Saturday, January 25, 2014


Retiree Assistance Office - RAO BULLETIN, 1 December 2010:

“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has told the Da Nang People's Committee that it plans to spend US$34 million to rid the city's airport of Agent Orange. The two-year project is intended to ensure that plants can again grow in contaminated earth.  Former military airports in central Binh Dinh Province's Phu Cat District and southern Dong Nai Province's Bien Hoa District will be next on the list for detoxification, says USAID.
Phu Cat Air Base
During the past three years, with funding provided by various American non-governmental organizations, the agency has approved spending of US$21 million to deal with dioxin contamination in the country, according to Da Nang City's Department of Foreign Affairs. The $21 million total includes $16 million to be spent on dioxin clean-up of the area and $2 million to be spent on assessing environmental impacts as well as exploring technical solutions to the problem. The remaining $3 million have been earmarked to help improve the lives of the city's Agent Orange victims and disadvantaged people.”

Bien Hoa Air Base

Da Nang Air Base, 1965
 “Dioxin-contaminated earth will be scooped up and burned in tubes at temperatures of more than 350 Celsius degrees, according to the agency. From 72 to 80 million liters or defoliants were sprayed over Vietnamese forests during the war, including the highly toxic Agent Orange, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Da Nang, Bien Hoa and Phu Cat airports are home to some of the highest dioxin concentrations in the contamination of the environment. Today, dioxin levels at the airport are up to 400 times higher than internationally accepted levels. The affected zone has been sealed off from the public.”

Oh, what a treat! Hundreds of millions of dollars as restitution for the Enemy.
I guess we don't have to take care of our own soldiers, who wrote a blank check to the
Government, up to and including their lives. And some people actually wonder out loud why our Country is going to Hell in a hand basket!

 !!! Author’s caveat: What follows may be upsetting to those brave souls who fought this War in Viet Nam and, now, fight to attain recognition and benefits they earned from the U.S. Government. !!!

*author’s note: I hi-lighted a few paragraphs to point out our Nation’s stance on Agent Orange, a known carcinogenic. If our Government were to admit the catastrophic outcome of spraying that chemical on the Viet Namese people and on their own Soldiers, they would, indeed, be liable for a lot more than they currently accept. This is an obvious attempt to down-play the role of Agent Orange in the health of all affected.
Vietnam Agent Orange Cleanup Started By U.S.
By MIKE IVES 08/08/12 06:04 AM ET
In this photo taken Aug. 7, 2012, Vo Hong Vu 
tries to draw some animals at
rehabilitation center in Danang, Vietnam. 
(AP Photo/Maika Elan)

DANANG, Vietnam — Vo Duoc fights back tears while sharing the news that broke his heart: A few days ago he received test results confirming he and 11 family members have elevated levels of dioxin lingering in their blood. The family lives in a two-story house near a former U.S. military base in Danang where the defoliant Agent Orange was stored during the Vietnam War, which ended nearly four decades ago. Duoc, 58, sells steel for a living and has diabetes, while his wife battles breast cancer and their daughter has remained childless after suffering repeated miscarriages. For years, Duoc thought the ailments were unrelated, but after seeing the blood tests he now suspects his family unwittingly ingested dioxin from Agent Orange-contaminated fish, vegetables and well water.
Dioxin, a persistent chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, has seeped into Vietnam's soils and watersheds, creating a lasting war legacy that remains a thorny issue between the former foes. Washington has been slow to respond, but on Thursday the U.S. for the first time will begin cleaning up dioxin from Agent Orange that was stored at the former military base, now part of Danang's airport.
 "It's better late than never that the U.S. government is cleaning up the environment for our children," Duoc said in Danang, surrounded by family members sitting on plastic stools. "They have to do as much as possible and as quickly as possible."
The $43 million project begins as Vietnam and the U.S. forge closer ties to boost trade and counter China's rising influence in the disputed South China Sea.
Although the countries' economic and military ties are blossoming, progress on addressing the dioxin legacy has been slow. Washington still disputes a claim by Hanoi that between 3 million to 4 million Vietnamese were affected by toxic chemicals sprayed by U.S. planes during the war to eliminate jungle cover for guerrilla fighters, arguing that the actual number is far lower and other environmental factors are to blame for the health issues. That position irks Vietnamese, who say the United States maintains a double standard in acknowledging the consequences of Agent Orange. The U.S. has given billions of dollars in disability payments to American servicemen who developed illnesses associated with dioxin after exposure to the defoliant during the Vietnam War.
 In 2004, a group of Vietnamese citizens filed suit in a U.S. court against companies that produced the chemical, but the case was dismissed and the Supreme Court declined to take it up.
Until a few years ago, Washington took a defensive position whenever Agent Orange was raised because no one had determined how much dioxin remained in Vietnam's soil and watersheds, and the U.S. worried about potential liabilities, said Susan Hammond, director of the War Legacies Project, a U.S. nonprofit organization that mainly focuses on the Agent Orange legacy from the Vietnam War.
"There was a lot of the blame game going on, and it led nowhere," Hammond said by telephone from Vermont. "But now at least progress is being made."
 Over the past five years, Congress has appropriated about $49 million for environmental remediation and about $11 million to help people living with disabilities in Vietnam regardless of cause. Experts have identified three former U.S. air bases – in Danang in central Vietnam and the southern locations of Bien Hoa and Phu Cat – as hotspots where Agent Orange was mixed, stored and loaded onto planes.
The U.S. military dumped some 20 million gallons (75 million liters) of Agent Orange and other herbicides on about a quarter of former South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.
The defoliant decimated about 5 million acres (2 million hectares) of forest – roughly the size of Massachusetts – and another 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of crops.
 The war ended on April 30, 1975, when northern Communist forces seized control of Saigon, the U.S.-backed former capital of South Vietnam. The country was then reunified under a one-party Communist government. Following years of poverty and isolation, Vietnam shook hands with the U.S. in 1995 and normalized diplomatic relations.
Since then, the relationship has flourished and the two countries have become important trading partners. Military ties have also strengthened, with Vietnam looking to the U.S. amid rising tensions with China in the disputed South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves and is crossed by vital shipping lanes. Although Washington remains a vocal critic of Vietnam's human rights record, it also views the country as a key ally in its push to re-engage militarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. says maintaining peace and freedom of navigation in the sea is in its national interest.
 The Agent Orange issue has continued to blight the U.S.-Vietnam relationship because dioxin can linger in soils and at the bottom of lakes and rivers for generations, entering the food supply through the fat of fish and other animals.
Vietnam's Ministry of Defense and the U.S. now plan to excavate 73,000 cubic meters (2.5 million cubic feet) of soil from the airport and heat it to a high temperature in storage tanks until the dioxin is removed. The project is expected to be completed in four years.
Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Washington-based Aspen Institute, said Thursday's start "marks the coming together of our two countries to achieve a practical solution to dioxin contamination."
His organization coordinates the U.S-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin, which connects prominent American and Vietnamese scientists, health experts and former officials.
The group in May said that $450 million is needed to clean up dioxin hot spots, provide services to people with disabilities, and repair damaged landscapes across Vietnam over the next five years.
The U.S. is rolling out a $9 million project to address disabilities in Vietnam through 2015, but it continues to dispute Vietnam's claim that dioxin has caused health problems there. It remains unclear whether the U.S. will clean up all of Vietnam's dioxin, and how much it will allocate in the long term for people who claim to be Agent Orange victims.

A national action plan that Vietnam's government released in June lays out goals for dealing with Agent Orange, but does not give a price tag. Every penny counts for Nguyen Thi Hien, who directs three rehabilitation and vocational training centers for 150 children and young adults with disabilities in Danang on a budget of roughly 100 million dong ($5,000) per month. The children, busy drawing and making plastic flowers that are sold to raise funds, suffer from a range of physical and mental ailments that Hien says are linked to dioxin.
 Vo Duoc, the steel salesman, will travel to the capital, Hanoi, next month to receive treatment for his diabetes. But he says he's more concerned about what will happen to his six grandchildren, who haven't yet been tested for dioxin.
"They had nothing to do with the war," Duoc said. "But I live in fear that they'll test positive like me."


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Zionism too radical for the Mideast?

-A cursory look at what the hang up is between Israel and Palestine.

Sometimes it’s good to start with visual aids, and, in this case, a few maps of the area might shed a little more light on the subject. For those who might not know, Israel hasn’t always existed. It got going after World War II, and was recognized as a Nation State in 1949. The land they occupied from the start was ceded to them by Great Britain, as the Brit’s were winding down their Colonialism across the Globe.

Since Israel was chartered by the United Nations in 1949, we’ll start with a map that shows the land mass prior to 1949.

Now look at what happened to the Palestinians’ land...

The detail on this map is fuzzy, but this map clearly shows how Palestine has shrunk dramatically since the inception of the State of Israel, and the arbitrary expansion of Jordan. Other than the Palestinians, no Nation in the Mideast has fallen prey to such an obvious land grab.

Has this history been manipulated by the recognized Jewish radicalism that is called “Zionism”? I am simply an on-looker in this turn of events. I have watched Israel grow, get threatened and attacked, and survived through the Arab and Islamic opposition to Israel’s very existence. As anything vaguely resembling peace has eluded the World’s best Diplomats, there certainly must be a factor that has yet to be addressed. This begs the question, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

There is one common denominator for Israel and the Arab States. The fact that each and every Nation State in the Mideast and Near East is a Church State. Perhaps we aren’t supposed to ask these types of questions and take a serious look at, not the differences, but rather the similarities of all the Nation States in this Region. But, it seems to me that religion is the tie that might bond all involved. As a serious caveat, I would suggest strongly that the “Super Powers” stay the Hell out of the solution. Absolutely nothing they have tried has worked, is working, and never will work.

If you go back and take a look at the maps, wouldn't it be nice if Great Britain came forward and apologized for creating the initial mess. After that shoe falls, it might also be nice if the United States and Russia publically owned up to their own brand of manipulation and expansionism. After that second shoe drops, then perhaps the French can take up the torch in facilitating a “sit-down” at a neutral site (say, Antarctica?) with all factions present to hash out a Peace Agreement.

What this boils down to is the fact that the problems in the Mideast and Near East are not problems for the Western Nations, or the Russians and Chinese. The questions of where these Church States go from here is something only they can answer. History proves that to be a correct statement. I find it disheartening at best to know that outside forces will not cease to bear down on this Region, will not cease to leave them alone, and will not cease to attempt to re-create them in our image. The radical factions on both sides of the coin need to silenced and not a part of these functions. If not, we all lose in this scenario! The Palestinian People deserve a better hand than they’re being dealt. They deserve a fully recognized Nation State of their own, and now would be a really good time to get it done.

The impetus for my writing on this subject was sparked after reading an article by Michael Marder titled, “Here is why deconstructing Zionism is important.” Below is a short “bio”:

Michael Marder

o       Ikerbasque Research Professor (Canada)
o       Doctor in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research in              New York, NY
o       Research experience: More than 8 years of research experience at        universities in the US, Canada, and Portugal
o       Research line: Phenomenology, Ethical and Political Philosophy,              Environmental Philosophy
o       Comes from Duquesne University, USA and the University of                    Lisbon, Portugal
o       Has joined the Department of Philosophy, UPV/EHU Vitoria-Gasteiz

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Family Court has run off the tracks.

- The war next door.

Let me tell you a little story about a couple whose marriage has finally come to an end, and who went through the wringer of Family Court in little old Suffolk County, New York. I will start by laying some ground work as the basis for my conclusions, as I have been through similar processes twice, and in the same County. Looking back, I think I was treated fairly by the Court.

       I.     Family Court Judge in case = 74 y/o, Husband of Town of Huntington elected official.
     II.    Wife had an ineffective, non-aggressive lawyer.
   III.    Husband went through two lawyers, used as stalling tactics very successfully.
  IV.     Husband received an Order of Protection against the wife under false premises; quickly
    V.     Wife awarded $500/mo. In child support for three un-emancipated children.
  VI.      Husband earns approx. $126k; wife earns approx. $100k; both 
          are teachers.
VII.      Each party spent approx. $200k (+) on lawyers and fees; so, 
          you tell me who the winner is.
VIII.    Child advocate, Susan Stoltz is ancient and hates women; sided
          100% with Husband.
  IX.      Judge also leaned toward Husband.
    X.      Couple lived under these conditions in the same house for over 
           three years.
  XI.      Husband has attempted to manipulate the children against the Wife.
XII.      Husband's mother gifted the couple $70k as a down payment on their current house.
XIII.     Husband did not pay full Vi-share of bills since action was first adjudicated.
XIV.    Wife attached ½ of Husband's available pension; Husband's first wife has prior attachment of
           ½   , so current wife only gets ½   of a ½ = ¼
XV.      Wife agreed to refund entire $70k gift; + $176k (1/2) of the equity in their current house; 
           most of the household furnishings; husband is holding out for more.
XVI.    Couple agreed to "shared" custody; 2 week days / 3 week day nights / alternating
           weekends. I know from experience that this set-up is a bad one right from the start.
XVII.   Husband finally told to vacate current house by February, 2014; given past history, this date is
           not written in stone.
XVIII.  All three children are now siding with their mother, but still don't want to upset their father.
The clock is ticking for this sorry excuse of a father/husband. He has a scant two and a half weeks before he's supposed to be out of the house. This entails him buying his own house, which is something I'm pretty sure will give him an excuse to drag things out even longer. He will probably be allowed to do so by our wonderful Family Court system (aka. Love Boat).

This is a member of the male species who has never gone food shopping, never cooked a decent meal, never played in the back yard with his kids, and, apparently, never paid his share of the expenses at any level. I have it from reliable sources that he has spent the majority of the past three years cooped up in the master bedroom trying to write the next great American novel. During the storm "Sandy", he refused to even light a fire in the fireplace after the electricity went out and shut the furnace down; he was consistent in his inactivity for the full duration of the power outage. Yes, he had plenty of fire wood, and could have, at any time, taken some of mine, as I had an abundant amount.

In the almost fourteen years I have been acquainted with this person only once have I witnessed him in his back yard, and I have more than enough fingers and toes to count the times I have seen him shooting hoops with his sons in the driveway. How the wife has been able to keep her sanity for the past three years is way beyond my imagination. Were I her, and I'm not, I would probably have been very tempted to make a purchase of some sort of weapon of mass destruction and been done with him. By not doing so, the wife has demonstrated her love for her children by staying on an even keel (on the outside). She has indeed entered my house with tears streaming down her face. Luckily, my wife and I have been here to console her fears of losing her children because of a Court system that most obviously was not giving her a fair deal.

This neighbor man has consistently acted like a two year old child, and from all indications his tantrums have served him very well in this situation. His arrogance and snobbery made it impossible for me to make friends with him, and my aforementioned feelings started growing pretty much after the first time we met. I recall one very heavy snow storm, 2002 I believe, before I was married to my wife. The two of us had been off somewhere and returned home to find the neighbors struggling to get the neighbor wife's father through the snow and into a car to take him home. Somehow, they managed to Grandpa stuck in a snow drift. The neighbor man, the neighbor wife's brother, and the entire "famn damily" were standing around with their proverbial thumbs up their proverbial butts. Thankfully I returned home in time to witness this Chinese fire drill, and was able to jump in and take over the task of getting Grandpa through the snow and into the car. Neighbor man never uttered one word of thanks, or appreciation. Neighbor wife has, to this day, never forgotten that little episode, and thanked me on numerous occasions.

All this brings me to my point. What the Hell is a septuagenarian doing on the Bench in State Supreme Court, Family Part? Could it be simply because he's politically connected through his wife? Could it be simply that he still needs a pay check? Could it be because he's in the "Goode Olde Boys Club" with his fellow ambulance-chasing lawyers? 

I'm going to go with "all the above". The cronyism still runs deep here in Suffolk County, as I'm certain it does all across this Nation.

             Have a nice day!