Nel's New Day

December 28, 2018

DDT: Week 101 – Watch China’s Growing Influence in Middle East

Day Seven of Government Shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may think that his shutdown isn’t successful because he’s now threatening to close the U.S. southern border and stop aid to several Latin American countries without his wall. Having canceled plans for any holiday vacation to Mar-a-Lago, DDT is sitting in Washington, D.C. with nothing to do except tweet. The U.S. has already announced a collaboration with Mexico, providing $10.6 billion to slow migration from South American countries.

  • The shutdown moves toward more debacles:
  • The possible cancellation of a global weather conference with over 4,000 attendees that wastes research and contracts.
  • Closure of all Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo on January 2.
  • “Furlough” of EPA employees.
  • Lack of payments, farm loans, and disaster assistance for farmers.
  • Suspension of FTC investigations and litigation, including those against Facebook.

Fortunately for Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers are still paying for DDT’s holiday bash, even though he didn’t attend, starting with $54,020 for tents on December 19. Individuals paid DDT’s private business $1,000 per person.

Some startling news has received almost no attention in the Western media amidst the shutdown hubbub. DDT, self-proclaimed great negotiator, planned to scare Pakistan’s military into cooperation by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan. Instead, China is buying Pakistan-built military jets, weaponry, and other hardware, a move that can deepen the two countries’ cooperation in space that China wants to militarize. It can also encourage other countries to buy military equipment from Pakistan instead of the U.S. Only Pakistan has access to China’s satellite navigation system allowing better guidance for missiles, ships, and aircraft. The countries also plan to link a port in coastal Gwadar across 2,000 miles to western China, allowing Chinese goods to have a much shorter and less expensive shipping route and avoid territorial waters of U.S. allies in Asia. China may also militarize Gwadar and other seaports being built in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, giving China great geopolitical influence in both commerce and military action.

The first Chinese ship, the cargo ship Zhen Xing Sung, reached Gwadar’s port this week loaded with seafood. Its owner, the China Overseas Shipping Co (Cosco), has a 40-year lease of the port and will export to Central Asia and the Middle East.

DDT became so angry with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation letter—once the media explained to him what it meant—that he had his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney immediately fire Mattis instead of allowing for a transition period until late February. Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, is the temporary replacement until the Senate has time to confirm him. Shanahan worked for the U.S.’s most profitable defense contractors Boeing for thirty years, quitting as senior vice president of supply chain and operations to join the Pentagon. Former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed concern when Shanahan was selected as Deputy Secretary of Defense and said, “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.” Shanahan promised to recuse himself from any financial interests related to Boeing.

One reason for Shanahan’s selection as Defense Secretary may be his enthusiasm about DDT’s Space Patrol control outer space, an idea that has been soundly ridiculed. DDT may find Shanahan useful because he has neither military nor foreign policy experience. Shanahan finds the position useful because Boeing has been successful in winning competitive contracts since he joined the Pentagon. The Air Force wants F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed, but the Pentagon is requesting F-15X fighters from Boeing, thanks to Shanahan’s involvement in funding.

DDT is facing not only investigations but also liens against his properties. A third lien, this one from AES Electrical, brings the total to over $5 million against his Washington hotel after the company assigned 45 workers to 12-hour shifts for almost 50 consecutive days to get it open when he wanted. The hotel opened on time, and DDT stopped paying AES. Plumbing firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. and Northern Virginia company A&D Construction also filed $2.98 million and $79,700. DDT claims that he’s worth $10 billion, but he has a long-time reputation of stiffing his workers at all levels.

Elected politicians are causing a “collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent” of the labor market since 1979 by giving power to employers through weakening unions, damaging minimum wage, and prioritizing low inflation over full employment. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners lost $1.53 trillion in income–$10,800 for every U.S. household—in 2015 alone. As a result of these policies, productivity has rapidly slowed since the 1970s, growing half as fast between 1973 and 2017 as it did from 1948 to 1973.

As DDT rails against Jerome Powell, the man he picked as chair of the Federal Reserve, the media is reminding people that he fired the former chair, Janet Yellen, because she is “too short.” Janet L. Yellen was considered the most qualified Federal Reserve chair perhaps ever, but DDT he broke a long-standing bipartisan tradition of retaining the Fed chair if they wanted to stay and were good at the job. Yellen fit both these criteria.

DDT is helping drug companies make more money from opioids by recommending that people with prescription for opioids also get prescriptions for an antidote. The health care costs will run over $1 billion. The recommendation came from DDT-appointed Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir. A two-dose kit of Naloxone nasal spray costs about $125. An automatic injector runs $4,000 per kit.

EPA has approved the Monsanto’s pesticide dicamba, an airborne chemical that can kill crops for miles away. Corn and other grass crops can tolerate the weed killer, but it kills soybeans, tomatoes, and other broadleaf plants. In 2017 and 2018, dicamba damaged almost 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois, except for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans. Dicamba drift has killed millions of dollars in pecan and peach trees plus destroying bees because they cannot survive on plants damaged from dicamba.

A new proposed EPA rule purports that a little pollution is good for people in order to erase regulations on toxic chemicals. Today, the EPA proposed a reversal of the clean-up of toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired plants. Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other birth defects in children, and the pollutants enter the food chain.

After 17 people were shot and killed in a Parkland (FL) school last spring, DDT put Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of an all-white committee to solve the gun problem. Her first solution was to use federal funds to buy guns for schools, but she moved back from that move because of the backlash. In her next step, she admitted to Congress that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings. Ten months after the tragedy, DeVos will use the “school safety commission” to discriminate against blacks and other minority students, permitting schools to use race in punishing them because of her claim that are the cause for an increase in school violence. The racial difference is already dire: black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. The commission was created because of killing by a white teenager, and most mass shootings at schools are by white males.

Almost 40,000 people died in shootings across the United States in 2017 during DDT’s first year after his inauguration, the highest number in 20 years. The U.S. now has 12 deaths per 100,000 people from guns compared to 0.2 per 100,000 people in Japan, 0.3 in the UK and 0.9 in Germany.

Last week, a second Guatemalan child died on Christmas Eve in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary clings to her story that parents are at fault. Yet on December 23 to 25, ICE officials dumped 600 hundred asylum seekers in the cold outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso where they had no housing or food and local shelters were not warned. Many of them were ill. The only other time that this has occurred was the week before the 2018 midterm elections.

Gallup poll’s most admired man for 2018 is Barack Obama, and the winning women is Michelle Obama. Barack tops the list for the 11th year in a row, one place short of tying Dwight Eisenhower for the record. Michelle has broken Hillary Clinton’s 17 year run. DDT came in second to Barack, and Melania Trump is fourth after Oprah Winfrey and Clinton.

Katherine Walker, the TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of The Apprentice, said that workers “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.” She added that he frequently commented on women’s bodies in a derogatory fashion. Walker believes—like many of us—that DDT would not have been elected president if not for that show. A piece in the New Yorker describes how Mark Burnett, former executive producer of the show, gave DDT the appearance of a tycoon. Voters bought the image, not the real person.

June 5, 2013

U.S. Corporations Poison Children

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:28 PM
Tags: , , ,

Conservatives incessantly talk about how children are our most precious resource–right before they deny them funding for food, education, clean environment, etc. If you follow the argument about the precious resource, check out the following on the toxicity of children’s products which bring corporations billions of dollars, toxicity that conservatives refuse to regulate.

Over 5,000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive problems, including the toxic metals, cadmium, mercury and antimony, as well as phthalates and solvents, according to a new report from Washington state. This report identifies products that contain any of 66 chemicals connected to “cancer or to reproductive, developmental or neurological effects” in animals or humans.

Washington now mandates manufacturers with more than $1 billion in gross annual revenue are required to report the chemicals in any of their products   that “could be put into the mouth by children under 3 years old, those intended to be put in the mouth or rubbed on the skin for children under 12 years old,” and products “intended for prolonged contact with the skin, including clothing, jewelry and bedding.” Smaller companies must start reporting about their products by this upcoming August.

Makers of kids’ products use 41 of the 66 chemicals identified by WA Ecology as a concern for children’s health. Corporations including Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, Mattel, Nike, and H & M sell kids’ clothing, footwear, toys, games, jewelry, accessories, baby products, furniture, bedding, arts and crafts supplies, and personal care products—all with toxic chemicals. These are some of the dangerous products:

Hallmark party hats containing cancer-causing arsenic

Graco car seats containing the toxic flame retardant TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A)

Claire’s cosmetics containing cancer-causing formaldehyde

Walmart dolls containing hormone-disrupting bisphenol A

The chemical reports are required after the state passed its Children’s Safe Products Act in 2008, a law “stronger than any chemical disclosure law” in the U.S., according to the Environmental Health News (EHN). A searchable database of chemical use reports filed with the Washington State Department of Ecology is available.

The Minnesota Department of Health also published a list of priority chemicals in children’s products with eight of the nine chemicals also on the Washington list. These nine priority chemicals are lead, cadmium, bisphenol A, formaldehyde, two brominated flame retardants, and three phthalates. Unlike Washington, Minnesota does not require manufacturers to report if they use a priority chemical in a children’s product. This spring, Minnesota’s Senate Commerce Committee voted down the Toxic Free Kids Act of 2013, a bill that would have required this reporting.

Cosmetics, popular with young people, contain high level of toxins, for example in lipsticks and glosses used by teenage girls. Because lipstick is applied at least two to three times daily, the wearer can ingest a significant amount—20 percent or more of the daily amount considered safe in drinking water—of aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese. Lead was also detected in 75 percent of the samples studied.

Cadmium found in breast cancer biopsies causes cancer cells to multiply in lab experiments. Lead exposure in children can lead to permanent brain damage and possibly crime while elevated lead levels in adults can lead to a host of health problems from miscarriages to seizures. Traces of lead were found in lipsticks made by Burt’s Bees, now owned by Clorox. Lead has also been found in Burt’s Bees chapstick. Lead was banned from house paint in 1977, and leaded gasoline was banned in the U.S. in 1995.  The FDA bans lead in candy bars at greater than 0.1 part per million whereas some lipsticks have concentrations as high as 3.06 parts per million, 30 times as much.

Lipstick wearers can check out the quantity of lead in 20 different products.

 

lipstick Even hospitals provide products with known or suspected carcinogens, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. One woman reported that during her first chemo treatment after surgery for breast cancer that volunteers gave her a bag of products from Clinique, Estée Lauder, and Del Laboratories. As part of the Look Good Feel Better program, 16,000 volunteers hand out $10 million worth of personal care products each year to women being treated for cancer. Cosmetics giant Estée Lauder was at the forefront of “pinkwashing,” a practice in which giant corporations appear to be supporting the “cure” for breast cancer by giving away pink ribbons or selling pink products.

The private cosmetics industry is in the driver’s seat as far as investigations go. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review board, funded by cosmetics corporations, is in charge of evaluating the safety of their own product. The FDA has no authority to test the ingredients before they go on the market and no authority to pull an unsafe cosmetic from the market yet the European Union bans nearly 1,400 chemicals from personal care products because they are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic to reproduction.

The CIR, a private organization, does not have to respond to the Freedom of Information Act. It also doesn’t even do its own research: spokesperson Lisa Powers wrote that it “carefully examines all of the currently available scientific data.” On at least one occasion, the CIR has pronounced cosmetics ingredients to be safe without scientific basis. The organization also does not keep a record of reformulated products or those that have been removed from the market after a review.

Perfumes and colognes are other areas that the FDA does not regulate. Tests show that popular colognes and body sprays contain 14 chemicals not listed on the label which are linked to hormone disruption, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. Scented detergents also contain carcinogenic toxins.

Hair products are another part of the safety problem. After pressure from consumer groups, the FDA found high levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the hair straighteners from Brazilian Blowout. The product is still on the market. Carcinogens are used as preservatives in everything from suntan oil to makeup.

Children are encouraged to brush their teeth, and they wear gymsocks. Yet pesticides may be in these products because the Environmental Protection Agency fails to provide sufficient oversight. Instead products slip through the loophole called “conditional registration,” meaning they haven’t been fully tested for safety to human health or environment. Therefore pesticides are found in everything from cosmetics to food containers with the intention of resisting stains or keeping food fresh longer.

Since the EPA began registering pesticides in 1972, 90,000 of these have been allowed on the market. Just over 25,000 were approved through conditional registration. Of the 16,000 pesticides on the market in 2010, about 11,000 of them has this conditional registration without necessary safety testing. The lack of oversight was brought to view in 2008 when questions arose about why the toxic nanosilver was permitted in athletic gear and baby blankets. A 2010 internal EPA report on nanosilver notes: “the same property that makes it lethal to bacteria may render it toxic to human cells.” After an EPA panel said that they would require studies on the health effects of nanosilver, the agency allowed the company to continue its use of nanosilver. As of March 2011, 1,317 consumer products contained nanosilver, including 182 clothing products.

Almost a year ago, Johnson & Johnson declared that it will remove “chemicals of concern” from its baby shampoo and baby-care lotions by the end of this year. They have also pledged to provide make everyday products safe for adults. Their brands include Aveena, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, and Lubriderm. Whether they have done this or not, we don’t know.

Since 1976, more than 80,000 chemicals have been produced and used in the U.S. In these 37 years, the EPA has required testing on just over 200 of the 62,000 chemicals that were “grandfathered” in under the law. Only 5 chemicals have been restricted. Cancer is only one danger from these chemicals; they can also cause diabetes, sterility, and obesity as well as a myriad of other serious problems.

You can protect yourself and your children by consulting this list from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Other sources are available if you Google “non toxic kids products.”

You need to protect yourself and those you love because the federal government is too busy trying to overturn Obamacare to help people.

May 20, 2013

‘Don’t Frack with Me!’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 11:18 AM
Tags: , , ,

During the same week that saw fracking fan Ernest Moniz appointed as head of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Interior Department released its revised proposal for fracking federal and Indian lands. The public has 30 days to comment.

Fracking, aka hydraulic fracturing, is forcing huge amounts of water with unknown chemicals deep into the ground to break up the shale to release oil and natural gas, with toxic results for land, water, and people as well as the possibility of earthquakes in the area.

It may be a better plan than the one that they pulled almost a year ago because industry officials oppose them. Energy companies are required to disclose the chemicals used in the process, they have to have management plans for the great volume of “flowback water,” and they are required to verify that the flowback water doesn’t escape into groundwater.

Yet they can use “FraFocus” to meet the rules’ chemical disclosure requirements, meaning that companies don’t really have to disclose what toxic chemicals are used. Companies are also permitted more “flexibility” in showing that the cementing jobs in the wells are adequate. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, also a fracking fan, said  that it “has been done safely for decades.”

Conservatives argue that fracking is vital to provide energy for the United States. Yet last week the DOE approved the release of 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas to be sent overseas to nations lacking a free-trade agreement with the U.S. That agreement is for 25 years. Nineteen more permits are pending while government studies refuse to acknowledge the dangers of fracking.

Some Democrats are also on the side of fracking. Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011, is trying to get his neighboring state, New York, to join the fracking bandwagon. Rendell is a paid lobbyist for driller company Range Resources Readers and is a paid consultant of Elements Partners, a private equity firm with big stakes in several energy companies that are engaged in fracking.

His eloquence omits that fact that the drilling of over 150,000 wells for natural gas has transformed large swaths of rural Pennsylvania into basically industrial zones, inundated with huge trucks, wastewater ponds, and traffic jams. Air pollution is higher in counties with drilling than those without, and residents complain about round-the-clock noise. People who live in the frack zone suffer from projectile vomiting, headaches, breathing problems, mysterious skin rashes–the list goes on.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is being sued for producing deceptive lab reports and then using them to dismiss homeowners’ complaints that shale gas corporations have contaminated their water, making them sick. The nickname for DEP is “Don’t Expect Protection.”

Democratic state representative Jesse White is demanding that state and federal agencies investigate the DEP for “alleged misconduct and fraud.” A 2011 study shows 353 industry chemicals that could damage the skin, the brain, the respiratory, gastrointestinal, immune, cardiovascular, and endocrine (hormone production) systems. Twenty-five percent of the chemicals found by the study could cause cancers.

These chemicals come from water (including bathing), air, soil, and food—in short, anyone near fracking is surrounded. The chemicals are also synergistic: according to veteran toxicologist David Brown, “The presence of one agent can increase the toxicity of another by several-fold.”

In a blow to all corporations, including fracking companies, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that there is no corporate right to privacy under that state’s constitution. Judge O’Dell Seneca cited the text of the 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, the history of its various provisions, related recent case law from other states and policy considerations, and rejected the various claims by corporate lawyers stating, “Nothing in that jurisprudence indicates that that right [of privacy] is available to business entities.” He added that the 14th Amendment “use of the word ‘person’ that makes its protections applicable to business entities” does not apply to Pennsylvania’s constitution.

Although businesses have legal rights protecting them from unreasonable searches and seizure of property, they do not have the right to personal privacy, according to Seneca.

“This Court found no case establishing a constitutional right of privacy for businesses, and it uncovered only one case that allowed a corporation to assert a state-based right to be free from unreasonable searches and siezures in a criminal matter.”

In summation, Seneca wrote:

“It is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have ‘no spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ’emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists… They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are like grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need.”

Not all New Yorkers are enchanted with Rendell’s enthusiastic support for fracking. After a fact-finding tour to the northern Pennsylvania town of Troy, state Senator Terry Gipson, a Democrat from the beautiful Hudson Valley, wondered what would happen after the oil companies finished plundering the land:

“Envision a time when the trucks are gone, the lease money is spent, the trailers and the diners are empty, and all that is left is unusable farm land with a contaminated water supply. What will these people do then?”

Gipson’s concerns have been echoed by many others who lived through the oil boom and bust of the twentieth century which led to economic disaster.

New Yorkers have moved from support of fracking to opposition, especially in its conservative upstate. The state has 55 municipal bans against fracking and 105 moratoriums. Oil companies have gone to court with the argument that only the state can prohibit drilling, but the state supreme court disagreed. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still sitting on the fence about fracking, failing to meet all deadlines thus far to make a decision. At this time, he has no “timeline” to decide.

A past strong supporter of fracking, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, has now said that “the science on the impact of fracking is far from settled,” according to the Associated Press.

Another boost for anti-frackers came from a California judge in April. A federal magistrate judge in San Jose, California ruled that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) failed to analyze its impact on 2,500 acres in Monterey County, part of the Monterey shale formation four times the Bakken formation centered in North Dakota. Oil from federal lands accounted for about 5 percent of that retrieved by fracking, and 98 percent of BLM land is in western United States.

In earlier blogs, I’ve written about the dangers of fracking such as pockholes and radiation leaks, but following are some that I failed mention:

Methane-Spewing Geysers:  Because regulators don’t require frackers to search for abandoned wells,  unplugged, forgotten wells, like the 1932 Butters Well in Pennsylvania’s Tioga County, literally burst with gas when drilling displaces underground pockets of methane. The same thing can happen with cracks in the ground.

Eminent Domain: A Chesapeake employee said, “If properties don’t want to sign, if we have 90 percent secured of the well that we need, we have the power to put these people in the lease without their permission….  We can do whatever we want.”

Milk Production Dips: Milk production decreased by 19 percent in Pennsylvania’s counties with 150 or more Marcellus Shale wells compared to a 1.2 percent decrease in counties with no wells.

Contaminated Wine: Dirty water means dirty crops and then dirty wine. A Brooklyn winery boasted, “Many of our wine bar’s seasonal menu items include ingredients grown on upstate farms.” There’s no fracking there—yet.

Contaminated Food, Stillborn Calves, and Poisoned Animals: Fracking fluid consumption killed 16 cows in Louisiana, and hundreds of others raised near fracking sites are being reported affected. When 28 beef cattle in Pennsylvania were exposed to fracking fluid recently, 8 of 11 calves birthed thereafter were stillborn.

Earthquakes: Cuadrilla Resources, a UK energy company, admitted that their fracking has caused earthquakes and other seismic events. The UK has stopped fracking until they look into the situation. Earlier this year Arkansas declared a moratorium on fracking because of a “swarm” of earthquakes in the state.

As journalist Richard Schiffman wrote, “We don’t know nearly what we should at this stage, given that massive swaths of the U.S. are already being fracked–and that most of that fracking is going on virtually unregulated by states which, tipsy on the revenue bonanza from the drilling, have been giving gas companies what amounts to a free pass.”

This last week, Vermont became the first state in the country to outlaw fracking. Let’s hope more states say, “Don’t frack with me!”

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