 2,600.
Back in the mid-1980s Audi was also deluged with sudden acceleration complaints, many in the wake of a spectacular "60 Minutes" segment. It received 2,500 in 1987 alone - the same as the total number of accusations against Toyota. "Sophisticated electronic controls are now believed to play a role in the problem," reported the New York Times. Class actions suits were filed from here to eternity and one continues to this day.
Yet Audi 5000 sales peaked at 74,000 while during the last decade Toyota has sold 20 million cars here. So Audi per vehicle had about 27 times more complaints than Toyota. But it gets a lot worse for Audi. In 1987 Audi's parent company Volkswagen of America gave NHTSA all the acceleration complaints it had received on the Audi 5000, sending the accident toll past 1600, including 400 injuries.
Audi recalled the vehicles and tried desperately to fix the problem, but no no avail. Complaints poured in on those vehicles, too.
If Toyota is "bad," Volkswagen was absolutely monstrous - which is exactly how Congress and the media presented it.
Is this proof that allthe Toyota sudden acceleration complaints are actually driver error? Of course not.
When I wrote about the heterosexual AIDS hysteria, I was constantly accused of saying "heterosexuals don't get AIDS," despite my repeatedly stating that obviously they did. My point was that the numbers and the overall threat were grotesquely exaggerated and this caused great harm in many ways, in addition to needlessly scaring the poop out of people.
History never really changes; just the details.
Why some say ebooks will never replace the traditional variety
By Michael Fumento
Toyoda's coerced confession
By Michael Fumento
It's not exactly a novel observation that people under duress often make false confessions. They say what they think they're supposed to say.
During congressional hearings yesterday, which some have likened to a witch hunt, Toyota President Akio Toyoda took words directly from the multitude of "analysts" when he said the firm's growth "may have been too quick" and "priorities became confused" as the carmaker grew.
The thinking of those who coached him seems clear. This was a way of accepting responsibility in a fairly benign way, and definitely deflecting blows of evil intent. The problem is that it conflicts with reality.
According to Consumer Reports' 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey, Toyota was by far and away the winner with 196 points compared to second-best Ford at 141. (The lowest score was Hummer with an 11.) For the year before, Toyota again easily topped out at 193 with Honda second at 149 and last place held by Suzuki at seven.
As I noted in an earlier blog, Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, has obtained and reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration complaint database.
A key finding: Toyota was the subject of 9.1 percent of the complaints from 2001 through 2010 (through February 3), including the sudden acceleration complaints, even while selling 13.5 percent of all new cars in the U.S. This puts it third in sales, but 17th in complaints.
So despite what the analysts say and what Toyoda seemed to support, there's no objective evidence that Toyota has of late been making a comparatively inferior product. As is so often the case with media-anointed "experts," the analysts are positing explanations for a non-existent phenomenon.
The Internet as medical diagnostic tool scores again!
By Michael Fumento
I was having extreme itching in my toes that I've never experienced before. I reconstructed the circumstances under which it arose, plugged them in, and out popped this. (See inset for a somewhat worse case than I have.)
Chilblains is a perfect fit. Hits me after I exercise, because that's when my feet suddenly go from nippy (I keep the temp down to save money) to very warm. (Mind you, had it proved to be an STD I wouldn't be blogging on it.)
Irritating as hell, but nobody dies from it. And I did save a $30 copay at the podiatrist plus the time to see him, and he wouldn't have been able to help me anyway.
On much more serious matters, I used the Internet to diagnose my wife's celiac disease after three different gastroenterologists failed to do so. And I found out why a friend was having double menses, after at least one OB/GYN had failed to diagnose her.
I suppose in the wrong hands the Internet can backfire and give you "Medical Student Syndrome," in which you become convinced you're dying from three different diseases. But I seem to be immune to that, if you'll pardon the expression.
Conning the can makers regarding bisphenol A
By Michael Fumento
A Washington Post A1 article, "Alternatives to BPA containers not easy for U.S. foodmakers to find," makes the case very nicely. The plastic hardening ingredient bisphenol A (BPA) in the epoxy lining of cans does a terrific job in preserving foods and it's clear that despite the scientifically groundless attacks on the chemical, routinely parroted by the media, there will be no easy or cheap replacements.
Still, we are told, one must be found. The Post quotes a "source at a major U.S. food company who spoke on the condition of anonymity," saying: "It doesn't matter what FDA says. If consumers decide they don't want BPA, you don't want it to be in a can that consumers don't want to buy."
On its face, the argument is valid. In marketing, perception trumps reality. But is that the perception? I did a thorough Google search, asked other people who've written about BPA, asked industry representatives. There's no evidence of any scientific survey of people's attitudes towards BPA in products. Their opposition is simply assumed.
Is it a reasonable assumption? It has a basis in the incredible effort activists and the media have made to scare people. But scare campaigns don't always succeed. Polls show most Americans don't buy the global warming party line, with only 35% in an October Pew Research Center poll calling it "a serious threat." The massive CDC-media effort to terrify everybody into getting swine flu vaccines was a complete flop. Most of the vaccine is heading for a landfill.
Indeed, when the FDA threatened to yank saccharin because it was a rodent carcinogen, the public raised hue and cry and Congress blocked the ban.
Maybe before it spends many tens of millions of dollars trying to come up with replacement products for plastics containing BPA, industry should consider what is it the public really wants?
The government's conflict of interest in the Toyota witch hunt
By Michael Fumento
You don't need to look for ulterior motives in the government attacks on Toyota, which include not just the current congressional hearings but such things as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's warning that anyone who owns a recalled Toyota should "stop driving it."
After all, demagoguery is part of the job description. Then there's H.L. Mencken's observation that government seeks ever "to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
And yes, there's talk about more regulations on the auto industry and to the government, especially the Democrats, more regulations are always better.
But beyond this it remains that Toyota sales have already been hit hard, with a 10 percent drop in January compared to the January before, and Americans still need to buy new cars - which is to say they are buying from its competitors. As it happens, the U.S. government has an 8% stake in Chrysler and 61% stake in GM. The UAW, a staunch supporter of the majority Democratic Party, has a 55 percent stake in Chrysler.
There's nothing a good demagogic congressman likes to point out more than businessmen seeking an unfair advantage. Look in the mirror, guys.
global warming as religion
By Michael Fumento
Everything I write that I plan to place in a publication I first run past my best friend Matt, a truly gifted editor. One of his special "talents" in my case, though, is that he has no great expertise in science or health or really any of the topics I write about. Therefore things I often assume the reader will understand he's able to help me reframe wording and arguments to make them more comprehensible.
What Matt does well is religion. He's very much a C.S. Lewis fan, but has an extremely broad background in theological writings. He's more into the moderns than the classics.
As it happens, of all the science and health issues I do write about, which is a lot, the one that's truly caught Matt's imagination is global warming. Mind you, sometimes I catch onto things instantly that other people never grasp. It's part of my forte. But other times I can be a bit slow to grasp what others might more quickly. So I had to ponder Matt's fascination with global warming whereas you, gentle reader, might have latched onto it pretty quickly.
The answer, of course, is that global warming is a religion.
Mind, I'm not saying it doesn't have scientific aspects.
The earth has measurably warmed since the mid-1800s. And there is validity to the greenhouse effect theory. We just don't know why the earth has warmed, save that it also warmed during medieval times without any need for man-made greenhouse gases.
As to the greenhouse effect theory, as I understand it it suffers in two major ways. First, there are all sorts of natural phenomenon that serve to counteract the effect of GHGs reflecting heat back into outer space. Second, we don't know what concentrations are required to do this reflecting. It could be vastly higher levels than we're at or in fact will ever reach, because every ton of GHG released into the atmosphere has slightly less of an effect than the ton before.
But many religions have a lot of truth at the core, even as others were made up by a single person out of whole cloth.
The idea of global warming as religion is hardly new, insofar as a Google search on the term brings up seven million references. It appears to have been popularized by the late novelist Michael Crichton whose 2003 essay on it can be found here.
I'm not going to summarize it for you, but save to say global warming has at least two major features associated it with religion.
First is the tremendous reliance on faith. No matter how many times the warmists are refuted on the data, they never waver in their faith. But the second, and the truly obnoxious aspect, is the fanaticism. Religious wars tend to be the bloodiest, and these people tend to be incredibly vicious in every way, whether trying to identify all serious skeptics as being associated with industry (I've been "linked to" ExxonMobil in a dozen ways, yet I've never gotten a bit of support, financial or otherwise, from any petroleum company) or merely being crackpots.
Today I read we're "the same people who told you smoking wasn't harmful." Golly, I don't recall ever saying that. Ihave said smoking is just about the stupidest thing healthwise an individual can do.
Apologies to those of you for whom this is nothing new (but nobody forced you to read this far!), but I thought that what was novel was that my friend, whose tremendous love in life is theology, picked up on this aspect probably without anybody overtly suggesting to him that global warming was a religion. Like the canary in the coal mine, he simply picked up on the danger.
Getting it partly right on weather vs. climate
By Michael Fumento
Eugene Robinson in today's Washington Post protests that global warming skeptics are using the current (though very long) cold snap in the mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses the nation's capital, to confuse weather - a short-term phenomenon - with climate.
Robinson, who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary, correctly notes that, "the Earth is really, really big. It's so big that it can be cold here and warm elsewhere - and this is the key concept - at the same time. Even if it were unusually cold throughout the continental United States, that still represents less than 2 percent of the Earth's surface."
True enough. And he adds:
Those who want to use our harsh winter to 'disprove' the theory that the planet's atmosphere is warming should realize that anecdotal evidence always cuts both ways. Before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, crews were using earth-movers and aircraft to deposit snow on the ski runs - the winter had been unusually warm. Preliminary data from climate scientists indicate that January, in terms of global temperatures, was actually hotter than usual. Revelers participating in Rio de Janeiro's annual carnival, which ended Tuesday, sweltered in atypical heat, with temperatures above 100 degrees. Fortunately, the custom during carnival is not to wear much in the way of clothing.
Again, true enough. And regrettably I once again missed going to the Rio Carnival, but hope springs eternal.
But here's what he doesn't say. His people have long played exactly the same game.
There's a wonderful website that keep a more or less comprehensive list of all the things that warmists have attributed to "global climate change" - and mind you, the very term "global climate change' was coined precisely to be able to tie any change, including things associated with cooling - to the effects of greenhouse gases. One glance at the site blows you away. I want you to click on this link right now and not continue with this blog until you have.
No. Stop. You didn't click on the link. Do it now.
Okay, the point is made, isn't it? It includes everything from "acne" to "yellow fever" with "short-nosed dogs endangered" in between. And there are lots of instances of weather change.
In fact, time and again cold weather and its fall-out, including blizzards, have been attributed to "global climate change."
This is from an article of mine that appeared 13 years ago:
But there it was, the cover of the Jan. 22 Newsweek: "Blizzards, floods & hurricanes: Blame global warming." There also was the New York Times front-page article by William K. Stevens headlined "Blame global warming for the blizzard" and a nationally syndicated article by environmentalist Jessica Matthews that ran under titles such as "Brrr, global warming brings our blizzard."
Moreover, I note. Moreover, I say for emphasis, while this was a perfect opportunity for Robinson to show he was playing fair, he could have pointed out they're doing it even now.
Moreover, Robinson could have seen it in his own newspaper from just days ago.
There it was, right in the headline of a column by uber-environmentalist Bill McKibben, "Washington's Snowstorms, Brought to You by Global Warming."
Time magazine also argues "climate change could in fact make such massive snowstorms more common, even as the world continues to warm."
And of course I could go on and on, but point made.
If you live in the mid-Atlantic, don't go out without a coat. But hypocrisy is a mantle never worn well.
George Will on Sarah Palin and the populist movement
By Michael Fumento
Columnist George Will notes that Sarah Palin is "obsessively discussed as a possible candidate in 2012," both by liberal and conservatives, but because she has stirred the imagination of the populist movement on the right - which in turn stirs reaction on the left.
Yet in observing that the latest poll shows 71 percent of Americans - including 52 percent of Republicans - think she is not qualified to be president, he asks: "Why? She is not going to be president and will not be the Republican nominee unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states."
"This is not her fault," he says. "She is what she is, and what she is merits no disdain. She is feisty and public-spirited, and millions of people vibrate like tuning forks to her rhetoric. When she was suddenly forced to take a walk on the highest wire in America's political circus, she showed grit." But "She also showed that grit is no substitute for seasoning," and this lady quit her office as governor of a lightly-populated state after only 17 months. She was a mayor of a small town before that.
Will also points out that "full-throated populism has not won a national election in 178 years, since Andrew Jackson was reelected in 1832." William Jennings Bryan lost three times in a row, Perot never got a single electoral vote. "In 1968, George Wallace, promising to toss the briefcases of pointy-headed intellectuals into the Potomac, won 46 electoral votes with 13.5 percent of the popular vote. He had the populist's trifecta - a vivid personality, a regional base and a burning issue."
He concludes, "Populism has had as many incarnations as it has had provocations, but its constant ingredient has been resentment, and hence whininess. Populism does not wax in tranquil times; it is a cathartic response to serious problems. But it always wanes because it never seems serious as a solution."
Right. Populists are always extremely sure of what they're against, but that's not enough. You have to have a very good sense of what you're for. And being "for" being against something isn't what I mean. Moreover, we all know about the problem with decisions made in anger.
It seems that Palin's main attraction to many populists is that the left has tremendous disdain for her. They jostle each other aside in their efforts to save the damsel ostensibly in distress - though between her book, her Fox gig, and $100,000 speaking fees she seems to be doing pretty well for herself. And indeed, it's precisely because she's able to take advantage of that distressed damsel persona.
So pour out millions more words in her defense, if you will. But be thinking seriously about who can best lead the government in 2012 and what important issues we could be addressing if those millions of words - and the energy of the populist movement - were directed elsewhere.
"Climate change of pace," (the confessions of Phil Jones), my Forbes Online piece
By Michael Fumento
But now the truth is coming out. One fact is that there has been no statistically significant warming for quite awhile. The other is that temperatures in the Middle Ages, at the very least in the northern hemisphere, were considerably warmer than they are now. (See inset.)
Conceding both these points in a BBC interview was Professor Phil Jones. He was director of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, where the hacked Internet server released thousands of e-mails and other documents. Read about his shockingly honest admissions - and the ramification of them - in my new Forbes Online piece.
One cheer for Obama on nuclear energy
By Michael Fumento
Obama has done something right concerning nuclear energy; credit where credit's due. But he also did something very wrong, which we'll get to.
The president has promised $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees for a pair of Georgia nuclear reactors, saying it would give new life to the U.S. nuclear power industry. These would be the first new U.S. nuke plants in more than three decades.
More through symbolism than anything else, he's right about the new life. It's a liberal Democratic president saying, "Hey! Nukes are okay!"
He also offered words of wisdom. "If we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we're going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them," he said. "We will fall behind. Jobs will be produced overseas instead of here in the United States of America. And that's not a future that I accept."
Nuclear power already provides about 20 percent of this nation's energy, even with the same plants that once only provided about 10 percent. They've gotten more efficient a lot faster than wind turbine or solar power technology has. Nobody has ever died from a nuclear accident in the U.S., and yet the newer generation of power plant is much safer than, say, Three Mile Island. France gets about 70 percent of its energy from nukes and I've been to European cities like Berlin where they have nukes right in the middle of town.
The GOP has called for building as many as 100 new such plants and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) called it a "good first step."
But that's all it is.
Heritage Foundation fellow Jack Spencer told the Washington Post, "Loan guarantees do not a nuclear renaissance make." They don't fix "the problems that have plagued nuclear energy for 30 years: the regulatory structure and nuclear waste [disposal] and too much government dependence."
Right. And one major contributor to the problem has been Barack Obama. Opponents of nuclear power say the president shouldn't be supporting the building of more power plants that will produce even more radioactive material, so long as the government hasn't figured out where to put it all. Thing is, it had been figured out and Obama killed it.
Over many years and spending billions of dollars, the government decided the best place was caverns in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. But Nevada Sen. Harry Reid wrapped himself in the mantle of demagoguery and declared "Not in my backyard, you don't!" As he knew it would be, it was popular with the voters. Obama, in what from a scientific viewpoint appears to have been nothing more than a sop to Reid, who faces a tough re-election bid, canceled the project.
Notwithstanding that the vast majority of nuclear waste is incredibly low-level, nevertheless it continues and will continue to have to be stored on site. To the extent it is dangerous, we don't want that. There was a solution and Obama squelched it.
So fine. After the November elections are settled, it's time to revisit Yucca Mountain. That will show real support for nuclear power.
Toyota "sudden acceleration deaths" suddenly accelerate
By Michael Fumento
Predictably, in the wake of the media blitz about the alleged dangers of Toyotas suddenly accelerating, reports of fatalities linked (note: not "caused by") such incidents has shot up.
In December the figure stood at 19, and then in January bumped up to 21. Since January 27th, when Toyota ordered a widespread recall, 13 more fatalities have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Somehow people's memories have suddenly become a lot sharper, haven't they?
Fortunately, the media seem wise to this. For example, today's LA Times reports its own analysis "shows that all but one of the deaths reported to NHTSA by motorists in 2010 actually occurred in prior years - as far back as 1992 - suggesting that recent public attention to the issue spurred people to file complaints regarding past incidents. Most of the incidents occurred between 2003 and 2009."
This is typical behavior in the light of something suddenly being seen as dangerous. If the media declare a drug is being investigated, suddenly people come out of the woodwork to make claims against the drug. I described that in an article about the alleged link between the acne medicine Accutane and suicide, in quoting an FDA spokeswoman saying, "When there's public awareness or publicity about a drug for any reason, there may be an increase in reports because people may not have otherwise thought about associations."
And it's understandable human behavior that I think is usually innocent.
But one can't help but notice that when you google "Toyota deaths" the top link goes to one law firm soliciting Toyota accident clients while the sponsored link on the right takes you to another law firm. (The inset shows part of an advertisement from one of those firms.)
Come to think of it, people trying to get easy money is also understandable human behavior.
Swine flu and heterosexual AIDS
By Michael Fumento
About 57 million Americans, or something less than a fifth of the population, have contracted swine flu since April, the CDC says, of whom it estimates about 11,690 have died.
Never mind that data from other countries like France and Japan indicate the ratio of deaths to infections is probably much lower than CDC assumes and therefore that 11,690 figure is probably far too high. It could be just 5,000 or even lower. It remains that this same agency says that on average 36,000 Americans a year die of regular old garden variety seasonal flu.
Anyway you figure it, as I've repeatedly written, and as the rest of the U.S. media have repeatedly not written - thereby giving the U.S. policy makers and the World Health Organization (WHO) free rein - swine flu is so mild that it acts as an inoculation and actually prevents a lot of deaths. In early October I noted we saw that pattern in New Zealand and Australia, where they had their flu seasons before we did and even had no swine flu vaccine, and therefore we would see it here.
That despite apocalyptic estimates of 30,000 to 90,000, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology or "89,000 to 207,000," according to a Washington Post op-ed by flu book author John Barry. (Not incidentally, the Post has repeatedly turned down anti-hysteria pieces of mine that were good enough to appear in other prestigious publications.)
In the meantime, the federal government has probably spent over $10 billion "fighting" the “roaring razorback” that proved to be a pathetic piglet, and a lot of people have been scared out of their wits. Around the world, other governments did likewise after the WHO declared its phony pandemic in an effort to cover for yet another hysteria that it fomented, that of avian flu.
That's not to mention Secretary-General Margaret Chandler's invocation to her minions to use the swine flu scare to convince governments that "changes in the functioning of the global economy" are needed to "distribute wealth on the basis of" values "like community, solidarity, equity and social justice."
Why fight disease when you can fight capitalism?
Yet as with the first phony epidemic I began writing about, heterosexual AIDS way back in 1987, these data were out there all along for anybody to pick up and relate. The Internet has made it all the easier. Nobody sent me anything in a plain brown envelope. There was no "Deep Throat" informant and none required. Likewise with other phony infectious disease scares I've written about, including "pandemic Ebolavirus," SARS, and avian flu. Twenty-two years on and it's the same old thing.
Am I a reincarnation of Nostradamus who, inexplicably rather than making billions playing the lottery, is doing work that doesn't begin to cover his mortgage payments? Or is there something horribly, horribly wrong with our media? And for you "new media" fans, sorry but those teeming millions of bloggers missed the boat as well.
U.N. Climate panel pummeled for misinformation, high and low
By Michael Fumento
From the very top of the earth to the bottom, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just can't get it right.
I recently wrote of how the panel's latest (2007) report, the one that split the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, was finally caught on what was an obviously false statement: That the glaciers atop the Himalayas would be melted by 2035 because of global warming. It would take an incredible amount of sustained heat to do that. The only question was what source the panel used, and that proved to be an off-the-cuff assertion by a global warming activist as reprinted in an environmentalist journal - with a mathematical error to boot!
Now it's been revealed that the panel grossly overstated how much of the Netherlands is below sea level.
Its latest report says 55 percent of the country is below sea level, leaving it highly prone to flooding along rivers that would ostensible rise with warming temperatures. But Netherlanders can take off their clogs and relax. According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, just 26 percent of the country is below sea level and 29 percent susceptible to river flooding. You can see a lot of pretty maps regarding the subject by the Dutch Ministry of Transport here.
The IPCC insists that it's a minor point in a report 3,000 pages long and doesn't affect the core conclusions that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, are warming the globe. Of course it doesn't, any more than does the Himalayan nonsense.
But this latest wooden shoe to the butt again illustrates that this allegedly thoroughly documented reports by the allegedly top experts in world has a nasty tendency to simply include anything that will make its case seem stronger. Taken in light of the recent "Climategate" revelations that scientists who came to the "wrong" conclusions had their materially systematically excluded from the report and other IPCC documents, it shows just how shaky this house of cards is.
Bisphenol baloney takes another hit
By Michael Fumento
In a provocatively entitled paper in the current issue of the prestigious journal Toxicological Sciences, Richard M. Sharpe asks "Is It Time to End Concerns over the Estrogenic Effects of Bisphenol A?"
In a word, "yes." Bisphenol A, or BPA, is an incredibly valuable chemical added to plastics like baby bottles to make them harder and stronger. It's been in use for many decades. And the greens want to get rid of it because they say it's dangerous.
Yet as I wrote recently in Investor's Business Daily,"Countries that have evaluated BPA in the last three years, as Trevor Butterworth of the STATS think tank has documented, include Norway, France, Germany (twice), Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Add to that a World Health Organization collaborative center. Each has found BPA safe."
(CEI's Angela Logomasini also recently wrote an excellent paper on BPA safety.)
The lynch mob is after BPA because it's a weak synthetic estrogen. These chemicals have been under fire since the publication of the 1996 book "Our Stolen Future," which one review aptly described as "an alarmist tract with a polemical style clearly crafted for its political, not scientific, impact." (With a foreword by Al Gore, no less.)
And so we keep throwing massive amounts of money to scientists to study it more and study it more and study it more.
Recently National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Director Linda Birnbaum announced $30 million in grants for two more years of BPA research, using money from the stimulus act, to "address many of the research gaps" regarding the chemical. Yet over 5,400 medical journal articles have already been published on BPA safety. How many gaps can that leave?
Sharpe comments on poorly done initial studies by an environmental aspect that I described, then writes:
Fundamental, repetitive work on bisphenol A has sucked in tens, probably hundreds, of millions of dollars from government bodies and industry which, at a time when research money is thin on the ground, looks increasingly like an investment with a nil return. All it has done is to show that there is a huge price to pay when initial studies are adhered to as being correct when the second phase of scientific peer review, namely, the inability of other laboratories to repeat the initial studies, says otherwise.
At some point it's time to say "Enough!" and we passed that point with BPA a long time ago.
February 15, 2010 05:17 PM · Permalink · Cancer ~ Chemophobia ~ Diseases (other than AIDS and cancer) ~ Environment
Obama administration enlarges ethanol industry trough
By Michael Fumento
I've been writing about the ethanol scam since before you were born - well, if you were born after 1987 at least. I need to stop, because the more I write the bigger and richer the industry gets and more the rest of us pay the price.
Now the Obama administration has allowed vastly more money to be poured down the gullet of this insatiable creature, with the EPA making an official finding that corn-based ethanol and biodiesel made using other stocks produce vastly less greenhouse gas emissions displacing conventional gasoline or diesel fuel.
That's news to some outside researchers, who find quite the opposite; that these fuels require far more energy (carbon-based energy) to produce than they create.
For example, Cornell agricultural ecologist David Pimental and colleagues in a paper last year concluded that no crop produced more fuel than the energy used to grow it and convert it to ethanol or biodiesel. They found a negative energy return of 46 percent for corn ethanol, 50 percent for switchgrass, 63 percent for soybean biodiesel and 58 percent for rapeseed. Even the most promising palm oil production results in a minus 8 percent net energy return.
I'll be writing more on this, but suffice now to say that the real "science" behind the EPA's findings is that this is an election year, with Pres. Obama's party looking to be in a hurt come November, and support from those farm states is absolutely necessary. Hard to argue against that, isn't it?
Scientist at center of email scandal admits no recent warming
By Michael Fumento
There has been no global warming for a long time, as I wrote recently in Forbes Online ("Show Me the Warming," Nov. 30, 2009).
I noted that Kevin Trenberth, a lead author of the warmist bible, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report - told Congress two years ago that evidence for manmade warming is "unequivocal." He claimed "the planet is running a 'fever' and the prognosis is that it is apt to get much worse." Yet in one of the released emails he admitted that data showed there was no warming "at the moment." I then explained:
But Trenberth's "lack of warming at the moment" has been going on at least a decade. "There has been no [surface-measured] warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995," observes MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen. "According to satellite data, global warming stopped about 10 years ago and there's no way to know whether it's happening now," says Roy Spencer, former NASA senior scientist for climate studies.
The importance of this is that during the past decade, we've belched so-called "greenhouse gases" (GHGs) into the atmosphere at ever greater rates,from 6,510 million metric tons in 1996 to 8,230 in 2006 - a 26% increase. Atmospheric concentrations have also reached the highest levels ever observed.
Now Professor Phil Jones, director the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Center and the central figure in the 'Climategate' affair, has conceded there's been no 'statistically significant' warming.
Naturally he said it was a "blip" and not a trend, and he may well prove right. But that doesn't eliminate the problem that this "blip" has been occurring with historic GHG emissions, therefore the grossly simplistic formula of GHG emissions = warming is false.
He also made what may be the strongest admission by a major warmist that the earth could have been warmer during medieval times (about 800 - 1300) when mankind was emitting essentially no GHGs. (Viking ships did use sails, you may recall.) And he said that the debate over whether the world could have been even warmer than now during the medieval period, when there is evidence of high temperatures in northern countries, was far from settled.
Heretofore, warmists tried to dismiss this altogether or say it only applied to northern climes.
Nevertheless, "There is much debate over whether the MWP was global in extent or not," Jones admitted, adding "The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia."
He said that, "For it to be global in extent, the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern hemisphere" and "There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions." Still, "If the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today, then obviously the late 20th Century warmth would not be unprecedented."
In that case, he should be informed of a Nature magazine study last year indicating water temperatures in the area of Indonesia were the same in the MWP as they are today.
You can read some of the specific questions and answers here with annotations by Indur Goklany.
Let's salute Phil Jones's honesty - even if he only came by it relatively late in life.
Roundup of wisdom regarding the current weather icebox and the global warming debate
By Michael Fumento
The Washington Post Sunday edition devotes a page to the discussion of what impact the current cold snap and immense amount of snow (a record in the nation's capital) has and should have on the global warming debate generally and legislation specifically. Most of the space goes to the liberal but often thoughtful Dana Milbank, with snippets to others.
Score one for both science and humor when Milbank asserts "As a scientific proposition, claiming that heavy snow in the mid-Atlantic debunks global warming theory is about as valid as claiming that the existence of John Edwards debunks the theory of evolution."
He's right of course. For the zillionth time, weather and climate are two entirely different things. A hot year with a drought doesn't prove the globe is heating up, much less than the alleged heating up is man-made. But the greens make such claims time and again. It's no more valid for other to say a cold, snowy winter shows the opposite. That's just the point Milbank goes on to make:
Still, there's some rough justice in the conservatives' cheap shots. In Washington's blizzards, the greens were hoist by their own petard.
Says Milbank, "Argument-by-anecdote isn't working."
The Post then asked "political and environmental experts whether the record snowstorms buried climate change legislation this year." Here are some excerpts:
CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN
It shouldn't, but it will. Among the reasons winter storms will make this issue more politically challenging are overreach and simplification - on both sides of the debate. "An Inconvenient Truth" brought the issue of climate change to the fore, but many of the charts implying that the world's end is near were overly dramatic.
KENNETH P. GREEN AND STEVEN F. HAYWARD
The corpus of climate legislation was already cooling before Snowmageddon. The cold wind that buried its chances this year didn't come off the snow burying Washington: It came off horrific unemployment reports, lackluster economic growth, massive Tea Party rallies and vicious town hall meetings. After the breakdown in Copenhagen, the explosion of "Climategate" and the election of Scott Brown, the Democrats' rapid pivot to focus on jobs was inevitable.
DAVID G. HAWKINS
Sorry, nothing worth excerpting!
DOUGLAS E. SCHOEN
The recent bout of wintry weather and the overall political climate have almost certainly killed climate-change legislation this year.
The snowstorms that ground the nation's capital to a halt only underscored the need for bold action to fight global warming. Heavier, more frequent snowstorms are just what scientists predict in a warming world, as extreme weather events - whether blizzards or heat waves - become more common.
Well! I guess there's something to be said for predictability!
There is global climate science and then there is the Global Warming Movement. The movement hijacked the science a long time ago, and it has had its share of setbacks lately. Its leaders have tried to stiff-arm their way past errors, lies, fraud, pointless tax increase proposals and some really peculiar posing in Copenhagen.
And finally, on a different page, uber-environmentalist Bill McKibben argues that, yes, the cold weather and blizzards are the result of global warming. So it goes.
Pundits wiping "sneer" off Toyota's face
By Michael Fumento
Noteworthy is a tsk, tsk on page A1 of today's Washington Post, "'Toyota Way' was lost on road to phenomenal worldwide growth."
More noteworthy is a Financial Times column, "How Toyota Engineered its own Downfall." Writer David Pilling sniggers, "Rather than admitting the problem early, Toyota tried to lay the blame on anything or anyone - floormats, suppliers, even drivers."
Even drivers? It never occurred to Pilling that some of the alleged incidents of sudden acceleration might be driver error, when in fact driver error was behind the entire Audi 5000 hysteria in the mid-1980s?
As to floor mats, in the single most horrific accident related to sudden Toyota acceleration, it appears a floor mat was indeed to blame.
The bottom line appears to be that Toyota doesn't know what the problem is because there are no patterns. As I note in a forthcoming article, a Consumer Reports analysis of sudden acceleration complaints regarding Toyota-built vehicles state "Drivers reported that sometimes their car lurched from a standstill, fighting the brakes. Other times it took off while cruising the highway, or while parking, or even while going in reverse."
This lack of consistency does indeed indicate at least some incidence of driver error and certainly would befuddle anybody trying to fix "the problem." Just what exactly is "the problem" anyway? All Toyota can do is to replace a lot of things.
But a better "fix" might be moving its worldwide headquarters to the U.S., notwithstanding that directly and indirectly it already employs about 200,000 Americans and Cars.com has rated the Camry, built in Kentucky and Indiana, the most "American" car sold.
Indeed, one auto analyst told Pilling that "The venom in the rhetoric [against Toyota] is quite stunning. I rather fancy the fact that they surpassed GM in 2008 and are seen to be hurting a proper American company is part of the issue." This, he added, "is an opportunity to give Toyota a bit of a kicking."
Presumably it could be worse. It could have happened to Mitsubishi. After all, they're the ones who manufactured the famous (or infamous) "Zero" that proved so devastating at Pearl Harbor.
Postscript: As further evidence that satire is indeed dead, it turns out there is a bumper sticker that reads "Toyota: From the same folks who brought you Pearl Harbor."
Flu Report Feb. 12 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing
By Michael Fumento
As the CDC's FluView Web site puts it, "During the week of January 31 – February 6, 2010, most key flu indicators remained about the same as during the previous week."
Tellingly, Dr. Anne Schuchat, who heads the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in warning against complacency, declared "Individual cases of H1N1 continue to occur." Hello? At the height of flu season you're talking about "individual cases" occurring?
Again, the only area of interest is to what extent has swine flu swept aside the vastly more severe seasonal flu. Again, at the height of flu season, CDC labs have only received two flu samples that might not be swine flu.
Also in the news, CNN reports Schuchat "sounded pleased" that a CDC survey estimates 23.4 percent of the population have received the swine flu vaccine, including slightly over a third of children under age 18.
That's pleasing? Lady, that's a failure. Part of it is the government's fault and part is that despite government-fomented hysteria most Americans just aren't taking this thing too seriously, and rightly so.
Toyota recalls put into context by Edmunds.com
By Michael Fumento
Edmunds.com, the premier online resource for automotive information, has obtained and reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) complaint database.
And not incidentally, Toyota came out far and away the top quality auto maker according to Consumer Reports' 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey handily beating Number Two Ford. (See inset.)
Constructive criticism on my wind farm blog
By Michael Fumento
Regarding yesterday's blog post, "Indians objecting to paleface wind farms," I received constructive criticism contained wholly in the subject line, which I repeat verbatim:
"The Objections to Wind Farms - you -- a--r-e an idot."
I stand duly chastened.
A disease cluster scare implodes; a new one is born
By Michael Fumento
Yesterday I wrote that a scare over a scleroderma cluster in South Boston had been resolved when the state department of health found no links to anything manmade, but rather than the sufferers were simply genetically more inclined to developing the disease.
But now Florida activists have just goaded the Palm Beach County Health Department into declaring a cluster of child cancer cases in the town of Acreage. Residents are alternately angered and terrified, including by none other than uber-activist Erin Brockovich herself, about whose cold-blooded antics I've published 15 articles. She came to town to express her concern and outrage, with two law firms in tow handing out contracts labeled "Contingency Fee Agreement & Power of Attorney."
Implicated have been radioactive well water, pesticides, solvents, jet fuel, and other causes. Everything but coincidence, as health officials obviously believe. Meanwhile, in addition to being terrified over their kids' health, people in the town have found they can't move if they want to because their property values have collapsed.
Implicated have been pesticides, solvents, radium, jet fuel, and other causes. Everything but coincidence, as health officials obviously believe.
I found out about this because I received an email today that read in part:
I wrote to you earlier because Erin Brockovich was starting hysteria and pressing the government to call our community a cancer cluster. Now, with skewed population numbers and a number as small as three, the health officials have deemed us a pediatric cancer cluster. Now people are calling to condemn this community with 12,000 CHILDREN (not total). People are scared and trying to blame whatever and whoever.
An unofficial poll by a newspaper online website found two-thirds of those voting thought Brocko was only out for personal gain (Oh, such ingrates!), and some comments by townspeople seemed to reflect, shall we say, a certain degree of anger. Here's one.
The people of the Acreage have alot to lose, cant move, cant refi, cant sell, cant do anything with your property but still pay taxes and your mortgage for how ever many years this takes.
I dunno. Call me insensitive. But I don't think doing this to people is right.
Indians Objecting to Paleface Wind Farms
By Michael Fumento
Despite massive subsidies, wind power still only provides about two percent of U.S. energy. Part of the problem is inherent. It takes a lot of turbines to produce the power that a single coal-fired or nuke plant can produce. So wind farms are going to comprise a lot of turbines. And that causes problems, as we've been seeing in a 10-year fight over constructing a 130-turbine offshore wind farm near Martha's Vineyard.
It would be the first offshore wind project in the country and furnish about 75 percent of Cape Cod's energy.
Ian Bowles, the Massachusetts energy and environmental affairs secretary, has called the project "symbolic of America's struggle with clean energy. Its symbolism has risen above the number of megawatts."
Although some protests have been dealt with, including potential hindrance to navigation and fishing and harm to birds, Indians are still against it. (I used to say "native Americans" until once when I was interviewing two of them and I kept saying "native Americans" and they kept referring to themselves as "Indians.")
The Indians in the area practice a sunrise ritual on the sound and also say they may have artifacts buried beneath the seabed, according to the Washington Post. They've gotten the sound qualified for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which could restrict its commercial use.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says that although his department is trying to broker a deal between the tribes and Energy Management, the company seeking to build the farm, "I'm not holding my breath for a consensus." If both sides can't settle on a compromise by April, he says, he's going to just lay down the law himself in April and probably tick off everybody.
Michael Moynihan, director of the Green Project at NDN, a centrist think tank, told the Post, "It is emblematic of the difficulty of getting wind online, anywhere in America, with a system designed a century ago that is frankly hostile to renewable energy."
Right. If it were just a few tightly-bunched turbines, it wouldn't be a problem. But these farms, in addition to things like chopping up birds and bats have a big and obvious footprint.
Compare that with the nearest power plant to my home, which I often pass on my bike rides. It's small, but probably provides more power than hundreds of turbines. Nonetheless, being coal-powered it drew the ire of a number of local residents. So the owners did something really smart. They built a wooden wall around the plant, then painted a very nice mural on it depicting local history.
This being the land of George Washington, the murals include such as Washington's crossing of the Delaware. The wall isn't that high, yet it's enough so that if you didn't already know the plant was there you wouldn't know it was there. It has smokestacks, but you never see anything come out of them. The only ugly aspect was the coal pile, and it's now obscured.
Out of sight, out of mind. But you can't do that with wind. Solar has its own problem, also based on inefficiency, in that it requires huge tracts of land for all the panels needed.
But if you're looking for new facilities that don't produce greenhouse gas emissions there is a fourth solution. Nuclear power. A natural gas-burning power plant under construction has just exploded, killing five people. Every year, American coal miners die violently in mines or slowly from exposure to coal dust. Nuclear power in this country has never killed anybody. No birds, no bats, and most importantly no humans. That's also true in France, where 70 percent of their power comes from nukes.
And today's nuke plant designs are less prone to accidents than ever.
The writing is on the wall. Go nuclear.
By Michael Fumento
While driving with my future wife along California's scenic but treacherous Pacific Coast Highway in 1991, my brand new Toyota suddenly fishtailed and dove straight off a cliff. That's the "after" picture you see.
I was uninjured, but my wife suffered both a broken neck and crushed skull. I was told I would probably lose her, but she had a miraculous recovery and today only suffers epilepsy. A week after the accident I read Toyota was replacing the model at half year because, according to one car magazine, driving experts said it suffered from sudden "terminal" oversteering.
So you may think I assume that Toyota is guilty not only of having faulty accelerators but of covering up the fact for two years. But you'd assume wrong. They may well prove guilty of both charges, but we need to keep in mind that the allegations are all based on driver reports. Some of these are clearly going to be related to news events. And some will be opportunistic.
Yesterday a letter to the editor of the Washington Post began, "Toyota, I'm mad as hell! I blame you - not only for a faulty product but for the cover-up: a slow, secretive roll-out revealing too little, way too late." It continues, "In September, driving a 2009 Camry on a clear day, I had a terrible accident. Despite strenuous braking efforts, I was unable to decelerate. I hit two other cars and rolled and destroyed my car. I was seriously injured. The cause, however, appeared not to be a faulty floor mat-the only responsibility Toyota acknowledged at that time."
He then relates that he replaced the car with a 2010 Camry and "the gas pedal on that car stuck and the car uncontrollably gained speed."
The second incident seems to match the general accusations against Toyota, but the first and truly serious one does not. Braking is an entirely different system from acceleration. Uncontrolled acceleration or lack of de-acceleration would not override slamming the brakes.
This is sheer opportunism and you will see it across North America and probably the world, regardless of whether there's a real problem with Toyotas or not. And we're talking about the world's largest automaker. I'll have more to say on this in an upcoming article, but this is going to be bad.
Yes, WHO faked a pandemic and is now lying about it, my Forbes article
By Michael Fumento
The World Health Organization has suddenly gone from crying "The sky is falling!" like a cackling Chicken Little to squealing like a stuck pig. The reason: charges that the agency deliberately fomented swine flu hysteria. "The world is going through a real pandemic. The description of it as a fake is wrong and irresponsible," the agency claims on its Web site.
But I've been documenting the hoax since before a pandemic was declared, back when the WHO was just posturing about a proclamation.
I first showed that swine flu was exceptionally mild, when by definition flu pandemics had to be severe. I later showed that the WHO changed the definition to match swine flu, which required it to eliminate severity as a factor. That in turn makes the definition of "flu pandemic" absolutely worthless.
I also explained why the WHO did it. That it wasn't mere bureaucratic turf-enlarging, but rather first an effort to cover up yet another WHO hysteria, over avian flu, and then an attempt to bring "social justice" to the world and redistribute wealth between nations. That from the very mouth of its secretary general!
Now with a European watchdog group calling hearings on what it's labeled a "false pandemic," the WHO is claiming 1) that it didn't change the definition, and 2) that there was never a definition that required severity.
These are incredibly bold lies, given that you can find the old definition on the Web and people like me tell you right where to go to find it. Like here.
My Forbes piece, "Why The WHO Faked A Pandemic," has a video clip of WHO swine flu "czar" Keiji Fukuda (see picture) lying through his teeth, along with another link to written testimony in which he lies about a different aspect.
The European group calls the WHO's actions "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century." Just so, and the more the WHO does it's CYA routine, the worse it gets. Pinocchio's nose is already poking out the window.
February 7, 2010 08:37 PM · Permalink ·
American Spectator's Tom Bethel writes about my views on Wikipedia
By Michael Fumento
In an American Spectator piece, "Global Warmists Feel a Chilly Wind," Tom Bethell states, "Two weeks ago I wrote an article here about global warming and the advocates - call them warmists - who tamper with Wikipedia to reflect their own biases. One warmist named William Connolley, a green ideologue in Britain, had rewritten 5,428 climate articles. His goal was to bring the articles into line with Green Party dogma."
He states, "I contacted Michael Fumento, a science writer who often endorses non-consensus positions. (He has done good work lately in drawing attention to the scare tactics of the "flu-pandemic" promoters; and, earlier, in questioning "AIDS" in Africa. It can be diagnosed there without an HIV test.) Fumento wrote:
The Wiki thing is highly problematic and Wikipedia has expressly been a thorn in my side. Problem is that despite what you hear, wikis are NOT self-correcting. They're "last-person correcting." If under the World Series entry on Wikipedia I write that the 2009 Series was won by the Cubs, that's what the entry says unless and until somebody else fixes it. Then I can go right back and change it. In short, wikis favor those with the most time on their hands - a testament to the expression about idle hands…
Case in point regarding my own entry: Somebody keeps inserting that I'm a scholar at Hudson Institute. I haven't been with Hudson since 2006. So I keep asking a friend to correct the entry. He does so. And within a short period it's been changed back. I can't even guess at the motives but somebody out there has a vested interest in me being seen as still with Hudson.
I can go on. My original Wiki entry was horrible slanted against me. That's essentially true for all conservatives. When Wikipedia gets political, it tends to be left-political. I changed some of the disinformation and documented it as Wikipedia is supposed to require, though you can randomly look at entries and find such terminology as "documented needed." But I thereupon found myself permanently banned from editing a Wikipedia entry. (Yes, I could always use a false IP address.) But who knows more about me than me?
Other people have since done a lot of work to make my entry more fair, but even now under where it lists my freelancing it mentions only one journal, a conservative one. I've freelanced for scores of major publications over the last quarter century including many mainstream ones such as New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, USA Weekend, and indeed just days ago the LA Times for the second time. I've had the cover the leftwing New Republic. These are all on my website, and indeed you can find a number just on my "bio" page on that site. Why do they list just one publication and make it a conservative one?
Yes, it's a rhetorical question.
I find that Wikipedia can be a heck of a lot of fun. I watch a show on the Military Channel about, say, the P-51 Mustang and I go to Wikipedia and read lots more about it. It also find it can generate good leads for information. But you'll note that I've long since given up using Wikipedia for hyperlinks in my articles. There's a reason for that.
Another "man-made" disease cluster solved
By Michael Fumento
What man-made pollutants were causing the mysterious cluster of scleroderma in South Boston?
Scleroderma is a rare, incurable, sometimes fatal illness that hardens muscles and internal organs. It's victims are overwhelming women. It's an autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system is attacking itself.
There's been a cluster of the disease in a section of South Boston which has long confounded citizens, except that they knew it had to have a man-made cause. Some blamed a nearby power plant. Others hazardous waste sites.
It got national media attention and led to an 11-year Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In their just-released findings they did indeed find "higher than expected cases" in a neighborhood of about 30,000 people.
But they found the significant cause was not the environment, but rather genetics.
"It's not necessarily that the community they were living in was producing this disease," Robert Simms, the chief of rheumatology at Boston Medical Center and a researcher in the study told the Boston Globe. "When you look at the data, it does not support that."
The study found that people with a family history of specific autoimmune-rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud's disease, lupus, and thyroid disease, were more likely to develop scleroderma.
"For the women afflicted with the disfiguring disease," said the reporter, "the findings have come as a bitter disappointment."
"I believe there is a cumulative effect," said Mary Cooney, a South Boston activist who has been working with the state on the study. "If these women had grown up in West Roxbury or Hyde Park, they would not have gotten the disease."
Have sympathy for these women. They are no hardcore environmental activists receiving tens of millions of dollars from mega-foundations to prove a that which isn't. As one put it, "I thought that if we had an answer then we could fix it," adding, "It would help us make sense of why so many of my neighbors have this horrible disease."
As Simms put it, the women were seeking "emotional validation."
That said, clusters like these are quite common and virtually never pan out (the main exception is drug side affects), but the media play them for all they're worth - to attack perfectly safe technologies.
The most famous, or infamous as it were, is probably the Long Island breast cancer cluster.
As I wrote back in 1997:
Since the early 1990s, women in the Northeastern U.S., especially Long Island, New York, have been claiming that A) they are suffering an extraordinary rate of breast cancer, and that B) the cause most assuredly lies in the hand of man.
It might also have noted that Ashkenazi Jews have extraordinary breast cancer rates and that Long Island has large Jewish population.
But the activists didn't want to hear this. Cindy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based National Women's Health Network, told the Boston Globe the study "doesn't set my mind at ease, and it doesn't make me think there aren't environmental factors at work."
Yet in 1993 still another study found that the Long Island breast cancer rate wasn't extraordinary. Using a computer database, the Long Island-based newspaper Newsday discovered, "The highest breast cancer incidence rates were in the San Francisco Bay area, suburban Boston, and suburban Chicago, not on Long Island. Nassau and Suffolk (the counties making up Long Island) ranked right in the middle of the group studied."
Did this mollify the Long Island activists? Far from it. "The fact that Long Island isn't alone isn't a comforting thought at all - it's an even more disturbing message," one told Newsday.
Get it? The original problem was that Long Island's breast cancer rate was so extraordinarily high. When it turned out it wasn't extraordinarily high it was proof of an even greater problem.
Since I wrote my article, the National Cancer Institute released a study giving man-made chemicals on Long Island an all clear.
"Long Island is not the breast cancer capital of the United States," as the activists say, Dan Fagin, who covered the Long Island "epidemic" for 12 years at Newsday, told the British Medical Journal. "It's the capital of breast cancer activists."
Yet the NCI is studying the situation to this this day and probably always will. There are still activists. And still grant-hungry researchers willing to confirm, reconfirm, and then reconfirm again findings. This though the money and effort could be so much better spent on finding and reducing real risks.
"Killer Cans And Toxic Baby Bottles," my piece in Investor's Business Daily
By Michael Fumento
Should we worry about a common chemical almost all of us carry in our bodies that activists claim causes a list of diseases longer than you'll find in a major medical center?
Yet aside from Canada, which is banning BPA baby bottles, nobody else in the world seems worried. What's our problem?
Partly it reflects media adoration for a single homegrown scientist. And strangely enough, it's also a consequence of President Obama's economic stimulus package.
Read the rest here!
And for an excellent longer treatment, my colleague Angela Logomasini has just completed an excellent report on "The Nanny State Attack on BPA: Oregon and Beyond.
Worries about the direction of the Tea Party movement
By Michael Fumento
"The Tea Party is still taking shape," says the front page headline in today's Washington Post. The Post is a liberal paper, but that sounds like a fair headline. The story may or may not be fair, but there were some quotes in there that if representative are worrying.
Thus Jim Linn, an electrical engineer from San Diego, allegedly told the reporter that, in her paraphrasation, "the Constitution must be interpreted in ways that match his understanding of the Founders' intent. That would mean scrapping a lot of the amendments, he acknowledges, but not Nos. 2, 10, 16 and 17."
Of course, the Founders enacted all ten of the first Amendments as the Bill of Rights. That includes Nos. 1 and 3-9. But it's possible those were just his favorites. It's also entirely possible that the Post reported played the old game of interviewing tons of people and just quoting the most outlandish ones. Let's just hope this fellow isn't representative.
More worrying was this regarding former U.S. representative Tom Tancredo (Colo.), who ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. "When Tancredo said, 'His name is Barack Hussein Obama,' the audience booed loudly."
Let's be clear on this. Obama did not choose his middle name. He did not choose the parents who gave him that name. O! would that we could have chosen our own parents. Among other things, mine would have been wealthy.
Here's an explanation of why that middle name is used against him.
Debbie Schlussel, self-identified "conservative political commentator, radio talk show host and columnist," blogged in 2006 that:
Obama's full name - as by now you have probably heard - is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali's son - Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father, the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim.
And her point being?
It's true that Islam is not "the religion of peace" that Pres. G.W. Bush asserted. The Koran does in fact call for waging war upon and killing non-Muslims. But most Muslims don't accept that as part of their belief system. It's those who do, the Islamists, that we need worry about - not Muslims generally. I've had Islamist Muslims shoot at me with AKs, machine guns, sniper rifles, and mortars. Debbie Schlussel has not. So I know the difference.
Being Muslim doesn't inherently make you evil. But in any case, all Schlussel was able to say is that Muslims consider Obama a Muslim. So what?
I'm Jewish on my mother's side so Jews consider me a Jew. I've been in synagogues four times. I'm a practicing Christian. If Obama thinks he's a Christian and goes to a Christian church - which we knows he does, he has to be considered a Christian.
But no, the point is being a Muslim is inherently bad and that like it or not Obama is a Muslim. We know that's her point because she titled her blog: "Barack Obama: Once a Muslim, Always a Muslim."
Gad, lady! He was never a Muslim, any more than I was ever Jewish!
But apparently that's why saying all three of Obama's names at a Tea Party rally is a way to rile up the masses.
And that's worrisome.
Flu Report Feb. 5 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing
By Michael Fumento
Here's an amazing fact. Traditionally flu season peaks in mid-February. Essentially now. Yet in mid-October CDC labs reported 11,908 positive flu samples. This past week they reported only 119, in turn fewer than the week before! NO states are reporting widespread flu activity.
There in a nutshell is your awful swine flu epidemic everybody warned of.
As I've repeatedly written, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand, the milder swine flu has simply brushed aside the far deadlier seasonal flu. In essence, swine flu has become our seasonal flu. And whether the health authorities end up admitting it or not, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand where they had NO swine flu vaccine, a lot fewer of us are going to die this year as a result.
"The Damage of the Anti-vaccination Movement," my LA Times piece
By Michael Fumento
The Doctor who launched the modern anti-vaccine movement acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly," Britain's General Medical Council has ruled. But fear not. Dr. Andrew Wakefield is still a hero to his many acolytes. And others, with curious credentials, fight on to terrify parents into not getting their children inoculated.
In 1998 Wakefield wrote and then vociferously hawked an article in the British medical journal Lancet linking autism to the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella). After the council's decision, Lancet this week retracted the article. Among the facts that have come out of the inquiry of Wakefield's research is that two years before his paper appeared lawyers seeking to sue vaccine-makers paid Wakefield the equivalent of $700,000.
But the damage is done. Anti-vaccination groups have popped up like toadstools after rain (there are more than 180 on the Web), while older ones such as the National Vaccine Information Center were reinvigorated. For the most part, these groups have had only a marginal effect on national vaccination rates, but they have encouraged localized boycotts of immunization. (In one Washington county, a stunning 27% of children had vaccination exemptions in 2006-2007.) The result has been a resurgence of diseases gone so long that some doctors don't even recognize them. And children die because of it.
Read the rest of this fascinating, yet sad piece that has a direct human impact (I interviewed a mother whose daughter needlessly died of pertussis) at the same time it makes the point of what happens when a large segment of society just tosses away science in favor of superstition and conspiracy theories. And when we eschew scientists in favor of celebrity experts like Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, whose expertise is readily apparent in the inset image.
No, the Pakistani Taliban aren't finished off. But it's the time to do it.
By Michael Fumento
There is talk that the reported death of Hakimullah Mehsud, courtesy of a drone-fired Hellfire missile, may prove devastating to the Taliban in Pakistan. That's especially so in combination with low public opinion of the group, successful Pakistani army attacks in South Waziristan, and the killing of Mehsud's predecessor courtesy of another one of those fine Hellfires.
"If he's gone, it's a fatal blow," said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. "At one point, the Taliban had a lot of momentum and a charismatic leader. Now they've been uprooted and lost all credibility."
Yeah, well don't write that obit just yet.
Since my first article written from Afghanistan where I embedded in 2007, I've been saying that the conflict needs to be seen as the Afghan-Pakistan war. Pres. Obama, to his credit, clearly sees it that way. But the massive Pakistani army, one of the largest in the world, continues to allow the Taliban to have a base of operations in North Waziristan.
It's an old cliche but a fitting one, that if you leave part of a cancerous tumor it will eventually grow back to its original size. The Pakistanis claim to be exhausted from their struggle in the south. Tough. They owe us big time for all the aid we've given them and continue to give them, for having supported the Taliban in the first place, and even for giving nuclear technology to rogue nations like North Korea.
Obama needs to crack the whip and get the Pakistanis to root out the roaches from their last nest.