Cheney calls Iraq “quagmire”

August 12, 2007

Santayana’s ghost* e-mailed to call attention to this interview with Vice President Dick Cheney, in which he tells the errors of invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.

Unfortunately, the interview was with Dick Cheney in 1994, when he was ex-Secretary of Defense, hanging out with the American Enterprise Institute.

Talk about condemned to repeat the errors of history!

* In this case, in the guise of son, Kenny.

Power of a community with common purpose

August 12, 2007

There is a lesson in here about common purpose, maybe even one about democratic action as opposed to a rigid patriarchy (though I confess, I don’t know that water cape buffalo don’t also have a rigid patriarchy).

In any case, the large, gentle creatures beat out two competing, sharp-toothed predators, to save a calf. Parents uniting can do great things.

Amazing video, really:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Telic Thoughts — the most thoughtful post they’ve had there in some time.

DDT’s disruption of hormone activities

August 12, 2007

Critics of Rachel Carson and sponsors of the anti-science, anti-environmentalist campaign to bring back DDT as a major killer, frequently misinform in very selective ways. For example, they like to mention DDT’s role in causing human cancers, because, they claim Rachel Carson was dead wrong about that link. Therefore, they say, DDT is a nice chemical and bans should be lifted.

In reality, carcinogenicity played a very small role in banning DDT. DDT was banned because it kills indiscriminately, killing beneficial insects along with the bad, killing untargeted species, like songbirds, along with the insect targets; and DDT was banned because once released into the wild, it is very long-lived, and its ultimate destructive effects cannot be known or controlled — though some harms, such as the devestation of America’s birds of prey, are extremely well documented.

Similarly, the anti-science crowd doesn’t like to talk about the third big area where DDT produces harms: Hormone disruption. In fact, Steven Milloy’s “100 things you should know about DDT” at the site that peddles junk science,, does not even contain the word “hormone.”

They play down the fact that DDT and its by-products disrupt reproductive processes, and sometimes disrupt and deform reproductive organs, of nearly every animal it touches. They don’t want you to know about the hormonal effects of DDT and its breakdown products.

So, they never mention books like the National Academy of Sciences’ compilation of the harms of such chemicals, Hormonally Active Agents in the Environment.

Milloy will misquote the NAS when NAS mentions slightly the benefits of DDT; Milloy will not quote NAS when they cite the dangers of DDT. So this book on hormonally active agents, which mentions DDT specifically in 16 chapters for a total of 309 times, will never be mentioned in a discussion of DDT’s dangers — unless you bring it up.

Go see what the book says in the Executive Summary. If you debate the anti-Rachel Carson crowd, use this book frequently — they will have no answers.

And, Sen. Tom Coburn, are you listening? Since when do your constituents want you to defend a chemical which will ruin their farm animals, and especially the ducks they want to hunt? It’s time to quit trying to tarnish the memory of Rachel Carson, Sen. Coburn, and let that post office in Pennsylvania be named after her.

Original Documents: Long history of DDT trouble, from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1945 and later

August 12, 2007

Header of FWS press release, Aug 22 1945

Archives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reveal a long history of trouble with DDT, almost from the first uses of the chemical as an insecticide during World War II. You’ll find extensive links to historic press releases from FWS below the fold.

Critics of the various restrictions on DDT use often claim that DDT is a God-sent chemical that nearly eradicated malaria from the world (absolutely untrue) and which was banned only because of hysteria caused by Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring (untrue at both ends, hysteria and the power of Carson’s book). This is history revisionism at its worst, it is bogus history.

A careful study of the history of the use of DDT shows that scientists were concerned about its dangers from the first uses as a pesticide. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported dangers in a press release on August 22, 1945, just a week after the surrender of Japan ended World War II (VJ Day was August 15 in Tokyo, August 14 in Washington). In that release FWS noted the beneficial uses of DDT to fight insect and lice infestations that threatened troops and civilians with typhus and other diseases, but cautioned that such use should not become common, that more study was needed: Read the rest of this entry »

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