Talking rubbish about DDT

by Daniel on October 15, 2005

Tim Lambert has done very good work over the years keeping people honest on the John Lott “More Guns, Less Crime” thesis and on the Lancet study. However, his work on the strange subculture of DDT loons also deserves a bit of publicity.

Basically, there are lots of people out there, mainly the same sort of people who are fans of Stephen Milloy’s “”, who believe that “liberals and environmentalists” are responsible for the deaths of over 50 million people in the third world from malaria because they banned DDT in the 1970s, because they read the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. This charge is rubbish from start to finish … as in, DDT wasn’t banned in the 1970s, and using DDT is usually not the best way to prevent malaria. Tim’s DDT archive has the whole damn story.

Why are people so keen on DDT? Don’t know. There’s no compelling economic interest in treating the stuff as if it were a panacea; it’s a commodity chemical which is banned as an agricultural pesticide (in order to avoid creating resistant mosquitoes and compromising its use as an antimalarial) and which has only a niche demand as an antimalarial (because pyrethroid-treated mosquito nets are usually a more cost-effective prevention method). All I can think of is that claiming that environmentalists are responsible for millions of deaths in the third world is a handy way of slagging off environmentalists. One has to say, looking at the calibre of human being pushing the DDT argument in Tim’s archive, for them to cry crocodile tears over the genuine problems of the third world while doing nothing to ameliorate them, simply to fight a domestic political battle, would not exactly be out of character. Nice one Tim for exposing this vile, pernicious rubbish.

William Kristol wants to know

by Henry Farrell on October 15, 2005

Q: “‘Why are conservative Republicans, who control the executive and legislative branches of government for the first time in living memory, so vulnerable to the phenomenon of criminalization?'”:

A: Because there seems to be prima facie evidence that prominent conservative Republicans were up to their “eyes”: “in”: “criminal”: “activities”:

Number 1,411 in a series of easy answers to unnecessarily complicated questions (with apologies to “The Poor Man”). Hat tip: “Laura Rozen”:


by Henry Farrell on October 15, 2005

Marty Lederman has another “essential post”: at Balkinization about how Ted Stevens wants to gut the McCain anti-torture bill at conference committee, so that it doesn’t restrict the CIA’s ability to use brutal methods of interrogation.

What this barely veiled statement means is that Senator Stevens will support inclusion of the McCain Amendment in the final bill only once it has been “augmented” to exempt the CIA from the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. (Stevens’s reference to persons who “may not be citizens of the United States, but are working for us” suggests that he also intends to include a carve-out for foreign nationals acting as agents of the CIA, such as the team of the CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary squads code-named Scorpions.) If Stevens (read: Cheney) is successful in this endeavor, and if the Congress enacts the Amendment as so limited, it will be a major step backwards from where the law currently stands. This can’t be overemphasized: If Stevens is successful at adding his seemingly innocuous “augment[ation],” it would make the law worse than it currently is.

… What this means, as a practical matter, is that the Administration has given the CIA the green light to engage in all forms of coercive interrogation short of “torture” proper.

… And that’s apparently why the CIA believed that it was entitled, along with a small team of the CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary squads code-named Scorpions, to assault a detainee with fists, a club, a length of rubber hose, and the handle of a sledgehammer.

… But if Senator Stevens has his way, and successfully exempts the CIA from the McCain Amendment’s otherwise unequivocal ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the Congress will for the first time have ratified the Administration’s view that such cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is not uniformly off-limits, and will have given a green light to the CIA to engage in such conduct.

It’s quite disgusting that the US mainstream press isn’t paying any real attention to what’s happening here. The US is on the verge of a momentous choice, between turning away (at least in part) from some of the vicious abuses of the last couple of years, or giving them the green flag. It shouldn’t be left up to a blogging law professor to tell us what’s going on.

I Read the News Today…

by Brian on October 15, 2005

Two stories from the “Sydney Morning Herald”: this morning tell us a lot about the Howard government. The “front page story”: concerns the government’s new anti-terror laws, and “the main feature”: is about how to decode the government’s industrial relations policies.

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