Thursday, July 27, 2017

US District Court Burn Pit Decision

Conclusion – US District Court Decision, #09318721818

As it observed in its 2013 Opinion, the Court is not unsympathetic to the claims of the Plaintiffs. Many of them have been harmed, at least to some extent, by the use of open burn pits or by the water that they drank in Iraq or Afghanistan. However, as to those Plaintiffs who claim injury while serving in the military, they are not without significant remedies. See Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1651-1654; War Hazards Compensation Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1701-1706.
In addition, bipartisan legislation was recently introduced in Congress to provide additional remedies to persons affected by the burn pits. See Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, H.R. 1279, S. 319, 115th Cong. (2017) (assigned to the House Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services Committees and the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, respectively).
The fairly limited case law applicable in this case establishes legal principles that this Court has applied based upon its factual findings. Those cases, however, are not a perfect “fit” for the circumstances of this case. The sweeping, generalized decade-long multi-war zone claims made by the Plaintiffs are factually quite different from the far more limited and discrete circumstances in cases involving an individual military convoy (Carmichael), electrocution of a soldier in a shower (Harris), electrocution of a workman (Taylor), and torture (Al Shimari). The legal principles established in those cases were not applied to sweeping claims of the nature made by the Plaintiffs in the cases now before this Court.
Conclusion – US District Court Decision, #09318721818

100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now

For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum’s barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.
As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,” said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.
Van Strum didn’t set out to be the repository for the people’s pushback against the chemical industry. She moved to a house in the Siuslaw National Forest in 1974 to live a simple life. But soon after she arrived, she realized the Forest Service was spraying her area with an herbicide called 2,4,5-T — on one occasion, directly dousing her four children with it as they fished by the river.
The chemical was one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange, which the U.S. military had stopped using in Vietnam after public outcry about the fact that it caused cancer, birth defects, and serious harms to people, animals, and the environment. But in the U.S., the Forest Service continued to use both 2,4,5-T and the other herbicide in Agent Orange, 2,4-D, to kill weeds. (Timber was — and in some places still is — harvested from the national forest and sold.) Between 1972 and 1977, the Forest Service sprayed 20,000 pounds of 2,4,5-T in the 1,600-square-mile area that included Van Strum’s house and the nearby town of Alsea.

Did Agent Orange Cause John McCain’s Cancer?

The chemical was used by the U.S. military while the Arizona senator served in Vietnam. It has been linked to the glioblastoma cancer suffered by many veterans.
When the news broke last week that Sen. John McCain has glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly brain cancer, the nation quickly rallied around the 80-year-old politician and Vietnam War veteran.
Joy Patterson was deeply saddened by the news. Her husband, Kenneth Patterson, also served in Vietnam and was also diagnosed with glioblastoma (GBM).
“I believe Senator McCain will not survive, sadly, just as our husbands who have gone before,” said Patterson, whose husband died of the disease in 1996.
She now works to help other widows of Vietnam War veterans get their disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The question on Patterson’s mind and the minds of so many of these war widows is:
Did Sen. McCain get glioblastoma from exposure to Agent Orange?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

VVA Applauds Rep. Thompson for Introducing H.R. 3327, the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act

(WASHINGTON D.C.) -- "We applaud Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5th) for introducing H.R. 3327, the Jack Alderson Toxic Exposure Declassification Act. Thompson's stand-alone bill would require the Department of Defense to declassify documents related to any known incident in which no less than 100 members of the Armed Forces were exposed to a toxic substance. This bill will go a long way to benefitting veterans of all generations whose health has been impacted by exposure to toxins during their military service," said John Rowan, Vietnam Veterans of America national president.                    "It's been over 50 years since the Pentagon's secret chemical and biological warfare spraying program, in which members of our U.S. Navy and Marines were unwittingly exposed to biological and chemical agents, and our veterans are still waiting for answers," said Rowan. For nearly 20 years, Jack Alderson and his fellow SHAD veterans, along with VVA, have been battling the Department of Defense to find out to what, exactly, they were exposed.
Among the tests under Project 112 were those designed to test the vulnerability of our Navy vessels. The Shipboard Hazard and Decontamination Program (SHAD) ran from 1962 to 1970 and employed U.S. servicemen as guinea pigs, exposing them to live chemical and biological agents, like sarin, VX, Q Fever, under operations with codenames like 'Shady Grove,' 'Autumn Gold,' and 'Copper Head.'
"When an agency's policy prevents veterans from accessing their service records, which they need to establish service-connected conditions to determine care and benefits with Veterans Affairs, we have a serious breach of justice," said Rowan. We stand behind this bill and the Senate companion bill aimed at protecting the health of our service members by assisting them in accessing their classified military records which prove their exposure to toxic substances."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

July 20, 1969

Imaging Pinpoints Brain Circuits Changed by PTSD Therapy

Using brain imaging to track the effects of treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), scientists have identified a brain circuit on which a frequently used and effective psychotherapy (prolonged exposure) acts to quell symptoms. The findings help explain why the neural circuit identified is a promising target for additional treatment development, including brain stimulation therapies.
In an accompanying paper, the authors also report that they have identified hallmarks in brain activity of people with PTSD that predict who will benefit from treatment. Both papers appear online July 18 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
In prolonged exposure treatment for patients with PTSD, trained therapists use deliberate and careful exposure to images, situations, or cues that evoke traumatic memories. The object of the therapy is to reduce fearful associations with these trauma cues and replace them with a sense of safety and control over emotional reactions. The treatment can be very effective, but it has not been clear how it changes brain processes to have a beneficial effect on symptoms.
Amit Etkin, M.D., Ph.D., at Stanford University School of Medicine, led a team of scientists collaborating on this work. The study enrolled 66 individuals with PTSD; all underwent functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI) at rest and while carrying out tasks that engage different aspects of emotional response and regulation. By tracking blood flow, fMRI reveals areas of the brain that are active. Scientists monitor regional brain activity while a subject is carrying out a given task. Participants were then randomly assigned either to treatment with exposure therapy or a waitlist. All then had fMRI scans either following treatment or, if assigned to waitlist, after a comparable waiting period.

Agent Orange’s Possible Link to Rare Cancer Type Sparks Advocacy Efforts

Exposure to Agent Orange — a toxic chemical combination used for deforestation during the Vietnam War — may be the cause of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) for hundreds of war veterans, according to MPN Advocacy and Education International.
“There was evidence very early that its use to exfoliate the jungle in Vietnam and other parts of the territory was having a grave impact on the health and safety of those exposed, including civilians,” Ann Brazeau, CEO of MPN Advocacy Network and Education International said in an interview with CURE.
Currently, MPNs are not on the Veterans Health Administration’s presumptive list, which means that veterans with MPNs such as essential thrombocytopenia (ET), polycythemia vera (PV) or myelofibrosis do not get disability benefits from the VA because it does not see those conditions as a direct result of their wartime service. Brazeau and her team are working to add MPNs to this list to help people like Barry Halem, of the Tampa Bay area — one of more than 500 veterans who contacted MPN Advocacy and Education International after developing an MPN.

Monday, July 17, 2017

'This is the next Agent Orange': Veterans protest military's use of anti-malarial drug

Canadian veterans are stepping up their opposition to the military’s continued use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, widely blamed for neurological disorders.
Outside a downtown Calgary armed forces recruitment office, 14-year military veteran Dave Bona protested what he calls Ottawa’s failure to address the problems stemming from years of mefloquine doses in hot climate conflict zones such as those in Africa.
But Bona said he’s using his efforts travelling throughout western Canada this summer to educate veterans who might be suffering from exposure to the drug and not know it.
“We want to raise awareness, there are so many veterans who have been misdiagnosed with PTSD,” he said.
But he’s also drawing attention to a pair of reports issued to the country’s surgeon general and Health Canada stating there’s no conclusive evidence mefloquine causes permanent or long-lasting psychiatric or neurological damage.
“Based on the surgeon general’s report, I will not be able to receive treatment,” said Bona, who becomes progressively angrier as he speaks about the government reports.
“You’re supposed to look out for your soldiers, you don’t sanitize a report so your government can save a few bucks,” he said.
The man, court-martialled in 2000 for behavioural problems he blames on mefloquine, said he was administered the drug once a week for at least a year in the early 1990s during deployments to Somalia and Rwanda.

Friday, July 14, 2017

VVA Praises Rep. Thompson’s NDAA Amendment To Declassify Documents on Toxic Exposures

(Washington, DC) – “Vietnam Veterans of America has long advocated on behalf of veterans whose physical and/or mental health may have been compromised as a result of their exposure to chemical, biological, and/or radiological toxins while serving our nation,” said John Rowan, VVA National President. “We fully support Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA) amendment to the FY’18 National Defense Authorization Act, as it will bring a measure of transparency to the over-classification of those documents which are fundamental to comprehending the health issues of 112/SHAD veterans.
Project 112/ SHAD

Expedition Orange: Day 67: A New Approach

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty. -Teddy Roosevelt
Here is where we stand this morning. After talking with the Two T Ranch and discussing multiple options, the best and safest option for Gus is to let him heal up completely. The culprit that caused his scalding was not the heat or saddle fit but the material in the first blanket I used. The acrylic in the blanket became abrasive during the long hours and day after day riding, by the time I was able to get the 100% wool blanket I needed the scalding was already there.
We believe it could take several more weeks if not months to let Gus fully heal, that’s just the way scalding goes once it sets in. At this time I do not have a remount that I had hoped I’d have. Remember horses are not motorcycles.
This additional time down for Gus’s well being will prevent us from completing the ride by October like we had hoped and planned for.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Families living in old military housing need to be aware of risks

Rear admiral: 'We are concerned for the safety of potentially impacted residents'
Longtime Guam residents remember many parts of Tiyan as a military installation that was inaccessible to the larger civilian community.
The former Naval Air Station was subsequently turned over to the government of Guam, which then turned over certain land parcels and former military housing units to local families that made claim to those properties as part of their ancestors' real estate possessions.
What followed after the closure of the former military air station was a mix of good and bad.
Parts of Tiyan have now become a modern hub for air cargo logistics. That's in large part to the building developed by PacAir, based on a long-term lease on government land.
The first phase of the Tiyan Parkway, that relatively new road providing critical access between Route 8 in central Guam to the northern parts of the island through a Route 10A, has also been made possible as a result of the military downsizing that shut down the Naval Air Station facility in the late 1990s, and in large part through funding assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Unfortunately, parts of Tiyan, particularly on the main strip between the airport and the intersection at Cars Plus, has increasingly turned into blight. There are abandoned houses with weeds growing on rooftops, and houses with junk cars and graffiti along the main road. The weeds from the yards of some of the abandoned houses have been creeping closer to the government road.
The houses that are abandoned and rotting away, within less than a mile of Guam's international gateway for tourists, do not reflect well on an island that sells its beauty to international visitors.
There are also former military houses on the strip that are occupied by families.
For those old military houses that are occupied along the parkway at Tiyan, the government of Guam needs to fully address whether the families living there have been apprised of the health risks the Navy has warned about concerning these properties.

Horror has a face: A photographic investigation by Mathieu Asselin

“On s’engage, on va le faire” – that is, “We’re in, we’ll do it”. The New York-based, French-Venezuelan photographer Mathieu Asselin goes back and forth from Spanish to English to French as he recalls how Sam Stourdzé, the director of the Rencontres d’Arles, enthusiastically agreed to exhibit his five-year long, research-intensive project about the US chemical corporation Monsanto.
It happened a week before last year’s festival, and Asselin was then showing the dummy of his photobook, Monsanto®. A Photographic Investigation. This year the project is being shown at the Magasin Électrique at Arles, and the book has been published in French by Actes Sud, and in English by the Dortmund-based Verlag Kettler.
Asselin’s project is conceived as a cautionary tale putting the spotlight on the consequences of corporate impunity, both for people and the environment. Designed by fellow countryman Ricardo Báez, a designer, curator and photobook collector who has notably worked with the Venezuelan master Paolo Gasparini, Monsanto® submerges the reader into an exposé of the corporation’s practices, whether by showing contaminated sites and the health and ecological damage they cause, the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, or the pressure on farmers to use patented GMO seeds.
From an editorial point of view, Monsanto®. A photographic investigation is a carefully-orchestrated ensemble of portraits, landscapes, archival material, objects, screenshots, personal letters, court files, advertisements, microfilms and texts. Asselin has synthesised the storytelling power of different documentary formats to produce a seminal work, which echoes W. Eugene Smith’s 1971 project on the Japanese village of Minamata, and the Chisso Corporation.
“My father [whose words are included in the book] talked to me about Monsanto eight years ago,” says Asselin, who immediately saw a story in what he was told. He also acknowledges Marie-Monique Robin’s The World According to Monsanto, a documentary film which was released in 2008, and published as a book by Éditions La Découverte and Arte in 2012. “Way beyond the pesticides, and the genetically-modified seeds, it was essential to understand the past of Monsanto,” says Asselin.
The author has seen the horror and, as the two central displays in his Arles exhibition show, the horror has a face – that of Agent Orange-affected infants preserved in glass containers for science at Tû Dû Obstetrics Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Asselin photographed them as well as living victims of Operation Hades, the original name for the US military operation that sprayed rural areas with Agent Orange during the war – Monsanto was one of the companies that produced the chemical, which was officially used as a defoliant. The most common caption reads: “Multiple genetics disorders and malformations.”

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Expedition Orange Update

After some much needed R,R &R (Rest, Relaxation, Repairs) we are back on the road in Kingman, AZ. We are currently heading east from Kingman along Route 66 towards Grey Mountain, AZ. For the time being we are going to take it slow to ease back into the saddle.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


August 19, 2017
McKinney, Texas
Contact: Don Roush,
618-340-0769 (cell/text)

September 23, 2017
Chicago, Illinois
Contact: Pat O'Brien 847.403.4676
Roger McGill 773.203.3353

September 2017
September 12
September 13
September 14
Marathon Key 
To be updated
The Villages, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Port Charlotte, Florida
St Petersburg, Florida

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Ships in Vietnam

VA maintains a list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam and possible exposure to Agent Orange based on military records.
This evolving list helps Veterans who served aboard ships, including "Blue Water Veterans," find out if they may qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure.
Veterans must meet VA's criteria for service in Vietnam, which includes military
service aboard boats on the inland waterways or brief visits ashore, to be presumed to have been exposed to herbicides.
Veterans who qualify for presumption of herbicide exposure are not required to show they were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides when seeking VA compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.
The list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships associated with military service in Vietnam and possible exposure to Agent Orange has moved to the Veterans Benefits Administration compensation website. The updated list can now be found on VBA’s “Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange” Web page.
Ships are regularly added to the list based on updated information confirmed in official records of ship operations. Ship not on the list and you think it should be?
If you would like to be informed of future updates, or to learn more about Agent Orange, subscribe to our email updates.

Yes, insecticides do cause bees to die

A common insecticide really does contribute to the death of bees, according to a large-scale field study. This helps set to rest some of the controversy over the use of the chemicals.
The type of insecticide in question, called neonicotinoids, is often used to coat crops. In a study published today in the journal Science, researchers grew rapeseed in 33 sites across Germany, the United Kingdom, and Hungary. They coated the crop with neonicotinoids, introduced various bee species to the area, and monitored the health of the colonies compared to control groups. (These chemicals were made by the companies Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, which helped fund the study.) The bees who lived near the plants treated with neonicotinoids had more trouble surviving the winter.
Before now, we were still unsure just how harmful these particular insecticides were. In 2013, the European Union banned the chemicals due to concerns that they were killing bees, which are crucial for agriculture. Currently, bee populations are falling worldwide. Still, the ban has been controversial, with some critics saying that the simulations in earlier studies were unrealistic.
Today’s study is one of the first large-scale field reports. Honeybees in the United Kingdom had difficulty surviving to begin with, but survival was lowest near crops treated with neonicotinoids the year before. Similarly, in Hungary, colony numbers fell by 24 percent by following spring. However, there was no effect in Germany.
The authors suggest that the different results may be because of the different climates naturally found in the three countries. Hives in Germany are usually larger to begin with and closer to a wider range of flowers than those in the UK and Hungary. Overall, though, because this was a field study that mimics real-world conditions, the study goes a long way toward settling the debate on these chemicals, even if the news isn’t good.

Documentary on Vietnamese AO victim screened at US Senate

Washington D.C (VNA) – A 35-minute documentary about a Vietnamese teenage victim of Agent Orange (AO) was screened at the US Senate headquarters in Washington DC on June 28. The event was held by the War Legacies Project (WLP), US Senate and the Vietnamese Embassy in the US. Senator Patrick Leahy affirmed he will continue to endorse two countries’ relations, including cooperation to recover war and AO consequences in Vietnam. By mobilising support from the US Senate, he hoped Vietnamese AO victims will receive more attention from the US public. For his part, Vietnamese Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh thanked Leahy and his colleagues for backing Vietnam and helping Vietnamese war victims. He also expressed his gratitude to the director, Courtney Marsh, for spending eight years making such a touching documentary, which was nominated for the 88th edition of the Oscars in the short documentary category.