Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haitian Amnesty - A humane decision for temporary refuge in America

Haitian Amnesty. WSJ Editorial
A humane decision for temporary refuge in America.
WSJ, Jan 16, 2010

The Obama Administration acted properly, and humanely, late yesterday in extending temporary amnesty to Haitians who were illegally inside the U.S. before this week's catastrophic earthquake. Some 30,000 Haitians had been awaiting deportation but will now be allowed to stay in the U.S. and work for another 18 months.

You might even call this amnesty of a sort, if we can use that politically taboo word. But we hope even the most restrictionist voices on the right and in the labor movement will understand the humanitarian imperative. The suffering and chaos since the earthquake should make it obvious that Haiti is no place to return people whose only crime was coming to America to escape the island's poverty and ill-governance.

For that matter, we don't mind if they stay here permanently. Haitian immigrants as a group are among America's most successful, which demonstrates that Haiti's woes owe more to corruption, disdain for property rights and lack of public safety than to any flaw in its people. Their remittances to Haiti also help to sustain the impoverished population. Haitians received some $1.65 billion from overseas in 2006, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

We can argue later about whether to make this temporary amnesty permanent, but for now the U.S. decision to let the Haitians stay is evidence of the generosity that Americans typically show in a crisis.

FDA Decision on Chemical BPA Gets Mixed Review: "ACSH scientists are glad a ban was avoided but remain disappointed"

FDA Decision on Chemical BPA Gets Mixed Review: "ACSH scientists are glad a ban was avoided but remain disappointed."
ACSH, January 15, 2010

New York NY -- January 15th, 2010. The American Council on Science and Health applauds today's decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to ban the plastic hardener bisphenol-A (BPA). Despite heavy pressure from various activist "environmental" groups, the FDA has not placed any restrictions on the chemical's use in consumer products but rather decided to "support" industry's decisions to reduce exposure to BPA in food-related products aimed at infants and children. FDA is also "facilitating" the development of alternatives to BPA in infant formula cans.

FDA stopped well short of a ban on this common and useful chemical, which has been in safe use in a wide spectrum of consumer products for over 50 years. ACSH scientists are pleased but remain disappointed that the FDA review and recommendations deviated at all from sound science -- by showing concern for hypothetical and non-existent health risks. ACSH's medical director, Dr. Gilbert Ross, said: "BPA has been among the most well-studied substances known to man, and repeated evaluation by respected scientific bodies worldwide has without fail deemed BPA safe as typically used. Our publication on BPA remains quite relevant today: we found that BPA is safe for all ages, including infants and children."

Another key fact is that since BPA became commonplace in the lining of canned goods, foodborne illness from canned foods -- including botulism -- has virtually disappeared. Any possible new replacement could not have the same record of testing and safety as has been shown for BPA.

ACSH's president, Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, added, "The fear campaign against BPA promoted by a few activist groups has been based solely on flimsy animal research. Recently, lacking real science to support their alarmist claims, some labs have tried 'novel approaches to test for subtle effects,' as the FDA report states. This is not how human risk assessment should be carried out. If there were any real adverse health effects from exposure to BPA, such effects would have become manifest long ago and would not have required bizarre tests in a few advocate's labs."

ACSH's associate director, Jeff Stier, pointed out: "This finding should put the matter to rest. The current FDA is very cautionary. After taking all this extra time to re-study the issue, the fact that they are keeping BPA on the market speaks volumes about the safety of the product. If BPA were endangering children, they'd have never left it on the market."

See also: ACSH's earlier official statement on The Facts About Bisphenol A.

For media contact, including interviews, please call:

Dr. Elizabeth Whelan (WhelanE[at] 917-439-8043
Dr. Gilbert Ross (RossG[at] 516-581-8400
Jeff Stier (StierJ[at] 646-245-1443