Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A Lush Lawn Without Pesticides

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Shortly after Lydia Chambers had her first child, in 1995, her family moved to a new home in Ohio. “It was this neighborhood with perfect lawns,” recalls Chambers, now 60. In her previous home, when a swath of dandelions appeared shortly after she and her husband moved in, she spent two weeks pulling them out by hand.

In their Ohio home, however, she had no time to take care of the yard. So she hired a service to come and treat it. At the time, she didn’t realize that the chemicals the service used might be dangerous. “Even though I kind of sensed it . . . I didn’t know,” she says.

In her professional life as a hydrogeologist, Chambers was beginning to learn about how long-term, low-dose exposures to dangerous chemicals could lead to cancer and other chronic diseases. This made her increasingly suspicious of the pesticides her landscaping company applied. By 2005, her family had moved to New Jersey and her elementary school-aged kids were playing in the yard constantly. As she did more research, she learned a particularly disturbing fact: One common weed killer, 2,4-­dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), was also an ingredient in Agent Orange, a chemical used during the Vietnam War.

“I guess if anything flipped a switch, it was that,” she says. Chambers and her husband finally committed to taking care of their yard with no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers—even if that meant it sprouted a few weeds. “I was proud that I had a few weeds in my grass,” she says. “It was a symbol I was doing the right thing.”

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Amplify Parkinson’s Advocacy from Home

 

This week, hundreds of advocates participated in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum — and today many of them are holding virtual meetings with legislators to ask for an increase in federal investment in Parkinson’s research. And you can join these advocates (from wherever you are) to help amplify our message by emailing your legislators now.

 

 

Right now, members of Congress are working on the federal budget for the new fiscal year starting October 1. They need to hear directly from their constituents (i.e., you!) about the importance of increasing funding for Parkinson’s research.

In recent years, we’ve seen incredible progress in Parkinson’s drug development, but we still need better treatments and a cure. The Parkinson’s Research Program at the Department of Defense is key to advancing critical progress.

Email your Senators and Representative now and ask them to invest in Parkinson’s breakthroughs.

Michael J. Fox Foundation Advocacy Tool Kit 

 


Service dogs can help veterans with PTSD – growing evidence shows they may reduce anxiety in practical ways

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As many as 1 in 5 of the roughly 2.7 million Americans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD, a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening traumatic event, is a complex condition and can be hard to treat. Our lab is studying whether service dogs can help these military veterans, who may also have depression and anxiety – and run an elevated risk of death by suicide – in addition to having PTSD.

We’ve been finding that once veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder get service dogs, they tend to feel less depressed and less anxious and miss work less frequently.

Complementing other forms of treatment

The traditional treatments for PTSD, such as talk therapy and medication, do work for many veterans. But these approaches do not alleviate the symptoms for all veterans, so a growing number of them are seeking additional help from PTSD service dogs.

The nation’s estimated 500,000 service dogs aid people experiencing a wide array of conditions that include visual or hearing impairments, psychological challenges, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

For our PTSD research, we partner with K9s For Warriors and Canine Companions for Independence, two of many nonprofits that train service dogs to work with veterans with PTSD.

There is no single breed that can help people this way. These dogs can be anything from purebred Labrador retrievers to shelter mixes.

Unlike emotional support dogs or therapy dogs, service dogs must be trained to do specific tasks – in this case, helping alleviate PTSD symptoms. In keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are allowed in public places where other dogs are not.

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Sweeping Measure Would Provide Care, Disability to Thousands of Vets Sickened by Burn Pits

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A sweeping measure was introduced in the Senate Friday that could open up health care and disability compensation to a huge swath of veterans made sick by burn pits and other toxic exposures during military service.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reintroduced the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act, which would do away with most of the burden of proof on veterans to show they got sick from breathing in burning garbage for up to a year at a time while deployed.

The measure was also introduced last year and never got any serious traction. This year, its bipartisan sponsorship means it could have a better chance of becoming law.

Veteran advocates have grown increasingly impatient, faulting Congress for being unable to pass any significant legislation that delivers care and compensation to veterans made sick by exposure to burn pits and other toxic environments. The VA has also not issued clear guidance on who can get compensation for toxic exposure.

The VA estimates 3.5 million veterans have been exposed to burn pits, according to a 2015 report. Yet the department has denied claims of roughly 75% of veterans. As of January, the VA had approved claims related to burn-pit exposure for 3,442 veterans out of 13,830. It is unlikely the data paints a complete picture. It’s unclear how many suffer from serious burn pit-connected health ailments, or how many veterans are sick and unaware that illness is linked to service abroad.

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State: Illegally dumped radioactive fracking waste will stay in E. Oregon landfill

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A state agency has chosen to leave millions of pounds of illegally dumped, radioactive fracking waste in an Eastern Oregon landfill.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the Oregon Department of Energy’s decision Wednesday comes just over a year after it issued a notice of violation to Chemical Waste Management.

The company operates Oregon’s only hazardous waste landfill, outside of the Columbia River town of Arlington.

An investigation found CWM had dumped 1,284 tons of radioactive waste in the landfill over three years.

Oregon law prohibits the establishment of a radioactive waste disposal facility. The state Department of Energy says removing the waste “would pose a greater risk to landfill workers than leaving the waste in

Read more at: https://apnews.com/article/chemical-waste-oregon-waste-management-hazardous-waste-waste-disposal-6ecbd39b6844adc9e579f70be87d5392

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Lawmakers relaunch landmark bill to create path to VA care for veterans ill from toxic exposure

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Veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service could qualify for additional care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs under landmark legislation reintroduced in Congress this week.

The Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act creates sweeping mandates for VA to further research, track and care for eligible veterans who fall ill because of exposure to toxic substances during service -- perhaps the most comprehensive legislation on military toxic exposures ever introduced in Congress.

A 29-year-old Marine is dying of a rare brain cancer. Burn pits caused it, his family says.

The TEAM Act was introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who represents one of the largest populations of troops and veterans in the country, including the largest Army base in the world, Fort Bragg. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who represents Pease Air Force Base where troops and their families have been exposed to high levels of "forever chemicals" including PFAS, cosponsored the bill at its introduction.

Last year, the bill passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, a key endorsement, but did not receive a vote on the Senate floor before the end of the year, meaning it had to be reintroduced in 2021. Tillis said in a press conference on Tuesday he believed the reason the bill didn't pass last year was because of its late introduction, and now he and Hassan are working to partner with House members on a companion bill, and that additional amendments and provisions are on the table.

"We're trying to put a framework in place that lets us end mistakes we made dating back to Agent Orange," Tillis said. "When a veteran is experiencing an illness, they've got so many other distractions on their mind, we should not make it difficult for them to get the care they deserve."

Dioxin Mischief Everywhere - 1965–1966: Dioxin Experiments

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1965–1966: Dr. Kligman conducted dioxin experiments on 70 prisoners at Holmesburg on behalf of Dow Chemicals. Dioxin has proved fatal in laboratory animals given small doses. These experiments were uncovered in 1980 at EPA hearings. (NY Times, 1983) In testing dioxin, a component of Agent Orange, Kligman went beyond Dow Chemical’s instructions. The Times reported that Kligman subjected 10 inmates to 7,500 micrograms of the toxic chemical — 468 times as much as Dow had requested. He reported that “Eight of the 10 subjects showed acne lesions. . . In three instances, the lesions progressed to inflammatory pustules and pules. These lesions lasted for four to seven months, since no effort was made to speed healing by active treatment.” EPA sought the identity of the 70 men, but Kligman refused to cooperate, claiming no records of the prisoners’ identities were kept.

In 2006, in response to a New York Times reporter’s inquiry about prisoner research, Kligman stated: “My view is that shutting the prison experiments down was a big mistake. . . I’m on the medical ethics committee at Penn, and I still don’t see there having been anything wrong with what we were doing.” “Nothing wrong” from his perspective inasmuch his experiments generated enormous profits from his patent of Retin-A, an anti-acne cream; and from the hundreds of experiments he performed on prisoners for Johnson & Johnson, Dow Chemical, the U.S. Army and his own corporation, Ivy Research. (Prison Legal News, 2008)

The University of Pennsylvania website praises Dr. Kligman as: “an innovative, captivating teacher… inspired generations of researchers and clinicians… a giant in the field…”

Tester, Moran Urgently Call on VA to Immediately Expedite Vietnam Veterans’ Blue Water Navy Claims

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Senators: “Veterans have waited long enough, and it is time for them to have their claims properly adjudicated”

(U.S. Senate) – Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are urgently calling on Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough to implement provisions under the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to quickly provide long-overdue benefits and care to veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure.

“Veterans who have suffered for decades would welcome quick Departmental implementation of this law,” wrote the Senators in a bipartisan letter. “In response to questions prior to your confirmation as Secretary, you agreed to provide a timeline on when these veterans could expect Departmental action. We reiterate this request and ask that you provide this information as soon as possible, along with any additional resources your Department needs to adjudicate these claims expeditiously. We also request that you detail any renewed filings veterans or their survivors must undertake to receive benefits under the law. Veterans have waited long enough, and it is time for them to have their claims properly adjudicated.”

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act changed the law to guarantee that veterans who served off the shores of Vietnam and exposed to Agent Orange could access health care and benefits related to their exposure from VA. President Donald Trump signed this legislation into law on June 25, 2019.

“I submitted my Blue Water Navy Claim to my local Veterans Service Organization in Kalispell more than a year ago, and VA has yet to provide a resolution,” said Bigfork Vietnam Veteran Mike Stone. “As a veteran living with three of the seven qualifying service-connected conditions, including Type 2 Diabetes and Ischemic Heart Disease, I simply can’t afford to wait another 14 months for VA to take action. I appreciate Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran’s attention to ensuring that these claims are expedited immediately for myself and countless others who served on behalf of this nation.”

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Lawmakers introduce bill to extend VA care to 490,000 more veterans ill from Agent Orange

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Efforts in Congress last year to add hypertension to a list of diseases linked to Agent Orange at the Department of Veterans Affairs failed, keeping Vietnam-era veterans from accessing care for high blood pressure connected to the toxic exposure.

Now, lawmakers are making another attempt to add hypertension and MGUS (Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance), to a list of presumptive conditions at VA, which will qualify those veterans for care and benefits. As many as 490,000 Vietnam-era veterans could benefit from the change, if the bill passes Congress and becomes law.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Montana, introduced the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act this week, along with support from 16 other senators. Tester said the bill would "put an end to decades of veterans wrestling with bureaucratic red tape" at VA, adding that there is sufficient scientific evidence to connect the illnesses to the toxic herbicide.

Earlier this month, Tester and Moran urged VA leaders to expand care and benefits to as many as 160,000 affected by Agent Orange-linked hypertension.

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The Victims of Agent Orange the U.S. Has Never Acknowledged

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America has never taken responsibility for spraying the herbicide over Laos during the Vietnam War. But generations of ethnic minorities have endured the consequences.

It was a blazing-hot morning in October 2019 on the old Ho Chi Minh Trail, an intricate web of truck roads and secret paths that wove its way across the densely forested and mountainous border between Vietnam and Laos. Susan Hammond, Jacquelyn Chagnon and Niphaphone Sengthong forded a rocky stream along the trail and came to a village of about 400 people called Labeng-Khok, once the site of a logistics base inside Laos used by the North Vietnamese Army to infiltrate troops into the South. In one of the bamboo-and-thatch stilt houses, the ladder to the living quarters was made from metal tubes that formerly held American cluster bombs. 

The family had a 4-year-old boy named Suk, who had difficulty sitting, standing and walking — one of three children in the extended family with birth defects. A cousin was born mute and did not learn to walk until he was 7. A third child, a girl, died at the age of 2. “That one could not sit up,” their great-uncle said. “The whole body was soft, as if there were no bones.” The women added Suk to the list of people with disabilities they have compiled on their intermittent treks through Laos’s sparsely populated border districts.

Hammond, Chagnon and Sengthong make up the core of the staff of a nongovernmental organization called the War Legacies Project. Hammond, a self-described Army brat whose father was a senior military officer in the war in Vietnam, founded the group in 2008. Chagnon, who is almost a generation older, was one of the first foreigners allowed to work in Laos after the conflict, representing a Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee. Sengthong, a retired schoolteacher who is Chagnon’s neighbor in the country’s capital, Vientiane, is responsible for the record-keeping and local coordination.

The main focus of the War Legacies Project is to document the long-term effects of the defoliant known as Agent Orange and provide humanitarian aid to its victims. Named for the colored stripe painted on its barrels, Agent Orange — best known for its widespread use by the U.S. military to clear vegetation during the Vietnam War — is notorious for being laced with a chemical contaminant called 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-dioxin, or TCDD, regarded as one of the most toxic substances ever created.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Attorney Gerson Smoger's Filing Against the Roundup settlement

Some of you may remember Gerson Smoger from our days arguing against MDL 381, the Agent Orange Class Action Suit, settled (against the wishes of Vietnam veterans) in May 1984. We're just trying to stay ahead of any new developments with respect to exposures and what the government continually tries to hide from its citizens.

Paul Sutton

They are proposing a new herbicide get out of jail free card for Monsanto like the Agent Orange settlement that was so destructive.  As with that, I am opposing it.  I thought that you may be interested in my court submission.  Keep up your updates -- I do read them.

Best,

Gerson

Gerson Smoger, Smoger & Associates, P.C.

GO HERE TO SEE EXHIBITS




Petition for Camp Lejeune water registry to be presented to congressional representation

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Congressional representatives and state lawmakers from Kentucky are set to convene to discuss water contamination that occurred at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for more than 30 years from the 1950s to 1980s and to hear out victims' plea for a medical health registry. 

The special event, organized by former Marine Brian Amburgey, will be held on Wednesday, March 17 at the Elks Lodge located at 225 Shoppers Dr. in Winchester, Kentucky. The program begins at 1:00 p.m. with a showing of “Semper Fi: Always Faithful”, a 2011 documentary about the contamination. A Q&A session with retired Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, a main voice in the film and leading proponent of justice for victims, will follow.

Mike Partain, a male breast cancer survivor who was born at Camp Lejeune during the contamination, is also a leading advocate for victims who has worked with Ensminger for well over a decade and has testified before Congress on the subject. He says he plans to drive 11 hours from Florida to attend the ceremony.

“When a congressional office is interested in the issue, you have to go and talk to them, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” Partain said. “Our government doesn't work by getting on Facebook and writing a couple posts or making a phone call. It works by meeting people, talking to them, interacting with them, presenting your evidence and then asking for action.”

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