The military exists to engage in seemingly endless war, but the damage doesn't stop during peace time. For decades, the US military (and many others around the world) has been systematically destroying the Earth and the very nations they're sworn to protect. Disregard for the natural world and those that inhabit it has resulted in the US military becoming the largest single polluter in the world, destroying large swaths of land, and poisoning foreigners and Americans alike. Can this machine be stopped?

Additionally, this week we're joined by activist and journalist Sophia Perez for a special interview on the military's plans to destroy islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands - plans we're running out of time to stop.

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Chapters

  • 01:57 Around the World
  • 10:21 Sophia Perez
  • 12:08 CNMI
  • 15:36 Original Bargain
  • 17:42 How does the military sell this idea?
  • 21:10 Natural Connection
  • 26:09 Alternative Zero Coalition
  • 27:35 NEPA
  • 30:25 Resistance
  • 35:30 What can we learn from the Marianas?
  • 42:43 How can we help?
  • 46:07 Colonialism is not over
  • 50:53 Domestic Damage
  • 54:50 Open Burn Pits
  • 1:04:40 The Military, Trust, and Health
  • 1:09:21 Perpetual War
  • 1:11:58 "Dude, where's my nukes?"
  • 1:14:48 What can we do?
  • 1:17:15 What is the purpose of military?

(This transcript needs work; sorry for the machine version until we can fix it)

David Torcivia:

I'm David Torcivia

Daniel Forkner:

I'm Daniel Forkner.

David Torcivia:

[0:06] And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment, and if we're unlucky - the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:12] But if we learn from all of this, maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken, but it doesn't have to be.

Sophia Perez:

[0:18] Colonialism is not over the exploitation of indigenous people is not over, if at any point you learned in school or just like me your own reading about the genocide of the Native Americans and you thought how could that have happened how could people have just stopped by while is clear Injustice was happening. It's still happening and that combination of ignorance of complacency of racism on the part of the people who are actually letting these people. It's all completely still happening.

David Torcivia:

[0:52] Sophia Perez in activist highlighting some of the issues we're going to be discussing today but more of that later on in this episode foremost.

[1:06] Sports images online maybe we know somebody who served in combat or is it veteran what is something that is very distant from us the idea of War and the casualties of that inflicts is something that most of us do not encounter in our day-to-day life. And what militaries exist to fight Wars in between those Wars they're still busy dropping bombs firing bullets. Preparing for whatever that next inevitable conflict maybe and those actions have consequences as well. Selena bombing enemy militants or accidentally hitting civilian.

[1:55] The modern military.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:57] David in 1898 the United States took over Puerto Rico from Spain,

Around The World [2:03] and ever since then as in many ways abused the island for its natural resources. In addition to these resources the island has been very valuable to the United States strategically as a forward base for naval ships and military operations. This part of strategic preparations the US military displaced thousands of Puerto Ricans from their homes to acquire land including two-thirds of the island Vieques just off the eastern coast of the Puerto Rican mainland.

[2:32] The military pushed these residents of Vieques to the center of the island so that they could conduct bombing and training on the east coast and dump spent shells and other waste on the West Coast, from 1940 to 2003 the US tested just about every weapon in its Arsenal on the island including Agent Orange, and it even fire depleted uranium shells and as you might expect this left the island devastated, the Environmental Protection Agency classified the entire Island and surrounding Waters as a Superfund Site on its National priorities list in 2005, including it among the other most toxic and contaminated sites in the United States.

[3:14] And you would think that this puts the burden of cleanup and restoration on the US military specifically the Navy but they found an interesting way to avoid responsibility, shortly after the Navy left the island the US Department of Fish and Wildlife conveniently transformed most of the land into a wildlife refuge, meaning that the Navy legally cannot clear out those unexploded bombs and deal with the contamination because that would require disturbing a wildlife refuge. And we don't want to do that do we outside of this Refuge over 50 sites where identify the required immediate attention, and the Navy has conducted This Clean Up by detonating unexploded bombs in the air and burning vegetation a process likely to add more pollution to the air and surrounding area and which has prompted one local scientist to comment quote I come to think that maybe it's better for the Navy not to do anything into quote.

[4:10] David this reminds me of people who when they're asked to do the dishes or fold the laundry or they just do it so poorly that their spouse or whoever asked them to stop. It takes over for them to our military is like oh you want me to clean this area, are you sure and then proceeded to just detonate bombs in the air and create open air burn pits.

David Torcivia:

[4:30] Yeah that the strategy I think that ended in divorce for everyone but what else is new here, this is such a great example in the in the legacy of the military's actions on this island are absolutely still living on right now with very severe consequences for the people around them plant animal on the island and extremely high levels of lead copper nickel and other heavy metals which make their way into the local food supply by other animals consuming into the food chain and in fact animals on the island at 50 times the concentration of lead in their bodies when compared to animals on the mainland.

Daniel Forkner:

[5:01] 80% of the local test positive for off-the-charts levels of lead aluminum arsenic Mercury and cadmium in their hair.

David Torcivia:

[5:11] And this has real consequences asthma skin disease kidney failure and heart problems occur at extremely high rates on the island.

Daniel Forkner:

[5:19] Vieques locals have a 56% higher chance of dying from cancer eight times higher risk of death from heart disease and a 7 times higher risk of death from diabetes when people on the Puerto Rico island.

David Torcivia:

[5:32] What's interesting about this topic. Is it there are many acres of Wild Ones public land in America that have been contaminated from numerous old military operations this is not something unique places outside of the domestic contiguous us, parts of Martha's Vineyard is still littered with bombs to this day in the Rocky Mountains with chemical weapons were built and dumped the Legacy lives on. Parts of the Old Fort McClellan base in Alabama which has a long history of contamination was also conveniently converted to Wildlife Refuge delaying cleanup, in 2008 a Florida Middle School dug up 400 live bombs beneath their playgrounds including one under a sand plate that land which was donated by the military.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:18] Another example David of places outside the United States that have been affected by military operations include the Philippines, in December of 1991 the Philippine government rejected us desire to renew a 10-year lease for military presence there siding America's Colonial relationship with the Philippines as an insult to their sovereignty, at the time the New York Times predicted that this would be disastrous for the Philippine economy because of the aid we provided in exchange for our military presence, although as we touch down in our episode debt end David foreign aid money rarely comes without strings attached. In addition to u.s. Pacific Fleet Commander at the time describe the Strategic value of the Philippines bases and one of the reasons was an abundant source of cheap Filipino labor. Anyway we left and then our wake the Philippines had a massive environmental problem to deal with.

David Torcivia:

[7:12] While we were there are u.s. navy injective 3.75 million gallons of untreated sewage into the fishing and swimming Waters every single day. Do another chemicals were pumped into underground tanks with no leak protections and some actually were pump directly into the ground no tanks leading to contamination of the water table, land use as dumping grounds are highly toxic glue dangerous Asbestos and many other pollutants.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:40] Today people who live in work around these abandoned us bases now suffer from lung disease leukemia miscarriages and stillbirth skin disease heart disease and various cancers along with, the facts including cerebral palsy, and the US position on this is pretty incredible David essentially what we are saying is that we have no responsibility to clean any of this up because when we left the Philippines will they got to keep our infrastructure in our real estate so we're even, not remember what the New York Times is reporting in 1991 during this controversy they're saying that the Philippines kick us out, boo hoo for them because their economy is going to collapse because of all these jobs we are providing for them but today when we're faced with the claims of environmental problems were saying hate we left you all this real estate, we're even and let's be clear here we colonized the Philippines we subjugated their people we use them for cheap labor, and these military bases and elsewhere we dumped are toxic waste on their ground and then when they forces out when he said okay I will then you can have the land back that we took from you and that means where you.

David Torcivia:

[8:48] This story is repeated countlessly around the world over and over in so many foreign locations in Okinawa Japan, locals are fighting against us pollution of the island and of the actions and behavior of the Marines stationed there to the point where the US is forced to relocate many of these soldiers to other places something will discuss in a moment, in Korea mini local activists are trying to push the United States away from the occupation of their country the same bases across the Middle East impact the US has over 800 foreign military bases in over 70 countries around the world almost all of them with severe environmental problems.

Daniel Forkner:

[9:25] Not even to mention David the legacy of chemical warfare and other contamination we directly imposed on foreign people like the five million Vietnamese that were exposed, to agent orange and who continue to be exposed through their food or drinking water and the air that I breathe.

David Torcivia:

[9:41] Or the 80 million unexploded cluster bombs at still cover the land of Laos because the shadow bombing campaign that occurred there during the Vietnam war these examples are endless.

Daniel Forkner:

[9:51] They are in this David and many of them are historical although they are ongoing but I think. These examples should serve as cautionary tales and should inform the way we go forward. The way we perceive the military with the way that we respond to it and to help provide some perspective on some ongoing struggles we wanted to do this episode to highlight what is going on in the Northern Mariana Islands, and to help explain that to us we're going to be joined by Sophia parents.

Sophia Perez

Daniel Forkner:

[10:22] So we're here with Sophia Perez she's an activist than journalist with Heritage from the Marianas she grew up in San Francisco and she's here to tell us about the US military's desire to turn to islands in the Marianas tinian and PAW gun into a military testing site for bombings and life are in that kind of thing in, she's here to tell us about how that's going to impact the local people there and what they're doing to resist what will essentially be the ratification of islands that are very important not just of their cultural identity. To the very lives so Sophia thanks for joining us.

Sophia Perez:

[10:54] Thanks so much for having me on.

David Torcivia:

[10:55] So maybe we should start this conversation with a brief overview of what's going on and what the cnmi is and just get people who aren't a quid with something that I mean this is a commonwealth of the United States but we never think about it or talk about it, and so just laying down to very initials basic conversation of what's going on here is really important.

Sophia Perez:

[11:16] Right yeah and it's it's that locks miliary with the state of mind the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands that contribute to a lack of accountability when it comes to military action. They're so I'm happy to introduce people to the Mariana Islands, Guam but north of Guam are 15 more Islands an archipelago, and they have a different territorial status than Guam Guam is basically a modern Colony the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is be joining you as family voluntarily do the signing of a cup in 1976. So there are two indigenous people that live there there's that your morals and they've been there for 4000 used one of the oldest lasting civilizations in the Pacific, and they're the Carolinians and they've been there for 200 years they migrated after a particularly bad typhoon about 200 years ago.

David Torcivia:

[12:08] Can you give us a little bit information about the two islands in question is with this whole movement.

Cnmi

Sophia Perez:

[12:14] Sure so tinian is not the most populated by any means but it's one of the more substantial ones the most populated Islands type in I guess actually aside from the one with about 50,000 people on it and has 3500. Yeah genuine some people might have heard of it because that's where the atomic bomb at the claim to Thomas bomb that hit Hiroshima Nagasaki launched from, it's not a World War II history on all of these islands with seating is particularly, the other one is parking parking used to have a civilization on it right now it's got about 11 people living out there in the boonies.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:50] You've been Tupac on right.

Sophia Perez:

[12:52] Yes it's beautiful it's untappd and it's a place of serious spiritual significance to The Tomorrow People and the Carolinian people, it's an incestral Homeland and if you talk to any of the activist who are trying to protect it, and I can say that I felt this is well when you get there there is a certain feeling of having come home it feels like you're interacting with but ancestors is very special place to the people.

Daniel Forkner:

[13:20] That's something I want to talk about a little bit more later on is this cultural significance of these islands. To understand what's going on here can we set up the situation so. 9000 US Marines got kicked off the island of Okinawa Japan that correct and so they were sent back to Guam where they're going to be stationed instead. In order to accommodate than the US military wants to expand their live-fire testing and bombing operations on these islands for all these new marines that I can be stationed there.

Sophia Perez:

[13:51] Right I believe I think they're still on Okinawa they haven't you moved to Guam yet yet. They are not popular among the Okinawan even recently there was a huge protest against the moving of one base from a more populated part of Okinawa to the less populated part of Okinawa. Play shuffling around these marines but the people of Okinawa really just don't want to know.

David Torcivia:

[14:12] Yeah I'm will go into more depth later on in this episode exactly why that's the case but it's everything from environmental concerns to the behavior in the Marines themselves.

Sophia Perez:

[14:21] Right but what sort of created the need for these training ranges was yes the plan to relocate the Marines that were stationed in Okinawa on where deteriorating relationship between the US government and and the people of Okinawa, taking them over to Guam and pretty military bases there which was a process that many tomorrows were not happy with either cuz it involves just like destroying old growth forests and cultural sites on Guam, that's what created the necessity to happy training ranges in the northern Marianas is these marines need to have their mactac training so that means going out and doing like, stop on Life by treating me just like once a week once a month.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:00] I see I think the historical example that most closely mirrors like what you guys are going through in the Marianas is Vieques that island off of Puerto Rico.

Sophia Perez:

[15:08] Solutely absolutely.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:10] It just seems very similar to me like this is the beginning stages of what they went.

Sophia Perez:

[15:15] Right and the way that the indigenous people of yet cuz we're able to I don't know if the counters indigenous but the people that Island resident Sofia kids who are able to get there and back with bye, putting out the word, and having very celebrities athletes whatever start to talk about this issue so that's what brought it to the mainland so I truly appreciate you guys creating platforms for the sick.

Original Bargain

Daniel Forkner:

[15:37] So as you alluded to with the.

[15:46] There was a bargain that happened a while back that established the original intent of the US military on tinian. I think they took over two-thirds of the island but in exchange they promised to hospital. They didn't mention that they were going to do any type of. Destruction in the area exactly and are they now using that initial occupation as justification for increased activity in the area or. Have they tried to apply or ask permission what what exactly is the process by which they're trying to do all this these additional activities.

Sophia Perez:

[16:19] You know it's funny because, it's sort of an unprecedented situation and the process is kind of being from what I can understand her being negotiated as it happens that the military will not follow any rules that they're not held accountable all the way, so yes currently there least in the northern troops two-thirds of tinian which they got during the signing of the seat of my Covenant, but at least had certain expectations one of which was that anything major that land it should be able to be returned after the lease in the same way that they found it, and the military has a very loose interpretation of what exactly that would mean if they are greeting li-fi training ranges on TV and that actually happened there going to be dropping, thousands and thousands of bombs and shooting missiles and it's destroying the place, yes there is some rules but at the interpretation of those rules is sometimes just like way out of whack on the part of the military, but the governor of the state of my of Noel Torres as giving the military a Ferno on this plan. So I think that they're basically waiting out there an election going on right now the waiting up to see if he gets re-elected and I think they're going to go from there as far as what their next steps are they can go to the Senate and try and take it to me we'll see.

David Torcivia:

[17:34] Yeah I'm at that happened I don't think there's probably a lot of Hope in this current Administration unfortunate.

Sophia Perez:

[17:39] Right right I think that that was passed easily.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:42] Can you speak to how this is being sold by the US military to locals on the ground because I think you mentioned or or one of the activist you interviewed and your own podcast which will share on the web page.

How Does The Military Sell This Idea? [17:55] We encourage everybody to listen to someone mentioned that the military like you just said they have to return the island the way they found it and they're still promising that right I mean. Even though they say they're going to be bombing the place what do they said they're going to move the animals out of the way and then return that is that true they really telling people.

Sophia Perez:

[18:15] It's amazing what they say Anna Rose Monsanto sues of founding member of Guardians of Connie said that in military rep told her that would look exactly the same in 10 years as it looks today because, the US Navy is the best environmental Steward in the world and they want to drop those until Bonds on parking.

David Torcivia:

[18:36] Yep literally millions of these mom.

Sophia Perez:

[18:38] And I.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:40] Poster child for environmental stewardship.

Sophia Perez:

[18:42] Oh man and then I on tinian, so the northern 2/3 opinion released by the military but the people sitting still have access to certain parts of it at least most of the time and on that block of land is a very important fishing ground, and so when people. Public hearings with a navy was announcing this plan when people were like oh well we want to go over there where we going to, Navy apparently told them not to worry because they would move the fish to an accessible area.

David Torcivia:

[19:16] I think that's an important point we want to drive home with this is that were a lot of the conversation is about these islands, but it also includes the reefs around the islands they're going to be targeted by mom as well as the larger body of water in the whole area, there are hundreds of millions of square miles are going to be involved in this larger Naval testing area, and it's Camille all training live fire and as we talked about that and just last week's episode he's already stressed areas where the environment where these fishing stocks are already under pressure from from bass fishing fleets from falling from environmental concerns we talked about deoxygenation warming of the waters acidification all of this is already stressed and you dishin of dropping bombs chemicals that are supposed to do with these are just going to stress out even more which of course impacts the life of the people on these islands even if they're not directly on tinian or bogging, I went there it outside of this area then they're still going to be impacted by these these exercises occurring on the area around the.

Sophia Perez:

[20:14] Exactly and they're also endangered species living on the land in parking is one of the only places where that man is that flushing and so then he doesn't really care about that it's also like an easy Zoo snail that only exist on party. It's sort of like a little Galapagos and nobody cares. It's kind of funny just talking about that little snail I was I was talking to one of the activists and she's in part of the Guardians of Connie and she said captain of the boat that take people up to the Northern Ireland and she said look ma, and I even that you want I don't know how much they care about a little snail you know but that your morals are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands they are that little snail, they are tiny populations that only exists in one little place and have a. Even if they don't I don't know if they're not prioritize by the US Navy or even known by the people of the Mainland.

Daniel Forkner:

[21:10] Doesn't let me ask you this about this this human element going on here because,

Natural Connection [21:15] I think it's Genevieve that you interviewed said that human beings we have a natural connection with place with home. Even here in America she brought up a great point which is that when we send our troops overseas and they die we always send their body home so that they can be buried at home. It's very important to us this connection we have with him, but when it comes to disrupting the homes of other people it seems like it's always presented to us in a very technocratic this kind of Pros cons list type of way where we say yes we're going to displace X number of people and partially destroy the environment but we can calculate those cost weigh them against the benefits and then in a few decades we have to settle a whole bunch of litigation for all these people that now have cancer. You have lung disease what we can pay them the cost of that and we still come out ahead and I really feel like this very formulaic way of looking at the world is kind of absurd can you speak to, why these islands are important to the locals here and how destroying them harms them in ways that go beyond any type of dollar figure that we can figure out.

Sophia Perez:

[22:21] Absolutely I mean to take sort of a simplistic view that I think is easily understood by Mainland Americans or anybody, the Marianas already risen based economy that is hot that their bread and butter so if you can want to just keep it about money they cannot make money at these islands are bombed no one wants to go on vacation next to a bombing range, you know tinian will be destroyed and yes people can live on the bottom third of the Island still but no responsible parent would ever raise our families and environment like that, so you can take it further say the economy is kind of in Ruins right because now nobody's visiting.

[23:02] And people can't live on tinian other people going to move to Saipan which is only 3 miles away where you can still hear and smell the bombing or they going to move to the mainland are they doing the DS brand Boise in California. Probably the latter and so what you have now is these indigenous people who are spreading out further and further that means the loss of language that means loss of culture. Are these people need to stay together to maintain their identity and if their Island are turned into bombing ranges are completely destroyed they have no reason or way of staying at home and they're alienated from their culture wish I could send some back. They are saying is that, there are lot of Tomorrow burial grounds and is very old archaeological findings in all of these areas so in another aspect of their identity being lost as to which is. The eradication of destruction of their history.

David Torcivia:

[23:58] I think this question Daniel really ties into that point they're always trying to drive home that is over quantification of everything but we have to calculate it all in terms of dollars and numbers and it lives impacted or or ears cut off a lifespan, you can then convert to okay so then we owe them x amount of dollars for that is really a sickness on the world and it does it's a bad job calculating these intangible things you can't like you said convert easily into a dollar sign, so what is the cost of a culture spreading out becoming a diaspora, you can't assign it of value to that what is the cost of a beautiful pristine landscape being destroyed. People's lives are impacted there like if you're not actually killing people and make them sick keep me for just destroying a beautiful place there's no dollar sign you can assign to that what's the cost of a species of snail that might be lost, you can't assign the dollar to that it was it at some sort of pharmaceutical thing that pops up and send the owner of this we need to protect the snail because it can make us money outside of that there's no way to assign value to these very natural beautiful things that anybody would agree when you come and look at this like of course this has value.

Sophia Perez:

[25:03] Another thing I'd like to add is just this entire approach to military training where you are a pack of lead destroy and Island is unsustainable even if they win every battle they bomb every island they want to eventually he was maybe will not have any more Islands the bomb and then they'll have to make a change and we'll have to figure out how to change this.

David Torcivia:

[25:24] It doesn't stop the Navy from poisoning the US states either so.

Sophia Perez:

[25:28] That's true at the end of the day in this is something that that the activist stay a lot is like we only have one and we can't grow more lands. So this idea of just destroying Earth as if it has like a dollar amount when really it cannot be recreated it's it's just stupid.

David Torcivia:

[25:51] It said it's a simple way to put it but it really is to.

Sophia Perez:

[25:54] And it'd be nice if they change their techniques before they spoil a bunch of completely untouched and beautiful Island's could fit like I said they're eventually going to have to even if they got every piece of than they ever want it have to stop at some point, they should just stop now.

Alternative Zero Coalition

Daniel Forkner:

[26:10] So what are some ways Sophia that people on the ground are resisting the events of the US military with these plans can you tell us what the alternative zero Coalition is.

Sophia Perez:

[26:19] Before the military came forward with these plans that were already activist groups in the Mariana and so what they did is they all combined under the alternative 0 Coalition 0 is a reference to the National Environmental Policy Act which is the law that forced the military to tell everyone what they're planning to do, so while the military at least in the actor just do as violated Nippon several and several different ways they did create. A big environmental impact statement that was supposed to lay out everything that would happen if they created these training ranges and part of that yes it took three different alternatives to what they could do that would maybe have like a less intense environmental impact or just a different environmental impact, and what the activist were really upset to find is that all of the Alternatives were basically the same they all involve huge amounts of Destruction to the islands none of them considered may be moving the Marines to Australia or the California over y or places where there's already training ranges available for them and so what they do is they created their own alternative alternative that is the use of the natural resources of the Marianas widely used for productive purposes that help of the land and the people of the Mariana.

Daniel Forkner:

[27:35] So the knee pads the National Environmental Policy Act which tries to dictate what the military can do when it involves some kind of altering of the Environmental Landscape is that right.

Nepa

Sophia Perez:

[27:46] Not quite confusing that if a federal agency wants to take an executive actions it's going to have effect on the human environment which is like the natural or the cultural aspect of a place, then it must disclose in like a very throw away all of the things that the executive actions are going to do to that environment, for the people of that area to know and to respond to and if they don't agree without the actions going to be taken then they have everything they need to potentially Sue or just take the battle into the political realm whatever they want to do but they need to know about it in order to fight it so that's the aspect is like the Democratic process that needs the tries to maintain when I need to take an executive action. Alternative zero with biggest one of the biggest things I had to do was explain nipah people's the Marianas and guide them through the nipah process because, what's the military tries to do with everyone but what they did was just create a 1500 page document outlining what they were going to do and very confusing technical language and then say alright I'd want to marry on if you have 30 days to read this and to respond with questions and comments.

David Torcivia:

[29:05] It's the military apparently is good at battling through bureaucracy as well.

Sophia Perez:

[29:09] Yeah and luckily with alternative 0 activist figured out was that are the new process is that the agency in the kissing US Navy, how to make a draft environmental impact statement then they have to hold a public hearing and then based on the conversation that happens at that public hearing they need to then go back and create their final environmental impact statement, and if people come to the public hearing and ask question the most questions must then be address in the final environmental impact statement, so normally when they have these public hearing no one even hears about it nobody shows up with the Alternatives you after this managed to do was to do online petitions and through, I just like announcing that the hearing was happening on the radio letter-writing campaign whatever military-spec to known to show up this year and they ended up getting hit with 30,000 question. Do they revoke the whole Jackson buy metal impact statement.

David Torcivia:

[30:05] It's inspiring actually yeah I would say really even beyond amazing.

Sophia Perez:

[30:09] It's it's great story you know it's a david-and-goliath battle between these these two people and these are these two forces, but there's been some Hail Marys that it really worked out in the Indigenous people's favorite, a lot of them believes that there islands and their ancestors are helping them so just let it go aspect as the Grassroots aspect and there's a legal aspect right

Resistance [30:32] the one field transeo Coalition if they were able to get the community involved if he's 30,000 question, the politicians Lexington okay there's no way we can give up the island you know maybe they would have like cotton bribes or something but they said no to the US government, the last thing was the legal route right, and there wasn't really any one that understood how to navigate nifa and what to expect and what military was supposed to do and how they like made the information accessible to the indigenous people.

David Torcivia:

[31:01] Is that something that would occur in the courts in the cnmi or in the United States proper.

Sophia Perez:

[31:07] So they actually there was recently a lawsuit and they were able to get representation from this amazing or Justice lawyer David Hankins, and he battled against the Navy in Northern Mariana Islands District Court they just lost unfortunately in September. Play August actually but they just called for an appeal in the 9th circuit so that's going to be hurting California.

[31:29] It kind of goes back and forth I guess if you go up the ladder but in the legal realm what they found what year did Hank and was able to uncover particularly through of forcing the military to give up its administrative record when it was spending all these training ranges which it's like it was back when I was 20 years is that the Guam you location of the Marines basically made these training ranges necessary, so when they did their first year is for the Guam location, the Navy should have mentioned if you're going to move all these marines here and they're going to be active members of the Navy they need to be trained and there was no explanation of how they are going to be trained. Marines an innocent administrative record you can see it in Marion to say specifically laying out everything and it wasn't mentioned, in the Guam relocation Eis and it had to because they're intrinsically related and so that's what the lawsuit is about, it's also about the lack of Alternatives like I mentioned earlier, the Navy is kind of just would have been ramming his plans through to ignore the new process in that process and that is kind of what the lawsuit attempting to hold them accountable.

Daniel Forkner:

[32:40] Well I'm curious it sounds like at the very least this ongoing litigation at least all the military's plans but is litigation can be the ultimate source of resistance or is there, other routes that I can start taking to find a more permanent long-term solution maybe like political.

Sophia Perez:

[32:57] Right yeah maybe it would have to be political at least in terms of the need for process Eva doesn't tell the government what they have to do it just tells them they have to tell people what they're going to do so even if they say okay we're going to unleash all of this cancer is Dustin to your environment and the people say we really rather you wouldn't they can say well we're going to, and then it becomes a political battle because they were informed that's all that needs what does it says you have to be informed so at that point. It's going to become a really interesting legal issue because the Senate could potentially say what we want to take this way into eminent domain, but then according to the scene of my Covenant any land taken by the Navy has to be returned in the same way so that it becomes an interpretation of the Covenant potentially and unfortunately I don't think this financially saw this coming but, anytime the Covenant needs to be interpreted as conservatives in US federal court right, and so that's where it becomes very touching and unfortunately a lot of the freedoms that were negotiated very strongly for the 70s but then chipped Away by judges who either don't understand or don't care about like what's this tree was supposed to mean.

David Torcivia:

[34:12] Well I think ancillary to that is there a movement for Independence in the northern Marianas or on the other side statehood.

Sophia Perez:

[34:21] You know the kind of isn't that people would want to be freely Associated it's worked out decently so far, but it is in more recent years that this chipping away thing has actually happened you know I think that if it became an issue where potentially they would lose their Islands, that question might be Revisited but that would be a serious like ramping up of the tension you know what like the thing is about tomorrow people at like, they're proud Americans you know they want to be part of the American family in fact that you must not race in the Marianas are like the highest of anywhere that part of the military, it's this particular land use plan that they take issue with that they are in no way anti-military and effect that was, part of the challenge of getting people to rise up against this land you spend because they are so patriotic.

David Torcivia:

[35:12] Two interesting makes it almost worst betrayal it seems like.

Sophia Perez:

[35:16] Sure it's on it's really ironic you know and it's really a shame because they want to be happy US citizens just don't blow up their Homeland.

David Torcivia:

[35:27] It's the least we all ask.

Daniel Forkner:

[35:30] To bring it back to the human element here Sophia when you spoke with Genevieve Cabrera.

What Can We Learn From The Marianas? [35:37] She compare the loss of these islands to losing a loved one and that it would be a loss of identity and Heritage, and Rosamond Santos describes visiting Pagan as going back in time and leaving the island for her was like departing from her mother and.

[36:06] Weather in North Western United States at which resulted in submerging a waterfall that was sacred to an indigenous Native American tribe there. And their entire Community had revolved around this waterfall and after it was lost one tribe member said quote it was a place revered as one's own mother and I'll live with the absence of Silence of the falls much as an orphan lives hearing of the kindness and greatness of her mother, and quote, I saw this I think this metaphor of comparing the loss of a place that you consider home as losing a mother which seems it seems so common among people who connect with place in this in this way.

David Torcivia:

[36:44] People who strongly identified culturally with the place was I think, for lot of Americans and westerners we don't so much identify with a place but maybe larger ideas of this is a nation and I am from this person but, appreciation of the land or the larger spiritual significance that that holds is something that's foreign too many of us.

Daniel Forkner:

[37:04] Yeah exactly and that's kind of my point is that this concept seems so foreign to us in Western society yet, we approach situations like this and other communities so often we bring our own arrogance our own ideas we feel that we had the superior Solutions, so my question is what can we learn from the northern Marianas in the people that live there what do they have to teach us you know because we're not we're not the ones to always have the solutions and we need to do a better job of listening and learning to other people.

Sophia Perez:

[37:32] Charming that's a stupid you question but I will try to I think that. I've heard that question phrase I've heard it come out of a few different people's mouth and a lot of times they seem to be asking for knowledge. You know the knowledge of an indigenous culture but I think that what indigenous culture and particularly the tomorrow since they've been living on these items for 4000 years since, 400 years of colonialism has not stamped out their culture though it has changed it and we'll just still.

[38:10] How much Chmura you know another language was on and they had a lot of their Traditions live on I think the thing to learn from these people. Their values is the way that they found themselves and it's very much a culture where, you respect your elders at the culture of reciprocity of generosity of keeping track of your family tree, and I've known your family name and finding cousins and aunt he's everywhere you know I think that I mean literally you can't walk past people having a barbecue without them being like, come to a barbecue you know the date of the hotel come over with the fiesta plate and just have you sit down and talk to them it's a very distinct approach that, not when I move there I've been living in Brooklyn before and it took a minute they were just too I'll say but I couldn't respect it more, because when you live in a culture of respect and of knowing how you really feel all the people on your little Island, and knowing that your ancestors have been in this place for a long time and in the Chamorro Viewpoint their ancestors are still very much taking part in Daily like you have to ask permission from your ancestors, before you enter the forest or before if you're pulling up to the shorter than Island especially parking you need to ask permission before you land on the sand.

[39:35] Is the way of approaching things where it was respect the presence of other people in the way that you're connected with them, and I think that that it might be part of how they have been able to maintain a sustainable civilization for so long this Western alienation, it's starting to kind of bleed through through the internet but like really that you want culture is very much alive and it's one is seeing family everywhere you go and then that keeps people. Keep people honestly keep people accountable.

Daniel Forkner:

[40:06] Yeah I think that's really beautiful it just occurred to me as your describe that even though despite my question. No I never really thought before like what it would feel like to look at a forest or group of trees and say yeah my great-great-great-grandfather, approach these trees and the great great grandfather my neighbor and my friend and my wife and my family and all these things were all connected to this place and you said alienation I think that's such great work maybe that's why it's so easy for us to destroy.

David Torcivia:

[40:40] Yeah when we no longer see it as an extension of our own personal history and instead as a resource.

Sophia Perez:

[40:48] Exactly people see themselves in the land people see their families in the land I think maybe that might be a big difference.

David Torcivia:

[40:55] Yeah it in that context I mean the bombing of this island is a direct assault on these people on on and on their their family lineages especially I think you mentioned there are quite literally burial grounds. In this area but but even beyond that the land itself is is part of that family.

Daniel Forkner:

[41:12] One more question for me you mentioned earlier Sofia the absurdity of bombing islands like we don't have an infinite supply of islands and, and so even if this the alternative zero Coalition is successful and can repeal the US military from bombing pigonnet any and it's likely that the military would find another Island to bomb. Or at least try to. So is it important to connect the struggle to perhaps a broader movement to end the military's long habitual practice of just eradicating islands is that something we can do and should strive to do.

Sophia Perez:

[41:46] Absolutely and I are our efforts to sort of create a tie between the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam and another islands in the Pacific was struggling against the same thing, the entire Pacific is basically facing the threat of military buildup and particularly as tensions rise between. Email to China Beach North Korea that the US and it's a whole South China Sea controversy this happening right now. And what the island nations are fighting and so many is still reeling from colonialism but there are a lot of independent states now and I think it's something like if they all voted together these other nations would have like 15 bucks in the UN or something like that, there's potential for these Pacific Islanders and their however however they identified to band together and in fact I think that's probably the only way they have, any shot at defending their cultures and their families from being so did he served by the military says super powers.

How Can We Help?

David Torcivia:

[42:43] Piggyback off that question for those of us who aren't from these Pacific Islands who are members of the state's doing this violence against them what is it that the rest of us can do to help in the struggle.

Sophia Perez:

[42:57] Well I know that. Like I said you know these miles and miles of the Pacific disorders create vacuum at 8 they make it possible for at least on the US Mainland or politicians to be. Uncountable and so one thing like thank you so much for having me on the podcast because it's it helps to bring the story to the mainland and it's not just that I don't know. But Billy if you look at the history if you look at vehicles in Puerto Rico it was after the mainland found out that the military left in 2003 if you look at, when they were still trust territories and us would have tried to just an ex places as modern colonies as opposed to letting me be free associate States wish to say they have a bilateral agreement, join you as family so they were considering taking leave it was balao and they wanted to turn them into a colony, and a bunch of micronesians students Sage the hunger strike and everyone on the mainland found out about it too severe and us back. So it's not a very difficult controversy it's like really they just shouldn't blow up islands for no reason is very easy to decide.

[44:08] The right thing to do is here so when will taking the whole accountable for these plans they back off cuz they look freaking evil you know so. Just writing about it or like Jen podcast or anything that helps people know about it. Really is super powerful and has always been.

Daniel Forkner:

[44:28] When you put it in that perspective awareness is actually super important because it's totally an indefensible you know position.

David Torcivia:

[44:35] No one can defend bombing Islands.

Sophia Perez:

[44:38] Yeah and just basically destroying us indigenous culture it's just that is really reprehensible.

Daniel Forkner:

[44:46] Is the alternative zero Coalition taking donations do they have a website we can put on our web page for people to check out.

Sophia Perez:

[44:53] So like I said the appeals is is I think they file for an appeal in late September and then it's they're going to hear it the hearings on December 21st so it's just as does offer, free legal counsel but Associated piece of travel and stuff are not offered any alternative zero Coalition does have to pay for that, so donations would be super welcome at the moment honestly, that's basically the only thing that's taking donations right now but it would be super helpful because with the fly the sky all around. And other than that like I said just spreading the word and talking about it writing articles all of that is so so helpful to the cause.

David Torcivia:

[45:32] Do anything you want to plug personally.

Sophia Perez:

[45:35] Well I do have a podcast.

David Torcivia:

[45:37] Blink board.

Sophia Perez:

[45:38] Yeah so basically my podcast is just a series of interviews with all the different activists and major players in this. And they share what they've been doing to resist the military and how they stay sane and why they do what they do and it's just been a constant source of inspiration for me to talk to these people so it might be worth a listen.

David Torcivia:

[46:01] It definitely is give me to know if you wanted to just like things we missed or something else you want to say.

Colonialism Is Not Over

Sophia Perez:

[46:07] You know the only thing that comes to mind is basically colonialism is not over the exploitation of indigenous people is not over, if at any point you learned in school or just like me your own reading about the genocide of the Native Americans and you thought how could that have happened how could people have just stopped by while is clear Injustice was happening. It's still happening and that combination of ignorance of complacency of racism on the part of the people who are actually letting these people. It's all completely still happening and in this area where information can travel much easier. We're all more responsible for being complacent because we had a way either way of knowing about it and it being active about it so there's a lot of Old Wounds to be healed and all the wrongs to be right as and I think this is one of them.

Daniel Forkner:

[47:03] Well put Sophia thank you so much for coming on and thank you for the work you're doing to bring awareness to this very important issue.

Sophia Perez:

[47:11] Thank you so much for having me.

David Torcivia:

[47:13] We really appreciate it.

Daniel Forkner:

[47:14] That interview with Sofia Perez was a condensed version you can find the full interview on our SoundCloud page. Ashes ashes cast in addition you can find links to Sophia's podcast as well as the organization which might soon be taking donations on our web page, if you would like to contact Sophia her email address is Sophia Perez the number 8 at gmail.com.

David Torcivia:

[47:40] This is such an important story right here because this gives us the chance to step in and actually prevent, some of the environmental catastrophes that we've been talking about in this episode of then will continue to cover it in the next section of the show we have a moment here it was a place that we can stop and say you know this is wrong we shouldn't be destroying these people's homes we shouldn't be destroying these very sacred precious natural landscapes that have a important cultural heritage the people of the cnmi and it's our duty As Americans to curtail the damaging actions of our military, and I mean that idea extends well beyond these environmental catastrophes that are occurring into the actions of the military is a whole butt when we have a chance to say something and do something we need to take that especially when these are Americans in cells being forced out of their land.

Daniel Forkner:

[48:25] One thing that really stood out to me David is a couple things that, Sophia said about culture to mention that colonialism isn't dead and the way that we treat the people on the Marianas has in some way eroded their cultural identity and She interviewed someone on her podcast again will link to it on the website and everyone to check it out. And this person said that. The people of the Marianas are tired of colonial ization which is been ongoing for centuries they're tired of it and they want their culture back and it occurred to me I think this has a lot of similarities in the episode we did number 34 Irreplaceable. Because that episode is about loss we talked about the loss of biodiversity and how tragic that loss is because. The diversity of species in our world is not just something pleasant to be a part of. It represents information and knowledge that has accrued over millions of years knowledge that can potentially give us answers to a way to move forward in a failing world and I see very similar pair.

[49:37] Cool ideas language ways of living that have been passed down for Generations that have accrued over thousands of years, and which could also inform ways that we should live but yet we try to turn the whole world into something that will conform under one system one Public School System One, Finance system and in this process we lose all this information. Let me just one example because it's impossible to predict all the ways that we lose when we lose culture but, Polynesians historically may have been some of the greatest Navigators of all time not only could they navigate by the stars and the Sun, but according to some reports competent Navigators could close their eyes on canoes and open Waters and tell where they were just by the rhythm of the waves that rocked against their boats, but a lot of this knowledge was lost upon colonisation for won the Spanish at one point outlawed local from building canoes and carrying out navigation, and I feel weird even bring this up but maybe for anyone out there who wants to question. Why we even need to preserve cultures like Beyond just the aesthetic or the human value of that there are real benefits to having diversity around the world.

David Torcivia:

[50:54] But of course Daniel these tragedies don't occur just in far off places the right here at home in the United States I think was surprised many people learn if he was military has been waging a war swords your domestically against,

Domestic Damage [51:08] fortunately our environment.

Daniel Forkner:

[51:10] The u.s. Navy David use one of Hawaii's eight main islands as a bombing range for 50 years up until 1993 they tested Torpedoes by firing them at Island cliffs and fired ship to land missiles at coastline, the Navy abandoned the island in 2004 after an unfinished cleanup job that left 25% of the surface at 67% of the ground beneath the surface still inundated with unexploded bombs shrapnel grenades and other remains of their activities. The islands loss of vegetation and natural species contribute to the erosion of almost 2 million tons of soil every year, in 2015 500 environmental scientist called on the US government to make a serious effort to restore the island, but that restoration continues to rely on volunteers.

David Torcivia:

[51:58] Why doesn't really have a lot of islands in the island that it does have are so valuable this is such incredibly valuable real estate it's really incredible that, we just turned one into target practice for five decades and it just abandon it because Hoops we destroyed it displaces used to listen and because of this is really easy to see why people in the cinema in other places are compassion and defending their land. What is that is that is Daniel I've got something even worse after World War II, okay we still have these large stockpiles of bombs and other Munitions and we just didn't need anymore and you have to do something with it it's expensive this door it's expensive to decommission so I mean what do we do, well we could be American way which of course is find the cheapest easiest thing, to get these things out of our site and and so we dump them we dumped them in the Gulf of Mexico between 1946 and 1970 over 31 million pounds of explosives, or dumped into the goal. Like like we just loaded them on the ships drove the ship into the middle the Gulf of Mexico and just pushed these things over the edge problem solved good job everybody we're done.

[53:05] Everything from 1000 pound bombs and landmines, it even crazy chemical weapons like mustard gas canisters to this day we still don't know how many bombs are down there or even where they all are. In 2005 a few fishermen were killed when they caught one of these bombs in their net and I mean besides the danger to fisherman and Oil Workers, in fact when did Deepwater Horizon spill happen too many environmental scientists thought it was oops they had actually struck a bomb and that's what caused the blowout, an end eventually was a real that that wasn't the case but it's a very real problem for this oil platforms of which there are many in the Golf & Beyond that be on the bombs in the mines that we've dropped down there a huge risk is that use chemical weapons will leak, and of course they will leak at some point from this prolonged exposure to this very corrosive ocean water.

Daniel Forkner:

[53:55] What David I think it's adorable that you try to one-up me with an example that came right after World War II because we really didn't know much about the world and it's understandable I think to a certain extent that we simply didn't know.

David Torcivia:

[54:10] Yeah like who could have ever guessed that just dropping tens of millions of bombs and chemical weapons into water would like ever come back and bite them in the ass like nobody could have known.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:22] Love it.

David Torcivia:

[54:24] It's a simple mistake to me.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:25] David you have to understand the ocean is a very large place and back then it was even larger I mean I can see someone thinking that, we could just done something in the ocean and you know what are the chances that it would come back to buy some of this was before plastic Sivan there was no great garbage patch Pacific patch of plastic just rolling around in the ocean there were no microplastics getting into our drinking water.

David Torcivia:

[54:47] Before before the mass production of plastic anyway but yeah.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:50] Right so let me give you one better because to this day right now as long as we're talking about disposing of military equipment in just the lowest cost least effort ways how about just dowsing and Fuel and setting it on fire.

Open Burn Pits

David Torcivia:

[55:04] That sounds like the most American thing I've ever heard.

Daniel Forkner:

[55:07] That's right David in Virginia the Radford Army ammunition plant is the US military's largest manufacturer of propellants and explosive, supplying everything from artillery shells Apache machine gun rounds to rifle bullets and every day the plant Dallas's these old shells explosive bullets and chemicals with fluid and set them on fire. And we're not talking about chump change here David this plant alone produces over 50% of all the propellant that the military uses worldwide. And this isn't exclusive to this Radford plant there are close to 200 side to cross the country where this type of open burning has occurred on military bases and by our military contractors and today we operate about 51 sites around the country where this is ongoing in a daily practice. And the amount of toxins that are being released by this Radford plant into the environment it's pretty staggering between 2014 and 2015, a total of 10 million pounds of toxic material was released into the air and environment including 8400 lb of lead, but Radford is not alone here and ammunition plant in Indiana burned 10 million pounds of Munitions in 2016 and an army base in Oklahoma burned or detonated 14 million pounds, this is still the preferred way that the US military in our country gets rid of and disposes it's hazardous waste and spent munition.

David Torcivia:

[56:34] But David Daniel are very smart listener says like how else are you supposed to get rid of all this toxic waste.

Daniel Forkner:

[56:41] The astute listener.

David Torcivia:

[56:43] I mean if we had to choose between just burning this stuff and releasing it into the atmosphere or dumping it in the ocean I mean I guess burning is maybe the better option there because it will dissipate and maybe some of that will fall into the ocean some of it will fall in the land some goes in the atmosphere, we don't worry about it anymore right well I say to you the uninformed listen there are in fact a number of extremely safe well-tested ways of disposing these toxic materials in Germany they playing near the system that uses high pressure water jets to safe with separate these materials that allow for simple and efficient decommissioning, another country is ultra high temperature furnaces that burn in closed off areas allow them to essentially vaporize all these products without admitting any toxic air.

[57:29] Solutions exist there all around the world but they're too expensive and the military is hesitant to invest in them and instead we get this open. Turn process which as you expect is extremely toxic, the EPA itself estimated each of these open burn sites are crewing environmental costs that amount to a 500 million dollar clean up cost per site. And to be clear they are 51 of these open burn sites, currently active and it doesn't even glued all the ones that have been decommissioned and some of which we still don't know about there's several on the island that we talked about in Hawaii that the US military will not admit that they were open burn pits though the evidence is very ample that a fact they were, at the Redstone Arsenal in Army experimental weapons test in Burnside in Huntsville Alabama perchlorate toxic chemical used in propellants that can cause things like hyperthyroid disease lung cancer and other problems has been measured in the soil a trait seven thousand times over the safe limits, in Nebraska at The Cornhusker Army ammunition plant the burning and release of toxins into the air travels 20 miles away and find its way from there to the underground drinking water and then poisons residence and this is just the tip of the iceberg the military itself acknowledges that over 39 thousand locations in the US have been contaminated by their actions and the EPA estimates that the total contaminated land is over 40 million, Acres.

Daniel Forkner:

[58:53] David I look this up I mean one of the Articles expressing this this.

[59:19] I guess just totally unusable unless you want to get cancer.

David Torcivia:

[59:23] To put that in perspective even more Daniel if you're looking at just how much land do US military has made toxic contaminated and otherwise useless in the contiguous United States alone, what's 2% of his entire country in addition of the 1300 Superfund sites in the US that is the most polluted lens we have anywhere, over 70% of them are former Defense properties actually Daniel one of them is just a couple blocks away from me right now here as a tenant in New York. Yeah there's a there's a Superfund Site just down the road for me that is the most radioactive place in all of New York. It's a a site where they processed Rare Earth elements and got a lot of the radioactive material used in the building of the atom bomb in the Manhattan Project, and they would take this thorium and another sludge that they were taking out and we're finding at this site and just flush it down the sewer. And so even now just the whole street entire sewer line is just filled with radiation and other toxic materials and actually right on top of this property now so the EPA came in to build these huge lead and steel plates that they lay down they ripped off all the ground with these the Giants Stick LED Place everywhere and then put concrete over that so they say it's safe from the radiation but right above this land actually there is the largest ice production company in the world located here shipping ice all over the country so.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:00:50] Why we ship ice around the country my freezer just kind of makes the automatically.

David Torcivia:

[1:00:55] Well we don't all have fancy. Teacher refrigerators homeless don't have a choice with the refrigerator landlord gives us.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:01:03] David I'm worried about you I mean before we started the show you said you felt like you had a little bit of a cold do you think they could be related to this radiation that's just going down the sewage underneath.

David Torcivia:

[1:01:15] Well I think I'm pretty safe here I actually avoid listing out my list of meters that I have around.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:01:21] Do you have yet do you have a sensor in your room to measure right.

David Torcivia:

[1:01:24] I do actually have a dosimeter outside my window. Idea it's a it's a automated air quality sensor a really cool group of people is called the rad meter and it tested for variety of air sensors and in publishes it automatically to a global citizen science initiative and when the things that test for is radiation and I am looking pretty good but if my sperm count starts dropping to be sure you're the first to know Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:01:51] Please keep me informed.

David Torcivia:

[1:01:53] I know that's an important topic for.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:01:54] But David I want to come back for a second to this open-pit Burning the goes on around the country. Why why is this going on you mentioned that other countries have, developed a safe alternatives to disposing of this type of waste and you did mention that it's very expensive to do that but we need to acknowledge her that this isn't normal this isn't a normal practice by any stretch 30 years ago Congress banned this practice among private companies, it's a business is all over the the nation had to install these TekSavvy incinerators smokestacks filters and then I hear too strict. Regulations on the emitting of certain toxins but the Pentagon was given an exemption and it was supposed to be temporary but it continues to this day.

David Torcivia:

[1:02:38] In fact many of these burn sites are just operating on these like temporary assumed permits because their permits have expired. Or the exemptions haven't been asked and so they're just burning anyway but nobody steps in and nobody there's no punishment that no recourse for when they burn a legally or they burn too much when they burn at the wrong days the wrong time to what is literally no oversight except somebody just saying oh yeah what you did here was wrong but okay. There's no punishment that occurs.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:03:05] Right in the past 37 years military burn sites around the country has violated hazardous waste permit thousands of times for everything from failing to measure and test levels of pollution to polluting more than allowed. Despite the fact that this is a legal an outdated practice they're still violating the very loose permits that they have.

David Torcivia:

[1:03:26] And even beyond that Daniel even though his lack of punishment that occurs there's really no oversight at all everything is based on the honor System that these these companies companies like BAE systems or the military itself is just being honest with the reports of what they burn them win and sometimes his logs go missing there's been times when nobody made logs for 2 months even though the burns were occurring bend over side on the other side is you know the EPA supposed to be stepping in and making sure that this practice is safe and environmentally responsible something that they claim it is military also backed up and says we're being very safe. But in fact there's just no measurements being done they don't test the air quality they don't test the soil quality with the water quality accepting a couple scenarios what just happened very recently and in deaven then when they find concerning result in these guests. Nothing is done.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:04:14] Right and going back to that Radford plants in Virginia there been tons of violations that have occurred there everything from illegal River dumping failing to report the amount that they burn improper disposal, and what I think is especially sad is that because this plant is the largest employer in the area, local residents they don't want to speak out or challenge the plant in any way for fear of losing their jobs or you noticed the plant had to be shut down they would all lose their jobs in,

The Military, Trust, And Health [1:04:40] at the same time many people in this area have a sense of Duty and loyalty to the US military which has a lot of trust with the community to protect, the community's health and so in light of this I think you know we have to ask the question is this trust well-founded.

David Torcivia:

[1:04:57] Daniel. I know you know what's coming next but unfortunately the US military has a history of exposing soldiers Marines and even residents to biological health hazards only to turn a blind eye when is Veterans and civilians alike request help. In Air Force Base in Colorado has been contaminated drinking water with fire fighting foam, which contains known toxins extremely dangerous to human health and which have been recorded and Luca water at level 1250 times higher than what they PA consider say, the Colorado District surrounding the base of already spent six million dollars that dressing does contamination which is expected to more than double by the end of this year, if your horse is largely said it's not responsible, quote we don't back pay we are forced to. Have the authority to reimburse communities for costs incurred in dealing with environmental contamination issues in quote. To the town's only recourse will likely be to raise taxes and water prices.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:05:55] Well I want to come back to these open burn pits one more time David because there's a more relevant example that might inform us about the military's willingness to take responsibility for the consequences of these practices and that comes from Iraq and Afghanistan where. Us private contractors like Halliburton profited billions of dollars in contracts and cost-cutting initiatives that jeopardized the health of Marines and soldiers, one of these cost-cutting ideas what to skip on proper incinerators and Disposal plants that would be used to dispose of all the weight being generated by the Perpetual war in those areas. And instead these contractors opted to dispose of massive amounts of toxic waste, buy burning everything from lithium batteries pesticides medical waste, Metals corpses even Asbestos and much more in open pits just meters from the barracks where soldiers slept. And as a result thousands of us War veterans have cancers respiratory illness and other health problems that they're asking help for in the military is doing very little to respond.

David Torcivia:

[1:07:01] It took 27 years for veterans of the Vietnam War to receive even recognition for the health impacts of Agent Orange exposure. We drop something like 20 million gallons of chemicals on Vietnam over a 10-year period the majority of which was agent orange Infamous for its links to cancer, birth defects psychological and neurological disease immune system disruption in a myriad of hormone problems. Some 2.8 million Americans were exposed to a while stationed in Vietnam not to mention the over 5 million Vietnamese at the time and whose families and children continue to be affected negatively by this chemical which lingers in their environment to this day. Looking in this episode is already getting along because that really important of you we did earlier because this is something that we can step in and do something about right now but the fact of the matter is in places like Vietnam.

[1:08:02] Problems with birth defects and many more diseases because of the actions of the US Military. Perpetual Wars that we've been involved with for the past 70 years continue to impact the populations long after the planes stop Flying and a troops go home, environmental damage continues. You toxins if he's unexploded Ordnance leak into water tables the countless gallons of chemical agents find their way into the food chains and ultimately the people unexploded bombs continue to fulfill their final mission in cause gas. Legacy of Our Endless military actions is a world destroyed land on safe for people to live on even after it's been allegedly liberated. After wars fought to return people to their homes.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:08:47] Or turned into a wildlife refuge David.

David Torcivia:

[1:08:50] Yes Daniel one of those cases where land is supposed to be returned to its natural state but all the while is filled with unexploded bombs, we are just scratching the surface here these stories are endless we have so many of them link on our website we really encourage you to go out and read this because this is an important part of War and what we really think about, we discuss Ward so often conversations about the troops the cost of our budgets the direct impacts of our bombs and missiles the collateral damage at the military likes to call it but really the civilians caught in between the soldier and the destination of his bullet gun or rocket.

Perpetual War

Daniel Forkner:

[1:09:22] Leamington real quick David this show isn't about the military industrial complex but.

David Torcivia:

[1:09:26] The one is coming.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:09:28] Right but the piggyback off what you just said the United States military we drop a bomb every 12 minutes. And this is a part of a trend that has been rapidly intensifying over the past couple of decades. George W Bush's Administration dropped the 70,000 bombs while he was in office. While Obama dropped 100,000 which comes out to about 34 bombs each day while he was in office, and during President Trump's first year the average number of bombs dropped jumped to 120 each day I think they were over 40,000 in his first year alone and who are these bombs targeting and killing, while Obama was in office 90% of all drone strikes killed civilians and 80% of the people killed by our bombs have never even been identified.

David Torcivia:

[1:10:14] Of course Beyond these bombs dropped play us some of the bombs that find their way into countries around the world are developed and sold by American companies in again this is getting into that military industrial complex episode which we will do in the future it's something we're actively working on. In the context of this episode it's just important to remember that outside of these direct combat actions the damage of the military does not end. Weather tomorrow mental damage from the training. Poisoning water tables from their everyday actions or the legacy of wars fought long in the past that continuously poison the land and the people that live on it for decades to come and the ball that isn't enough Daniel he was military is actually the largest single, polluter particularly and carbon dioxide emitted of any single organization in the entire world. To put it in perspective almost 2% of all us carbon emissions are from military actions, and I mean a lot of this information is classified as hard to track down exact numbers but based solely on the amount of oil the US military purchases every year we can get that number and in fact it may be much higher will be include the bull carbon dioxide equivalents, this is the single largest purchaser of petroleum in the entire world.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:11:24] I think you're right David that the carbon equivalent would probably be much higher if you can factor in the oil and other fossil fuels that goes into manufacturing so much of this equipment that might be done by private companies in contractors that don't figure into direct purchase of fuel by the military itself.

David Torcivia:

[1:11:43] Exactly and another on Aquia lot of this energy is in the end used to defend and extend control of energy as we all famously know with the mini American Oil Expedition sasmal call them.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:11:57] Adventures Dave.

Dude, Where'S My Nukes? [1:11:58] This is a little bit too heavy for me so I think it'd be a lot better this point just take a look at some of the hilarious ways the military's carelessness has resulted in multiple nuclear warheads being lost around the world.

David Torcivia:

[1:12:13] What did you just say nuclear warheads lost.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:12:17] Yes I did that.

David Torcivia:

[1:12:18] How does one lose a new.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:12:22] Okay well let me give you one scenario in 1950 a US bomber flew off from Alaska and the goal was to transport. 30 kiloton Mark or nuclear bomb you may have heard of the fat man from your US History classes that's what this bomb was and I think this was part of a training mission in which the bomber was going to simulate, the dropping of a bomb on San Francisco you're just your standard operation right David just your standard training protocol.

[1:12:52] What shortly after this plane took off in Alaska, there was an engine fire on board and to lighten the load the crew decided to just dump all this weapons into the Pacific Ocean including this fat man nuclear bomb shortly after with no recovery Insight the crew decided to abandon the plane by jumping out right before it crashed in British Columbia. We didn't find until I think recently a fisherman in Alaska might have found it. Although it's important to point out that while this bomb did have uranium and in all the nuclear material it lacked. Two tone IAM core that is necessary to detonate it, also perhaps it wasn't quite as dangerous as it seems but I still think it's pretty hilarious that were simulating dropping a nuke, on San Francisco using an actual a nuclear weapon and the fact that we couldn't even make it to our theoretical destination. And this isn't an isolated or unique thing David this was one of. Nuclear weapons that we lost but I think there are still 7 that we have no I have no idea where they are just so you know sitting on the bottom of the ocean somewhere may be buried under some soil or something.

David Torcivia:

[1:14:02] I think there's one off the coast of Georgia actually so you might want to watch out for that one.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:07] I'm starting to feel like I'm getting a cold David.

David Torcivia:

[1:14:09] Yeah and if I'm remembering my trivia right I think that one actually does have the plutonium core in it so watch out.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:17] Well unlike the undisciplined school children of today David I still perform the under the desk nuclear preparation drill that, so many people have stopped doing so I think I'll be fine. I practiced that about once a day twice on Saturday so I'm really quick my timing is down to about 1.5 seconds flat in tight just the other day we had a thunderstorm and there was a, a lightning strike outside my window I reflexively dived under my my desk in my office so yeah I'll be.

What Can We Do?

David Torcivia:

[1:14:49] Will Daniel I'm glad you're preparing for the inevitable. Which brings us to the end of our show even though it like I said we just scratched the surface when courage you to go and read more about all these things online but in the meantime maybe we should talk about what can we do besides Duck and Cover.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:15:06] The struggle that Sophia highlighted for us is very important. It's a struggle to save two islands to prevent what happened on Hawaii in Vieques and so many other Islands from happening on tinian in pokken but we can't just stop at saving these two islands because as she pointed out, the US military will just find a different Island to bomb something that we don't have an infinite supply of, and so we should fight to reduce all military bombings and operations around the world because there's also an irony going on here. Being one of the top leaders in the world and a significant emitter of carbon dioxide the military is also contributing significantly to sea level rise which threatens not just every island in the world but also are coastal cities and homes. And in a similar vein there are tons of health risk in the u.s. associated with military manufacturing testing and waste disposal like those open burn pits that we mentioned.

[1:16:02] Simply regulating safety and health risks in the us alone won't address the health consequences of military actions around the world even on us bases like those open burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to address the systemic need for having this giant military wear $0.53 of every Federal dollar goes to support it to support these bombings and he's training, we need to ask the question is this really necessary is is this what stability peace and prosperity in the world looks like, bombing islands off the face of the planet converting 40 million Acres of domestic land into uninhabitable toxic Wasteland is this what is necessary to have.

[1:16:49] Isolated event to a much broader systemic issue here we're never going to get to the point where we can say you know what we don't need this presents around the world we don't need these, live firing testings everywhere we go it is more valuable to preserve culture it is more valuable to preserve the very limited environment that we have. Then to test our bombs in our chemical weapon.

David Torcivia:

[1:17:16] Then maybe we should ask ourselves what is the point of military,

What Is The Purpose Of Military? [1:17:21] like if I'm country I'm a nation-state and I decide I need a military cuz remember not every nation state has a military but I decided need one what ostensibly is the purpose of having a military.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:17:32] To prevent someone from bombing me into Oblivion David to prevent soldiers from marching across my Border in and shooting my citizens.

David Torcivia:

[1:17:42] Okay so ostensible leads to defend your country to defend the people that live in the country. But how does that mesh when the military is that home poisoning the water of your own nation of poisoning the civilians is trying to defend. A bombing and destroying and making uses the land that it is there to defend in the first place those are actions if you ask me that like they're from foreign enemy militaries not from the one that's supposed to be protecting the people in the first place. We created a force that exists ostensibly to protect us but they go around and poisonous and damage our health for the primary purpose of Defending US foreign interests which Indian are almost always about making somebody a dollar. What it feels like an attack feels like an attack on American citizens and American land. We As Americans and its citizens of the world to demand that this ends when our own military is attacking us when we're getting a taste of what the rest of the world must deal with constantly will maybe we start to realize that we going down the wrong path. And it might not be possible to turn back in which case the only solution is start over. Don't let these stories get buried the military is always trying to cover up exactly how much damage it's doing to us here at home in places like wom Philippines Okinawa and it places words soon hope to be doing that damage like bogging.

[1:19:06] Happy stories hurt remind people that the military is not solely an entity that exists in war but also does damage to all of us and it raining in Mirror exhibit stints in peacetime. Did the production of things that are designed to kill always ends in damage whether that's damage to some unfortunate combatant. It's some person who'll be labeled collateral damage. What is some civilian who happens to live close to one of these burn pits were the animals or land water table. Naked ultimately damaged by the toxic runoff from our actions. Only two remaining people of the true nature of our military and what happens because of this oversight because that we've let them for so long get away with these horrible crimes against all of us.

03-Duck And Cover

David Torcivia:

[1:19:54] As always that's a lot to think about but think about it we hope you will, we have so much info on our website about this episode please come check it there's mini links in stories about the topics we talked about about some of the stories that just didn't fit in because the time as well as information on how you can help make a difference. Commonwealth of the northern Marianas islands and he was military plan to destroy the heritage of the people living there, Define all of this as well as a full transcript of this episode on our website at ashes ashes. Org.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:20:26] A lot of time and research goes into making these episodes possible and we will never use advertising to support this show so if you like it and would like us to keep going you are listener can support us by giving it to review and recommending us to a. Also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. O RG and we encourage you to send us your thoughts positive or negative or read them and we appreciate them.

David Torcivia:

[1:20:51] You can also find us on your favorite social media Network at ashes ashes cast next week we got an episode they were both so excited about we really hope you'll tune in but until then this is ashes ashes.