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Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen speak at a meet­ing in February. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­sum­ing its ef­forts to de­port cer­tain pro­tected Vietnamese im­mi­grants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them hav­ing fled the coun­try dur­ing the Vietnam War. This is the lat­est move in the pres­i­den­t’s long record of pri­or­i­tiz­ing harsh im­mi­gra­tion and asy­lum re­stric­tions, and one that’s sure to raise eye­brows—the White House had hes­i­tantly backed off the plan in August be­fore re­vers­ing course. In essence, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has now de­cided that Vietnamese im­mi­grants who ar­rived in the coun­try be­fore the es­tab­lish­ment of diplo­matic ties be­tween the United States and Vietnam are sub­ject to stan­dard im­mi­gra­tion law—mean­ing they are all el­i­gi­ble for de­por­ta­tion.The new stance mir­rors White House ef­forts to clamp down on im­mi­gra­tion writ large, a fre­quent com­plaint of the pres­i­den­t’s on the cam­paign trail and one he links to a litany of ills in the United States.The ad­min­is­tra­tion last year be­gan pur­su­ing the de­por­ta­tion of many long-term im­mi­grants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other coun­tries who the ad­min­is­tra­tion al­leges are violent crim­i­nal aliens.” But Washington and Hanoi have a unique 2008 agree­ment that specif­i­cally bars the de­por­ta­tion of Vietnamese peo­ple who ar­rived in the United States be­fore July 12, 1995—the date the two for­mer foes reestab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions fol­low­ing the Vietnam War.

The White House uni­lat­er­ally rein­ter­preted the agree­ment in the spring of 2017 to ex­empt peo­ple con­victed of crimes from its pro­tec­tions, al­low­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to send back a small num­ber of pre-1995 Vietnamese im­mi­grants, a pol­icy it re­treated from this past August. Last week, how­ever, a spokesper­son for the U. S. em­bassy in Hanoi said the American gov­ern­ment was again re­vers­ing course.Wash­ing­ton now be­lieves that the 2008 agree­ment fails to pro­tect pre-1995 Vietnamese im­mi­grants from de­por­ta­tion, the spokesper­son, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied by name be­cause of em­bassy pro­ce­dures, told The Atlantic.“The United States and Vietnam signed a bi­lat­eral agree­ment on re­movals in 2008 that es­tab­lishes pro­ce­dures for de­port­ing Vietnamese cit­i­zens who ar­rived in the United States af­ter July 12, 1995, and are sub­ject to fi­nal or­ders of re­moval,” the spokesper­son said. While the pro­ce­dures as­so­ci­ated with this spe­cific agree­ment do not ap­ply to Vietnamese cit­i­zens who ar­rived in the United States be­fore July 12, 1995, it does not ex­plic­itly pre­clude the re­moval of pre-1995 cases.”The about-turn came as a State Department spokesper­son con­firmed that the Department of Homeland Security had met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Vietnamese em­bassy in Washington, D.C., but de­clined to pro­vide de­tails of when the talks took place or what was dis­cussed.Katie Waldman, a spokes­woman for DHS said: We have 5,000 con­victed crim­i­nal aliens from Vietnam with fi­nal or­ders of re­moval—these are non-cit­i­zens who dur­ing pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions were ar­rested, con­victed, and ul­ti­mately or­dered re­moved by a fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion judge. It’s a pri­or­ity of this ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­move crim­i­nal aliens to their home coun­try.”Spokes­peo­ple for the Vietnamese em­bassy did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.But the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, a Washington, D.C., ad­vo­cacy group, said in a state­ment that the pur­pose of the meet­ing was to change the 2008 agree­ment. That deal had ini­tially been set to last for five years, and was to be au­to­mat­i­cally ex­tended every three years un­less ei­ther party opted out. Under those rules, it was set to re­new next month. Since 1998, fi­nal re­moval or­ders have been is­sued for more than 9,000 Vietnamese na­tion­als.When it first de­cided to rein­ter­pret the 2008 deal, Donald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gued that only pre-1995 ar­rivals with crim­i­nal con­vic­tions were ex­empt from the agree­men­t’s pro­tec­tion and el­i­gi­ble for de­por­ta­tion. Vietnam ini­tially con­ceded and ac­cepted some of those im­mi­grants be­fore stiff­en­ing its re­sis­tance; about a dozen Vietnamese im­mi­grants ended up be­ing de­ported from the United States. The August de­ci­sion to change course, re­ported to a California court in October, ap­peared to put such moves at least tem­porar­ily on ice, but the lat­est shift leaves the fate of a larger num­ber of Vietnamese im­mi­grants in doubt. Now all pre-1995 ar­rivals are ex­empt from the 2008 agree­men­t’s pro­tec­tion.

Read: The U. S. used to crit­i­cize coun­tries that did­n’t al­low their cit­i­zens to leave.Many pre-1995 ar­rivals, all of whom were pre­vi­ously pro­tected un­der the 2008 agree­ment by both the ad­min­is­tra­tions of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the chil­dren of those who once al­lied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an at­tribute that ren­ders them un­de­sir­able to the cur­rent regime in Hanoi, which im­putes anti-regime be­liefs to the chil­dren of those who op­posed North Vietnam. This anti-Com­mu­nist con­stituency in­cludes mi­nori­ties such as the chil­dren of the American-allied Montagnards, who are per­se­cuted in Vietnam for both their eth­nic­ity and Christian re­li­gion.The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s move re­flects an en­tirely new read­ing of the agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to Ted Osius, who served as the United States am­bas­sador to Vietnam from December 2014 through October 2018. Osius said that while he was in of­fice, the 2008 agree­ment was ac­cepted by all in­volved par­ties as ban­ning the de­por­ta­tion of all pre-1995 Vietnamese im­mi­grants.“We un­der­stood that the agree­ment barred the de­por­ta­tion of pre-1995 Vietnamese. Both gov­ern­ments—and the Vietnamese-American com­mu­nity—in­ter­preted it that way,” Osius told The Atlantic in an email. The State Department, he added, had ex­plained this to both the White House and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.News of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­newed hard line quickly made the rounds on Vietnamese American so­cial me­dia, with ad­vo­cacy groups warn­ing of po­ten­tially in­creased de­por­ta­tions.“Forty-three years ago, a lot of the Southeast Asian com­mu­ni­ties and Vietnamese com­mu­ni­ties fled their coun­tries and their home­land due to the war, which the U.S. was in­volved in, flee­ing for their safety and the safety of their fam­i­lies,” said Kevin Lam, the or­ga­niz­ing di­rec­tor of the Asian American Resource Workshop, an ad­vo­cacy group. The U.S. would do well to re­mem­ber that.” We want to hear what you think about this ar­ti­cle. Submit a let­ter to the ed­i­tor or write to let­ters@the­at­lantic.com. Krishnadev Calamur is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he cov­ers global news. He is a for­mer ed­i­tor and re­porter at NPR and the au­thor of Murder in Mumbai.


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2 ☆ 179,759 shares, 1,338 trendiness, 2209 words and 15 minutes reading time

My Dad's Friendship With Charles Barkley

My Dad’s Friendship With Charles BarkleyCopy the code be­low to em­bed the WBUR au­dio player on your sitePlay­When Charles Barkley’s mother, Charcey Glenn, passed away in June 2015, Barkley’s home­town of Leeds, Alabama, came to the fu­neral to pay re­spects. But there was also an un­ex­pected guest. Barkley’s friends could­n’t quite place him. He was­n’t a bas­ket­ball player, he was­n’t a sports fig­ure, and he was­n’t from Barkley’s home­town. Here’s what I can tell you about him: He wore striped, red polo shirts tucked into khaki shorts and got re­ally ex­cited about two-for-one deals. He was a com­muter. He worked as a cat lit­ter sci­en­tist in Muscatine, Iowa. In short, he was every­one’s sub­ur­ban dad. More specif­i­cally, he was my dad.“You know, it was ob­vi­ously a very dif­fi­cult time,” Barkley told me re­cently. And the next thing I know, he shows up. Everybody’s like, Who’s the Asian dude over there?’ I just started laugh­ing. I said, That’s my boy, Lin.’ They’re, like, How do you know him?’ I said, It’s a long story.’ ”You know, [Barkley] has a big per­son­al­ity,” my dad, Lin Wang, told me last year, when I recorded him talk­ing about Barkley.My dad told me that he knew about Barkley long be­fore he met him.“Well, yeah, he’s a top-50 player in the his­tory of the NBA,” he said. For many years, he was the No. 2 guy, right af­ter Michael Jordan.“Whenever we at­tended din­ner par­ties, my dad would talk about his friend Charles Barkley. The first time my dad told the story, I did­n’t pre­tend to know who this per­son was. Basketball has never been my thing.Like a good mil­len­nial, I Googled Charles Barkley. He seemed pretty fa­mous — and def­i­nitely not like any­one who would be friends with my dad. But again, as a good mil­len­nial, I knew that peo­ple have very loose de­f­i­n­i­tions of the word “friend.“About two years ago, I asked my dad if I could see their texts. My dad handed me his phone. Their texts were mostly mes­sages from my dad that ended with an ex­ces­sive num­ber of ex­cla­ma­tion points.I told my dad the con­ver­sa­tion seemed pretty one-sided and handed the phone back.As I talked about the re­la­tion­ship with more and more peo­ple, I be­gan to think that ei­ther my dad was one of the luck­i­est bas­ket­ball fans ever — or this whole thing was an elab­o­rate joke, a Dinner For Schmucks”-type sit­u­a­tion.But no. The friend­ship was real.“It was, like, one of the most ran­dom things,” Barkley re­called with a laugh.“I was on a busi­ness trip,” my dad said, and stayed in one of the ho­tels and was walk­ing in the lobby, and I saw Charles Barkley.“”I was in Sacramento speak­ing at a char­ity event,” Barkley said.“So, I just went to say hi and take a pic­ture with him,” my dad said.“I was just sit­ting at the bar,” Barkley said. And me and your dad were the only two peo­ple in there. And we just sit down and started talk­ing.“”And, be­fore we know it, we looked at each other, like, Yo, man, I’m hun­gry. Let’s go to din­ner,’ Barkley said. It turned into a two-hour din­ner. And then we ac­tu­ally went back to the bar and just sit there and talked for an­other cou­ple of hours. And the rest is his­tory.“My dad and Barkley saw each other again in the bar the next night. And the night af­ter that. At the end of the third night:“Cer­tainly, I told him I had a good time talk­ing with him, hang­ing out with him,” my dad said. He said the same thing to me, and he left the phone num­ber. He said, Whenever you’re in Atlanta, New York City or Phoenix, check out with me. If I’m in town, we’ll hang out and have a good time.’ Over the next few years, when­ever my dad was in those cities, he would text Barkley, and they would hang out.“I mean, it was just a fun time,” Barkley said. My friends — Shaq, Ernie, Kenny — they en­joyed just meet­ing him.“They got din­ner to­gether.“I think I had Thai basil noo­dle,” my dad re­called. It was pretty good. I had it right in­side the of­fice.“They spent time on the set of Barkley’s TNT show, Inside the NBA.“”He likes to clean,” my dad said. There were sev­eral big can of clean­ing wipes right on his desk. Every time he sit down, he cleaned his desk.“”Iowa lost to Maryland that day,” my dad said.I’m pretty sure they did some par­ty­ing too. But that, I don’t know much about.“Your dad is one of the hap­pi­est peo­ple I’ve ever met in my life,” Barkley said. I’m not just say­ing that — I mean, think about it: It’s fun to be with your friends, you know? Cause, I don’t have that many friends that I want to be around, to be hon­est with you. I mean, you know a lot of peo­ple. But when you go spend time with your friends, it’s a whole dif­fer­ent an­i­mal.“Back home, my dad’s cowork­ers would tease him about Barkley and ask him about the story all the time. My dad did­n’t mind that they did­n’t be­lieve him. He even made a slideshow of pho­tos of him and Barkley to­gether for our com­mu­ni­ty’s Chinese New Year cel­e­bra­tion — to­tally ir­rel­e­vant to the hol­i­day.I asked my dad what he thought it was about him, of all peo­ple, that made him and Charles Barkley be­come friends.“I think we had a good con­ver­sa­tion,” he said. We agree with each other [on] a lot of point of views.“You know, he grown up in the 70s in Alabama. His fa­ther left him and his mother when he was lit­tle. He grown up with grandma and mother. And the grandma and mother cleaned up houses for some­body else to make a liv­ing.“Tough life for him. But he’s well-re­spected pro­fes­sion­ally. And that’s his story.““Your dad is one of the hap­pi­est peo­ple I’ve ever met in my life.” My dad moved to Iowa from China in the 90s. He felt that Barkley and him had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.“So, to me, as an Asian in the U.S., I felt as long as I do a good job, peo­ple will re­spect me,” my dad said.Barkley and my dad both worked hard — so hard, they be­lieved, that the color of their skin did­n’t mat­ter. In Chinese, we’d say that dad some­times would 胡说八道(hú shuō bā dào) — that meant that some­times he was known for spew­ing rub­bish. I know that bas­ket­ball fans might say Barkley of­ten does the same.In June 2015, Barkley’s mother passed away. When my dad heard the news, he looked up the fu­neral de­tails and hopped on a plane to Leeds, Alabama.“It ain’t easy to get to those places,” Barkley said. I’m from a very small town.“And my dad showed up for his friend. Afterward, he went to din­ner with Barkley and his fam­ily.“For your dad to take the time to come to the fu­neral meant a great deal to me,” Barkley said.Then, in May 2016, my dad was di­ag­nosed with can­cer. He had tu­mors in his heart.I took that fall off from school. My dad and I watched mob­ster movies to­gether. Action movies. Kung Fu movies. When the cred­its rolled, we’d flip to a bas­ket­ball game. Just me and him, watch­ing a lot of TV in our liv­ing room.Then, it was two years.My dad never told Barkley that he was sick.“I called him and got mad at him when I found out,” Barkley said. I was, like, Dude, we’re friends. You can tell me. You’re not both­er­ing me. You know me well enough — if you were both­er­ing me, I would tell you you were both­er­ing me.’ What Barkley did­n’t know was that my dad watched him al­most every night on TNT. And while he rested and healed, my dad was laugh­ing along with Barkley. He kept my dad com­pany.June 2018. NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. My dad was stay­ing in pal­lia­tive care at the hos­pi­tal. He loved the Warriors. I vis­ited and read him sports high­lights.He did­n’t get to watch J.R. Smith’s late mis­take in Game 1 live. I tried to get him to laugh about Smith drib­bling away from the hoop be­cause he thought his team was ahead.But it was a Sunday af­ter­noon, and my dad was tired. The sum­mer light filled his room. Then, the day faded, and dusk be­gan to en­ter.Af­ter it was all over, I went through my dad’s phone and texted all his friends. I wrote:Hi. This is Shirley. My dad just passed away.The fu­neral was the day af­ter the NBA Finals. My dad’s fa­vorite team, the Golden State Warriors, had won the night be­fore.“It gives me great mem­o­ries and great joy to know that I was a friend of his.” The fu­neral was set near the out­skirts of Iowa City in a house by the woods. I was talk­ing to my child­hood friend when she sud­denly looked stunned. I turned to look be­hind me.And stand­ing there — drenched in sweat from the Iowa sum­mer, tow­er­ing over every­one in the room at 6 feet, 6 inches tall — was Charles Barkley.“I had not met any­body in your fam­ily,” Barkley said. I did­n’t know any­body there.“Every­one watched, as­ton­ished, as this man — this man we only knew from TV, this world­wide celebrity — walked down the aisle, looked at us and sighed.Later, af­ter it all, I texted Barkley and asked him: Why my dad? Why did he mat­ter so much to you?” And re­cently, I called him up and asked: What did you even have to talk about?“”Well, I think — first of all, clearly, he was a fan,” Barkley said. But I think the main thing we talked about was you and your brother.“”What did you guys talk about — what did he say?” I asked.“I think it was more that he was proud,” Barkley said. Because I’ve got a daugh­ter, too. I’m just re­ally, re­ally proud of her, be­cause I think she’s a good per­son. And your dad was so proud of you and your brother.“Lis­ten: As an adult — and you’re too young to un­der­stand this now — all you want is your kids to be happy. That’s what you work for. To give your kids every­thing in life.“The more Charles Barkley and I talked, I re­al­ized just how close he and my dad were. Barkley knew so much about me and my life — even though this was the first time he and I had ever talked.“It gives me great mem­o­ries and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” Barkley said. Just hear­ing about him at the fu­neral — what he had ac­com­plished and what he was try­ing to help other peo­ple ac­com­plish, just made me even — I wished he bragged more about him­self.“”So, let me get this straight: you were im­pressed by him?” I asked.‘I Was Blessed To Know Him’At the fu­neral, peo­ple shared mem­o­ries of my dad and made me re­al­ize that, for ex­am­ple, he was not just a cat lit­ter chemist — but an in­dus­try-chang­ing sci­en­tist with a Ph.D. And not just an im­mi­grant — but some­one who reached out to Chinese new­com­ers. And not just a thought­ful guy — but some­one peo­ple trusted for ad­vice. I re­al­ized that, even af­ter he passed away, I would con­tinue to learn things about my dad.Be­fore Barkley and I hung up, he had one more thing to say:“Hey, lis­ten. You stay in touch. Please tell your mom I said hello. Give her a big kiss. Tell your brother I said hello. And lis­ten: Just keep do­ing you. It’s your time now. Don’t for­get that. That’s the most im­por­tant thing.“Your dad pre­pared you to take care of your­self. He pre­pared you for that. I was blessed to know him — and know you, too.“”Thank you for your time,” I said.“You’re wel­come, baby. You take it easy, you hear?“I know how much his friend­ship with Charles Barkley meant to my dad. It was not just a re­la­tion­ship with a celebrity — it shed light on the pos­si­bil­i­ties of this world. A world where some­one like him could just say some­thing cool, some­thing charm­ing, and be­friend some­one like Charles Barkley.I’m so glad that now I get to share my dad’s No. 1 din­ner party story.How Emily Hsieh’s Olympic Dream Led Her To Rugby Refereeing’I Should Have Done More’: Bob Cousy’s Letter To Bill RussellThe Nike Air Swoopes And The Disappearance Of Women’s Signature Shoes


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Customs And Border Protection Paid A Firm $13.6 Million To Hire Recruits. It Hired 2

A scathing re­port by the Office of the Inspector General re­vealed that a con­sult­ing com­pany hired by U. S. Customs and Border Protection to fill thou­sands of new jobs to sat­isfy President Trump’s man­date to se­cure the south­ern bor­der is nowhere near” com­plet­ing its hir­ing goals and risks wast­ing mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars.”

The au­dit found that as of Oct. 1, CBP had paid Accenture Federal Services ap­prox­i­mately $13.6 mil­lion of a $297 mil­lion con­tract to re­cruit and hire 7,500 ap­pli­cants, in­clud­ing Customs and Border Protection of­fi­cers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Interdiction agents. But 10 months into the first year of a five-year con­tract, Accenture had processed only two ac­cepted job of­fers,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral called for im­me­di­ate ac­tion. The re­port is ti­tled Management Alert — CBP Needs to Address Serious Performance Issues on the Accenture Hiring Contract.” It al­leges the con­sult­ing com­pany — which CBP agreed to pay nearly $40,000 per hire — failed to de­velop an efficient, in­no­v­a­tive, and ex­pertly run hir­ing process,” as the com­pany pledged to do when it was awarded the lu­cra­tive con­tract. Instead, the probe con­cluded the com­pany relied heav­ily” on CBPs ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture, re­sources and ex­perts in all of its re­cruit­ing.

We are con­cerned that CBP may have paid Accenture for ser­vices and tools not pro­vided,” the re­port states. Without ad­dress­ing the is­sues we have iden­ti­fied, CBP risks wast­ing mil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars on a hastily ap­proved con­tract that is not meet­ing its pro­posed per­for­mance ex­pec­ta­tions.”

According to the re­port, CBP has bent over back­ward to ac­com­mo­date Accenture.

When it be­came clear the com­pany would miss a 90-day dead­line to reach the full op­er­a­tion phase” out­lined in the agree­ment, the agency mod­i­fied the con­tract grant­ing Accenture an­other three months to ramp up op­er­a­tions to meet the terms of the con­tract.

CBP also al­lowed the com­pany to use the gov­ern­ment agen­cy’s ap­pli­cant track­ing sys­tem when Accenture failed to de­ploy its own, lead­ing to an­other con­tract re­vi­sion.

The re­sult of both changes meant that as re­cently as July 1, CBP staff con­tin­ued to carry out a significant por­tion of the hir­ing op­er­a­tions,” the OIG noted. And be­cause there was no way to track which ap­pli­cants were re­cruited through Accenture’s ef­forts, CBP agreed to give credit and tem­porar­ily pay Accenture for a per­cent­age of all ap­pli­cants.”

The OIGs con­clu­sion: CBP must hold the con­trac­tor ac­count­able, mit­i­gate risk, and de­vise a strat­egy to en­sure re­sults with­out ad­di­tional costs to the Government.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s in­ter­nal watch­dog launched the in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter re­ceiv­ing com­plaints about Accenture’s per­for­mance and man­age­ment on an OIG hot­line.

A spokes­woman for Accenture Federal Service — a sub­sidiary of Accenture, a global se­cu­rity con­sult­ing firm based in Ireland — did­n’t an­swer ques­tions from NPR, but in­stead emailed a state­ment that said the com­pany re­mains focused on ful­fill­ing our clien­t’s ex­pec­ta­tions un­der our con­tract.”

Meanwhile, Henry Moak, a se­nior CBP of­fi­cial, dis­puted the OIGs find­ings in a let­ter dated Nov. 28. Moak ar­gued that Accenture has suc­cess­fully created a hir­ing struc­ture, tai­lored tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions to sup­port and man­age the hir­ing process” and has recruited thou­sands of new ap­pli­cants.” Further, Moak claimed that the sug­ges­tion that the changes in the con­tract were due to a fail­ure on Accenture’s part is inaccurate.” He said the changes were re­quested by CBP because it of­fered bet­ter over­all ef­fi­ciency in our mu­tual hir­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.” Additionally, for any cut­backs in Accenture’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, the agency made eq­ui­table ad­just­ments to de­crease the cost-per-hire.”

Accenture was awarded the con­tract in November 2017 as a way to help CBP meet the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Border Patrol staffing de­mands — a week af­ter tak­ing of­fice Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der call­ing for an ad­di­tional 5,000 Border Patrol and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Border Patrol jobs with the CBP have been no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to fill, in large part be­cause of the poly­graph exam ap­pli­cants are re­quired to un­dergo. The AP re­ported that 2 out of 3 ap­pli­cants fail the exam.

The US Border Patrol, the CBPs law en­force­ment arm at the US bor­ders, has a statu­to­rily es­tab­lished min­i­mum staffing level of just over 21,370 agents, not in­clud­ing the ad­di­tional re­quest from the pres­i­dent. Border Patrol staffing lev­els peaked in 2010 with 21,444 agents na­tion­wide, down to 19,555 in 2018. However, there was a net gain of 120 agents in 2018 — the first year that had had a net gain since 2013, ac­cord­ing to CBP data.”

Ultimately, CBP did agree to rec­om­men­da­tions in the OIG re­port, in­clud­ing as­sess­ing Accenture’s per­for­mance and whether the pay­ment sys­tem es­tab­lished in the con­tract is the most cost-ef­fec­tive way to hire new em­ploy­ees.

While we take some ex­cep­tion to the OIGs char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the con­tract, we do agree the con­tract has been a chal­lenge, pri­mar­ily due to the in­no­v­a­tive ef­forts by both par­ties and we are re­view­ing how best to use it mov­ing for­ward,” a CBP spokesper­son told NPR in an emailed state­ment.


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Egypt reveals 'one of a kind' tomb find

Archaeologists in Egypt have made an ex­cit­ing tomb dis­cov­ery - the fi­nal rest­ing place of a high priest, un­touched for 4,400 years.

Mostafa Waziri, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, de­scribed the find as one of a kind in the last decades”.

The tomb, found in the Saqqara pyra­mid com­plex near Cairo, is filled with colour­ful hi­ero­glyphs and stat­ues of pharaohs. Decorative scenes show the owner, a royal priest named Wahtye, with his mother, wife and other rel­a­tives.

Archaeologists will start ex­ca­vat­ing the tomb on 16 December, and ex­pect more dis­cov­er­ies to fol­low - in­clud­ing the own­er’s sar­coph­a­gus.


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Millennials Didn’t Kill the Economy. The Economy Killed Millennials.

When a staid American in­sti­tu­tion is de­clared dead, the news me­dia like to haul the same usual sus­pect be­fore the court of pub­lic opin­ion: the Millennial gen­er­a­tion. The 80 mil­lion–plus peo­ple born in the United States be­tween the early 1980s and the late 1990s stand ac­cused of as­sas­si­nat­ing var­i­ous hall­marks of mod­ern life. The list of the de­ceased in­cludes golf, de­part­ment stores, the McDonald’s McWrap, and canned tuna. Millennials tore up nap­kins, threw out may­on­naise, and mer­ci­fully dis­posed of di­vorce and Applebee’s be­fore grad­u­at­ing to some­what post­mod­ern crimes: Have Millennials Killed Serendipity?” With the na­tional mur­der rate in long-term de­cline, it may even be said that Millennials are killing killing.But ac­cord­ing to a new re­port by econ­o­mists at the Federal Reserve, this genre of news analy­sis is pure fic­tion.Read: How WeWork has per­fectly cap­tured the Millennial id­When re­searchers com­pared the spend­ing habits of Millennials with those of young peo­ple from past years, such as the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they con­cluded that Millennials do not ap­pear to have pref­er­ences for con­sump­tion that dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from those of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions.” They also found that Millennials are less well off than mem­bers of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions when they were young, with lower earn­ings, fewer as­sets, and less wealth.”

Millennials aren’t do­ing in the econ­omy. It’s the econ­omy that’s do­ing in Millennials. My his­tory with the ac­cused goes back sev­eral years.In 2012, I pub­lished a col­umn in The Atlantic with Jordan Weissmann, now a writer at Slate, called The Cheapest Generation.” That head­line—which got us in trou­ble be­cause it was the only thing most peo­ple read—was a bit of a mis­di­rec­tion. The deeper ques­tion of the piece was whether the Great Recession might per­ma­nently re­duce young peo­ple’s taste for houses and cars—two of the most vi­tal en­gines of the econ­omy.For years, var­i­ous out­lets, in­clud­ing The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center, con­tin­ued re­port­ing that young peo­ple were buy­ing fewer cars and houses than those in pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions at a sim­i­lar point in their life. In 2016, about 34 per­cent of Americans un­der 35 owned a house; when Boomers and Gen Xers were un­der 35, about half of them did.But the fact that young peo­ple are buy­ing fewer houses and cars does­n’t prove that they want fewer houses and cars. It might mean they sim­ply can’t af­ford them. That lat­ter con­clu­sion is now sup­ported by re­search from the Federal Reserve.Fed econ­o­mists found that the de­pressed rate of home­own­er­ship among Millennials was en­tirely about in­come and af­ford­abil­ity. Young Boomers and young Gen Xers made sig­nif­i­cantly more money at a sim­i­lar point in their life cy­cle, they said, and con­trol­ling for in­come and em­ploy­ment wiped out all gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences.Read: How Friendsgiving took over Millennial cul­ture­Just as im­por­tant, homes in the United States are less af­ford­able than they used to be. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the typ­i­cal sale price of an ex­ist­ing sin­gle-fam­ily home in 2017 was 4.2 times greater than the me­dian house­hold in­come; that’s 30 per­cent higher than in 1988. It’s even worse in some cities. Since the late 1980s, price-to-in­come ra­tios have more than dou­bled in metro ar­eas such as Miami, Denver, and Seattle. In San Francisco, the me­dian house price dou­bled in just five years to more than $1.6 mil­lion. That’s a lot of fore­gone av­o­cado toast.On the car front: News re­ports some­times find that the av­er­age age of new-car buy­ers is quickly ris­ing, which makes it sound like young peo­ple are ditch­ing their ride. But as the Fed econ­o­mist Christopher Kurz has shown in sev­eral stud­ies, that fac­toid is some­what mis­lead­ing. Young peo­ple ac­tu­ally buy the same num­ber of cars per capita to­day that they did in 2005, at the height of the hous­ing bub­ble. The av­er­age age of car buy­ing is go­ing up al­most en­tirely be­cause Americans older than 55 are buy­ing more new ve­hi­cles than they were 20 years ago. In 1995, Americans over 55 bought about one-third of all new cars. Today they’re buy­ing al­most two-thirds.It’s also true that Millennials spend less than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions on trans­porta­tion. But every­body is spend­ing less; to­tal trans­porta­tion spend­ing has de­clined as a share of the typ­i­cal house­hold’s bud­get by al­most 5 per­cent in the past 30 years, ac­cord­ing to the Fed. Perhaps that’s be­cause peo­ple hold on to their car for longer, or own a more ef­fi­cient car that re­quires fewer tune-ups. Or maybe that’s a re­sult of the de­clin­ing cost of new ve­hi­cles un­der the North American Free Trade Agreement, which shifted some auto-man­u­fac­tur­ing work to Mexico.

The econ­o­mists ul­ti­mately found no ev­i­dence that Millennials have pref­er­ences for ve­hi­cle pur­chases that are lower than those of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions.” Case closed. It’s typ­i­cal for Millennials to bear blame for dra­matic cul­tural and eco­nomic changes when their only crime is be­hav­ing like every­body else. For ex­am­ple, last year The Wall Street Journal pub­lished a re­port that cited young peo­ple for killing gro­cery stores. The proof? Consumers ages 25 to 34 are spend­ing less at tra­di­tional gro­cers than their par­ents’ gen­er­a­tion did in 1990. Seems pretty damn­ing. But upon closer ex­am­i­na­tion, the stag­na­tion of gro­cery stores is a com­plex story that im­pli­cates just about every­body. Americans of all ages are re­ly­ing more on con­ve­nience stores, such as CVS, and su­per­stores, such as Walmart, for food to eat at home, and those in­sti­tu­tions aren’t typ­i­cally counted as gro­cers in gov­ern­ment data. Also, Americans of all ages are eat­ing out at restau­rants more. The group shift­ing its spend­ing to­ward restau­rants the fastest? It’s not 20-somethings. It’s peo­ple over 65.In the biggest pic­ture—from cars and houses to restau­rants and gro­cers—Mil­len­ni­als aren’t se­r­ial killers. They’re se­r­ial scape­goats.If there is one cat­e­gory in which the gen­er­a­tion born be­tween the early 1980s and the late 1990s re­ally is dif­fer­ent, it’s pol­i­tics.Young peo­ple are not only to the left of the coun­try, but also to the left of pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of young peo­ple. In na­tional elec­tions, Millennials have voted for Democrats over Republicans by un­prece­dented mar­gins. They are far more open to var­i­ous strands of so­cial­ism—in­clud­ing so­cial democ­racy and de­mo­c­ra­tic so­cial­ism. As I wrote in sum­ma­riz­ing their po­lit­i­cal views in 2016, Millennials sense that they are both America’s im­pov­er­ished gen­er­a­tion and its moral guardians—ab­sent on the pay­roll, but pre­sent at the rev­o­lu­tion.”Why would young peo­ple feel such rev­o­lu­tion­ary fer­vor? Maybe it’s not be­cause Millennials have re­jected the American dream, but rather be­cause the econ­omy has not only blocked their path to at­tain­ing it but pun­ished them for try­ing to.Mil­len­ni­als are the most ed­u­cated gen­er­a­tion in U.S. his­tory to date. They bought into a so­cial con­tract that said: Everything will work out, if first you go to col­lege. But as the cost of col­lege in­creased, mil­lions of young peo­ple took on stu­dent loans to com­plete their de­gree. Graduates un­der 35 are al­most 50 per­cent more likely than mem­bers of Gen X to have stu­dent loans, and their me­dian bal­ance is about 40 per­cent higher than that of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.And what has all that debt got­ten them? Lower earn­ings, fewer as­sets, and less wealth,” ac­cord­ing to the Federal Reserve pa­per’s con­clu­sion. Student debt has made it harder for mil­lions of young peo­ple to buy a home, since holding debt is as­so­ci­ated with a lower rate of home­own­er­ship, ir­re­spec­tive of de­gree type,” as Fed econ­o­mists wrote in a pre­vi­ous study. In other words, young peo­ple took on debt to pur­sue a col­lege de­gree, only to dis­cover that the cost of col­lege would push the American dream fur­ther from their grasp.

Is it any won­der that Millennials are ea­ger to over­throw a sys­tem that has duped them into a story of per­ma­nent progress, thrown them into debt, de­pressed their wages, sep­a­rated them from the trap­pings of adult­hood, and then, for good mea­sure, blamed them for ru­in­ing canned tuna?When the 20th-century so­ci­ol­o­gist James Chowning Davies stud­ied the po­lit­i­cal con­vul­sions of France and 20th-century Russia, he ob­served that the con­di­tions for rev­o­lu­tion are ripest when a pro­longed pe­riod of eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment is fol­lowed by a short pe­riod of sharp re­ver­sal.” These rev­o­lu­tions oc­curred, he said, when a large group of peo­ple felt that re­al­ity had sud­denly fallen short of their ex­pec­ta­tions for so­cial or eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Millennials were promised ris­ing wages, homes, and cars; they got 140 char­ac­ters. Okay, fine, 280 char­ac­ters. That’s noth­ing to live on. But it’s just enough to ef­fi­ciently ar­tic­u­late one’s de­spon­dency along­side 80 mil­lion frus­trated peers, all of whom are ex­as­per­ated with a sys­tem that keeps find­ing new ways to brand its young eco­nomic vic­tims as cul­tural crim­i­nals. We want to hear what you think about this ar­ti­cle. Submit a let­ter to the ed­i­tor or write to let­ters@the­at­lantic.com. Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he writes about eco­nom­ics, la­bor mar­kets, and the me­dia. He is the au­thor of Hit Makers.


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Texas Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Affordable Care Act as Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON — A fed­eral judge in Texas struck down on Friday the en­tire Affordable Care Act on the grounds that its man­date re­quir­ing peo­ple to buy health in­sur­ance is un­con­sti­tu­tional and the rest of the law can­not stand with­out it.

The rul­ing was on a law­suit filed this year by a group of Republican gov­er­nors and state at­tor­neys gen­eral. A group of in­ter­ven­ing states led by Democrats promised to ap­peal the de­ci­sion, which will most likely not have any im­me­di­ate ef­fect. But it will al­most cer­tainly make its way to the Supreme Court, threat­en­ing the sur­vival of the land­mark health law and, with it, health cov­er­age for mil­lions of Americans, pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions and much more.

In his rul­ing on Friday, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth said that the in­di­vid­ual man­date re­quir­ing peo­ple to have health in­sur­ance can no longer be sus­tained as an ex­er­cise of Congress’s tax power.”

Accordingly, Judge O’Connor, a George W. Bush ap­pointee said that the in­di­vid­ual man­date is un­con­sti­tu­tional” and the re­main­ing pro­vi­sions of the Affordable Care Act are in­valid.


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Voyager 2 probe 'leaves Solar System'

The Voyager 2 probe, which left Earth in 1977, has be­come the sec­ond hu­man-made ob­ject to leave our Solar System.

It was launched 16 days be­fore its twin craft, Voyager 1, but that probe’s faster tra­jec­tory meant that it was in the space be­tween the stars” six years be­fore Voyager 2.

The news was re­vealed at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meet­ing in Washington.

And chief sci­en­tist on the mis­sion, Prof Edward Stone, con­firmed it.

He said both probes had now made it into in­ter­stel­lar space” and that Voyager 2′s date of de­par­ture from the Solar System was 5 November 2018.

On that date, the steady stream of par­ti­cles emit­ted from the Sun that were be­ing de­tected by the probe sud­denly dipped. This in­di­cated that it had crossed the heliopause” - the term for the outer edge of the Sun’s pro­tec­tive bub­ble of par­ti­cles and mag­netic field.

And while its twin craft beat it to this bound­ary, the US space agency says that Voyager 2 has a work­ing in­stru­ment aboard that will pro­vide first-of-its-kind ob­ser­va­tions of the na­ture of this gate­way into in­ter­stel­lar space”.

The probe’s pre­sent lo­ca­tion is some 18 bil­lion km (11 bil­lion miles) from Earth. It is mov­ing at roughly 54,000km/h (34,000mph). Voyager 1 is fur­ther and faster still, at 22 bil­lion km and 61,000km/h.

The Voyagers were sent ini­tially to study the outer plan­ets, but then just kept on go­ing.

Prof Stone said that at the start of the mis­sion the team had no idea how long it would take them to reach the edge of the Sun’s pro­tec­tive bub­ble, or he­lios­phere.

We did­n’t know how large the bub­ble was, how long it would take to get there and if the space craft would last long enough,” he added. Now we’re study­ing the very lo­cal in­ter­stel­lar medium.

It’s a very ex­cit­ing time in Voyager’s 41 year jour­ney.”

Scientists de­fine the Solar System in dif­fer­ent ways, so Prof Stone has al­ways been very care­ful not to use the ex­act phrase leave the Solar System” in re­la­tion to his space­craft. He is mind­ful that the Nasa probes still have to pass through the Oort cloud where there are comets grav­i­ta­tion­ally bound to the Sun, al­beit very loosely.

But both Voyagers cer­tainly are in a new, un­ex­plored do­main of space.

Decades and bil­lions of kilo­me­tres. Voyager 1 de­parted Earth on 5 September 1977, a few days af­ter its sis­ter space­craft, Voyager 2.

The pair’s pri­mary ob­jec­tive was to sur­vey the plan­ets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - a task they com­pleted in 1989.

They were then steered to­wards deep space. It is ex­pected that their plu­to­nium power sources will even­tu­ally stop sup­ply­ing elec­tric­ity, at which point their in­stru­ments and their 20W trans­mit­ters will die.

The Voyager pro­ject man­ager, Suzanne Dodd told BBC News that she would like to see them both keep go­ing un­til 2027.

It would be su­per-ex­cit­ing to have a 50-year mis­sion still op­er­at­ing,” she added, de­scrib­ing the probes as pioneers” of in­ter­stel­lar space.

Every so of­ten they phone home and say - I’m still go­ing. Don’t for­get about me!’”

Voyager 1 will not ap­proach an­other star for nearly 40,000 years, even though it is mov­ing at such great speed. But it will be in or­bit around the cen­tre of our galaxy with all its stars for bil­lions of years.


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J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder

Facing thou­sands of law­suits al­leg­ing that its talc caused can­cer, J&J in­sists on the safety and pu­rity of its iconic prod­uct. But in­ter­nal doc­u­ments ex­am­ined by Reuters show that the com­pa­ny’s pow­der was some­times tainted with car­cino­genic as­bestos and that J&J kept that in­for­ma­tion from reg­u­la­tors and the pub­lic.

Darlene Coker knew she was dy­ing. She just wanted to know why. She knew that her can­cer, mesothe­lioma, arose in the del­i­cate mem­brane sur­round­ing her lungs and other or­gans. She knew it was as rare as it was deadly, a sig­na­ture of ex­po­sure to as­bestos. And she knew it af­flicted mostly men who in­haled as­bestos dust in mines and in­dus­tries such as ship­build­ing that used the car­cino­gen be­fore its risks were un­der­stood.Coker, 52 years old, had raised two daugh­ters and was run­ning a mas­sage school in Lumberton, a small town in east­ern Texas. How had she been ex­posed to as­bestos? She wanted an­swers,” her daugh­ter Cady Evans said.Fight­ing for every breath and in crip­pling pain, Coker hired Herschel Hobson, a per­sonal-in­jury lawyer. He homed in on a sus­pect: the Johnson’s Baby Powder that Coker had used on her in­fant chil­dren and sprin­kled on her­self all her life. Hobson knew that talc and as­bestos of­ten oc­curred to­gether in the earth, and that mined talc could be con­t­a­m­i­nated with the car­cino­gen. Coker sued John­son & Johnson, al­leg­ing that poisonous talc” in the com­pa­ny’s beloved prod­uct was her killer.

J&J did­n’t tell the FDA that at least three tests by three dif­fer­ent labs from 1972 to 1975 had found as­bestos in its talc — in one case at lev­els re­ported as rather high.”

J&J de­nied the claim. Baby Powder was as­bestos-free, it said. As the case pro­ceeded, J&J was able to avoid hand­ing over talc test re­sults and other in­ter­nal com­pany records Hobson had re­quested to make the case against Baby Powder.Coker had no choice but to drop her law­suit, Hobson said. When you are the plain­tiff, you have the bur­den of proof,” he said. We did­n’t have it.”That was in 1999. Two decades later, the ma­te­r­ial Coker and her lawyer sought is emerg­ing as J&J has been com­pelled to share thou­sands of pages of com­pany memos, in­ter­nal re­ports and other con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments with lawyers for some of the 11,700 plain­tiffs now claim­ing that the com­pa­ny’s talc caused their can­cers — in­clud­ing thou­sands of women with ovar­ian can­cer.A Reuters ex­am­i­na­tion of many of those doc­u­ments, as well as de­po­si­tion and trial tes­ti­mony, shows that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the com­pa­ny’s raw talc and fin­ished pow­ders some­times tested pos­i­tive for small amounts of as­bestos, and that com­pany ex­ec­u­tives, mine man­agers, sci­en­tists, doc­tors and lawyers fret­ted over the prob­lem and how to ad­dress it while fail­ing to dis­close it to reg­u­la­tors or the pub­lic.The doc­u­ments also de­pict suc­cess­ful ef­forts to in­flu­ence U.S. reg­u­la­tors’ plans to limit as­bestos in cos­metic talc prod­ucts and sci­en­tific re­search on the health ef­fects of talc.A small por­tion of the doc­u­ments have been pro­duced at trial and cited in me­dia re­ports. Many were shielded from pub­lic view by court or­ders that al­lowed J&J to turn over thou­sands of doc­u­ments it des­ig­nated as con­fi­den­tial. Much of their con­tents is re­ported here for the first time.

The ear­li­est men­tions of tainted J&J talc that Reuters found come from 1957 and 1958 re­ports by a con­sult­ing lab. They de­scribe con­t­a­m­i­nants in talc from J&J’s Italian sup­plier as fi­brous and acicular,” or nee­dle-like, tremo­lite. That’s one of the six min­er­als that in their nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring fi­brous form are clas­si­fied as as­bestos.At var­i­ous times from then into the early 2000s, re­ports by sci­en­tists at J&J, out­side labs and J&J’s sup­plier yielded sim­i­lar find­ings. The re­ports iden­tify con­t­a­m­i­nants in talc and fin­ished pow­der prod­ucts as as­bestos or de­scribe them in terms typ­i­cally ap­plied to as­bestos, such as fiberform” and rods.”In 1976, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weigh­ing lim­its on as­bestos in cos­metic talc prod­ucts, J&J as­sured the reg­u­la­tor that no as­bestos was detected in any sam­ple” of talc pro­duced be­tween December 1972 and October 1973. It did­n’t tell the agency that at least three tests by three dif­fer­ent labs from 1972 to 1975 had found as­bestos in its talc — in one case at lev­els re­ported as rather high.”Most in­ter­nal J&J as­bestos test re­ports Reuters re­viewed do not find as­bestos. However, while J&J’s test­ing meth­ods im­proved over time, they have al­ways had lim­i­ta­tions that al­low trace con­t­a­m­i­nants to go un­de­tected — and only a tiny frac­tion of the com­pa­ny’s talc is tested.The World Health Organization and other au­thor­i­ties rec­og­nize no safe level of ex­po­sure to as­bestos. While most peo­ple ex­posed never de­velop can­cer, for some, even small amounts of as­bestos are enough to trig­ger the dis­ease years later. Just how small has­n’t been es­tab­lished. Many plain­tiffs al­lege that the amounts they in­haled when they dusted them­selves with tainted tal­cum pow­der were enough.The ev­i­dence of what J&J knew has sur­faced af­ter peo­ple who sus­pected that talc caused their can­cers hired lawyers ex­pe­ri­enced in the decades-long del­uge of lit­i­ga­tion in­volv­ing work­ers ex­posed to as­bestos. Some of the lawyers knew from those ear­lier cases that talc pro­duc­ers tested for as­bestos, and they be­gan de­mand­ing J&J’s test­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion.

What J&J pro­duced in re­sponse to those de­mands has al­lowed plain­tiffs’ lawyers to re­fine their ar­gu­ment: The cul­prit was­n’t nec­es­sar­ily talc it­self, but also as­bestos in the talc. That as­ser­tion, backed by decades of solid sci­ence show­ing that as­bestos causes mesothe­lioma and is as­so­ci­ated with ovar­ian and other can­cers, has had mixed suc­cess in court.In two cases ear­lier this year — in New Jersey and California — ju­ries awarded big sums to plain­tiffs who, like Coker, blamed as­bestos-tainted J&J talc prod­ucts for their mesothe­lioma.A third ver­dict, in St. Louis, was a wa­ter­shed, broad­en­ing J&J’s po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity: The 22 plain­tiffs were the first to suc­ceed with a claim that as­bestos-tainted Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talc, a long­time brand the com­pany sold in 2012, caused ovar­ian can­cer, which is much more com­mon than mesothe­lioma. The jury awarded them $4.69 bil­lion in dam­ages. Most of the talc cases have been brought by women with ovar­ian can­cer who say they reg­u­larly used J&J talc prod­ucts as a per­ineal an­tiper­spi­rant and de­odor­ant.At the same time, at least three ju­ries have re­jected claims that Baby Powder was tainted with as­bestos or caused plain­tiffs’ mesothe­lioma. Others have failed to reach ver­dicts, re­sult­ing in mis­tri­als.J&J has said it will ap­peal the re­cent ver­dicts against it. It has main­tained in pub­lic state­ments that its talc is safe, as shown for years by the best tests avail­able, and that the in­for­ma­tion it has been re­quired to di­vulge in re­cent lit­i­ga­tion shows the care the com­pany takes to en­sure its prod­ucts are as­bestos-free. It has blamed its losses on ju­ror con­fu­sion, junk” sci­ence, un­fair court rules and overzeal­ous lawyers look­ing for a fresh pool of as­bestos plain­tiffs.“Plain­tiffs’ at­tor­neys out for per­sonal fi­nan­cial gain are dis­tort­ing his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments and in­ten­tion­ally cre­at­ing con­fu­sion in the court­room and in the me­dia,” Ernie Knewitz, J&J’s vice pres­i­dent of global me­dia re­la­tions, wrote in an emailed re­sponse to Reuters’ find­ings. This is all a cal­cu­lated at­tempt to dis­tract from the fact that thou­sands of in­de­pen­dent tests prove our talc does not con­tain as­bestos or cause can­cer. Any sug­ges­tion that Johnson & Johnson knew or hid in­for­ma­tion about the safety of talc is false.”J&J de­clined to com­ment fur­ther for this ar­ti­cle. For more than two months, it turned down re­peated re­quests for an in­ter­view with J&J ex­ec­u­tives. On Dec. 8, the com­pany of­fered to make an ex­pert avail­able. It had not done so as of Thursday evening.The com­pany re­ferred all in­quiries to its out­side lit­i­ga­tion coun­sel, Peter Bicks. In emailed re­sponses, Bicks re­jected Reuters’ find­ings as false and mis­lead­ing.” The sci­en­tific con­sen­sus is that the talc used in talc-based body pow­ders does not cause can­cer, re­gard­less of what is in that talc,” Bicks wrote. This is true even if - and it does not - Johnson & Johnson’s cos­metic talc had ever con­tained minute, un­de­tectable amounts of as­bestos.” He dis­missed tests cited in this ar­ti­cle as outlier” re­sults.In court, J&J lawyers have told ju­rors that com­pany records show­ing that as­bestos was de­tected in its talc re­ferred to talc in­tended for in­dus­trial use. Other records, they have ar­gued, re­ferred to non-as­bestos forms of the same min­er­als that their ex­perts say are harm­less. J&J has also ar­gued that some tests picked up background” as­bestos — stray fibers that could have con­t­a­m­i­nated sam­ples af­ter float­ing into a mill or lab from a ve­hi­cle clutch or fray­ing in­su­la­tion.

The com­pany has made some of the same ar­gu­ments about lab tests con­ducted by ex­perts hired by plain­tiffs. One of those labs found as­bestos in Shower to Shower talc from the 1990s, ac­cord­ing to an Aug. 11, 2017, court re­port. Another lab found as­bestos in more than half of mul­ti­ple sam­ples of Baby Powder from past decades — in bot­tles from plain­tiffs’ cup­boards and ac­quired from eBay, and even a 1978 bot­tle held in J&J’s cor­po­rate mu­seum. The con­cen­tra­tions were great enough that users would have, more likely than not, been ex­posed,” the plain­tiffs’ lab re­port pre­sented in sev­eral cases this year con­cluded.Matthew Sanchez, a ge­ol­o­gist with con­sul­tants RJ Lee Group Inc and a fre­quent ex­pert wit­ness for J&J, dis­missed those find­ings in tes­ti­mony in the St. Louis trial: I have not found as­bestos in any of the cur­rent or mod­ern, what I con­sider mod­ern, Johnson & Johnson talc prod­ucts,” Sanchez told the jury.Sanchez did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment. RJ Lee said it does not com­ment on the work it does for clients.Since 2003, talc in Baby Powder sold in the United States has come from China through sup­plier Imerys Talc America, a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA and a co-de­fen­dant in most of the talc lit­i­ga­tion. Imerys and J&J said the Chinese talc is safe. An Imerys spokesman said the com­pa­ny’s tests consistently show no as­bestos. Talc’s safe use has been con­firmed by mul­ti­ple reg­u­la­tory and sci­en­tific bod­ies.”J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has dom­i­nated the talc pow­der mar­ket for more than 100 years, its sales out­pac­ing those of all com­peti­tors com­bined, ac­cord­ing to Euromonitor International data. And while talc prod­ucts con­tributed just $420 mil­lion to J&J’s $76.5 bil­lion in rev­enue last year, Baby Powder is con­sid­ered an es­sen­tial facet of the health­care-prod­ucts mak­er’s care­fully tended im­age as a car­ing com­pany — a sacred cow,” as one 2003 in­ter­nal email put it.“When peo­ple re­ally un­der­stand what’s go­ing on, I think it in­creases J&J’s ex­po­sure a thou­sand-fold,” said Mark Lanier, one of the lawyers for the women in the St. Louis case. The mount­ing con­tro­versy sur­round­ing J&J talc has­n’t shaken in­vestors. The share price is up about 6 per­cent so far this year. Talc cases make up fewer than 10 per­cent of all per­sonal in­jury law­suits pend­ing against J&J, based on the com­pa­ny’s Aug. 2 quar­terly re­port, in which the com­pany said it be­lieved it had strong grounds on ap­peal.”J&J Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky has pledged to fight on, telling an­a­lysts in July: We re­main con­fi­dent that our prod­ucts do not con­tain as­bestos.”Gorsky’s com­ment, echoed in count­less J&J state­ments, misses a cru­cial point. Asbestos, like many en­vi­ron­men­tal car­cino­gens, has a long la­tency pe­riod. Diagnosis usu­ally comes years af­ter ini­tial ex­po­sure — 20 years or longer for mesothe­lioma. J&J talc prod­ucts to­day may be safe, but the talc at is­sue in thou­sands of law­suits was sold and used over the past 60 years.That point is rec­og­nized in a 2013 markup of a state­ment for the Safety & Care Commitment” page of J&J’s web­site. The orig­i­nal ver­sion con­veyed a blan­ket as­sur­ance of safety. The edited ver­sion was less de­fin­i­tive: Our talc-based con­sumer prod­ucts  have al­ways been  as­bestos free, as con­firmed by reg­u­lar test­ing since the 1970s.”

THEN AND NOW: A 2013 markup of a state­ment for J&J’s web­site im­plic­itly rec­og­nizes the pos­si­bil­ity that the com­pa­ny’s talc could have been tainted in ear­lier times.

In 1886, Robert Wood Johnson en­listed his younger broth­ers in an epony­mous startup built around the Safety First” motto. Johnson’s Baby Powder grew out of a line of med­icated plas­ters, sticky rub­ber strips loaded with mus­tard and other home reme­dies. When cus­tomers com­plained of skin ir­ri­ta­tion, the broth­ers sent pack­ets of talc.Soon, moth­ers be­gan ap­ply­ing the talc to in­fants’ di­a­per-chafed skin. The Johnsons took note. They added a fra­grance that would be­come one of the most rec­og­niz­able in the world, sifted the talc into tin boxes and, in 1893, be­gan sell­ing it as Johnson’s Baby Powder.In the late 1950s, J&J dis­cov­ered that talc from its chief source mine for the U.S. mar­ket in the Italian Alps con­tained tremo­lite. That’s one of six min­er­als — along with chrysotile, acti­no­lite, amosite, an­tho­phyl­lite and cro­ci­do­lite — that oc­cur in na­ture as crys­talline fibers known as as­bestos, a rec­og­nized car­cino­gen. Some of them, in­clud­ing tremo­lite, also oc­cur as un­re­mark­able non-asbestiform” rocks. Both forms of­ten oc­cur to­gether and in talc de­posits.J&J’s worry at the time was that con­t­a­m­i­nants made the com­pa­ny’s pow­der abra­sive. It sent tons of its Italian talc to a pri­vate lab in Columbus, Ohio, to find ways to im­prove the ap­pear­ance, feel and pu­rity of the pow­der by re­mov­ing as much grit” as pos­si­ble. In a pair of re­ports from 1957 and 1958, the lab said the talc con­tained from less than 1 per­cent to about 3 per­cent of con­t­a­m­i­nants,” de­scribed as mostly fi­brous and acicular” tremo­lite.Most of the au­thors of these and other J&J records cited in this ar­ti­cle are dead. Sanchez, the RJ Lee ge­ol­o­gist whose firm has agreed to pro­vide him as a wit­ness in up to 100 J&J talc tri­als, has tes­ti­fied that tremo­lite found decades ago in the com­pa­ny’s talc, from Italy and later Vermont, was not tremo­lite as­bestos at all. Rather, he has said, it was cleavage frag­ments” from non-as­besti­form tremo­lite.J&J’s orig­i­nal records don’t al­ways make that dis­tinc­tion. In terms of health risk, reg­u­la­tors since the early 1970s have treated small fiber-shaped par­ti­cles of both forms the same.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for ex­am­ple, makes no dis­tinc­tion be­tween fibers and (comparable) cleav­age frag­ments,” agency of­fi­cials wrote in a re­sponse to an RJ Lee re­port on an un­re­lated mat­ter in 2006, the year be­fore the firm hired Sanchez. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), though it dropped the non-fi­brous forms of the min­er­als from its de­f­i­n­i­tion of as­bestos in 1992, nonethe­less rec­om­mends that fiber-shaped frag­ments in­dis­tin­guish­able from as­bestos be counted in its ex­po­sure tests.And as the prod­uct safety di­rec­tor for J&J’s talc sup­plier ac­knowl­edged in a 2008 email to col­leagues: (I)f a de­posit con­tains non-asbestiform’ tremo­lite, there is also as­besti­form tremo­lite nat­u­rally pre­sent as well.”

In 1964, J&J’s Windsor Minerals Inc sub­sidiary bought a clus­ter of talc mines in Vermont, with names like Argonaut, Rainbow, Frostbite and Black Bear. By 1966, it was blast­ing and bull­doz­ing white rock out of the Green Mountain state. J&J used the milled pow­der in its cos­metic pow­ders and sold a less-re­fined grade to roof­ing, floor­ing and tire com­pa­nies for use in man­u­fac­tur­ing.Ten years af­ter tremo­lite turned up in the Italian talc, it showed up in Vermont talc, too. In 1967, J&J found traces of tremo­lite and an­other min­eral that can oc­cur as as­bestos, ac­cord­ing to a table at­tached to a Nov. 1, 1967, memo by William Ashton, the ex­ec­u­tive in charge of J&J’s talc sup­ply for decades.J&J con­tin­ued to search for sources of clean talc. But in an April 9, 1969, memo to a com­pany doc­tor, Ashton said it was normal” to find tremo­lite in many U.S. talc de­posits. He sug­gested J&J re­think its ap­proach. Historically, in our Company, Tremolite has been bad,” Ashton wrote. How bad is Tremolite med­ically, and how much of it can safely be in a talc base we might de­velop?”Since pul­monary dis­ease, in­clud­ing can­cer, ap­peared to be on the rise, it would seem to be pru­dent to limit any pos­si­ble con­tent of Tremolite … to an ab­solute min­i­mum,” came the re­ply from an­other physi­cian ex­ec­u­tive days later. The doc­tor told Ashton that J&J was re­ceiv­ing safety ques­tions from pe­di­a­tri­cians. Even Robert Wood Johnson II, the founder’s son and then-re­tired CEO, had ex­pressed concern over the pos­si­bil­ity of the ad­verse ef­fects on the lungs of ba­bies or moth­ers,” he wrote.“We have replied,” the doc­tor wrote, that we would not re­gard the us­age of our pow­ders as pre­sent­ing any haz­ard.” Such as­sur­ances would be im­pos­si­ble, he added, if we do in­clude Tremolite in more than un­avoid­able trace amounts.”The memo is the ear­li­est J&J doc­u­ment re­viewed by Reuters that dis­cusses tremo­lite as more than a scratchy nui­sance. The doc­tor urged Ashton to con­sult with com­pany lawyers be­cause it is not in­con­ceiv­able that we could be­come in­volved in lit­i­ga­tion.”

By the early 1970s, as­bestos was widely rec­og­nized as the pri­mary cause of mesothe­lioma among work­ers in­volved in pro­duc­ing it and in in­dus­tries that used it in their prod­ucts.Reg­u­la­tion was in the air. In 1972, President Richard Nixon’s newly cre­ated OSHA is­sued its first rule, set­ting lim­its on work­place ex­po­sure to as­bestos dust.By then, a team at Mount Sinai Medical Center led by pre-em­i­nent as­bestos re­searcher Irving Selikoff had started look­ing at tal­cum pow­ders as a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to a puz­zle: Why were tests of lung tis­sue taken post mortem from New Yorkers who never worked with as­bestos find­ing signs of the min­eral? Since talc de­posits are of­ten laced with as­bestos, the sci­en­tists rea­soned, per­haps tal­cum pow­ders played a role.They shared their pre­lim­i­nary find­ings with New York City’s en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion chief, Jerome Kretchmer. On June 29, 1971, Kretchmer in­formed the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion and called a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce that two uniden­ti­fied brands of cos­metic talc ap­peared to con­tain as­bestos.The FDA opened an in­quiry. J&J is­sued a state­ment: Our fifty years of re­search knowl­edge in this area in­di­cates that there is no as­bestos con­tained in the pow­der man­u­fac­tured by Johnson & Johnson.”Later that year, an­other Mount Sinai re­searcher, min­er­al­o­gist Arthur Langer, told J&J in a let­ter that the team had found a relatively small” amount of chrysotile as­bestos in Baby Powder.

NOTORIETY: Langer and Kretchmer ended up on an in­ter­nal J&J list of antagonistic per­son­al­i­ties.”

Langer, Selikoff and Kretchmer ended up on a J&J list of antagonistic per­son­al­i­ties” in a Nov. 29, 1972, memo, which de­scribed Selikoff as the leader of an attack on talc.”“I sup­pose I was an­tag­o­nis­tic,” Langer told Reuters. Even so, in a sub­se­quent test of J&J pow­ders in 1976, he did­n’t find as­bestos — a re­sult that Mount Sinai an­nounced. Langer said he told J&J lawyers who vis­ited him last year that he stood by all of his find­ings. J&J has not called him as a wit­ness.

TOP TESTER: Irving Selikoff, who led the Mount Sinai team that in­ves­ti­gated as­bestos and talc, was also listed among J&J’s antagonistic per­son­al­i­ties.” Photo cour­tesy of Arthur Langer

Selikoff died in 1992. Kretchmer said he re­cently read that a jury had con­cluded that Baby Powder was con­t­a­m­i­nated with as­bestos. I said to my­self, How come it took so long?’ he said.In July 1971, mean­while, J&J sent a del­e­ga­tion of sci­en­tists to Washington to talk to the FDA of­fi­cials look­ing into as­bestos in tal­cum pow­ders. According to an FDA ac­count of the meet­ing, J&J shared evidence that their talc con­tains less than 1%, if any, as­bestos.”Later that month, Wilson Nashed, one of the J&J sci­en­tists who vis­ited the FDA,  said in a memo to the com­pa­ny’s pub­lic re­la­tions de­part­ment that J&J’s talc con­tained trace amounts of fibrous min­er­als (tremolite/actinolite).”As the FDA con­tin­ued to in­ves­ti­gate as­bestos in talc, J&J sent pow­der sam­ples to be tested at pri­vate and uni­ver­sity labs. Though a pri­vate lab in Chicago found trace amounts of tremo­lite, it de­clared the amount insignificant” and the sam­ples substantially free of as­besti­form ma­te­r­ial.” J&J re­ported that find­ing to the FDA un­der a cover let­ter that said the results clearly show” the sam­ples tested contain no chrysotile as­bestos.” J&J’s lawyer told Reuters the tremo­lite found in the sam­ples was not as­bestos.But J&J’s FDA sub­mis­sion left out University of Minnesota pro­fes­sor Thomas E. Hutchinson’s find­ing of chrysotile in a Shower to Shower sam­ple — “incontrovertible as­bestos,” as he de­scribed it in a lab note.

NO DOUBT: In a lab note, a University of Minnesota pro­fes­sor recorded find­ing incontrovertible as­bestos” in a sam­ple of J&J’s Shower to Shower talc.

The FDAs own ex­am­i­na­tions found no as­bestos in J&J pow­der sam­ples in the 1970s. Those tests, how­ever, did not use the most sen­si­tive de­tec­tion meth­ods. An early test, for ex­am­ple, was in­ca­pable of de­tect­ing chrysotile fibers, as an FDA of­fi­cial rec­og­nized in a J&J ac­count of an Aug. 11, 1972, meet­ing with the agency: I un­der­stand that some sam­ples will be passed even though they con­tain such fibers, but we are will­ing to live with it.”By 1973, Tom Shelley, di­rec­tor of J&J’s Central Research Laboratories in New Jersey, was look­ing into ac­quir­ing patents on a process that a British min­er­al­o­gist and J&J con­sul­tant was de­vel­op­ing to sep­a­rate talc from tremo­lite.“It is quite pos­si­ble that even­tu­ally tremo­lite will be pro­hib­ited in all talc,” Shelley wrote on Feb. 20, 1973, to a British col­league. Therefore, he added, the process may well be valu­able prop­erty to us.”At the end of March, Shelley rec­og­nized the sen­si­tiv­ity of the plan in a memo sent to a J&J lawyer in New Jersey: We will want to care­fully con­sider the … patents re as­bestos in talc. It’s quite pos­si­ble that we may wish to keep the whole thing con­fi­den­tial rather than al­low it to be pub­lished in patent form and thus let the whole world know.”J&J did not ob­tain the patents.While Shelley was look­ing into the patents, J&J re­search di­rec­tor DeWitt Petterson vis­ited the com­pa­ny’s Vermont min­ing op­er­a­tion. Occasionally, sub-trace quan­ti­ties of tremo­lite or acti­no­lite are iden­ti­fi­able,” he wrote in an April 1973 re­port on the visit. And these might be clas­si­fied as as­bestos fiber.”J&J should protect our pow­der fran­chise” by elim­i­nat­ing as many tiny fibers that can be in­haled in air­born talc dust as pos­si­ble, Petterson wrote. He warned, how­ever, that no fi­nal prod­uct will ever be made which will be to­tally free from res­pirable par­ti­cles.” Introducing a corn­starch ver­sion of Baby Powder, he noted, is ob­vi­ously an­other an­swer.”

UNACHIEVABLE: J&J re­search di­rec­tor DeWitt Petterson warned the com­pany that pro­duc­ing pure talc was im­pos­si­ble.

Bicks told Reuters that J&J be­lieves that the tremo­lite and acti­no­lite Petterson cited were not as­bestos.Corn­starch came up again in a March 5, 1974, re­port in which Ashton, the J&J talc sup­ply chief, rec­om­mended that the com­pany re­search that al­ter­na­tive for de­fen­sive rea­sons” be­cause the thrust against talc has cen­tered pri­mar­ily on bi­o­log­i­cal prob­lems al­leged to re­sult from the in­hala­tion of talc and re­lated min­eral par­ti­cles.”

A few months af­ter Petterson’s recog­ni­tion that talc pu­rity was a pipe dream, the FDA pro­posed a rule that talc used in drugs con­tain no more than 0.1 per­cent as­bestos. While the agen­cy’s cos­met­ics di­vi­sion was con­sid­er­ing sim­i­lar ac­tion on tal­cum pow­ders, it asked com­pa­nies to sug­gest test­ing meth­ods.At the time, J&J’s Baby Powder fran­chise was con­sum­ing 20,000 tons of Vermont talc a year.  J&J pressed the FDA to ap­prove an X-ray scan­ning tech­nique that a com­pany sci­en­tist said in an April 1973 memo al­lowed for an au­to­matic 1% tol­er­ance for as­bestos.” That would mean talc with up to 10 times the FDAs pro­posed limit for as­bestos in drugs could pass muster.The same sci­en­tist con­fided in an Oct. 23, 1973, note to a col­league that, de­pend­ing on what test the FDA adopted for de­tect­ing as­bestos in cos­metic talc, we may have prob­lems.”The best way to de­tect as­bestos in talc was to con­cen­trate the sam­ple and then ex­am­ine it through mi­cro­scopes, the Colorado School of Mines Research Institute told J&J in a Dec. 27, 1973, re­port. In a memo, a J&J lab su­per­vi­sor said the con­cen­tra­tion tech­nique, which the com­pa­ny’s own re­searchers had ear­lier used to iden­tify a tremolite-type” as­bestos in Vermont talc, had one lim­i­ta­tion: It may be too sen­si­tive.”

No mother was go­ing to pow­der her baby with 1% of a known car­cino­gen ir­re­gard­less of the large safety fac­tor.”

In his email to Reuters, J&J’s lawyer said the lab su­per­vi­sor’s con­cern was that the test would re­sult in false pos­i­tives,” show­ing as­bestos where there was none.J&J also launched re­search to find out how much pow­der a baby was ex­posed to dur­ing a di­a­per­ing and how much as­bestos could be in that pow­der and re­main within OSHAs new work­place ex­po­sure lim­its. Its re­searchers had strapped an air sam­pling de­vice to a doll to take mea­sure­ments while it was pow­dered, ac­cord­ing to J&J memos and the min­utes of a Feb. 19, 1974, meet­ing of the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA), an in­dus­try group.“It was cal­cu­lated that even if talc were pure as­bestos the lev­els of ex­po­sure of a baby dur­ing a nor­mal pow­der­ing are far be­low the ac­cepted tol­er­ance lim­its,” the min­utes state.In a Sept. 6, 1974, let­ter, J&J told the FDA that since a sub­stan­tial safety fac­tor can be ex­pected” with talc that con­tains 1 per­cent as­bestos, methods ca­pa­ble of de­ter­min­ing less than 1% as­bestos in talc are not nec­es­sary to as­sure the safety of cos­metic talc.”Not every­one at the FDA thought that bas­ing a de­tec­tion method on such a cal­cu­la­tion was a good idea. One of­fi­cial called it foolish,” adding, ac­cord­ing to a J&J ac­count of a February 1975 meet­ing: No mother was go­ing to pow­der her baby with 1% of a known car­cino­gen ir­re­gard­less of the large safety fac­tor.”

Having failed to per­suade the FDA that up to 1 per­cent as­bestos con­t­a­m­i­na­tion was tol­er­a­ble, J&J be­gan pro­mot­ing self-polic­ing as an al­ter­na­tive to reg­u­la­tion. The cen­ter­piece of this ap­proach was a March 15, 1976, pack­age of let­ters from J&J and other man­u­fac­tur­ers that the CTFA gave to the agency to show that they had suc­ceeded at elim­i­nat­ing as­bestos from cos­metic talc.“The at­tached let­ters demon­strate re­spon­si­bil­ity of in­dus­try in mon­i­tor­ing its talcs,” the cover let­ter said. We are cer­tain that the sum­mary will give you as­sur­ance as to the free­dom from con­t­a­m­i­na­tion by as­bestos for ma­te­ri­als of cos­metic talc prod­ucts.”In its let­ter, J&J said sam­ples of talc pro­duced be­tween December 1972 and October 1973 were tested for as­bestos, and none was de­tected in any sam­ple.”J&J did­n’t tell the FDA about a 1974 test by a pro­fes­sor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that turned up as­bestos in talc from J&J — “fiberform” actinolite, as he put it. Nor did the com­pany tell the FDA about a 1975 re­port from its long­time lab that found par­ti­cles iden­ti­fied as asbestos fibers” in five of 17 sam­ples of talc from the chief source mine for Baby Powder. Some of them seem rather high,” the pri­vate lab wrote in its cover let­ter.Bicks, the J&J lawyer, said the con­tract lab’s re­sults were ir­rel­e­vant be­cause the talc was in­tended for in­dus­trial use. He said the com­pany now be­lieves that the acti­no­lite the Dartmouth pro­fes­sor found was not as­besti­form,” based on its in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a photo in the orig­i­nal lab re­port.Just two months af­ter the Dartmouth pro­fes­sor re­ported his find­ings, Windsor Minerals Research and Development Manager Vernon Zeitz wrote that chrysotile, fibrous an­tho­phyl­lite” and other types of as­bestos had been found in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Hammondsville ore body” — the Vermont de­posit that sup­plied Baby Powder talc for more than two decades.

Zeitz’s May 1974 re­port on ef­forts to min­i­mize as­bestos in Vermont talc strongly urged” the adop­tion of ways to pro­tect against what are cur­rently con­sid­ered to be ma­te­ri­als pre­sent­ing a se­vere health haz­ard and are po­ten­tially pre­sent in all talc ores in use at this time.”Bicks said that Zeitz was not re­port­ing on ac­tual test re­sults. The fol­low­ing year, Zeitz re­ported that based on weekly tests of talc sam­ples over six months, it can be stated with a greater than 99.9% cer­tainty that the ores and ma­te­ri­als pro­duced from the ores at all Windsor Mineral lo­ca­tions are free from as­bestos or as­besti­form min­er­als.” J&J’s se­lec­tive use of test re­sults fig­ured in a New Jersey judge’s de­ci­sion this year to af­firm the first ver­dict against the com­pany in a case claim­ing as­bestos in J&J prod­ucts caused can­cer. Providing the FDA fa­vor­able re­sults show­ing no as­bestos and with­hold­ing or fail­ing to pro­vide un­fa­vor­able re­sults, which show as­bestos, is a form of a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion by omis­sion,” Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Ana Viscomi said in her June rul­ing.“J&J re­spect­fully dis­agrees with the Judge’s com­ments,” Bicks said. J&J did not with­hold any rel­e­vant test­ing from FDA.”The FDA de­clined to com­ment on the rul­ing.Lack­ing con­sen­sus on test­ing meth­ods, the FDA post­poned ac­tion to limit as­bestos in talc. Years later, it did set lim­its on as­bestos in talc used in drugs. It has never lim­ited as­bestos in cos­metic talc or es­tab­lished a pre­ferred method for de­tect­ing it.In­stead, in 1976, a CTFA com­mit­tee chaired by a J&J ex­ec­u­tive drafted vol­un­tary guide­lines, es­tab­lish­ing a form of X-ray scan­ning with a 0.5 per­cent de­tec­tion limit as the pri­mary test, the method J&J pre­ferred. The method is not de­signed to de­tect the most com­monly used type of as­bestos, chrysotile, at all. The group said the more sen­si­tive elec­tron mi­croscopy was im­prac­ti­cal.The CTFA, which now does busi­ness as the Personal Care Products Council, de­clined to com­ment.X-ray scan­ning is the pri­mary method J&J has used for decades. The com­pany also pe­ri­od­i­cally re­quires the more sen­si­tive checks with elec­tron mi­cro­scopes. J&J’s lawyer said the com­pa­ny’s tests ex­ceed the trade as­so­ci­a­tion stan­dard, and they do. He also said that to­day, J&J’s X-ray scans can de­tect sus­pect min­er­als at lev­els as low as 0.1 per­cent of a sam­ple.But the com­pany never adopted the Colorado lab’s 1973 rec­om­men­da­tion that sam­ples be con­cen­trated be­fore ex­am­i­na­tion un­der a mi­cro­scope. And the talc sam­ples that were sub­jected to the most sen­si­tive elec­tron mi­croscopy test were a tiny frac­tion of what was sold. For those and other rea­sons, J&J could­n’t guar­an­tee its Baby Powder was as­bestos-free when plain­tiffs used it, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, in­clud­ing some who  testified for plain­tiffs.As early as 1976, Ashton, J&J’s long­time talc over­seer, rec­og­nized as much in a memo to col­leagues. He wrote that talc in gen­eral, if sub­jected to the most sen­si­tive test­ing method, us­ing con­cen­trated sam­ples, will be hard pressed in sup­port­ing pu­rity claims.” He de­scribed this sort of test­ing as both sophisticated” and disturbing.”

By 1977, J&J ap­peared to have tamped down con­cerns about the safety of talc. An in­ter­nal August re­port on J&J’s Defense of Talc Safety” cam­paign noted that in­de­pen­dent au­thor­i­ties had deemed cos­metic talc prod­ucts to be free of haz­ard.” It at­trib­uted this grow­ing opin­ion” to the dis­sem­i­na­tion to sci­en­tific and med­ical com­mu­ni­ties in the United States and Britain of favorable data from the var­i­ous J&J spon­sored stud­ies.”In 1984, FDA cos­met­ics chief and for­mer J&J em­ployee Heinz Eiermann re­it­er­ated that view. He told the New York Times that the agen­cy’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion a decade ear­lier had prompted the in­dus­try to en­sure that talc was as­bestos-free. So in sub­se­quent analy­ses,” he told the pa­per, we re­ally could not iden­tify as­bestos or only on very rare oc­ca­sions.”Two years later, the FDA re­jected a cit­i­zen re­quest that cos­metic talc carry an as­bestos warn­ing la­bel, say­ing that even if there were trace con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, the use of talc pow­der dur­ing two years of nor­mal di­a­per­ing would not in­crease the risk of can­cer.In 1980, J&J be­gan of­fer­ing a corn­starch ver­sion of Baby Powder — to ex­pand its cus­tomer base to peo­ple who pre­fer corn­starch, the com­pany says.The per­sis­tence of the in­dus­try’s view that cos­metic talc is as­bestos-free is why no stud­ies have been con­ducted on the in­ci­dence of mesothe­lioma among users of the prod­ucts. It’s also partly why reg­u­la­tions that pro­tect peo­ple in mines, mills, fac­to­ries and schools from as­bestos-laden talc don’t ap­ply to ba­bies and oth­ers ex­posed to cos­metic talc — even though Baby Powder talc has at times come from the same mines as talc sold for in­dus­trial use. J&J says cos­metic talc is more thor­oughly processed and thus purer than in­dus­trial talc.Un­til re­cently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) ac­cepted the in­dus­try’s po­si­tion, say­ing on its web­site: All tal­cum prod­ucts used in homes have been as­bestos-free since the 1970s.”After re­ceiv­ing in­quiries from Reuters, the ACS in early December re­vised its web­site to re­move the as­sur­ance that cos­metic talcs are free of as­bestos. Now, it says, quot­ing the in­dus­try’s stan­dards, that all cos­metic talc prod­ucts in the United States should be free from de­tectable amounts of as­bestos.”The re­vised ACS web page also notes that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer clas­si­fies talc that con­tains as­bestos as carcinogenic to hu­mans.”De­spite the suc­cess of J&J’s ef­forts to pro­mote the safety of its talc, the com­pa­ny’s test lab found as­bestos fibers in sam­ples taken from the Vermont op­er­a­tion in 1984, 1985 and 1986. Bicks said: The sam­ples that we know of dur­ing this time pe­riod that con­tained a fiber or two of as­bestos were not cos­metic talc sam­ples.”Then, in 1992, three years af­ter J&J sold its Vermont mines, the new owner, Cyprus Minerals, said in an in­ter­nal re­port on important en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues” in its talc re­serves that there was past tremo­lite” in the Hammondsville de­posit. Hammondsville was the pri­mary source of Baby Powder talc from 1966 un­til its shut­down in 1990.Bicks re­jected the Cyprus re­port as hearsay, say­ing there is no orig­i­nal doc­u­men­ta­tion to con­firm it. Hammondsville mine records, ac­cord­ing to a 1993 J&J memo, were de­stroyed by the mine man­age­ment staff just prior to the J&J di­vesti­ture.”Bicks said the de­stroyed doc­u­ments did not in­clude talc test­ing records.

MISSING: A J&J memo re­veals that records of the Hammondsville mine, the main source of Baby Powder talc from 1966 un­til 1990, were de­stroyed by mine man­agers while J&J still owned the busi­ness.

In 2002 and 2003, Vermont mine op­er­a­tors found chrysotile as­bestos fibers on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in talc pro­duced for Baby Powder sold in Canada. In each case, a sin­gle fiber was recorded — a find­ing deemed BDL — be­low de­tec­tion limit. Bicks de­scribed the find­ing as background as­bestos” that did not come from any talc source.In 2009, the FDA, re­spond­ing to grow­ing pub­lic con­cern about talc, com­mis­sioned tests on 34 sam­ples, in­clud­ing a bot­tle of J&J Baby Powder and sam­ples of Imerys talc from China. No as­bestos was de­tected.FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency con­tin­ues to re­ceive a lot of ques­tions about talc cos­met­ics. I rec­og­nize the con­cern,” he told Reuters. He said the agen­cy’s polic­ing of cos­met­ics in gen­eral — fewer than 30 peo­ple reg­u­lat­ing a vast” in­dus­try — was a place where we think we can be do­ing more.”Got­tlieb said the FDA planned to host a pub­lic fo­rum in early 2019 to look at how we would de­velop stan­dards for eval­u­at­ing any po­ten­tial risk.” An agency spokes­woman said that would in­clude ex­am­in­ing scientific test meth­ods for as­sess­ment of as­bestos.”

Before law school, Herschel Hobson worked at a rub­ber plant. There, his job in­cluded en­sur­ing that as­bestos in talc the work­ers were ex­posed to did­n’t ex­ceed OSHA lim­its.That’s why he ze­roed in on John­son’s Baby Powder af­ter he took on Darlene Coker as a client in 1997. The law­suit Coker and her hus­band, Roy, filed that year against J&J in Jefferson County District Court in Beaumont, Texas, is the ear­li­est Reuters found al­leg­ing Baby Powder caused can­cer.Hob­son asked J&J for any re­search it had into the health of its mine work­ers; talc pro­duc­tion records from the mid-1940s through the 1980s; de­po­si­tions from man­agers of three labs that tested talc for J&J; and any doc­u­ments re­lated to test­ing for fi­brous or as­besti­form ma­te­ri­als.J&J ob­jected. Hobson’s fishing ex­pe­di­tion” would not turn up any rel­e­vant ev­i­dence, it as­serted in a May 6, 1998, mo­tion. In fact, among the thou­sands of doc­u­ments Hobson’s re­quest could have turned up was a let­ter J&J lawyers had re­ceived only weeks ear­lier from a Rutgers University geologist con­firm­ing that she had found as­bestos in the com­pa­ny’s Baby Powder, iden­ti­fied in her 1991 pub­lished study as tremo­lite asbestos” nee­dles.Hob­son agreed to post­pone his dis­cov­ery de­mands un­til he got the pathol­ogy re­port on Coker’s lung tis­sue. Before it came in, J&J asked the judge to dis­miss the case, ar­gu­ing that Coker had no ev­i­dence” Baby Powder caused mesothe­lioma.

Ten days later, the pathol­ogy re­port landed: Coker’s lung tis­sue con­tained tens of thou­sands of long fibers” of four dif­fer­ent types of as­bestos. The find­ings were consistent with ex­po­sure to talc con­tain­ing chrysotile and tremo­lite con­t­a­m­i­na­tion,” the re­port con­cluded.“The as­bestos fibers found raise a new is­sue of fact,” Hobson told the judge in a re­quest for more time to file an op­po­si­tion to J&J’s dis­missal mo­tion. The judge gave him more time but turned down his re­quest to re­sume dis­cov­ery.With­out ev­i­dence from J&J and no hope of ever get­ting any, Hobson ad­vised Coker to drop the suit.Hob­son is still prac­tic­ing law in Nederland, Texas. When Reuters told him about the ev­i­dence that had emerged in re­cent lit­i­ga­tion, he said: They knew what the prob­lems were, and they hid it.” J&J’s records would have made a 100% dif­fer­ence” in Coker’s case.Had the in­for­ma­tion about as­bestos in J&J’s talc come out ear­lier, he said, maybe there would have been 20 years less ex­po­sure” for other peo­ple.Bicks, the J&J lawyer, said Coker dropped her case be­cause the dis­cov­ery es­tab­lished that J&J talc had noth­ing to do with Plaintiff’s dis­ease, and that as­bestos ex­po­sure from a com­mer­cial or oc­cu­pa­tional set­ting was the likely cause.”Coker never learned why she had mesothe­lioma. She did beat the odds, though. Most pa­tients die within a year of di­ag­no­sis. Coker held on long enough to see her two grand­chil­dren. She died in 2009, 12 years af­ter her di­ag­no­sis, at age 63.Coker’s daugh­ter Crystal Deckard was 5 when her sis­ter, Cady, was born in 1971. Deckard re­mem­bers see­ing the white bot­tle of Johnson’s Baby Powder on the chang­ing table where her mother di­a­pered her new sis­ter.“When Mom was given this death sen­tence, she was the same age as I am right now,” Deckard said. I have it in the back of my mind all the time. Could it hap­pen to us? Me? My sis­ter?”

Johnson & Johnson de­vel­oped a strat­egy in the 1970s to deal with a grow­ing vol­ume of re­search show­ing that talc min­ers had el­e­vated rates of lung dis­ease and can­cer: Promote the pos­i­tive, chal­lenge the neg­a­tive.That ap­proach was summed up by a J&J ap­plied re­search di­rec­tor in a strictly con­fi­den­tial” March 3, 1975, memo to man­agers of the baby prod­ucts di­vi­sion, which used the talc in J&J’s sig­na­ture Baby Powder.“Our cur­rent pos­ture with re­spect to the spon­sor­ship of talc safety stud­ies has been to ini­ti­ate stud­ies only as dic­tated by con­fronta­tion,” the memo said. This phi­los­o­phy, so far, has al­lowed us to neu­tral­ize or hold in check data al­ready gen­er­ated by in­ves­ti­ga­tors who ques­tion the safety of talc.”

A J&J ex­ec­u­tive laid out the com­pa­ny’s pol­icy of coun­ter­ing neg­a­tive re­search about the health ef­fects of talc in a memo to man­agers.

Also, the memo said, we min­i­mize the risk of pos­si­ble self-gen­er­a­tion of sci­en­tific data which may be po­lit­i­cally or sci­en­tif­i­cally em­bar­rass­ing.”J&J’s ef­fort to pro­tect its iconic Baby Powder fran­chise by shap­ing re­search was led by physi­cian and sci­en­tist ex­ec­u­tives. An early 1970s study of 1,992 Italian talc min­ers shows how it worked: J&J com­mis­sioned and paid for the study, told the re­searchers the re­sults it wanted, and hired a ghost­writer to re­draft the ar­ti­cle that pre­sented the find­ings in a jour­nal.The ef­fort en­tailed other at­tempts to in­flu­ence re­search, in­clud­ing a U.S. gov­ern­ment study of the health of talc work­ers in Vermont. J&J’s Windsor Minerals Inc sub­sidiary, one of sev­eral mine op­er­a­tors in­volved in the study, de­vel­oped a re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health re­searchers to even in­flu­ence the con­clu­sions” through sug­ges­tions of subjective in­ter­pre­ta­tions,” ac­cord­ing to a 1973 Windsor Minerals memo.Pe­ter Bicks, out­side coun­sel for J&J, told Reuters in an email that for the Vermont study, com­pany representatives acted in an educational and ad­vi­sory ca­pac­i­ty’ to pro­vide the re­searchers with a re­al­is­tic study plan.”A 1979 ar­ti­cle in the Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology de­tail­ing the find­ings of the study was not good news for talc. It re­ported a significant in­crease” in respiratory can­cer mor­tal­ity” among min­ers. A sub­se­quent analy­sis of the un­der­ly­ing data pub­lished in 1988 de­ter­mined that at least one of the work­ers died of mesothe­lioma, the can­cer most closely as­so­ci­ated with as­bestos.The pro­posal to study the health of min­ers of the Italian talc used in Baby Powder for decades came from William Ashton, J&J’s long­time talc sup­ply chief. Ashton had ob­tained a sum­mary of min­ers’ med­ical records com­piled by an Italian physi­cian, who also hap­pened to con­trol the coun­try’s talc ex­ports.J&J should use those records for max­i­mum ben­e­fit,” Ashton said in a May 8, 1973, let­ter to Dr Gavin Hildick-Smith, J&J’s di­rec­tor of med­ical af­fairs. It seems to me that the Italian records give us the op­por­tu­nity to for­tify a po­si­tion on talc safety.”At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was con­sid­er­ing a limit on as­bestos in talcs. In an Oct. 18, 1973, memo, Hildick-Smith ad­vised J&J: “The risk/​ben­e­fit ra­tio of con­duct­ing an epi­demi­o­log­i­cal study in these mines must be con­sid­ered.”By early 1974, the study was a go. Hildick-Smith sent money to the Italian talc ex­porter-physi­cian to hire a team of re­searchers. Hildick-Smith told the lead re­searcher in a June 26, 1974, let­ter ex­actly what J&J wanted: data that would show that the in­ci­dence of can­cer in these sub­jects is no dif­fer­ent from that of the Italian pop­u­la­tion or the rural con­trol group.”That is ex­actly what J&J got, Hildick-Smith told col­leagues a few months later. At a meet­ing on Sept. 27, 1974, for a Talc/powder Safety Studies Review,” he re­ported the Italian study would dis­pel the cancer con­cern as­so­ci­ated with ex­po­sure to talc.”The fol­low­ing spring, Hildick-Smith got a draft of the Italian study from the lead re­searcher. It needed work to meet the form and style” re­quire­ments of the tar­get jour­nal, he told col­leagues in a March 31, 1975, memo. He added that he would send it to a sci­en­tific ghost­writer who will hold it in con­fi­dence and rewrite it.”

Got a con­fi­den­tial news tip? Reuters Investigates of­fers sev­eral ways to se­curely con­tact our re­porters

The ar­ti­cle that ap­peared in 1976 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine re­ported re­sults even bet­ter than J&J had bar­gained for. The study found fewer lung can­cer deaths than ex­pected, a re­sult that the au­thors said sup­ported the the­sis of no can­cero­genic ef­fect at­trib­ut­able to pure talc.”It also found no mesothe­lioma, the sig­na­ture can­cer of as­bestos ex­po­sure. There is no ev­i­dence J&J ma­nip­u­lated or mis­used the data. Experts for plain­tiffs have tes­ti­fied that the Italian study was too small to draw any con­clu­sions about the in­ci­dence of such a rare can­cer. J&J’s ex­pert wit­nesses have con­cluded the op­po­site.Bicks noted that the Italian study has been up­dated three times — in 1979, 2003 and 2017 — “confirming the lack of as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween ex­po­sure to as­bestos-free talc, lung can­cer and mesothe­lioma.”J&J got a lot of mileage out of the study. It was cited in a re­view ar­ti­cle ti­tled The Biology of Talc,” pub­lished Nov. 1, 1976, in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine. In ad­di­tion to dozens of pub­lished stud­ies, the re­view cited un­pub­lished re­search, in­clud­ing one ex­per­i­ment that used a doll as a proxy for in­fants and that sup­ported the com­pa­ny’s po­si­tion on the safety of talc. It did­n’t dis­close that J&J had com­mis­sioned the un­pub­lished re­search.The au­thor of the re­view ar­ti­cle con­cluded that the concern that has been ex­pressed about the pos­si­ble health haz­ard from con­sumer ex­po­sure to cos­metic talc is un­war­ranted … There is no ev­i­dence that its nor­mal use poses a haz­ard to health.”The au­thor was Hildick-Smith, the J&J physi­cian ex­ec­u­tive who had over­seen the Italian study and played a key role in the com­pa­ny’s talc safety re­search. The ar­ti­cle did not dis­close his J&J con­nec­tion, iden­ti­fy­ing him only as a Rutgers University clin­i­cal as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor. Hildick-Smith died in 2006.


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'Collaboration' Creates Mediocrity, Not Excellence, According to Science

If you lis­ten to man­age­ment pun­dits, collaboration” is all the rage. While the term is a bit fuzzy, what’s usu­ally meant by collaboration” is 1) plenty of ad-hoc meet­ings and 2) open-plan of­fices that in­crease the like­li­hood that such meet­ings take place.

In pre­vi­ous columns, I’ve pointed out that open-plan of­fices, with all their in­ter­rup­tions, dis­trac­tions, and noise pol­lu­tion, are pro­duc­tiv­ity sink­holes. I’ve also pointed out that col­lab­o­ra­tion tends to pe­nal­ize the com­pe­tent who end up do­ing most of the work.

A re­cent study pub­lished in Applied Psychology has now con­firmed that a col­lab­o­ra­tive work en­vi­ron­ment can make top per­form­ers–the in­no­va­tors and hard-work­ers–feel mis­er­able and so­cially iso­lated.

The prob­lem is that rather than see­ing a top per­former as a role mod­els, mediocre em­ploy­ees tend to see them as threats, ei­ther to their own po­si­tion in the com­pany or to their own feel­ings of self-worth.

Rather than im­prov­ing their own per­for­mance, mediocre em­ploy­ees so­cially iso­late top per­form­ers, spread nasty ru­mors about them, and ei­ther sab­o­tage, or at­tempt to steal credit for, the top per­form­ers’ work. As the study put it: Cooperative con­texts proved so­cially dis­ad­van­ta­geous for high per­form­ers.”

This so­cial iso­la­tion cre­ates spe­cial dif­fi­cul­ties for in­tro­verted em­ploy­ees who work in open-plan of­fices. While some ex­tro­verts seem to draw en­ergy from a chaotic en­vi­ron­ment, in­tro­verts find such en­vi­ron­ments drain­ing.

Sometimes the only way that in­tro­verts can get their work com­pleted is to work from home, cre­at­ing even more po­ten­tial so­cial iso­la­tion. Indeed, top per­form­ers who work from home are nat­ural and easy tar­get for work­place gos­sip and back­bit­ing.

Unless checked, this ten­dency can re­sult in an ex­o­dus of top tal­ent. As a re­cent Inc.com col­umn pointed out: The No. 1 rea­son high per­form­ers leave or­ga­ni­za­tions in which they are oth­er­wise happy is be­cause of the tol­er­ance of medi­oc­rity.”

This is not to say that team­work is a bad thing, per se. Indeed, most com­plex pro­jects re­quire a team to suc­cess­fully com­plete. For teams to be ef­fec­tive, though, they need lead­ers who can swiftly squelch any at­tempt to iso­late or den­i­grate a top per­former.

In other words, your teams may need hi­er­ar­chi­cal lead­er­ship more than they need ad­di­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties. Similarly, your com­pany may need more pri­vate spaces than open” ar­eas that en­cour­age more so­cial in­ter­ac­tion.


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