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Old 03-28-2003, 09:58 AM   #81
Cerek the Barbaric
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Quote:
Originally posted by WillowIX:
OK I´ve tried to dig up some information about the demonstration that nearly developed into a riot. There is not much to be found. Apparently Women against war made a protest at the Crossgate mall, but they were escorted off the premesis by secutrity. The only interesting piece of information is this:
Quote:
From: www.chadsux.com (???)
The group marched through Crossgates mall at noontime,
and at one point, there was a confrontation in the food
court between one of the marchers and a man carrying a
sign that read "9-11." There were no immediate arrests.
[/QUOTE]Thanks for the effort, Willow. The more I look into this, the more exaggerated the Mall's claim that the Dec. protest became a "near riot" appears to be. My friend in the other debate found a fairly lengthy article regarding the protest...but it was based on interviews of the protestors. Naturally, they claim they were doing nothing wrong and the security guards overreacted to the situation. It's always best to hear both sides of a story..but the only "official" comments from Pyramid Corporation (the owners of Crossgates) has been "No Comment". So there isn't another side to hear.

I did some "follow-up" Searching after reading my friends article and found a very good article/interview of Robert Williams that details his version of exactly what happened regarding the arrest of Stephen Downs. After reading that, there is NO DOUBT (in my mind, of course) that he was nothing more than a scapegoat in this whole affair.

I will try to re-locate both articles later today and provide links to them.
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Old 03-28-2003, 01:31 PM   #82
Thorfinn
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Seraph, a little harsh, but arguably deserved. I should provide sources when I make an argument.

So here are my sources:

EPA's health assessment of Asbestos. Of particular note here is that they acknowledge that there is no scientifically established level of exposure. Elsewhere on the EPA page, they explain that the studies used in preparing the standard did not specify exposure levels, thus, they did an educated guess to arrive at the exposure limit. They estimated a limit of 0.23 fibers per ml, and an estimated one-in-a-million increase in risk at 4 fibers per ml. (Note that the text on page 3 is in error. On page 4, they correctly listed the estimated risk assessment, consistent with the figure listed by their source document.)

Also note that on page 4, there is a much lower threshold for crocidolite, the African asbestos, than for crysotile, the more common form used in the US (other than in WWII shipyards), and is the form that is mined in Canada and several locations in the US.

http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/health.pdf

My second source was an article in Washington Post from several years back, but since I assume most of you are not subscribers, I searched Google for a copy of the article elsewhere. Interestingly enough, it popped up in a page on a site called junkscience.com.

Of note here is that instead of the usual methodology used in the other studies, which was to see what fraction of mesothelioma patients had exposure to asbestos, these Canadian researchers looked at people who were exposed to asbestos and compared those cancer rates to cancer rates in unexposed populations. The upshot is that they were not able to identify an increased risk, though they were exposed to asbestos at a rate that should have been unmistakable if the EPA guesstimate of exposure risk was within an order of magnitude.

I'll save a discussion of why this methodology is the correct one for the next source.

http://www.junkscience.com/news2/wpasbest.htm

Thirdly, I would refer you to a book called How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff. There are several similar books but most are pretty hard to understand if you do not do experimental design for a living. This one is probably one of the more readable explanations of how studies with the wrong methodologies usually arrive at the wrong answer. He uses several examples to illustrate the faulty methodologies used not only in asbestos studies, but in several chemical scares, like DDT and Alar.

The basic idea is that you cannot take a particular subset of data and extrapolate it to the population in general, unless you can make sure that the subset is representative of the general population in all other respects. A good example is the "marijuana is a gateway drug" myth, because it merely asks heroin users whether they smoked pot before using heroin. The correct methodology would have been to look at long-time pot smokers and see how many moved on to harder drugs.

There is no question that at high levels of exposure asbestos is bad stuff, and little question that it is linked to higher rates of lung cancer and mesothelioma. There is a question, though, of what constitutes a high level.

The Canadian study, as well as the asbestos in the air following 9/11, is a big reason that EPA's CRAVE group is doing a major review of asbestos, with a view of trying to establish some better data, but early results leaked to Wall Street Journal a couple months ago indicate that the exposure limit will probably be relaxed by at least a factor of 10.

[ 03-28-2003, 12:50 PM: Message edited by: Thorfinn ]
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Old 03-28-2003, 01:59 PM   #83
Timber Loftis
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Quote:
There is no question that at high levels of exposure asbestos is bad stuff, and little question that it is linked to higher rates of lung cancer and mesothelioma. There is a question, though, of what constitutes a high level.
Well, where I'm from they have a saying: "Better safe than sorry." In international law and national law this is commonly referred to as the "precautionary principle." Now entire chapters in textbooks are dedicated to this notion.

But, suffice to say it is an underlying notion in most every US environmental statute, including the clean air act. Which may explain why EPA assumed a more-than-safe limit. How close to the line do you want to tread when cancer is on the other side of the line? Not very close, I say.
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Old 03-28-2003, 02:13 PM   #84
Thorfinn
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Yes, I am aware of the precautionary principle, and I believe that if we as humans are going to be able to take the next step to the stars, that principle has got to be relegated to the dustbin, or whatever it was that Bush said.

If the Wright Brothers had to get permission from the FAA using the precautionary principle to try out their new experimental craft, we would not have things called airports today. If doctors had to prove that what they were doing would not have adverse conseqences, quintuple-bypass heart surgery would be non-existent, instead of available at 99.7% success rate in every town greater than about 25,000 population. We would not have penicillin, plastic, automobiles (those gas tanks are bombs looking for a place to go off), electricity at the flip of a switch, etc., ad infinitum. You know, all those things that we look at as a normal part of living in a civilized society.

I understand the precautionary principle, but I believe it is a flawed doctrine that must be expunged if we are to have anything other than incremental progress.
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Old 03-28-2003, 02:29 PM   #85
Timber Loftis
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You and I are simply on the opposite sides of this issue, Throfinn. All good change comes about slowly. (Where did conservatives forget what "conservative" meant? I guess conservative really just means "greedy businessman.") Not being careful is, IMO, not only immature and selfish, but also aimed at and most successful at fattening fat cats and trodding upon the downtrodden.

If the precautionary principle were always followed, 3-mile island and Love Canal wouldn't have occurred. Zebra mussels wouldn't be choking the Great Lakes, kudzu wouldn't be choking the southern forests, and the Dutch Elm thing would not have happened. The ozone hole would have been a non-occurrence rather than something we must back up and fix.

To those who have not the patience to do things rightly instead of simply quickly I say nothing good was ever done half-assed. Because sometimes, and sooner or later, the problem you create is not one you can backtrack and fix.

Plus, forgive me for saying so, but you are quite audacious to denegrate the notion of precaution in the face of cancer. You've never watched someone die of mesothelioma - being actually choked to death by their own lungs.

We are asked to respect each other's view on these forums. I appreciate that request. However, on this issue, I respect your right to your view, but I have nothing but disrespect for the view itself. For that reason it is probably unwise for me to continue this debate. I am sorry.

As well, this thing has gotten so [img]graemlins/offtopic.gif[/img] it's actually funny. To the other posters, I apologize.
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Old 03-28-2003, 02:47 PM   #86
Thorfinn
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I guess we are on opposite sides, here. Love Canal happened when people used the best scientific knowledge about chemical disposal available. To fault Hooker(?) for doing what all the scientists in the entire world though was safe is little different than saying that a person in an auto accident should never have gotten into his car that morning. What exactly happened at Three Mile Island? Answer: Virtually nothing. The radiation Ziroc gets each day from the sun is worse than if you were living right next to the TMI cooling tower. That is fact. I am not too well versed on Zebra Mussels, kudzu or other introduced species. I do know ecosystems can be thrown out of whack if you introduce a new species into it, and I know that they can be thrown out of whack if you leave them alone. That is the nature of chaos theory. I am well versed on the ozone hole, though, yet another trumped up scare.

No, I am not arguing that people should be able to harm others nilly-willy. Quite the opposite. I believe you should hold people personally accountable for whatever damage they inflict upon others, no exceptions. I have said it now 4-5 times, and it is the basis for all my arguments in this thread. I'm not advocating killing people to get a few more bucks. I'm saying that regardless of my intentions, good or bad, if I harm another, he is entitled to restitution.

I'm not trying to be a pain, but I gave several examples of quantum leaps in technology that came about through risk-taking. I say it again, without some people assuming risks, we would not have most of our medical technology, we would not have the amazing mobility we have today, we would not even have this medium of exchange if the scientists at AT&T Bell Labs had to prove that EMF from monitors was totally safe. Indeed, we would still be living in caves without judicious risk taking.

Mesothelioma, no, since it is very rare, but I have watched and held hands as several hundred people died. Just a part of paying my way through college as an orderly at a hospice and a no-resucitate nursing home. I am not being callous towards cancer, and to portray my argument that way is very unfair.

Just for the record, I think our positions are not really that far apart, except you seem to prefer using government guns to force people not to hurt others, while I would prefer to just set the rules so that it is in people's best interests not to do so.

[ 03-28-2003, 02:07 PM: Message edited by: Thorfinn ]
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Old 03-28-2003, 03:02 PM   #87
Timber Loftis
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Quote:
Originally posted by Thorfinn:
Just for the record, I think our positions are not really that far apart, except you seem to prefer using government guns to force people not to hurt others, while I would prefer to just set the rules so that it is in people's best interests not to do so.
Actually, I think setting the rules correctly is better than using governmental guns as well. On this we can certainly agree.

But, some rules are hard to set right. For instance, I am for true-cost environmental accounting. You have to pay for the gas to run your mfgr. plant and for the products you use to make your widgets. But, you don't have to pay for the clean air you use (by polluting) without the Clean Air Act there to force you to. And, in fact the Clean Air Act just makes demands on the technology you use and how much you run your facility (keeping emissions down), but as far as the bottom line is concerned that is the same as a "cost" or a "tax" for harming the air. Now, how to put this into effect without the government and the Clean Air Act. I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice to do so, but I don't exactly understand how we'd do it.

Anyway, I am in complete agreement that shrinking government is fine (wonderful!) by me, and that it would be great to set the laws up to require less government intervention.
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Old 03-28-2003, 03:17 PM   #88
Thorfinn
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I forget who, Ronald Coase, I think, got his Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in externalized costs, like air pollution. He showed that in a system of strictly enforced private property rights, not only will the costs not be externalized, but they will be internalized in the best interests of everyone actually affected.

For instance, if you live downstream of a chemical plant, and their emissions (air or water or whatever) affect your property, with strict property rights, you have a right to compensation. This is true even if the contaminant is at trace levels. If you are scared of trace chemicals, either the company has to stop emitting those chemicals, or compensate you for your fear, as determined by a jury of peers. Contrast that with government regulation, where if I live downstream of a chemical plant, I have no choice but to tolerate whatever level of contamination the government allows them to emit.

Who would likely be the happier -- the one who had restitution tailored specifically for him, or the one who had a one-size-fits-all, deal-with-it government solution?
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Old 03-28-2003, 03:29 PM   #89
Timber Loftis
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Interesting, Thorfinn, but what you suggest would require legislation (gasp, isn't that what we're trying to avoid?). Here's why: the common law (judge-made law) tradition over the last 500 years has developed a doctrine for nuisance claims that makes it very difficult to prevail by claimants and severely limits the recovery. In fact, without getting too legalistic, the doctrine assumes that some industries, such as pig-farming and tanning, simply must be located somewhere and if it's near you it's tough luck so long as they are acting appropriate for their industry and are in an appropriate location. In short, under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the "reasonableness" determination in a nuisance case requires a balancing of public benefit vs. the ill effect on you and your property.

Now, as we know, to change that long history of law, you need the legislature to write a statute. The whole purpose, basically, of statutory law is to provide derogations from the common law. So, without some governmental action, we're stuck. Now, the law can just be re-written without creating/delegating an agency to manage it, and that would certainly be good. Of course who in Washington has such political will with Big.Co. Tannery paying to run their campaigns??

I am defending several such nuisance suits in a very (in)famous hazardous cleanup case, and this gives my client some relief from its woes. On the flip side, I am seeking to close down or clean up a power plant in another case, and knowing the limits of this nuisance law, I simply tossed it out the window in favor of a citizen's suit to enforce the Clean Air Act.
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Old 03-28-2003, 03:45 PM   #90
Thorfinn
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I am certainly no lawyer. I have only a basic grasp of common law, let alone what it has become through the efforts of people like Calabresi.

I do realize that we may be talking another law to stricly enforce property rights, but I am pretty sure that is more or less the 7th Amendment in the first place. I agree that it is highly unlikely that anyone in government would willingly reduce their own powers, the main reason to be a politician being the power to boss others about. But in exchange for this one law, that could probably be written nearly as tersely as the 7th Amendment, we could abolish a gazillion others, and close down hundreds or thousands of governmental agencies who currently usurp the 7th Amendment through the use of Administrative Reviews and such, since you would really only need to provide accessible courts and some means of enforcing the decisions of those courts. (There are free-market solutions, like binding arbitration, that seem to work well in a limited sense, and I suspect that "the market" would come up with a better solution than we now have, but my prejudices just do not let me make that leap quite yet.)

[EDIT]
Aargh. I had the wrong Amendment..
[/EDIT]

[ 03-28-2003, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: Thorfinn ]
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