Wednesday, January 31, 2018

IOM, Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences Study Family Relocation due to Environmental Change

Ha Noi – IOM and the Institute of Sociology (IOS), Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, have released a new report: Planned Relocation in the Context of Environmental Change in Hoa Binh Province, Northern Viet Nam: An Analysis of Household Decision-making and Relocation Outcomes.
The study assesses the implementation and outcomes of planned relocation in the Hoa Binh Relocation Project, which aims to relocate 1,200 families from two remote communes in the mountainous Northwest region that face high natural disaster risks.
The study explored project implementation, household decision-making processes and relocation outcomes for 406 households, including those who have relocated, those who wish to move, and those who have chosen to remain or are undecided.
Its findings show the potential for relocation to contribute to improved quality of life and new opportunities for relocated communities. Existing policies in Viet Nam provide important support that can help relocated households transition successfully to new, safer locations.
But the implementation of the current project shows the complex nature of household decisions on relocation and the practical challenges encountered in helping families to address the multiple factors which impact relocation outcomes.
The research identified key themes in household decision making, along with practices that support successful relocation.
It showed that households had high levels of awareness and experience of natural disasters. But disaster risk was only one of multiple factors influencing their migration decisions. Others included concerns about the impact on their livelihoods and the social dislocation associated with relocation.
The findings related to project implementation and relocation outcomes also showed that although most families had a high awareness of the objectives of the project, they had a limited understanding of the actual process. It also noted the limited participation of commune authorities and communities in both planning and implementation.
The research recommends policy approaches to support improved relocation practices, including policies on relocation planning and implementation, participation and communication, livelihood development, and monitoring and evaluation.
The report was released at a best-practices workshop on planned relocation and disaster risk reduction co-hosted by IOM and IOS in Ha Noi. The event was designed to provide policy makers, researchers, and civil society with an opportunity to discuss the findings and best practices with national, regional and international experts.
“Planned relocation, and migration in general, are a possible response to environmental change, which can increase households’ resilience to slow onset and rapid onset disasters. But they can be complex and are probably best when safe in-situ adaptation or other options are not feasible. They also need to be planned, designed, implemented and monitored with full community participation,” said IOM Viet Nam head of programmes, Paul Priest.
Download the reports here:
English | Vietnamese
For further information, please contact IOM Viet Nam. David Knight, Tel: +844 3850 1810, Email:

U.S. aircraft carrier to visit Vietnam in post-war first

HANOI (Reuters) - In a post-war first, the United States is poised to send an aircraft carrier to Vietnam in March, officials of both sides said on Thursday, dramatic evidence of deepening military ties between them, more than four decades after the Vietnam War.
The announcement came during a two-day visit to Hanoi by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that had been expected to focus on shared concerns about China.
The proposed visit is set for March at the central port of Danang, Vietnam’s defence ministry said in a statement. Such a visit by a U.S. aircraft carrier could bring the most U.S. forces to Vietnam since the conflict ended in 1975.
Mattis cheered the planned port visit during talks with Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.
“Thank you for the increasing partnership, with our aircraft carrier coming into Danang here in March,” Mattis said.
Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed the carrier visit was discussed by Mattis and Defence Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, and Vietnam’s defence ministry was seeking final approvals from national leaders.
“We expect it will be approved,” Davis said.

Ninth Circuit Panel Reverses Lower Court Dismissal Allowing Suit to Proceed

SALT LAKE CITY (PRWEB) January 26, 2018
A Ninth Circuit panel has reversed a lower court dismissal, allowing a False Claims Act suit against former Lockheed Martain health care subsidiary, QTC Medical Services Inc. to proceed (US ex rel. David Vatan v. QTC Medical Services, Inc., et al Case No. 16-55406).
The unpublished decision came down on Friday, January 12, 2018 in an appeal from whistleblower and former QTC claims file analyst, Dr. David Vatan, whose suit was dismissed for failure to state a claim. In the suit, Vatan alleges that QTC submitted false claims to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for evaluating Vietnam War veteran's symptoms of Agent Orange-related diseases.
A 1991 settlement that is still in effect, stemming from a class action lawsuit, requires the VA to take certain actions whenever it recognizes a new disease as linked to Agent Orange exposure. These actions include reviewing previously denied claims and paying disability and death benefits to affected veterans or their survivors.
QTC was hired by the VA to review 65,000 files for Agent Orange-related Parkinson's disease, ischemic heart disease, and hairy cell leukemia, as well as 95,000 files for peripheral neuropathy. QTC was to flag files that merited a second review and final decision by the VA.
The lawsuit brought by Vatan in 2014 alleges that claims that QTC, "created and executed a scheme to incentivize" analysts to review as many files as possible, and that this rush to close files came at the expense of accuracy and completeness. He further alleges that he and other analysts were not formally trained and were not given the VA's training guide. QTC was paid between $300 and $350 for each file reviewed. According to McClatchy News in 2015, QTC's various contracts with the VA exceeded $175 million.
In February of 2016, it appeared that the case might be dead in the water after a lower court judge threw out two of Vatan's claims against Lockheed and QTC based on the fact that Vatan did not have access to the full contract between the company and the government and therefore could not prove that the company misrepresented its work. Vatan's appeal said the court overly relied on this fact and reversed the decision.

Dow Chemical Wins Key Ruling In Dioxin Pollution Dispute

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) – A decision by the Michigan Supreme Court means that property owners along the Tittabawassee River might have waited too long to sue Dow Chemical over dioxin contamination.
In an order this week, the court sent a lawsuit back to a Saginaw County judge for more work to determine when property owners were harmed.
There is a three-year limit to file a lawsuit. The Supreme Court said the clock starts running when damage occurred.
Dow has argued that the statute of limitations had long expired when the lawsuit was filed in 2003 because the public became aware of dioxin pollution in the Tittabawassee River years earlier. The company appealed after the appeals court said the key date was much later, in 2002, when regulators reported high levels in the flood plain in Saginaw County.
Litigation against Dow has been broken down into separate lawsuits by dozens of people.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Vietnam, US begin Agent Orange cleanup at former wartime air base

Vietnam and the U.S. have kickstarted the process of cleaning up the dioxin around Bien Hoa Airport, a heavily contaminated zone just outside Ho Chi Minh City.
The process formally began on Tuesday with the signing of a Memorandum of Intent between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Military Science Department under Vietnam's Ministry of Defense.
USAID will be working with the Vietnamese ministry to first design a remediation program before implementing it over the next few years.
“The only way to begin a long journey is to take the first step. The Memorandum of Intent is that first step, and the journey begins today," said U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink, who witnessed the signing together with Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Defense.
"The United States looks forward to working with the Ministry of National Defense on this important initiative, deepening our partnership further, and building a prosperous future for both our countries.”
The campaign to decontaminate Bien Hoa is part of the two countries' cooperation that started in 2000 to resolve humanitarian and wartime legacies while continuing to strengthen their economic, cultural and security ties.
It will also be the second time the U.S. has been directly involved in a dioxin cleanup effort in Vietnam, following USAID and the defense ministry's $110 million campaign that took five years to clean dioxin-contaminated soil at Da Nang International Airport, which started in 2012.
Bien Hoa is the largest remaining dioxin hotspot in Vietnam. Studies have found that more than 500,000 cubic meters of land at the airport, which Vietnam uses for military purposes, needs treating.

Administration Pledges To Continue Passaic River Cleanup

PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — The Administration has pledged to continue cleaning up the heavily polluted Passaic River, a move that worries some local environmentalists.

The lower eight miles of the Passaic River was declared a federal Superfund site in 1984 after years of contamination at the former Diamond Alkali Co. manufacturing facility in Newark. Sediment there contains dioxin, PCBs, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants.
Diamond Alkali is one of several responsible parties responsible for what's known as "legacy contamination," or contamination that occurred over several decades by multiple parties.
DDT and other chemicals were made at the Lister Avenue site in Newark in the 1940s. Diamond Alkali owned and manufactured agricultural chemicals, including herbicides in "Agent Orange." Dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical, was a by-product of the manufacturing. The site includes part of the Hackensack River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) secured a $165 million agreement with Occidental Chemical, one of the responsible parties, in 2016 to clean up the eight miles of the river. However, funding and personnel changes to the EPA could put the cleanup in jeopardy, however.

Foes of San Jacinto waste removal plan backed by corporate funds

Companies held responsible for cleaning up the San Jacinto Superfund site have disclosed involvement in three supposedly independent groups that popped up to protest an Environmental Protection Agency plan to permanently remove hazardous paper mill wastes from the capped pits east of Houston, according to a letter their attorneys provided to a Harris County judge.
Representatives of groups called Keep it Capped, Galveston Maritime Business Association and the San Jacinto Citizens Against Pollution have attended meetings, organized events and launched a website to support keeping the waste pit sites capped, even though the river front site frequently floods and leaked cancer-causing dioxin after Hurricane Harvey.
But the revelation of what attorneys called "significant participation" in those protest groups by at least one of the corporations required to fund EPA-ordered Superfund clean-up activities came to light only after Jackie Young, a long-time community leader and executive director of the Texas Health and Environmental Alliance, formally complained that she had been harassed by the groups.
"This is outrageous," Young said. "Such well-funded efforts distracted the Superfund process and could have drowned out the voices of our residents that received no funding from the responsible parties in this mess."

Thursday, January 18, 2018


We update our meetings regularly on the Town Hall Meeting Calendar:

February 10, 2018
Mesa, Arizona
Contact Chuck Byers 480-258-7105

February 24, 2018
Mitchell, South Dakota
Contact: Terry Mayer
Maynard Kaderlik

March 20, 2018
Cape Coral, Florida
Contact: Stuart Berman

March 24, 2018
Portland, Oregon
Contact: Don Curtis 503-913-1787 
Tom Owen  541-619-8187

April 7, 2018
Marshalltown, Iowa
Contact John Kost

April 21, 2018
Sanborn, New York
Contact:   Gordon L. Bellinger

April 21, 2018
International Falls, Minnesota
Contact Carissa MacLean 218-283-1179
Maynard Kaderlik 507-581-6402

April 29, 2018
Mayetta, Kansas
Contact:Roland Mayhew 785-249-4517
Thomas Wabnum 785-554-5248                                                                       
Vlas Ortiz 785-554-3949

VA - Working Against Veterans

Federal laws hindering proper research on medical marijuana are hurting those who served 
Agitation. Irritability. Guilt. Flashbacks. Insomnia. Severe anxiety. Social isolation.
Consider for a moment what your life would be like if you suffered every day with just these symptoms.
It’s barely a taste of what veterans with post traumatic stress disorder endure.
Politically, one of the biggest rallying cries for all parties is “help our veterans” yet in many ways, our systems for veterans affairs — especially when it comes to dealing with their health care — fall woefully short. This is due to the combination of a lack of funding, a lack of resources and sometimes, just a lack of effort by the powers that be in Washington to move the dial forward on getting our service members the proper care they deserve and, quite frankly, have earned.
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will not conduct research into whether medical marijuana could help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain, as veterans groups are pushing for the use of the drug as an alternative to opioids and anti-depressants.
"Don't ask, don't tell" is how many veterans have approached health care conversations about marijuana use with the doctors they see from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In October, the Democratic members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee wrote a letter asking VA secretary David Shulkin why his department is not conducting research into medical marijuana.
In the letter, ranking member Tim Walz (Minn.) and the other nine Democratic committee members note that in many states that have medical marijuana programs, cannabis is recommended for PTSD and/or chronic pain — conditions that afflict many of our wounded warriors. The members do not ask Mr. Shulkin to start dispensing medical marijuana from VA facilities. Instead, they ask the secretary why the department is not conducting rigorous research.
WASHINGTON -- Despite pleas from congressmen, veterans and the country's largest veterans service organization asking for research into medical marijuana, the Department of Veterans Affairs won't initiate a study into the drug's effects on post-traumatic stress disorder, VA Secretary David Shulkin wrote in a letter to House Democrats.
The letter, dated Dec. 21 and publicly released Tuesday, was written in response to a request in October from Democrats on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs for the VA to initiate research into the efficacy of medical cannabis. In their request, the Democrats cited the country's opioid crisis and the growing demand from veterans and major service groups that want cannabis available as a treatment option for chronic pain and PTSD.