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. . .takin’ the “BS” out’a the BlogoSphere (and MSM), one shovel-full at a time

LA Times Tells Why the EPA is a National Disgrace

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Spin by Gutter Grunt Tuesday April 29, 2008 at about 4:08 am

In my day job, which pays the web hosting fees for this blog, I’m a patent lawyer. And the reason I tell you that is to make the point that the US Patent and Trademark Office and the US EPA must be running a race to see which one can do the most damage to the country. There are real issues here that go beyond the normal incompetence we expect from large bureaucracies; there are issues of dishonesty and misleading the public and Congress.

The other thing these agencies have in common is that they are powered by b’cratic mules who, by and large, are competent and who work hard to do a good job. But the damage is done by the high-paid, nano-cephalic, nematode managers, like Jon Dudas and Margaret Peterlin in the USPTO and Stephen Johnson, John Walker, and Alan Rubin of, or formerly of, the EPA, who could screw up a one-car funeral and call it a success.

Now comes a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists telling us what David Lewis, who was the victim of career and character assassination by the EPA, has been hollaring for years: the EPA heavies gag the front line scientists who deliver scientific results that contradict EPA policy. Here is a report from the LA Times. (Thanks, Jo.) Nowhere has this scientific censorship been more of a problem than in the EPA’s suppression of evidence that the EPA’s policy of spreading BS from sea to shining sea was a real, real bad idea.

Gagging people, particularly scientists with hard data, who raise valid criticisms of government policy is the way Stalin worked. It’s the way you breed contempt and distrust of the government. It’s the way you destroy a government.

Fortunately, the US has a federal judiciary, like Judge Alaimo in the US Southern District Court of Georgia and Judge Cacheris in the US Eastern District Court of Virginia, who are more than willing to spank these dangerous governmental thugs if we can just get them into court.

And now, a word from our (other) Canadian sludge warrior . . .

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Spin by Gutter Grunt Sunday April 27, 2008 at about 9:38 pm

When I moved to Canada from Virginia, my Virginia friends said “Won’t it be good to get away from all of this sludge.” Ha, ha, ha, . . . joke’s on me. Some areas of Canada have got to be as stinking bad as anything in the US. Even Buckingham and Appomattox Counties, Virginia. Maybe we should hold a BS tournament and give a golden honey bucket to the most sludged area.

Marueen Reilly has her eye on what’s going down (literally) on both sides of the border. She publishes the e-Newsletter “Sludge Watch.” No one is more determined or more tireless in their efforts to stop the spreading of toxic sludge in Canada and the US than Maureen. My guess is that she knows as much about the subject as anyone living, and I know for sure that her observations are keener than anyone’s, and that includes the academics, who mostly seem to be just following up on her leads.

True to form, Marueen has let rip with a critique of that notorious human experiment carried out in Baltimore:

“Biosolids compost amendment for reducing soil lead hazards: a pilot study amendment and grass seeding in urban yards” by Farfel, Orlova, Chaney, Lees, Rohde, Ashley Science of the Total Environment. 340(1-3):81-95

I have published Maureen’s cutting analysis over at the Mother Site. Link here. She asks some very direct questions about the procedures used, the design, and the results of the study. Mark Farfel and Rufus Chaney ought to do themselves a favor and hire Maureen as a consultant to help them design their next far-fetched, abysmal piece of . . . research.

Tarheels Evaluate BS Risks

Bloged in Miscellaneous by Gutter Grunt Sunday April 27, 2008 at about 8:22 pm

I know nothing about the BS laws and regulations in North Carolina, but judging from recent Emails from Nancy Holt, a sludge warrior/victim near Burlington, N.C, the Tarheel state is even further behind in this dangerous game than Virginia is.

But on the sunny side, you have one of the top-dog b’crat MD’s taking on the uber-lame regulatory branch, and that can only be good for the citizens and bad for Synagro et al. In 2005 Douglas Campbell, head of the Occupational & Environmental Branch of the state health department sent Kim Colson supervisor of the BS Land Application Unit a copy of the health department’s report “Human Health Risk Evaluation of Land Application of Sewage Sludge/Biosolids” and a list of 5 what I would call extremely conservative recommendations regarding BS land application. Here’s a .pdf..

The recommendations are not bad, as far as they go, and the report has some quite interesting and helpful material in it. But it seems to me to be overly focused on the rate of application of nitrates and testing for them in well water. I think I would have recommended, say, testing the BS before it is spread and testing core samples from sludged land at least twice a year for about 50 different potential toxins, at a minimum.

Unlike Virginia, apparently the NC permit procedures do not require local public hearings before permits are issued. It looks like the local governments have virtually no role in the permits. This appears to me to be a clear violation of federal law — namely 33 USC 1345(e), which says that the determination of how BS is disposed of is “a local determination” — no ifs, ands, or butt-heads, Kim. At any rate, due to Nancy’s effective advocacy, NC is about to hold it’s first public hearing on land application of BS.

I’d love to be there for that one.

Johns Hopkins Rolls Out the Sludge-Spin

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Spin by Gutter Grunt Saturday April 26, 2008 at about 10:49 am

When I was an avid listener of National Public Radio, I often noticed that when an interview was on a subject I knew zip about, the interviewer always seemed so brilliant and asked such pointed questions. But when the interview was on a subject within my (admittedly limited) sphere of knowledge, the interviewer seemed clueless and missed every opportunity to deflect or detect spin. An NPR interview on the Johns Hopkins human experiments on Baltimore children is a good example of the later. See my Apr 14 blog post on the experiments.

The interview, dated April 24, was conducted by Farai Chideya. Here’s a link to the audio, it’s about 12 minutes long. (Thanks Maureen) Chideya starts out interviewing John Heilprin, one of the reporters who exposed this Nazi-inspired human research with a series of AP articles, which, apparently isn’t finished yet.

Then Chideya dials into the Hopkins spin machine and gets Dr. Michael Klag, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at JHU. Klag attacks the AP article on the grounds that the BS that was put in the kids’ yards was totally safe because it was Class A, which is the good stuff – Class B is the stuff to worry about. No damage, no foul. What a load of BS.

Does Chideya go after him? Does she point out that Class A sludge has the same exact risks as Class B for being contaminated with pharmaceuticals, thallium, mercury, cadmium, dioxins, drug resistance genes, or any of thousands of additional toxic metals, synthetic organics and biologicals? Does Chideya confront Klag with what Dr. Thomas Burke, who chaired the 2002 NAS report on BS and who is also a professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in the original AP article about the Class A BS that was spread in the kiddie experiments?

“There are potential pathogens and chemicals that are not in the realm of safe,” Burke told the AP. “What’s needed are more studies on what’s going on with the pathogens in sludge — are we actually removing them? The commitment to connecting the dots hasn’t been there.”

Nope, not a single pointed question. Chideya gives this Rovian spin-meister, Klag, the last word: the BS was as safe as mothers’ milk. He was, of course, talking straight to the potential jurors who are going to hear this case when Hopkins gets sued for fraud or when the researchers who conducted the experiments go on trial for child endangerment.

But now it looks like Burke, who, of course works for Klag, is being forced into line. Over at Yahoo.com LINK they have tagged the following note onto an op ed of Apr 21 titled “Of Sludge and Syphilis”:

“Update: A Kennedy Krieger Institute representative has contacted us to dispute the accuracy of the AP report cited. The materials used in the Baltimore study were Class A grade, and are sold commercially for residential use. We spoke with Thomas Burke, one of the experts cited in the original AP report, who confirmed their safety. According to Burke, his quote–and the EPA reports referenced in the article–were referring to the potential hazards of Class B sludge. No correction has yet been posted on the AP website.”

Burke’s retraction is as smelly as his boss’ spin-job. After all, in his original quote to AP Burke is asking the question of whether “we” are actually removing all of the pathogens from the sludge. Well . . . hello – Class A is the only sludge in which any attempt is made to reduce pathogens to acceptable levels. Furthermore, the whole AP interview was about Class A. There was never any confusion about what class was put down. So of course Burke was referring to Class A.

NAACP and B. Boxer Become Sludge Warriors

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Litigation by Gutter Grunt Tuesday April 15, 2008 at about 8:24 am

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I see the AP is reporting that the NCCAP has joined the fray over the Johns Hopkins study sludging the yards of inner city – mostly black – Baltimore families. Gerald Stanbury, head of the Md. NAACP, has put the Md attorney general on notice that the NAACP wants the AG to open criminal and civil cases against the Hopkins people. Here’s a link to one version of the AP story in Delaware Online.

Barbara Boxer, who is ramping up some Senate hearings on BS – not the first, by the way, so don’t get your hopes up – has promised to look at the Baltimore situation.

Yesterday I blogged the earlier AP article about a Hopkins research dude named Mark Farfel, who was the lead lead [sic] investigator in the Baltimore study, and who has a history of designing experiments in which children are exposed to lead. Today Helane sent me a cut-and-paste, but no link, to the most recent AP story on the NAACP. This new AP article also refers to Farfel and his having been chastised by the highest court in Md for his role in prior lead studies.

But, interestingly, when I went looking for the AP article about the NAACP I had trouble finding a complete version.  Parts of the article appears a gad-zillion times, but most of them have edited out any references to Farfel or the previous Hopkins lead study problems. Not even the story posted at AP.org carries the entire story now, even though the meta-data attached to the article still show reference to Farfel, so you can tell the whole complete story was originally posted there and later edited.

Sounds like somebody’s lawyers are at work doing damage-control.

EPA’s Repeated Experiments on Poor Children

Bloged in Miscellaneous, Technology by Gutter Grunt Monday April 14, 2008 at about 2:02 am

In 2001 a justice of Maryland’s highest court implied that the US government, including the EPA, has learned a lot from the Nazis about how to turn innocent and unsuspecting citizens into experimental Guinea pigs.

Justice Cathell juxtaposed the US government’s history of human research against the Nazis’ human research. For example from 1932 until 1972, the US Public Health Service conducted the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study that withheld penicillin and other treatment options from 400 poor black sharecroppers infected with syphilis in order to study the long term effects of the disease. Not only was treatment and diagnosis information withheld from the subjects, but they were blatantly lied to in order to obtain and maintain their cooperation. Link to Wikipedia article.

For decades before, during, and after WWII, the US government approved, funded, and participated in the eugenics craze so admired by Hitler, including incarcerating and forcefully sterilizing of thousands of mentally retarded individuals. Wiki link.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s the US government knowingly and intentionally exposed US servicemen to fallout radiation from atomic bomb tests, and Navajo Indian uranium miners to radioactive mining dust. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the Army and CIA intentionally and secretly poisoned dozens of soldiers with hallucinogens, including LSD. Some committed suicide during their hallucinations. In 1963 Jewish males were unwittingly injected with live cancer cells in a study funded by the US Public Health Services and the American Cancer Society.

Mind you, these are only progroms that became public. These are the tip of the iceberg.

The case Justice Cathell was writing about was a suit brought by Baltimore families over a study funded and approved by the EPA and conducted in the Baltimore inner city projects by a worrisome dude named Mark Farfel, who headed the lead studies wing of one of Johns Hopkins research groups, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Inc. He is now head of the World Trade Center Registry for 9/11 victims. In this first study, which was conducted in the 1990’s, the families were recruited to live in inner city houses that were expected to produce lead dust. The experiment was designed to determine if different methods of reclaiming houses tainted by lead were effective. The way you do that, apparently, is turn kids into your Guinea pigs and see how much lead they accumulate when living in houses with differing lead-histories.

Johns Hopkins people were right in the middle of this mess. Not only did they design the experiments, write the grant applications, and collect the grant money, but the John Hopkins ethics committee approved of the study and advised Farfel on how to twist the grant language so the study would sound like it was of therapeutic benefit to the kids in order to avoid federal scrutiny. It was actually John Hopkin’s Kennedy Krieger Institute that was named in the lawsuit.

Justice Cathell went right through the roof on this case, writing a searing 103 page opinion and comparing Farfel’s experiments to the Nazis’ typhus experiments at Buchenwald . You can get a copy of the opinion here.

Here’s the way the Court described what Farfel and Co did:

“The same researchers had completed a prior study on abatement and partial abatement methods that indicated that lead dust remained and/or returned to abated houses over a period of time. In an article reporting on that study, the very same researchers said: ‘Exposure to lead-bearing dust is particularly hazardous for children because hand-to-mouth activity is recognized as a major route of entry of lead into the body and because absorption of lead is inversely related to particule size.’ Mark R. Farfel & J. Julian Chisolm, Health and Environmental Outcomes of Traditional and Modified Practices for Abatement of Residential Lead-Based Paint, 80 American Journal of Public Health 1240, 1243 (1990). After publishing this report, the researchers began the present research project in which children were encouraged to reside in households where the possibility of lead dust was known to the researcher to be likely, so that the lead dust content of their [i.e., the children’s] blood could be compared with the level of lead dust in the houses at periodic intervals over a two-year period.”

That opinion was written in 2001. Farfel is back in the news today. The AP is reporting [Link] that in a 2005 paper Farfel describes how he and a bunch of his Johns Hopkins buddies went back into a poor Baltimore community and sludged the yards children play in with composted BS. Farfel and a side kick co-author from the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, an agronomist named Rufus Chaney, claimed that by sludging the ground they actually did the kids who play on it a favor because the BS – we’re talking processed human feces here – binds a number of heavy metals, including lead, and so – walla!! – when the kids eat it, the metals should pass through the kids’ digestive tracts without being absorbed. Of course, that’s nothing more than a fat guess of a hypothesis. And they test the hypothesis by exposing the kids to whatever is in the BS.

Great modus operandi – expose children to toxins in the form of lead dust or BS and see what happens. We’ll call this the “John Hopkins Protocol.” Poor children work best because their folks are the least likely to figure out what’s going on, or complain, or sue. According to the AP article: “Chaney said the Baltimore neighborhoods were chosen because they were within an economically depressed area qualifying for tax incentives. He acknowledged the families were not told there have been some safety disputes and health complaints over sludge.”

Right, Rufus, you call that informed consent when you don’t tell them that there could be active pharmaceuticals, drug resistant microbes or at least microbial drug resistant DNA (see my last post), myriad organic toxins, and a whole smorgasbord of heavy metals in the BS? There is not a single word in Farfel’s abstract and summary about analyzing the BS for toxins before they exposed the children to it. Link to the abstract. [I haven’t been able to find the full article.] Nor, as the AP points out, is there any indication of any medical follow up on the children.

Another John Hopkins researcher, Thomas Burke, who was chairman of the famous 2002 National Academy of Sciences sludge review pointed out for the AP that even if sludge does bind lead in the dirt, the sludge could still release the heavy metals for absorption when it hits the acidic environment of the stomach.

More great BS research from the EPA. What we’ve come to expect, I guess. Hopefully, somebody will get their skivvies sued off on this one, too, which is also what we’ve come to expect.

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