Oh, look: EPA ordered DDT to be used to fight malaria in 1972!

October 29, 2014

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not start a “worldwide ban” on using DDT to fight malaria. EPA instead lifted a court imposed ban on use of the pesticide to fight disease.

At least a couple of times a week I run into someone who claims that environmentalists are evil people, led by Rachel Carson (who, they say, may be as evil as Stalin, Hitler and Mao put together), and that their hysteria-and-n0t-fact-based “worldwide ban” on DDT use led to tens of millions of people dying from malaria.

Each point of the rant is false.

air pollution control activities in the Four Corners area of the U.S., in the 1970s -- soon after the agency completed its hearings and rule making on the pesticide DDT.  EPA photo.

EPA Administrator William Rucklshaus during an airplane tour of air pollution control activities in the Four Corners area of the U.S., in the 1970s — soon after the agency completed its hearings and rule making on the pesticide DDT. EPA photo.

But lack of truth to claims doesn’t stop them from being made.

Serious students of history know better, of course.  Federal agencies, like EPA, cannot issue orders on science-based topics, without enough hard science behind the order to justify it.  That’s the rule given by courts, inscribed in law for all agencies in the Administrative Procedure Act (5 USC Chapter 5), and required of EPA specifically in the various laws delegating authority to EPA for clean air, clean water, toxics clean up, pesticides, etc.   Were an agency to issue a rule based on whim, the courts overturn it on the basis that it is “arbitrary and capricious.”  EPA’s 1972 ban on DDT use on certain crops was challenged in court, in fact — and the courts said the science behind the ban is sufficient.  None of that science has been found faulty, or the DDT manufacturers and users would have been back in court to get the EPA order overturned.

Reading the actual documents, you may discover something else, too:  Not only did the EPA order apply only to certain crop uses, not only was the order restricted to the jurisdiction of the EPA (which is to say, the U.S., and not Africa, Asia, nor any area outside U.S. jurisdiction), but the order in fact specifically overturned a previously-imposed court ruling that stopped DDT use to fight malaria.

That’s right: Bill Ruckelshaus ordered that use of DDT fight malaria is okay, in the U.S., or anywhere else in the world.

Quite the opposite of the claimed “worldwide ban on DDT to fight malaria,” it was, and is, an order to allow DDT to be used in any disease vector tussle.

How did the ranters miss that?

Here are the relevant clauses from the 1972 order, from a short order following a few pages of explanation and justification:

Administrator’s Order Regarding DDT

Order. Before the Environmental Protection Agency. In regard: Stevens Industries, Inc., et al. (Consolidated DDT Hearings). I.F.&R. Docket No. 83 et al.

In accordance with the foregoing opinion, findings and conclusions of law, use of DDT on cotton, beans (snap, lima and dry), peanuts, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, fresh market corn, garlic, pimentos, in commercial greenhouses, for moth-proofing and control of bats and rodents are hereby canceled as of December 31, 1972.

Use of DDT for control of weevils on stored sweet potatoes, green peppers in the Del Marva Peninsula and cutworms on onions are canceled unless without 30 days users or registrants move to supplement the record in accordance with Part V of my opinion of today. In such event the order shall be stayed, pending the completion of the record, on terms and conditions set by the Hearing Examiner: Provided, That this stay may be dissolved if interested users or registrants do not present the required evidence in an expeditious fashion. At the conclusion of such proceedings, the issue of cancellation shall be resolved in accordance with my opinion today.

Cancellation for uses of DDT by public health officials in disease control programs and by USDA and the military for health quarantine and use in prescription drugs is lifted. [emphasis added]

In order to implement this decision no DDT shall be shipped in interstate commerce or within the District of Columbia or any American territory after December 31, 1972, unless its label bears in a prominent fashion in bold type and capital letters, in a manner satisfactory to the Pesticides Regulation Division, the following language:

  1. For use by and distribution to only U.S. Public Health Service Officials or for distribution by or on approval by the U.S. Public Health Service to other Health Service Officials for control of vector diseases;
  2. For use by and distribution to the USDA or Military for Health Quarantine Use;
  3. For use in the formulation for prescription drugs for controlling body lice;
  4. Or in drug; for use in controlling body lice – to be dispensed only by physicians. [emphasis added]

Use by or distribution to unauthorized users or use for a purpose not specified hereon or not in accordance with directions is disapproved by the Federal Government; This substance is harmful to the environment.

The Pesticides Regulation Division may require such other language as it considers appropriate.

This label may be adjusted to reflect the terms and conditions for shipment for use on green peppers in Del Marva, cutworms on onions, and weevils on sweet potatoes if a stay is in effect.

Dated: June 2, 1972

William D. Ruckelshaus

[FR Doc.72-10340 Filed 7-6-72; 8:50 am]
Federal Register, Vol. 37, No. 131 – Friday, July 7, 1972 pp. 13375-13376

Here is the entire order, in an image .pdf format.

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Millard Fillmore and middle school: Enough for a sit-com set in Buffalo?

October 28, 2014

Buzz in Buffalo, New York, is that there may be a sit-com coming, set in Buffalo, about education — the kids and teachers at Millard Fillmore Middle School.

Potential cast for a potential sitcom situated in Millard Fillmore's hometown, Buffalo, New York

Potential cast for a potential sitcom situated in Millard Fillmore’s hometown, Buffalo, New York

Seriously?   A reporter for Buffalo Rising, Newell Nussbaumer, wrote:

Do you remember the last time that Buffalo had a sitcom “based” here? Do you recall what the name of the show was? It was Jesse – a show that ran for a couple of years (1998-1999). Since that time there has not been a show “set in” the city of Buffalo. But Jordan Imiola wants to change that. Jordan is currently a screenwriter in LA, who lives and breathes Buffalo, as does his girlfriend. They are huge Sabres and Bills backers, and do their part to expound Buffalo’s virtues whenever they are able. Sometimes they do that by frequenting Buffalo backers bars, and sometimes they simply wear it on their sleeves (both of them sport Buffalo tattoos).

Now Jordan wants to put Buffalo back on the map via a new sitcom that takes place in this city. “The new TV comedy is called “Get Educated.” It’s a Feel Good Comedy similar to “Modern Family” and “The Office,” but it takes place in Millard Fillmore Middle School. It focuses on teachers and students. Growing up, my Grandpa took me to Millard Fillmore’s Birthday Party every year at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora so that’s what inspired the school name. Also, my mom, Uncle Dave, and Aunt Laurie taught in Western NY schools for years. My mom and Aunt were faculty members of the Cheektowaga-Sloan district where I went to school K – 10. And my Uncle Dave taught at the Stanley G. Falk School and now teaches in the city of Buffalo.”

This is the age of the internet:  You may contribute to the production of the series, at IndiGoGo.

At Buffalo Rising, one commenter paid homage to a teacher at the real Millard Fillmore Junior High School in Buffalo, years ago:

buffalorr10 hours ago
“Millard Fillmore Middle School”–It was named Millard Fillmore Jr. High when it opened in the early sixties. Located on Appenheimer St. off Fillmore Ave. next to the now demolished Kensington Heights projects. My Alma Mater class of ’66. There was an amazing teacher there, Mrs. Stallings, a black woman who for many of the white kids that lived in our all white neighborhood at the time, was the first contact we’d ever had with a person of color. She was so strict that no one dared not turn in their homework or disrupt the classroom. We all ended up with a 90 point or higher grade upon leaving her class along with the feeling that she was one of the best educators we’d ever had. I think that could be material for an interesting TV show.

Okay, I’d watch that.

(Hey, is there a photo of the old Millard Fillmore Jr. High on the internet?)


Navy Day 2014, October 27 – Fly your flag today

October 27, 2014

1945 Navy Day poster. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72280-KN (Color) via CrashMacDuff

1945 Navy Day poster. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 72280-KN (Color) via CrashMacDuff

Navy Day, October 27, is designated in the U.S. Flag Code as one of those days Americans may, or should, fly our flags.

History of Navy Day from the U.S. Department of Defense:

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from President Warren Harding. Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:

“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.”

“It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence.”

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

Navy Day was last observed on Oct. 27, 1949.

But, of course, it’s still designated in the Flag Code.

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Look closely, you can (almost) see Teddy Roosevelt

October 27, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt was born in Manhattan on October 27, 1858.

Among many other things in his life, he was for a time a cowboy in South Dakota, in the area where today resides the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Look closely at the picture.  You can almost see Teddy.  He was a powerful, guiding force behind the movement to protect precious, historic, scientifically valuable and beautiful lands, by the federal government.

Happy birthday, Theodore Roosevelt! Let's celebrate with a great shot of @TRooseveltNPS #NorthDakota

Happy birthday, Theodore Roosevelt! Let’s celebrate with a great shot of @TRooseveltNPS #NorthDakota

Happy Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday, America.

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A parable, about why education “reform” isn’t working

October 24, 2014

Well, yeah, it’s a parable, if by parable you mean “a story we blessed well better sit up and pay attention to!”

But it’s a true story.

Our friend, the teacher Kathy Paxton-Williams related the story:

I had an appointment this afternoon and a friend (a retired ESL teacher) was my substitute. Here was her posting this evening:

“I just had the worst subbing experience ever! I was at a local elementary school doing my ESL thing during the very worst of this afternoon’s hideous rainstorm when the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate. The fire dept. showed up, of course. Seriously, it was rainfall of Biblical proportions. The asphalt playground was literally ankle deep and it just kept coming down. We were out there for about 8 minutes with absolutely no shelter. When they finally rang the bell, we couldn’t get back in the building because the key cards wouldn’t work. What a fiasco!!! I had no jacket and no umbrella– and neither did most of the kids. Half of them went into total meltdown. I got soaked all the way through every item of clothing on my body. My shoes were sponges. I had to wring out my bra when I got home (no, not exaggerating). This happened around 1:30, so they decided to notify parents that they could either pick up their kids or bring them dry clothes. Oh, shit, what a nightmare.

Why did this happen you ask? Because the roof leaked– which it has apparently been doing for a few years now– into the fire alarm system and set it off. This is what happens when the useless superintendent gets a 30% raise, hires herself a $15,000/mo consultant to sandbag teachers, and then employs a staff of spin doctors to cover her ass instead of fixing schools. I am not a happy camper!”

Good day for an appointment!

Among the lessons, friends (keep passing the loaves and fishes until everyone has had something to eat, please):

  1. No: more testing, no matter how rigorous nor expensive, will not fix this problem; in fact, diverting money from this problem to make zowie-grosso tests is an enormous part of the problem.
  2. Neither opposing the Common Core State Standards, nor imposing those or any other standards will fix the problem.
  3. No, firing the teachers won’t fix the problemcannot make the roof stop leaking.

This is daily life in classrooms all across America.  In Dallas Independent School District, my classroom regularly heated to 90º in August, February, and every other month.  My colleague across the the hall had a classroom that stayed at 50º, at the same time. No administrator could fix it, they claimed.  I’ve taught in schools where the library roofs leaked, and where classrooms regularly flowed with water in storms.  Worse, I’ve been to schools where those problems occurred from the plumbing and sewer hookups.  Classrooms where the doors don’t close, or open; where the windows are stuck open, or closed; where the room carefully engineered for 22 students had 36 desks and 40 students; where the electrical outlets sparked a glorious 4th of July salute whenever a student would try to sneak a phone charge.

To make schools work, teachers must be able to work.  For teachers to be able to work, we must provide them with all the support that makes any workplace safe, and which makes classrooms comfortable for students and teachers to focus on learning.

Check around your local schools.  Are they in peak physical condition?  Do all the support systems work?  Are the toilets and restrooms clean, working, and safe?

How many tests could fix any of those problems?  How many teachers must be fired to get a roof to stop leaking?

Why would we torture our children, instead of letting them learn?

The most effective school, ever.

The most effective school, ever. “Aristotle and his pupil Alexander,” engraving by Charles Laplante, a french engraver and illustrator, 1866. Wikimedia image. Note the roof does not leak in this school.

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Bright lights far away, small lights close by

October 23, 2014

Capturing stars and fireflies in the same shot takes some great skill and planning in a photographer.

Alex Wild did it.

From his Twitter feed:

Alex Wild @Myrmecos

Alex Wild @Myrmecos: And also trying more challenging lighting environments, like night shots of fireflies.


Early voting opens in Texas: Polling place shenanigans?

October 20, 2014

If you are confronted with voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837)

If you are confronted with voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837)

A friendly reminder from BattleGround Texas:  If you experience voting irregularities at your polling station in Texas, call 1-844-TXVOTES (1-844-898-6837).

Vote early!


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