Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Agent Orange still causing problems more than 43 years after the spraying was discontinued
You might ask yourself what this virtual "who's who" of diseases, such as AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemia, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin's Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Parkinson's Disease, Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers and Soft Tissue Sarcomas, have in common.
The answer is simple; they are the many illnesses the U.S. government has admitted are associated with the exposure to Agent Orange. Hopefully with time, our government will admit there are other diseases caused by their spraying of herbicides and defoliants than they originally admitted to.
Some may ask what Agent Orange is and, believe it or not, more and younger people have never heard of that term even though it has caused illnesses and deaths of thousands of people.
I was at a doctor's office not too long ago and a medical assistant asked me what Agent Orange was when I mentioned that it had caused most of my medical conditions.

The term Agent Orange is derived from the combination of code names for Herbicide Orange (HO) and Agent LNX. Agent Orange was one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam Conflict from 1961 through 1971. And besides that, the 55-gallon drums the deadly toxins were shipped in had a big orange stripe around it.
During the Vietnam War, the United States military sprayed millions of gallons of deadly material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand. According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the program's goal was, " defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover and to induce forced draft urbanization, destroying the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, and forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, thus depriving the guerrillas of their rural support and food supply..."
Many are unaware the U.S. government also sprayed Agent Orange in Korea.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ruling confirms County Attorney Ryan’s dioxin lawsuit will proceed

An appeals court ruling has cleared the way for Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s legal team to proceed with a lawsuit alleging that the San Jacinto River has been polluted with the dangerous chemical dioxin.
The companies being sued by Ryan had tried to prevent the County Attorney from hiring outside counsel to assist with the lawsuit. However, the First Court of Appeals today rejected the companies’ arguments, ruling that the County had the right to hire the law firm of Connelly Baker Wotring LLP because the County’s lawyers retained ultimate control over the conduct of the case.

“The ruling affirms the County’s right and my duty to assemble the best team of public and private lawyers I can to protect the public health and safety of our community, especially when the defendants have virtually no limit on what they can spend to fight the people of Harris County,” said County Attorney Ryan.
“I look forward to vigorously pursuing this threat to human life and our ecological system,” Ryan continued. “The people of Harris County do not think it is acceptable for the culpable companies to wash their hands of their massive dioxin pollution.”
Ryan sued International Paper Company, Waste Management Inc. and Waste Management of Texas in 2011 seeking more than $ 1 billion in civil penalties for the pollution of the San Jacinto River. The County alleges that in the 1960s huge quantities of paper mill waste containing dioxin, the most poisonous chemical made by man, were dumped into pits along the river. The lawsuit claims the companies failed to disclose the abandoned waste for 40 years as it polluted the San Jacinto River and Upper Galveston Bay.

Dioxin found in buried barrels near Kadena
It seems that the region of Okinawa, one of Japan’s southernmost population centers, will always have a strained relationship with the United States military forces that reside there. With majority of the US military forces in the country stationed here, the local Japanese population has, over the years, grown wary and suspicious of the “intrusion” of these military personnel into their everyday lives – especially when the issue of public safety is in question. In June, it was the issue of toxic herbicides possibly stored in US military bases in Okinawa that caused concern among the local populace, something that Japan’s Ministry of Defense has now investigated.
According to data from the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa bureau, components of Agent Orange have been found in old barrels that were dug up from underground on a piece of land that was once part of Kadena Air Base. Agent Orange was a toxic herbicide used to strip away jungle cover for enemy combatants during the Vietnam War. The toxic chemical was later linked to severe illnesses and birth defects among Vietnamese locals. Soil and water testing found the element “dioxin” and another harmful component of the notorious US military toxin in two dozen rusted containers – some of them marked with Dow Chemical Co.’s logo – discovered by Japanese construction crews at what is now a local soccer field in Okinawa City. The Dow Chemical Company was one of the manufacturers of Agent Orange used by the US military the Vietnam War.
The Okinawa bureau also said that while the testing proves the barrels contained some type of herbicide, only two of three chemical elements of Agent Orange have been specifically found, and so they cannot confirm that the notorious toxin was indeed present. The key component of Agent Orange – 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a common herbicide that is still widely used – was not found at the site. Also, the drums seem to have been buried empty – they were at worst, used containers already by the time they were buried.
The United States government has categorically denied the presence of Agent Orange in Okinawa. The US Department of Defense said earlier this year that its own investigation only strengthens this denial, as no evidence of Agent Orange has been found. Japanese government officials have taken photos of the barrels and had the Dow Chemical Co. check the images. Last month, Dow Chemical said they did not match the type of containers used for Agent Orange. But the Okinawa bureau said that while Agent Orange presence can’t be confirmed, “dioxin” was still found from samples inside the barrels as well as from the surrounding soil and water. Dioxin is a highly toxic pollutant that can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, immune system damage and hormone imbalances, according to the World Health Organization. The safety of the Okinawan population may still be at risk, even if it is not from Agent Orange.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Veterans win mixed ruling on exposure to chemicals
Thousands of military veterans who were exposed to chemicals during decades of secret weapons testing are entitled to up-to-date government information about possible health hazards but can't get government-funded health care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs system, a federal judge in Oakland has ruled.
The decision Wednesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken was a limited victory for veterans' organizations, who had argued that the VA health care system is overburdened and inadequate for the needs of those veterans, and that the government should pay their private medical bills.

Wilken said the government is shielded from such lawsuits because it has established the VA system to treat veterans, along with a special Court of Appeals to hear complaints of substandard or withheld care.
The veterans "have not shown that the care is inadequate or that they are unable to address any inadequacies through the (VA) system," Wilken said.
That's not good enough, said Eugene Illovsky, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, who include Vietnam Veterans of America, Swords to Plowshares, other organizations and individual veterans.
"The VA system is a rationed system," Illovsky said Thursday, noting that those affected by the ruling may be in the tens of thousands. He said no decision has been made on an appeal, but "we're going to try to keep fighting on the issue as best we can."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Marrow Donors Sought

Bone marrow testing for bone marrow matches and blood donors are being sought to help a veteran who lives in the area.
U.S. Army Sergeant Major (Ret) Jon R. Cavaiani, a  recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer last February – the VA has acknowledged this is due to Agent Orange exposure, according to his cousin. He has received many blood transfusions and is now on his fifth round of chemotherapy.
On July 25, he will enter Stanford Cancer Medical Clinic for further testing to be sure he is fit for a bone marrow transplant.
Being tested for donorship is a simple cheek swab. If selected as a donor it is a same day surgery. The family is asking that anyone who is under 60 years old be tested as a donor. Cavaiani is also encouraging everyone to donate blood to “pay it forward” as he has used so much blood. Those who know him know he’s all about giving back. Blood donations may be made at the American Red Cross or Delta Blood Bank.
Cavaiani is a Vietnam War hero and was a prisoner of war for two years. He was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford during a ceremony on December 12, 1974.
For anyone interested in being a marrow donor, go to the website Testing is a simple cheek swab test, and same day surgery for the donor.
The most current updates on his condition may also be found on the GiveForward website under his name.
For questions, contact Debby at
Cavaiani is also listed for donations the GiveForward website at /3nl2/congressionalmedalofhonorrecipientjoncavaiani.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Monsanto Menace: The feds see no evil as a belligerent strongman seeks control of America's food supply
When you're good at something, you want to leverage that. Monsanto's specialty is killing stuff.
In the early years, the St. Louis biotech giant helped pioneer such leading chemicals as DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. Unfortunately, these breakthroughs had a tendency to kill stuff. And the torrent of lawsuits that comes from random killing put a crimp on long-term profitability.
Monsanto's Creve Coeur headquarters hides behind trees and security checkpoints. 

"Monsanto and the biotechs need to respect traditional property rights and need to keep their pollution on their side of the fence," says Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen.
So Monsanto hatched a less lethal, more lucrative plan. The company would attempt to take control of the world's food supply.
It began in the mid-'90s, when Monsanto developed genetically modified (GM) crops such as soybeans, alfalfa, sugar beets and wheat. These Franken-crops were immune to its leading weed killer, Roundup. That meant that farmers no longer had to till the land to kill weeds, as they'd done for hundreds of years. They could simply blast their entire fields with chemicals, leaving GM crops the only thing standing. Problem solved.
The so-called no-till revolution promised greater yields, better profits for the family farm and a heightened ability to feed a growing world. But there was one small problem: Agriculture had placed a belligerent strongman in charge of the buffet line.
Monsanto knew that it needed more than genetically modified crops to squeeze out competitors, so it also began buying the biggest seed businesses, spending $12 billion by the time its splurge concluded. The company was cornering agriculture by buying up the best shelf space and distribution channels. All its boasting about global benevolence began to look much more like a naked power grab.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fight over $200 million overrun at Colorado VA heads to courts

A dispute over a potential $200 million cost overrun in building a replacement Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora is now before a federal tribunal, with builder Kiewit-Turner filing claims against the VA.
Kiewit-Turner filed its complaint July 8 with the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals in Washington, sanctioned by Congress to hear disputes between contractors and federal agencies.
The contractor said it will continue work, but the builder has also indicated the nearly $600 million hospital won't be done until 2016, later than the VA has promised.
The VA has disclosed to Congress that it has reshuffled its Colorado project management to speed completion, and is renegotiating the supposedly fixed building contract, according to a department letter obtained by The Denver Post.
The July 12 letter to Congress, however, did not mention Kiewit-Turner's move to seek relief in federal courts.
Colorado veterans Thursday vented frustration at the VA's management and secrecy, after years of delays in which officials seem blind to the urgent needs of patients.

4 decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese
— In many ways, Nguyen Thi Ly is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She has a lovely smile and is quick to laugh. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She enjoys skipping rope when she plays.
But Ly is also very different from other children. Her head is severely misshapen. Her eyes are unnaturally far apart and permanently askew. She’s been hospitalized with numerous ailments since her birth.
Her mother, 43-year-old Le Thi Thu, has similar deformities and health disorders. Neither of them has ever set foot on a battlefield, but they’re both casualties of war. 
Le and her daughter are second- and third-generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. Air Force sprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer and other illnesses.

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Makers of Agent Orange followed formula dictated by U.S. government
James R. Clary was a young Air Force officer and scientist who designed the spray tank for the C-123 cargo planes that dispensed Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War.
Thirteen years after the conflict ended, with serious concerns being raised in Congress about the effects of defoliants on veterans’ health, Clary dropped a startling bombshell: Military scientists had known that herbicides shipped to Vietnam were contaminated with dioxin and had “the potential for damage” to human health.
“However, because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’ none of us were overly concerned,” Clary wrote to then-Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. “We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”
Agent Orange was produced primarily by the Monsanto Corp. and Dow Chemical. Both companies say the defoliant was made according to strict military specifications. “The government specified the chemical composition of Agent Orange and when, where and how the material was to be used in the field, including application rates,” Monsanto says.
But a 1990 report compiled by Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. for the Department of Veterans Affairs that recommended compensation for ailing veterans who’d been exposed to Agent Orange also detailed evidence that Dow Chemical knew as early as 1964 that dioxin was a “byproduct of the manufacturing process” and that the dangers of exposure were clear.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Environment council to host public forum on dioxin
OROVILLE — The Butte Environmental Council will conduct a public forum July 31 at Oroville library on options for testing dioxin and taking action. Beginning at 6 p.m., community leaders, agency staffs, faith and health care communities and those in local and county governments may help craft an action plan.
A short clip will be shown about waste incineration and dioxin from the new documentary "Trashed," as well as another short video featuring Linda Birnbaum, director of National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, talking about the health impacts of dioxin.
BEC staff will talk about options for testing and action, and community members may discuss their priorities and concerns.
The library is at 1825 Mitchell Ave.
For information, call 538-7641 or visit

AGENT ORANGE: Alphabetized Ship List
If your vessel is not included in the Mobile Riverine Force, ISF Division 93 or listed designations (see "Find Your Ship"), check the alphabetized list of ships below.
To search for your ship, look under the first letter of the formal ship name. For example, if your ship's name is USS Dennis J. Buckley, look under the letter "D" for Dennis.
Ships will be regularly added to the list based on information confirmed in official records of ship operations. Currently there are 285 ships on this list. Ship not on the list and you think it should be?
Questions about your eligibility for disability compensation? Contact your nearest VA benefits office.
Last updated: July 2013

EPA plans river cleanup
More than $4.5 million in work would take place to cap or remove dioxins from the Tittabawassee River south of The Dow Chemical Co.’s Michigan Operations site under a proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA will host a meeting Wednesday to gather input on the plan.
The EPA has recommended a number of actions for its second phase of a comprehensive cleanup of the river, which is polluted with dioxins and furans from historic practices at Dow. Segment 2 of the river is a 4-mile stretch starting just below the Dow’s plant. Going downriver, the EPA says there are distinct “Sediment Management Areas” and “Bank Management Areas” that need to be addressed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans

H.R.543 Latest Title: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2013.
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.
Sponsor: Rep Gibson, Christopher P. [NY-19] (introduced 2/6/2013)
Latest Major Action: 2/15/2013 Referred to House subcommittee. Status:
Referred to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

H.R.1494 : Blue Water Navy Ship Accountability Act.
To direct the Secretary of Defense to review the operation of certain ships during the Vietnam Era, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Gibson, Christopher P. [NY-19] (introduced 4/11/2013)
Committees: House Armed Services; House Veterans' Affairs
Latest Major Action: 4/11/2013 Referred to House committee. Status:
Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and in addition to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who Bought This Court?

from MONSANTO...The Supreme Court of Korea has eliminated previous monetary awards and instructed a lower court to reconsider its decision that Dow Chemical and the former Monsanto Company as chemical suppliers to the U.S. government in the 1960s are liable for claims by Korean Vietnam War veterans. The lower court decision was contrary to established legal principles and U.S. precedent involving claims by Vietnam veterans.

“Our employees have great respect for the Korean, U.S. and other allied soldiers sent to any war including those in service in the Vietnam War,” said David F. Snively, Monsanto Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “It is the role of the U.S. government and the Republic of Korea to resolve any issues arising from wartime activities and both nations have implemented measures to provide support for their veterans.”
Agent Orange was a military herbicide used from 1961 to 1971 to defoliate vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles and saved the lives of allied soldiers. Nine chemical companies manufactured Agent Orange for the U.S. government. The U.S government specified the chemical composition of Agent Orange and when, where and how the material was used in Vietnam. Agent Orange received its name because of the orange band around containers of the material.

US firms ordered to pay over Agent Orange
Seoul - South Korea's highest court on Friday upheld a ruling ordering two US Agent Orange makers to compensate 39 Vietnam War veterans, while sending another decision back to a lower court for review.
The Supreme Court recognised the correlation between the toxic defoliant and certain skin diseases, saying the 39 victims should receive a total of 466 million won ($415 000) from Dow Chemical and Monsanto.
The veterans had complained that Agent Orange was responsible for skin diseases such as “chemical acne”, which is caused by exposure to dioxin contained in Agent Orange, the court said.
Payment is now up to the US firms, but Dow Chemical said in a statement quoted by Yonhap news agency that it disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision, arguing that the verdict was not backed by clear evidence, citing US court rulings.
The South Korean court also sent back an appeals court verdict that the two firms should compensate thousands of other veterans who claimed to have similarly suffered from exposure to defoliants used during the Vietnam War.

Sunshine Coast council sprays dunes with 'Agent Orange' mix to control weeds
COMMUNITY safety fears have been raised after it was revealed a Sunshine Coast council mixed up its own chemical brew from an ingredient used in Agent Orange and sprayed it at popular beaches to kill sand dune weeds.
The council is under fire for using the herbicide 2,4-D _ one half of the toxic defoliant blend Agent Orange from the Vietnam War that is under review by federal authorities.
For the past three years, the council has been experimenting with an off-label "tank mix" of 2,4-D and another herbicide, metsulfuron methyl, to rid sand dunes of the invasive glory lily (gloriosa superba) weed.
Fears have been raised over the safety of the brew dubbed Gloricide as federal agencies undertake a review of 2,4-D over concerns it can harm the environment and humans.
The federal environment department has recommended a ban on all "high volatile" 2,4-D products which can vapourish and travel kilometres, landing on other plants and aquatic organisms.
Human trials and real-life environmental tests are also under way on the "low volatile" 2,4-D products, with results expected at the end of the year.
In the United States, there is a push to have 2,4-D banned

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The You in Me

“According to traditional thinking, the placenta acts as a barrier between a mother and a child in the womb, preventing an exchange of cells between them.  But recent research has revealed that the placenta is more porous than previously believed, says Kirby Johnson, a biologist at Tufts University.  ‘Now we know a mother and her baby have to be linked.  Cell-based communication is essential for a healthy pregnancy.’
“Overall, the placenta allows for a lot of two-way traffic, with fetal cells stealing into Mom, and maternal cells slipping into Child.  (Even tumor cells can cross over, and there are a few well-documented cases of mothers giving cancer to fetuses.)  After cells cross over, some get rounded up and killed by the new host’s immune system.  Many, however, take root in the other body, burrowing into the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen, skin, pancreas, gallbladder, and intestines, among other places.  Most of these organs house tens to hundreds of interlopers per million normal cells, but the lungs can tolerate thousands of foreign cells per million.  Fetal cells do an especially good job of colonizing Mom’s body since they often have the power, much like stem cells, to turn into multiple types of tissue, depending on where they find themselves.
“At first, researchers assumed that microchimeric transplants would harm the recipient.  Most scientists who study microchimerism also study autoimmune diseases, which occur in women three times more often than in men.  Scientists have reasoned that perhaps a mother’s immune system, in trying to exterminate fetal cells inside her, inadvertently causes collateral damage to her own tissue.  Or perhaps the fetal cells, surrounded by foreign tissue, rebel and attack the mother.  Studies have indeed linked high levels of microchimeric cells to some forms of lupus, cirrhosis, and thyroid disease.  Twin studies have also found higher levels of microchimerism in females with multiple sclerosis….
“On a more general level, given all the two-way cellular traffic, ‘the dogma of every cell in our body being genetically identical has to be revised,’ (says Gerald Udolph, a biologist at the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore).“

Veterans Sick From Agent Orange-Poisoned Planes Still Seek Justice
C-123s sprayed Agent Orange on Viet Cong crops and cover during the war.
After a fleet of C-123 airplanes dropped more than 10 million gallons of Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover and crops during the Vietnam War, the military found post-war work for the planes in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Retired Lt Col. Paul Bailey belonged to one of those reserve units. Today, he has terminal cancer and, like his sick former co-workers, he has been denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs for Agent Orange-related veterans benefits, despite expert opinions that he was likely exposed to the lingering toxic herbicide. "Magically, once the planes left Vietnam they were no longer contaminated," said Bailey, criticizing what he sees as irrational government policy. "It's frustrating."
Between 1972 and 1982, about 1,500 men and women served aboard 34 C-123s that were previously deployed in Operation Ranch Hand, a large-scale defoliation mission in Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. The planes underwent no testing or decontamination between their decade of spraying and their new state-side assignments with the Air Force Reserve, according to retired Maj. Wes Carter, who himself served aboard C-123s and has been conducting research on their toxic history. Air Force Reserve veterans also recall no warnings about contamination, or equipment to protect them from any potential aftereffects. Presumably, their superiors were themselves unaware of any danger.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Two Marine Veterans Unite Decades Later to Win VA Appeals for Exposure to Agent Orange in Subic Bay, Philippines

Daytona Beach, FL, July 9, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Marines are known for getting the job done. What seems impossible to the rest of us is not so to a Marine--whose hallmark bravery, strength, and determination carry him on the battlefield to accomplish any mission. And when service to our country comes to an end, those traits which embody the Marine are not left behind. That grit in the face of all odds prepares the veteran for a different battle at home. For many disabled veterans whose claims for service-connected disabilities are denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the road to victory before the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) is an uphill battle. This is the story of two Marine veterans, their exposure to Agent Orange, and the fight to obtain benefits which our government promised them long ago.
Agent Orange is the name given to a blend of highly toxic herbicides the U.S. military sprayed from 1962 to 1971 in Vietnam to remove foliage that provided enemy cover. Its name is derived from the orange identifying stripe used on the 55-gallon drums in which it was stored. The U.S. government has maintained that the only place where Agent Orange was ever stored was in Vietnam and in the factory of origin, which was located in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Australian Independents Will Protect Sunshine Coast Residents From Agent Orange,30525
Dr Patricia Petersen, Leader of the Australian Independents, said that her party will introduce new environmental legislation to protect residents from toxic chemicals which have the capacity to cause damage to animals, including aquatic animals, and humans. Dr Petersen said that Sunshine Coast Regional Council developed its own endocrine-disrupting herbicide solution, known as Gloricide, several years ago and that the solution is still being spraying haphazardly along the coast line. “The original idea was to target an invasive weed species, but it is also poisoning plants, animals and humans” she said. “Sunshine Coast Regional Council developed the solution without consulting an official chemical engineer, and without compiling a valid Material Data Safety Sheet (MDSS) in accordance with federal laws. The council also failed to gain a permit for the solution’s use, which technically makes it illegal,” said Dr Petersen. “Gloricide contains a dangerous mixture of both metsulfuron methyl, a highly-toxic herbicide, and 2,4-D, a major toxic component of “Agent Orange”, she said.
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