Saturday, August 31, 2019

Monsanto Emails: ‘Let’s Beat the Shit Out of’ Moms Worried About Cancer-Linked Weedkiller

WASHINGTON – A Monsanto executive said he wanted to “beat the shit out of" a mothers’ group that urged the company to stop selling its Roundup weedkiller, according to internal emails obtained by lawyers for victims who say the pesticide caused their cancer.
The July 2013 emails, reported today by New Food Economy, reveal an exchange between Dr. Daniel Goldstein of Monsanto and two outside consultants about how to respond to an open letter from Moms Across America, a grassroots advocacy group.
The emails were obtained during the discovery process for litigation against Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, over Roundup, which three separate juries have found caused cancer in people.
Moms Across America’s letter to then-Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant cited scientific studies linking glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, to cancer. It also decried the company’s marketing of seeds for genetically modified foods: “We Moms know your Mom would be proud of you if you put the health of the nation first and stopped selling GMO seeds and spraying Glyphosate (Roundup®) and other harsher pesticides,” the letter said.
In the emails, Goldstein wrote that the group was making “a pretty nasty looking set of allegations” and that he had been “arguing for a week to beat the shit out of them.”
Using identical scatological language, one of the consultants – Bruce Chassy, then a professor at the University of Illinois – also advocated attacking the moms’ group. The other consultant – Wayne Parrot, a University of Georgia crop scientist – disagreed: “You can’t beat up mothers, even if they are dumb mothers but you can beat up the organic industry,” which he falsely claimed “paid for and wrote that letter.”
“These ugly emails reveal the utter contempt that Monsanto has for public health and for consumers, including mothers who only want to protect their kids’ health,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Bayer is reeling from its monumental blunder of buying Monsanto, and these emails should remind them that they acquired the company that gave us DDT, Agent Orange and PCBs.”

With Isakson Resignation, Veterans Will Lose Powerful Voice In Washington

Advocates say veterans, especially those living in Georgia, will lose a powerful voice in Washington, D.C. when Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson resigns at the end of the year.
Isakson is currently serving his third consecutive term as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, a position he’s held since 2015.
 “Anytime your senator is the chairman of a committee, especially a big committee that one of the cabinet members has to answer to, you get a lot of extra attention,” said Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS.
Chenelly says Isakson used his position to elevate the concerns of veterans in Georgia and across the country.
He also praised Isakson’s willingness to work across the aisle, calling the Veterans Affairs   committee “the most bipartisan” on Capitol Hill.
Chenelly pointed to Isakson’s recent work on the 2018 MISSION Act, which gives veterans access to healthcare outside of the VA system.
The measure it not without its critics, but Chenelly says it never would have passed in the first place if  Isakson hadn’t been willing to reconcile the concerns of Democrats and Republicans on his committee.
 “He has always tried to make sure that there was respect when the committee worked on very controversial issues, that everybody was heard, that everybody had at least something to gain,” said Adrian Atizado, with the group Disabled American Veterans.

Dioxin one of two chemicals found at industrial site in Verona, Mo.

VERONA, Mo. -- Verona, Mo. is continuing to struggle with local soil and water being contaminated. According to the EPA, recent tests show two dangerous chemicals were found in the ground near a previously contaminated industrial site.
That site sits on the west edge of town and was previously known for making Agent Orange. The soil at the site was contaminated with the chemical dioxin. Dioxin is known to cause cancer and other serious health problems.
The EPA declared the land a "superfund" site and fenced it off. They also spent years cleaning dioxin from the soil and removing contaminated equipment.
Some still fear their wells are land are still contaminated.
More than a 100 people came to the high school this evening to hear about the clean up efforts by the EPA.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Health Status of Female and Male Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans: A Population-Based Study.

The health of women Gulf War (deployed) and Gulf Era (nondeployed) veterans is understudied; although most studies examining the health effects of deployment to the Gulf War adjust for gender in multivariate analyses, gender-specific prevalence and effect measures are not routinely reported. The National Academy of Medicine recommended that the Department of Veterans Affairs assess gender-specific health conditions in large cohort studies of Gulf War veterans.
Data from this study come from the follow-up study of a national cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era veterans. This study was conducted between 2012 and 2014, and was the second follow-up of a population-based cohort of Gulf War and Gulf Era veterans that began in 1995. Measures included self-reported medical conditions and frequency of doctor visits as well as validated screening instruments for mental health conditions.
Overall, female veterans (both Gulf War and Era) reported poorer health than their male counterparts as measured by the prevalence of self-reported disease. The top five prevalent conditions in both Gulf War and Gulf Era veterans were migraine, hypertension, major depressive disorder, arthritis, and dermatitis. Female Gulf War veterans were found to have a higher prevalence of disease than male Gulf Era veterans.
Women veterans, particularly deployed veterans, from this era have significant medical needs that may justify increased outreach from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our findings highlight the importance of asking about military service, particularly for women veterans, in the clinical setting, both in the Department of Veterans Affairs and in the private sector.

Local coalition lobbies against aerial spraying

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners plan to send a letter to Pope Resources and state agencies that oversee herbicide spraying to ask for alternative methods and to ensure adequate testing is in place to protect watersheds.
County residents continue to push public officials both at the county level and at the city of Port Townsend after aerial sprays that included glyphosate were applied by helicopter on private property last week.
Glyphosate is the active chemical in Roundup and the subject of a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto. States such as California list it as a cancer-causing chemical, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency won’t approve those labels for the product.
 “We have taken a position of wanting to work with our constituents,” County Commission Chair Kate Dean said in her response to public comments Monday. “There’s an upward pressure that has to keep moving.
 “We are just another version of you in that we try to use our collective voice to apply upward pressure.”
Pope Resources legally applied herbicide at multiple sites in the county last week with a chemical approved by the state Department of Agriculture and permitted by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Japanese researcher helps Vietnam tackle AO/dioxin-related health issues

Tokyo (VNA) – A Japanese researcher has just announced a project on training Vietnamese health workers in addressing problems related to Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin chemical that was sprayed on the country during the war.
Japan's national broadcasting organization NHK quoted Professor Kido Teruhiko from the Kanazawa University and officials from the Japan International Cooperation Agency as saying the project will last for three years in the Vietnamese central province of Binh Dinh’s Phu Cat district.
Kido unveiled the detection of a high level of AO/dioxin contained in milk of nursing mothers in the area, adding that the rate of local underweight children is also high.
As such, he has planned to train the health workers to check the dioxin level in breast milk and provide healthcare consultations for local mothers.
The professor is experienced in studying AO/dioxin impact. He hopes to use results of his research to improve the well-being of Vietnamese people.
The US army sprayed some 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, 61 percent of which was Agent Orange containing 366 kilograms of dioxin, over nearly one quarter of the total area of South Vietnam from 1961 to 1971.

20 Years Ago, Route 66 State Park Rose From The Ashes Of Times Beach

Marilyn Leistner, the last mayor of Times Beach, gazed at a grass-covered mound, the size of four football fields, where the remains of her town are buried.
 “Everything that was near and dear to the people in this community. All the houses and the city equipment. Everything that they didn't take with them that was left in their homes is buried here,” she said, softly.
The “town mound” isn’t in the brochures, but it is the most unusual landmark at Route 66 State Park, which opened 20 years ago on the site of Times Beach.
The park is next to the Meramec River, just off Interstate 44 about 17 miles southwest of St. Louis. The creation of the 400-acre park was the final chapter of an environmental disaster that destroyed Leistner’s close-knit community of 2,000 people.
Times Beach made national headlines in December 1982 when state and federal health officials declared the town uninhabitable because its unpaved roadways were polluted with dioxin, a toxic chemical.
In February 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a buyout of Times Beach. Structures were bulldozed and buried. The contaminated soil was scooped up and incinerated. The cleanup took 14 years and cost $110 million.
Hundreds of homes are in the landfill, plus four churches, assorted businesses — even the Times Beach water tower, Leistner said. She would like to see a plaque placed at the mound to commemorate the town and its history.
Leistner, 81, believes it’s her duty to continue telling the story of Times Beach to reporters, researchers and area schoolchildren now several generations removed from the catastrophe.
 “The whole country needs to know what happened here, so it doesn't happen again,’’ Leistner said.

EPA plans public meeting about 'Agent Orange' Superfund cleanup site in Verona, Missouri

An industrial site in the small town of Verona, Missouri that once manufactured the Vietnam War-era herbicide Agent Orange remains a concern to local officials, who fear the site may be polluting water wells in the area.
The 180-acre Syntex tract on the west edge of town was declared an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Cleanup site in 1983, and tons of dioxin-contaminated soil and equipment were removed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Dioxin was a byproduct of manufacturing Agent Orange, and later from the production of the antibacterial chemical hexachlorophene at the site. Now, Verona mayor pro tem Claude Carr said he fears water wells are being contaminated by chemicals he believes are coming from the site.The Verona Well Field is located in Battle Creek, Michigan. Site contamination impacted three aquifers and 27 drinking water wells over a 160-acre area. EPA determined that the sources of contamination were three 1-acre facilities. The Thomas Solvent Company used two facilities for storage, blending and containerization of solvents; the Grand Trunk Western Railroad operated a paint shop on the third facility. Leakage from containers and underground storage tanks, spillage, and direct dumping contaminated the soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.

Friday, August 23, 2019

It's not the Agent Orange - it's "the normal response to war - acute stress."

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 23, 1985
"The Royal Commissioner, Justice Evatt, laid the blame for the veterans' problems on the normal response to war - acute stress."
CANBERRA: The Agent Orange Royal Commission has made a clear finding there is no link between chemical defoliants sprayed over Vietnam and the health problems suffered by veterans of the war.
In a nine-volume 3,000-page report tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday, the Royal Commissioner, Justice Evatt, laid the blame for the veterans' problems on the normal response to war - acute stress. The Commission on the Use and Effects of Chemical Agents on Australian Personnel in Vietnam, to give it its full title, was set up soon after the Hawke Government was elected.
The Veterans Affairs Minister, Senator Gietzelt, told Parliament yesterday the Government accepted the report's central finding, but criticised its "extravagant and unnecessary " language.
"The Royal Commissioner, Justice Evatt, laid the blame for the veterans' problems on the normal response to war - acute stress."
The report said its not guilty finding "is not a matter for regret but for rejoicing ... This is good news, and it is the Commission's fervent hope it will be shouted from the rooftops. "

Following Hurricane Harvey, Baylor studies Disaster Research Response mode

For the past two years, at the request of residents, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and around the Houston area have been studying the health impacts on the population following Hurricane Harvey.
Dr. Cheryl Walker, professor, and director of the Center for Precision and Environmental Health at Baylor College of Medicine said they were able to determine what each person tested was exposed to and how they were affected when the flooding subsided.
"Even though dioxin was measured in the flood, unless people were actually putting their hand and their wristband in those floodwaters, they would not have been necessarily exposed, and that's what we saw," said Walker.
She said they asked about people physical and mental health following Hurricane Harvey.
"We saw there was no detectable dioxin exposures in any of our cohorts, but we did see, for example, high levels of exposure to pesticides and some other industrial chemicals," said Walker.
She said the study also found a big variation in exposure due to location.

VA Provides Interim Guidance On The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Of 2019

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently issued Circular 26-19-23 to provide interim guidance on the provisions of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (Blue Water Act) that affect VA’s Loan Guaranty Service. The amendments made by the Blue Water Act will apply to loans that are closed on or after January 1, 2020.
The Blue Water Act increases the maximum VA guaranty amounts for purchase, construction, and cash-out refinance loans that exceed the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit. VA advises that for loans above $144,000, the maximum amount of the guaranty will be 25 percent of the loan amount, regardless of the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit. The Circular provides examples of how to calculate the maximum guaranty available for a loan in situations in which the veteran does and does not have the full entitlement available. (VA notes that for Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans, it will continue to guaranty 25 percent of the loan amount without regard to the veteran’s available entitlement or the Freddie Mac conforming loan limit.)

How do we get rid of plastic waste without that toxic taste? This engineer has the answer

IPOH, Malaysia August 22 — An environmental engineering expert has suggested that the government consider the “fast pyrolysis” technology as a disposal method for the country’s plastic waste.
Environmental engineer Frank Wilson, who has 40 years experience in water and waste treatment, said “fast pyrolysis” technology does not emit any hazardous toxins such as dioxin, which can be found in other technologies which involve incineration.
 “Unlike the technologies which involve incineration that requires oxygen to burn and produce dioxin, fast pyrolysis does not involve any burning as it is the process of heating organic matter in the absence of oxygen and making it decompose to produce flue gas, liquid oil, diesel and biochar (fertiliser),” he told Malay Mail.
 “Normal pyrolysis operates at 450 degrees Celsius, but fast pyrolysis operates at the temperature of 950 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, all organics vaporise and virtually no ash is formed.
 “The condensed gases include naphtha and high-quality diesel,” he added.
His comments follow an announcement by the government recently that they are looking at turning plastic trash in the country into alternative fuel and source for producing cement.
Wilson said that technology also produces less flue gas compared to direct combustion in the way of incineration.
He added that said once the pyrolysis process begins no external heating is required and the remaining gas can be used to produce electricity and sold to the grid.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Former VA physician charged with the deaths of three veterans

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a former Veterans Affairs pathologist with the deaths of three veterans and a scheme to cover up years of drug and alcohol use on the job that caused him to misread thousands of fluid and tissue samples of ill patients.
Robert Morris Levy was indicted on three counts of involuntary manslaughter and 28 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and false statements to law enforcement officials. The Department of Veterans Affairs has told members of Congress and investigators that Levy was responsible for at least 15 deaths and the inappropriate treatment of many other patients.
During 12 years as chief pathologist here and in leadership roles on multiple oversight boards and medical committees, Levy, 53, read almost 34,000 pa­thol­ogy slides of aging veterans. He had their lives in his hands, prosecutors said in unsealing their indictment. But his addiction and attempts to cover it up even after VA paid for a lengthy inpatient treatment program led to multiple deaths and other life-threatening trauma for veterans, they said.
 “Diagnoses rendered by Levy and the information he entered in patients’ medical records largely influenced decisions about the course of medical treatment” for patients at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, the indictment said.

Senator asking questions about Army lab shutdown

It’s been almost a month since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shut down an Army infectious disease research lab, and a local lawmaker wants answers.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, sent a letter on Friday to acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, wanting to know how the shutdown of the Fort Detrick, Maryland, facility will affect its ongoing work and whether anyone was exposed to a dangerous agent as a result of the “deficiencies” the CDC found in a June inspection.
 “I was disappointed to have learned of this situation through press reports, rather than from the Army directly, even though it happened several weeks ago,” Van Hollen wrote.
USAMRIID received a cease and desist letter from the CDC on July 18, a spokeswoman confirmed to Military Times on Friday.
Violations with the lab’s wastewater treatment system prompted the shutdown, she said, leading to a suspension from the Federal Select Agents Program, which allows facilities to handle biological and chemical agents.
One of those is Ebola, for which USAMRIID has been working to develop a vaccine. In March the lab received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to inject monkeys with live virus in order to test the effectiveness of treatments.

Do you use civilian medical services? Do they know you're a veteran? They should.

While the VA healthcare system sees about  7 million veteran patients a year, that leaves 13 million in the civilian healthcare system. And, according to the Warrior Centric Health Foundation, those civilian facilities need to be more aware of the needs of veteran patients.
"Warrior Centric Healthcare Foundation's purpose is primarily to ensure that America delivers on its promise if you will," said Warrior Centric Healthcare Foundation Chair Evelyn Lewis. "That promise is that we would care for those who have borne the battle. It's an adapted statement from Abraham Lincoln's words."
The 501(c)(3) was established in 2013 when Lewis and a research team discovered the problem with veteran identification in the civilian healthcare system.
"The largest misconception among the general public, and indeed those that run hospitals in other healthcare facilities, is that all veterans get their care at the VA. That is not true," Lewis said.
And the way that civilian doctors typically identify veterans has some major flaws, according to Lewis.

Why legal principles on war and environment matter

Oh, the army tried some fancy stuff to bring them to their knees. Like Agent Orange defoliants, to kill the brush and trees. We’d hike all day on jungle trails through clouds of poison spray. And they never told me then, that it would hurt my health today. (Agent Orange Song—Country JoeMcDonald)
Many of us remember shocking images of environmental destruction from conflicts across the globe; from the spraying of the poisonous chemical Agent Orange over the forests in Viet Nam in the 1970s, to the burning oil wells in Kuwait in the 1990s.
Sadly, Viet Nam and Kuwait were not isolated cases. Armed conflicts around the world, and their aftermath, continue to impact the health and well-being of people and the environment through pollution, infrastructure damage and the collapse of governance. The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict as well as the burning of oil fields by the Dae’sh terrorist group are poignant recent examples.
Since 1999, the United Nations Environment Programme has conducted over twenty post-conflict assessments, using state-of-the-art science to determine the environmental impacts of war. From Afghanistan to Kosovo to the Gaza Strip and Sudan—armed conflict causes significant harm to the environment and the communities that depend on natural resources.

“No Comment”: VA Takes No Action to Spare Veterans From a Harsh Trump Immigration Policy

Top officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs declined to step in to try to exempt veterans and their families from a new immigration rule that would make it far easier to deny green cards to low-income immigrants, according to documents obtained by ProPublica under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Department of Defense, on the other hand, worked throughout 2018 to minimize the new policy’s impact on military families.
As a result, the regulation, which goes into effect in October, applies just as strictly to veterans and their families as it does to the broader public, while active-duty members of the military and reserve forces face a relaxed version of the rule.
Under the so-called public charge regulation, which became final last week, immigrants seeking permanent legal status in the U.S. will be subject to a complex new test to determine if they will rely on public benefits. Among the factors that immigration officers will consider are whether the applicant has frequently used public benefits in the past, their household income, education level and credit scores.
Active-duty military members can accept public benefits without jeopardizing their future immigration status; veterans and their families, however, cannot

Sunday, August 18, 2019

ESPN documentary shows Rocky Bleier’s emotional return to Vietnam

Rocky Bleier thought he made peace with what happened in a rice paddy in Vietnam on Aug. 20, 1969.
What the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back didn’t have though was closure until a trip back there last year.
Bleier’s visit to Vietnam — the first time he had been back since being injured in battle — is the subject of ESPN’s “The Return”, which debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN2. A shorter version began airing Saturday on “SportsCenter” as part of its weekly SC Featured series.
 “It was a different catharsis than I anticipated,” Bleier said. “Unlike the average veteran who returned after service and had to repress those feelings, I came back to a high-profile industry and became a story. In some regards it was cathartic (during his playing days) that I had to talk about it.”
Bleier’s story remains one of perseverance. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 16th round in 1968 only to be drafted into the U.S. Army during his rookie season. Three months after being deployed, Bleier was shot through his thigh and suffered a grenade blast where shrapnel severely damaged his right foot and both legs when his “Charlie Company” unit was ambushed during a recovery operation in the Hiep Duc Valley.
Of the 33 soldiers in the infantry unit, 25 were injured and four killed.
Watch “The Return”, which debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN2

Disrespect: Deliveries Can’t Be Made To Mail Box With Legally Park Car

Neither snow nor rain nor a parked car?
A Willow Springs woman said the U.S. Postal Service isn’t delivering important packages because cars are blocking her mailbox.
The postal service said the cars need to move.
The problem? It’s a legal parking spot.
Even with a car parked there, it’s possible to open the mailbox. But the USPS office told the customer it’s against their policy. But CBS 2 has learned that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best practice.
Patty Gioia depends on regular deliveries from the USPS because of medications for her husband.
 “He is a Vietnam veteran, two time cancer survivor due to Agent Orange,” Gioia said.
When his regular delivery of medications didn’t show up in their mailbox, she called the Willow Springs postmaster.
 “I said ‘well my husband needs his medication.’ And she said ‘well your mailbox is blocked.'”

Picking our poison: The trouble with pesticides

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “pesticides” include products developed to kill anything considered a pest — insects, worms, plants, fungi, and rodents. It’s worth examining how much risk to the planet and our health we are willing to pose for the elimination of a plant or bug.
The market for these chemicals grew after World War II. Their indiscriminate use was marked by a hopeful naiveté that chemical application targeting dandelions, beetles and other "pests" would do away with arduous yard work without consequences.
Then, as now, Americans believed that “if a product could be sold, it must be safe, (and) embraced the new chemical products for the home and yard,” according to historian Virginia Jenkins. She quotes a 1947 article that stated DDT was considered “effective, yet safe to use.” By the 1950s, “(advertisements) no longer told the consumer which chemicals were in the products; the consumer was simply assured that the weed killer was easy to use and effective.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Wait continues on additions to VA’s Agent Orange connected illnesses

In March, Veterans Affairs officials said they may have a decision on adding four new diseases to the list of Agent Orange presumptive benefits eligibility by the start of the summer. Five months later, they still haven’t moved ahead.
 “They told us they were ready to go, and we haven’t gone anywhere,” said Rick Weidman, executive director for policy at Vietnam Veterans of America. “It feels like they just don’t want to spend any money on this.”
Vietnam veteran advocates feel a sense of urgency because the the youngest who served there are in their early 60s.
Last November, researchers from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced they had compiled “sufficient evidence” linking hypertension, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinson’s-like symptoms with exposure to Agent Orange and other defoliants used in Vietnam and surrounding countries in the 1960s and 1970s.

VA Home Loan Limits to Disappear, Fees to Rise

Veterans and military service members will have more borrowing power but will pay slightly higher fees when they use VA home loans in 2020.
The changes are part of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, signed into law in June and effective Jan. 1, 2020. The new law eliminates VA loan limits and increases the VA funding fee. It also provides disability benefits to certain Vietnam War veterans and their children.
VA loan limits are the maximum loan amount the Department of Veterans Affairs can guarantee without borrowers making a down payment. VA funding fees are one-time fees borrowers pay in lieu of mortgage insurance to help cover the government’s costs for backing the loans. If a borrower defaults, the VA repays the lender a portion of the loan.

This generation's Agent Orange? Congressman Ruiz's bill aims to aid vets exposed to 'burn pits'

They called it "Iraqi crud," Marine Corps veteran Patrick Keplinger remembers.
When he was deployed in Iraq in 2004 and 2006, toxic smoke emanating from the "burn pits" that U.S. forces use to destroy everything from plastics and batteries to medical waste and animal carcasses seeped into where his unit lived, worked and ate.
"When I first got to Iraq, we got sick, they told us it was part of the process. Huge big plumes of smoke sat heavy in the air," he said. "It just became part of the scenery." 
Keplinger, who now works as a field representative for Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, is one of thousands of veterans who believe that their health has been affected by exposure to burn pits and have struggled to convince the Department of Defense and the Veterans Health Administration to take action.

VA Issues Interim Guidance Regarding Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

Indicate Further Guidance Regarding Bifurcated Appraisals to Come
On August 9, the Veterans Administration (VA) issued interim guidance regarding the implementation of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (the “Act”), and specifically changes to the VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program. In the interim guidance, the VA addresses the provision of the Act allowing for VA panel appraisers to perform bifurcated appraisals using third party inspectors. Specifically, the VA states:
The Act amends 38 U.S.C. § 3731(b) by authorizing VA to establish policies that enable VA-designated appraisers to rely on third-parties for appraisal related information. VA Fee Panel appraisers are not authorized to use third-party information before policy is established by VA. Any VA Fee Panel appraiser found not personally reviewing the subject property is in violation of VA policy and Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and may result in disciplinary action, including removal from the panel. (Emphasis added)
Until the VA promulgates interim guidance on how VA Fee Panel appraisers should proceed on third party inspection data, they should not use third parties. Once ASA receives the interim guidance, we will provide additional information.
To read the full interim guidance document, KEEP READING

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

South Dakota retreat to help veterans, first responders

DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) — “Where the hills heal the heroes.” That’s the motto for and
mission of Sacred Mountain Retreat Center, a nonprofit set to open outside of Deadwood in short order, meeting a tall mission.
“The goal of Sacred Mountain Retreat Center is to bring our military, first responders, and their families to South Dakota for a time of respite and healing,” Sacred Mountain Retreat Center Founder and President Jerrid Geving told the Black Hills Pioneer. “To create an opportunity to strengthen and renew each individual, and the family, as a whole. It’s a place to connect with others at an all-inclusive lodge in the beautiful Black Hills.” 

Geving, who is originally from Baker, Montana, recently purchased the retreat center after his family celebrated his grandmother’s 80th birthday at the facility and he fell in love with the place and its potential.
 “I said to my folks, ‘Why don’t we buy that retreat center in Deadwood and turn it into a healing center for veterans and first responders?’” Geving recalled. “I’ve always had a very strong passion for our military, for our first responders, and I always wanted to someday give back. I didn’t know how, but I knew I would, give back to the men and women who have served our country.”
Once he and his family made up their minds, the retreat center purchase moved swiftly; the Gevings began negotiations on the property in September 2018 and closed on the sale in February.
Sacred Mountain Retreat Center is a 10,000-square-foot lodge located off Highway 385 outside of Deadwood. It sits on 65 acres, bordered by Forest Service on all three sides. There are eight bedrooms in the main lodge, as well as a one-bedroom suite.

Exposure to dispersant raised likelihood of neurological symptoms in Deepwater Horizon responders: study

U.S. Coast Guard members who were exposed to oil while responding to the
Deepwater Horizon catastrophe were twice as likely to experience headaches and dizziness as those who were not, according to a new study by researchers with the Uniformed Services University, a health science university in Maryland that is run by the federal government.
And those who were exposed to dispersants as well as oil were significantly more likely to report acute neurological symptoms than those who were exposed only to the oil, said Jennifer Rusiecki, one of the study's authors and a professor in the university's department of preventive medicine and biostatistics.
Previous studies have examined lung and skin irritation in relationship to exposure to oil and dispersants. But the new study provides a glimpse of acute neurological effects stemming from exposure to the oil and dispersants. 

VA updates the disability rating schedule for infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies

As of Aug. 11, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) updated portions of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD, or Rating Schedule) that evaluate infectious diseases, immune disorders and nutritional deficiencies.
The collection of federal regulations used by the Veterans Benefits Administration helps claims processors evaluate the severity of disabilities and assign disability ratings.
“VA is in the process of updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD to more accurately reflect modern medicine and provide Veterans with clearer rating decisions,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “By updating the rating schedule, Veterans receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge of their condition.”

Pending law could help vets get treatment at the VA for toxic exposure

Retired Lt. Col. Susan Lukas looked no further than her own personal experience in the Air Force Reserve when weighing the benefits of a new bill that could be approved by lawmakers later this year.
Now a legislative director for the Reserve Organization of America, she was on active duty at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. At the time, Lukas never considered the toxins that she was breathing in during the terrorist attack.
 “As time went on, I started having a problem with my throat and started getting tests. What happened is I ultimately had lung damage from 9/11,” she said.
In the months following the attack, Lukas said she had problems with breathing and coughing, but wrote it off as part of flu season. It took several years and a worsening of her symptoms to put the two together. Had documentation of the exposure been in her medical records, Lukas believes diagnosis and proper treatment could have come more quickly.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Everyone is entitled their own opinion...

"These lawsuits in search of ill-informed juries and liberal/green judges will only needlessly raise the price of these chemicals essential to our agriculture today and cause great financial harm to your local farmer friends.
I’m reminded of the Agent Orange fiasco where all sorts of maladies affecting military veterans of Vietnam are blamed on spraying of Agent Orange.
It is interesting that the same chemicals used in the U.S. agricultural industry at that time had no effect on the death/disease rate for those persons applying the same chemical as used in Vietnam when used domestically."
Dick Trail

EPA won’t approve warning labels for Roundup chemical

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration says it won’t approve warning labels for products that contain glyphosate, a move aimed at California as it fights one of the world’s largest agriculture companies about the potentially cancer-causing chemical.
California requires warning labels on glyphosate products — widely known as the weed killer Roundup — because the International Agency for Research on Cancer has said it is “probably carcinogenic.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagrees, saying its research shows the chemical poses no risks to public health. California has not enforced the warning label for glyphosate because Monsanto, the company that makes Roundup, sued and a federal judge temporarily blocked the warning labels last year until the lawsuit could be resolved.
“It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement. “We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy.”

Legal Petition Seeks Ban on Plastic Pollution From Petrochemical Plants

Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 270 community and conservation organizations to file a legal petition in July that demands the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt strict new water-pollution limits for industrial plants that create plastic.
Plastic plants discharged 128 million pounds of pollutants into U.S. waterways last year, their operators reported to the EPA ― including 77,859 pounds of the most toxic pollutants.
The petition calls for a total ban on the discharge of plastic pollution and detectable levels of the most dangerous toxic pollutants, including dioxin and benzene. As the fossil fuel industry increases plastic production and builds dozens of new facilities around the country, the petition says updated regulations are needed to protect waterways and public health.
 “These relentless plastic barons can no longer deny the impact producing plastic has on oceans, waterways, wildlife, and even public health,” said Development Associate Stepph Sharpe. “They must be held responsible for their past, current, and future plans to put life in the crosshairs in the name of a detrimental product that has many sustainable alternatives.”

Ban toxic tampons

More than 20,000 people have signed a petition calling for a ban on the sale of toxic personal hygiene products such as tampons and baby nappies.
The online petition launched in June and is currently attracting an average rate of 2,000 signatures a week.
The petition is demanding that supermarkets stop selling personal hygiene products that have been bleached with chlorine dioxide, as they may contain chemicals that are harmful to human health. These products include well-known tampon and diaper brands, as well as incontinence pads and other tissue products such as napkins.
The chlorine dioxide bleaching process used to make these products releases dioxins – a group of compounds that have been linked to cancer and infertility as well as other health disorders.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


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

August 7, 2019
Jacksonville, Florida
Contact: Char Miller

August 9, 2019
West Palm Beach, Florida
Jerry Klein - (561) 602 8414

August 16, 2019
Brownsville, Kentucky
Contact :David Cowherd

October 19, 2019
Portland, Oregon
Contact: Steve Carr

October 26, 2019
Princeton, West Virginia
Contact: Roger Williams

Monsanto’s Roundup Linked to Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Some of the world’s most popular pesticides have been linked to the development of cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Monsanto’s Roundup, in particular, has been the focus of several lawsuits over recent months.
The Roundup formula contains glyphosate, which has been categorized as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). In one study, scientists found that exposure to glyphosate increased the risk of NHL by 41 percent.
Roundup also contains surfactants, which facilitate the absorption of glyphosate. Research indicates that any exposure to glyphosate, including contacting, inhaling, and ingesting it, can be dangerous.
Glyphosate Has Been Linked to Several Kinds of Cancer
WHO research suggests that Roundup’s particular formula of glyphosate and surfactants can damage DNA in such a way that it increases the likelihood of developing tumors in general and NHL specifically. NHL refers to cancer that starts in the lymphocytes, which are the body’s white blood cells. There are several different kinds of NHL, so the prognosis and the most effective approach to treatment depend on the circumstances.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Agent Orange report being finalized

A draft report for Agent Orange sampling and analysis conducted in November 2018 is still being finalized by the Region 9 division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to Nick Lee, Guam Environmental Protection Agency spokesman.
Once this is completed, GEPA will review and either revise or release to the public, Lee added.
GEPA and USEPA collected samples from five sample subsites in areas that were believed to have been exposed to Agent Orange, according to a November 2018 news release.
"An area off of NCS road, along Route 3 and in the vicinity of Potts Junction and a pipe line tie-in located in Tiyan were among the first areas to be sampled. USEPA’s on-scene coordinator, Harry L. Allen, and USEPA Superfund Technical Assistance and Response Team contractors from Weston Solutions Inc. performed the sampling," the release stated.

Texas Tech’s Vietnam Center & Archive oral histories to be more accessible

READ THE STORY Texas Tech University’s Vietnam Center & Archive, home to the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collection of information on the Vietnam War, is looking to make that collection more accessible to researchers around the world.
Thanks to a $95,740 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Vietnam Center & Archive (VNCA) will now be able to transcribe, edit and publish online its entire backlogged collection of oral history interviews conducted by the VNCA Oral History Project, which includes a diverse array of Vietnam veterans and their family members.
 “In addition to the millions of pages of documents in our collections, the interviews we conduct as part of our Oral History Project are essential to a better and more complete understanding of the Vietnam War,” said Steve Maxner, director of the VNCA. “Our interviews provide a human face to the conflict, offering insight into the emotional and psychological costs of war that researchers cannot get from traditional government and military documents. This level of comprehension is critical, not just for students and scholars, but for military and government officials who make the policies and ultimate decisions that send our military men and women into harm’s way. This generous grant from the NEH will allow us to transcribe these interviews, providing much easier access to them and the important information they contain.”