routinely amplifies Russian claims about the war with Ukraine and about secret biological weapons research, as part of its own information battle with the United States that began with the debate over the spread of Covid-19.

China’s heavily censored internet, which aggressively stifles unwelcome political opinions, has also freely circulated conspiracy theories about a possible American role in the spread of monkeypox, as Bloomberg reported.

Russia’s efforts to push the claims about biological weapons come from an old Russia propaganda playbook, adapted to the age of social media.

Researchers at the RAND Corporation called the Russian strategy a “fire hose of falsehood,” inundating the public with huge numbers of claims that are designed to deflect attention and cause confusion and distrust as much as to provide an alternative point of view.

died on Tuesday, that it would hurt newly warming relations with the West.

Russia’s propaganda model today has been adapted to take advantage of “technology and available media in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War,” according to the RAND study.

Despite “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” and a disregard of consistency, the strategy can often be persuasive to some, especially those who have preconceived biases, one of the authors, Christopher Paul, said in an interview.

“There are still people who believe the C.I.A. caused AIDS in Africa, even though that idea has been thoroughly debunked,” Mr. Paul said. “Not many, but some.”

Like many disinformation campaigns, Russia’s accusations on occasion have a passing relationship to facts.

Even before the war in Ukraine, Russia raised alarms about U.S. efforts to establish closer defense and research ties with several of Russia’s neighbors, including other former republics of the Soviet Union.

invoked a special session was in 1997, when Cuba accused the United States of spraying a plume of insects over the country’s crops, causing a devastating infestation.

The proceedings were not public, but several nations later submitted written observations about Cuba’s claims and the United States’ rebuttal. Only North Korea supported Cuba’s claim. Eight countries — Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand — concluded there was no link. China and Vietnam said it was impossible to determine. (Russia submitted no response.)

“There’s a big silent majority that just wants to sit on the fence,” Dr. Lentzos said. “They don’t really want to take a side because it could hurt their interests either way. And so the big question is not ‘Do these guys believe it, or not?’ It’s to what extent are they motivated to act on it and speak out.”

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Conservationists Risk Their Lives Protecting Endangered Species

By Shelby Erdman
August 30, 2022

WildAid Founder and President Peter Knights talks about the dangers of wildlife conservation efforts following the death of Anton Mzimba.

Countless animals around the world face extinction, many from loss of habitat and many others from poachers. In fact, wildlife poaching is a serious problem. And for those trying to protect endangered species, it’s a dangerous job. 

Anton Mzimba was the head of field ranger services for South Africa’s Timbavati Private Nature Reserve near the famous Kruger National Park. He was well-respected and admired by field rangers, animal activists and government officials. Mzimba was a fierce protector of the nature reserve’s wild animals, especially the endangered rhinoceros population, and he was considered incorruptible. Corruption is a big problem among field rangers in Africa.   

“I’m defending the natural resources from those who want to loot it,” he told the Global Conservation Corps in an interview last year. “I’m protecting lives of people, lives of animals. I’m protecting the plants. So, all the creatures, I am protecting. On the other hand, I am also a soldier because the duty of a soldier is to protect the country.”  

On July 26, Mzimba was gunned down in front of his home in the fight over wildlife poaching and trafficking. His wife was also wounded in the attack. No arrests have been made but the investigation into his murder continues. 

“These are front-line troops literally facing armed assailants every day,” Peter Knights, the president and founder of nonprofit WildAid, told Newsy.  

Knights says field rangers are risking their lives to protect their countries’ natural heritage. 

“It’s a really nasty business and a lot of this goes on with corruption, but very often it also goes on with coercion. So, rangers like this will have their families threatened. They are put under all kinds of stresses. It takes tremendous courage to get up every day and go out there to protect these animals knowing you may not come home again in the evening,” Knights said. 

Mzimba knew how crucial it is to protect endangered wildlife, especially rhinos, whose horns are sought after by organized criminal networks. The current rhino poaching crisis is fueled by demand for the animal’s horn, mainly in China and Vietnam. The horn is still used in traditional Asian medicine and is seen as a symbol of wealth. In some parts of Asia, it’s believed it can cure cancer and help a range of maladies. This is false. The horn is made of keratin, like hair and fingernails. 

According to WildAid, 95% of the world’s rhino population has been lost over the past 40 years. But Knights says educational campaigns are working. “Rhino horn prices have dropped dramatically from about $65,000 a kilo down to $12,000 to $18,000,” he said.

But that’s still enough incentive for criminal gangs to go after rhinos. The gangs also use sophisticated methods of hunting and tracking rhinos, including helicopters, night vision equipment and veterinary drugs to knock them out, according to World Wildlife Fund. There were just over 23,500 black and white rhinoceros left in the world as of 2017, with 75% in South Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported. 

More than 9,300 rhinos have been killed in South Africa for their horns between 2008 and 2021. The group Stop Poaching Rhinos says 259 have been killed by poachers so far this year and 451 were killed for their horns last year.

Source: newsy.com

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Cloud Wars: Mideast Rivalries Rise Along a New Front

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Iranian officials have worried for years that other nations have been depriving them of one of their vital water sources. But it was not an upstream dam that they were worrying about, or an aquifer being bled dry.

In 2018, amid a searing drought and rising temperatures, some senior officials concluded that someone was stealing their water from the clouds.

“Both Israel and another country are working to make Iranian clouds not rain,” said Brig. Gen. Gholan Reza Jalali, a senior official in the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps in a 2018 speech.

are turning up at the water’s surface.

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  • While there had been enough water to sustain the tiny country’s population in 1960, when there were fewer than 100,000 people, by 2020 the population had ballooned to nearly 10 million. And the demand for water soared, as well. United Arab Emirates residents now use roughly 147 gallons per person a day, compared with the world average of 47 gallons, according to a 2021 research paper funded by the emirates.

    Currently, that demand is being met by desalination plants. Each facility, however, costs $1 billion or more to build and requires prodigious amounts of energy to run, especially when compared with cloud seeding, said Abdulla Al Mandous, the director of the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology in the emirates and the leader of its cloud-seeding program.

    After 20 years of research and experimentation, the center runs its cloud-seeding program with near military protocols. Nine pilots rotate on standby, ready to bolt into the sky as soon as meteorologists focusing on the country’s mountainous regions spot a promising weather formation — ideally, the types of clouds that can build to heights of as much as 40,000 feet.

    They have to be ready on a moment’s notice because promising clouds are not as common in the Middle East as in many other parts of the world.

    “We are on 24-hour availability — we live within 30 to 40 minutes of the airport — and from arrival here, it takes us 25 minutes to be airborne,” said Capt. Mark Newman, a South African senior cloud-seeding pilot. In the event of multiple, potentially rain-bearing clouds, the center will send more than one aircraft.

    The United Arab Emirates uses two seeding substances: the traditional material made of silver iodide and a newly patented substance developed at Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi that uses nanotechnology that researchers there say is better adapted to the hot, dry conditions in the Persian Gulf. The pilots inject the seeding materials into the base of the cloud, allowing it to be lofted tens of thousands of feet by powerful updrafts.

    And then, in theory, the seeding material, made up of hygroscopic (water attracting) molecules, bonds to the water vapor particles that make up a cloud. That combined particle is a little bigger and in turn attracts more water vapor particles until they form droplets, which eventually become heavy enough to fall as rain — with no appreciable environmental impact from the seeding materials, scientists say.

    That is in theory. But many in the scientific community doubt the efficacy of cloud seeding altogether. A major stumbling block for many atmospheric scientists is the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of documenting net increases in rainfall.

    “The problem is that once you seed, you can’t tell if the cloud would have rained anyway,” said Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University and an expert in evaluating climate engineering strategies.

    Another problem is that the tall cumulus clouds most common in summer in the emirates and nearby areas can be so turbulent that it is difficult to determine if the seeding has any effect, said Roy Rasmussen, a senior scientist and an expert in cloud physics at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

    Israel, a pioneer in cloud seeding, halted its program in 2021 after 50 years because it seemed to yield at best only marginal gains in precipitation. It was “not economically efficient,” said Pinhas Alpert, an emeritus professor at the University of Tel Aviv who did one of the most comprehensive studies of the program.

    Cloud seeding got its start in 1947, with General Electric scientists working under a military contract to find a way to de-ice planes in cold weather and create fog to obscure troop movements. Some of the techniques were later used in Vietnam to prolong the monsoon season, in an effort to make it harder for the North Vietnamese to supply their troops.

    While the underlying science of cloud seeding seems straightforward, in practice, there are numerous problems. Not all clouds have the potential to produce rain, and even a cloud seemingly suitable for seeding may not have enough moisture. Another challenge in hot climates is that raindrops may evaporate before they reach the ground.

    Sometimes the effect of seeding can be larger than expected, producing too much rain or snow. Or the winds can shift, carrying the clouds away from the area where the seeding was done, raising the possibility of “unintended consequences,” notes a statement from the American Meteorological Society.

    “You can modify a cloud, but you can’t tell it what to do after you modify it,” said James Fleming, an atmospheric scientist and historian of science at Colby College in Maine.

    “It might snow; it might dissipate. It might go downstream; it might cause a storm in Boston,” he said, referring to an early cloud-seeding experiment over Mount Greylock in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

    This seems to be what happened in the emirates in the summer of 2019, when cloud seeding apparently generated such heavy rains in Dubai that water had to be pumped out of flooded residential neighborhoods and the upscale Dubai mall.

    Despite the difficulties of gathering data on the efficacy of cloud seeding, Mr. Al Mandous said the emirates’ methods were yielding at least a 5 percent increase in rain annually — and almost certainly far more. But he acknowledged the need for data covering many more years to satisfy the scientific community.

    Over last New Year’s weekend, said Mr. Al Mandous, cloud seeding coincided with a storm that produced 5.6 inches of rain in three days — more precipitation than the United Arab Emirates often gets in a year.

    In the tradition of many scientists who have tried to modify the weather, he is ever optimistic. There is the new cloud-seeding nanosubstance, and if the emirates just had more clouds to seed, he said, maybe they could make more rain for the country.

    And where would those extra clouds come from?

    “Making clouds is very difficult,” he acknowledged. “But, who knows, maybe God will send us somebody who will have the idea of how to make clouds.”

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    North Dakota School Board Reinstates Pledge Of Allegiance

    By Associated Press
    August 19, 2022

    It previously said the pledge did not align with the district’s diversity and inclusion code in part because “under God” does not include all faiths.

    The school board in North Dakota’s most populous city reversed course Thursday on its decision to stop reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at its monthly meetings, following complaints from conservative lawmakers and an angry backlash from citizens around the country.

    Seven of the nine members of the Fargo Board of Education, including four newcomers who took office in June, voted last week to cancel a previous board edict that was approved a couple of months before the election. The new board agreed with member Seth Holden, who said the pledge did not align with the district’s diversity and inclusion code in part because the phrase “under God” does not include all faiths.

    North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum earlier this week promoted new legislation that would require public schools and governing bodies to administer the pledge without mandating that people recite it. Republican state Rep. Pat Heinert, a retired county sheriff, is suggesting that sanctions be put in place for public boards and commissions that don’t require the patriotic oath.

    Angry emails and voicemails dominated Thursday’s special meeting to reconsider the vote. Nyamal Dei, a refugee who fled war-torn Sudan, played a profanity-laced voicemail from a man who called her a slave, racist and Nazi. Several board members apologized to Dei, the lone Black member on the board, for taking the worst of the abuse.

    Dei said reversing the decision would be giving in to hate. She paused for several seconds before casting the lone no vote to reinstate the pledge.

    “We won’t be rewarding our children or students in our district for acting in this way,” Dei said. “But know that this moment will pass. Let’s get back to the work that we are elected to do and that is to find a solution to our teacher shortages, mental health issues and academic achievement for our students.”

    City of Fargo spokesman Gregg Schildberger said police are investigating what he called a “handful” of reports related to perceived threats to at least three members of the board.

    Board member Greg Clark said he broke down his angry messages and found that less than 20% came from Fargo. He acknowledged his vote to bring back the pledge was influenced by people he does not represent.

    “But I hope you’ll forgive me because I truly believe it is in the best interest of our schools to do so,” Clark said. “The disruptions and the threats must end so that we can have a successful start to our school year.”

    Holden, who made the motion to cancel the pledge, said he struggled with his decision but was heartbroken over the abusive comments and worried about the image of the board.

    “I’m also concerned about what might happen to this board in the future because we’re going to have to probably be prepared to take more heat than we normally do for decisions that we make,” he said, “because that there may be a perception of success.”

    Public comment was not allowed at the special meeting, attended by about two dozen citizens. A handful of them clapped after the vote. One of them, Vietnam veteran David Halcrow, apologized to Dei after the meeting.

    “What was done to her … those people need to be in the clink,” said Halcrow. “It if were up to me, they would be in jail. There’s no excuse for that kind of thing.”

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    Veterans ‘Burn Pits’ Bill Marks A Personal Victory For Biden

    Burn pits were used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, plastics, medical equipment and human waste.

    President Joe Biden, whose elder son died of cancer after serving in Iraq, signed legislation on Wednesday expanding federal health care services for veterans who served at military bases where toxic smoke billowed from huge “burn pits.”

    “So many of you here today remind us that we have fought for this for so many years,” President Biden said during an emotional White House ceremony that reflected the struggles of military families — and the president’s personal experience.

    President Biden was introduced by Danielle Robinson, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years ago. The legislation is named for him.

    She described her late husband as “a soldier as strong as an ox” but also “the ultimate cuddler” for his daughter Brielle, who stood to her mother’s side clutching a stuffed figurine wearing military camouflage.

    “Ours is just one story,” Danielle Robinson said. “So many military families have had to fight this terrible emotional battle. So many veterans are still battling burn pit illnesses today.”

    After the Robinsons took their seats for the president’s remarks, President Biden addressed Brielle directly.

    “I know you miss your daddy. But he’s with you all the time,” he said. “He’s inside you. He’s going to whisper in your ear when you have hard decisions to make.”

    Then he pointed out that Brielle was sitting next to his grandson, the son of Beau Biden.

    “His daddy lost to the same burn pits,” President Biden said. “He knows what you’re going through.”

    It was the most direct link the president has publicly drawn between Beau’s fatal brain cancer and burn pits, which were used to dispose of chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste on military bases.

    President Biden made addressing the problem one of his priorities during his State of the Union address in March.

    “I was going to get this done, come hell or high water,” he said Wednesday.

    Sen. Jon Tester, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said President Biden was a driving force behind the legislation, which passed last week.

    “He was continually pushing because whether Beau died of this or not, I think Joe thinks that it had some impact, and so he wanted this fixed,” Tester said. “And because he thinks it was the right thing to do. So different president, different set of priorities, this would have probably never happened.”

    Burn pits were used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste. However, 70% of disability claims involving exposure to the pits were denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    “For too long, too many veterans who got sick while fighting for our country had to fight for their care here at home,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said at Wednesday’s ceremony.

    The legislation will direct officials to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit exposure, helping veterans get disability payments without having to prove the illness was the result of their service.

    “Veterans who have been sickened to the point of being unable to work, unable to take care of their families, won’t have to spend that time fighting the government to get the healthcare they earned,” said Jeremy Butler, head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “This is monumental.”

    Butler attended the ceremony, along with Le Roy and Rosie Torres, husband and wife advocates for veterans health care who started the organization Burn Pits 360. Le Roy developed constrictive bronchitis after serving in Iraq, making breathing difficult.

    Although the provision involving burn pits has garnered the most attention, other health care services will be expanded as well.

    Veterans who have served since the Sept. 11 attacks will have a decade to sign up for VA health care, double the current five years.

    And there’s more help for veterans from the Vietnam War. The legislation adds hypertension to list of ailments that are presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the U.S. military to clear vegetation.

    In addition, veterans who served during the war in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll will also be considered to have been exposed to the chemical.

    The legislation is considered to be the largest expansion of veterans health care in more than three decades, but it became an unlikely political football shortly before it passed.

    On the day that the Senate was expected to grant it final approval, Republicans unexpectedly blocked it. Veterans who had traveled to Washington for a moment of triumph were devastated.

    “All the veterans were down there because they were expecting to celebrate,” Butler said. “And then they were absolutely stabbed in the back.”

    Republicans said they were concerned about technical changes to how the legislation was funded. Democrats accused them of throwing a fit because they were unhappy about a separate deal to advance President Biden’s domestic agenda on climate change, taxes and prescription drugs.

    Instead of going home, some veterans began holding what they called a “fire watch” outside the Capitol, an impromptu vigil to keep public pressure on the Senate.

    They stayed around the clock, despite the stifling summer heat and torrential thunderstorms. Jon Stewart, the comedian who has advocated for veterans, joined them as well. President Biden wanted to go but couldn’t because he was isolating with a coronavirus infection, so he spoke to the demonstrators in a video call when VA Secretary McDonough dropped off pizza.

    Days after the demonstration began, the Senate held another vote, and the measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

    Veterans were in the gallery watching the vote take place.

    “Every single person I was with was bawling. Just bawling,” said Matt Zeller, a former Army captain who was among the demonstrators. “I cried for a solid five minutes.”

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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    Former Software Engineer Aims To Change The Future Of Farming

    A former IBM engineer is building open-source tractors for the masses in hopes of changing how food is grown and who grows it.

    The founder of Ronnie Baugh Tractors in Paint Rock, Alabama learned an invaluable lesson as a marine in the Vietnam War: If you believe something’s impossible, you’re dead.

    Horace Clemmons, now 79, says that advice not only kept him alive in the war; it’s also the driving force behind his current effort to reinvent an industry now dominated by corporate giants like John Deere and AGCO.

    “The goal is to try to convince everybody else they can make these things,” Clemmons said. “All you need is two jack stands and somebody that can turn a wrench and somebody that can weld, and you’re in business making your own tractor.”

    Clemmons worked for IBM in the 1970s as an early software engineer, but his success came after he left that job and founded the first cash register company to use open-source software.

    “I said at the time I left IBM, ‘I will create a business unlike IBM,'” Clemmons said. “People will not do business with me because they have to. They will do business with me because they want to.”

    In a former t-shirt factory surrounded by cotton farms that now export their harvest to China, Clemmons today is trying to bring that same open-source philosophy to tractors.

    Everything that goes into a tractor is somewhat cheap and widely available. If someone can’t afford the $22,000 sticker price, Clemmons will sell them the plans to build their own. Its “open system design” is a far cry from the patented and proprietary technology of a John Deere. 

    The hope is that this novel approach will inspire farmers to innovate and customize the tractor the same way open-source computing and the coders who had access to it sparked the PC revolution that changed the world.

    “So IBM started dominating the PC market, but Michael Dell in his dorm room looked at what IBM was doing and said, ‘But the customers are asking for something different,'” Clemmons said. “And IBM says, ‘No, no, you buy what I got.’ And Michael decided, ‘Screw that. I’m going to start a business doing what the customer wants done.’ Like, what was Dell’s revenue last year? 107 or 8 billion. And what was IBM’s? 50 something? Okay. If we do the right thing, that’ll be John Deere 10 years from now.”

    Clemmons says his ultimate goal is to give the millions of impoverished small farmers around the world access to mechanization and the economic empowerment that comes with it. He says the whole concept behind Ronnie Baugh Tractors is to show the world what’s possible. Partners in Uganda, Senegal and the Philippines have already licensed the design and are now building Oggun tractors domestically. They’re even adding two-wheel and fully electric versions to the lineup. 

    Having access to low cost, highly customizable agricultural equipment that is also open-source technology has the potential to benefit millions of small farmers in the developing world. But in the U.S., the idea is also gaining traction — for very different reasons.

    In Tarrytown, New York, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is like a living laboratory for sustainable food production. Jack Algiere, the center’s director of agroecology, says he purchased one of Clemmon’s first Oggun tractors because of its versatility. 

    “The diversity of a farm like this where we’re growing literally hundreds of different crops — there is no one piece of equipment, there is no giant thing that we’ll use to solve all of our problems,” Algiere said. “There are a lot of little instruments in our toolbox, so we want those to be as minimal as possible and as repairable as possible.”

    Not to mention, there’s the ability to tinker with the design. Algiere says he’s made multiple modifications, cutting and welding the frame to raise the floorbed, making room for nearly a dozen different custom tools. All of these changes are shared among the growing Oggun community of small farmers. Farmers, he says, who have been underserved by the agricultural equipment industry since big agriculture all but wiped out the small farm in the 1950s.

    “No one goes small anymore,” Algiere said. “Once you get small, you go into garden tractor garden equipment, lawn tractors, because that’s where the market is. This is an invisible market.”

    It’s an invisible but growing market. Algiere says as climate change wreaks havoc on agriculture, the need to adopt a smaller scale, locally adapted approach to growing food has never been greater.

    “It’s not about reliving some past or, you know, a fairy tale of what agriculture was, but what our future looks like,” Algiere said.

    At the Hudson Valley Seed Company in Accord, New York, Steven Crist uses an Oggun tractor to grow more than 70 varieties of crops a year, producing organic, heirloom seeds that are shipped all over the country.

    “For us here, it’s our finesse tool,” Crist said. “When we got this tractor, we were scaling up at the same time, so we built our whole farm around this thing.”

    Crist says aside from the utility of the tractor, he felt aligned with the philosophy behind it. 

    “It felt in league with the mission of seed saving, organic seed saving in general, where we’re trying to not create borders, not control a patent or a thing,” Crist said. “We’re trying to proliferate it and give people access to the ability to do good work in the world. That’s kind of mushy, but it’s true.”

    With climate change and an ever-widening global economic divide, Clemmons says he’s determined so see his plans through, even if it takes generations.

    “I mean, people tell me I’m crazy, and I agree with them,” Clemmons said. “I have a sister who tells me I’m as crazy as she is, and I chuckle and say, ‘You’re right, but mine is socially beneficial. I am me. I get up every day. Being me.”

    Clemmons says he would rather fail trying to change a broken system than succeed by following its rules.

    Source: newsy.com

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    Senate Approves Bill To Aid Vets Exposed To Toxic Burn Pits

    By Associated Press
    August 2, 2022

    The Senate has given final approval to a bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

    A bill enhancing health care and disability benefits for millions of veterans exposed to toxic burn pits won final approval in the Senate on Tuesday, ending a brief stalemate over the measure that had infuriated advocates and inspired some to camp outside the Capitol.

    The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 86-11. It now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. He has said the bill “makes good on our sacred obligation” to care for veterans and their families.

    The Senate had overwhelming approved the legislation back in June, but a do-over was required to make a technical fix. That process derailed when Republicans made a late attempt to change another aspect of the bill last week and blocked it from advancing.

    The abrupt delay outraged veterans groups and advocates, including comedian Jon Stewart. It also placed GOP senators in the uncomfortable position of delaying the top legislative priority of service organizations this session of Congress.

    A group of veterans and their families have been camping out at the Capitol since that vote. They had endured thunderstorms and Washington’s notorious August humidity, but they were in the galleries as senators cast their votes.

    “You can go home knowing the good and great thing you have done and accomplished for the United States of America,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told them.

    The legislation expands access to health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs for millions who served near burn pits. It directs the VA to presume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit exposure, allowing veterans to obtain disability payments to compensate for their injury without having to prove the illness was a result of their service.

    Roughly 70% of disability claims related to burn pit exposure are denied by the VA due to lack of evidence, scientific data and information from the Defense Department.

    The military used burn pits to dispose of such things as chemicals, cans, tires, plastics and medical and human waste.

    Hundreds of thousands of Vietnam War era veterans and survivors also stand to benefit from the legislation. The bill adds hypertension, or high blood pressure, as a presumptive disease associated with Agent Orange exposure.

    The Congressional Budget Office projected that about 600,000 of 1.6 million living Vietnam vets would be eligible for increased compensation, though only about half would have severe enough diagnoses to warrant more compensation.

    Also, veterans who served in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll will be presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. That’s another 50,000 veterans and survivors of deceased veterans who would get compensation for illnesses presumed to have been caused by their exposure to the herbicide, the CBO projected.

    The bill is projected to increase federal deficits by about $277 billion over 10 years.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press. 

    Source: newsy.com

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    Ramos, Ex-Philippine Leader Who Helped Oust Dictator, Dies

    By Associated Press
    July 31, 2022

    Ramos won the 1992 presidential elections and became the largely Roman Catholic nation’s first Protestant president.

    Former Philippine President Fidel Valdez Ramos, a U.S.-trained ex-general who saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars and played a key role in a 1986 pro-democracy uprising that ousted a dictator, has died. He was 94.

    It was not immediately clear what caused his death but one of his longtime aides, Norman Legaspi, told The Associated Press that Ramos had been in and out of the hospital in recent years due to a heart condition and had suffered from dementia.

    Some of Ramos’s relatives were with him when he died on Sunday at the Makati Medical Center in metropolitan Manila, Legaspi said, adding the family would issue a statement on his death later Sunday.

    “He was an icon. We lost a hero and I lost a father,” said Legaspi, a retired Philippine air force official, who served as a key staff to Ramos for about 15 years.

    Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles condoled with Ramos’ family. “He leaves behind a colorful legacy and a secure place in history for his participation in the great changes of our country, both as military officer and chief executive,” she said in a statement.

    The cigar-chomping Ramos, known for his visionary “win-win” outlook, attention to detail, a thumbs-up sign and firm handshake, served as president from 1992 to 1998, succeeding the democracy icon, Corazon Aquino. She was swept into the presidency in 1986 after an army-backed and largely peaceful “People Power” revolt toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was also a cousin of Ramos.

    The uprising, which became a harbinger of change in authoritarian regimes worldwide, came after Ramos, the head of the Philippine Constabulary, and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile withdrew their support from Marcos following a failed coup.

    Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Sin then summoned Filipinos to surround and shield the military and constabulary camps in the capital region where the defectors and their forces dug in, sparking crucial government defections that eventually drove Marcos, his family and cronies to U.S. exile.

    After Aquino rose to the presidency, Ramos became the military chief of staff and later defense secretary, successfully defending her from several violent coup attempts.

    Ramos won the 1992 presidential elections and became the largely Roman Catholic nation’s first Protestant president. His term was marked by major reforms and attempts to dismantle telecommunications and other business monopolies that triggered a rare economic boom, bolstered the image of the impoverished Southeast Asian country and drew praise from business leaders and the international community.

    His calm bearing in times of crises earned him the moniker “Steady Eddie.”

    A son of a longtime legislator and foreign secretary, Ramos graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1950. He was a part of the Philippine combat contingent that fought in the Korean War and was also involved in the Vietnam War as a non-combat civil military engineer.

    Ramos is survived by his wife, Amelita “Ming” Ramos, a school official, pianist, sports and an environmental advocate, and their four daughters. Their second child, Josephine “Jo” Ramos-Samartino, passed away in 2011.

    Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

    Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

    Source: newsy.com

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