On Poisoned Land | Contaminated Life on the Dine’ (Navajo) Reservation

A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council warns of the Navajo Nation as a case study in irresponsible nuclear resource extraction:

“For decades the Navajo Nation has been especially affected by boom-and-bust uranium mining. On Navajo land alone, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from 1944 to 1986; left behind were more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, four inactive uranium milling sites, a former dump site, and the widespread contamination of land and water. Only recently has the government attempted to assess and mitigate this contamination, but full reclamation of the land is unlikely.”
According to an international water charity, DigDeep, Navajo people are 67 times more likely than other Americans to live without running water or a toilet. In practice, this means families across the Navajo Nation have to wash their children’s hair in small washtubs. They have to haul all drinking and washing water from the closest towns and cities, with round trips sometimes reaching 100 miles. The tasks required for even the smallest of families are time-consuming and strenuous.
In September 2014, at Window Rock, Ariz., the Obama administration reached a settlement with the Navajo Nation after years of litigation over mismanagement of lease revenues and royalties from mining, ranching, and timber harvesting on Navajo trust lands. The United States will award the Navajo $554 million to settle claims arising from the federal government’s mismanagement of tribal trust funds dating back to 1946, making this the single largest settlement between the United States government and an American Indian tribe, reported The New York Times.

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday, January 18, 2017, it reached a legal settlement with Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoran Inc. (NYSE: FCX) to clean up 94 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation. The U.S. government will cover half of the costs of the clean-up settlement. Read the article here | Phoenix Business Journal

“This historic settlement will clean up almost 20 percent of the abandoned mines on the Navajo Nation,” said Acting Regional Administrator Alexis Strauss for the EPA Pacific Southwest. “Cleaning up the uranium contamination continues to be a top environmental priority for our regional office.”

The U.S. government and mining companies mined radioactive uranium from hundreds of mines on Navajo lands from the end of World War II and throughout the Cold War.

The last mine shut down in 1986.

Animal Rape and Animal Brothel

“The real objection in our view however is that animals are incapable of consenting to sexual acts. In addition, they are sentient beings whose physical and mental integrity should be respected and afforded protection from sexual violation by humans. “

[Despite the general revulsion that most people express when the topic is broached, and despite bestiality being considered a psychological disorder – in many countries around the world – sex with animals is not illegal – and perhaps surprisingly some of those countries are in the EU.  Even in some of the more highly developed EU countries, sex with animals has only very recently been made illegal (e.g. The German Animal Welfare Act 2013, s3(13)).

An article in the Digital Journal states that “sexual contact with animals has been legal in [Denmark] since 1933, and has apparently given birth to “barnyard brothels” in the country. Those establishments are reported to charge anywhere from $85 to $170 for an encounter with an animal! (A whole new meaning to a “petting” farm).

Understandably – this whole issue catalyses strong emotions and raises complex moral and ethical questions as well as animal welfare and human health concerns.

For example, according to one study, men who had sex with animals  were twice as likely to develop cancer of the penis as other men who did not. If this finding is corroborated, this may have serious implications for transferring animal viruses into the human population because people who have sex with animals do not restrict their sexual activity to animals and many will go on to have sex with human partners. Should this be the case, there is an argument that sex with animals should be made illegal in the wider public interest to protect the health of the population at large from contracting zoonotic diseases.

In a study of 300 children who sexually abused other children, 20% of them had a history of sexually abusing animals (Duffield et al., 1998). Whilst this research does not specifically suggest many or even any people who sexually abuse animals will go on to abuse children – the higher than average incidence of this correlation is a concern. Since sex with animals is a “sexual preference disorder” – this at least puts legislators on notice that there are troubling related issues.

Are there any other problems?

One piece of research reported “that professionals should be mindful of the potential level of dangerousness in individuals convicted of zoophilic offences” and that “individuals convicted of sexual offences involving animals were found to be the most deviant and indiscriminate of sex offenders.” (Reported in Wilcox et al. 2005)

Does the EU know about this issue?

A question was put to the Commission concerning this issue on 2/5/2012 by Tiziano Motti. Part of the question was as follows:

 “It would appear, in light of activity on the Internet and of various reports, that in some EU Member States, such as Sweden, Spain, Denmark and lately even Germany, there is a gap in national provisions that allows certain pets and stray animals to be sexually exploited, in exchange for money, within dedicated venues. Apparently, some pet owners are offering their animals for this type of commercial use, and these are not isolated incidents but form part of an organised trade at European level that has already become a source of ‘sex tourism’.” 

What reply was given?

Mr Dalli replied on behalf of the Commission on 27/6/2012 stating:

“The Commission is not aware of the type of abuses mentioned by the Honourable Memberand has not receive any evidence of possible health problems related to such practice in the EU.

According to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (1), animal welfare is to be taken into consideration only in areas where the treatment of animals may interfere with some EU policies, like agriculture or the internal market. 

Therefore, this matter remains under the sole competence of the Member States.”

A second question was placed by Kay Swinburne (ECR) on 29/5/2012 as follows:

“It has been brought to my attention that bestiality is still legal in a number of EU Member States. It has been reported that a number of ‘bestiality brothels’ exist in Germany (1), despite the distribution of animal pornography being punishable by law.

Given that the EU has been very vocal on animal welfare issues, it would seem appropriate for the EU to intervene and introduce some common EU‐wide rules to illegalise bestiality and animal pornography and ensure that animals are adequately protected, as they are in my own Member State.”

Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission  (27 July 2012)

The Commission is not aware of the type of abuses mentioned by the Honourable Member of the European Parliament.

According to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2), animal welfare is taken into consideration only in areas where the treatment of animals may interfere with some EU policies (3), like agriculture or internal market.

Therefore, this matter remains under the sole competence of the Member States.” 

When the European Parliament was served with two petition on 27/3/13 – the EU changed tack by at least no longer denying the problem: In the Commission reply, on 27 March 2013 the EU simply washed its hands of the issue and stated:

“… certain topics of animal protection remain under the responsibility of the Member States (e.g… bestiality…).”

Given the distasteful nature of the topic – it is little wonder the issue is rarely debated publicly. In the absence of public scrutiny there are many examples of animals being severely injured (thus requiring veterinary attention), contracting sexually transmitted infectionsand even being killed during the course of the expression of this “sexual preference disorder”.

On the basis of these facts, is it right that this deviant behaviour should go unchallenged within several member states within the EU?

Whilst the EU is not and should not be a “sexual/moral policeman” – there is enough evidence available to indicate animal welfare is seriously compromised by this sexually deviant behaviour happening within its borders. In addition, zoophilia represents a potential threat to human health.]

Read the full story | OCCUPY ANIMALS

Medicine, LGBT Community, and The Hippocratic Oath | The Curious Case of Mississippi, Tennessee and Maybe Florida

OATH

A fragment of the Oath on the 3rd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2547

In the first week of April, Mississippi passed a new law making it expressly legal for doctors, psychologists, and counselors to opt out of any procedure or choose not to take on any patient if doing so would compromise their conscience. The law is specifically designed to protect medical professionals who object to gay marriage and non-marital sex.Tennessee’s general assembly just passed a similar law, which would only apply to counselors, and a now-dead Florida bill would have protected religious health-care organizations from having to “administer, recommend, or deliver a medical treatment or procedure that would be contrary to the religious or moral convictions or policies of the facility.”

Medical exemptions, though, deserve to be considered in a category of their own. Doctors and therapists interact with people at their most vulnerable, and their training and expertise gives them incredible power over patients. The advice they provide—or refuse to provide—to an LGBT patient could influence the treatment that person seeks. It could make that person less likely to seek primary care or identify themselves as LGBT to other doctors, which can lead to the “failure to screen, diagnose, or treat important medical problems,” according to the American Medical Association. The medical community has a problem: What should hospitals, private practices, and medical associations do about doctors and therapists who say it’s against their beliefs to provide care to LGBT patients?

Read the full article here | When Doctors Refuse to Treat LGBT Patients (The Atlantic)

__________________________________________________

The Hippocratic Oath (original -ancient Greek-), and modern version:

I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else. I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets. Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me. [5]

Modern version

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Putting it Mildly: Inside The Most Important Supreme Court Case

FEB 12, 2016 9:17 AM | THINKPROGRESS

[Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court unexpectedly suspended the Obama administration’s most aggressive effort to fight climate change in a 5-4 vote. The rules, known as the “Clean Power Plan,” target greenhouse emissions from existing power plants and are expected to “decrease total emissions by a total of 16% from 2020 levels” by the time the rules take full effect in 2030. That’s only one step towards the 80 percent total reduction needed to ward of the worst effects of climate change, but it is a significant step.

And, as the Court’s party-line vote suggests, the Clean Power Plan is also a test of whether the United States has the political will to tackle climate change.

If we do not prove able to this task, the consequences will be catastrophic. In the relatively short term, the Environmental Protection Agency predicts that the Clean Power Plan will “avoid thousands of premature deaths and mean thousands fewer asthma attacks and hospitalizations in 2030 and every year beyond.” In the longer term, major cities could be swallowed by the ocean. Displaced residents will trigger a worldwide refugee crisis. Entire regions of the United States could be converted into a permanent Dust Bowl. The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will rival any tragedy that has faced humanity since the Book of Genesis.

If the Court ultimately strikes down the Plan, however, the United States could be left impotent in the face of a looming catastrophe — and not just with respect to this particular catastrophe. The states challenging the Clean Power Plan call for sweeping changes to the balance of power between the regulator and the regulated. Indeed, if some of their most aggressive arguments succeed, it’s unclear that the federal government is permitted to do much of anything at all.]

Read the full article here | THINKPROGRESS

1 OIL FIELD CA

Kane Field Oil Rigs | California

 

1 NO2

Animated map of continental United States NO2 levels, 2005-2011 | Source: NASA

Amid Heroin Crisis, GOP Contenders Reframe Addiction as a Health Crisis

[Several Republican candidates have responded to the crisis with an about-face rarely seen since Richard Nixon launched the so-called war on drugs 45 years ago: a mainstream conservative movement calling for treating low-level drug use with health services instead of prison time. Last month in New Hampshire, GOP contenders unveiled several ideas — although few with detailed plans — to treat heroin addiction via rehabilitation, from placing more emphasis on drug prevention and targeting drug dealers instead of users to expanding recovery programs.]

Read the full article | Infographics | AL JAZEERA

Also, Drug Poisoning Mortality: USA 2002-2014 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

1 GOOD SAMARITAN

Agar is Gone

[Microbiology’s most important reagent is in short supply, with potential consequences for research, public health and clinical labs around the world.

Agar — the seaweed-derived, gelatinous substance that biologists use to culture microbes — is experiencing a global downturn, marine biologists, agar producers and industry analysts toldNature. “There’s not enough seaweed for everyone, so basically we are now reducing our production,” says Pedro Sanchez, deputy managing director of Industrias Roko in Polígono de Silvota, Spain, which processes seaweed to make some 40% of the world’s agar.

The shortage can be traced to newly enforced trade restrictions on the seaweed, arising from environmental concerns that the algae are being overharvested. It is unclear how deeply the dearth will hit researchers, but it has already pushed wholesale prices of agar to an all-time high of around US$35–45 per kilogram — nearly triple the price before scarcities began. Individual researchers, who buy packaged agar from lab-supply companies, can pay many times this amount….]

Read the full article here | NATURE

Also…

Agar supply hit by seaweed shortage | By Joe Whitworth+, 01-Dec-2015

Thermo Fisher Scientific has temporarily stopped selling two agars due to a shortage in the seaweed used to make them.

1 AGAR

Photo distributed by National Cancer Institute

 

The Professor of 3 No-s Who Received the 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine

YOUYOU

“In China, she refers to herself as the professor of ‘the three nos’ — no post-grad degree, no experience working abroad, no membership in the Chinese academy of sciences,” says science writer Phil McKenna. Tu was recognized with a Nobel prize for rediscovering artemisinin, a plant derivative that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria. Her contribution isn’t widely acknowledged today, even in her home country.

“There was this scroll from 400 AD and ironically it was called ‘Emergency Treatments Kept Up One’s Sleeve'” — ironic because it had been kept up China’s sleeve for hundreds and hundreds of years, McKenna says.

Read the full article here | GLOBAL POST

Answering an Appeal by Mao Led Tu Youyou to a Nobel Prize | NEW YORK TIMES

Kampbell, Omura and Youyou Win Nobel Prize for Medicine | THE GUARDIAN