Asbestos Primer for Max Baucus
Max Baucus thinks that he can make a deal
with the devil on the asbestos litigation.
Lambert reminds us why he shouldn't.
Prepare to be amazed:
Could any statement be more revealing of the moral bankruptcy of today's Republican party, and Bush, its leader? (SOTU)
Here's some easily accessible information on asbestos:
Strong concerns about the health hazards associated with asbestos had been described many times over the years. As early as 1898 the Chief Inspector of Factories of the United Kingdom reported to the Parliament in his Annual Report about the "evil effects of asbestos dust". He reported the "sharp, glass like nature of the particles" when allowed to remain in the air in any quantity, "have been found to be injurious, as might have been expected" (Report of the Select Committee 1994). In 1906 a British Parliamentary Commission confirmed the first cases of asbestos deaths in factories in Britain and recommended better ventilation and other safety measures. In 1918 an American insurance company produced a study showing premature deaths in the asbestos industry in the United States and in 1926 the Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Board processed the first successful compensation claim by a sick asbestos worker.
The fine asbestos fibres are easily inhaled, and can cause a number of respiratory complaints, including a potentially serious lung fibrosis called asbestosis. Exposure to asbestos has also been determined to cause a very serious form of cancer, mesothelioma, that occurs in the chest and abdominal cavities. This aggressive disease is not properly referred to as a lung cancer, as the malignant cells are derived from the mesothelium, a tissue found on the inner walls of the chest and abdominal cavities and on the outer surface of the lungs rather than in the lung itself.
Asbestos is carcinogenic. In the United States alone, it is estimated that ten thousand people die each year of asbestos-related diseases
10,000 deaths a year. Mighty frivolous! Whack isn't the real war at all, is it?
such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Asbestos has a synergistic effect with tobacco smoking in the causation of lung cancer.
Here are some of the symptoms of mesothelioma, from the NIH (still allowed to publish scientific information, even now):
Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. Shortness of breath and pain in the chest due to an accumulation of fluid in the pleura are often symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include weight loss and abdominal pain and swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, blood clotting abnormalities, anemia, and fever. If the cancer has spread beyond the mesothelium to other parts of the body, symptoms may include pain, trouble swallowing, or swelling of the neck or face.
Pain; thinning blood; choking; fever: Cancer. Mighty frivolous!
Of course, Dick "Dick" Cheney, in a brilliant business move, had Halliburton purchase Dresser industries, encumbered with asbestos lawsuits at the time. Read what happened next:
Let's talk about Halliburton's well-executed $5 billion escape from its asbestos problems, most of which Cheney created when he orchestrated Halliburton's purchase of Dresser Industries in 1998. Few people connect this problem with Cheney, but they should, given that he was in charge at the time and got a raise as a result of buying Dresser.
$5 billion. From the courts the Republicans have already stacked with wingers. Mighty frivolous!
Now that Halliburton has managed to extract itself from its asbestos liability by paying a ton of cash and stock to trusts that will compensate victims and their lawyers, we can get a handle on how much Dresser's piece of the problem cost Halliburton. It turns out to be almost as much as Halliburton paid for the company.
Cheney, through Bush, naturally tried to make Halliburton's asbestos problem go away by using the Republican Congress as a sock puppet:
I give [Halliburton's current management] big credit for dealing with the problem rather than awaiting a miracle [cough] rescue from Congress. Almost from the day it took office, the Bush administration has pushed hard to get Congress to limit asbestos liability. That includes President Bush's visit to Illinois last week to push his "reform" proposals.
Gee, I wonder why that was?
If there is a God, and there is a Hell, I hope Bush and Cheney earn their just reward for "frivolous asbestos lawsuits."
I hope they're sunk deep in the deepest part of the ninth circle, and every stinking cancer-riddled corpse they've caused is hung around their necks.
(originally posted at corrente. Reprinted here in it's entirety with permission)
Thank-you Lambert- you guys at corrente just rock!