Non-profit sues the FDA for failing to regulate chemicals in Antimicrobials

A nonprofit environmental group has sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, claiming the agency failed to regulate toxic chemicals found in “antimicrobial” soap and other personal care products.

Reuters

The National Resources Defense Council alleges that two common ingredients, triclosan and triclocarban, can damage reproductive organs, sperm quality and the production of thyroid and sex hormones.

According to the suit, which also names U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a defendant, recent bio-monitoring results found “residues of triclosan in 75 percent of Americans over the age of 6.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday. Representatives of the FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment, saying it was a matter of policy not to comment on lawsuits.

Plaintiffs contend that the FDA violated federal law in its delay over establishing safe conditions of use. More than 30 years ago, the agency first proposed to regulate such products for over-the-counter use, but they remain on the market and are unregulated, the group said.

“As a result of the FDA’s lengthy delay, consumers remain exposed to triclosan and triclocarban through a variety of over-the-counter drug products, such as antimicrobial hand soaps, that proliferate on the market,” the lawsuit stated.

The suit seeks an order requiring the FDA to finish its study on the conditions of use by a specific deadline.

No manufacturers or retailers were named as defendants or were cited in the lawsuit.

The FDA said in April it was reviewing the safety of triclosan. It noted there was no evidence it could be harmful to people and did not recommend changing consumer use of products that contain the agent.

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The popularity of antimicrobial products has grown in recent years and the products are increasingly found in homes and offices, where germs can easily be passed from person to person.

The lawsuit cites various recent studies that associate the chemicals with a host of health risks, from lower thyroid hormone levels to the disruption of testosterone production.

In 1978, according to the lawsuit, the FDA proposed to ban from interstate commerce both triclosan and triclocarban either six months or two years after publication of its final study, but no action was taken until 1994, when some ingredients were reclassified.

Healthcare antiseptics containing these chemicals remained on the market and increased in prevalence” since 1994, the lawsuit said.

The National Resources Defense Council said it had met with the FDA to try to hasten the study, to no avail.

Responding to a letter from U.S. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts in February, the FDA said it could not give a specific timeline, but said it was “working diligently” to publish the proposed rule. It also cited a lack of long-term data regarding potential health effects from exposure to the toxins.

The case is National Resources Defense Council v. USDA et al, 10 CIV 5690.

Checkmate on Obama’s Tax Care

American Spectator

In order to protect the new national health care law from legal challenges, the Obama administration has been forced to argue that

The Obama Administration has confessed to Obamacare being a tax after citizens legally challenge the system.

the individual mandate represents a tax — even though Obama himself argued the exact opposite while campaigning to pass the legislation.

Late last night, the Obama Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the Florida-based lawsuit against the health care law, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction and that the State of Florida and fellow plaintiffs haven’t presented a claim for which the court can grant relief. To bolster its case, the DOJ cited the Anti-Injunction Act, which restricts courts from interfering with the government’s ability to collect taxes.

The Act, according to a DOJ memo supporting the motion to dismiss, says that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.” The memo goes on to say that it makes no difference whether the disputed payment it is called a “tax” or “penalty,” because either way, it’s “assessed and collected in the same manner” by the Internal Revenue Service.

But this is a characterization that Democrats, and specifically Obama, angrily denounced during the health care debate. Most prominently, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Obama argued that the mandate was “absolutely not a tax increase,” and he dug into his view even after being confronted with a dictionary definition:

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

At the time Obama made that statement, the Senate Finance Committee had just released its own health care bill, which clearly referred to the mandate penalty as an “excise tax.” But in later versions, the word “tax” was stripped, because it had become too much of a political liability for Democrats. The final version that Obama signed did not describe the mandate as a tax, and used the Commerce Clause — not federal taxing power — as the Constitutional justification for the mandate.

“”This is an about face from what is laid out in the law,” said Karen Harned of the National Federation of Independent Business, which joined the Florida lawsuit against ObamaCare. “In the text of the healthcare law, the findings for passing an individual mandate specifically rely on the effects of individuals on the national economy and interstate commerce. Nowhere in the findings is the mandate referred to as a tax. The Justice Department is now calling it a tax to try and convince the court not to rule on whether or not Congress exceeded their authority under the Commerce Clause by legislating that all citizens must purchase private health insurance or face a penalty.”

Put another way, the administration is now arguing in federal court that Obama signed a massive middle-class tax increase, in violation of his campaign pledge.

U.S. Administration Supports Indecent Vatican’s Paedophilia Immunity

AFP

The Obama administration in a brief to the Supreme Court has backed theVatican’s claim of immunity from lawsuits arising from cases of sexual abuse by priests in the United States.

The Supreme Court is considering an appeal by the Vatican of an appellate court ruling that lifted its immunity in the case of an alleged pedophile priest from Oregon.

In a filing on Friday, the solicitor general’s office argued that the Ninth Circuit court of appeals erred in allowing the lawsuit brought by a man who claims he was sexually abused in the 1960s by the Oregon priest.

The unnamed plaintiff, who cited the Holy See and several other parties as defendants, argued the Vatican should be held responsible for transferring the priest to Oregon and letting him serve there despite previous accusations he had abused children in Chicago and in Ireland.

The solicitor general’s office, which defends the position of President Barack Obama’s administration before the Supreme Court, said the Ninth Circuit improperly found the case to be an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a 1976 federal law that sets limits on when other countries can face lawsuits in US courts.

“Although the decision does not conflict with any decision of another court of appeals, the Court may wish to grant the petition, vacate the judgement of the court of appeals and remand to that court for further consideration”.

The case, which was filed in 2002, does not directly address questions raised in a separate lawsuit in Kentucky alleging that US bishops are employees of the Holy See.

But the Vatican plans to argue that Catholic dioceses are run as separate entities from the Holy See, and that the only authority that the pontiff has over bishops around the world is a religious one, according to Jeffrey Lena, theVatican’s US attorney.

In recent months, large-scale pedophilia scandals have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in a number of countries, including Austria, Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany and the United States.

Senior clerics have been accused of protecting the priests involved by moving them to other parishes — where they sometimes offended again — instead of handing them over to civil authorities for prosecution.

The pope, who has himself faced allegations implicating him in the scandal, has repeatedly said priests and religious workers guilty of child abuse should answer for their crimes in courts of law.

Accountability eruption: Iceland arrests, jails bankers responsible for crisis

Can Greece, Britain and the United States follow up on Iceland’s lead?  Will they?

BREITBART

More than a year and a half after Iceland’s major banks failed, all but sinking the country’s economy, police have begun rounding up abankers number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a two-billion-dollar lawsuit.

Since Iceland’s three largest banks — Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir — collapsed in late 2008, their former executives and owners have largely been living untroubled lives abroad.

But the publication last month of a parliamentary inquiry into the island nation’s profound financial and economic crisis signaled a turning of the tide, laying much of the blame for the downfall on the former bank heads who had taken “inappropriate loans from the banks” they worked for.

On Wednesday, the administrators of Glitnir’s liquidation announced they had filed a two-billion-dollar (1.6-billion-euro) lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud.

“I think this lawsuit is without precedence in Iceland,” Steinunn Gudbjartsdottir, who chairs Glitnir’s so-called winding-up board, told reporters in Reykjavik.

“It is about higher figures than we have ever seen,” she said, adding that she expected Glitnir to file more lawsuits going forward, but that “it is unlikely any will be this big.”

Glitnir said it was suing “Jon Asgeir Johannesson, formerly its principal shareholder, Larus Welding, previously Glitnir’s chief executive, Thorstein Jonsson, its former chairman and other former directors, shareholders and third parties associates with Johannesson for fraudulently and unlawfully draining more than two billion dollars out of the bank.”

The bank also said it was “taking action against its former auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for facilitating and helping to conceal the fraudulent transactions engineered by Johannesson and his associates, which ultimately led to the bank’s collapse in October 2008.”

Glitnir’s suit, filed in the New York state Supreme Court on Tuesday, blamed most of the bank’s woes on “Johannesson and his co-conspirators,” who had “conspired to systematically loot Glitnir Bank in order to prop up their own failing companies.”

Johannesson, the former owner of the now-defunct Baugur investment group with stakes in a number of British high street stores including Hamleys, Debenhams and House of Fraser, said he was shocked by the lawsuit.

“The distortions and the nonsense in the lawsuit are incredible,” he told the Pressan news website.

Glitnir’s administrators “can get a 10-year-prison sentence for misusing US courts in this manner,” he insisted.

The bank’s chief administrator Gudbjartsdottir took his comments in stride.

“I didn’t expect him to be happy with the lawsuit,” she said.

In addition to its New York suit, Glitnir said it had “secured a freezing order from the High Court in London against Jon Asgeir Johannesson’s worldwide assets, including two apartments in Manhattan’s exclusive Gramercy Park neighbourhood for which he paid approximately 25 million dollars.”

Gudbjartsdottir said Johannesson had just 48 hours to come up with a satisfactory list of his assets.

“If he does not give the right information he faces a jail sentence,” she said.

Four former Kaupthing executives, who all live in Luxembourg, have meanwhile been arrested in Iceland in the past week and Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for that bank’s ex-chairman, Sigurdur Einarsson.

Former head of the bank’s domestic operations, Ingolfur Helgason, and former chief risk officer Steingrimur Karason were arrested late Monday on arrival from Luxembourg, just days after former Kaupthing boss Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, along with Magnus Gudmunsson, who headed the bank’s unit in Luxembourg, were taken into custody.

The 49-year-old Einarsson, who lives in London, said late Tuesday he had no plans to travel to Iceland to be arrested.

“I’m absolutely flabbergasted about the latest news,” he told the Frettabladid daily.

“There is in my opinion no need for the arrests or custody rulings, and I will not of my own free will take part in the play that it appears is being staged to soothe the Icelandic people,” he said.

“I’ll put the human rights I enjoy here in Britain to the test and will not therefore come home (to Iceland) to these conditions without being forced,” he added.