Friday, August 31, 2018




          It’s almost fall, and college students are back on many campuses around California, with the rest due to return soon. College football is already going strong.

          One question many would rather not confront awaits many of the new and returning students: How much outright anti-Semitism will face the significant Jewish cohort on many major California campuses?

          Despite the fact that just over a year ago, the University of California’s Board of Regents adopted what it considered a strict policy of policing anti-Semitism, there were still plenty of episodes around California last spring and fall, from demonstrations at San Francisco State University to daubed swastikas at UC Davis and vandalism on the grounds of several other once-bucolic schools.

          One thing has now been established, thanks to a new study from a group that carefully tracks anti-Jewish activity on campuses across America: The more radically anti-Israel faculty members a school employs, the more openly anti-Semitic activity that college or university will see.

          The privately-funded AMCHA (Hebrew for “Our People”) Initiative concluded in its annual report on campus anti-Semitism that “Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents were considerably more likely to contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students than incidents involving classic anti-Semitism.”

          In short, even though some pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrations purport not to be purely anti-Jewish, that’s how Jewish students feel they are treated by participants.

          This extends from demonstrators trying to shut down speeches by Israeli representatives to graffiti on campus buildings and walls and everything in between. Added the study, “Anti-Israel campus activities are no longer intent on harming Israel, but increasingly they are intent on harming pro-Israel members of the campus community.”

          That seeming distinction without a real difference played out most vocally during the last academic year at San Francisco State University, home to the native Palestinian Prof. Rabab Abdulhadi, who has said that Zionists are not welcome on her campus.

          She used the Facebook account of a university department to make similar comments, which some students believed at the time led to disruption of a speech by the two-term Jewish mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who some Israelis project as a possible future prime minister of that country.

          Abdulhadi’s behavior prompted SF State President Leslie Wong to visit the school’s prime Jewish organization, Hillel, and declare that “Zionists are welcome on our campus.” He was trying to address charges that Jewish students on his campus often feel intimidated.

          But the AMCHA study suggests that as long as professors like Abdulhadi remain active there, Jewish students will never feel completely accepted.

          Meanwhile, on-campus anti-Semitism went to a new level over the summer at Stanford University, about 25 miles down the Interstate 280 freeway from SF State, where 20-year-old junior Hamzeh Daoud, a student housing resident assistant, threatened on his Facebook account that “I’m gonna physically fight Zionists on campus...” Later, after the university declared that “Threats of physical violence have absolutely no place in the Stanford community,” Daoud resigned his post, while remaining a student.

          Hours after the university issued its statement, Daoud also amended his Facebook post to say he would fight pro-Israel students “intellectually,” not physically. “I realize intellectually beating zionists (sic) is the only way to go. Physical fighting is never an answer to proving people wrong.”

          Daoud, a Jordanian citizen, considers himself a Palestinian refugee, although he is more than two generations removed from any ancestors who may once have lived in what is now Israel.

          But it’s a safe bet Jewish students at Stanford are savvy enough to be suspicious of any softening phrases by a fellow student who may have been threatened privately with suspension or expulsion.

          In frequency of anti-Semitic incidents, Stanford has long ranked behind other major campuses like UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis and UCLA, making the fact of a violent threat there a sign that not only has overall campus anti-Semitism not abated since the UC Regents issued their policy, but it may have become even more virulent.

          That’s one reason the atmosphere will be at least as fraught as ever for Jewish students trying to concentrate on academics this fall, while they also know they’ve been threatened by Palestinian activists in some places.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit





          For all three decades since Ronald Reagan left the presidency, California has been all but irrelevant at the top level of American politics. Sure, plenty of ultra-wealthy Californians are regularly among the top moneybags raising funds for candidates from elsewhere on all parts of the political spectrum.

          But no Californian has had a decent shot at becoming President since Reagan in 1980.

          This might change in 2020, as several significant Golden State figures are now looking like candidates, while the one person best situated to run denies having current interest in the job.

          California’s long run of irrelevance has a lot to do with the timing of primary elections, where this state has often voted long after the nominees of both parties were pretty well settled elsewhere in a clear-cut case of the tail wagging the dog.

          The cast of characters occupying the governor’s office has also not helped. Republican Pete Wilson staged a 1990s-era run that was completely stymied when he lost his voice for weeks. Democrat Gray Davis never had a real chance, in part because of scandals at home. The Austrian-born Republican muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger was ineligible. And many considered current Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, a two-time previous loser, too old for serious consideration.

          But plenty of Californian Democrats are running right now, while one major figure is not.

          Most prominent among the state’s active presidential possibilities is Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, a former state attorney general and San Francisco district attorney who might have trouble pointing to a significant achievement other than getting elected several times. Harris has acted like a candidate both in very vocal and confrontational Senate hearings and by helping out candidates in other states.

          She’ll have a campaign-like book out in January with the wonky title “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.” She’s even been attacked by President Trump via Twitter, offering prompt and pithy ripostes.

          There are also Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has spent time in both the early primary and caucus states of New Hampshire and Iowa without visibly inspiring anyone, and East Bay area Congressman Eric Swalwell, once the youngest member of Congress and still only 37, just two years over the minimum age limit to become President. Swalwell, like Garcetti, has not inspired many, but may merely be setting himself up for the future.

          Then there’s Pasadena-area Congressman Adam Schiff, who is not actively campaigning, but has won admirers nationally for the style and content of his opposition to Trump as ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee.

          But the best situated California presidential possibility is Gavin Newsom, the odds-on favorite to win the governor’s office this fall. Newsom keeps saying he’s not interested in a 2020 run for President, but who knows what he might do a year from now, if he’s had almost a year of governing California in potentially interesting ways that figure to make national headlines?

          That was how his time as mayor of San Francisco went, with Newsom delivering America’s first legally-recognized same-sex marriages and the first city with universal health care, a top Democratic priority here and in many other places.

          But Newsom, who started running for governor right after Brown was reelected in 2014, likes to begin his campaigns early, just like Harris, who declared for the Senate two years before her election, immediately after former Sen. Barbara Boxer announced retirement plans.

          Plus, Harris and Newsom are longtime political allies who share a campaign consulting firm and have never stepped on each other’s toes. So Newsom may bide his time.

          Still…Newsom running in the 2020 primaries as California’s favorite son would have unique advantages. If he could dominate that scene as he has seemed to dominate the governor’s race, he could get virtually all California’s Democratic National Convention delegates, giving him more than 20 percent of the number needed for nomination before the primary season even starts.

          No one else begins with that kind of edge. And plenty of politicians have run after first denying their interest.

          So California may have much more of a role two years from now than it has in many years. Which might make this state’s politics even more interesting after the November election than they are right now.

     Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is

Monday, August 27, 2018




          From the very start of the Democrat-on-Democrat race for the U.S. Senate between longtime incumbent Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Kevin de Leon, there has really been only one issue – age.

          That’s because in spite of what de Leon sometimes says, there’s very little difference between the two on policy. Both can be counted on to resist President Trump’s Supreme Court nominations and fight for continued abortion rights. Both are ardent gun control backers. Both back Obamacare, although de Leon wants to take health care a step beyond that.

          The real difference between them is age. Feinstein is more than 30 years older than de Leon, the soon to be termed-out former president of the state Senate.

          Almost everything de Leon has said in running against Feinstein is really about age and the patience and perspective it can bring. Sure, de Leon uses a lot of code words, like the hackneyed and overused slogan, “It’s time for a change.”

          It was clear in the primary that most Democratic voters weren’t buying the age argument, which essentially goes like this: “It doesn’t matter what Feinstein does. The mere fact she’s 85 is reason enough to dump her.”

     She got 70 percent of all Democratic votes in June.

          But the universe of voters will be much larger in November; younger voters are more likely to turn out in general elections than primaries.

          And there’s no doubt that young Turks among California Democrats feel kinship with de Leon, even though he pulled less than 13 percent of the total vote in the primary.

          This was plain in the endorsement vote for de Leon by 65 percent of the more than 300 executive board members of the state’s Democratic Party. That panel is dominated by liberal leftists elected after the Bernie Sanders wing of the party turned out in droves for local caucuses soon after President Trump’s election and chose hundreds of delegates to the state party convention where board members were picked.

      By contrast with the disapproval she draws from the youngish party board, Feinstein gets strong backing from the vast majority of elected state Democrats, including Gov. Jerry Brown, fellow Sen. Kamala Harris and the very vocal anti-Trump Rep. Adam Schiff of Pasadena, newly prominent for his role in opposing Trump as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

          The ageist complaints would have some merit if there were any evidence Feinstein’s performance has fallen off as she’s grown older, any reason to believe she cannot do her job as well now as ever.

          But there is no such evidence. By all appearances, Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and former chair of the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, is at least as active now as 20 years ago, when no one mentioned her age.

          Yes, in the early months of Trump’s presidency, she counseled patience, but it’s been clear for many months that her patience long ago ran out, as she’s made statement after statement and vote after vote to chastise or oppose Trump.

          So the de Leon argument that she was somehow off base in mid-2017, when she counseled giving Trump a chance to develop and thus drew de Leon’s very vocal ire, should be rather irrelevant today.

          No, Feinstein hasn’t been as shrill as Harris in questioning figures like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but her civilly-phrased questions seemed more piercing to many. And no Democrat has done more to preserve Obamacare, which provides health coverage for about 5 million previously uninsured Californians.

          But she’s still known accurately as a centrist, which galls de Leon and his supporters. She’s offered compromises on water issues and won support from Central Valley farmers, but also fights for civil liberties causes. And she’s been scrupulously fair to business, which bothers some labor leaders who actively fund the party.

          There’s also the fact that de Leon knows that if he doesn’t win now, he’ll probably never get a Senate seat, what with folks like Schiff, state Treasurer John Chiang and others ready to take a shot at the next slot that opens.

          Which means this contest has always been about timing and the fact Feinstein has lived longer than a lot of other people, and it still is.
Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is

Suggested pull-out quote: “Ageist complaints would have some merit if there were any evidence Feinstein’s performance has fallen off.”




          As the fall election season begins officially this week, it’s high time to look closely at what a Gov. Gavin Newsom might be like.

          That’s partly because Newsom held leads of anywhere from 25 to 30 percentage points over Republican businessman John Cox in polls taken during the summer, drawing about 55 percent support –well over the 50 percent polling threshold that’s often viewed as decisive when campaigns enter their homestretch.

          By now, many Californians should already have acquired some sense of the potential new governor. He’s traveled to almost every corner of the state since declaring for the office about two years ago, long before any of the Democratic primary election rivals he easily bested last June.

          To get to know the state even better, the former San Francisco mayor lived long periods in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, working from the home of his in-laws. Newsom said he needed to develop more knowledge of and support in Southern California. This paid off in the primary, when he beat former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa by 10 percent in Villaraigosa’s home county.

          But most Californians likely still don’t know what to expect from a Gov. Newsom. So it pays to examine where he stands on some of the state’s major issues, items he explained in several interviews over the last year or so.

          For one thing, don’t expect Newsom to abandon the widely-criticized bullet train project, even though he well knows its trains will never reach the average speeds promised in Proposition 1A exactly 10 years ago. That’s in part because he sees high speed rail as a possible solution to problems major corporations have with recruiting because of sky-high real estate prices in Silicon Valley and the rest of the San Francisco Peninsula.

          He puts a special priority on links the bullet train could create between the Peninsula and the Central Valley.

          “If you get valley-to-valley transportation at very high speeds, you can get huge economic growth on that corridor,” Newsom said. “I think this should lead to some renewed optimism about what high speed rail can do for the state.”

          So instead of being “Brown’s train” or “Arnold’s train” before that, the bullet train may soon become Newsom’s property, for better or worse. For sure, it could make the housing markets of Central Valley cities like Tracy, Merced, Madera, Modesto, Manteca and Turlock into bedroom communities for Silicon Valley. But only after engineers solve the problems of traversing steep mountainsides near Highway 152 in Pacheco Pass.

          Newsom also proposes to tie funding for local transportation projects to local governments’ willingness to build new housing and help resolve California’s burgeoning problem of homelessness.

          “Transit dollars have to be contingent on housing production,” he said. “You cannot de-link the two issues.”

          But he opposed a springtime legislative proposal to rezone all areas within a half-mile radius of rapid transit stops and heavily-used bus stops for tall new buildings with thousands of apartments, most of them quite small.

          “There has to be a lot of regional discretion here,” said the onetime mayor, who relished independent local authority while in that office, using it to begin the national movement toward legalizing same-sex marriages, among other items.

          If he becomes governor at the same time as voters repeal the state’s year-old 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase, expect him to try to find other new money for transportation projects.

          “We have a transportation backlog that everyone experiences every day,” Newsom said, referencing his own sojourns in Los Angeles traffic jams.

          But Newsom remains noncommittal on the so-called California WaterFix, which would see local water districts assess taxpayers billions of dollars to fund two tunnels carrying Sacramento River water around or under the Delta formed by that river and the San Joaquin, east of San Francisco Bay.

          If there’s one thing to expect from Newsom, it’s probably the unexpected. For sure, no one voting for him as San Francisco mayor foresaw him legalizing same-sex marriage or spurring a universal health care system for the city.

          So no one can be certain of what he might tackle if and when he takes over California’s top office. Which might even include a run for president, in spite of his adamant current denials of interest.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Suggested pull-out quote: “Transit dollars have to be contingent on housing production.” Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Monday, August 20, 2018




          Californians interested in keeping this state’s toughest-in-the-world standards for automotive smog pollution heaved a sigh of relief just over one year ago, when the federal Environmental Protection Agency reversed an earlier decision to impose new national ozone standards on all cars sold in America.

          That relief turns out to have been premature.

          For on the same day this summer that the petulant and thin-skinned President Trump began revoking security clearances from former government officials who have criticized him, his EPA also announced plans to end California’s authority for setting its own smog standards.

          That will take some doing, of course, because the federal Clean Air Act signed by the late Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970 specifically gives California that power. Yes, the state must get EPA waivers to take particular actions, but the landmark law makes that virtually automatic.

          And 13 other states now regularly adopt California’s anti-smog regulations soon after they become effective here, with Colorado poised to make it 14. All those states are joining California in resisting the EPA’s latest threat. Many foreign countries with smog problems – Greece, France and Germany, for three examples – have also adopted most California regulations.

          Of course, every time California proposes a new regulation, carmakers like General Motors, Toyota and Daimler-Benz claim their sales will drop due to costs of the change. But more than 2 million cars and trucks were sold in California last year, a record. And sales in the other states using California rules are also solid. Still, Trump aides argue they would be even better if prices were cut via less regulation.

          When President George W. Bush tried to deny a waiver for greenhouse gas regulation in early 2008, he lost in court. But today’s U.S. Supreme Court has a different – largely anti-regulation – majority, so there’s a possibility Trump could ultimately win on this issue, despite what the law says. The best hope for California and its cohort of cooperating states is to keep their lawsuit going for at least two years, betting Trump will lose in 2020.

          Over the decades, California’s unique authority producede the first primitive smog control devices, catalytic converters, hybrids like the strong-selling Toyota Prius, plug-in hybrids, electric cars and the current first generation of super-clean hydrogen-powered vehicles. Just as important has been a steady reduction in automotive smog, allowing residents of many urban areas once covered with murky brown air to see nearby mountain ranges and breathe significantly cleaner air.

          Now the EPA threatens to revoke California’s authority to limit carbon emissions from tailpipes and force carmakers to sell specific percentages of zero-emission vehicles here, thus reversing major advances.

          Trump, with support from a few automakers, wants uniform national smog standards, despite the Clean Air Act’s recognition that California smog problems are unique and more serious than any other state’s.

          For sure, if the new Trump plan goes forward, it will slow the pace of automotive cleanups long set by California’s Air Resources Board.

          One serious question, since automaker warnings of diminished profits and sales due to smog regulation have never panned out, is whether Trump is merely being vengeful in going after California despite his Republican Party’s longstanding support for state’s rights.

          After all, this state voted against him by about 3 million votes in 2016 and he remains abysmally unpopular here. The suspicion that he’s merely seeking revenge by trying to reduce the quality of life here is fueled by his consistent targeting of any person or country that dares criticize or oppose him.

          No, say supporters of his proposed change. “The administration is fulfilling its commitment to reinstate midterm evaluation of future fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards,” said Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Makers, which includes GM, Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, Mitsubishi and Daimler-Benz, among others.

          The bottom line: Scaling back today’s rules would put America far behind other countries in seeking reduced dependence on oil and gasoline. Germany and France, for example, will ban sales of all gas-powered cars with the next two to three decades.

          Which makes the proposed Trump move not only counter to the Clean Air Act, but also would move America backward environmentally while making it a less healthy country to live in than it is today.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit




          Almost daily, California’s entry into a western regional electricity grid grows nearer.

          As the legislative bill to move the state into a deal with coal-oriented states like Utah, Idaho and Nevada moves toward passage, the state also grows nearer to a real risk of repeating the energy crunch that produced big rate increases and weeks of brownouts here in 2000 and 2001.

          There’s also great irony in the strong support this bill, known as AB 813, draws from Gov. Jerry Brown, the moving force behind California’s steady progress toward getting most of its electricity from renewable sources including solar, wind, hydro-power and underground geothermal heat. For the bill carries a major risk of invalidating California’s green energy initiatives.

That’s despite steady denials from the Brown-appointed Independent System Operator, the agency which has run the state’s electric grid since the energy crunch with the specific mission of preventing repeats of the market manipulation which caused that crisis.

And yet…Brown and his ISO board members are backing the regional grid, claiming it might save California consumers as much as $1.5 billion a year. That’s less than $20 a year per electricity customer, not much of a benefit compared to the risks involved.

One reason the bill draws strong legislative support is that simple word “regional.” Bigger is better and more efficient, goes the frequent belief, even though that does not always prove true.

One problem for California in this proposal is that the new western regional board of directors would be appointed largely by the electric industry. That’s like letting Enron or its modern equivalent run the grid. It’s giving the fox control of the henhouse.

The potential danger to California’s green energy rules comes just as former state Senate President Kevin de Leon, now running for the U.S. Senate, pushes hard for a commitment to 100 percent green energy by 2050, just 32 years from now. De Leon claims there’s a new urgency for clean energy, spurred by the current symptoms of climate change, like frequent record-level heat and the related wave of huge wildfires.

But the regional grid would allow any such rules to be overridden by the Federal Energy Regulatory commission, now led by appointees of President Trump and recently showing a great desire to keep polluting coal-fired power plants in business indefinitely.

Earlier this year, for example, FERC passed a requirement that regional transmission organizations (like the western grid) counteract state-level renewable energy policies. This essentially makes FERC a strong opponent of California’s clean-power rules and the regional grid would allow it to countermand any such standards.

          It’s hard to see why legislators would essentially give over one of their significant powers to an agency currently determined to undermine California’s goals. Yet, backers say “Regionalization…would mobilize more states to engage with Trump if FERC were to do something crazy.” How likely to defy Trump are the solidly Trump-backing states of Utah and Idaho?

          The regional grid bill also says big utilities, like Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, would be entitled to “just and reasonable compensation” for their past investments in transmission lines if control of the state’s grid changes.

          Why include that provision when the costs of those facilities are paid by consumers through their monthly bills, not by the companies themselves?

          If the utilities could somehow get double-paid for their power lines, that might explain why they’re not opposing regionalization.

          Plus, there has so far been no thorough public analysis of the full financial impact of regionalization. For sure, until such a report is made and proven reliable, this plan should go no farther.

          But chances are it will. For the Legislature has a history of passing plans and attempting to deal with fiscal consequences later on. That’s what happened with the disastrous electric deregulation plan passed in 1998 that led to the energy crunch. Several legislative committees did the same this year in passing single-payer health proposals with no definite sources of financing.

          The bottom line: A regional energy grid is simply too risky for California, even if there’s some (yet unproven) possibility it might save customers a dollar or two each month.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, August 13, 2018




          Suppose for a moment that your favorite relative – father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother or sister – were getting urgently needed cancer treatment and California’s government suddenly decreed the doctor could not include his assistant’s pay in any fees he charged. So he fires his assistant and then has less time to devote to caring for your loved one.

          Would that constitute interference with the doctor-patient relationship, an act no sane politician would ever want to be accused of?

          And yet… well over 569,000 Californians signed off on an initiative that would do essentially the same thing to the 139,000 patients now getting treatment at the state’s more than 550 dialysis clinics. These are places where people whose kidneys have failed get their blood cleansed of toxic substances several times weekly, the only way they can survive more than a few weeks.

          This initiative will be on the November ballot as Proposition 8, and it’s almost a sure thing that dialysis patients will get lower quality care than they do today if it passes.

          Yes, there are flaws in today’s system. For one example, two multinational companies, the German-based Fresenius Medical Care and the Denver-based DaVita Corp., operate 70 percent of California dialysis centers, places where patients are hooked up to blood-cleansing machines via large needles inserted into their arms or chests.

          That creates a non-competitive situation and most likely drives up the cost of dialysis treatment, from which a kidney transplant is the only way to escape alive. There are legitimate complaints about staffing levels and the fact that some patients must drive many miles to get treatments.

          But Prop. 8 could make a flawed situation much worse.

          Sponsored primarily by the Service Employees International Union, which would like to recruit most dialysis technicians, it would forbid clinics from charging insurance companies for the work of physician medical directors vital to maintaining quality care. It would not allow clinics to charge for the work of facility administrators, security personnel and professional services like accounting, payroll and legal expenses.

          It does this not by naming specific areas where payments are banned, but by listing classes of work where payment is allowed. The measure does not cover the substantial percentage of California patients whose treatments are covered under Medicare and Medi-Cal.

          It also limits what clinics can charge to 15 percent above what is spent directly for patient care by nurses and technicians and the equipment and supplies they use. Clinic directors and the doctors who oversee operations would have to be paid from that 15 percent, leaving almost no room for profits.

          If Prop. 8 passes, Fresenius and DaVita, both very profit-conscious companies that have bought up many previously doctor-owned dialysis clinics, might sell off many of their facilities to buyers with unknown qualifications.

          So it’s no wonder most physician groups oppose the measure, for which the SEIU had already spent more than $5 million as of early August. They contend Prop. 8’s strict rules would force clinics to cut back staff, including supervising nurses who often are vital to solving patients’ problems. And that, they say, could reduce access to dialysis centers.

          Said Dr. Aimee Moulin, president of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, “This proposition will leave this fragile population no choice but to go to the emergency room for treatment, or increase their threat of life-threatening complications. Treating dialysis patients in the emergency room is more expensive and drives up the cost of…the entire health care system.”

          Added kidney specialist Byron Wong MD of Berkeley in an essay, “The (payments allowed) would not cover the cost of providing high-quality care…Patients would have to travel farther…and chances would increase that they will miss a treatment.”

          In short, no previous ballot measure has ever attempted to interfere so strongly with the medical care of any one patient group. That makes Prop. 8 a bad precedent which could lead to more interference in other types of care. It deserves a strong “no” vote.

          (Full disclosure: Columnist Elias has had a kidney transplant since 1997. He underwent regular dialysis treatments for many months prior to his transplant.)

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit




          After almost 15 years of squabbling over whether the federal Environmental Protection Agency should ban the nerve gas pesticide chlorpyrifos from fields and groves in California and elsewhere, a federal appeals court has now ruled that it must issue a ban within 60 days.

          President Trump’s administration appears all but certain to appeal that ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, either taking the case straight to the U.S. Supreme Court or to an 11-judge “en banc” panel of judges from the same circuit that ruled the pesticide must go.

          But despite any delays, the handwriting is clearly on the wall for the California farm that use more than 1 million pounds of the chemical on everything from broccoli and melons to nuts and oranges. The pesticide is used most heavily in Kern, Tulare and Monterey counties.

          It gives the lie to the old saying that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” as there are proven links between this noxious substance and neurodevelopmental disorders affecting the brain and nervous system, including autism and intellectual and behavioral disabilities. Small children are most affected.

          This product, primarily manufactured by the Dow Chemical Co., which once produced the infamous chemical weapon napalm, is not your ordinary pest killer. It is an organophosphate very similar to and based upon the nerve gas Zyklon B used by Nazi Germany to execute six million Jews and eight million other victims in its notorious death camps.

          If it were still called by its Nazi name, there would be no tolerance for using this chemical.

          But because it’s effective and has a complicated-sounding name in today’s use, many farmers embrace it. Never mind that in May 2017, 50 farm workers exposed to its spraying near Bakersfield suffered immediate symptoms like vomiting, nausea and vomiting. No one knows what long-term effects the spray might have on them, and that’s just one example.

          Trump’s disgraced former EPA director Scott Pruitt knew most of this before he ruled in early 2017 that use of chlorpyrifos could continue nationally – just weeks after a lengthy private meeting with Dow’s chairman.

          Now it’s a sure bet the EPA will appeal the court ruling, delaying a ban indefinitely.

          But the decision still lets farmers know they can’t keep using this stuff forever. Even if Trump wins reelection in 2020, his time in office will be up no later than early 2025 and given the history of this pesticide and the strength of the negative evidence, its days are surely numbered.

          And farmers have alternatives. They can fight insects with botanically sourced pesticides including cinnamon oil and garlic oil. State officials report some have already switched to another family of insecticides known as neonicitinoids. One problem with that family: It can threaten bees, even if it’s easier on people.

          Of course, many farms using chlorpyrifos are owned by the same people and companies who have long argued that water distribution in California favors fish over people, particularly resenting protection of the silvery, minnow-like Delta smelt.

          Are these same folks now going to argue for favoring bees over people?

          It’s also true that the former Barack Obama administration dragged its feet on the chlorpyrifos issue so long that in a 2015 hearing by a Ninth Circuit panel, longtime appellate Judge Wallace Tashima scolded an EPA lawyer about the eight years the agency had then worked on a possible ban. “I think this is a pretty miserable record,” said Tashima.

          And a scientific panel of California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment earlier this year voted unanimously to place chlorpyrifos on the list of dangerous substances under the 1986 Proposition 65. That group included professors from Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC Davis, along with a representative of the pharmaceutical firm Genentech.

          All this makes it plain spraying of chlorpyrifos will end pretty soon.

          Farmers who don’t recognize this now, especially after the appellate decision, could be left struggling to find a substitute when the inevitable ban arrives. They’re better off if they act now, getting ahead of the game and maybe even making hay by advertising safer food products.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit