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Geno-Terato-Epi-Tome

(Viet Thanh Nguyen and Richard Hughes. The Forgotten Victims of Agent Orange. New York Times, September 15, 2017).
AGENT ORANGE – DIOXIN FORGOTTEN? MALFORMED CHILDERN AND CANCER PATIENTS REMEMBER!
(2017 September) Extract – Starting in 1967, during the war in Viet Nam, in an effort to defoliate forests, the United States sprayed 5.1 million gallons of herbicides containing dioxin. Records from lawsuits indicate that “ … both the military and the chemical companies involved were well aware early on of the dangers of D … producers opted for maximum return … in–house memos indicated that a safer product could be made for a slight reduction in profits”. Reluctantly, 33 years later, the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) granted limited compensations and access to medical care to U.S. veterans. Official U.S. assistance to OR victims Viet Nam victims of OR remains virtually nil. The evidence is overwhelming that “birth defects rates in villages sprayed repeatedly are exceptionally high.”
Comment Dioxin (D) is the main herbicide in Agent Orange” (AO). D is a potent teratogen, mutagen and carcinogen. Indiscriminate spraying by the U.S. during the Vietnam Nam war, exposed large civilian populations as well as U.S. soldiers.to high levels of D. Persisted denials by U.S. Veterans Administration leaders of harm and late limited admissions of harm to health and reproductive anomalies and later reluctant limited admissions of such anomalies is a legacy of shame. Furthermore, the virtual official U.S. indifference to the persistent suffering of victims in Vietnam adds shame to this legacy.
Notes
(1) Viet Thanh Nguyen and Richard Hughes , New York International Times, September 19, 2017, p. 9.
(2) OR is a “tactical blend of herbicides”, mainly D. Spraying of OR was tested extensively in the area of the large Eglin Airforce Base site in West Florida adjoining Panama City and regions of southern Alabama.
(3) About D/OR – History and ongoing impacts.
(4) Health Impacts as per the World Health Organization, U.S. Academy of Sciences, CDC.
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11688
http://www.pnas.org/content/103/16/6252.abstract
https://www.cdc.gov/BIOMONITORING/DioxinLikeChemicals_FactSheet.html
(5) Current Money-Politics. 
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-epa-pesticide-dow-20170627-story.html
Scott Pruitt (a prominent opponent of clean environment initiatives) was appointed by President Trump as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), – after a meeting with Dow Co., (Dow wrote a $1-million check to help underwrite the president’s inaugural festivities) Mr. Pruitt, with no explanations, reversed a planned ban of chlorpyrifos, a Dow Co. produced pesticide related to OR but more toxic. Mr. Pruitt ignored recommendations by EPA scientists as well as concerns by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics which represents 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons – the Academy is “deeply alarmed” by Pruitt’s decision to allow the pesticide’s continued use. EPA scientists determined that Ingestion of even minuscule amounts of this highly teratogenic chemical currently sprayed on food crops can interfere with the brain development of fetuses and infants.

(Kenny Fries. The Nazi’s First Victims were Disabled. New York Times, September 13, 2017).
REMEMBER EUTHANASIA? – FORGOTEN? – IT MAY BE BACK!
(2017 September) Extract – Kenny Fries is Jewish and was born with missing bones in both legs. He earned an award for his studies on bigotry and Human Rights. In this instance, he wanders what would have been his fate had he been born in Germany during the advent of Hitler when the disabled, in particular if Jewish, were priority targets for destruction. The essence of his article is found in his book “In the Province of The Gods”. The article reminds us of the Nazi Euthanasia “Action T14” Program and the willing participation of German doctors and “experts”. Fries underscores the role of those willing to judge a life as “unfit”, thus “unworthy” to be sustained based on notions of “rational sociology and economics”.
The scope of the explorations by Fries could easily be expanded to include Stalinist psychiatrists willing to declare political opponents as mentally insane and reduced them to perish in “mental institutions”.
Fries points out that before the advent of Nazi Germany in 1933, the first site of testing mass-killings was in Brandenburg. A blue print for the Nazi T14 Euthanasia Program arose from a treatise published in 1920 by the German psychiatrist, Alfred Hoche and the jurist Karl Binding – “Permitting the Destruction of Unworthy Life”. Fries also speaks of a visit to a museum dedicated to the history of the Reinickendorf area of Berlin, once part of Wiesengrund which in 1941 housed “wards for expert care” including 30 wooden cribs … “where children were experimented on and killed … By December 1942, the extermination of Jewish psychiatric patients at Wittenau, (another suburb of Berlin), was complete.” Fries also reminds us how In 1927 in the United States, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “three generations of imbeciles is enough” and ruled that compulsory sterilization of the “unfit” was constitutional, a ruling that apparently remains standing.
Comment – Currently, in the U.S., conservative members of the Republican Party are seeking to limit or eliminate medical services to the elderly, the disabled, and the poor, notes Fries. He cites, as an example, a Rev. Susan Flanders, a retired Episcopal priest, who is quoted as saying “… its hundreds of dollars each day … could go toward the care … of those who could get well”. Such expressions of “practical ethics” – an admixture of economics with ethics – inherently upholds the notion that “experts” can “monetize” the value of life as did Nazi experts in the past. And Fries asks … what society we wish to be? … a society not afraid of “mixing money and the meaning of life?”
PERSPECTIVE: “Of the 2000,000 children born in the Netherlands every year, about 1ooo die during the first year of life. For approximately 600 of these infants, death is preceded by a medical decision regarding the end of life. … “ so reports E. Verhagen, M.D. and his colleagues in their article The Groningen Protocol – Euthanasia in severely Ill Newborns published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 352::259-962, 2005. “Legal control over euthanasia in newborns is based on physicians’ own reports, followed by assessment by criminal prosecutors … we developed a protocol, known as the Groningen protocol, for cases in which a decision is made to actively end the life of a newborn … for example, a child with the most severe form of spina bifida will have an extremely poor quality of life
Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for those in “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering … in 2014 the “right to die” was extended to those under 18 years of age. Elaborations are reported by Bernard Dan et al. in Self-requested euthanasia for children in Belgium published in The Lancet 383:671-672, 2014. Another report is by Andrew M Siegle, M.D. et al. Pediatric Euthanasia in Belgium – Disturbing Developments published by the American Medical Association (JAMA) journal 311:1963-1964,20145.
COMMENT: judgments of “quality or value of life” in my view are personal and are beyond the realm of Medical Ethics which demands an unconditional dedication to sustain life.

(H. Agnew. Financil Times. 2017; April 21).
SANOFI DRUG (VALPROATE OR DEPAKINE) IS LINKED TO DEFECTS IN UP TO 4,100 BIRTHS (IN FRANCE).
(2017 April)  The newspaper Financial Times of Friday 21, April, 2017 includes an article by Harriet Agnew stressing that 4,100 French children had significant birth defects attributed to the maternal consumption of Valproate (sold in France under the brand “Depakine” since 1967). In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that this medication should not be taken during pregnancy. This drug is being sold worldwide by Sanofi Corporation. In 2011, Sanofi warned that the drug should not be used during pregnancy.
Comments: This newspaper article reminds the public again what has been well-known since 2011. It continues to be evident that the protection of the unborn by society is weak and flawed. In my view this is a problem of ethics.

(K.T. Williams, et al. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2017;135;47-53).
SUNLIGHT – COMPUTER SCREENS – MYOPIA.
(2017 February)  The Network of JAMA Journals (Amer. Med. Assoc) reported … “… time of outdoors and sunlight exposure was associated with reduced odds for myopia (nearsightedness”) … the highest reduction was for exposures between ages 14 and 29 years.
Comments: the study suggests that ultraviolet B exposure (a marker of sunlight exposure) is associated with reduced myopia. Such association suggests a role of serum Vitamin D
According to the National Eye Institute, in China nearly 90% of recent high school graduates are thought to be nearsighted and among Americans, myopia has soared by 66% since the early 1970’s.
Hypothesis:  perhaps may be related to the screen-watching wich keeps children and teens from sunlight exposures.  What is beyond doubt is a current myopia epidemic (Nature, 18 March 2015).

(The Wall Street Journal, October 8-9, 2016, Holly Fin report).
WE, “GERIATRIC MOTHERS”, KNOW BEST.
Ms. Holly Fin notes that “geriatric pregnancies”, in medical parlance “Advanced Maternal Age”, are rapidly increasing in frequency. She cites that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted the frequency has increased by as much as 40% from 2002 to 2012. During 2015, women between 40 and 44 years of age delivered 111,611 infants. She cites the anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy as saying “all the women are more likely to sacrifice themselves on behalf of a needy child”. I wonder, at least from a humanistic perspective, how many children perish from manipulations to render older women fertile since it is well-known that in-vitro fertilization and other costly interventions are associated with high embryo-fetal risks and chromosomal defects. (W. Wertelecki, M.D.)

(Financial Times, September 2016 – extract from a report by Shawn Donnan and another by Chris Flood).
CLIMATE CHANGE – POLLUTION KILLS – PREMATURE DEATH SOAR – ECONOMIC COSTS SOAR.
The World Bank notes that the cost of air pollution to the global economy is twice the economic output of the UK and that 50% originates in China and other Asian economies. It also estimates that nearly 60 million lives were lost because of air pollution during 2013 alone. The World Bank team was led by Urvashi Narain, who asserted that China has declared a war on pollution. On the other hand the US presidential candidate, Mr. Donald Trump, expressed his view that the Chinese are “inventing a hoax of climate change”. Nonetheless, the well-known BlackRock investment company expressed that “investors can no longer ignore climate change”. About 1,000 of the world’s largest companies now report estimated carbon prices (carbon emissions as percentage of annual sales) to orient investors and taking action to fight global warming. What is not stressed and should be in these reports, is that air pollution is a cause of prenatal deaths (teratothanasia) and a threat to the developing fetus. (W. Wertelecki, M.D.)