Sunday, March 20, 2005


Post lifted from Chris Brand:

‘LIBERTY vs HUMAN RIGHTS’ -- EXCLUSIVE -- Such was the title of a fine leader in the Sunday Times (13 iii) complaining that Britain’s subscription to the European Human Rights Act (or our judges’ interpretation of that subscription) was putting the courts in control of matters that should be decided by Members of Parliament or just personal choice. In the past year, ‘human rights’ have protected the privacy of celebrities Naomi Campbell (wanting to hide her drug addiction) and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who had struck a lucrative deal that the only photos of their wedding would be by OK magazine); they have given British prisoners a princely £162 million for having to use chamber pots at night; they have given gypsies common land without payment; they gave a Preston tax-evader £10,000 because he had not been prosecuted in quite the right way; they overturned the decision of a Muslim headmistress that she didn’t want her schoolgirls’ bodies fully covered by the hilbab; they gave Army volunteers a right to “care” from regimental sergeant majors – warned not to taunt or tease teenage soldiers tired of doing press-ups; and they prevented several foreign Muslim males from being detained on serious warnings from the intelligence services. Correctly, the Sunday Times concluded that “the Human Rights Act has become the refuge for those with barely deserving and sometimes undeserving cases.”

{Subsequently, Conservative leader Mr Michael Howard seriously courted popularity by promising to scrap Britain’s Human Rights Act if it could not be sensibly amended. He called the HRA a “charter for chancers.” – His move came in response to UK local authorities saying they would give up the task of moving on gypsies because of the latter’s many Euro-decreed ‘rights.’}

{The Sun, the UK’s top-circulation tabloid which deserted the Tories in 1997, quickly came out against puffed-up ‘human rights’ for gypsies (18 iii); and, no sooner had I sent a message of support, the Sun was being discussed on BBC radio as likely to switch its support at the widely expected UK General Election to the Conservatives. Apparently, just as Mr Howard had found his stronger opposition in recent weeks to immigration and crime resonating with voters, the Sun had noticed higher-than-expected popular support for its anti-gypsy-‘rights’ campaign. Perhaps reciprocating the Sun’s coming support, Mr Howard, speaking in Scotland, backed the paper’s anti-‘human-rights’ position. He said the 1998 Human Rights Act was “a charter for chancers [that] makes a mockery of justice” by encouraging a tide of “politically correct” litigation.}


Agitation for the sake of agitation

Cosmetics and fragrances have long been mixed with politics. Because most users are women, Marxists and some extreme feminists have declared them tools of female oppression. Conversely, dictatorships like Nazi Germany and the Taliban have banned cosmetics out of sheer misogyny. (Never mind the redundancy of forbidding mascara behind a burqa.)

Unsurprisingly, then, it's activism and not science that's behind the latest push to restrict access to cosmetics, with the activists targeting something called phthalates. (Pronounced "thal-lates.") Many of these ingredients are used in cosmetics. They can make perfume scents last longer, make nail polish more flexible, and keep hairspray from stiffening.

Activist groups seem to have joined the anti-phthalate campaign just to have something to agitate against. An umbrella group seeking to ban the chemicals, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, includes extremist environmentalist outfits like Friends of the Earth, the Environmental Working Group, and the Breast Cancer Fund. The last argues that as many as half of all breast cancers are chemically induced.

The current anti-cosmetics crusade is trying to force U.S. companies to comply with a European Union ban on some cosmetic phthalates. The activists say they will publish a "report card" this month to show which companies appeared to yield the most. Supposedly the EU knows something we don't. Yet a 2003 EU scientific report on one of the banned chemicals concluded that for consumers, "There is at present no need for further information or testing or risk reduction beyond those which are applied already." Why was such a clear finding utterly ignored? In part, it's because the EU recently adopted something called "the precautionary principle," whereby synthetic chemicals are presumed harmful until "proven" safe. Since it's impossible to prove anything safe, merely that there's no evidence of harm, this allows EU regulators to willy-nilly ban any man-made chemical they wish.

Whether a government bans something is often merely a reflection of the power and geographic location of activist groups. That's why the agricultural chemical Alar was banned over a decade ago in the United States but not in the EU. In Europe, the anti-cosmetic activists are much more powerful.

Yet the research stubbornly refuses to support them or their campaign. Every few years a group called the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel evaluates new data on cosmetic ingredients and issues updated reports. It's a massive undertaking precisely because cosmetic ingredients are so heavily researched. The conclusion of the panel's latest re-evaluation, from 2003, is unequivocal. All three of the EU-banned chemicals are "safe for use in cosmetic products in the present practices of use and concentrations, and therefore, the safety assessment of these compounds was not reopened."

While harmful phthalate effects have been found in massive doses in animal studies, CIR Director F. Alan Anderson told me, "Actual exposures are so low there could be no adverse effects from cosmetics." More specifically, "The exposure you get from cosmetics is 5,000 times lower than that shown to produce any kind of observable effect" in test animals and an "observable effect" may not even be harmful. Warning: Do not apply perfume more than 5,000 times in one evening.

The U.S. government has also weighed in. The "FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be alarmed at the use of cosmetics containing phthalates."

More here

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