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06.11 How a nonprofit turned Baltimore County school storage rooms into a free general store for students in need

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06.14 The Trump administration is waging a quiet war on education

06.11 Underpaid Adjunct Professors Sleep in Cars and Rely on Public Aid [The disease of rapacious-capitalism infects the education system]

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Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

06.15 'The Changes Are Really Accelerating': Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt

06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]

06.15 Climate crisis: aviation industry hears clamour for electric planes

06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]

06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]

06.14 The Trans Mountain pipeline is a disaster – but Trudeau can make it right

06.14 The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Portugal, study finds

06.14 Climate crisis: Alaska is melting and it’s likely to accelerate global heating

06.13 Chemical companies at centre of Guardian's Cancer Town series face state legal action [7:56 video]

06.12 'This is not a "what if" story': Tokyo braces for the earthquake of a century

06.12 Plant Species Have Been Disappearing 500 Times Faster Than Normal, Thanks to Humans

06.12 Atmospheric carbon levels are leaping. We can't afford more years like this

06.12 Politics as Usual and Planetary Destruction

06.12 Most 'meat' in 2040 will not come from dead animals, says report

06.11 Forest twice size of UK destroyed in decade for big consumer brands – report

06.11 Twice as many plants have gone extinct than birds, mammals, and amphibians combined

06.11 NOAA forecasts very large ‘dead zone’ for Gulf of Mexico

06.10 Conservatives should change how they think about global warming. I did [Another crisis issue conservatives won't acknowledge...]

06.10 Scottish Power to build vast battery to improve wind energy supply [Who won't understand this?]

06.10 Greenpeace activists board BP oil rig as it is towed out to sea [Fossil fuel company conduct should be illegal...]

06.09 Racism as a Public Health Crisis

06.08 GreenWay Reaches 100 EV Fast Chargers In Poland!

06.07 The Other Climate Threat is Fear & Apathy: We can Fix this by Voting in a Manhattan Project

06.07 Toyota speeds up electric vehicle schedule as demand heats up

06.07 For 'Challenging Us All to Confront the Realities of the Climate Crisis,' Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future Movement Win Amnesty's Top Human Rights Award

06.07 Purpose in Life Protects Against Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults

06.07 All New British Columbia Light-Duty Vehicles Will Be Zero Emissions By 2040

06.07 Caribbean Solar Update: Curacao Solar Saves 10% In Energy Costs; Montecristi In The DR Doubles To 116 MW

06.07 Santiago (Chile) Adding 200 Electric Buses In 2019

06.07 Single-Payer Reform—“Medicare for All”

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06.15 China's Expanding Media Dominance in Africa

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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]

06.15 Hard Times in the Imperial Valley

06.15 Ro Khanna Forces Beltway Bandit to Refund Millions From Price Gouging

06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]

06.14 Do Your Jobs: Sick and Dying, They Brought Themselves Down Here to Speak - To No One

06.14 The Case for Reparations [5:31 video]

06.14 Bernie Sanders just made a brilliant defense of democratic socialism

06.14 Texas Progressive Jessica Cisneros Announces Primary Challenge to Unseat "Trump's Favorite Democrat" in Congress

06.13 Elizabeth Warren Has a Plan for Everything — Except Health Care

06.13 Where do the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on the key issues?

06.13 Hidden Figures Way: Nasa renames street to honor black female mathematicians

06.13 Why are we still pretending 'trickle-down' economics work? [We aren't ‘laffing’ now! In Trump-world all the worst people are celebrated. Ref.: 3:07 Idiocracy Courtroom Scene]

06.13 What’s actually in the Green New Deal, explained with a video [7:30 video]

06.13 Even the 1% Know They Aren't Paying Their Fair Share: New Poll Shows 60% of Millionaires Support Warren's Ultra-Wealth Tax

Justice Matters

06.14 Justice Denied, Delayed, or Done Right? Serious Concerns as Prosecutors Throw Out Charges in Flint Water Crisis Cases [A very flawed prosecution using suspiciously limited evidence has been thrown out, a stronger case will be brought using newly found, voluminous evidence.]

High Crimes

06.12 'Sea Rescues Have Been Criminalized' as German Boat Captain Faces 20 Years in Prison For Saving Refugees

06.11 Hundreds of North Korean execution sites identified, says rights group

Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

06.11 Capitalism isn't 'broken'. It's working all too well - and we're the worse for it

06.11 The problem with billionaires fighting climate change? The billionaires [Bloomberg's sanity to control greed to save the life-on-earth (and continuing profits) is unfortunately rare]

06.09 Elizabeth Warren’s economic nationalism vision shows there's a better way [As like championed by Economist Joseph Stiglitz]

International & Futurism

06.15 Africa’s Lost Kingdoms

06.15 Homophobic and transphobic hate crimes surge in England and Wales

06.15 Extinction Rebellion protesters stop rush-hour traffic in London

06.15 Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill amid protest pressure [1:37 video]

06.15 The US must stand with the people of Hong Kong [But this attacks Xi's authoritarianism, which Trump is most envious of for himself...]

06.14 As Angus Taylor ducks, weaves and dithers, China zooms past

06.13 What does it mean to be genetically Jewish? [Doing a mental dance with archanery: could a significant number of Russians and Palestinians be intentionally included or excluded as genetically Jewish? And why would Israel do this?]

06.13 Two oil tankers struck in suspected attacks in Gulf of Oman

06.13 Theresa May’s carbon emissions plan will fail if the chancellor remains complacent

06.12 Hong Kong: police use rubber bullets as protesters vow 'no retreat' [1:34 video]

06.12 French medics warn health service is on brink of collapse

06.12 Leaked documents reveal Russian effort to exert influence in Africa

06.12 Extending the US Embargo on Cuba & Hurting the People [Doing what's cruelest]

06.12 Annexation Without Citizenship Is Apartheid

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  Groups Challenge EPA's 'Industry friendly' Pesticide Rules
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ENVIRONMENT:

Groups Challenge EPA’s ‘Industry friendly’ Pesticide Rules

by Michelle Chen
EPA scientists and employees have sent a letter to the EPA administrator, protesting rushed studies and demanding that no chemical be approved unless the "EPA can state with scientific confidence that these pesticides will not harm the neurological development of our nation's born and unborn children."
June 1--Two recent actions by environmental health watchdogs foreshadow a showdown between corporations and public-interest advocates over the safety of toxins marketed as pesticides.

On May 24, a coalition of Environmental Protection Agency employees and scientists issued a public letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson accusing the Agency of coddling pesticide companies. The writers urged greater scrutiny of the potential health impact of two classes of toxic pesticides currently in use.

On Tuesday, the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) raised further suspicions about collusion between the agency and corporate interests by publicizing notes from an August 2005 meeting between EPA officials and pesticide-industry representatives. The meeting records suggest that industry leaders want to use human research subjects to prove the safety of toxic pesticides.

The tension between EPA's internal dissenters and the industry is mounting under a looming deadline for the scientific assessment of two similar classes of pesticides: organophosphates and carbamates. The assessments, mandated by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA), are intended to establish safe levels of human exposures. The EPA has been evaluating pesticides in the two groups for several years, and about 20 chemicals are still awaiting final decisions by an August 3 deadline.

In their letter, the EPA scientists and employees argued that many of the risk assessments of previous years had cut corners.

"In the rush to meet the August 2006 FQPA statutory deadline," the co-signers wrote, "many steps in the risk-assessment and risk-management process are being abbreviated or eliminated in violation of the principles of scientific integrity and objectivity by which we as public servants are bound."

In the 1990s, the authors argued, although some risk assessments had led to limited restrictions on certain uses of organophosphates, the EPA had failed to fully assess residential and occupational exposure hazards. It ignored, for example, the impact on children of farm workers who accompany their parents in the fields.

Citing the need for further research, the authors called on the agency to stop approving the use of the remaining organophosphate and carbamates in the reassessment process "until EPA can state with scientific confidence that these pesticides will not harm the neurological development of our nation's born and unborn children."

Exposing the other side of the pesticide controversy, PEER publicized notes from a closed-door meeting on August 9, 2005, attended by EPA and White House Office of Management and Budget officials as well as pesticide-industry interests, including Bayer CropScience and the trade association CropLife America. The hastily scrawled notes, which were pulled from a public EPA administrative docket, articulate the pesticide industry's demands for certain regulatory policies that would help them obtain data to keep controversial plant and animal poisons on the market.

"Pesticides have benefits. Rule should say so. Testing, too, has benefits," reads one statement.

One type of testing that the industry finds beneficial--despite an outcry from public-interest groups--involves the use of humans.

The notes circulated by PEER tie the prospect of human testing to the FQPA evaluations. A statement attributed to industry lobbyist Jim Aidala urges the EPA to devise a favorable testing protocol so the industry can "proceed ASAP" and cites concerns that the process "won't be able to meet the FQPA deadline."

Several months after that meeting, the EPA exceeded the industry's expectations by finalizing official procedures for human testing of pesticides. Effective as of April 7, 2006, the EPA's testing protocol allows some human testing with oversight from a designated "Human Studies Review Board" and places restrictions on research using pregnant women and children.

But environmental groups have denounced the EPA's protocol as rife with ethical loopholes, suggesting it prioritizes the industry's interests over science in the public interest.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, said the industry saw human testing as "central to their regulatory strategy" because it might yield data that counters the intense adverse effects observed in animal studies.

"The most valuable subjects, from the industry's point of view, are going to be children," Ruch told The NewStandard, because regulatory oversight is heavily focused on how pesticides influence early development.

The FQPA requires a much higher health standard for pesticides that could affect the health of children and fetuses.

PEER pointed out that in describing possible uses of children as research subjects, the notes display the phrase, "Kids—never say never.... Can't know without testing."

"Closed-door discussions about using children as chemical guinea pigs," commented Ruch. "I'm not sure if it gets too much worse than that."

A backgrounder on the EPA website concedes that organophosphates, about 77 million pounds of which are doused on the country's crops, lawns and other areas each year, are associated with chronic and acute health problems including nerve damage and paralysis.

Groups objecting to human testing say history raises concerns that it could facilitate unethical testing practices, such as the outsourcing of human trials to other countries, or research on prison inmates and neglected children.
Pesticide Action Network of North America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other advocacy groups have sued the EPA to block the human-subjects rule. The groups say history raises concerns that the EPA's plan could facilitate unethical testing practices, such as the outsourcing of human trials to other countries, or research on prison inmates and neglected children without sufficient informed-consent rules.

In a joint response to PEER, leaders of CropLife America and another trade association, Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, alleged that PEER's criticisms revealed fears that human studies could invalidate arguments against pesticide use. "PEER may be anticipating EPA scientific findings not to their liking and are setting the stage for future disagreement and potential litigation," they said.

In an interview with TNS, Allan Noe, a spokesperson for CropLife America, dismissed the ethical and public-health concerns of PEER and other groups, stating that the company supported testing only on "healthy, non-pregnant adults." CropLife endorses human-based research "under carefully controlled conditions and only when absolutely called for," he said.

But Susan Kegley, a senior scientist with the Pesticide Action Network, suspects that the push for human testing reflects not a genuine interest in protecting health but rather, the industry's eagerness to manipulate science.

"The only reason human testing is quote 'necessary' is to increase industry profits," she said. "You will only find them using human tests that raise the acceptable amount you can be exposed to, and decrease protections for people."
© 2006 The NewStandard. All rights reserved. The NewStandard is a non-profit publisher. This article is reprinted with permission from The NewStandard, which encourages noncommercial reproduction of its content. Visit newstandardnews.net for more information.


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on June 2, 2006.
 

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