Friday, September 09, 2011

Asbestos deja vu: House thinks litigation still a problem

Reuters reports on today's House hearing on asbestos trusts and possible frauds associated with how claims are filed and paid. The allegations are that:

1) claimants double dip by collecting money from in courts and from the asbestos trust funds in excess to their value;
2) claimants back up claims for conditions that are not disabling with fraudulent evidence
3) claimants contradictory reports in tort cases and trust fund claims so that they can recover money from the trust fund based on evidence that would not be acceptable in a court of law.

Two of the written statements are available here:

I plan to write a longer commentary when the record of the hearing will be made available in its entirety. Overall, the hearing truly replicated the arguments that float around asbestos compensation in the United States, which has ended up in a rabbit hole that is rather unique if compared to other Western nations.

Monday, September 05, 2011

ADAO Livestreaming Screening and Discussion of “Breathtaking” by Kathleen Mullen « ADAO – Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

On 9/26/11 at 6:30 EST, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization - ADAO will broadcast in form of a livestreaming screening “Breathtaking”, a documentary by Kathleen Mullen who, upon her father’s death from an asbestos-related disease, ventures into a journey exploring current present-day use of asbestos in Canada and internationally.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Il legislatore che non vuol sentire la maggioranza | Associazione Luca Coscioni

Commentary published in Agenda Coscioni (in Italian) on Evans & Kelley's US attitudes toward human embryonic stem cell research.

The authors reports the finding of a 2009 US survey that shows that Americans are in favor of deriving human embryonic stem cells via somatic cell nuclear transfer--or better than they do not appreciate differences between deriving these cells from supernumerary embryos or via somatic cell nuclear transfer. They survey shows that Americans support the use of both sources if the research offers "hope of curing serious disease."

My comments reflect upon the (political and normative) link between policy and attitudes of the public and makes the simple argument that in democracies politicians must work towards making policies that respect popular attitudes if the majority expresses them and if a prohibition (discouraged by the majority) would limit fundamental freedoms that involve private and personal choices and, when exercised, do no infringe on other persons' freedoms. My comments certainly reflect the liberal view expressed by J.S. Mill.

Friday, June 17, 2011

NDP's semi-principled stand on asbestos

NDP's semi-principled stand on asbestos is an interesting commentary assessing the anti-asbestos argument coming from the left in Canada. Here is one of the paragraphs:
The arguments against asbestos, however, are logical rather than emotional. And the single argument in its defence -that it's harmless if used correctly -is laughable. In 2010, the top three markets for Canadian asbestos were India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka -not exactly workers' paradises. And we know from a steady stream of damning reports, particularly from India, that workers are indeed falling victim to asbestosis, the inflammatory lung disease that often leads to mesothelioma. So far this year, a trust fund set up to compensate afflicted employees of a defunct auto-parts maker has awarded more than $15-million in India alone -to 40 people just last month, according to a recent report in Bloomberg Businessweek.
The comments on the "real" economic gains that asbestos mining brings to Canada are interesting. The bottom line is that the "real" gains are very modest:
We're talking about a single mine that employs something like 200 employees, and only seasonally at that. That's less than 10% of the workforce in Asbestos, never mind the province. Quebec's $74-million in asbestos sales in 2010 represented about one tenth of 1% of the province's total exports.
It seems that Canada asbestos policies are a key aspects of a picture that goes beyond Quebec: to survive, the asbestos industry needs that at least one industrialized nation supports "chrysotile defense" policies for that defense to be somehow viable. Certainly it is not about the miners.