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Step off, old man!
Saturday, 4 December 2004
It's the fear, stupid
Let's drop the horseshit about the morals issue and the Presidential election. The election was decided because the president chose to scare the people in the Red States with those twin evils: terrorism and gays. That's it. It wasn't morals; it was fear.

This is from

Take two iconic states: Texas and Massachusetts. In some ways, they were the two states competing in the last election. In the world's imagination, you couldn't have two starker opposites. One is the homeplace of Harvard, gay marriage, high taxes, and social permissiveness. The other is Bush country, solidly Republican, traditional, and gun-toting. Massachusetts voted for Kerry over Bush 62 to 37 percent; Texas voted for Bush over Kerry 61 to 38 percent.

So ask yourself a simple question: which state has the highest divorce rate? Marriage was a key issue in the last election, with Massachusetts' gay marriages becoming a symbol of alleged blue state decadence and moral decay. But in actual fact, Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country at 2.4 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants. Texas - which until recently made private gay sex a criminal offence - has a divorce rate of 4.1.

A fluke? Not at all. The states with the highest divorce rates in the U.S. are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. And the states with the lowest divorce rates are: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Every single one of the high divorce rate states went for Bush. Every single one of the low divorce rate states went for Kerry. The Bible Belt divorce rate, in fact, is roughly 50 percent higher than the national average.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:33 AM EST
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Wallace, clueless
I've always been somewhat intrigued by Chris Wallace's motivations. His father, the 60 Minutes reporter, seems intent on nailing everyone. I wondered why Chris would agree to go to a right wing hack operation like Fox. If he's as clueless as he seems here, maybe he just didn't know anything about them.

This is from the The funniest part is that Wallace seems to have had very little to do with "writing" his own book and didn't even seem familiar with the contents. (I was going to edit it down but it is too funny to cut.) Here it is:

Pundits have wailed and gnashed their teeth about the end of Tom Brokaw's reign. Meanwhile, Brian Lamb airs his final Booknotes this Sunday--and we'll use the occasion as an excuse to limn a recent, revealing episode of the long-running C-SPAN series. We refer to the October 31 program, in which Fox anchor Chris Wallace discussed his inspiring new book, Character: Profiles in Presidential Courage.

We drew amusement from several aspects of Wallace's oddball performance. First, it was fairly clear, at several different points, that Wallace had only a glancing acquaintance with the material which appears in his book. To his credit, he routinely acknowledged that the book was more-or-less written by committee. Indeed, we had to chuckle when he described the way his project began:

LAMB: How long ago did you get the idea?

WALLACE: About a year and a half ago. And it was a kind of collaborative effort. My--a fellow, an agent, Bill Adler, came up, called me up and said, Have you ever thought of writing a book? And I said, yes, but I never have had an idea. And he kind of had some ideas, and we sort of put the idea together and then we went to, got a publisher, Rugged Land, a small publishing house with a relationship with Random House, and also talked to Richard Neustadt, the great presidential historian.
At this point, Wallace veers into a celebrity tale from his youth. But we couldn't help chuckling when the anchor told us that, although he had thought about writing a book, he had never "had an idea!" Again, one has to appreciate the gentleman's candor--but chuckles did bounce off our great walls as Wallace described the source of his concept. And make no mistake, his concept's a deep one. "And so I thought, Let`s write a feel-good book about American democracy," he eventually said, describing the outcome of his ruminations with Adler. "Let`s write about presidents who don`t do the poll-driven thing, who don`t do the popular thing, who, you know, don`t do what sometimes seems a little craven but who stand up and do what is in their core conviction, what they believe is right for America."

Finally, Wallace had his "idea"--he'd write a "feel-good book about America!"Everybody likes to feel good, of course. But we suffered our most mordant chuckles when the millionaire son of the millionaire TV star told Lamb the courageous tale which most stands out in his book. "One of my favorites is Grover Cleveland," Wallace said. "I love the Grover Cleveland story. Can I talk about it just briefly?" Sensibly, Lamb gave his guest permission--and Wallace provided the perfect profile of Millionaire Pundit Values in action.

What did Wallace admire about Cleveland? The story started somewhat hopefully as Wallace sketched his man's background:

WALLACE: Grover Cleveland--1894--he was a tremendous friend of labor. He had been a reform mayor in New York state, in Buffalo. Then he had become the governor of New York. Then he`d been elected president. He was the president who helped create the federal arbitration system. He was also the president who legalized labor unions.
Wow! It sounded like Wallace would narrate a tale in which a president bravely stood up for the interests of average working people. Our analysts leaned forward in their chairs; after all, what a brilliant rebuke that would be to the values of the author's millionaire pundit class! Indeed, after a second excursion in which the author mentioned the pleasures of his privileged youth, he began to describe a troubling situation, in which a group of working people suffered under a wealthy mogul:

WALLACE: On [Cleveland's] watch in 1894, there had been this big international exposition in Chicago. And it was right around the time when there was a strike, a railroad workers strike that started in Pullman, Chicago. Pullman, George Pullman was the fellow who developed and built the Pullman railroad cars, which was the very great luxury railroad cars that you could sleep in...And he created a town outside, just outside Chicago, which he called, modestly enough, Pullman.
According to Wallace, it was "a classic company town," where "people had to live in the housing. People had to shop at the Pullman stores." At first, thought, life there wasn't half bad; "it was quite nice, quite nice housing," Wallace said. But uh-oh! Within a few years, things had gone straight in the dumpster:

WALLACE: There was a considerable economic downturn in the late 1890s, and [George Pullman] started cutting back the salaries of the Pullman workers, but he didn`t cut back the rent or the cost of food that all these people--so as a result, when they deducted all of that before they`d give people the paycheck, these guys sometimes ended up owing money, or if they got any money, it was just, you know, pennies.

Classic! Workers owed money, after working all month! Trained on feel-good tales of a different era, our analysts expected to hear that Cleveland stepped in to help the oppressed. But no such luck! When Pullman's workers protested this turn of events, Cleveland took a different approach. Refusing to do the poll-driven thing, he broke the law--and shut them on down. Choosing from all of American history, this is Wallace's favorite feel-good tale of inspiring presidential behavior:

WALLACE (continuing directly): And so they decided they were going to strike. And it happened in the context of lots of people coming to Chicago for the international exposition, and it became riots and tremendous civil disorder. And they counted, the labor people, on their friend in the White House staying out, or, if anything, caving in to their demands, Grover Cleveland. Cleveland, who, as I say, was a huge friend of labor, felt that the nation`s security was in jeopardy. And he really went against the Constitution because at the time, there was--you--presidents were not allowed to send troops into a state unless the governor asked for the troops, and Governor [John] Altgeld of Illinois didn`t want them because he was a--he favored labor.

And so Cleveland went against the law, went against Altgeld, sent in federal troops, restored order.
Heroically, Cleveland "went against the Constitution" and "went against the law," intruding on the governor's judgment and shutting down the demonstrations. (We have no idea how bad the "civil disorder" may have been. Based on Wallace's overall presentation, we doubt that he has any clue either.) "Of course, the labor--you know, the union types, Debs, all the organizers felt that he had betrayed his background, his history, certainly the popular will at the time," Wallace said. "And his feeling was, I`m going to protect and save the security, the civil order of the country. And you know, it was a profile in presidential courage."

Good grief! With all of American history to choose from, this was Wallace's favorite tale of presidential courage? Our analysts looked around in slack-jawed surprise--but we thought they were getting a helpful look at the values which keep emerging from America's millionaire pundit class. Indeed, how strange are Wallace's instincts and reactions? In response to a follow-up question from Lamb, the author said he had tried to keep his writing lively and journalistic. Quoting the start of his chapter on Cleveland, the anchor revealed more of the strength he saw in this wonderful man:

WALLACE: I begin the chapter on him, called "Constitution be damned:" "Grover Cleveland once killed a man. Two, actually. Of course, they`d already been sentenced to death. As sheriff of Erie County, New York, to avoid wasting government money on a hiring a hangman, he simply hanged the men himself."
"You know, I just love that story," the inspired author ghoulishly said. Indeed, from the standpoint of today's pundit class, what's not to like in Cleveland's class action? Cleveland didn't just break the law to shut down a strike. He even saved the government money by hanging his convicts himself!

"There are a lot of stories in here that I didn`t know," Wallace told Lamb as he continued. "And I got a lot of help in research from this wonderful team at Rugged Land." The author had never had an idea--but he plainly did have his values. With all of American history to choose from, he was drawn to the story of Grover Cleveland. He loved it when Cleveland hanged his own convict--and when he took the side of a millionaire mogul whose employees were working for nothing. But then, who among us doesn't love vibrant stories which reek so of character?

Lamb's long-running series concludes Sunday night. But looking back on the years of Booknotes, has any session done a better job of laying out the puzzling new values which continue to emerge from today's millionaire pundit class?

TEAM EFFORT: Wallace's book was a team effort, which may explain why he seems unfamiliar with so much of its content. For example, here's an exchange about Lyndon Johnson's alleged drunkenness:

LAMB: The chapter right after Andrew Johnson is Lyndon Johnson. And I just want to read what you wrote. "Serving as Kennedy`s second-in-command tortured the competitive Johnson. He soaked his misery in Cutty Sark. Often too depressed to get out of bed, aides had to lift him up and move his arms about to get him circulating." Was this while he`s president?

WALLACE: No, no. This is when he was vice president. This is--

LAMB: Well, I mean--but it was while he was a politician

WALLACE: Yes, absolutely.

LAMB: Not after he`d retired.

WALLACE: No, no, no, no. No. This was--

LAMB: Aides had to lift him up and move his arms about to get him circulated? Where did--do you have any idea where that came from?

WALLACE: You know, I`m trying to--I mean, you`re asking me about something I wrote a year ago. I mean, it`s in the source material. I can`t--I don`t know that I can find--I couldn't say specifically which one of those books it`s from.

Speaking of aides having to lift the boss up and get his arms moving, this haziness extends through the hour-long session. (At one point, Wallace is so surprised by a quote from the book that he asks Lamb to let him see it.) Times change. Cleveland insisted on hanging his very own convicts. By contrast, Wallace seems to have let other people type up his inspiring book.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:26 AM EST
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Friday, 3 December 2004
America, Land of Torture

Now, forcing people to admit something by torturing them has replaced actually proving a case against them. What makes me laugh is that our President is such a chicken shit. Imagine Bush subjected to torture. He'd admit to everything, including kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.

Does that mean he did it? Of course not, but these people don't care about justice, they care about their conviction rates. In some ways, they are a bigger version of the sherrif in Texas who planted evidence on dozens of suspects just so he could look like a hero.

From yahoo news:

(WASHINGTON) - Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government concedes.

Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday.

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards. But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."

Leon asked whether a detention based solely on evidence gathered by torture would be illegal, because "torture is illegal. We all know that."

Boyle replied that if the military's combatant status review tribunals "determine that evidence of questionable provenance were reliable, nothing in the due process clause (of the Constitution) prohibits them from relying on it."

Leon asked whether there were any restrictions on using torture-induced evidence.

Boyle replied that the United States never would adopt a policy that would have barred it from acting on evidence that could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even if the data came from questionable practices like torture by a foreign power.

Several arguments underlie the U.S. court ban on products of torture.

"About 70 years ago, the Supreme Court stopped the use of evidence produced by third-degree tactics largely on the theory that it was totally unreliable," Harvard Law Professor Philip B. Heymann, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, said in an interview. Subsequent high court rulings were based on revulsion at "the unfairness and brutality of it and later on the idea that confessions ought to be free and uncompelled."

Leon asked whether U.S. courts could review detentions based on evidence from torture conducted by U.S. personnel.

Boyle said torture was against U.S. policy and any allegations of it would be "forwarded through command channels for military discipline." He added, "I don't think anything remotely like torture has occurred at Guantanamo" but noted that some U.S. soldiers there had been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:20 AM EST
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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Repubs sell kids down the Prozac river
Republicans so love the pharmaceutical industry's money that they will gladly sacrifice your kids for them. It's nice how they're prepping the next generation of Americans dependent on medications to make it through breakfast.

How about mandatory psychological testing for elected officials? You can bet that every slide on the Rorschach test will be interpreted by Republicans as a dollar sign.


This is from conservative website

"One of the nation's leading medical groups, the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS), decried a move by the U.S. Senate to join with the House in funding a federal program AAPS says will lead to mandatory psychological testing of every child in America - without the consent of parents.

When the Senate considered an omnibus appropriations bill last week that included funding for grants to implement universal mental health screening for almost 60 million children, pregnant women and adults through schools and pre-schools, it approved $20 million of the $44 million sought, Kathryn Serkes, public affairs counsel for AAPS, told NewsMax.

This $20 million matches a like amount already approved by the House, Serkes advised.

The HHS appropriations bill contains block grant money that will likely be used - as is often the case with block funding - by the various states to implement mandatory psychological testing programs for all students in the school system.

The spending bill has its roots in the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, created by President Bush in 2002 to propose ways of eliminating waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness of the mental health care delivery system.

Although the report does not specifically recommend screening all students, it does suggest that "schools are in a key position to identify the mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services."

The bottom line, explained Serkes, is that a state receiving money under this appropriation will likely make its mental testing of kids mandatory - and not be out of synch with the federal enactment.

The other telling point, said Serkes, is that although the relatively minimal funding at this point is certainly not enough to fund mandatory mental testing for kids countrywide, it's an ominous start:

"Once it's established and has funding, a program exhibits the nettlesome property of being self-sustaining - it gets a life of its own. More funding follows."

Officials of the AAPS decry in the measure what they see as "a dangerous scheme that will heap even more coercive pressure on parents to medicate children with potentially dangerous side effects."

One of the most "dangerous side effects" from antidepressants commonly prescribed to children is suicide, regarding which AAPS added, "Further, even the government's own task force has concluded that mental health screening does little to prevent suicide."

Why do these jackals hate our kids? Just try to give my kid a mandatory psychologial evaluation. I will break my foot off in your ass.

Posted by brettdavey at 12:33 PM EST
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ABC's Shepard story
I don't know if anyone else saw the NBC report on the Matthew Shepard story. It was on "Dateline" or one of those shows. NBC spent a full hour debunking the story that Shepard was killed because he was gay. Instead, they said it was all about drugs and money.

There was something about the story that was strange. First, they gave the two dirtbags who killed him a bunch of airtime. And it was basically their word that it wasn't a hate crime. I kept asking myself, why did they spend an hour on this story? Just because they had an interview with the killers?

Posted by brettdavey at 12:21 PM EST
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Sure, he's non-partisan
After a few weeks of licking my wounds, I'm ready to start writing again.

I hadn't visited in a while and when I did I saw this article. Come on everyone, repeat after me: the myth of the liberal media is a joke. See that wasn't so bad.

Here it is:

"In a November 30 article titled "Nearly a Month Later, Ohio Fight Goes On," detailing the controversy in Ohio over the results of the November 2 election, the Associated Press correctly identified J. Kenneth Blackwell -- who, as Ohio's secretary of state, oversees the election process -- as "a co-chairman of Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio." But two large news organizations, and the Chicago Sun-Times, omitted that reference from their versions of the story.

From the November 30 AP story:

Blackwell, a Republican, has until Dec. 6 to certify the vote. The Green and Libertarian parties are raising money to pay for a recount that would be held once the results are certified.

[Reverend Jesse] Jackson said Blackwell, who along with other statewide GOP leaders was a co-chairman of Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio, should step down from overseeing the election process.

"You can't be chairman of the Bush campaign and then be the chief umpire in the seventh game of the World Series," Jackson said.

Posted by brettdavey at 12:15 PM EST
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Science bad
There are no two ways around it: there are certain fundamental Christians who think homosexuals and science are both evil.

I don't even know how to respond to these people. I'm a Christian, but I cannot take the Bible literally. I'm sorry. I might be going to hell for that but at least I'll have a large contingent of scientists and gay people with me.

This comes from:

"Until recently, visitors to the Lincoln Memorial were treated to a unique video presentation in the Legacy Room, a historical summary of the nations greatest civil rights moments: Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and marches for women's rights, homosexual rights, and reproductive freedom. But a powerful conservative group, the Traditional Values Coalition, headed by the Rev. Lou Sheldon, is urging the National Park Service to press the "stop" button on the video.

Instead, TVC wants the Park Service to "show a more balanced presentation", one that highlights less celebrated moments of our nation's history. Renegade Christian filmmaker Jed Rausch has been brought in to consult on the project. He says that he's hoping to construct a filmic testament to the powerful role that ordinary people have played in shaping this country, not just the elites.

"There are so many moments that are just begging to brought into the light," said Rausch, by phone from his home in California. "There are the valiant men and women who led the great crusade for temperance. There are the brave missionaries who brought Christianity to the pagan slave population. What about the untold stories of heroic mothers like Betsy Ross and Mamie Eisenhower? These are the narratives and images that we think should be shared with visitors to the Lincoln Memorial," said the filmmaker. Rausch's credits include, among others, the 2000 sleeper hit "Something About Mary: The Immaculate Conception."

The National Park Service has agreed to modify the current video, but hasn't said yet whether it will consent to air Rausch's version of the nation's history. But Sheldon and his group have good reason to be hopeful. The Park Service recently moved to allow a creationist account of the origins of the Grand Canyon, dating it back to the Great Flood, after a Christian employee joined forces with traditionalist groups to demand that the park stop privileging science over other accounts of history.

Posted by brettdavey at 12:12 PM EST
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Friday, 26 November 2004
Getting my head around a second Bush term
I haven't posted in some time because it's a very busy time for me at work and also because I'm trying to get my head around what a second Bush term means. Like millions of others, I had a lot of emotional investment in Bush's defeat, which is not the same as having a lot of emotional investment in Kerry's victory. (I was fully invested in Wes Clark's presidential bid, but in the end, he played himself by waiting so long to enter the fray. Simply put, he was unprepared politically to be on that stage at that time.)

There are rumblings that Kerry is already considering a second run, which is a patently bad idea. I want a Democrat who is willing to play as dirty as the opposition. If the other side isn't observing Marquis of Queensberry rules, you're a fool if you continue acting like you're in a fair fight.

This is not the same thing as judging a man's competence. As the campaign went on, I grew to respect Kerry and actually believe that he would make a good president. Most importantly, I was excited about the prospect of a new Cabinet. Bloggers level scathing indictments of Rumsfield, Powell, Cheney, and the rest every day, but to me the single most important adjective to describe them is inept. They're simply incompetent.

Now, witness the purge taking place at the CIA. In essence, the Bush loyalists who came up with the faulty WMD evidence the Administration wanted are being elevated. Those who came up with evidence that turned out to be correct are being ferreted out. So, in the end, incompetence is being rewarded.

Feel safer?

I can only shrug at the expected Cabinet resignations. Powell turned out to be a lapdog. In many ways, the Paiges, Abrahams, and Evans of the world were just front men who voiced the desires of the corporations that clearly own the soul of this administration. And yes, it's good that Ashcroft is gone but Gonzalez, the chief architect of the American torture doctrine, is replacing him. Is that good? Think about all those people who were recently released from Guantanamo with no charges ever being filed against them. If you were unjustly held in near-solitary confinement for two years, what would you do when you were released? I'd be looking for revenge.

We've created a whole new group of enemies there and in Iraq as well. Call them Revenge Terrorists. And there's not much difference from what they will be and what the US has turned into. Our retribution has been indiscriminate, with little regard for the tens of thousands of innocents we have killed. Expect the same from those looking for revenge.

Today, I heard that two soliders were killed on Thanksgiving in Iraq. It made me flinch. Does anyone care? Is America so sedated from a concoction of reality television, fast food, and porno that it doesn't matter?

There's a numbing redundancy to these stories about 50 or 60 year old reservists who thought they'd never serve another day in the military being called back to action. There's a blatant disregard for the lives of our soldiers that is the M.O. of this administration. And still, the perception is that Republicans care more about the military. It's a myth like the grilled cheese sandwich that resembles the Virgin Mary and sold for $28,000. Still, people want to believe in it.

Did the ignorant fools in this Administration really think the insurgents were going to hang around in Fallujah while we announced weeks beforehand that we were getting ready for a major attack?

It makes me think of the scene in "Stripes" with John Larroquette as an ambitious, empty headed officer. He's sitting in his office, playing war with a bunch of toy soldiers and tanks, adding in his own sound effects of guns firing and soldiers screaming.

That's what W is doing. Sadly, the screams of soldiers and innocent civilians are real. And tragically, more than half of America doesn't care.

Posted by brettdavey at 8:41 AM EST
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Wednesday, 17 November 2004
P.S. Your party hates you
Normally, I'm not at all interested in someone's sexual orientation. I admit to some fascination, however, with closeted homosexuals in positions of power in the Republican Party. It's compelling in the same way an African-American belonging to the KKK is.

Message to gay Republicans: your party thinks you're a deviant freak who can be "cured."

This is from

The National Field Director and deputy political director for the Republican National Committee Daniel Gurley solicited unprotected sex and multiple sex partners in an online profile at, in seeming contradiction with the Party's call for abstinence and positions on gay issues.

His adult chat profile soliciting men for unprotected sex and said he has sex three to five times weekly was discovered yesterday by activist Michael Rogers of

Gurley admitted to RAW STORY Tuesday he had a profile in his America Online screenname.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:40 AM EST
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Children as guinea pigs
George W. Bush is the worst American president in a number of areas, including the environment. Essentially, he thinks the Dow Chemicals of the world should be in charge of our environmental policy.

This is from a website called

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by Bush appointees, is seeking input on a new proposed study in which infants in participating low income families will be monitored for health impacts as they undergo exposure to known toxic chemicals over the course of two years. The study entitled Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) will look at how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by children ranging from babies to 3 years old.

For taking part in these studies, each family will receive $970, a free video camera, a T-shirt, and a framed certificate of appreciation.

In October, the EPA received $2.1 million to do the study from the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry front group that includes members such as Dow, Exxon, and Monsanto. Critics of the research, including some EPA scientists, claim the study's funders guarantee the results will be biased in favor of the chemical industry, at the expense of the health of the impoverished children serving as test subjects.

For 30 years the ACC has known the high level of toxicity of the specific chemicals being "studied" in this project. These are some of the most dangerous known chemicals in household products. The ACC knows full well the intensely negative impacts that these chemicals have on humans, as does the EPA. This is fully documented in study after study and memo after memo and meeting after meeting over three decades.

The trick here is that these products are known to have negative long term health effects. This is a short two year study. The results are already known...there will be little to no obvious negative effects on these children at the end of the two year period. The seemingly positive results of the study will allow the ACC to advertise positive "EPA study results" to the public, which will allow the ACC to more effectively lobby congress to weaken regulations on these products even more (thereby increasing profits dramatically). This technique has been exercised by the ACC for decades.

The real negative effects of these types of chemicals come further down the road, when these children could exhibit learning disorders, a propensity for various types of cancer, early puberty, and birth defects in their children.

Participants for the study were chosen from 6 health clinics and three hospitals in Jacksonville, FL. These medical facilities report that 51% of their births are to non-white mothers and 62% of mothers have only received an elementary or secondary education.

Posted by brettdavey at 9:35 AM EST
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