Sunday, March 03, 2024

Blow for tissue maker Kleenex as lawsuit accuses company of polluting entire Connecticut town with cancer-causing PFAS chemicals

The old PFAS scare again. The chemicals "Have been linked to". What weasel words! Some dummy has just got to claim that X causes Y and X "has been linked to" Y. No need for actual evidence of a connection. And in this case the evidence is sadly deficient. It is a much tested connection but NO LINK among humans has routinely been found in the studies concerned. See some previous reports below:

Tissue maker Kleenex has been accused of polluting a town's air and drinking water with toxic 'forever chemicals'.

Locals in New Milford, Connecticut — about two hours from New York City — say the company's plant has been releasing these substances which have been linked to cancer and infertility.

The lawsuit — which is seeking millions in damages — says the chemicals are being released by the factory's smokestack and also leaching from its 165-acre landfill site into the local water systems.

Locals say the company has put them at risk of numerous health issues and is driving down house prices in their area.

The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Connecticut Federal Court against Kimberly-Clark, Kleenex's parent company.

The plant is said to use per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals to make its tissue paper

PFAS are toxic forever chemicals that get their name because they are extremely hard to break down, persisting in the environment for centuries.

Tea, meat and peanut are some of the unassuming foods that lead to a build-up of PFAS 'forever chemicals' in the body, new research suggests.

Over time, they can build up in waterways and even inside people's bodies — with previous studies also linking the chemicals to weakened immune systems.

PFAS chemicals may be mixed with tissue paper during the manufacturing process to help make pulping the paper more efficient.

They may also end up in the paper if they come off machinery, which is coated in the chemicals in order to stop paper pulp from sticking.

PFAS are also used in a range of other products including cooking equipment, food packaging such as microwaveable popcorn bags and waterproof clothing.

Kimberly-Clark says it does not use PFAS in its tissues, that the claim is 'unfounded' and that it plans to 'vigorously' defend itself in court.

The lawsuit was filed by Bethany DePaul, Arlene Quaranta and Meredith Quaranta who all live less than three miles from the factory in New Milford.

The suit states: 'Kimberly-Clark's manufacturing practices caused stack emissions containing PFAS chemicals to go airborne, travel and ultimately deposit PFAS chemicals on the real property and in the drinking water wells of plaintiffs.

'Kimberly-Clark knew, or reasonably should have known, that PFAS chemicals are toxic, harmful to human health, resist natural degradation, render air, soil and drinking water unsafe and/or non-potable and are capable of being removed from air and water supplies if proper steps are taken.'

The suit accuses the company of being negligent, arguing it has a duty to take reasonable care not to expose the residents to toxic chemicals.

They say the company violated that duty because it failed to warn them that PFAS was being used and failed to take steps to stop its release.

The proposed lawsuit would include all residents living in the area, with New Milford having a population of about 6,700 people.

It seeks damages for financial losses and punitive damages and would require Kimberly-Clark to install water filters and create a fund to pay to monitor the health of residents.

The court will now need to determine whether the case meets the requirements for class certification — or that it represents people in the area — and both parties will then need to start gathering evidence for PFAS chemicals in the area.

Both parties will be encouraged to settle their differences out of court before the case goes to trial.

It is not clear how much money the locals are seeking, but in a case against DuPont over PFAS pollution last year the company had to pay more than $1.2billion for damages and to help clear up the local area.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in recent years against manufacturers of PFAS and the companies that use the chemicals to create a diverse array of products, including lawsuits against other companies that produce paper products in Wisconsin and Maine.

Chemical manufacturers including 3M, DuPont de Nemours, Chemours and Corteva have also been hit with lawsuits.

Kimberly-Clark said in a statement: 'We believe the allegations raised in this lawsuit are unfounded and plan to vigorously defend against them.

'We do not use PFAS in any of our US consumer products.'


Vilifying Israel is the left’s new form of anti-Semitism

The Left actually hate us all. Jews are just a scapegoat/i>

Henry Ergas

When the crowds, wearing keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags, gathered in Sydney immediately after October 7, their chant wasn’t “where are the Zionists?”; it was “where are the Jews?”. Nor were the writers and artists whose names and details were recently “doxxed” by Hamas’s local supporters targeted for being Zionists; they were targeted for being Jews.

And if angry protesters surrounded Raheen in Kew the other night, it wasn’t because it was a Zionist hub; it was because it is owned by Jews.

Now, as we reel from the news that a pro-Palestinian militant in Melbourne allegedly kidnapped and tortured a man, there can be one question and one question only: How has it come to this?

That Labor is less culpable than the Greens for fanning the flames of hatred is beyond doubt; however, as the party of government, it cannot avoid its responsibility. Anthony Albanese has repeatedly claimed, with palpable sincerity, that the government aims at balance; but whatever its intentions, it has, at best, appeared equivocal – and, at worst, has risked encouraging the rage against Israel that is undeniably a rage against Jews.

Time and again, it has called on Israel to respect international law, with the implication that it hasn’t. Time and again, it has lamented the plight of the people of Gaza while ignoring the fact that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been forced to flee their homes by rocket attacks that, starkly violating international law, target schools, hospitals and homes.

But all that is mere kindling. If the fire has burned so high and spread so fast, it is because there is, on the Australian left, a dense undergrowth of anti-Semitism on which the blaze could feed.

That anti-Semitism is not the conventional Jew-hatred that marked the Australian labour movement from its earliest days. Explicitly based on repulsive stereotypes – Jews, wrote the Sydney Worker in 1932, are naturally “unscrupulous, callous, resourceful, insidious and cunning” – the traditional anti-Semitism centred on denunciations of “Shylock” and “the money power”.

Reaching fever pitch in the Depression, which the Labor press blamed on “the London Jews” who “conspired with the Bank of England” to protect their “fat rake-off”, it resurfaced, in the late 1940s, during the battle over bank nationalisation. Discredited by the Holocaust, that anti-Semitism was eventually consigned to a shadowy existence on politics’ lunatic fringe. Yet the underlying pathogen survived. Mutating into a new form, it obtained a fresh lease of life in the intellectual chaos of the 1960s New Left and, later, of Corbynism.

The new form’s essence was simplicity itself: each and every one of the traditional anti-Semitic tropes – Jewish arrogance, vindictiveness, tribalism, unbridled desire to dominate and the global tentacles with which to do so – was projected on to the state of Israel. What could no longer be said directly about Jews could, it seemed, be said with impunity about the Jewish state; and, by implication, about the Jews who were its champions. At the same time, just as traditional anti-Semitism cast Jews as the uniquely evil source of the world’s ills, so this new variant cast Israel not as a complex society with real people embroiled in internal and external conflicts, but as a caricatural representation of all that is illegitimate in the international community.

Responsible, according to prominent British academic Jacqueline Rose, for “some of the worst cruelties of the modern nation state”, the Jewish state stood as a fundamental obstacle – if not the fundamental obstacle – to a better world. It goes without saying that Rose made no attempt to test her contention, as any comparison to historical reality would have demonstrated its complete absurdity. All that mattered, for her countless disciples, was the conclusion that so monstrous an evil could only be cured by being eliminated.

The existential fight to the finish between “the Jew” and the “healthy elements” in society that permeated traditional anti-Semitism was thereby seamlessly transposed into the disease’s new form. There was, however, an additional feature of the variant that became increasingly pronounced as its prevalence grew. In conventional anti-Semitism, “World Jewry” was the West’s mortal enemy.

But in anti-Semitism’s new guise, the Jewish state, far from being the West’s “Other”, was transformed into the distilled, if entirely mythologised, image of what the radicals viewed as the West’s most despicable features. Israel was not the West’s antithesis; it was its apotheosis.

Here, after all, was a country that, in an age of appeasement, rejected fashionable pieties, defending itself from every attack. In a world of disposable selfhood, where you are whatever you want to be, it remained stubbornly attached to an identity gained by birth and forged by faith. And most of all, at a time when the “nowheres” were triumphant and the nation denigrated as a straitjacket, it harboured an intense, widely held patriotism.

There was, however, even worse: like Australia, Israel bore the indelible stain of “settler colonialism”. But rather than cringing apologetically, it celebrated the country the settlers had built: a country that, for all its faults, is a prosperous democracy in a world of tyrants, provides world-class education and healthcare to all of its citizens and that cherishes life, instead of worshipping, as the Islamists do, at the shrine of death.

Little wonder then that it provokes our leftists into uncontrollable fury. Consumed by self-loathing, trapped in a vision of Australia that imputes perpetual virtue to themselves, perpetual guilt to everyone else, they cannot forgive Israelis for standing proud. And when they act out their tantrums, it is not just at Israel that they are shouting. It is at all those who believe Australians too should stand proud, and unashamedly defend the achievements of our country, our culture.

Israel deserves our support. In the end, however, it will take care of itself. As for the Jews, we know hatred. Yet we also know the strength of faith and the power of resolve.

But what about Australia? Each civilisation, said Edward Gibbon, breeds the barbarians it deserves. Ours, brimming with rage, are no longer at the gates – they have stormed the citadel and seized important parts of the commanding heights. Marching arm in arm with the Islamist apologists for terrorism, their calling card is venomous threats and poisonous anti-Semitism.

However, as the incidents accumulate, each more shocking than its predecessors, they may finally have gone too far, inciting the reaction we desperately need to have. Nothing can erase the horrors of recent months. But if we fail to act on their lessons, it is us, not the barbarians, history will call to account.


The obvious reason behind Trump’s undying political strength is somehow still dumbfounding ignorant Big Media elites

It is not my habit to read Paul Krugman’s screeds, much less recommend them, but every dog has its day.

And Krugman’s latest piece commands attention because of what he inadvertently reveals about elite ignorance.

Under the headline “The Mystery of White Rural Rage,” the New York Times columnist approvingly cites a book that details the decline of rural America.

Spoiler alert, technology gets the blame.

But Krugman, an economist, quickly adds, “I still don’t get the politics” of rural Americans, and later writes “I still find it hard to understand” recent voting patterns.

What he means, of course, is that nearly nine years after Don­ald Trump came down that escalator to launch his first campaign, Krugman still hasn’t figured out the source of the former president’s enduring political strength among people living in what ­media masters call “fly-over” America.

Choice to be dumb

Even now, as Trump rolls through primaries on his way to a third presidential nomination, Krugman professes to be in the dark.

Perhaps he is, but, if so, it’s a choice.

Willful ignorance is the only way to explain his bizarre claims, which include that New York is a “relatively safe” city compared to the “hellscapes” of rural America.

He also ridicules the idea that ­illegal immigration, wokeness and the deep state are real problems, blaming nearly every rural ill on technology.

He concludes by declaring that white rural rage is “arguably the single greatest threat facing American democracy.”

There you have it, a naked display of the know-nothing cosseted class.

His echo of Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” comment, a slur that will live in infamy, shows how stuck they are in their mental swamps.

In fairness, it’s not just leftists who are confused by Trump’s remarkable comeback.

Nikki Haley is roadkill because she believed his GOP support was soft and that the party was looking not only for a new generation but also a new direction.

It is more than a footnote that her campaign has been kept afloat in large part by Democrats, voters and donors.

The first primary challengers to fall, including Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie and Tim Scott, took a different path by offering personal versions of Trumpism without Trump.

They, too, were quickly dispatched.

All the wannabes discovered that Trump’s GOP base had essentially doubled since the start of 2023, from the mid 30s to 75% now.

Polls show he is also gaining support among black and Latino voters in the population at large.

Against that backdrop, Krugman’s ignorance strikes me as especially revealing.

At this late stage of the Trump era, there is no mystery, only an arrogant refusal to accept truths that don’t fit neatly into a blinkered worldview.

Most of the left still believes America would thrive if only it traded its patriotic and cultural distinctions for the warm embrace of globalist institutions, and that anybody who rejects that vision is stupid.

That’s hardly a new development at the Times or Big Media in general.

Recall that after Trump’s stunning 2016 victory over Clinton, the editor and publisher of the Gray Lady wrote a mea culpa letter to subscribers conceding their failure to realize Trump could win.

“Did Donald Trump’s sheer ­unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?” they wrote.

Here we go again

While insisting the Times staff had “reported on both candidates fairly,” they also vowed the paper would “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor.”


If they had actually reported the campaign fairly and honestly, even Krugman might have learned something.

Instead, here we go again, with virtually every Trump story in the Times these days an opinion piece arguing he’s not fit to be president again.

It’s a replay of 2016 and 2020, so much so that we can probably expect some kind of Russia, Russia, Russia hoax any day now.

The paper and its ilk have no problem with the unprecedented onslaught of prosecutions against Trump.

No former president had even been indicted, but Trump has been hit four times, with a total of 91 felony counts.

The leftist media have been cheerleaders for all four cases and the civil ones, too, including the outrageous show trial concocted by New York state Attorney General Letitia James and a “Gong Show” judge.

Once again, the hatred for all things Trump has blinded them to the impact the cases are having on the electorate.

Rather than scare away most of the GOP and independent voters, the cases are drawing supporters to him.


Nothing ‘false’ about my choice to be a stay-at-home mum


I thought we were done with misery-guts feminism. It turns out not by a long shot. This week prominent director Diane Smith-Gander claimed women were making a “false” choice to stay home to care for kids. She was quoted as saying women were being forced to make this “false choice” by taking on lower-paid work in order to care for children. She bemoaned a society that perpetuated a “gender stereotype that Dad goes out to work and Mum stays home with the kids”.

Reading that took me back to a conversation from my late 20s. Some girlfriends, all young mums of little kids, were hanging about a playground by a Sydney beach one morning. Kids playing, shrieking, grubby little mouths and dirty feet, one kid probably crying because there is always a kid crying.

The young women spoke in hushed tones, swearing each other to secrecy. We agreed never to tell anyone quite how much we loved staying at home caring for our noisy, messy, beautiful little children. The pact was a joke. But only partly.

We knew better than to rave in public about loving being stay-at-home mums – for two reasons. Hanging about playgrounds, wiping little noses and hands and bums wasn’t what we were meant to be doing after graduating from university with fine degrees, suiting up and working hard for big flash law practices and other professional firms. The other reason was we didn’t want our husbands edging us out of a role we loved.

I turned my back on a legal career with a big law firm because I wanted to be at home with my kids. If someone had offered me a heap of money to return to work when they were babies, I would have said “no thanks”. That’s not for me, that’s not what we want for our kids. So I stayed home, had help with the kids, worked from home and earned less.

There was nothing false about these choices. Nothing coerced or unpleasant, which is the underlying message in Smith-Gander’s claim about false choices.

Some years later, I was encouraged by a senior politician to stand for a safe seat in politics. It was flattering. I had the full support of my husband. But I decided against that, too. I didn’t want to be a member of a political party. More important, my kids were moving into their early teens and while they most assuredly didn’t think they needed me at home, I suspected they might. I didn’t want what the books call “quality” time because you can’t pick and choose those moments when kids need you most.

So I remained at home, writing, managing work and deadlines, and being there for the quotidian challenges and enchantments of children pushing the envelope in different ways.

One afternoon, racing to finish some work at home in my office, one child kept coming up behind my chair with questions about sex. That was the inconvenient moment she picked for The Talk. I was busy, so to tide her over I plucked from the shelf beside me a book that I had bought months earlier in anticipation of this moment. The book was possibly meant for an older age bracket.

Being a fanatical reader, she appeared to devour it faster than she did Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Soon enough she was lurking behind my chair again, seeking clarification, stumbling over a big new word from one of the later chapters that I wrongly assumed she wouldn’t get to so soon. I wished my office was not at home.

I was far from the perfect mum, but that’s not the point. Each of us makes deeply personal decisions, tweaking this, changing that, as the years go on. We fumble through, mostly doing our best, in the belief that the decisions we make to work or look after kids, or both, are the best ones.

There are many trade-offs, of course. If we go to work, we miss out being at home with children. The more time we spend at home, the more we trade from our working lives. The sliding scale doesn’t render our decisions any less free, informed – and thrilling.

Many highly educated women I know started out in interesting, well-paying jobs, on paths to stellar, clever careers, but chose to step away. Working long hours in big professional careers, jumping on planes maybe for a meeting here, a meeting there, eating croissants on International Women’s Day with like-minded women, nannies for during the week, and on weekends, is not for everyone.

Many women, including me, would rather wipe the bums of many babies than live like that. My choice to alter the trajectory of my career, trading potential professional success for raising kids, was a no-brainer because raising three children will always be, for me, life’s greatest success.

Not every woman can choose to stay at home with their kids. I freely acknowledge my good fortune in being able to make my choice. There are many women for whom the choice to stay at home to care for little children is much more financially difficult than it was for me. But to demean any of these choices as false is obnoxious paternalism. It’s also deeply insulting to women who would have loved to have had children and would have loved to have stayed home to care for them.

So why does Smith-Gander presume to speak for women? How can she and her ilk possibly know about our lives, our personal decisions, our deepest desires, what we value? It is terrific that this high-profile corporate woman has risen to the top of her chosen fields. Given Smith-Gander is older, perhaps she experienced some big and nasty hurdles to get there. Good on her for pulverising them. I have nothing but respect for her choices. Her views about stay-at-home mothers, well, that’s another matter.

How great it would be if respect were reciprocated. Instead, there is an underlying assumption that caring for kids is a second-rate job, a forced and false choice. It’s a common affliction among gender ideologues to perpetuate miserable generalisations. Their message is that caring for kids is a burden. They never, ever talk about it as a prize.

The Albanese government’s National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality discussion paper, from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, devotes a chapter to women who “bear the burden of care”. The joyless language perpetuates this idea that caring for little children is a rotten choice. It asserts that “patterns of care” are “generally driven by social and economic structures that reflect and reinforce gendered care norms”. Nowhere does the paper mention that many women desperately want to stay at home to care for children. Norms be damned. Many of us make that choice from meandering paths.

I wasn’t mentally prepared to fall pregnant at 27. I thought I had a lingering stomach bug. I fainted with shock when the petite female doctor told me it was a baby. For months I could barely say the word pregnant. I was annoyed at these foreign big breasts that arrived many months before the baby did. Why the rush? My reticence turned into a fierce desire to stay at home to care for our kids.

For some, the deep, primordial tug from a newborn child defies ideology and ambition. It can’t be measured in dollars. We are bombarded with the work side of the equation: we are told women need to work to maintain an identity, to exist on equal terms with men, to support the family and to maintain their own financial independence.

But the culture of “I work, therefore I exist” denies the falling in love with baby so central to most women’s experience. I would have fought off my husband like a banshee if he’d said he wanted to stay at home and care for our kids. He did stay at home for many, many weeks, and those periods were some of the most special times of our lives.

There is a misery to the views of Smith-Gander and other gender ideologues that is untethered from the privilege and pleasure of caring for kids. The ideologues pine for a wretched world where men and women all work exactly the same way and every workplace is made up of equal numbers of men and women, and women’s choices to live differently are demeaned as false.

The other glaring omission from all these discussions about women and work is the wellbeing of children. Back in 2017 there was a kerfuffle when American psychoanalyst Erica Komisar published Being There: Why Prioritising Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters. As The Wall Street Journal reported at the time, one agent told her they wouldn’t touch a book like that. Conference organisers disinvited her because her book, they said, would make women feel guilty.

Alas, as a society, we still don’t seem interested in exploring whether having a mum – or dad – at home in the early years is best for a young child.

The Prime Minister’s Gender Equality paper repeats recent Australian Institute of Family Studies data showing that, as at December 2021, women in 54 per cent of families usually looked after the children, while 40 per cent of families reported equal sharing of responsibility. Only 4 per cent of families reported that a man usually or always looked after the children.

In other words, even with women pouring out of universities at higher rates than men, leaving with more degrees than men, filling the professions in equal numbers, many women continue to embrace what Anne Roiphe in A Mother’s Eye calls the “whole complicated warm messy frustrating dear and dreadful business of raising children”.

Change is afoot, of course. And if gender ideologues treasured the important job of caring for young children instead of treating it as a chore, maybe more men would choose to do it sooner.

For good reasons, Western women have spent years telling the patriarchy where to get off. Why would a man presume to know what we want? It’s time to let that go. Right now, the biggest enemy of women’s choices is a small group of professional women who have the temerity to tell women what we really want.

Is there a polite way to say “f..k the matriarchy”?




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