Thursday, June 21, 2018

AGENT ORANGE TOWN HALL MEETING SCHEDULE - MARK THE DATE




Vet realtor pulls alarm on plan to fund ‘blue water’ Navy bill

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s plan to pay for a bill to extend Agent Orange disability benefits to 90,000 “blue water” Navy veterans of the Vietnam War — by raising funding fees under the Department of Veterans Affairs guaranty home loan program — will not continue to shield all disabled veterans from a funding fee, as the committee claimed last month as it cleared the bill for consideration of the full House.
The charge is made by “G2” Varrato II, a Phoenix Realtor, Air Force retiree, and director of the Veterans Association for Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) for the state of Arizona. The committee does not dispute Varrato’s argument that veterans with disabilities rated below 100 percent would see their waiver of a VA loan funding fee disappear if they use their benefit on mortgages that exceed the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit, a program expansion the committee bill allows.
Every major veteran service organization publicly endorsed the committee’s amended version of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (HR 299), which includes a new strategy to cover the bill’s $1 billion estimated cost for expanding Agent Orange-related benefits by charging slightly higher VA home loan funding fees and making other changes to the VA loan program.
It’s unclear now whether advocacy groups understood that certain disabled veterans, those with VA ratings below 100 percent, would be hit with their first VA home loan funding fees ever if they were to take advantage of the jumbo long feature.

The Rant: Monsanto disappears in merger

Bayer, the giant German pharmaceutical company is buying Monsanto for $63 billion and dropping Monsanto’s name in the acquisition. Monsanto is one of the most despised companies in the world, so the reason for the name deletion is obvious. Monsanto makes dioxin (in Agent Orange), PCBs, glysophate (Roundup), and genetically modified seeds (GMOs).
Bayer says, “The combination of the two businesses will allow us to deliver more innovation faster and provide solutions tailored to the needs of farmers around the world...Going forward, our teams in the labs and in the field will be able to take a much more holistic approach to innovation as we address the enormous challenges we face in agriculture.”
Translation: By forcing farmers to buy our GMO seeds, which requires farmers to spray our poisons on their crops, regardless of the environmental impact on people, plants, animals and insects, we now can make even more money for our shareholders.
Preparing for an onslaught of criticism, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann says, “We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground. Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It’s the only way to build bridges.”

Tampa Bay lawmaker drafts bill to help vets exposed to burn pits

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. -- After 10News revealed a possible treatment for veterans exposed to burn pits, there's finally some action for tens of thousands of suffering vets.
Burn pit exposure is an epidemic with many consequences that veterans deal with years after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Following a story in January, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R - New Port Richey) drafted legislation to help get veterans the health care and coverage they need right away.
Joe Hernandez was exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan when the military burned waste like chemicals, ammunition, oil and other items they had to get rid of.
Years after coming home, Hernandez noticed he was feeling weak.
"If I can't breathe or I don't feel well because I can't breathe, then what was the point of coming back alive," he said.
Hernandez is among thousands of veterans who have signed the VA's burn pit registry.
"I mean some of the stories are so very sad," he said. "These are our heroes we're talking about. They need health care immediately and they need to get their disability payments approved immediately."
Bilirakis drafted legislation that would give veterans presumptive status, making them eligible for health care and coverage right away.

Monday, June 18, 2018

VA OIG Report Reveals Continued Failure To Hire Enough Doctors

A report from VA OIG shows VA is still failing to hire enough doctors and nurses despite record taxpayer funding and heightened focus on increasing hiring in those vital categories.
A survey conducted in January 2018 of VA medical center directors revealed continued staffing shortages in key roles without the agency. At the top of the list were doctors and nurses. Human resources professional and police were also on the list of shortages.
The top reasons cited for the shortages were:
               Lack of qualified applicants
               Non-competitive salary
               High staff turnover
Basically, the list reveals widespread corruption in the agency and well-known whistleblower retaliation has damaged hiring capabilities in key occupations. The damage is so bad that record funds and increased spending in propaganda to deflate negative news still is not working to increase the applicant pool.
And who would want to take that risk with their career?
Think about it. As a medical doctor, the individual spent over ten years in training and invested over $200,000 to become a doctor. If that doctor, while at VA, reports malpractice or some other wrongdoing, the agency immediately retaliates by revoking the doctor’s privileges and destroying their reputation.
Shazam.

With Operation Popeye, the U.S. government made weather an instrument of war

It was a seasonably chilly afternoon in 1974 when Senators Claiborne Pell, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Clifford Case, a Republican from New Jersey, strode into the chambers of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for a classified briefing. While the meeting was labeled “top secret,” the topic at hand was rather mundane: They were there to discuss the weather.
More specifically, Pell, the chairman of the now-defunct subcommittee for Oceans and International Environment, and his colleague were about to learn the true extent of a secret five-year-old cloud seeding operation meant to lengthen the monsoon season in Vietnam, destabilize the enemy, and allow the United States to win the war.
Though it cycled through several names in its history, "Operation Popeye" stuck. Its stated objective—to ensure Americans won the Vietnam War—was never realized, but the revelation that the U.S. government played God with weather-altering warfare changed history. The Nixon administration distracted, denied, and, it seems, outright lied to Congress, but enterprising reporters published damning stories about rain being used as a weapon, and the Pentagon papers dripped classified details like artificial rain. Eventually, the federal government would declassify its Popeye documents and international laws aimed at preventing similar projects would be on the books. But the public would, more or less, forget it ever happened. Given the rise of geo-engineering projects, both from municipal governments and private companies, some experts believe Popeye is newly relevant.

He's dying of cancer. Now, he's the first patient to go to trial to argue Roundup made him sick

(CNN) On bad days, Dewayne Johnson is too crippled to speak. Lesions often cover as much as 80% of his body.
Doctors have said they didn't expect him to live to see this day. But Monday marks a milestone: Johnson, 46, is the first of hundreds of cancer patients to see his case against agrochemical giant Monsanto go to trial.
Johnson, a former school groundskeeper, regularly used Roundup and claims it gave him cancer.
CNN reported last year that more than 800 patients were suing Monsanto, claiming its popular weed killer, Roundup, gave them cancer.
Since then, hundreds more non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients have made similar claims, Johnson's attorney, Timothy Litzenburg, said. He now represents "more than 2,000 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma sufferers who used Roundup extensively," he said.
Johnson, a father of two in California's Bay Area, applied Roundup weed killer 20 to 30 times per year while working as a pest manager for a county school system, his attorney said.

Veterans fear Brooklyn VA hospital may soon shut down

Shuttered clinics and transferred doctors have veterans fearful the Brooklyn VA hospital is on its way to closing.
The Bay Ridge facility’s ear, nose and throat clinic – which treats vets exposed to everything from Agent Orange in the Vietnam War to new toxins in America’s Mideast conflicts – is losing its contingent of doctors from SUNY Downstate Medical Center. A sign on the clinic door alerted patients that it was closing for good on June 27.
After a rally by veterans groups and ongoing pressure from Rep. Dan Donovan, the head of the city’s VA hospital system told The Post the clinic will, in fact, remain open. Martina Parauda said two to three part-time staff doctors will be hired to replace the SUNY physicians by the end of the month.
But vets suspect the VA ultimately wants to shut down the Brooklyn hospital, which sits on valuable oceanview property, or at least ax the last of its inpatient care.

The VA’s latest betrayal of Vietnam veterans

READ THE STORY
President Trump just signed the Mission Act, which is supposed to help ailing US veterans get prompt care, including the ability to see a civilian doctor on Uncle Sam’s tab.
Don’t count on it.
The fine print shows that vets are guaranteed nothing. The Veterans Affairs secretary is simply empowered to make rules for who gets civilian care. Though Trump and his pick for secretary, Robert Wilkie, favor making it easy for vets, Wilkie’s rules could last only as long as Wilkie remains in office. Worse, they don’t go into effect for two and a half years.
That’s too late for the hundreds of Vietnam vets, now in their 60s and early 70s, who are carrying a dangerous parasite picked up in Asia called liver fluke. Many don’t know it, but it’s a ticking time bomb likely to kill them.
Scandalously, the VA is doing zip to identify and treat these infected vets, even though an ultrasound test can detect liver-fluke infection in minutes and medicine can slow its progression into lethal bile-duct cancer. If there were ever an example of vets needing to be in the driver’s seat about getting outside care, this is it. But the Mission Act requires them to get their VA doctor’s permission first.

Why it's important for vets to be on the Burn Pit Registry

The exposure of troops to burn pits and open-air sewage pits is a black eye on the Global War on Terrorism. While troops were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a quick and easy solution to getting rid of garbage and sewage was to simply set it on fire. Years later, this has resulted in wide-spread health issues that affect many of our veterans.
The use of burn pits and the subsequent failure to address them as a serious issue has been likened to the struggles that Vietnam vets faced with Agent Orange in countless headlines. And, frankly, there is truth to this comparison. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

H.R. 299, a bill to amend title 38, United States Code

to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes


115TH CONGRESS REPORT " ! HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 2d Session 115–680
TO AMEND TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE, TO CLARIFY PRESUMPTIONS
RELATING TO THE EXPOSURE OF CERTAIN VETERANS WHO SERVED IN
THE VICINITY OF THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

MAY 18, 2018.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of
the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. ROE of Tennessee, from the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, submitted the following R E P O R T [To accompany H.R. 299]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office] The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 299) to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify presumptions relating to the exposure of certain veterans who served in the vicinity of the Republic of Vietnam, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

Congressional hearing on burn pits exposure: Problems, possible solutions discussed

For 10 years, nonprofit Burn Pits 360 attempted to get the ear of Congress to air concerns about the treatment and care of veterans and military service members exposed to toxic airborne hazards and open burn pits while deployed to Southwest Asia.
On Thursday, for the first time, representatives of the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars were able to bring those concerns — along with their own — to the Congressional VA Subcommittee on Health.
And those members of Congress — some of whom are veterans themselves — spoke with one voice, regardless of political party, on the need to expedite care for veterans without waiting years for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to complete a study on the health effects of exposure to those toxins.
Deployments, including the Middle East, have continued since the beginning of Operation Desert Shield in August 1990.
Millions of service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan were ordered to burn everything so it would not fall into enemy hands or impact the environment. They used burn pits for things that included human waste and batteries.
Burn pits toxins were not the only airborne hazards, heavy black smoke from burning oil fields and the brown-out conditions of frequent sandstorms carried hazards capable of bringing long-term health problems to those exposed.

Promotion of Endometriosis by 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin in Rats and Mice

Abstract

In the disease of endometriosis, endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, usually in the peritoneal cavity. Rodent models of endometriosis allow a way to reproduce the disease, evaluate effects of chemicals, and study mechanisms. Twenty-one days prior to induction surgery which produces endometriosis, female Sprague–Dawley rats and B6C3F1 mice were pretreated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) at 0, 3 or 10 μg TCDD/kg. Animals were treated again at the time of surgery and at 3, 6, and 9 weeks following surgery. Evaluations were made at 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks postsurgery. TCDD produced a dose-dependent increase in endometriotic site diameter when all time points were pooled within each dose in rats and a dramatic increase in site diameter in mice at 9 and 12 weeks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6, 1944


Updated Camp Lejeune CAP meeting information


From: ATSDR Camp Lejeune [mailto:atsdrcamplej@cdc.gov]
Subject: Updated Camp Lejeune CAP meeting information

Greetings Colleagues,

Please help spread the word about the next Camp Lejeune CAP (Community Advisory Panel) meeting which is open to the public in Atlanta, GA.
On this new CLJ page, please find ready-to-print or email posters, as well as registration information for the meeting on August, 8th, 2018.


Please share this information with your community members, and we appreciate your support.
ATSDR Camp Lejeune Team

Old Glory Honor Flight Planning Trip to Vietnam

GREEN BAY, Wis (WFRV) - Old Glory Honor Flight of Northeast Wisconsin has announced they're in the beginning stages of planning an honor flight to Vietnam.
The no-cost flight, which is currently planned for early 2019, would take up to 50 Vietnam veterans from Northeast Wisconsin back to Vietnam on a two-week tour.
Any active duty military serviceman or woman that served in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Thailand between February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 is eligible to participate. Blue-water and brown-water navy vets serving during that time frame are also eligible.
Meanwhile, Old Glory will continue to operate its regular schedule of flights to Washington, D.C. and participation in the Washington flight will not affect eligibility for the flight to Vietnam.
For more information, you can visit their website at www.oldgloryhonorflight.org.

Holocaust, Human Experiments, Agent Orange: Chapters in the History of Firms Set to Control Global Food Production

READ THE STORY

Bayer, Monsanto and BASF all have a sordid past with links to war crimes committed in Germany and Vietnam.
The deal between agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto has thrown the spotlight on the controversial history of these companies, as well as that of BASF, another German firm to which Bayer sold $9 billion of its agribusiness to. While Monsanto has a dark link to the Vietnam war, Bayer and BASF both emerged from I.G. Farben (IGF), a key collaborator of the Nazis.
IGF, a chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerate with a turnover of 1.2 billion reichsmarks as on 1926, was a major source of financial support to right wing parties including the NAZI party, which was struggling to capture political power, winning a meagre 3% vote share in 1928 elections.
Until the decisive year of 1933 when the Nazis seized power, the conglomerate was donating 400,000 Reichmarks every year to the far-right parties. By the end of that year, the NAZI party alone had received 3.5 million from IGF.
By Increasing the funding year on year leading up to the Second World War in 1939, when the party received 7.5 million marks in donations, the company had placed itself well to benefit from the conflict, from which IGF made a profit of 300 million Reichmarks, despite the extremely high taxes.
IGF recorded sales of 3.1 billion during the course of the war. The company’s products - produced using 35,000 inmates of Auschwitz as slave labour - were most procured by the NAZI government. One of those product was Zyklon B - the poison used in gas chambers.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Lawmakers Seek Help for Burn Pit Victims

READ THE STORY
The Veterans Affairs and Defense departments would have to provide more help to service members who became sick because of exposure to toxins released from burn pits in combat theaters, should a bill now pending before Congress become law.
The measure, H.R. 5671, would:
* Require the Defense Department (DoD) to keep record of service members who have been stationed near places where they may have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals. The list should include anyone whose name appears on the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry, in Periodic Health Assessments (PHAs), Separation History and Physical Examination (SHPE) and Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA).
* Anyone whose name appears on those lists should be enrolled in the Airborne Hazards and Open Pit Registry, unless they choose not to be.
* The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD should share information about personnel appearing on the lists.
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Brian Mast, R-Ga., both of whom are veterans who served in combat theaters since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, sponsored the legislation.

Justice Department approves Bayer-Monsanto merger in landmark settlement*

READ THE STORY
Federal antitrust regulators have granted agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto permission to merge after the two companies agreed to spin off $9 billion worth of assets, the largest such sale of corporate assets ever required by the Justice Department.
Under the proposed settlement filed Tuesday, Bayer will sell its seed and herbicide businesses to a third party, the German chemical company BASF. It also will sell its emerging digital farming business as well as a variety of intellectual property and R&D projects.
The targeted spinoffs are aimed at preventing Bayer and Monsanto from using their combined control over seeds and seed treatments to raise the price of agricultural products to farmers and consumers, Justice Department officials said. Just six companies, including Bayer and Monsanto, have historically dominated the global trade in seeds and agrochemicals.
The $66 billion deal already has received approval from regulators in the European Union, Russia and Brazil, making the U.S. approval one of the last major hurdles. Bayer said it expects to complete the merger by midsummer.
“Receipt of the DOJ’s approval brings us close to our goal of creating a leading company in agriculture,” Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann said in a statement.
U.S. antitrust officials investigated the Bayer-Monsanto deal for more than a year, ultimately concluding that it could result in increased costs for the country’s agricultural sector.
* during World War II Bayer manufactured Zyklon B. During Vietnam Monsanto manufactured Agent Orange.

Ex-soldier says he watched barrels of Agent Orange being buried at Gagetown base

Did the Canadian military actually track down all of its stocks of the dangerous defoliant?
Former military police officer Al White says he watched barrels of Agent Orange being buried at CFB Gagetown in 1985.
It is a 33-year-old mystery that has gnawed at retired sergeant Al White's conscience.
The now-former military police officer told CBC News that, before sunrise on a clear morning in the late spring of 1985, he was ordered to escort a Department of National Defence flatbed truck along an empty road at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick. The journey took just minutes and ended in shadows just off the road, where an excavator had dug a wide, fresh pit in the spongy soil.
On the flatbed were over 40 full or semi-full barrels in various conditions. Some were solid, others were dented, rusted or in various states of decay. Almost all of them were wrapped with an orange stripe.
"At the time, I didn't think much of it," White told CBC News. "I just did the task and it wasn't until some time later that it really, really hit home to me."
Very few words were exchanged between White, the truck driver and the operator of the excavator. The barrels were dumped into the pit and covered over.
What Al White said he witnessed that morning three decades back was the burial of leftover Agent Orange, the notorious chemical defoliant linked to various types of cancer that was used in secret spraying experiments by the U.S. at the Gagetown military base in New Brunswick — something which would blow up into a major public policy issue 20 years later.

DoD: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects

The water at or around at least 126 military installations contains potentially harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds, which have been linked to cancers and developmental delays for fetuses and infants, the Pentagon has found.
In a March report provided to the House Armed Services Committee, the Pentagon for the first time publicly listed the full scope of the known contamination. The Defense Department identified 401 active and Base Closure and Realignment installations in the United States with at least one area where there was a known or suspected release of perfluorinated compounds.
These included 36 sites with drinking water contamination on-base, and more than 90 sites that reported either on-base or off-base drinking water or groundwater contamination, in which the water source tested above the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate or perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOS and PFOAs.
The man-made chemicals, which can be used to make items heat or water resistant, are found in everyday household, food and clothing items, even take-out food wrappers.
At military bases, however, they are concentrated in the foam used to put out aircraft fires.

The Last Battle of the Vietnam War: Agent Orange and Its ‘Presumed Diseases’

Veterans and their survivors are still fighting the VA over their exposure to America’s notorious chemical weapon—and the latest lethal conditions they’re confronting.
Pegi Scarlett was a bit nervous in the moments leading up to her speech last November at a meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C.
“It was kind of intimidating at first, with all the epidemiologists and physicians watching, but they gave me a very warm reception,” said Scarlett, 65. The gathering was part of the National Academies’ effort to determine if it should recommend any additions to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of “presumptive diseases” caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the toxic herbicide used by the Department of Defense during the Vietnam War.
Her talk focused on her husband, John Scarlett, an Army Ranger and helicopter pilot in Vietnam who was among the 2.6 million U.S. personnel believed exposed to Agent Orange during the war. He died in November 2015.
His cause of death was glioblastoma, a lethal brain cancer that is not on the VA’s list of presumptive diseases, but is being diagnosed at an evidently accelerated rate in the past few years among Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange.
Scarlett, a cancer registrar with six grown children, traveled from her home near Sacramento, Calif., to the nation’s capital to give her impassioned presentation, which balanced memories of her husband with data she’d collected about his cancer. The speech elicited loud and long applause and left some NAS scientists in tears.