The Hightower Report

Coming up with a timetable for leaving Iraq isn't unpatriotic or cowardly; and Bush's EPA proposes a new rule for testing toxic pesticides on humans, giving pesticide corporations clear-cut exceptions to the supposed federal ban on human testing


DISCUSSING WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ

Have you noticed? George W., Dick Cheney, Dennis Hastert, and the entire gaggle of right-wing media blathers have been foaming at the mouth more than usual recently.

They have gone into full mad-dog mode because many Democrats, independents, sane Republicans, and just plain citizens are calling for a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq. Such people are "cut-and-run cowards," shout the Bushites! They are "Nervous Nellies" wanting to abandon the Iraqi people, who are counting on us to stay the course! It's a treasonous disservice to our troops and gives comfort to the enemy for any American even to discuss withdrawal, wails the Republican scorn machine.

Whew – they should save some of that breath for breathing. They also might reflect on the fact that more than half of Americans now say, "Bring the troops home." So, are the Bushites saying that the majority of people are cut-and-run cowards? And shouldn't the mouth-foamers remember that dissent is not treason, but the essence of democracy?

Here's something else the Bushite mad dogs might pay attention to: While they're trying to shut down any discussion here at home about a withdrawal timetable, guess who is openly discussing it? The Iraqis!

At a recent three-day gathering in Cairo of top Iraqi politicians – including Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds – the group signed a formal memorandum that declares, "The Iraqi people are looking forward to the day when foreign forces will leave Iraq." This diverse assembly of Iraqi political leaders (who rarely agree on anything) then demanded "a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specific timetable." Amazingly, the people of Iraq are able to discuss and demand withdrawal without anyone in power accusing them of being treasonous, cut-and-run cowards.

Hey, Bush, Cheney, Hastert, and gang – if Iraqis can have a free and civil debate about deadlines and timetables ... why can't we?


PESTICIDE TESTING ON KIDS

I'm whopperjawed. I'm stunned. I'm sick. I'm disgusted. I'm fuming.

If you thought that you could no longer be shocked by anything the Bushites do, you've obviously not heard of the latest, inhuman, totally depraved, appalling bit of evil coming out of Bush's EPA. These so-called environmental and health protectors have proposed a new rule regarding the testing of toxic pesticides on humans – a deplorable practice that the chemical makers have long favored. Because EPA had been caught supporting tests in which children were intentionally dosed with pesticides, Congress mandated in August that the agency issue a rule permanently banning such pesticide tests, without exception.

In September, EPA issued its proposed rule, hailing it as "a landmark regulation on human studies," and flatly declaring that "certain kinds of human research can never be acceptable." Beyond its flowery declaration of ethical principles, however, EPA's proposal is 30 pages of fine print that viciously guts those very principles by giving pesticide corporations clear-cut exceptions to the supposed ban on human testing.

Get ready to puke, for these are some of the exceptions:

• Neglected or abused infants can be subjected to pesticide tests, without the consent of parents or guardians.

• Mentally handicapped and orphaned infants may be used for tests for the sake of research.

• EPA will accept industry pesticide tests done on children outside the U.S., including in countries with minimal or no ethical standards.

Not only do these repulsive exceptions violate even the lowest level of human decency and morality, but they also are in direct violation of Congress' mandate to allow no exceptions to the ban on such tests – zero. The agency has cynically chosen industry profits over children's welfare.

The Organic Consumers Association is leading the fight against the EPA's appalling proposal. To get information and get involved, call the association at 218/226-4164.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Dennis Hastert, Iraw War, EPA, pesticides, pesticide testing, Organic Consumers Association

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