The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, October 26, 2007 - 3A
With deal nearing,
state agencies brace
As Michigan lawmakers work
toward an agreement on a new
spending plan, some state depart-
ments already are planning tempo-
rary layoffs and other cutbacks to
make ends meet.
About $430 million in cuts and
spending limitations are needed to
balance the new spending plan set
to take effect Nov. 1.
The state attorney general's
office, for example, has planned
three temporary, unpaid layoff days
around Thanksgiving, Christmas
and New Year's Day to help deal
with what it expects could be a $2
million reduction. Employees said
they'd rather have everyone take
layoff days than have to cut more
staff, as happened earlier this year.
Lawmakers have until next
Wednesday to agree on a new
spending plan, or risk a repeat of
the partial government shutdown
that struck in the early hours of Oct.
1. The state is operating under a 30-
day extension of the past spending
Red tape grounded
aircraft as Calif.
As wildfires were charging
across Southern California, nearly
two dozen water-dropping helicop-
ters and two massive cargo planes
sat idly by, grounded by govern-
ment rules and bureaucracy.
How much the aircraft would
have helped will never be known,
but their inability to provide quick
assistance raises troubling ques-
tions about California's prepara-
tions for a fire season that was
widely expected to be among the
worst on record.
It took as long as a day for Navy,
Marine and California National
Guard helicopters to get clearance
early this week, in part because
state rules require all firefight-
ing choppers to be accompanied
by state forestry "fire spotters"
who coordinate water or retardant
drops. By the time those spotters
arrived, the powerful Santa Ana
winds stoking the fires had made it
too dangerous to fly.
Dems attack Rice's
House Democrats yesterday
accused Secretary of State Condo-
leezza Rice of grossly mismanaging
diplomatic efforts in Iraq and con-
cealing information from Congress,
putting a visibly frustrated Rice on
At a hearing by a congressional
watchdog committee, Democratic
lawmakers said the State Depart-
ment under Rice had been too lax
with armed security contractors,
ignored corruption at the highest
levels of the Iraqi government and
was sloppy in overseeing construc-
tion of the costly new U.S. Embassy
SCHIP, but margin
The House passed a revised chil-
dren's health proposal yesterday,
but not by the two-thirds margin
that supporters will need if Presi-
dent Bush vetoes the measure as
The 265-142 vote was a victory
for Bush and his allies, who urged
House Republicans to reject Demo-
crats' claims that changes to the
legislation had met their chief con-
cerns. If the same vote occurs on
a veto override attempt, Bush will
prevail, as he did earlier this month
when he vetoed a similar bill.
The tally was seven votes short
of a two-thirds majority. Several
House members were absent.
- Compiled from
Daily wire reports
U . vS. CAS : S RATIS
Number of American service mem-
bers who have died in the war in
Iraq, according to The Associated
Press. The Department of Defense
identified no new casualties yester-
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Beth Karmeisool, the proprietor of the Safe Sex Store on South University
Astene, holds a sex toy that was made with phthalates, a potentially toxic
So-me sexl. toys
-might be toi
SEX TOYS From page A
ing from cosmetics to plastic
And while the average per-
son unavoidably comes into
contact with phthalates in the
air or through casual contact,
people who use these jelly-like
sex toys bring the substances in
direct contact with their genital
mucous membranes, a fast route
into the bloodstream.
It's not clear, though, how
dangerous phthalates are in
small amounts, because of a lack
Beth Karmeisool, owner of
the Safe Sex Store on South Uni-
versity Avenue, said many adult
toy manufacturers were coming
out publicly saying they would
not produce products containing
She said she was only aware of
one product in her store contain-
made with a soft flesh-mimicking
substance dubbed Cyber Skin.
This product is designed for
external use only.
But the store's website indi-
cated that 17 of the 40 vibrators
it sells were made from phthal-
One of those was a bright blue
jelly-like vibrator that seemed to
be "sweating" inside its plastic
A quick click on the Safe Sex
Store's website, which contains
product information for all of the
items sold there including mate-
rial, confirmed the vibrator was
made of PVC.
Karmeisool was shocked to
realize this, and the day after she
learned of the presence of PVC,
half of the blue vibrators were
removed from the shelves.
"That is something we will
have to address with the compa-
nies," she said.
University Health Service's
Gynecology Chief Susan Ernst
said that because of the lack
of research about the effects
of phthalates on humans, it's
unclear how harmful they really
She stood apart from most of
her counterparts when she was
the only one out of 20 university
medical professionals throughout
the country willing to comment for
a National Public Radio story that
aired yesterday about the use of
this potentially toxic material.
Although she said she was
hesitant at first because she
wasn't very familiar with the
issue, she commented about the
lack of information available.
On air, she said sex toy safety
wasn't something present in
the medical literature, or even
something that came up with
Phthalates have been used
in the past to soften the plastic
in pacifiers, bottles and other
things teething children might
put into their mouths. But tests
on lab animals showed exposure
to phthalates can damage the
liver and kidneys and can inter-
fere with hormone levels leading
to irregular testicle formation in
males. Other reports indicated
the plasticizing chemicals are
associated with infertility.
But some say that extrapolat-
ing the animal studies to humans
just doesn't make sense.
The American Council on
Health and Science concluded
that phthalates are not harm-
ful to humans in the low levels
a child would be exposed to by
sucking on a plastic toy.
That didn't end the concern,
The children's toy industry is
heavily regulated, and products
containing phthalates have been
pulled from the shelves at the
demands of legislative bodies all
over the world, from the Euro-
pean Parliament to the state of
But the sex toy industry
remains largely unregulated.
Because most regulatory bod-
ies classify adult toys as "novelty
items," there are different proce-
dures for restricting and approv-
ing sex toys than for products
made of similar materials, like
Karmeisool said she believed
the vibrator products in the Safe
Sex Store to be made of silicone,
and the majority of the vibrators
"For the purpose of my store,
we are very conscious and will
address that issue," Karmeisool
She said the Safe Sex Store
has already started to phase out
products that contain phthal-
ates, but it must be done in "baby
"We can't just clean out the
inventory because we have to be
cost-effective for our customer,"
She said it would be up to the
adult toy manufacturing com-
panies to get these products off
the market, because the average
sex toy shopper isn't aware of
the health problems phthalates
This is especially true, she said,
in more conservative communi-
ties, where she said people are gen-
erally less educated and the idea of
usingsextoys is more taboo.
"As a store, we are here to pro-
vide consistent and correct infor-
mation about any health concern
the public may have about those
products," Karmeisool said.
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