My Brush With Biological ‘Warfare’ (631) 271-7500 EJSmythco.com April 2020
I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps reserve in 1989. I left for Parris Island the day after I graduated high school. The Marines offered an exciting array of training and job opportunities. Everything my 17-year-old self found utterly amazing — from tanks to air traffic control, flight crew, artillery, and even embassy duty. Now, 31 years later, I can still vividly remember the crushing disappointment I felt when I was assigned the military occupational specialty (MOS) 5711, Nuclear Biological Chemical Warfare Defense (aka NBC). Ugh ... I received orders to report in June to NBC school located at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Only Uncle Sam could think military training in full-body protective suits with thick rubber gas masks and plastic hoods in the Alabama summer is a good idea. One of my classmates summed it up with the rhetorical question, “Does the Corps do anything at room temperature?” Frankly, I always thought the NBC lesson plans were a bit absurd. For example: Use a handheld compass to measure the width of a nearby nuclear mushroom cloud to determine the yield of the explosion. I’m not kidding! Nobody ever adequately explained to me how I was expected to do this in the midst of a nuclear attack as I burrowed myself in the deepest hole I could find. “Selective unmasking” is another memorable favorite. We were trained to select one Marine at a time to remove their mask to determine if poison gas had dissipated. If they asphyxiated shortly after removing their mask, then everyone else would keep theirs on. If they survived, the “all clear” signal was given. The lesson plan included the very practical first step: Disarm the Marine selected to unmask before they know they’ve been chosen.
Observe social distancing and wash your hands frequently are both solid pieces of advice. Avoid areas of high contamination at all cost, and only go to hospitals and medical clinics as a last resort. Self-quarantine if you are not feeling well.
The recent outbreak of the coronavirus has brought back a flood of memories concerning my biological defense training, or more accurately, a trickle of memories. The biological defense training evolution was surprisingly short. While I recall very little of the highly technical nuclear or chemical training, I recall almost all of the biological defense training because there is so little to remember: Keep inoculations and vaccines up to date, maintain personal hygiene — even in the field — and keep the food and water supply protected. That’s it. I wish I could offer a magic cure for this outbreak, but unfortunately there isn’t one. However, the most important principle of decontamination is avoiding contamination in the first place, and it’s the best defense.
And don’t stockpile toilet paper ...
P.S. Our office is still operating remotely. If you have questions about real estate, estate planning, or civil litigation, please email me at ESmyth@EJSmythCo.com.
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SOMETHING IN THE WATER WHY ROB BILOTT TOOK ON DUPONT
property provided water for all the cattle and wildlife in the area. Since the sale, the stream had become frothy and discolored, and the animals that drank from it were sick, malformed, or dead, including 153 of Tennant’s 200 cows. When Bilott stumbled upon a letter from DuPont to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the real horror story began to emerge — one that went far beyond the boundaries of Tennant’s farm and into the drinking water of every American. The letter mentioned a mysterious chemical called PFOA, and Bilott requested documentation from DuPont to find out more about it. However, the company refused, so Bilott requested a court order. Soon, dozens of disorganized boxes filled with thousands of 50-year-old files arrived at Bilott’s firm.
Rob Bilott never should have agreed to represent Wilbur Tennant’s case.
The cattle farmer had presented evidence of the strange malady plaguing his cattle to lawyers, politicians, and veterinarians in Parkersburg, West Virginia, but no one took Tennant’s case seriously.
in the mess of documents, but soon, his time as an environmental lawyer helped him see the bigger picture. It became clear that DuPont had orchestrated a massive cover-up regarding their use of PFOA. PFOA is used in the manufacturing of Teflon, and the company had knowingly exposed workers and the Parkersburg water supply to it. Bilott filed a class-action suit as a medical monitoring claim on behalf of the people of Parkersburg, and, as of 2011, a probable link between PFOA and six health conditions, including two types of cancer, has been found.
But when Bilott saw the evidence for himself, it was clear that something was wrong.
The videos and photographs Tennant had collected showed cattle with patchy fur, growths and lesions, white slime coming from their mouths, and staggering gaits. Tennant told Bilott that the abnormal behavior and physical deformities had started after his brother Jim sold his property to DuPont, a chemical company with a big presence in Parkersburg. Jim’s property bordered on Wilbur’s, and a stream running from Jim’s
He was worried he wouldn’t be able to find anything incriminating or even conclusive Because of the medical monitoring claim, plaintiffs can file personal injury lawsuits against DuPont. So far, 3,535 people have. If it weren’t for Bilott and Tennant, the public might have never known the dangers of PFOA. DOYOUR PART TO KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL And Maintain Green Living Spaces for Everyone
jogging and picking up litter, which takes care of your health and keeps your community clean. Anybody can do it: Just throw on your running shoes, grab a bag, head out the door, and pick up any stray bits of trash you see on your morning jog or evening walk.
to better the place you live in. Here are three ways to show your appreciation for a green America this month.
Have you ever walked through a park and seen a plastic bottle or wrapper lying on the ground? If so, did you pick it up and properly dispose of it? You might not have realized it, but in that moment, you took a small step toward keeping your community — and, by extension, America — beautiful! April is Keep America Beautiful Month, and folks who celebrate aim to help each community in every state stay clean and green. Created by the nonprofit organization Keep America Beautiful, this holiday offers a perfect opportunity to roll up your sleeves and work
TAKE ACTION ONLINE.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, it might be difficult to get outside and participate in a few community cleanup programs. But that doesn’t mean the public still can’t participate in Keep America Beautiful Month. April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and to celebrate, Earth Day Network is providing digital events for everyone around the world to take part in. Follow Earth Day Network’s social media accounts and stay updated on efforts to keep the Earth green or participate in an event yourself! For more information, visit EarthDay.org.
IMPROVE RECYCLING THROUGH EDUCATION.
An important goal during Keep America Beautiful Month is to spread awareness about recycling. There are various ways to educate those around you about recycling and encourage them to do their part. At work, for example, you can volunteer to lead a recycling initiative by printing off guides and fostering discussions on why recycling is so essential. At home, you can make a commitment with your family to fulfill the three R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, recycle. To discover more ways to participate in Keep America Beautiful Month, visit their website at KAB.org today!
If you’re passionate about staying active and cleaning up your neighborhood, then this is the perfect activity for you! Plogging combines
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TAKE A BREAK
The color pink has moved through different countries and cultures as it has gone in and out of fashion, and recently, the color underwent yet another exciting evolution with the creation of “the world’s pinkest pink,” which actually came about due to a scuffle over the world’s blackest black. Surrey NanoSystems introduced the first version of the world’s blackest black, known as Vantablack. When Vantablack is painted on an object, that object loses its features, giving Vantablack the potential to be very useful for the military. After its creation, the shade intrigued artists everywhere, and they were eager to give it a try. However, Anish Kapoor, one of the wealthiest artists in the world, signed a contract giving him exclusive rights to Vantablack, which he kept to himself. Enraged artists across the globe voiced their displeasure, but none so loudly as Stuart Semple, another British artist. The unnecessary lockdown on the shade infuriated Semple, so he decided to get back at Kapoor in the best way he knew how: He created and released a pigment he dubbed “THE WORLD’S PINKEST PINK” and legally banned Kapoor from using it. Semple created a website, CultureHustleUSA.com, and displays the 50 gram-powdered paint jar on sale, available to anyone who wants to use it — except Kapoor. He even added a note to the page displaying the product: “By adding this product to your cart, you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated with Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information, and belief, this paint will not make its way into the hands of Anish Kapoor.” Then, to make sure his intentions were clear, he added “#ShareTheBlack.” To Semple’s dismay, however, Kapoor got his hands on the pinkest pink through his London representative. Recovering quickly from the news, Semple rallied artists everywhere, and together they created “BLACK 2.0.” This black is so close to Vantablack that there is hardly a difference, and even better, it’s more affordable, smells like black cherries, and is available to everyone, except — you guessed it — Anish Kapoor. Color us amazed! KAPOOR VS. SEMPLE An Artistic Feud That Brought About the World’s Pinkest Pink
EASY DEVILED EGGS
While the kids hunt for Easter eggs in the yard, whip up this easy deviled egg recipe for a hearty snack that’s sure to satisfy any craving.
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
12 large eggs, hard-boiled
1/2 tsp dill weed
Fresh parsley, minced, and paprika for garnish
1/2 tsp fresh chives, minced
1. In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk, parsley flakes, dill, chives, mustard, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and pepper. Mix well and set aside. 2. Cut eggs lengthwise and remove yolks carefully to preserve egg whites. 3. In a small bowl, mash yolks. 4. Mix mashed yolks with mayonnaise mixture. 5. Spoon or pipe the mixture back into the egg whites. 6. Garnish with fresh parsley and paprika. Refrigerate before serving.
Inspired by TasteOfHome.com
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE
My Brush With Biological ‘Warfare’
The Lawyer Who Took on a Multibillion-Dollar Company Keep America Beautiful
Easy Deviled Eggs Outrage That Created the Pinkest Pink
The History of Libraries in America
THE OLDEST LIBRARIES IN AMERICA A STORY OF MANY FIRSTS
A FEW MORE FIRSTS
What’s the oldest library in America? It’s an easy question to ask, but it has an unexpectedly complicated answer. Before the Industrial Revolution generated greater interest in public services, a library’s function and purpose varied widely. Several libraries in the United States claim to be the country’s “first,” but for different reasons.
During the 1700s, a few more “first” libraries were established. In 1731, Ben Franklin and a few others started the first subscription library in the United States. Members of subscription libraries could pay to buy books or borrow them for free. In 1757, 60 men founded the Library Company of Burlington in New Jersey, and Thomas Rodman received a charter from King George II to operate the business in 1758. The library still operates under that charter today. The Library of Burlington was the first library to operate out of its own building after a prominent resident donated the land in 1789.
COLLEGES AND THE CLERGY
Hampshire, at a town meeting. It was the first tax-supported free public library in the United States and in the world. Not long after that, the Boston Public Library, known as the “palace for the people,” became the first municipal public library in the country. The Boston Public Library was also the first library to have a space specifically for children. Out of all the “first” libraries in the country, these are the most probable progenitors of most libraries today — even if they weren’t exactly “first.”
Some believe Harvard University hosted the first library in the United States. Harvard was the first university in the United States, founded in 1636, and clergyman John Harvard seeded the library with a 400-book collection. Soon after, however, Thomas Bray, another clergyman, began establishing the first free lending libraries throughout the colonies to encourage the spread of the Anglican Church. Not surprisingly, most of the libraries’ holdings were theological.
BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE
In 1833, just as the Industrial Revolution was picking up steam, the Peterborough Town Library was founded in Peterborough, New
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