Friday, March 28, 2014

Free Legal Advice!!!

I am giving free legal advice in this blog;  Incorporate yourself.

Why do I recommend this?  It is a cozy time for corporations in the United States today. Previously, corporations were considered only as persons for tax purposes, as legal fictions, whose only reason for existence was the making of money,  However, a quantum shift in the status of corporation-persons has taken place recently.  In a gigantic leap of questionable logic, God-given rights secured by the constitution of the United States for us human-persons have been deemed to be applicable to corporation-persons.  As an example, the Republican majority of the Supreme Court has given the right of corporation-persons to give unlimited money to politicians in the exercise of their first amendment rights to freedom of speech; i.e., stated another way, money talks.  The upshot of the recent Citizens United opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, is that unlimited God-given giving to American politicians is not corrupt.  (The same behavior by law is deemed criminally corrupt when companies give money (i.e., bribes) to foreign politicians to obtain favors.)  Somewhere there exists a fine distinction between these acts, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out where it is.   

And the Supreme Court is currently deciding the issue of the religious freedom of corporation-owners to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.  Stay tuned on that one.  Oral arguments were heard this past week and the swing vote of Justice Kennedy is in play.  The gist of the arguments was such that it is clear that the four conservative justices are solidly in favor of granting religious freedoms to corporation-persons.

Further, if you are a human person (as opposed to a corporation-person) and receive a government handout, you are a taker, a member of the 47% crowd that Mitt Romney crowed about in his ‘private’ speech to fat-cat political contributors.  The stated reason why such handouts are so terrible is they are said to reduce the incentive to do real work and just live off our (the rest of us) hard-earned money.  I quote a Republican senator  back a few years ago, who likened the act of  human-persons taking government handouts to ‘sucking the teat’ of society.  Terrible stuff, you takers!   However, corporation-persons, big and small, get government handouts to the tune of 80 billion dollars from local governments nationwide annually with nary a peep.  Owners of private planes and yachts receive special tax breaks.  The top ten big banks receive more than 83 billion dollars a year from the federal government.  Hedge fund and private equity managers' income is treated for tax purposes as capital gains rather than as ordinary income like poor working stiffs.   Senator Tom Corburn has characterized these benefits as 'ludicrous handouts to millionaires."  According to the holy grail, these mega-billion dollar handouts for the benefit of corporation-persons, unlike human persons, does not reduce incentives to work.  These handouts are said to increase the incentive to make money when it is given to corporation-persons.  These huge amounts of tax-payer money are given to these entities, often at the expense of reduced funding of education, reducing food stamps for the unemployed, etc.  The stated purpose of giving corporation-persons this money is to get them to get to do things, like create jobs, which has proven to be of no use or value in the long run.  The trillion-dollars that corporations-persons have stashed off-shore is living testament to this contended folly of job creation. 

Now you understand the reasons for my giving free legal advice.  Incorporate yourself.  Make the transformation from a human-person to a corporation-person because you will be better off.  You can take all the government money you want and nobody will criticize you or call you lazy and shiftless.  Claim what the Republicans and our Supreme Court say are your God-given rights. 

Just saying . . .

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Phthalates and Endocrine Disruption

I have simply copied the information belowpage1image808 about phthalate exposure and its effects on the human being.
What are some examples of common everyday exposures to phthalates and tips to avoid exposure?page1image2712page1image2440page1image2168page1image1896page1image1624page1image1352
Microwaving food using plastic products.
Tip: Use only “microwave safe” containers and phthalate-free containers and plastic wrap when microwaving food and/or drinks. Phthalates can leach from food storage containers and food wrap into foods (particularly those foods that are oily or that have a high fat content) on contact and when heated.
Sucking or chewing soft plastic/vinyl products.
Tip: Use only plastic/vinyl toys and toothbrushes labeled “phthalate- free.” If unsure, call the manufacturer. In 1998 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requested phthalates be removed from soft
rattles, pacifiers, bottle nipples, and teethers.
Personal care products and vinyl clothing.
Tip: Read labels. If unsure, call the manufacturer.
Medical situations.
Tip: PVC is used in a wide range of medical devices, such as intravenous (IV) tubing, blood bags, and catheters. Ask your healthcare provider to use phthalate-free tubing and medical bags especially for procedures such as blood transfusions and dialysis.
What negative health effects have phthalates been shown to have in laboratory animals?
Very few studies have examined the health effects of phthalates on humans. In lab animals, phthalate exposure has been found to be associated with numerous reproductive health and developmental problems such as:
  • Early onset of puberty.
  • Interfering with the male reproductive tract
  • Interfering with the natural functioning of the
    hormone system.
  • Causing reproductive and genital defects.
  • Lower testosterone levels in adolescent males.
  • Lower sperm count in adult males.
    Phthalates are weak endocrine disruptors and androgen blocking chemicals. This means that when absorbed into the body phthalates can either mimic or block female hormones, or in males, suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development.
    Phthalates cross the placenta.
The Everywhere Chemical
What are phthalates?
Phthalates are a family of man-made chemical compounds developed in the last century to be used in the manufacture of plastics, solvents, and personal care products. They are colorless, odorless, oily liquids that do not evaporate easily and do not chemically bind to the material they are added to.
How am I exposed to phthalates?
Ingestion, inhalation, skin absorption, and intravenous injection are all potential pathways of exposure. The ever- present use of phthalates as an additive to PVC (polyvinyl chloride) products to make them flexible and to personal care products to make fragrances last longer in the past 50 years has resulted in widespread general population exposure.
Phthalates are readily absorbed into the human body and are converted quickly to their respective metabolites. Unlike some chemicals, they tend to pass out of the body quickly in urine and feces. Phthalates can interact with each other and increase the exposure effect.
How do phthalates enter the environment?
Phthalates can be released from a product by heat, agitation, and prolonged storage. The release can occur during all the stages of the product lifecycle - from production, through use, to disposal.
Which population of humans is at a greater health risk to phthalate exposure?
Children under the age of three are more at risk from phthalates because of their developing, smaller body size and ever-present exposure to children’s products manufactured using multiple types of phthalate compounds. Young children use their mouths to explore, and consequently, can be exposed to higher levels by sucking on
products made of phthalate-containing plastics.
What can I do to avoid exposure?
Read labels!
There is no easy way to tell if a product has added phthalates. Phthalates can be identified on labels by a three or four letter acronym that defines their chemical structures. Labels rarely state “contains phthalates”.
There are a multitude of phthalate compounds. Which phthalate compound is added to a product depends in
part on their molecular weight (MW). Phthalates with a higher molecular weight (HMW) are very slightly soluble in water; phthalates with a lower molecular weight (LMW) are reasonably soluble in water.

The 8 most widely used phthalate compounds and their metabolites are:
  • BBP: butyl benzyl phthalate (LMW) *, **, ***
    MBzP: mono benzyl phthalate
  • DBP: di-n-butyl phthalate (LMW) *, **, *** MBP: mono-n-butyl phthalate
    MiBP: mono-isobutyl phthalate

    Most common phthalate added to nail polish.
  • DEHP: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
    MEHP: mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
    Most widely-added phthalate to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make products flexible.
  • DEP: diethyl phthalate (LMW)
    MEP: monoethyl phthalate
    Most common phthalate added to personal care products to enhance fragrance.
  • DiDP: di-isodecyl phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
  • DiNP: di-isononyll phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
    Most common phthalate added as a softener in the manufacture of toys and childcare products, such as bath toys, drinking straws, and rubber ducks.
  • DnHP: di-n- hexyl phthalate *
  • DnOP: di-n-octyl phthalate (LMW) **, ***
* Listed in California’s Proposition 65 as a reproductive and developmental toxicant.
** Listed in California’s AB1108 (Ma and Huffman). The bill, if passed, will ban use in the manufacture of any toy or childcare article intended for use by a child under three years of age.
*** European Union banned as a phthalate softener in the manufacture of toys and childcare articles.
The most common products using phthalate compounds are:
PVC Products
Phthalates are frequently added to PVC (vinyl) products to soften and make more flexible.
If a plastic product is flexible, it probably contains phthalates unless the label

specifically says it does not.
Personal Care Products
Phthalates are often added to personal care products, such as nail polish, perfumes, deodorants, hair gels, shampoos, soaps, hair sprays, and body lotions, to help lubricate other substances in the formula and to carry fragrances. Phthalates
must be listed among the ingredients on product labels, unless they are added as a part of the “fragrance.” Under current law, they can then simply be labeled “fragrance,” even though they may make up 20% or more of the product.
Many companies have voluntarily removed phthalates from their products. A company will usually label its product “phthalate-free.” If unsure, call the company. If you can’t get information from the manufacturer, look for alternatives.
How can I recognize plastic toys and containers containing phthalates?
All plastics are not the same. One easy way to recognize plastic toys, clothing, bottles, food and beverage storage containers, and/or food wrap that may contain phthalate compounds is to look for the number 3 inside the universal recycling symbol usually molded into the plastic on the bottom of the product.
Avoid products with the number 3 within the arrows and the letters “V” or “PVC” below the arrows.
33 V PVC
Choose products with the numbers 1,2, 4 and 5 within the 1245

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Emergency Manager of DPS: Unmitigated Disaster

I have deferred to Dr. Thomas Pedroni in the past for his remarkable insights on what is happening to Michigan, particularly Detroit, schoolchildren.  What follows is an update:


March 3, 2014
One year ago this month I watched in disbelief as the Emergency Manager of the moment, Roy Roberts, declared on NBC’s nationally broadcast Education Nation Detroit Summit that Detroit Public Schools had surpassed the Michigan average in 14 of 18 MEAP categories.  At the time I suspected that Snyder's appointee, a former auto executive with no education background, had simply misspoken or just didn’t quite have his facts straight.  What bothered me more was that none of his carefully selected co-panelists—including EAA Chancellor John Covington and Detroit Parent Network President/CEO Sharlonda Buckman—batted as much as an eye over Roberts’ jubilant mispronouncement.  A clearly impressed Chelsea Clinton declared that when the day came she would gladly enroll her own children in the public schools of Detroit.
As I dug through the MEAP results on the Michigan Department of Education’s website that day—confirming that DPS students had scored behind the state average in all 18 tested categories, typically by 20 percentage points or more—I made a discovery I had not anticipated:  in most categories, children in Detroit’s public elementary and middle schools had fallen even farther behind their state peers since 2009. That year (2009) was the year that U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared Detroit “ground zero” for education reform, and the State once again took away local democratic control of Detroit’s schools. 
I was particularly troubled that, since 2009, the youngest children taking the test—3rd, 4th, and 5th graders—had declined the most.  Although already so far behind their statewide peers, Detroit's youngest test-takers had somehow lost even more ground.
I wrote my findings in a column submitted to the Detroit Free Press, which the paper accepted for publication.  Hours later the paper changed its mind. In a bizarre sequence of events, the paper’s editorial staff accepted and rejected the column two more times, finally telling me I was free to take it elsewhere.
I published the column here, at the Detroit Data and Democracy Project, instead, and posted a link on Facebook.  While this site typically receives only 2 to 4 hits a day, within a few hours the piece had accumulated thousands of hits.  In the ensuing days I was interviewed on four radio programs, Rachel Maddow tweeted a link to the column, and The Huffington Post, Truthout, and The Michigan Citizen all asked to reprint it.  Apparently there was a hunger for educational fact sharing and analysis beyond what was available at NBC and in the local dailies.
A year has passed since my original column.  Has state-imposed emergency management now finally turned the corner with Detroit’s public schools?  Five years after the State concluded that the main thing holding Detroit’s schoolchildren back was the ability of their parents to choose their school board, are we finally receiving the long overdue dividends of electoral disenfranchisement?
Sadly, grievously—the new MEAP data, released February 28, reveal the further deepening of a devastating pattern.  In both reading and math, Detroit’s children have fallen even further behind their state peers.  Somehow, in 10 of the 12 grade-level math and reading MEAP tests, Detroit’s children under state control in DPS and the EAA have lost even more ground this past year.
Fourth graders in Detroit's state-managed schools actually progressed marginally in reading relative to their Michigan peers, bringing the proficiency gap down by 0.8 points to 29.5 percentage points.  But in every other tested grade-- third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-- they fell even further behind in reading.  In math, Detroit’s sixth grade students in state-managed schools gained marginally on their Michigan peers (by 0.3 points) and are now only 27.7 percentage points behind.  But they lost even more ground to their statewide peers in all the other tested grades-- third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth (see Figure I).
Figure I. Proficiency gap between DPS/EAA students and their Michigan peers.
Click to enlarge. 

Cumulatively, since Detroit became ground zero in 2009, students in DPS and EAA schools taken over by the state have declined precipitously relative to their state peers in every tested grade in reading, 3rd through 8th.  In third grade reading, the proficiency gap has widened by 7.3 points to 28.2.  The reading proficiency gap also widened by 2.1 points in fourth grade, 1.7 points in fifth grade, 3.2 points in sixth grade, 3.8 points in seventh grade, and 4.7 in eighth grade.  In math, although students gained marginally on their state peers in sixth through eighth grades (sixth, proficiency gap decreased 0.5 points to 27.7; seventh, 0.5 points to 28.5; and eighth, 0.1 points to 23.2), students plummeted relative to their state peers in third, fourth, and fifth grade.  In third grade, the math proficiency gap increased by 5.2 points to 26.6; in fourth grade it increased by 6.8 points to 29.2; and in 5th grade it increased by 8.0 points to 30.9 (see Figure II).

Figure II. Proficiency Gap, Year by Year, and Comparatively 2009-12, 2012-13, and 2009-13.
Click to enlarge. 

For DPS and EAA students under state control, another year of educational possibility has been stolen.  The long saga of state control of Detroit's public schools, characterized by this unconscionable erosion of our children's educational futures, drags on.  As we saw last week, Snyder's experiment on Black children in Detroit, the EAA, notwithstanding the rosy and self-serving pronouncements of its high-paid leadership, has been an unmitigated disaster.  Now we have an even clearer portrait of the educational failure of state takeover across both state-controlled Detroit education sectors-- the EAA and DPS under emergency management. For Snyder's theft of Detroit's children's future, will a moment of accountability ever come?