Saturday, May 15, 2010

Press Briefing

May 15, 2010

The White House Blog: Developing Our Sustainable Future. By Secretary Shaun Donovan on May 14, 2010 at 06:32 PM EDT

Weekly Address: President Obama "Wall Street Reform Will Bring Greater Security to Folks on Main Street"

Transmittal of the New START Treaty Documents to the United States Senate

A late look at a troubling treaty - On New START

Briefing On the U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue. By Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Washington, DC, May 14, 2010

New York Minorities More Likely to Be Frisked

Distorting the Truth About Crime and Race - The New York Times is at it again

Why Liberal Education Matters - The true aim of the humanities is to prepare citizens for exercising their freedom responsibly

Obama's Union Favors - The latest rule change slams the airlines

Hobbling Charter Schools - They often lack the freedom they've been promised

The Fed's Monetary Dissident - 'I really don't think we should be guaranteeing Wall Street a margin by guaranteeing them a zero or a near zero interest rate.' Talk with

Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig

Very Low Fertility in Asia: Is There a Problem? Can It Be Solved? by Sidney B. Westley, Minja Kim Choe, and Robert D. Retherford. AsiaPacific Issues, No. 94.

Honolulu: East-West Center, May 2010.
Fifty years ago, women in Asia were having, on average, more than five children each, and there was widespread fear of a "population explosion" in the region. Then birth

rates began to fall--in several countries more steeply than anyone had anticipated. This unexpected trend has now raised concerns about the social and economic impact

of extremely low fertility. Today, four of Asia's most prosperous economies--Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan--have among the lowest birth rates in the world.

With women having, on average, only one child each, these societies have expanding elderly populations and a shrinking workforce to pay for social services and drive

economic growth. And in Japan, overall population numbers are already going down. Why are women choosing to have so few children? How are policymakers

responding to these trends? Government leaders have initiated a variety of policies and programs designed to encourage marriage and childbearing, but to what effect?

Given current social and economic trends, it is unlikely that Asia's steep fertility decline will be reversed, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Remarks by the President on the Ongoing Oil Spill Response

Tinkering With Miranda - Eric Holder's gambit on terrorist rights is too clever by half.

Dispatch: Perchlorate in the Water
Reuters Health reports, “Everyday exposure to perchlorate, an industrial chemical found in drinking water and a range of foods, may not impair thyroid function in pregnant women, a new study suggests.” The CDC study found perchlorate in the urine of all 2,820 subjects tested.

“Perchlorate is found in all groundwater, as it is residue of various industrial processes,” explains ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “Doctors use perchlorate in the treatment of overactive thyroid, since it does interfere with thyroid hormone production at sufficiently high doses. You could say it’s an actual endocrine disruptor, in that case.

However, the amount found in drinking water is five orders of magnitude less than the amount needed to affect thyroid function, and it has no effect whatsoever on human health at these environmental levels.

“As this study demonstrated, you can find perchlorate in the tissues or urine of anyone you analyze for it. So the lesson from this story is three-fold: First, environmental perchlorate does not affect thyroid function in pregnant women; second, the dose makes the poison; third, as we’ve always known about biomonitoring, being able to find trace amounts of a substance in someone’s body does not help you predict health outcomes.”

“We have to give credit to Reuters Health for publishing this report about the study,” says ACSH’s Jeff Stier. “All too often, the media reports when a study finds a supposed health hazard, and almost never when a study finds something to be safe. The public is left with a skewed point of view, thinking that every chemical causes every ailment, so it’s nice to see Reuters Health acknowledge that there is such a thing as a non-finding in scientific studies.”

Dispatch: Activist A-List
ACSH staffers can’t help but notice that the list of reviewers enumerated in appendix A of the President’s Cancer Panel’s recent report seems unbalanced.

“The report was an incredible distortion of cancer epidemiology,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “One of the panel’s recommendations to avoid cancer is to take your shoes off before you go into your home. It’s absolutely insane. So it’s no surprise to see how many of the people who contributed their input to the report are affiliated with radical ‘environmentalist’ groups like the Silent Spring Institute, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Environmental Working Group.

“Even the American Cancer Society (ACS), which is generally mute on debates like these, came out and said that the report misrepresented the science of cancer. So my question is: Why haven’t we heard from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on this? There were a number of NCI employees that signed their name to this list, and so far they haven’t stepped up like ACS to point out how unscientific this report is.”

Dispatch: PCBs in Red Hook
New York City officials will be investigating claims that the soil of Brooklyn’s Red Hook Park is contaminated with 110 times the EPA-established limit for the concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which the state claims is a result of effluvia from the nearby, now-defunct manufacturing plant of plastics-additive maker Chemtura Corp.

“There are two questions here that, of course, no one has thought to ask,” says Dr. Ross. “First, has anyone measured PCB levels in anyone in Red Hook to see if they are being affected by this? More importantly, has anyone said there’s an adverse health outcome associated with PCBs at these contaminated sites? It seems to me that this has nothing to do with public health, and is all a question of regulatory adherence.”