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This week: Fluoride a Neurotoxin; Vietnam: An Unfinished Debt; and Shoe Box Gifts

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fluoride a Neurotoxin

Your readers in the fluoridated towns of Amherst, Holyoke and Longmeadow may like to know that an analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health has confirmed that fluoride in drinking water is a neurotoxin, and that ingesting it lowers the IQ of children.

Our understanding that fluoride is a neurotoxin began 20 years ago, when the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Dental Center reported that pregnant rats fed fluoridated water gave birth to babies that were hyperactive, and remained hyperactive throughout life. In the intervening years Chinese scientists have documented the effect of fluoride on the brains of children. This new meta-analysis from Harvard concludes that the Chinese studies are accurate.

According to the report’s senior author, Philippe Grandjean, quoted in a Harvard press release, “Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain. The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us.”

In light of this confirmation that fluoride is a neurotoxin, the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water should be discontinued.

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Vietnam: An Unfinished Debt

The Paris Peace Accords were signed on January 27, 1973, making possible a reunited Vietnam. For much of the American public, the Vietnam War was a bitterly divisive issue to put behind them. With no good ending, why dwell on or learn from or lose sleep over Vietnam, unless you had lost a child or were a veteran haunted by its violence?

Why were we there? The political zeitgeist that spawned the Vietnam War was the threat of Communist China at Vietnam’s northern border and fear of the “domino effect,” that is, the progressive fall of one southeast Asian country after another to communism. But why destroy Vietnam if Red China is our enemy? retorted Curtis LeMay, Air Force commander during the hellish firebombing of Japanese cities in World War II, to this perfidious logic.

During the 10 years (1961-1971) of aerial chemical warfare in Vietnam, U.S. planes sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicide defoliants in an operation code-named Ranch Hand to destroy enemy plant cover and crops and to clear vegetation around U.S. bases. Agent Orange, the dioxin-contaminated and exceedingly toxic herbicide, constituted about 61 percent of the total herbicides sprayed in the war.

By the end of the war, nearly 5 million Vietnamese had been exposed to Agent Orange, an exposure which has resulted in “400,000 deaths and disabilities and a half-million children born with birth defects,” according to the 2008-2009 President’s Cancer Panel Report. Agent Orange was so extensively sprayed that all of the 2 million Americans who served in Vietnam are presumed exposed. The Veterans Administration now associates a multitude of cancers, heart disease, diabetes type 2, neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease, and birth defects, including spina bifida, suffered by veterans and their children with Agent Orange exposure.

The war persists in the dioxin residues accumulated in the Vietnamese environment and food chain and in the pollution of millions of human bodies, by now transmitted to three generations of Vietnamese. Despite compelling science on the harm of dioxin exposure, the Vietnamese victims received nothing by way of compensation, cleanup or services from the U.S. government or Agent Orange manufacturers—that is, until 2007, when the U.S. Congress appropriated $9 million for cleanup of contaminated sites and health-related activities. In 2011, US AID joined the Vietnamese government in the first phase of a $32 million dioxin-contaminated soil removal program at a former U.S. air base in Da Nang. “It’s a big step,” said Ngo Quang Xuan, a former Vietnamese ambassador to the United Nations.“But in the eyes of those who suffered the consequences, it’s not enough.”

HR 2634–The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act—aims to give Vietnamese and U.S. veterans’ children and grandchildren who are victims of our chemical war in Vietnam the medical, rehabilitative and social compensation they need and to remediate Vietnam’s dioxin-contaminated environment. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), has 14 co-sponsors in Congress. Send a postcard found on the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign website to the U.S. Congress, asking it to pass HR 2634. Track the bill’s progress on the OpenCongress website.

*

Shoe Box Gifts

I wanted to write to thank fellow Northampton area residents who generously gave of their time and means to help impact thousands of hurting kids this Christmas. Together we were able to pack 6,865 shoe boxes—filled with toys, school supplies and basic necessities—for Operation Christmas Child.

Our packed shoe box gifts, joined by millions of others, are now on their way to needy children in 100 countries. During the 2012 collection season, Operation Christmas Child reached a milestone—more than 100 million children have been impacted by the power of a simple gift since 1993.

I would like to thank the volunteers at our local collection sites and all those who packed an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift. For many of the children who receive these gifts, this shoe box will be the first gift they have ever received.

Although our local drop-off locations in the Northampton area are closed, gifts are received year-round at Samaritan’s Purse if you mail them to 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, N.C. 28607.

There are also year-round volunteer opportunities available to serve with Operation Christmas Child. Find out how you can use your gifts and talents to make a difference in children’s lives around the world by visiting www.samaritanspurse.org or by calling the northeast regional office at (518) 437-0690.

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