[Marxism] Bones Under The Turquoise Sky
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Fri May 21 16:55:58 MDT 2004
Note by Hunter Bear:
This from the Gallup [NM] newspaper deals with the continuing trail of death
engendered by nuclear fall-out from Camp Desert Rock, Nevada testing -- very
common a few decades ago. Obviously related directly to this hideous
tragedy is the even more sweeping one of cancer and related deaths plaguing
vast numbers of former Navajo and Laguna uranium miners especially -- and,
via spilloffs, poisoning the general environment and air and water and
livestock. All of this began in the late '40s and continued directly into
the 70s -- with the lethal effects going to the very present moment.
>From my bedroom window north of Flagstaff, I could sometimes see the
northwestern horizon light up. That was far off Desert Rock. To some
extent, as it turned out, Flag itself was protected from fall- out by the
huge San Francisco Peaks north of town and, even further north, the vast
Grand Canyon and its quirky winds.
Recently I posted "Passion Play and Other Thoughtful Things from the Dutch
Oven" [5/12/04.] Part of that mentioned good childhood buddies, John and
David Woods -- sons of songwriter Harry Woods. There is more to that
story. I have mentioned it briefly before, long ago on a discussion list or
two, but it certainly bears telling once again.
In the late spring of '59, I was in Salt Lake and Bingham Canyon and
environs. John Woods was then in the Army, a veterinary officer, attached
to the Camp Desert Rock situation. He came over to see me and we spent a
pleasant couple of days -- among other things, flying in his plane whose use
he had just mastered. His job in the Army, which he had come to detest,
involved staking live animals out at various points in the predicted nuclear
fall out area and then assessing the various levels of "damage" on their
burned and broken bodies. He planned to leave the Army as soon as his hitch
was up, and he did -- becoming a veterinarian in the Mesa, Arizona [Phoenix]
metro setting. We kept in touch via a letter or so a year but I never saw
him at any point in that period.
In the Summer of '75, we were visiting my folks at Flag. Our house
on-the-edge-of-town was on the back Fort Valley road to the Grand Canyon and
there was much seasonal tourist traffic. Dad and I were sitting on what
passed for our lawn when a camper came by slowly. The people -- an old man
and a young woman -- looked out intently at us. They went around and
returned, and then went around again.
Mother now sounded Supper Call and we went inside. But then there was a
knock on the door. It was the curious couple from the camper who I now
initially assumed were lost and needed directions. "Can I help you?," I
asked. The man looked at me. His hair was pure white and his face deeply
lined with mini canyon wrinkles.
"John," he said, "It's me. John Woods." He introduced his wife. I recovered
quickly. "You have to know me," he grinned.
"Of course I know you, John" said I, poker faced and then mustering as much
affability as I could. We were both 41, same age -- and he looked in his
We had a pleasant visit that late afternoon and evening. I never saw him
again. Less than three years later he died of super multiple cancers.
And we knew, of course, from whence they had come.
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
Victims of nuclear fallout tell their stories
By Kathy Helms
Dine´ Bureau Gallup Independent 5/20/04
WINDOW ROCK - They talk of watching the clouds, playing in the "snow" in the
summer, sweeping the ash from their cars and the ash burning their skin as
it fell on them. They talk of being farmers who became bankrupt because
nobody would buy their produce or milk, of being so poor they didn't have a
choice to throw away goods that had been grown on ground covered with
"They" are downwinders Rebecca Barlow and a fellow oncology nurse have
worked with for 10 years as inpatient cancer nurses. The two are employed at
Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah.
The United States conducted more than 900 nuclear weapons tests at the
Nevada Test Site, 100 above ground and 804 detonated underground. The "Sedan
Shot" was detonated at 635 feet underground. "Shot Baneberry" was detonated
at 900 feet. The two tests vented radioactive debris to heights of 16,000
feet and 10,000 feet respectively, with fallout reaching as far as Kentucky
"We have been involved with people and their families that have been
devastated by cancer," Barlow told the National Research Council committee
Tuesday when the panel of experts came to the Navajo Nation to assess
scientific information for the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education
In her testimony to the committee, Barlow said that among the downwinders
they have met, most of their stories are the same. In addition to tales of
ash and snow, she said, they told of wearing radiation monitors on their
shirts as children that always read "hot."
"They also tell of a government that told them that these tests were 'safe'
and wouldn't hurt them, when there is now evidence that shows that the
government knew of the potential devastating effects and 'sacrificed' those
people anyway," she said.
In the zoneDanielle Stephens of Kingman, Ariz., in Mohave County is one of
those in the sacrifice zone. "I'm a fourth-generation cattle rancher in
Mohave County. We were all dusted many times with radiation," she told the
committee. Out of 27 family members, only three are still alive.
"My grandfather passed away in 1967 from stomach cancer. My dad passed away
in 1989 from skin cancer. My uncle, my mom's brother, he had throat cancer.
My brother at this time has lymphatic cancer. My husband has prostate
cancer. Right at this time I'm taking my mom to the doctor for breast
cancer. She's not really doing that well," Stephens said.
"My husband has several members of his family who have died. The last time I
spoke to this panel it was 17 members. I want to let you know that in
January we lost a 46-year-old girl who was my first cousin (skin cancer).
And Clint Cofer, we lost him six weeks later in March from lung cancer. My
mom is in jeopardy and my brother is not doing very well. My daughter, I
lost her in 2001." Overcome with emotion, she said, "With that, I think I'll
A portion of Mohave County located north of the Grand Canyon originally was
included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) enacted in 1990
for purposes of compensation. However, according to the U.S. Department of
Justice (DOJ) when Congress amended RECA in 2000 and added five additional
Arizona counties, "the drafters of the legislation inadvertently eliminated
that portion of Mohave County that was previously compensable under the
original law. As a result, claimants who reside in the previously covered
portion of Mohave County are no longer eligible for compensation," a DOJ
attorney wrote in an April 2001 letter to the Kingman city manager.
Waiting on remedies"This is an oversight that we believe was not intended by
Congress," the attorney said, noting that the issue had been brought to the
attention of Congress with the hope that legislation "will be soon
introduced to remedy this, as well as other 'technical' deficiencies in the
Mohave County residents are still waiting.
Barlow told the National Research Council that the RESEP clinic in St.
George sees mostly downwinders about 92 percent. The clinic opened in March
2004 and already had found 11 cancer-related abnormalities among those
patients screened. "We have an extensive cancer program as a result of the
large number of residents exposed to atmospheric testing. As you know, there
is an issue on reopening testing at Nevada Test Site for underground bunker
bombs. We have a lot of people that come from that area," she said.
Barlow, along with Dr. Bruce Struminger of Northern Navajo Medical Center in
Shiprock, took issue with findings in the National Research Council's
interim report on radiation exposure and screening. Barlow said she and a
fellow oncology nurse read the interim report with dismay. They took
exception to the committee's statement that a patient's risk for cancer
decreases over time.
The biology of cancer is explained by the "two hit method," Barlow said,
meaning it takes two hits on the DNA of a cell to cause a malignant change
to occur and begin to replicate. Some people are born with the first
abnormality while others acquire it after birth. "The exposure to radiation
that these people endured was a definite 'hit,'" she said. "Genetics also
suggest that if a chromosome is damaged, the weakness is often passed on to
the daughter cells and their offspring. This 'first hit' will follow them
for their lifetime."
Cancer patients who receive low-dose radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy
to treat their cancers must be followed for their lifetime to manage the
late effects from these treatments. It has been found that the younger these
treatments occur, the greater the risks of late effects, which include
different health problems and secondary malignancies, according to Barlow.
"RESEP patients also have the added burden that, unlike Chernobyl or
Hiroshima, which was a one-time exposure, they have had multiple exposures
from the multiple detonations and uranium contacts," she said.
The nurses and Dr. Struminger also took issue with the committee's statement
that "currently, there is no evidence to support the notion that screening
for radiogenic diseases in this population will result in measurable health
benefit for eligible participants. In fact, a screening program could be
harmful because of false-positive test results."
Citing conflictBarlow told the panel, "We feel that this statement is in
direct conflict with the recommendations from the American Cancer Society,
which states that cancers can be caught early by mammography, colonoscopy,
PAP smears, PSA's, etc., and that their screening recommendations should be
followed. This statement reminds one of not making out a will because it
could cause your death."
Dr. Struminger told the committee, "If the goal of the program was to
improve the general health of the population, the medical screening and
medical testing we do probably would not be the ideal combination of tests."
But, he said, the goal of RECA is not to improve the general health status
of the population, but to screen for disability to determine eligibility for
compensation. RECA requires that certain medical testing be performed in
order for an applicant to be awarded a "compassionate payment," he said.
The Shiprock program is beginning to focus more attention on helping Navajo
and Hopi downwinders of the Nevada Test Site complete their applications for
RECA compensation. Struminger said a recent chart review at Tuba City
hospital showed that 258 living patients who were alive during the period of
atmospheric testing at Nevada Test Site have confirmed diagnoses of
malignancies that are compensable under RECA, representing $25 million to
those downwinders living in the Western Agency.
Another chart review showed 166 deceased patients with RECA-compensable
malignancies, representing an additional $8 million to their survivors.
"We anticipate an additional 1,000 living patients with compensable
malignancies and 500 patients who are deceased, but whose families could
apply for compensation on their behalf. ... Addressing the issue of Navajo
and Hopi downwinders alone could mean $75 million to $100 million in
compensation to these families," Dr. Struminger said.
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] Micmac /St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
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