People often have mixed feelings about a topic and can simultaneously see both the positive and negative sides of things. But new research, published in PLOS One, suggests that professional pollsters are failing to account for this ambivalence in their assessment of political attitudes. The study, which collected data between 2017 and 2019, found that approximately 4 in 10 college students displayed some level of ambivalence towards President Donald Trump. “This work grew out of a collaboration that my wife and I have. I am an atomic physicist, working in the area of atomic clocks; my wife Lor...
In a move that environmental groups celebrated as a "historic victory" following years of campaigning to remove Roundup and similar weedkillers from store shelves, Bayer on Thursday announced that it will halt the sale of glyphosate-based herbicides to consumers in the U.S. lawn and garden market by 2023.
"Bayer's decision to end U.S. residential sale[s] of Roundup is a historic victory for public health and the environment," Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), said in a statement.
"As agricultural, large-scale use of this toxic pesticide continues," he added, "our farmworkers remain at risk. It's time for EPA to act and ban glyphosate for all uses."
While calling the announcement "an important victory to protect the health of Americans," Kendra Klein, senior scientist at Friends of the Earth, stressed that "action on this toxic weedkiller can't wait until 2023. Major home and garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's must lead the industry by ending the sales of Roundup immediately."
The key ingredient found in Roundup, the world's most widely used herbicide, is glyphosate. Described by the World Health Organization as "probably carcinogenic," glyphosate poses threats to human health and to pollinators such as bumblebees and monarch butterflies.
Bayer stated that it will switch Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers to formulas that "rely on alternative active ingredients" in order to "manage litigation risk and not because of any safety concerns."
Thursday's decision came in response to several legal battles that Bayer, a German pharmaceutical and biotech corporation, inherited when it acquired Monsanto, a U.S. agrochemical giant and creator of Roundup, in 2018.
Last year, Bayer announced multiple massive settlements totaling more than $11 billion to compensate individuals harmed by two Monsanto herbicides.
In one case, the company agreed to pay $10.9 billion to about 125,000 people who alleged the use of Roundup was to blame for their cancer diagnoses.
The Roundup litigation settlement was preceded by three high-profile lawsuits, in which juries sided with plaintiffs suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma "in finding that their exposure to glyphosate contributed to their cancers," CFS explained. "Plaintiffs Edwin Hardeman, DeWayne Johnson, and Alberta and Alva Pilliod were each awarded between $25 to $87 million."
"Massive amounts of glyphosate will continue to be sprayed in parks, schools, and on food crops."
—Kendra Klein, Friends of the Earth
Two months ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco affirmed a lower court ruling in Hardeman v. Monsanto, which found that Monsanto had failed to disclose the dangers glyphosate poses to human health and must be held accountable for the cancer suffered by users of Roundup.
By upholding the previous judgment against Monsanto, Kimbrell said at the time, the court "unanimously rejected Bayer's argument that Mr. Hardeman and thousands of others harmed by their products are prohibited by federal law from suing to redress their injuries."
In a separate settlement last year, Bayer agreed to pay $400 million to thousands of farmers whose crops had been damaged as a result of the widespread drift of Monsanto's dicamba herbicide. That agreement was preceded by two lawsuits that, according to CFS, "likely provided impetus for Bayer to settle."
In California, jury trials over Monsanto's Roundup and dicamba products continue to be held.
Meanwhile, CFS is also currently representing a coalition of farmworkers and environmentalists in a lawsuit that seeks to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency's approval of glyphosate, which was reviewed and registered in January 2020 by Trump administration officials.
While President Joe Biden's EPA admitted in May that the Trump-era assessment of glyphosate was flawed and requires a do-over, the agency failed to provide a deadline for a new decision and argued that Roundup should remain on U.S. shelves in the meantime.
Given that Bayer's decision to stop selling glyphosate-based herbicides by 2023 only applies to consumers in the U.S. lawn and garden market, Klein emphasized that "the battle against this toxic chemical is far from over."
"Massive amounts of glyphosate will continue to be sprayed in parks, schools, and on food crops," she added. "Retailers and regulators must act now to ban this cancer-linked weedkiller."
Rachael Bade is a political analyst for Politico. Last week, after Nancy Pelosi spiked the appointments of Jim Jordan and Jim Banks to the panel investigating the January 6 insurrection, Bade said the Speaker of the House had given "a gift" to the Republicans. "Pelosi's move to reject GOP picks for the 1/6 panel is going to be a gift to [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy in the long run," Bade wrote. "He wanted this panel to look partisan and political. Now it's definitely going to look partisan and political."
Bade was just doing her job, but she drew a ton of fire. Her "analysis" was precisely the kind that drives everyone crazy—everyone, that is, who is not a total nihilist about the power and promise of American politics. Among the many replies to Bade's tweet, my favorite came from writer and media maven Parker Molloy. "Oh, come on. I know that it's your job to treat politics like sports, but just … for once, can you not? I honestly wouldn't be able to sleep at night if this was what I was putting out into the world."
Bade's critics are correct about the Washington press corps' double standard. While the GOP is expected to act in bloodless self-interest, the Democrats are expected to act selflessly. If they act like partisans, the conventional wisdom tells us, the Republicans have the advantage. So now, when the Republicans accuse the panel in concert of being "Pelosi's partisan pageantry," the accusation will allegedly carry some weight. This presumption, which holds the parties to diametric standards, which actually does give the Republicans the advantage, without the press corps being aware of it, or if it is, it denies having any such effect—this presumption drives people like me up a wall.
For the sake of argument, however, let's accept Bade's silly analysis as true. Let's say that the House select committee is indeed partisan on account of the congressional Republicans saying it is. From this perspective, it would be interesting to think about what partisanship means after Tuesday's testimony by four police officers who were on the front lines of what each of them described as a battle against more than 9,000 angry and armed insurgents prepared to "stop the steal." It was a battle fought between what Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin called "heroes of the republic" and "fascist traitors." "Partisanship" therefore must take on a new meaning bigger than it normally does, as a word for the parties and their interests. The cops did not begin as partisans. But in the context of Donald Trump's attempted coup d'etat they became partisans. They were unwilling partisans, to be sure. But partisans all the same. The attempted overthrow of the republic made them partisans for the republic.
The conventional wisdom about both parties is right about one thing. The Democrats, especially moderate Democrats, value the public appearance of being "above the fray." There are many reasons for this, most of them mostly good, but this preference takes on greater significance amid an investigation into the sacking and looting of the United States Capitol. The Democrats must get to the bottom of what happened. Justice, democracy and the love of our country demand it. But they have an interest in appearing principled, not partisan in the way that word normally implies. They don't want to appear as if they are merely relitigating the 2020 presidential election. They do want to appear as if they're standing up for freedom, democracy and the country itself.
This balancing act is normally healthy. We do not live in normal times, though. If what it takes to hold power is for the Republicans to attack the character of the police officers who risked life and limb to protect everyone, including GOP lawmakers, so be it. If what it takes to hold power is disgracefully appear indifferent to their suffering, so be it. They may be "heroes" from the point of view of Americans with a stake in being "above the fray." But they were "traitors" from the point of view of Donald Trump. They were in fact damned if they did, damned if they didn't. The same can be said for all Americans. The cops swore an oath to put country over party. They honored themselves and the rest of us by living up to it. Make no mistake, though. The moment they honored that sworn oath was the same moment they became partisans.
If a majority of Americans continues to see partisanship as the mere difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, I'd say the Republicans have as good a chance as any in getting a majority of Americans to see the January 6 investigation as merely "Pelosi's partisan pageantry." But I don't think a majority of Americans is going to continue seeing partisanship as the mere difference between the parties. The Republicans won't let that happen. They'll push and push, and they'll keep pushing so hard that even people who'd normally be on their side, like law enforcement officers, have said out loud that they feel betrayed by the party, betrayed enough to say fine. If I'm a partisan, I'm going to be a partisan you'll live to regret—a partisan for America.
Tuesday's testimony, in fact, seemed to suggest the Republicans had finally politicized what it means to be an American such that being an American is now a controversy with two sides. As I said, "one side is for democracy. One side is against it. One is for the Constitution and the principles it enshrines. One is for the GOP and its fuhrer. One side honors duty and sacrifice. One side belittles them. One side sees selfishness, disloyalty and betrayal as fair game. One side has unvarnished contempt for treason."
If partisanship means party over country, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi probably did give House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy "a gift" when she spiked the appointments of Jim Jordan and Jim Banks to the House select committee investigating the day a sitting president sent paramilitaries to the US Congress.
But if partisanship means country over party, Pelosi did no such thing. It would mean that Kevin McCarthy himself made a grave error. He chose not to have anything to do with it. He chose to smear the committee from the sidelines as "a political sham." But the more you allege partisanship against people trying hard to honor principle, the more people trying hard to honor principle are going to think of themselves as principled partisans—partisans for the United States and everything it stands for. I don't think the Republicans quite understand they are digging their own grave.
US gymnastics superstar Simone Biles said she was still struggling with the "twisties", the mental block that has sidelined her in Tokyo, as her Olympic campaign looked in increasing doubt on Friday.
Biles posted video on Instagram of her landing on her back in training, on cushioned pads, and wrote that she was having problems "literally on every event, which sucks".
The 24-year-old gymnastics great came to Tokyo seeking five gold medals to equal the all-time career record of nine, but withdrew during the women's team competition and also skipped her all-around title defense.
"This was not happening before I left the USA. It randomly started happening after prelims competition the very next morning," Biles posted.
"I seriously cannot comprehend how to twist. Strangest and weirdest feeling... It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind and body in sync," she added.
Biles said previous bouts of twisties had taken two or more weeks to pass, but there was "honestly no telling (the) time frame".
"Something you have to take day by day, turn by turn," she wrote, warning: "But unfortunately in Olympic routines I do a ton of twists in each event."
She also hit back at critics, saying: "For anyone saying I quit. I didn't quit my mind and body are simply not in sync as you can see here.
"I don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first. Physical health is mental health."
© 2021 AFP
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