TBR News August 19, 2015

Aug 19 2015

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. August 19, 2015: ”A very informative, and very well-connected, neighbor has been speaking with us about very imporant, often astonishing, national and international matters. His family connections are beyond question and we have spent the last few weeks making copious notes of our meetings.

The first matter I am addressing is the recent series of explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin. The official story, one embraced by the international press, is that a fire in a dockside warehouse caused several explosions that did considerable damage. Because the Chinese reported the presence of a cyanide-based product, they evacuated all people from a two mile radius. There were reports of considerable damage to buildings, including smashed windows, several miles away.

There has been a covert and on-going war between China and the United States for a number of years. The Chinese detest the Americans, their current government is a communist one and the United States once backed their enemy, Chiang KaiSheck and fought their military in Korea.

The Chinese have been engaged in trade wars with the United States. The Chinese bought up billions of dollars of U.S. Treasury notes, wooed American businesses to China with the promise of low wages, penetrated her most secret computer sites and made common cause with her enemies.

The Chinese are expansionistic and vicious in the extreme and thoroughly crooked in their business dealings. They have made counterfeit tungsten gold bars and coins and flooded the world with them. They sold the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a boatload of highly radioactive waste to be used against Western targets, have begun to build military bases on created islands in Southeast Asia and have flooded the United States with an army of agents. Recently, Chinese computer specialists broke into the American stock exchange computers and caused very limited but potentially dangerous manipulation of the market reportings. They then informed American authorities that this was only the beginning of an economic war that they would win unless American stood aside and stopped any negative actions against the PRC.

The Americans, furious with the Chinese, retaliated by getting into the Chinese stock market computers and causing a very serious slump of their assets. American intelligence has notified the world banking systems about the counterfeit gold the Chinese were using and when that profitable market dried up, the Chinese were outraged.

American policy makers have decided to force a confrontation with the PRC and if China can be pushed into a casus belli, to attack that country with nuclear weapons and destroy them. As China has been covertly considering getting control of Russia’s ecologically rich but population poor Siberia, the Russians have, in private talks, agreed that an attack by the United States on China would not find them  in any kind of support for China.

The first blow was to smuggle a very small atomic device into a Tianjin industrial area. This was not difficult because this is a large, busy port filled with foreign business offices and foreign personnel. A small-yield bomb detonated, sending out a very high thermal wave that burnt thousands of automobiles awaiting dockside shipment. It should be noted that these cars were all burnt in situ.

The atomic blast crisped them but did not tip any of them over as a standard explosive blast would have done. Local residents, miles distant, saw distant flames, heard low level explosions and began to film the fires from their apartments. Suddenly, there was a brilliant white flash, temporary blindness and the destruction of their windows and, often cameras. This flash was so bright it was picked up by a space satellite, something that would not have happened if a warehouse full of cyanide chemicals has ignited.

The next step is to await the inevitable Chinese retaliation and, if it is strong enough, to launch a prepared attack.

A senior and well-placed intelligence official is reported as saying that this time we would launch a Pearl Harbor attack. Note that the entire story of the devastating blasts and evacuations has vanished from the world media. If an atomic explosion did, in fact, happen, the radiation from it would enter the atmosphere and be detected by the concerned Japanese and later, by American sensors.

Believe it that there is no way such radiation could be effectively kept from the public.

This material came from one conversation. There were others, including plans to assassinate Vladimir Putin. More to follow!

Chinese stocks sink dragging Asian markets with them

August 18, 2015


The Shanghai Composite Index sank 6.15 percent to 3,748.16 points; the biggest daily fall since July 27. The Shenzhen Composite plunged even further – 6.58 percent – to 2,175.42 points.

Other Asian markets also closed in the red. The Japanese Nikkei lost 0.32 percent, the Hang Seng – 1.16 percent with the Taiwan TSEC 50 Index depreciating 0.44 percent.

The weak Chinese stock market and a slowdown in the real economy add to worries about the country’s economic growth despite continued government measures.

China has significantly devalued its national currency in an effort to boost exports, which fell 8.3 percent in July, compared to the year before. But the weaker yuan and government measures to prop up equities have failed to ease investor concerns.

“Global money managers are not really keen on taking risks at the moment,” Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG told AP. Among the factors that made investors cautious are the long-expected US rate hike and “other developments, such as the commodity slump and the China slowdown, added to the nervousness.”

On Monday, the Bloomberg Commodity Index fell to a 13-year low as declines in assets such as oil, metals and other commodities increased the value of fixed-income assets.

China lashes out at US after claims Beijing is deploying ‘covert agents’

Ahead of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s first US visit, American officials reportedly demand Beijing stop sending undercover agents

August 18, 2015

byTom Phillips in Beijing

The Guardian

China has lashed out at the United States for its “uncooperative” attitude and suggested it is becoming a haven for Chinese criminals, after Washington accused Beijing of deploying “covert agents” on American soil in a bid to snare fugitives wanted as part of president Xi Jinping’s war on corruption.

With just weeks to go until Xi makes his first state visit to the US, American officials have reportedly demanded Beijing stop sending undercover Chinese law enforcement agents there to take part in what Beijing calls “Operation Fox Hunt”.

he campaign to bring fugitives back to China is a key element of Xi’s high-profile offensive against corruption in the ruling Communist party.China is understood to have handed lists of targets to countries including the US, Australia, France, Canada and the UK.

However, there is “escalating anger” in Washington over the “strong-arm tactics” – including intimidation and threats – allegedly being used by Chinese agents to bring fugitives home, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

US officials said they had solid evidence the agents were not in the US “on acknowledged government business” and were likely coming into the country on tourist or business visas.

The issue has added to tensions between the two countries ahead of Xi Jinping’s trip to the US in September.

Already this year, the countries have locked horns over issues including the alleged hacking of millions of US government personnel files and China’s artificial island building campaign in the South China Sea.

Among those whose return Beijing is demanding is Ling Wancheng, a rich and well-connected businessman who had reportedly been living in California. Ling’s brother – a former presidential chief-of-staff called Ling Jihua – was arrested and expelled from the Communist party last month and his whereabouts are currently unknown.

China’s state-controlled media reacted angrily to US claims that its agents were operating outside the law.

The ‘Chinese secret agents’ are nothing but a fantasy,” the Global Times, a pro-Beijing tabloid, complained in an editorial on Tuesday. “The Chinese police officers set foot on the US soil by legal means and they take actions that are fair and square.

The US government is becoming more uncooperative with China in its anti-corruption endeavors [and] the US media falsely accused China of using Operation Fox Hunt to deploy secret agents on US soil,” added the newspaper, whose stridently nationalist views sometimes reflect those of the central government.

The US is providing shelter to those on the run. We have reason to suspect that the US wants to divert attention and regain the moral high ground.”

Xinhua, Beijing’s official news wire, said US attempts “to force China’s law enforcement staff to leave the country obviously reveals that Washington lacks sincerity”.

The United States, as a country that often stresses the rule of law, should clarify the issue and by no means become a safe haven for Chinese criminal suspects,” it added.

In a front-page story, the China Daily cited a source in China’s Ministry of Public Security who admitted its agents had travelled abroad in an attempt to “persuade” suspects “to come back to confess their crimes”. However, the source insisted such agents were strict about doing so on “official visas”.

The Global Times’ editorial claimed that apart from the US, “no other countries have issued complaints about the operation or conspired tales of ‘secret agents’ to hinder the process”.

However, officials from other countries targeted by Operation Fox Hunt, while publicly supportive of the campaign, privately express deep unease at its modus operandi.

Some worry about the tactics being used by Xi Jinping’s corruption-busting teams and suspect some targets are the victims of political vendettas rather than genuine corruption investigations

Others believe Beijing is exaggerating the scale of its “fox hunt” in an attempt to convince the Chinese public that it is winning the war on corruption.

“In principle, foreign governments will say: ‘Yes, of course we will support clamping down on corruption because it does impact on foreign interests in China.’ But in practice I am sure that they will have lots of questions about the methods being used and the people being pursued,” said Kerry Brown, the director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and a former British diplomat in China.

If they are aware that there is a political agenda – and there probably is in most of these cases – then they have to be very, very careful.”

During a visit last year to the Beijing headquarters of China’s anti-corruption agency, Brown said officials had talked about the “innovative investigative methods” being used by its agents.

“Part of that is making up the rules as you go along, part of it is ends justifying means and part of it is making sure that you have always got the upper hand and you are concealing your intentions. It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors stuff.”

Brown said Beijing boasting that it was sending agents abroad was most likely intended to impress Chinese citizens but it had not played well with foreign governments.

“China certainly doesn’t like foreign agents operating on Chinese territory, so why on earth should the rest of the world embrace Chinese foreign agents operating on their territory?” he said.

Trump says would raise visa fees to pay for Mexican border wall

August 16, 2015


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would increase fees on some Mexican visas and all border crossing cards as part of a broader plan to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border.

Trump, the frontrunner in a crowded Republican field, has made immigration a central plank of his campaign. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said he would deport all undocumented immigrants and rescind U.S. President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

The orders, if enacted, could protect as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

In a policy paper issued on Sunday, Trump said he would increase fees on temporary visas for Mexican chief executives, diplomats and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) workers if Mexico does not agree to pay for the wall.

The NAFTA agreement of 1994 eliminated most tariff and other barriers to free trade and investment between the United States, Canada and Mexico. It permits the temporary cross-border movement of business travelers within the region.

Trump said he would also impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages and increase fees at ports of entry from Mexico. Foreign aid cuts and tariffs would also be considered.

“The Mexican government has taken the United States to the cleaners,” he said. “They are responsible for this problem, and they must help pay to clean it up.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry declined to comment directly on Trump’s proposals but said in an emailed statement that Mexicans make a significant contribution to the United States economy, and that net migration between the two countries reached zero in 2012.

Trump began his campaign in June by saying Mexico is sending its criminals and rapists to the U.S. The comment sparked outrage from Hispanic civil rights groups and others.

In his new position paper, Trump said he would triple the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and pay for the increase by eliminating tax credit payments to illegal immigrants.

He would also increase penalties for people who overstay their visas and end the policy of giving automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.

Applicants seeking to enter the U.S. would have to certify that they could pay for their own housing, healthcare and other needs, he said, and he would raise the bar for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers.

Trump said he would also place the issuing of green cards to foreign workers on pause so employers would have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed workers.

“This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages,” he said.

The presidential election will be held in 2016.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington, additional reporting by Christine Murray in Mexico City, editing by Larry King and Eric Walsh)




AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale

August 15, 2015

by Julia AnBy Julia Angwin, Charlie Savage, Jeff Larson, Henrik Moltke, Laura Poitras and James Risen

New York Times


The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.

While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as “highly collaborative,” while another lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.”

AT&T’s cooperation has involved a broad range of classified activities, according to the documents, which date from 2003 to 2013. AT&T has given the N.S.A. access, through several methods covered under different legal rules, to billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks. It provided technical assistance in carrying out a secret court order permitting the wiretapping of all Internet communications at the United Nations headquarters, a customer of AT&T.

The N.S.A.’s top-secret budget in 2013 for the AT&T partnership was more than twice that of the next-largest such program, according to the documents. The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency.

One document reminds N.S.A. officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting, “This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.”

The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, were jointly reviewed by The New York Times and ProPublica. The N.S.A., AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files. “We don’t comment on matters of national security,” an AT&T spokesman said.

It is not clear if the programs still operate in the same way today. Since the Snowden revelations set off a global debate over surveillance two years ago, some Silicon Valley technology companies have expressed anger at what they characterize as N.S.A. intrusions and have rolled out new encryption to thwart them. The telecommunications companies have been quieter, though Verizon unsuccessfully challenged a court order for bulk phone records in 2014.

At the same time, the government has been fighting in court to keep the identities of its telecom partners hidden. In a recent case, a group of AT&T customers claimed that the N.S.A.’s tapping of the Internet violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. This year, a federal judge dismissed key portions of the lawsuit after the Obama administration argued that public discussion of its telecom surveillance efforts would reveal state secrets, damaging national security.

The N.S.A. documents do not identify AT&T or other companies by name. Instead, they refer to corporate partnerships run by the agency’s Special Source Operations division using code names. The division is responsible for more than 80 percent of the information the N.S.A. collects, one document states.

Fairview is one of its oldest programs. It began in 1985, the year after antitrust regulators broke up the Ma Bell telephone monopoly and its long-distance division became AT&T Communications. An analysis of the Fairview documents by The Times and ProPublica reveals a constellation of evidence that points to AT&T as that program’s partner. Several former intelligence officials confirmed that finding.

A Fairview fiber-optic cable, damaged in the 2011 earthquake in Japan, was repaired on the same date as a Japanese-American cable operated by AT&T. Fairview documents use technical jargon specific to AT&T. And in 2012, the Fairview program carried out the court order for surveillance on the Internet line, which AT&T provides, serving the United Nations headquarters. (N.S.A. spying on United Nations diplomats has previously been reported, but not the court order or AT&T’s involvement. In October 2013, the United States told the United Nations that it would not monitor its communications.)

The documents also show that another program, code-named Stormbrew, has included Verizon and the former MCI, which Verizon purchased in 2006. One describes a Stormbrew cable landing that is identifiable as one that Verizon operates. Another names a contact person whose LinkedIn profile says he is a longtime Verizon employee with a top-secret clearance.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AT&T and MCI were instrumental in the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping programs, according to a draft report by the N.S.A.’s inspector general. The report, disclosed by Mr. Snowden and previously published by The Guardian, does not identify the companies by name but describes their market share in numbers that correspond to those two businesses, according to Federal Communications Commission reports.

AT&T began turning over emails and phone calls “within days” after the warrantless surveillance began in October 2001, the report indicated. By contrast, the other company did not start until February 2002, the draft report said.

In September 2003, according to the previously undisclosed N.S.A. documents, AT&T was the first partner to turn on a new collection capability that the N.S.A. said amounted to a “ ‘live’ presence on the global net.” In one of its first months of operation, the Fairview program forwarded to the agency 400 billion Internet metadata records — which include who contacted whom and other details, but not what they said — and was “forwarding more than one million emails a day to the keyword selection system” at the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. Stormbrew was still gearing up to use the new technology, which appeared to process foreign-to-foreign traffic separate from the post-9/11 program.

In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. This revelation is striking because after Mr. Snowden disclosed the program of collecting the records of Americans’ phone calls, intelligence officials told reporters that, for technical reasons, it consisted mostly of landline phone records.

That year, one slide presentation shows, the N.S.A. spent $188.9 million on the Fairview program, twice the amount spent on Stormbrew, its second-largest corporate program.

After The Times disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005, plaintiffs began trying to sue AT&T and the N.S.A. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that three years earlier, he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment.

Mr. Klein claimed that AT&T was providing the N.S.A. with access to Internet traffic that AT&T transmits for other telecom companies. Such cooperative arrangements, known in the industry as “peering,” mean that communications from customers of other companies could end up on AT&T’s network.

After Congress passed a 2008 law legalizing the Bush program and immunizing the telecom companies for their cooperation with it, that lawsuit was thrown out. But the newly disclosed documents show that AT&T has provided access to peering traffic from other companies’ networks.

AT&T’s “corporate relationships provide unique accesses to other telecoms and I.S.P.s,” or Internet service providers, one 2013 N.S.A. document states.

Because of the way the Internet works, intercepting a targeted person’s email requires copying pieces of many other people’s emails, too, and sifting through those pieces. Plaintiffs have been trying without success to get courts to address whether copying and sifting pieces of all those emails violates the Fourth Amendment.

Many privacy advocates have suspected that AT&T was giving the N.S.A. a copy of all Internet data to sift for itself. But one 2012 presentation says the spy agency does not “typically” have “direct access” to telecoms’ hubs. Instead, the telecoms have done the sifting and forwarded messages the government believes it may legally collect.

Corporate sites are often controlled by the partner, who filters the communications before sending to N.S.A.,” according to the presentation. This system sometimes leads to “delays” when the government sends new instructions, it added.

The companies’ sorting of data has allowed the N.S.A. to bring different surveillance powers to bear. Targeting someone on American soil requires a court order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. When a foreigner abroad is communicating with an American, that law permits the government to target that foreigner without a warrant. When foreigners are messaging other foreigners, that law does not apply and the government can collect such emails in bulk without targeting anyone.

AT&T’s provision of foreign-to-foreign traffic has been particularly important to the N.S.A. because large amounts of the world’s Internet communications travel across American cables. AT&T provided access to the contents of transiting email traffic for years before Verizon began doing so in March 2013, the documents show. They say AT&T gave the N.S.A. access to “massive amounts of data,” and by 2013 the program was processing 60 million foreign-to-foreign emails a day.

Because domestic wiretapping laws do not cover foreign-to-foreign emails, the companies have provided them voluntarily, not in response to court orders, intelligence officials said. But it is not clear whether that remains the case after the post-Snowden upheavals.

We do not voluntarily provide information to any investigating authorities other than if a person’s life is in danger and time is of the essence,” Brad Burns, an AT&T spokesman, said. He declined to elaborate.



Body-in-a-bag’ MI6 spy: Was he killed by secret service after uncovering money laundering?

August 17, 2015



Police investigating the mysterious death of an MI6 agent, whose body was discovered in unusual circumstances in his London flat, suspect he was murdered and that his killers returned to his apartment through a skylight to hide the evidence.

The body of British spy Gareth Williams, 31, was found padlocked in a holdall bag in his bath by detectives in August 2010.

Precise details of his work remain cloaked in secrecy, but sources allege he worked with equipment that tracked financial flows from Russia to Europe. The technology supposedly allowed MI6 to analyze money trails from Russian bank accounts to criminal syndicates in Europe.

Fresh revelations relating to his death surfaced Saturday, after a source told the Daily Mail that Scotland Yard officials believe an agent from another secret service broke into his apartment to conceal the evidence.

The new claim alleges that forensic equipment laid down in the flat after Williams’ body was discovered was moved while the building remained under the surveillance of armed police.

Special footplates, which enable detectives to make their way across a crime scene without causing contamination, were repositioned just over a day into the investigation.

After discovering this fact, Scotland Yard officials concluded the building’s walls had been scaled and Williams’ flat had been broken into via the skylight.

The force also drew the conclusion that those who had intruded had done so out of desperation to cover their tracks.

The police investigation at the time concluded that Williams died accidentally after a sex game went wrong.

But this latest line of inquiry contradicts these findings and raises fresh questions about how Williams, a skilled cryptographer with a high aptitude for mathematics, was killed.

The spy had been working alongside the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Washington before making his way to London, where he was given specialist training and dispatched on spy missions.

It has been suggested Williams was murdered by CIA or MI6 agents after uncovering sensitive data or after threatening to publish clandestine intelligence.

Another theory discussed in the UK media is that Williams may have disrupted a crime ring linked to Russian officials. Cars registered to the Russian Embassy were seen near his Pimlico apartment several days before his body was found, while a Russian-linked car was reportedly seen near his flat the day he was murdered, the Daily Mail reports.

Both theories were dismissed by Scotland Yard in late 2010.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox sharply criticized MI6 for neglecting to report that Williams had been missing for seven days. Wilcox, who presided over the 2012 inquest into his death, said MI6’s failure to contact his family sooner caused them additional suffering and led to a loss of valuable forensic evidence.

The delay, for which MI6 offered an apology, also meant a pathologist hired by the Home Office was unable to uncover the cause of Williams’ death

Wilcox came to the conclusion that Williams’ death was “unnatural and likely to have been criminally meditated.” She added that “on the balance of probabilities … Gareth was killed unlawfully” because it was unlikely he had locked himself inside the bag in which he was found.

However, in 2013 the Met’s investigation into Williams’ death came to a close, after detectives concluded he had locked himself in the bag as part of a sex game.

Despite this, Williams’ family has long believed his flat was “steam-cleaned” by spies after his death. Since the spy’s case was reopened, Scotland Yard’s latest inquiry appears to support this theory. The Williams’ family lawyer, Anthony O’Toole, previously told a pre-inquest hearing he believed a third party was present when Williams died and subsequently removed the evidence.

The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specializing in the dark arts of the secret services, or evidence has been removed post-mortem,” he told the Westminster Coroner’s Court in 2012.

In the aftermath of Williams’ death, the coroner was not informed that the footplates had been moved or of detectives’ suspicion that the spy’s flat had been broken into.

The forensics officer was adamant that nobody was allowed in or out of the crime scene, so when he turned up the following day to find the footplates had been moved an investigation was launched. The only way anybody could have got into that building was to have scaled the walls and got in through the skylight,” an intelligence source told the Daily Mail.

This was never revealed, as it was pretty embarrassing for the Met. Somebody appears to have broken in, perhaps cleaned up and got out again while officers were guarding the entrance to the flat.”


Rush for dual-nationality passports as EU migrants fear Brexit

17 August 2015

Jon Henley

The Guardian/UK


From work permits to healthcare, pensions to tax, EU citizens in UK and Britons in Europe worry they could be in a precarious position after 2016’s referendum

Thousands of people – continental Europeans in Britain as well as UK citizens abroad – are so alarmed at the potential impact of a British exit from the European Union on their lives that they are applying for a second passport, Guardian research suggests.

A Guardian website survey received more than 1,200 responses from European citizens, a large majority of whom were in the process of changing nationality or citizenship, or considering doing so. Many expressed concern that without dual nationality, an “out” vote in Britain’s membership referendum could make life as an EU citizen in the UK, or as a UK citizen in the EU, far more problematic. Even the most cautious extrapolation from the survey would suggest that many thousands of Europeans are taking similar action. “The worst is the uncertainty,” said Stephanie Zihms, a German national from near Bremen, who lives in Edinburgh.

Everyone talks about Brexit in big-picture economic or political terms; no one considers what it might mean personally, to so many people,” said Zihms, a post-doctoral academic. “My life is here now. Would I need a visa to visit my family? A minimum number of points to be able to work? No one can say.”

Chief among EU migrants’ worries in the event of “Brexit” are the end of fast-track EU-only lines at passport control; the return of work permits for employees; the abandonment of reciprocal public healthcare arrangements; tighter restrictions on studying and doing business; possible higher taxes on foreign property ownership and cash transfers between member states; and the treatment of foreign pensions.

In fact, the practical consequences of a Brexit for the approximately 2.4 million EU citizens in Britain and nearly 2 million Britons estimated to be living on the continent are not yet clear. An eventual exit process, which would involve unpicking decades of legislation and regulation, would probably take years to negotiate. But few seem ready to leave anything to chance.


Naturalisation on rise

According to government figures, naturalisations of EU citizens – including those from countries in eastern Europe that joined the union in 2004 – have been climbing sharply in recent years, from more than 10,000 in 2009 to just over 18,000 in 2013.

Zihms, who came to Britain as a student in 2005 and has been with her British boyfriend for nine years, aims to add her name to that total later this year. She ordered the official handbook for the Life in the UK test from the Home Office website after the Conservative election victory last month, once it was clear Britain would hold an in/out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017.

Until then, I was kind of joking about it,” she said. “I remember writing to a friend: if Ukip ever gets into power, I could be in trouble … But now it’s really not very funny. I’ll be taking the test as soon as I’m ready, and applying for citizenship, hopefully in September

Compared with the process in other EU states, acquiring UK citizenship is a costly business. Fabrizio Fazzini, a 44-year-old electronic engineer from Sicily who moved to Bristol with his wife and two children, now nine and six, at the end of 2010, said he had already passed his Life in the UK test and would be eligible to apply for citizenship late next year – a process that will cost him and his family more than £3,500.

I can’t imagine we’d actually be kicked out,” he said. “This is ‘just in case’. But I see colleagues from India and other non-EU countries – the hassle they have getting and renewing their skilled migrant visas … I wouldn’t want us to have to go through that. We’re happy here. I’m counting the days till I can invest four grand in four shiny new passports.”

Some feel they have little choice. Bart Szydlowski, 28, a Polish multimedia engineer who came to Britain to study nine years ago, is worried that without at least permanent resident status, which he will apply for as soon as he is eligible next year, he would no longer be sure of being able to work.

But the problem is, I’m not sure I could go back very easily either,” he said. “I have lived all my adult life here. My professional skills may be transferable in theory, but I don’t know I could find a job using them in Poland – not one that would give me the standard of living I have here.”

Szydlowski said he had discussed with his long-term British girlfriend the option of acquiring UK citizenship through marriage. “It’s a possibility, of course,” he said. “Certainly if it came to getting kicked out of the country … But that kind of pressure isn’t a good reason to get married. It’s something we’d rather do off our own bat.”

A pragmatic man from a country that entertains some of the same misgivings about Brussels as many in Britain, Szydlowski said he understood why the UK government felt it needed to hold a referendum: “You’re looking after your interests,” he said. “You can’t just ignore what people think.”


Convinced Europhiles, though, are not so certain.

It is all a bit alienating,” said Victoria Pinoncely, 27, a French national who stayed on in London after her master’s degree, works in planning, and is applying for permanent UK residency “for at least a bit of security”. She then has to wait a year before seeking dual nationality.

The EU isn’t perfect, but I do believe in the European project: I did Erasmus [an EU student exchange programme], I moved here – no paperwork, no fuss, just an NI number. And Europe’s about peace, understanding between peoples. Long term, I’m not sure how I’d feel about living in a country that turned its back on that. I do feel resentful, a bit. Like maybe I backed the wrong horse.”

It is not just EU migrants to Britain who feel resentment. Richard Reed, 35, a British educationalist living here with his German partner – also in education – said the “horribly inward-looking nature, the lack of openness, of real engagement” of the British debate around the EU depressed him.

British nationals on the continent are no less concerned. In France, retired civil servant Wendy Joint said her membership of the French health service “is dependent, under EU agreements, on my continuing to receive a UK state pension. If Britain comes out of the EU, it will have to negotiate reciprocal agreements with France and other EU countries with regard to health cover for UK citizens … It is an uncertainty.”

In Germany, Rebecca Syme, an editor, said simply that post-Brexit, it seemed to her that “remaining here might become quite complicated. For that reason, but also so that I can vote here, I’ve applied for German citizenship. My husband, who’s also British, will do the same next year – you have to be here for at least eight years to apply.”

Several British respondents said that thanks to a grandparent’s origins, they had begun the process of applying for an Irish passport. And almost all who have lived outside the UK for longer than 15 years expressed a quiet fury at not being allowed to vote in a referendum that could have a direct, and potentially profound, impact on their lives.

In Spain, Georgina Hodgson summed up the personal concerns of many migrants: “My entire life has been based in Spain since I moved here at the age of 18,” she said. “I have a career, a home and a partner here with whom I wish to stay. I enjoy being able to travel through Europe without a visa. Britain leaving the EU would be a disaster.”

And of the deeper questions a Brexit would pose, Josie Silva, a young British student teacher who will be returning to her job at a school in Germany next year after finishing her qualifying period in the UK, echoed the feelings of many when she said she would not think twice about seeking dual nationality.

I want to be part of the global community and the open, outward vision the EU has,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a perfect example of democracy, or even of economic stability, but the principles it represents for the common man are very important. If the UK leaves the EU, I worry it’ll finally push our country over the precipice of xenophobia and isolation on which we have been teetering for the past few years.”

What they said …

Tine Juhlert is a Dane who has lived in the UK for 20 years – but is only now applying for British citizenship. “To all intents and purposes, I am a British citizen,” she said. “I pay my taxes, I have a mortgage. This is my home. But alarm bells did start ringing when Ukip started to do so well … And I got a real shock when a very close friend from Canada was simply told to pack his bags the day after he’d completed his PhD.”

So Juhlert is applying for a British passport. “It doesn’t feel great, to be honest,” she said. “Paying all that money to join a club you’re already a member of, that you enjoy all the benefits of, and that feels like it’s not super-keen to have you. I thought I’d already done all I had to do, but no.”

But the alternative might turn out to be “a right nuisance … visas, permits, healthcare when we – especially my unbelievably accident-prone husband – go back and visit my family. Not that the EU’s perfect: there’s lots could be reformed. Be nice to see that mammoth building in Brussels run for something other than its own benefit. But I do believe we’re better together. So yes, I’m worried about a no vote.”

Samuel Schwarzkopf, a neuroscientist at University College London, has thought often about applying for British nationality since he first came here in 1999 – but held off because until recently Germany did not allow dual citizenship.

Now they do – for countries that are members of the EU,” he said. “So I’ll have to make sure I do it before the referendum happens. But my main feeling right now is just … confusion. Nobody knows what will change.”

Personally, Schwarzkopf said, he was not overly worried: “I’m married, you get permanent resident status after five years … I can’t think they’d kick me out. But professionally, that’s another story. My work is funded by a generous EU grant, which I’ll have to renew when it runs out in three years. What happens to that if there’s a Brexit?”

Besides his own research programme, many others would suffer, said Schwarzkopf. “UK research funding has flatlined; EU support is still strong. And the people … Exchanging people is just so easy right now. I have great students, post-docs, research assistants, from all over – but only because they’re EU.”

Citizenship would make me feel more integrated. Strengthen the sense of belonging. But … I don’t know. If Britain really does leave – that might well change my outlook. I might, actually, just go somewhere else.”


IRS says cyberattacks more extensive than previously thought

August 17, 2015



WASHINGTON -The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said Monday a hacking attack into one of its computer databases revealed in May was much more extensive than previously thought, with nearly three times as many taxpayers hit by data theft.

The IRS said in late May the tax return information of about 114,000 U.S. taxpayers had been illegally accessed by cyber criminals over the preceding four months, with another 111,000 unsuccessful attempts made.

A new review has identified 220,000 additional incidents where data was breached, the tax collection agency said. It identified another 170,000 suspected failed attempts by third parties to gain access to taxpayer data.

The attackers sought to gain access to personal tax information through the agency’s “Get Transcript” online application, which allowed taxpayers to call up information from previous returns. The system was shut down after the May attacks.

“The IRS believes some of this information may have been gathered for potentially filing fraudulent tax returns during the upcoming 2016 filing season,” the agency said in a statement.

It added that it will soon begin mailing letters in the next few days to the taxpayers whose accounts may have been accessed, offering them free credit monitoring and a new personal identification number to verify the authenticity of next year’s tax returns.

In May, the agency said that as a result of the breach, some 15,000 fraudulent returns were processed in the 2015 tax filing season, likely resulting in refunds of less than $50 million.

An IRS official said the agency was reviewing whether the number of fraudulent returns had grown due to the more extensive data breaches, but that requires a manual review of the individual returns.

(Reporting by David Lawder, Emily Stephenson and Sandra Maler; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler)


Teflon Toxin: The Case Against DuPont Part 2

August 17, 2015

by Sharon Lerner

The Intercept


Whe Jeromy Darling was 26, he worked in a warehouse that was so big he rode a bike to get around it. One day, as he was pedaling from one place to another, his foot slipped and he bumped his groin on the crossbar. The initial pain was no surprise. What was odd, though, was that the spot he hit continued to hurt for days. Darling was athletic and hearty and, like many young people, hadn’t seriously entertained the possibility of illness. But when the pain persisted, he went to a doctor, who diagnosed him with testicular cancer.

Darling had two surgeries to treat the disease — one to remove his testicle and another to remove lymph nodes from his abdomen. The second left him with 76 staples and a profound exhaustion. It was several months before he was able to return to work, and many more before he felt like himself again. Back then, in 1998, it didn’t occur to Darling to question why he got sick. He just chalked it up to bad luck and focused on getting better.

Now 43 and living in Parkersburg, West Virginia, just a few miles from where he grew up in Belpre, Ohio, Darling has other theories about his cancer. Both towns are within “the Chemical Valley,” which encompasses the hilly area of western West Virginia and eastern Ohio and is home to many big chemical companies.

DuPont’s Washington Works plant, one of the area’s biggest private employers, sits in a bend of the Ohio River just across the water from Belpre. Lately Darling can’t help but think that the sprawling facility, whose smokestacks still poke into the sky near his home, was responsible for his bad luck.

It may have been luck, too — good or bad, depending on what side of the case you’re on — that led the attorney Robert Bilott to sue the DuPont company. In any case, he was an unlikely person to take on one of the world’s largest chemical companies. A partner at a corporate firm in Cincinnati, Bilott had spent his first eight years as an attorney on the other side of the table, defending large companies like DuPont. But in 1999 a cattle farmer named Wilbur Tennant came to see him. Tennant told him that DuPont had bought land from his family that was adjacent to his farm, for what the company had assured him would be a non-hazardous landfill, according to a letter Bilott later filed with the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon, a stream his cows drank from started to run smelly and black, with a layer of foam floating on the surface. Within a few years, hundreds of Tennant’s cattle had died. Bilott had no way of knowing at the time that what seemed like a straightforward case would lead to one of the most significant class-action lawsuits in the history of environmental law.

In 2000, after spending more than a year on the case, Bilott still didn’t have any idea what had killed the cows. None of the chemicals DuPont had informed him about could explain the die-off. DuPont even agreed to do a study with the EPA on what might have caused the deaths. The study concluded that the Tennants must have mismanaged their animals, declaring that “there was no evidence of toxicity associated with chemical contamination of the environment.”

It was only after one of the attorneys working on the case stumbled across a document that mentioned a compound called PFOA that he began to solve the mystery. Known within the chemical industry as a “surfactant,” because it reduces the surface tension of water, PFOA — short for perfluorooctanoic acid — was slippery, chemically stable, and a critical ingredient in the manufacture of hundreds of products, including Teflon. Almost no one had heard of the stuff back then. Also called C8 because of the eight-carbon chain that makes up its chemical backbone, PFOA was just one of tens of thousands of unregulated industrial substances manufactured and used by American companies without any significant oversight by environmental or health authorities.

After more digging, the lawyers learned that the Minnesota-based company 3M had just pulled a similar perfluorinated compound, called PFOS, from the market. That led Bilott to make a request that changed the course of the trial about the cows, his career, and the future of the chemical giant he was facing: He asked for all of DuPont’s documentation pertaining to PFOA, or C8, through the legal discovery process.

What he received made it clear that even as the company had been pleading ignorance over what might possibly have killed Tennant’s cows, some DuPont employees were very well aware that C8 had seeped into local water. In fact, company scientists had been charting its presence in the Ohio River and nearby drinking water for almost two decades, and had been documenting its health effects since 1954, just three years after DuPont first used the chemical in one of its signature brands: Teflon.

The documents Bilott received included studies showing that the company had known C8 could affect the livers of dogs and humans. The studies also indicated that C8 encouraged the growth of testicular tumors in rats, that exposed workers suffered more frequently from endocrine disorders, and that the company had also documented elevated rates of certain cancers, including kidney cancer, in workers. Bilott learned that the company had been quietly monitoring public drinking water outside its plant and, since 1984, had been documenting C8’s presence at potentially dangerous levels. As far back as 1991, DuPont had estimated the C8 in a stream from which cattle drank at 100 parts per billion — which was 100 times greater than an internal safety limit the company had set for drinking water. In 2001, DuPont quickly settled the Tennant case for an undisclosed sum.

CB might simply have remained a problem for cows if not for another unlikely environmentalist, a Parkersburg elementary school gym teacher and former field coordinator for the AFL-CIO named Joe Kiger. When he first got a letter in October 2000 from the Lubeck Public Service District, the company that provides his drinking water, Kiger almost tossed it. It’s easy to see why. Though it was in regular-sized type, the letter had the tone of pharmaceutical fine print — purposefully impenetrable while also clearly designed not to alarm. The district routinely monitored water, it explained, and the detection of something called PFOA didn’t necessarily mean that it posed any health risk.

Kiger put the letter aside, but a few weeks later, after a friend was diagnosed with cancer, he went back and reread it. What exactly was this chemical, PFOA? And why was Lubeck telling him about it if it really didn’t pose any health risk? He decided to approach the water district and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with these questions. But when he did, he sensed he was being summarily — and nervously — dismissed, which made the teacher only more determined to get answers.

It took months of calls and visits to government offices before someone at the local branch of the federal EPA, who had heard that the Tennant suit had something to do with PFOA, pointed Kiger toward Bilott. The lawyer realized then that the entire water district, which today serves more than 4,000 customers, had been contaminated. In 2001, Bilott filed a class-action suit on behalf of all the people in the area who were exposed to C8-contaminated water — a group that eventually included Kiger and his wife, Darlene, as well as Jeromy Darling, Ken Wamsley, and Sue Bailey among the roughly 80,000 class members who lived or worked in six public water systems near the DuPont plant in Parkersburg.

Kiger didn’t realize it then, but drafts of the notification letter, despite being on the letterhead of Lubeck Public Service District, had been reviewed by DuPont, as a former public affairs manager for DuPont named Craig Skaggs admitted when he was deposed in 2002. Had much more time elapsed before Kiger went back to the letter or before he found someone in a public office who was helpful to him, the statute of limitations that had been triggered by the letter might have run out. According to West Virginia law, two years after they had been officially notified of the contamination, anyone exposed to C8 by drinking the Lubeck water would have lost their right to sue.

Ebven considering the remarkable persistence (and luck) of Joe Kiger, Rob Bilott, and Wilbur Tennant, the person who did the most to turn a relatively small dispute over cattle into a mega class-action suit was actually employed by DuPont. Bernard Reilly had been an in-house counsel at DuPont since 1977, and for most of that time he worked in the environmental group within the company’s legal department. Reilly was assigned to help with the Tennant case, and he was worried about the possibility of somehow letting potentially incriminating information he was working on slip out. “Each time you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and create a new document,” he warned his colleagues in an email he sent in September 2000, “assume you will have the plaintiffs’ lawyers as recipients since we must produce each and every such document unless it is attorney/client privilege.”

Yet ironically it was Reilly himself who spilled the beans about C8 when he sent personal emails about the chemical through the company’s computer system. Consequently, just as Reilly had warned, when Bilott asked for C8-related materials in discovery, he received Reilly’s emails, which made clear not just that the company was hiding something, but also that he himself had become part of the story. One of Reilly’s emails, for instance, contained the following passage: “The lawyer for the farmer finally realizes the surfactant issue. He is threatening to go to the press to embarrass us to pressure us to settle for big bucks. Fuck him.”

Reilly wrote many of his emails, often to his son, from his vacation property in Vermont between October 1998 and May 2002 and interspersed musings about home repair, Otto the family dog, and his favorite snack food (goldfish cashew and almond nutty deluxe snack mix), with candid updates on his legal efforts concerning C8, which he referred to as “the material 3M sells us that we poop to the river and into drinking water.”

Reilly’s emails made clear that he felt the company had done wrong, first by polluting and then by not addressing the problem once it became known. He even revealed that the company knew the level of contamination had exceeded its own safety limits.

Not only do we have people drinking our famous surfactant, but levels in ambient air above our guidelines, sure we have margins of safety in our number, but we should have checked this out years ago and taken steps to remedy, guess the hills on the other side of the river cause great conditions for ambient levels, the plume hits them before it can disperse more fully. Ugh.

The DuPont lawyer was referring to his employer’s “Community Exposure Guidelines,” which specified safety limits of C8 in both air and water that were meant to protect the people living near the plant. Using what they knew about the chemical’s health effects and how long it remained in human tissue, staff scientists in 1991 had set this drinking water guideline at one part per billion. A level measured above that would present a “risk that needs to be disclosed to the community,” one document explained.

Yet the company hadn’t disclosed — or remedied — the problem, even when it measured C8 above that amount. Instead, in 1991, just months after realizing that the level of C8 in Lubeck’s water had exceeded DuPont’s guideline, the company decided to use a new lab to analyze C8 levels in water.

The new lab came up with C8 levels that were, on average, much lower than the results of DuPont’s in-house lab.

By the time the lawsuits were underway, the company decided to find a lab that would more accurately measure the chemical. In 2001, as Reilly explained to his son, it switched back “to a much better analytical method that may bring in numbers that will alarm citizens.”

We learned recently that our analytical technique has very poor recovery, often 25%, so any results we get should be multiplied by a factor of 4 or even 5. However, that has not been the practice, so we have been telling the agencies results that are certainly low. Not a pretty situation, especially since we have been telling the drinking water folks not to worry, results have been under the level we deem “safe” of 1 ppb. We now fear we will get data from a better technique that will exceed the number we have touted as safe. Ugh.

Reilly had been fretting over the company’s responsibility for the contamination for some time. “We really should not let situations arise like this,” he wrote to his son in 1999. “We should have used a commercial landfill and let them deal with these issues.” And he also offered some hints as to why a corporation would knowingly let a toxic chemical seep into ground and water beyond its facility.

They plant tries to save money and apparently did not consider how it might look that this guy’s cows are drinking the rainwater that has percolated through our waste.

When he was deposed in June 2015, though, Reilly said he didn’t mean to suggest that DuPont should have to pay punitive damages.

Reilly, or “The Bernard,” as he signs off on occasion, apparently wasn’t privy to much of what DuPont knew about C8’s effects on humans — and, at least in 1998, didn’t think it harmed them. But he did know there was plenty of evidence that the chemical made lab animals sick. As he made clear to his son, the company was planning to conduct a primate study in 1999, together with 3M, which supplied DuPont with C8. 3M had conducted a monkey study 20 years before that produced disturbing, though not conclusive, findings.

Even before the new primate study was completed, however, Reilly clearly grasped the severity of DuPont’s legal problems. Apparently, though, he thought some of his higher-ups did not. While DuPont pressed for a trial in the Tennant case, he felt that going to trial was a bad idea and, as he wrote to his son in 1999, he took it upon himself to “describe to the plant folks why the guy who is suing us over his cattle grazing downstream of our landfill would crucify us before a jury. … Most simply do not believe how big and bad we would look.”

Preliminary results from the monkey study, released in 1999, only made DuPont look worse. The results showed that C8 caused monkeys to lose weight and made their livers increase in size. The hope had been to find a level at which there were no observable effects. But because even animals given the lowest doses of the chemical experienced enlargement of their livers, and one was so ill it had to be euthanized, no safe level was set after the study.

But DuPont clearly wasn’t ready to give up on its surfactant. Although 3M had decided to stop making C8 in May 2000, just months after the preliminary results of the monkey study were released, DuPont moved to start producing C8 in a new production facility in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Before the plant opened it issued a reassuring statement to the people in the area surrounding the facility: “DuPont has used [C8] for more than 50 years with no observed health effects in workers.” Charles Holliday, the company’s CEO at the time, testified in a sworn deposition in 2004 that after overseeing “very extensive scientific analysis” he believed the chemical was “safe in the way we use and handle it.”

In September, 2004, DuPont agreed to settle the class-action suit filed by Bilott’s firm and two others, which covered a class that had ballooned to 80,000 people in six water districts. The agreement was approved in early 2005 for an amount that could reach $343 million and was unusual in a number of ways. Generally, a legal settlement marks the end of a case, when attorneys and clients divvy up the cash and move on. Because the burden of proving that exposure to an unregulated chemical causes health problems is so onerous, plaintiffs who get any money in such cases may be especially inclined to let the matter drop. But the 2005 settlement of the C8 class-action lawsuit was also a beginning. Instead of just cutting checks, the agreement created a health project to collect medical information on the exposed population and determine whether exposure to C8 had actually harmed people.

At first, some doubted that the health project could enroll enough people to be useful; huge numbers of participants are usually necessary to show that a chemical causes harm. But the team of local researchers, headed by a retired physician named Paul Brooks and a former hospital administrator named Arthur Maher, threw themselves into the task. In part by offering each participant $400, they managed to interview and collect blood samples from 69,000 people who had lived or worked in the six affected water districts for at least a year.

The settlement also created a separate group called the C8 Science Panel composed of three physicians, Kyle Steenland, Tony Fletcher, and David Savitz, who all had backgrounds in epidemiology and public health and were chosen and approved by both teams of lawyers. The science panel used the blood samples and questionnaires from the health project and also conducted its own studies, which were published in peer-reviewed journals and posted on the science panel’s public website, to determine whether any diseases were linked. If they were, the agreement said, DuPont would filter the local water for as long as concentrations of C8 exceeded regulations and set aside $235 million for ongoing medical monitoring of the community. Plus, any of the class members who developed the linked diseases would be entitled to sue for personal injury. DuPont, moreover, agreed not to contest the fact that exposure to the chemical could cause the diseases.

By the time the C8 Science Panel completed its work in 2013, its members had spent eight years and around $33 million exploring the connections between C8 and human health. The panel even came up with a model that could estimate residents’ exposure levels based on where they lived and historical concentrations of C8 in air, groundwater, and the Ohio River. Linking that information to health data helped the three scientists find likely connections to six diseases: high cholesterol; a form of bowel disease called ulcerative colitis; pregnancy-induced hypertension; thyroid disease; testicular cancer; and kidney cancer.

Their results skewered DuPont’s hopes that its animal data might not apply to humans. They also flew in the face of a long-held belief about how chemicals affect people: that the dose makes the poison. That truism, generally attributed to the work of the 16th-century physician Paracelsus, has served as one of the starting points of modern toxicology. And this logic may have led DuPont scientists to conclude, or at least hope, that the small amounts of C8 people living near the plant ingested wouldn’t hurt them.

But Paracelsus hadn’t heard about endocrine disruptors, a recently discovered class of chemicals, to which C8 belongs, that interfere with the hormonal system. When graphed against the amount of chemical exposure, the health effects of endocrine disruptors often don’t take the expected form — an upward sloping line, with the lowest point on the left, where doses are lowest, and the effects steadily increasing along with the exposure levels. Instead, when plotted, the effects of endocrine disruptors can look like an upside down “V” or an upward slope with a dent in the middle, reflecting the fact that effects can, at certain levels, drop even as exposure increases.

Even though the level of C8 contamination required for a water district to become part of the class-action suit was low — just .05 ppb — the data gathered from class members showed apparent health effects. That limit had been chosen because at the time it was the lowest level that could be reliably measured.

The science panel data has since been used to link C8 with other effects beyond those six diseases, but according to the terms of the suit, the list of diseases cannot be amended. The attorneys’ clear-cut solution fell short of capturing the messy science of epidemiology. According to panel member David Savitz, a professor of epidemiology at Brown University, scientists still haven’t untangled all of the ties between C8 and disease. “It is quite possible, even likely, that some of the diseases we found no probable link for will, in time, turn out to be related to C8,” he said. Of course, as a careful scientist, Savitz knows that the contrary is true as well, because everything in science is potentially falsifiable. “But it’s also quite likely that some of the diseases for which we did declare a probable link will turn out, with improved research, to have been incorrectly judged when they are not associated with risk of those diseases. There was very little research done before the C8 Science Panel’s work, and while we extended the research considerably, it was and remains quite limited for drawing firm judgments.” It’s that permanent and irresolvable uncertainty that companies like DuPont are so adept at exploiting.

However, recent studies published in peer-reviewed journals such as Human Reproduction, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and The Journal of Pediatrics have tied C8 to an incredible range of health effects, including ovarian cancer; prostate cancer; lymphoma; reduced fertility; arthritis; hyperactivity and altered immune responses in children; and hypotonia, or “floppiness,” in infants.

Had the CB health project not reached the number of people it did, or had the science panel not been as diligent about crunching all the data, epidemiologists might not have been able to recognize the elevated disease rates for what they were. In the water district with the highest level of exposure — Little Hocking, Ohio — there were eight cases of testicular cancer, a seemingly small number that is five times what would be expected in an unexposed population of that size. For kidney cancer, the rate of disease was up to two times higher than usual.

The link to high cholesterol, while clear enough to have been recognized and agreed upon by all three physicians on the science panel, also might have been missed because the study results were so nuanced. Yet in part because the study was so large, the researchers were able to show that the greater a person’s exposure to C8, the greater his or her chance of having elevated cholesterol.

Together, these diseases became part of a pattern. Considered in isolation, however, each illness is typically seen as a chance occurrence, which is what Jodie Boylen thought when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. A lawyer who works on child neglect cases in the prosecutor’s office in Parkersburg, Boylen had been feeling exhausted before her doctor found her tumor in 2013. At that point, the link between C8 and kidney cancer had already been made by the science panel data, though she hadn’t heard about it. When she did, from a colleague who was working on the class-action case, she joined the class. Boylen also began thinking about the house she had lived in with her three children between 1989 and 1998. Not only was it in one of the affected water districts, their house was right on the shore of Lake Washington, a small body of water that was just a mile from the DuPont plant. “We drank it. We swam in that lake every day we could,” Boylen, now 53, remembered recently. “We lived in that lake in the summer.”

Boylen had surgery to remove her kidney tumor in 2013 and is hopeful that the cancer won’t return. But she still worries about her children. “They were in the water more than I was, they went to school in that district,” she said in a recent interview in her Parkersburg home. “What’s going to happen to them in a couple of years?”

Jeromy Darling, too, is now cancer-free. But 17 years after his diagnosis, the financial legacy of his ordeal is still with him. Because he was uninsured at the time of his illness, he wound up declaring bankruptcy after being hit with more than $75,000 in bills for his surgeries. “I had all the good cards, all the good interest rates. All that went away,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s embarrassing. I work forty-plus hours a week and I can’t get a credit card now.”

Darling was unable to buy a house because he couldn’t get a mortgage, so his girlfriend of 20 years bought their current home by herself. And he hasn’t married her because he didn’t want his bad credit history to rub off on her good one. The couple even changed their plans about having children together after Darling’s doctors told him his sperm count was greatly reduced due to his cancer diagnosis. “We didn’t try because you don’t want to have that disappointment,” he said. “It’s almost better to put it out of your mind.”

When they got together, each of them had already had one child. Like Boylen, Darling is focused on the children’s health and the fact that they grew up in the chemical valley, drinking the same C8-contaminated water he did.

To date, some 3,500 personal injury claims have been filed as part of the 2005 class-action settlement. The first trial, scheduled for September in Columbus, Ohio, takes up the case of Carla Bartlett, who maintains that her kidney cancer was caused by exposure to C8. Attorneys for DuPont, because of the terms of the class-action settlement, will be unable to contest the general causal connection between kidney cancer and C8 exposure, but they will almost certainly argue that other factors are more likely to be responsible. The deposition of a DuPont expert named Douglas Weed suggests a possible line of attack: that Bartlett, who lives just a few miles downriver from the DuPont plant, developed the cancer because she’s overweight. Or, perhaps, just by chance.

The role of luck — that two things often correlate just by chance — was a major point of Weed’s testimony, for which DuPont paid the former employee of the National Cancer Institute more than $100,000. During his deposition in March 2015, the doctor estimated that since leaving the government agency eight years ago he has made between $5 million and $6 million providing expert testimony to companies in such corporate defense cases.

Surely, after all that they’ve endured, Bartlett, Darling, Boylen, and the other plaintiffs would agree that sometimes bad things just happen. But their list of unfortunate — and unlikely — occurrences would no doubt include the leakage of a toxic and biologically potent chemical into their water and the subsequent contamination of their bodies, where it may have caused diseases that have forever changed their lives.

Perhaps the most remarkable and unlikely occurrence of all is not the fact that the contamination happened, or even that it turned out to be harmful, but that it was discovered. It’s easy to imagine how — without Tennant, Bilott, or Kiger; without Reilly’s revealing emails; and without the exuberance of the health project and the diligence of the science panel — DuPont’s secrets might never have emerged. Had the stars aligned that way, C8 would still be largely unknown, just one of the tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals we don’t notice as they silently pollute our world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: DuPont, asked to respond to the allegations contained in this article, declined to comment due to pending litigation.

In previous statements and court filings, however, DuPont has consistently denied that it did anything wrong or broke any laws. In settlements reached with regulatory authorities and in the class-action suit, DuPont has made clear that those agreements were compromise settlements regarding disputed claims and that the settlements did not constitute an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Likewise, in response to the personal injury claims of Jodie Boylen, Jeromy Darling, and others, DuPont has rejected all charges of wrongdoing and maintained that their injuries were “proximately caused by acts of God and/or by intervening and/or superseding actions by others, over which DuPont had no control.” DuPont also claimed that it “neither knew, nor should have known, that any of the substances to which Plaintiff was allegedly exposed were hazardous or constituted a reasonable or foreseeable risk of physical harm by virtue of the prevailing state of the medical, scientific and/or industrial knowledge available to DuPont at all times relevant to the claims or causes of action asserted by Plaintiff.”

When contacted by The Intercept for comment, 3M provided the following statement. “In more than 30 years of medical surveillance we have observed no adverse health effects in our employees resulting from their exposure to PFOS or PFOA. This is very important since the level of exposure in the general population is much lower than that of production employees who worked directly with these materials,” said Dr. Carol Ley, 3M vice president and corporate medical director. “3M believes the chemical compounds in question present no harm to human health at levels they are typically found in the environment or in human blood.”

Coming next: Part 3, How DuPont slipped past the EPA





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