Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Fraud and corruption bring big payoffs in weedkiller case

California judges provide stage for kangaroo court justice over Roundup weedkiller

Paul Driessen             

San Francisco area juries have awarded cancer patients some $80 million each, based on claims that the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller, caused their cancer – and that Bayer-Monsanto negligently or deliberately failed to warn consumers that the glyphosate it manufactures is carcinogenic. (It’s not.) Judges reduced the original truly outrageous awards of $289 million and even $1 billion per plaintiff!

Meanwhile, ubiquitous ads are still trolling for new clients, saying anyone who ever used Roundup and now has Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma or other cancer could be the next jackpot justice winner. Mass tort plaintiff law firms have lined up 18,500 additional “corporate victims” for glyphosate litigation alone.

Introduced in 1974, glyphosate is licensed in 130 countries. Millions of farmers, homeowners and gardeners have made it the world’s most widely used herbicide – and one of the most intensely studied chemicals in history. Four decades and 3,300 studies by respected agencies and organizations worldwide have concluded that glyphosate is safe and non-carcinogenic, based on assessments of actual risk.

Reviewers include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, European Food Safety Authority, European Chemicals Agency, UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Germany’s Institute for Risk Assessment, and Australia’s Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. Another reviewer, Health Canada, noted that “no pesticide regulatory authority in the world considers glyphosate to be a cancer risk to humans at the levels at which humans are currently exposed.” Therefore no need to warn anyone.

The National Cancer Institute’s ongoing Agricultural Health Study evaluated 54,000 farmers and commercial pesticide applicators for over two decades – and likewise found no glyphosate-cancer link.

Only the France-based International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), says otherwise – and it based its conclusions on just eight studies. Even worse, IARC manipulated at least some of these studies to get the results it wanted. Subsequent reviews by epidemiologist Dr. Geoffrey Kabat, National Cancer Institute statistician Dr. Robert Tarone, investigative journalist Kate Kelland, “RiskMonger” Dr. David Zaruk and other investigators have demonstrated that the IARC process was tainted beyond repair.

The IARC results should never have been allowed in court. But the judges in the first three cases let the tort lawyers bombard the jury with IARC cancer claims, and went even further. In the Hardeman case, Judge Vincent Chhabria blocked the introduction of EPA analyses that concluded “glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic in humans,” based on its careful review of many of the studies just mentioned.

He said he wanted “to avoid wasting time or misleading the jury, because the primary inquiry is what the scientific studies show, not what the EPA concluded they show.” However, IARC didn’t do any original studies either. It just concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic,” meaning studies it reviewed found limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, plus sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in lab animals that had been exposed to very high doses or lower doses for prolonged periods of time. In other words, under conditions that no animal or human would ever be exposed to in the real world.

It is also instructive to look at the three San Francisco area courtroom proceedings from another angle – an additional line of questioning that would have put glyphosate and Roundup in a very different light, and might have changed the outcome of these trials. Defense attorneys could have asked:

Can you describe your family cancer history ... your eating, exercise and sleeping habits ... how much you eat high-fat foods ... how often you eat fruits and vegetables ... and your other lifestyle choices that doctors and other experts now know play significant roles in whether or not people get cancer?

How many times in your life [Johnson is 47 years old; Hardeman 70; Alva Pilliod 77; Alberta Pilliod 75] do you estimate you were exposed to substances on IARC’s list of Group 1 definite human carcinogens – including sunlight, acetaldehyde in alcoholic beverages, aflatoxin in peanuts, asbestos, cadmium in batteries, lindane ... or any of the 125 other substances and activities in Group 1? Have you ever smoked? How often have you been exposed to secondhand smoke? How often have you eaten bacon, sausage or other processed meats – which are also in Group 1?

How many times have you been exposed to any of IARC’s Group 2A probable human carcinogens – not just glyphosate ... but also anabolic steroids, creosote, diazinon, dieldrin, malathion, emissions from high-temperature food frying, shift work ... or any of the 75 other substances and activities in Group 2A? How often have you consumed beef or very hot beverages – likewise in Group 2A?

How many times have you been exposed to any of IARC’s Group 2B possible human carcinogens – including bracken ferns, chlordane, diesel fuel, fumonisin, inorganic lead, low frequency magnetic fields, malathion, parathion, titanium oxide in white paint, pickled vegetables, caffeic acid in coffee, tea, apples, broccoli, kale, and other fruits and vegetables ... ... or any of the 200 other substances and activities in Group 2B?

Pyrethrin pesticides used by organic farmers are powerful neurotoxins that are very toxic to bees, cats and fish – and have been linked by EPA and other experts to leukemia and other cancers and other health problems. How often have you eaten organic foods and perhaps been exposed to pyrethrins?

Large quantities of glyphosate have been manufactured for years in China and other countries. How do you know the glyphosate you were exposed to was manufactured by Bayer, and not one of them?

In view of all these exposures, please explain how you, your doctors, your lawyers and the experts you consulted concluded that none of your family history ... none of your lifestyle choices ... none of your exposures to dozens or even hundreds of other substances on IARC’s lists of carcinogens ... caused or contributed to your cancer – and that your cancer is due solely to your exposure to glyphosate.

Put another way, please explain exactly how you and your experts separated and quantified all these various exposures and lifestyle decisions – and concluded that Roundup from Bayer-Monsanto was the sole reason you got cancer – and all these other factors played no role whatsoever.

News accounts do not reveal whether Bayer-Monsanto lawyers asked these questions – or whether they tried to ask them, but the judges disallowed the questions. In any event, the bottom line is this:

It is bad enough that the IARC studies at the center of these jackpot justice lawsuits are the product of rampant collusion, misconduct and even fraud in the way IARC concluded glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” It is worse that these cancer trials have been driven by plaintiff lawyers’ emotional appeals to jurors’ largely misplaced fears of chemicals and minimal knowledge of chemicals, chemical risks, medicine and cancer – resulting in outrageous awards of $80 million or more.

Worst of all, our Federal District Courts have let misconduct by plaintiff lawyers drive these lawsuits; prevented defense attorneys from effectively countering IARC cancer claims and discussing the agency’s gross misconduct; and barred defense attorneys from presenting the extensive evidence that glyphosate is not carcinogenic to humans. The trials have been textbook cases of kangaroo court justice.

The cases are heading to appeal, ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. We can only hope appellate judges will return sanity, fairness and justice to the nation’s litigation process. Otherwise our legal system will be irretrievably corrupted; products, technologies, companies and industries will likely be driven out of existence; and fraud, emotion and anarchy will reign.

Jackpot-justice law firms and their anti-chemical activist allies are already targeting cereals that have “detectable” levels of glyphosate: a few parts per billion or trillion, where 1 ppt is equivalent to 1 second in 32,000 years. Talc and benzene – foundations for numerous consumer products – are already under attack. Advanced technology neonicotinoid pesticides could be next.

It’s all part of a coordinated, well-funded attack on America, free enterprise and technology, using social media, litigation, intimidation and confrontation. Our legislatures and courts need to rein it in.

Via email

Our world has serious problems. Having more babies can help solve them

I am a bit reluctant in posting this.  I LIKE the idea of Greenies refusing to have babies. Getting them out of the gene pool would be a plus for rationality

by Jeff Jacoby

If he's lucky, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor may get a sibling. But he's not getting more than one.

That's according to his father, Britain's Prince Harry, who avowed in an interview with the legendary primatologist Jane Goodall for the new issue of British Vogue that he and Meghan Markle plan to have no more than two children. That isn't because they've always craved a cozy family of four. It's because they think that having more in an era of climate change would be environmentally greedy and irresponsible.

"Two, maximum!" Harry replied when Goodall remarked that the couple should have "not too many" kids.

"We are the one species on this planet that seems to think that this place belongs to us, and only us," said the prince, quickly noting that he doesn't think so: "I've always thought this place is borrowed. And, surely, being as intelligent as we all are ... we should be able to leave something better behind for the next generation."

As several observers promptly noted, If Harry really wanted to reduce his carbon footprint, he could start with his current lifestyle.

"To make any difference to planet Earth," wrote John Vidal in the Guardian, Harry and his family "really must stop taking those private jets to Jamaica, the luxury safaris in Botswana, the weddings in Montego Bay, the impromptu winter getaways in Tromsø, the 'babymoons' in Australia and New York, the downtime on Mediterranean islands, and the quick flights to Fiji."

But not having (more) children? That's no way to save the world.

One of the saddest phenomena of our time is the way childlessness is being promoted as a virtue.

In an Instagram video in February, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that climate change makes it "legitimate" and "moral" for young people to question whether it is "still OK to have children." On HBO's Real Time, Bill Maher extolled millennials "for doing something right" — having fewer children. "I can't think of a better gift to our planet than pumping out fewer humans to destroy it," he said to cheers and applause.

Just last month, entertainer Miley Cyrus ranted in a foul-mouthed interview with Elle magazine that the earth is "exhausted" and "can't produce" and has become a "piece-of-shit planet" not worth bequeathing to children. "Until I feel like my kid would live on an earth with fish in the water," she declared, "I'm not bringing in another person to deal with that." Hundreds of women have joined Birthstrike, a group for those who have decided "not to bear children due to the severity of the ecological crisis." Those are just a few examples of the trend; there is no shortage of others.

I acknowledge the anxiety and alarm that many people feel about the environment. But if they want to make the world better, the way to do so is not by depriving it of more children.

It is an inescapable fact of life that to be born is to suffer, to struggle, and to stumble. There has never been an age in which that wasn't true, and people in most ages have contended with far more daunting fates than a warmer climate: war, famine, slavery, poverty, plague. Not having children may spare theoretical offspring from inheriting a world with terrible problems. But it also denies the world the ultimate resource for fixing those problems — human intelligence, imagination, and grit.

The Talmud records that when the enslavement of the Hebrews in ancient Egypt grew unbearable, their leaders advised couples to stop having babies — why raise more children to face a life of slavery? Eventually one of those leaders was persuaded he was wrong, and that childrearing should go on even in the teeth of murderous oppression. So he and his wife had another baby. That baby, named Moses, became the liberator who led his people to freedom.

Every time parents bring children into a world where things have gone badly wrong, they improve the odds that there will someone to help set things right. In addition to all the other reasons to have children, there is this soaring utilitarian reality: More people make the world a better place.

The number of human beings has nearly quadrupled over the past century, and mankind is flourishing as never before. People live longer, healthier, and more comfortable lives. They are better fed, better housed, and better clothed. Age-old evils — slavery, genocide, child mortality, illiteracy, world wars, deaths from natural disasters, and absolute poverty — have been dramatically curbed, if not yet vanquished altogether. Thanks to advances made possible by human innovation, insight, and effort, fearful threats have been quelled and deadly diseases cured. From agriculture to air travel to the abundance of consumer goods, the lot of ordinary men, women, and children has improved beyond anything even the most utopian optimist could have forecast in 1920.

Parenthood isn't for everyone. But the human race needs more people, just as it always has. If you're alarmed by the state of the world, bring more children into it. There's no telling how humanity may be blessed tomorrow from the babies you raise today.


Study Shows The Electric Scooter Trend Isn't That Great For the Environment

If you've been in a city recently, you've probably seen people whizzing by on all kinds of electric scooters. These vehicles are strewn across sidewalks, parked outside office spaces, and seem to be the hottest form of transportation. Typically riders rent the scooters via apps from companies like Bird, Lyft, and Uber. Many who take them do so out of convenience but also believe they are more environmentally friendly versus a car a city or bus. However, a new report shows that these scooters are actually not that great for the planet.

But, Axios reports that "Electric scooters are often worse for climate change when compared to the transportation methods they’re displacing, according to what is likely the first-ever peer-reviewed study on the new trend."

Specifically, "results show that dockless e-scooters consistently result in higher life cycle global warming impacts relative to the use of a bus with high ridership, an electric bicycle, or a bicycle per passenger-mile traveled. However, choosing an e-scooter over driving a personal automobile with a fuel efficiency of 26 miles per gallon results in a near-universal decrease in global warming impacts."

The same report finds that about half the riders say they would have walked if the scooter was not there. This means  that "e-scooters are the less climate-friendly option about two-thirds of the time."

"While e-scooters may be an effective solution to urban congestion and last-mile problem, they do not necessarily reduce environmental impacts from the transportation system," the report notes.  This is because the scooters are picked up individuals via cars who then charge the scooters overnight.

On average, they found scooters cause 202 grams of climate pollution per mile. Because early models tended to last less than a year, their production made up half of their life-cycle impact. Daily collection for charging and redistribution with mostly gasoline-powered vehicles made up another 43%.

“While the scooters themselves don’t have tailpipes,” one researcher said, “the cars that were picking them up largely did.”

The report says that while the scooters may be changing the way we think about transportation, the new devices still have a long way to go before they are friendly for the environment.


Conservatives Propose Roll Back of Obama's Job-Killing Waters Rule

Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Mike Braun (R-IN) proposed legislation Thursday that would roll back former President Barack Obama’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation. WOTUS was a hallmark regulation of Obama’s climate change agenda.
Sens. Braun and Ernst have introduced the Define WOTUS Act to reassert congressional authority and rein in Obama’s WOTUS regulation.

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers created the WOTUS regulation that loosely defined federally regulated “navigable waters,” which would allow the EPA and other authorities to greatly regulate many waterways across the country and harm American agriculture and manufacturing. Many experts and conservatives charge that the Obama WOTUS rule would allow federal government to regulate every creek and pond in America. WOTUS gave the federal government authority to regulate water use on 247 million acres of federal farmland.

The WOTUS rule served as part of Obama’s climate agenda, which included the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris climate treaty.

Sen. Braun said in a press release Thursday that Congress needs to take action to roll back the WOTUS rule and help Hoosier farmers impacted by “job-killing regulations” such as WOTUS.

The Hoosier Republican said:

“President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working hard to fix this atrocious Obama-era rule. But as the Administration has repeatedly noted, it’s Congress job to write laws. the Define WOTUS Act will solidify and amplify the Administration’s work on WOTUS. I am proud to join with President Trump who is doing a tremendous job deregulating these job-killing regulations that hurt Hoosier farmers and those who reside in the Heartland of America.

Many farmers have suffered under the WOTUS rule. In 2017, one California farmer was fined $2.8 million by federal and state regulators for plowing his own field.

Although President Donald Trump’s EPA has moved to repeal the WOTUS rule, it remains possible that a future Democrat administration could move to reenact the law.

Sens. Ernst and Braun’s legislation would set a far less onerous definition of federally regulated “navigable waters,” preventing future Democrats from expanding the definition and thereby overregulating American farmlands.

Sen. Ernst said the Obama WOTUS rule threatened small businesses across Iowa and that the bill will provide certainty for farmers and manufacturers across the country. The Iowa conservative said:

The Obama-era WOTUS rule threatened Iowa’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of land in our state. President Trump and his administration have taken tremendous steps to roll back this far-reaching regulation and provide for more certainty with a new, clearer definition of WOTUS.

Although some Americans may remain concerned that the senators’ legislation may lead to increased pollution, the bill would allow states to better regulate local waterways. The Clean Water Act only determines what federal bureaucrats can regulate; whereas, Congress has long meant for states to have broader authority over water regulation, which explains why Congress did not include federal control of groundwater in the Clean Water Act.

The legislation would allow states to better manage waterways in a manner that better helps their state. For instance, snowpack melt may not impact Indiana as much as Utah or Colorado, and wetlands are not common in the Dakotas but are common in Indiana.

Sen. Ernst said that the legislation would help Iowans by creating a fairer definition of the Obama WOTUS rule.

The Iowa senator said “it’s the job of Congress to make a new, reasonable definition permanent, and that’s what this bill does—it ensures more predictability and workability for Iowans for years to come.”


Joe Biden Pledges to Destroy the Coal Industry

The Trump campaign reacted with a mixture of disgust and glee Wednesday night when former Vice President Joseph R. Biden pledged to get rid of the coal and natural-gas fracking industries.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted, “Bye bye coal, Democrats & @JoeBiden just said they are done with you. How do you feel about that Pennsylvania?”

During the debate in Detroit, Mr. Biden was asked if he would eliminate coal and fracking if elected president.

“We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those,” Mr. Biden declared with a wave of his hand.

Team Trump’s reaction showed that the president’s campaign believes Mr. Biden made the kind of blunder that would haunt him if he wins the Democratic nomination.

The Trump War Room tweeted a video clip of Mr. Biden’s answer, with the message, “Joe Biden promises to kill the job of every American who works with fossil fuels.”

American Conservative Union President Matt Schlapp wrote on Twitter, “Say goodbye to MI PA WV OH and IN Democrats. No fossils fuels no coal no fracking means these states are screwed.”



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