Salt, Sugar, Fat

Book: Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss

A revelatory look at America’s increasing consumption of unhealthy products and at how the biggest food manufacturers ignore health risks, and employ savvy advertising campaigns, to keep us hooked on the ingredients that ensure big profit.

In an era where morbid numbers of people are living with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressureNew York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Moss (Palace Coup, 1989) discovers through ardent research—much of it interviews with current and former executives of Kraft, PepsiCo and other massive conglomerates—that there is shockingly little regulation of the processes behind the design and sale of foods purposely laden with dangerous levels of salt, sugar and fat.
As the average American works longer hours and spends more time outside of the home, the demand for easy-to-cook and tasty meals has skyrocketed. In response, food giants provide an enormous slate of processed food options, almost all of which require immense amounts of salt, fat and/or sugar to cover the taste of poor-quality ingredients. Pulling no punches, the author points out that the recent trend of “healthy” items is no loss for these food manufacturers, who capitalize on creating new lines of spinoff products labeled “low-salt” or “sugar-free,” when in fact those products require a significant increase in one of the other triad of flavors to remain palatable.
Many products are laden with these ingredients in ways that would surprise the consumer: A single cookie, for example, might require several servings’ worth of undetectable salt to retain its irresistible crunch, while it also contains up to five teaspoons of sugar. Moss breaks down the chemical science behind the molecular appeal of these foods, as well as behind the advertising strategies that are so successful in getting consumers to buy not only the “healthier” versions of popular foods, but the originals, as well. If this trend is to be reversed, he argues, it might take a social revolution of empowered consumers, a goal within reach if accurate information is available and pressure is put on these companies to dramatically alter the contents of its processed foods. A shocking, galvanizing manifesto against the corporations manipulating nutrition to fatten their bottom line—one of the most important books of the year.   Kirkus Review  source

Interview with Michael Moss, Author of Salt Sugar Fat


Michael Moss (photo by Tony Cenicola)

Michael Moss

Today I’m talking with Michael Moss, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2010, and was a finalist for the prize in 2006 and 1999. He is also the recipient of a Loeb Award and an Overseas Press Club citation. Before coming to the New York Times, he was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I read his book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, in preparation for this interview and wish its contents could somehow be required reading for anyone who sets foot in a grocery store. More on that later…let’s get right to the questions.

Salt Sugar Fat book by Michael Moss1What’s your latest book, Salt Sugar Fat, all about, and what are you hoping to accomplish with it?

It’s an exposé of the processed food industry, based on a trove of confidential documents that put me at the table of the largest food manufacturers as they were planning, plotting and formulating new products. These documents, which I fully footnote in the book, in turn, enabled me to identify the key players in processed foods – scientists, marketers, CEOs – and convince them to talk to me and reveal even more secrets about their heavy dependence on salt, sugar and fat to maximize the allure of their products. I’m hoping the book is a wake-up call for the processed food industry, and at the same time empowering to consumers, in that simply knowing everything the companies are doing to compel consumption of their products is in itself a powerful tool in learning to shop and eat more healthily.

You went to great lengths to do the research for this book. When did you first know you were going to write it, and what drove you to continue for 3 1/2 years and travel the world to dig up the story?

I was writing about a surge in outbreaks of deadly pathogens in processed foods, which involved the food giants losing control over their ingredients, when one of my best sources in the industry said to me over dinner in Seattle: “You know, Michael, as tragic as these episodes are, there is another public health crisis afoot in the things this industry intentionally adds to their foods, over which they have absolute control.” He was talking about salt, and that led me to examine sugar and fat as well, which together form the holy grail for the processed food industry. And indeed, the statistics are staggering – from one in three adults being clinically obese, to the estimated annual cost of $300 billion in added medical expenses and lost productivity. And while we always knew that eating too much of what I like to call “the foods we hate to love” would make us overweight or otherwise ill, we now know from these documents and interviews that the food companies have known this for years and years – even as they continued adding heaps of salt, sugar and fat to their products.

3What are the advertising tricks the processed food industry uses to sell more products? I’m talking about things like line extensions, isolated health claims, down the block campaigns, marketing targeted at kids, etc.

You’ve named the big ones here. The industry views products such as “low-fat yogurt” as offering consumers a choice, and thereby meeting whatever ethical standard anyone wants to saddle the companies with. But many low-fat yogurts have as much sugar as ice cream, and they typify the practice of dialing back on one of the three holy grails only to increase the other two in order to maintain allure. They also typically do little to diminish the sales of the regular, full-fat or full-sugar or full-salt versions of their products, which typically get the most prominent display in grocery stores, and the industry fondly calls these better-for-you versions “line extensions,” fully expecting them to bring added excitement and sales to the entire brand.

4In the late ‘90s big tobacco manufacturers, including Philip Morris, lost a $365 billion dollar lawsuit. You wrote,

The states accused the tobacco industry of a wide range of deceptive and fraudulent practices, and they rallied behind Mississippi’s formidable attorney general, Mike Moore, who said that the lawsuit was ‘premised on a simple notion: You caused the health crisis, you pay for it.’

What is Philip Morris’s current role in the food industry and what parallel do you see with cigarettes and processed foods?

Philip Morris played a rather extraordinary and surprising role in food. It became the largest food manufacturer in the 80s when acquiring General Foods and then Kraft, and for the first two decades, the tobacco executives did what you might have expected from them: they encouraged their food managers to sell as much as possible, and even lent them some of their marketing tools. But starting in the late 90s, Philip Morris became the first tobacco company to embrace government regulation, as a way of avoiding the erosion of public trust. And when they did so, these same tobacco officials turned to their food managers and began warning them that they were going to face as great if not greater trouble from salt, sugar, fat and obesity, as the tobacco side of Philip Morris was then facing with nicotine. And the tobacco managers began encouraging the food managers to reduce their dependence on salt, sugar, and fat. Kraft did undertake some extraordinary anti-obesity initiatives in 2003, just as Philip Morris was starting to sell its investment. Philip Morris ended its ownership of Kraft in 2008, and is no longer a player in processed food.

5What happens behind closed doors at processed food companies when consumer activists speak out against them and the dangers of processed foods? What are their go-to public relations strategies?

There is a certain amount of circling the wagons. They will typically point to their efforts to create those better-for-you versions of their products. But more importantly, within all of these companies there are cabals of insiders who truly care about their health of consumers, and are working from within to make meaningful changes. So from those folks, I hear quiet cheers as the public becomes more forceful in voicing its concerns about processed foods.

6Robert I-San Lin, former chief scientist at Frito Lay “was very much disturbed by the experience of what money can buy in the U.S. … everything is for sale if you have enough money.” What did he mean by this?

Dr. Lin is a pure scientist who found himself working on corporate science, and he was referring to the food industry’s ability to enlist other scientists in defending their products and promoting their causes. At the time Dr. Lin was at Frito-Lay in the early 80s, this entailed rebuffing efforts in Washington to regulate salt. Dr. Lin viewed Frito-Lay and its parent company, PepsiCo, as basically good companies with misguided views on salt, and remains critical of “experts” who speak on behalf of companies without having sufficient scientific knowledge.

7I was surprised at the level of access you had to top business executives and food scientists, and by how much information they revealed. Why do you think they were willing to tell their stories?

In part because of the documents I obtained, which meant I was going to write about them whether they spoke to me or not. And in part because many of them have come to have some regret about their work, not because they intended to make us obese or otherwise ill, but because they invented many of these products to be occasional treats, in a more innocent era when our dependence on them was not nearly as great as it is today.

8It’s hard to know who to trust sometimes, but the Center for Science in the Public Interest came up many times in your book as a consumer advocate driving real change – and an organization actually feared by the food industry. Tell me about some of their major battles over the years. And who else is looking out for the consumer?

The center waged the first battle over sugar back in the late 1970s, strategically asking the Federal Trade Commission to curb the marketing of sugary cereals and other foods to kids. It waged the earliest battles over salt in the 1980s, urging the Food and Drug Administration to regulate salt for its potential health hazards. And it has picked a series of legal fights with food manufacturers over their marketing practices, successfully causing many about-faces by these same companies. I find their work to be refreshingly grounded in nutrition science, as well as political acumen, but there are numerous groups fighting on behalf of consumers on all levels, including one in New York called FoodFight.org, which is teaching food and nutrition to inner-city kids, dressed up in the politics of multi-national corporate strategy to engage the kids.

8Do you believe that processed foods are the root cause of the obesity epidemic (and a host of other Western diseases)?

What I write about in the book, starting with the secret meeting of food company executives in 1999, is that the industry itself is full of astute insiders who believe processed foods are at least partly responsible for the epidemic, and fully accountable for coming up with solutions.

9How do government subsidies play a part?

I’m exploring this now more fully in my ongoing reporting on food for The New York Times, and will have to get back to you. But stay tuned. It’s a really interesting area, already giving me some surprise.

10Who’s responsible for getting us out of this mess? The government? The food industry? Or the consumer? As you say, “…we, ultimately, have the power to make choices. After all, we decide what to buy. We decide how much to eat.”

I like the notion that I can now walk into the store armed with my book and make healthier choices about what to buy and eat. And I think we’re at a tipping point where consumers are becoming more vocal about their concern about what they put into their bodies. It’s this vocalization that will cause either the government or the companies to act, because both are inherently risk averse, and need a strong wind at their backs to sail forth on reforms.

Many thanks to Michael Moss for writing this book and for taking the time to share his thoughts with our readers. Salt, Sugar, Fat is an even handed, yet alarming, insider account of just what goes into influencing you to make a purchase. I too wish to explore the topic of government subsidies in greater detail, but the fact remains that if you walk into a grocery store stuck on auto-pilot the purchases you make may not be in your best interest, but will be no accident. Once you know just how calculated the food formulation and marketing really are (not to mention the lobbying efforts), you might just feel a bit taken advantage of. Food companies have effectively changed what our society considers “normal,” resulting in group think. But you keep buying it, yes?

I urge you to please read and share this book (and this interview) with parents, spouses, friends – anyone you feel may be stuck on auto-pilot. They’ll be hard pressed not to come away viewing the food industry, and their shopping habits, through a different lens. If you’ve already read the book (which can be purchased here on Amazon), how did it affect you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Rabbits Were Destroying Australia !

 

Australia’s Rabbit Plague —  For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits (alien species introduced for hunting).  So in the 1950’s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague.  We hear from farmer Bill McDonald who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.

Listen to the 10-minute story.                                                                         Read about the rabbit plague.  Read more.                                                                   Watch videos.

WitnessWitness — History as told by the people who were there. Witness talks to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events. Broadcast on weekdays. British Broadcasting Corporation.

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Alien species note:  In New Mexico, we were watching a herd of what were thought were bighorn sheep, the ram lying above us on top of the hill.  A park ranger told us that the animals were  Barbary sheep from North Africa, introduced for hunting.  Said they had driven out the native bighorns.

 

                                    

And we have in southeastern U.S. the kudzu vine that covers everything!

We saw a mongoose in Hawaii.  In the 1900’s, rats from ships invaded the sugar fields there, so the mongoose was brought in to eat them.  Problem:  mongooses hunt during the day and rats come out at night–they never saw each other!  Now the mongoose is busy killing ground-nesting birds.

rjn

 

 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02cf0rc

For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits. So in the 1950s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague. We hear from farmer, Bill McDonald, who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits. So in the 1950s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague. We hear from farmer, Bill McDonald, who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits. So in the 1950s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague. We hear from farmer, Bill McDonald, who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.

For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits. So in the 1950s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague. We hear from farmer, Bill McDonald, who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.

For decades, Australia’s countryside was ravaged by billions of rabbits. So in the 1950s, the government released the disease myxomatosis to kill off the rabbit plague. We hear from farmer, Bill McDonald, who remembers Australia’s battle against the bunnies.

Happy Turkeys

BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS In the 1950s, the country’s wild turkeys numbered less than 500,000, experts say. But now there are more than 7 million.Give thanks: Wild turkeys soaring back

Once on the brink of extinction, the birds now exist in the millions
 (Chicago Tribune 11.27.14)
BY MICHAEL S. ROSENWALD | The Washington Post

 Members of a Maryland church were preparing a turkey supper when they looked out the window and discovered several distant relatives of the main course approaching.    The wild turkeys were not feeling festive. One flew at and into a truck. When two members of Faith United Church of Christ in Frederick went outside to get a closer look, they were gobbled at and chased back inside. A joke quickly made the rounds: The wild turkeys had somehow learned their kinsfolk were on platters. They wanted revenge.    “Honestly I’ve never seen something that nuts in my entire life,” said Katie Penic, Faith United’s pastor. “We’re all city people. It never occurred to me that I’d see turkeys outside the church, even in Frederick.”    Wild turkeys were nearly extinct a century ago, but a decade slong effort to restore their population has been so successful that the feathered fowl are showing up with varying degrees of friendliness in unlikely places, wandering into suburban backyards, pecking across Trader Joe’s parking lots, even strutting along Interstate 66 in Northern Virginia.    In the 1950s, the country’s wild turkeys numbered less than 500,000, wildlife experts say. But now more than 7 million roam the American landscape. Their impressive comeback is the result of an inventive effort to trap and move the elusive birds with rocket-controlled nets.    Maryland had just 1,000 wild turkeys in the 1970s; now there are at least 35,000. Virginia has upward of 200,000.    “I would say this ranks near the top of any conservation success story,” said Bob Long, Maryland’s state turkey biologist. “When you’re going from a turkey population in the thousands to a turkey population in the millions, that’s pretty amazing.”    The soaring population has been a godsend for hunters, who are killing record numbers of wild turkeys, even in suburban counties.    But their resurgence is not without drama.    Sometimes small delegations of wild turkeys wander into residential neighborhoods on failed exploratory missions for good grub or companionship. For people unaccustomed to seeing turkeys, their appearances are entertaining and occasionally unnerving.    Videos and photos of turkeys pecking at sliding glass doors, chasing reporters, strolling through New York City and attacking mail trucks have been posted to YouTube and Instagram with hashtags such as #avianthugs. Video from the Frederick church encounter last year made local television news, attracting producers of a Discovery Channel special called “When Turkeys Attack.”    The Humane Society has even issued a document titled “What to Do About Wild Turkeys,” which includes tips to scare them away.    Wild turkeys and America go way back.    In pre-Colonial times, they were nearly as ubiquitous as today’s deer. Then the early European settlers came along. This was not a good time to be a turkey. Their forest habitats were destroyed, and the settlers killed them year-round.    By the 1900s, roughly 30,000 wild turkeys remained. The problem continued until a wildlife management movement emerged, fueled by taxes on ammunition and sporting goods. The idea of saving turkeys took hold.    The problem: How? States tried to breed turkeys and release them into the wild, a strategy that didn’t work. Because the turkeys hadn’t grown up with a wild mother, nobody taught them the ropes — what to eat, where to sleep, how to avoid predators.    “Imagine turning a chicken loose in the woods and expecting it to survive and reproduce on its own,” said Gary Norman, a Virginia state turkey biologist. “Their odds of survival were in the matter of weeks.”    Trapping them was another option, but cornering turkeys could qualify as an Olympic sport. They are innately distrustful and quick to flee.    But in the 1950s, South Carolina wildlife experts had a eureka moment: Why not use rocket-controlled nets originally designed to ensnare waterfowl? So they tried it. A large net was concealed on the ground. Turkeys were baited to the area. The net was then remotely propelled over the turkeys with small rockets.    Nabbed.    The method was replicated around the country. Trapped turkeys were moved to areas where they had been wiped out, with the idea that they would, you know, do their thing. And they did.    The National Wild Turkey Federation, an organization started in the 1970s, helped move turkeys around the country. It also encouraged hunters to kill turkeys in responsible numbers and maintain their habitat, even adding new food sources.    Now wild turkeys roam every state except Alaska, where it’s too cold.    They sometimes roam into civilization, where their movements are captured by the Instagram and YouTube generation, for whom wild animals are a source of wonder.    “We get maybe a half-dozen cases a year where turkeys overdo their welcome,” said Long, Maryland’s turkey biologist. “Every now and then you will get a turkey that tries to attack someone or chase them.”

Wikipedia

Turkeys are often misunderstood. They are perceived as dumb, which is a myth. But it’s true that there are different kinds of turkeys. There are the farm-raised turkeys that millions of Americans will eat this week. They probably couldn’t survive in the wilderness . The wild ones are feisty, smart and evasive, making them a popular and expensive bird to hunt.    Having them back in strong numbers is good for the economy. Turkey hunters spend more than $4 billion a year on calls and other gear, according to the National Wild Turkey Federation.    But it’s not easy.    Turkeys have eyes on the sides of their head, giving them the kind of vision most teachers dream of. They hear better than humans. The slightest move or sound by a hunter will prompt them to scram.    Organizations such as the wild turkey federation are raising millions of dollars to keep the turkey population growing. In a handful of states, including Mississippi and Arkansas, there is concern that their numbers are declining because of habitat loss.    But for now, the consensus is that the wild turkey is back in the fields, on social networks, in the American consciousness.    This past week on Instagram, someone posted a photo of four turkeys crossing a street. Hashtag: #runturkeyrun. In another post, a woman shared a photo of two turkeys pecking at a window.    They’re “crazy!!” she wrote.    “Omg,” a commenter said, “they are so close!!”

 

Brand New Limerick

In the Canary Islands of Spain I’ve heard

They do have that small yellow  kind of bird,

But the Islands are named

(ancient Romans are blamed)

for their big dogs which is simply absurd.

rjn

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The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning “Island of the Dogs”, a name applied originally only to Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the Mauretanian king Juba II named the island Canaria because it contained “vast multitudes of dogs of very large size”.[18]  Another speculation is that the so-called dogs were actually a species of monk seal(canis marinus or “sea dog” was a Latin term for ‘seal’[19]), critically endangered and no longer present in the Canary Islands.[20] The dense population of seals may have been the characteristic that most struck the few ancient Romans who established contact with these islands by sea.   (How’s that for absurd?)  Wikipedia   The canary (bird) is named for the islands: from Middle French canarie, canaries, from Old Spanish canario, fromIslas Canarias Canary Islands, group in the Atlantic ocean southwest of Spain, from Late Latin Canariae insulae, literally, dog islands; in other senses, from CanaryIslands, Canaries, from Spanish Islas Canarias. Merriam –Webster Unabridged Dictionary

A Good Guy–Ab Mikva

 

Ex-lawmaker, judge Mikva given nation’s highest civilian honor
BY KATHERINE SKIBA | Tribune reporter  Chicago Tribune 11.25.14
 LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Abner Mikva during a ceremony Monday at the White House. The former congressman and federal judge helped Obama learn the ins and outs of Chicago politics.
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{  I became aware of Abner Mikva when he was a young member of the Illinois House of Representatives when he spoke at a convention of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.  He said the state was not funding schools adequately while “the highway fund had money up its asphalt”. Some years later, on a sunny Sunday morning, I was in our living room working with a friend, Dave, on local union business when  the front doorbell rang and I found Ab Mikva standing there!   At that time Ab was running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.  He said he didn’t have many friends in our neighborhood and needed to meet us–he’d seen Dave’s car in our driveway plastered with Democratic signs.  He came in with his colleague and we had a good chat over coffee. Possibly  in that same election campaign, Ab and his Republican opponent spoke to an assembly at our school.  The tall, slim, well-dressed Republican spoke well–cool, well-organized, very nice.  Portly Ab spoke well in his way, warm and funny.  Good contrast between two kinds of Americans, maybe Republicans and Democrats, maybe WASPS (English origin) and the rest of us, examples Italians and Jews.  WASPS? Acronym used to be common for White Anglo-Saxon (English) Protestants.   rjn } Wikipedia has a good article on Ab. __________________________________________________________________    Tribune continues: WASHINGTON — 

President Barack Obama on Monday bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 18 recipients including Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder and Chicago’s Abner Mikva. 

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Award Citation:

Abner Mikva

Abner Mikva is a dedicated public servant who has served with distinction in all three branches of government. He was a five-term Congressman from Illinois, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and White House Counsel for President Bill Clinton. He has also served as a law professor at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois.

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In Case You Missed It: A Look at the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony     source  Kajal Singh  November 24, 2014


President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Chilean journalist and author Isabel Allende during ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

What is the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Who are the Recipients of this Year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom?

Take a look at the 2014 Presidential Medal of Honor recipients — you may recognize some of them:

Alvin Ailey (posthumous)

Ailey was a choreographer, dancer, and the founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which is renowned for its inspiring performances in 71 countries on 6 continents since 1958. Ailey’s work was groundbreaking in its exploration of the African American experience and the enrichment of the modern dance tradition, including his beloved American masterpieceRevelations. The Ailey organization, based in New York City, carries on his pioneering legacy with performances, training, educational, and community programs for people of all backgrounds.

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is a highly acclaimed author of 21 books that have sold 65 million copies in 35 languages. She has been recognized with numerous awards internationally. She received the prestigious National Literary Award in Chile, her country of origin, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw is one of America’s most trusted and respected journalists. Mr. Brokaw served as anchor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004, and is currently a Special Correspondent for NBC News. For decades, Mr. Brokaw has reached millions of Americans in living rooms across the country to provide depth and analysis to historic moments as they unfold, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the terrorist attacks of 9-11. His reporting has been recognized by the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, eleven Emmys, and two Peabody awards. Mr. Brokaw previously served as anchor of NBC’s Today, and following the death of his close friend Tim Russert, Mr. Brokaw took over Meet the Press during the 2008 campaign season. He has written five books including The Greatest Generation, a title that gave name to those who served in World War II at home and abroad.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner (posthumous)

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were civil rights activists and participants in “Freedom Summer,” an historic voter registration drive in 1964. As African Americans were systematically being blocked from voter rolls, Mr. Chaney, Mr. Goodman, and Mr. Schwerner joined hundreds of others working to register black voters in Mississippi. They were murdered at the outset of Freedom Summer. Their deaths shocked the nation and their efforts helped to inspire many of the landmark civil rights advancements that followed.

Mildred Dresselhaus

Mildred Dresselhaus is one of the most prominent physicists, materials scientists, and electrical engineers of her generation. A professor of physics and electrical engineering at MIT, she is best known for deepening our understanding of condensed matter systems and the atomic properties of carbon, which has contributed to major advances in electronics and materials research.

John Dingell

John Dingell is a lifelong public servant, the longest serving Member of Congress in American history, and one of the most influential legislators in history. Having represented Michigan in the House of Representatives since 1955, Mr. Dingell has fought for landmark pieces of legislation over the past six decades, from civil rights legislation in the 1960s, to legislation protecting our environment in the 1970s, to his persistent, determined fight for health care throughout his career, from Medicare to the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Dingell also served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Ethel Kennedy

Ethel Kennedy has dedicated her life to advancing the cause of social justice, human rights, environmental protection, and poverty reduction by creating countless ripples of hope to effect change around the world. Over 45 years ago, she founded the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which is dedicated to realizing her husband’s dream of a more just and peaceful world. Ethel Kennedy was most recently honored for her longtime advocacy of environmental causes in neglected areas of Washington, D.C. with the dedication of the “Ethel Kennedy Bridge” over the Anacostia River.

Suzan Harjo

Suzan Harjo is a writer, curator, and activist who has advocated for improving the lives of Native peoples throughout her career. As a member of the Carter Administration and as current president of the Morning Star Institute, she has been a key figure in many important Indian legislative battles, including the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Dr. Harjo is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, and a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

Abner Mikva

Abner Mikva is a dedicated public servant who has served with distinction in all three branches of government. He was a five-term Congressman from Illinois, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and White House Counsel for President Bill Clinton. He has also served as a law professor at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois.

Patsy Takemoto Mink (posthumous)

Patsy Takemoto Mink was a Congresswoman from Hawai’i, serving a total of 12 terms. She was born and raised on Maui, became the first Japanese American female attorney in Hawai’i, and served in the Hawai’i territorial and state legislatures beginning in 1956. In 1964, she became the first woman of color elected to Congress. She is best known for co-authoring and championing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Edward Roybal (posthumous)

Edward R. Roybal was the first Mexican-American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from California in nearly a century. In 1976, he founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, creating a national forum for Latino issues and opening doors for a new generation of Latino leaders.

Charles Sifford

Charles Sifford was a professional golfer who helped to desegregate the Professional Golfers’ Association, despite harassment and death threats. He started his life on the links as a caddy, and though he was formally excluded from the PGA for much of his career because of the color of his skin, he won six National Negro Opens. In 1960, he won his challenge over the PGA’s “Caucasian only” membership policy. He went on to win official PGA events and the PGA Seniors’ Championship. He was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004 and received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of St. Andrews in 2006.

Robert Solow

Robert Solow is one of the most widely respected economists of the past sixty years. His research in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s transformed the field, laying the groundwork for much of modern economics. He continues to influence policy makers, demonstrating how smart investments, especially in new technology, can build broad-based prosperity, and he continues to actively participate in contemporary debates about inequality and economic growth. He is a Nobel laureate, winning the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1987.

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is one of the most widely known and acclaimed actors in history. Ms. Streep has captured our imaginations with her unparalleled ability to portray a wide range of roles and attract an audience that has only grown over time, portraying characters who embody the full range of the human experience. She holds the record for most Academy Award nominations of any actor in history.

Marlo Thomas

Marlo Thomas is an award-winning actress, producer, best-selling author and social activist. Whether championing equality for girls and women, giving voice to the less fortunate, breaking barriers by portraying one of television’s first single working women on That Girl, or teaching children to be “Free to Be You and Me,” Thomas inspires us all to dream bigger and reach higher. Thomas serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on pediatric cancer and children’s catastrophic diseases. The hospital was founded by her father, Danny Thomas, in 1962.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is one of the world’s most gifted singer-songwriters. Mr. Wonder has created a sound entirely his own, mixing rhythm and blues with genres ranging from rock and roll to reggae, and demonstrating his mastery of a range of instruments, styles, and themes. He is also a Kennedy Center Honoree, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and winner of 25 Grammys and an Academy Award.

2014 Presidential Medal of Honor Ceremony

In his remarks to the recipients and their families this afternoon, the President highlighted how each recipient’s dedication to public service has made America stronger:


“This is one of my favorite events. Once a year, we set aside this event to celebrate people who have made America stronger, and wiser, and more humane, and more beautiful with our highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”


President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actress Meryl Streep during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During the ceremony, President Obama even joked with a few of the recipients:

“I think this is like the third or fourth award Meryl’s gotten since I’ve been in office, and I’ve said it publicly: I love Meryl Streep. I love her. Her husband knows I love her. Michelle knows I love her. There’s nothing either of them can do about it.”

“And then there’s Stevie. Don’t get Michelle talking about Stevie Wonder now. Early copies of Stevie Wonder’s classic album Talking Book had a simple message, written in Braille: “Here is my music. It is all I have to tell you how I feel. Know that your love keeps my love strong.” This is, by the way, the first album I ever bought with my own money. I was 10 years old, maybe 11, with my own cash. I didn’t have a lot of it. And I listened to that — that thing got so worn out, had all scratches. Young people, you won’t remember this, but you’d have albums. And they’d get scratched. “

“For more than half a century, in every single Congress, John introduced a bill for comprehensive health care. That is, until he didn’t have to do it anymore.”

At the end of the ceremony, the President described the gifts that these extraordinary individuals have given to us:


“We thank all of them for the gifts they’ve given to us, the incredible performances, the incredible innovation, the incredible ideas, and the incredible expressions of the human spirit. And not only have they made the world better, but by following their example, they make us a little bit better every single day.”


Interested in finding out more about the presidential Medal of Freedom? Check out some of the past recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom here. _________________________________________________________________

   Mikva, 88, a former congressman and judge who was White House counsel under Bill Clinton, once tried unsuccessfully to hire Obama as a law clerk and ended up schooling him in Chicago politics.    Mikva, who walks with a cane and has macular degeneration, said the honor was the “greatest thing that ever happened to me.”    He taught law at the University of Chicago the same time Obama did but said he no longer can read books and listens to e-books on his iPod.    The former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., was not short on opinions when he spoke after the honors ceremony, which was attended by the vice president, the first lady and other dignitaries.    Mikva said Obama was “well within his power” in his use of executive authority to enact changes to immigration policy. The president is visiting Chicago on Tuesday to discuss that move.    “This is prosecutorial discretion,” Mikva said. “Presidents have been exercising that since the first pardon. And also there’s no way Congress can have the standing to sue him, which they’ll find out.”    Mikva was in the House from 1969 to 1973 and 1975 to 1979 and on the bench from 1979 to 1994. He said he rarely speaks to Obama now but would urge him to exercise as much executive power as he can, in areas including the environment. “I think he realizes that this Congress will never do anything that will extend his legacy,” Mikva said.    He chuckled at a miscue Monday, when his name card read, “Mivka,” the same name the late Mayor Richard J. Daley had for him. “My medal is spelled right — that’s all I care about,” he said.    He remembered that Obama was not much of an orator during his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2000, but when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he “could have taught Martin Luther King elocution.”    He said he would like to see Obama become the U. of C.’s president after his term in the White House ends.    During the ceremony, Obama recounted the story about Mikva during the 1940s when he went to a local ward office and confronted the insular world of Democratic politics. He was asked: “Who sent you?”    Mikva replied, “Nobody,” and was told: “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”    “That’s Chicago for you,” Obama said.    Of the other honorees, Obama said he was 10 or 11 years old when he bought his first album, and it was one of Stevie Wonder’s. “Don’t get Michelle going about Stevie,” he quipped.    On Streep, he said: “I love Meryl Streep. Her husband knows it. Michelle knows it. There’s nothing either of them can do about it.”    Other recipients included Ethel Kennedy, TV newsman Tom Brokaw and actress Marlo Thomas, who lived in Winnetka for five years after her 1980 marriage to talk show host Phil Donahue.    Six of the medals were awarded posthumously, including honors to three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, killed in Mississippi in 1964 while registering black voters. Chicago Tribune, 11.15.14.

 

Lives of Chicago Coyotes

 

Watch a coyote outfitted with a National Geographic Crittercam run through the city streets of Chicago. Click here for 5 VIDEOS.

Christine Dell’Amore  National Geographic   NOVEMBER 21, 2014

An extreme breed of coyote is finding there’s no finer place than downtown Chicago, where the predator has learned to lurk under the radar of city life, new data show.     More »

The versatile carnivore, native to middle America, has spread into nearly every corner of the U.S. in the past few decades, taking particular advantage of the suburbs and their wildlife buffet. (Related: “Coyote-Wolf Hybrids Have Spread Across U.S. East.”)

But in some metropolitan areas, such as the Windy City, populations are now so high that no vacancies are left in the suburbs for these highly territorial animals—which means youngsters are being forced to strike out into the only remaining habitat: downtown.

Among the skyscrapers of Michigan Avenue and busy Lake Shore Drive, these animals are “pushing their ecological envelope,” said Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, who has been studying coyotes since 2000.

The animals have altered their natural behavior to accommodate living in close quarters with people. Unlike wild coyotes, for example, Chicago’s uber-urban coyotes are nocturnal, coming out when most people have gone home; have learned to travel and cross busy roads regularly; and maintain huge yet fragmented territories, according to new data from coyotes outfitted with a GPS collar or a Crittercam, a National Geographic camera that attaches harmlessly to animals.

“We constantly underestimate them,” said Gehrt, who recently completed the first part of his urban-coyote research, funded by National Geographic’s Committee for Research and Exploration.

“We felt there were parts of Chicago too urban, with too many people, for coyotes to live—and we were wrong,” he said.

“They’re a humbling animal.”

Hard-Knock Life

Though coyotes have taken up residence in several U.S. metropolises, including New York City and Washington, D.C., few scientists are studying them—in part because the urban coyote didn’t even exist until suburban sprawl spurred a boom in prey in recent years. (See National Geographic Your Shot pictures of coyotes.)

But it’s crucial to understand how these carnivores interact with the landscape, Gehrt said, both to figure out how to manage them and to avoid conflicts with people.

Watch a coyote snatch a bird for a snack. Graphic content.

“People in Chicago have shifted their opinions about coyotes to primarily acceptance. That doesn’t mean that they are thrilled they are here, but they are not that quick to remove them like they used to,” Gehrt said.

“Whether it stays like that, or if they eventually get tired of them, is one reason why we continue to monitor them.”

For his newest work, Gehrt and colleagues fitted six Chicago coyotes with GPS collars and four with Crittercams in 2013 and 2014—the first time either technology was used on urban coyotes.

Gehrt estimates there are about 2,000 coyotes living in metropolitan Chicago, home to about nine million people.

The GPS data revealed that city coyotes have larger home ranges than suburban coyotes do—up to 3.4 square miles (8.9 square kilometers), compared with 0.4 square mile (1.2 square kilometers)—probably because sizable sections of their habitats are too hard to use or defend, such as popular shopping streets. (Learn more about wildlife in your backyard on Nat Geo Wild’s Urban Jungle.)

“The thing I have to wrap my head around,” Gehrt said, is the mystery of how a coyote is actually able to defend and maintain such a large and fragmented territory.

What’s more, the coyotes have a short window of time for their patrols: Chicago’s inner-city coyotes are strictly nocturnal, curling up in little hideaways during the day (sometimes a few feet away from people walking down city streets).

Suburban coyotes are less constrained, and will hunt and defend their territories in both daytime and nighttime hours.

“Downtown animals never have that flexibility,” Gehrt said. (Get facts on suburban wildlife.)

Gehrt and colleagues also took blood samples from several urban coyotes to determine whether the city dwellers are genetically distinct from their suburban kin, or whether they’re part of one big related group. Those results are pending.

Though coyotes can mate easily with dogs and wolves, the animals Gehrt studies are mostly full coyotes.

Uber-Urbanites

Even under cover of darkness, urban coyotes still have to dodge people and vehicles—and the GPS data reveal they do it deftly. Chicago coyotes have learned to negotiate roads, sidewalks, and railroads usually without being seen or hit, despite tremendous traffic volume.

One GPS-collared coyote named 748 and his mate even raised a litter of five healthy pups inside a secret concrete den in the parking lot of Soldier Field Stadium, home of the Chicago Bears.

It’s unknown whether urban coyotes die at higher rates than their rural or suburban counterparts, though Gehrt suspects it’s a mix: The first downtown animal they radio-collared, in 2010, is still doing well.

Chicago’s coyotes are “the most urban coyote I’ve heard of,” saidRoland Kays, a zoologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in Raleigh, who studies suburban wildlife.

Predators Becoming More Urban

The Crittercams have given researchers an unprecedented window into an urban coyote’s lifestyle, with 91 video clips of the animals hunting, eating, and avoiding people.

Footage of the animals hunting, for instance, reveals that they eat a surprisingly large amount of wildlife, such as songbirds and rabbits, instead of the suspected people food and garbage. (One video sequence showed a coyote burying a squirrel carcass for later use.)

“Despite how urban they are, they’re eating natural foods … That’s the most amazing thing about what he’s finding,” Kays said.

To Kays, this is another indication that predators are finally catching up to the smaller animals that moved into cities and suburbs, such as rabbits, squirrels, and raccoons. (Related: “Watch Raccoons Escape Trash Can—Are Urban Animals Getting Smarter?”)

“It’s the reclamation of urban America by predators,” he said. “The prey moved in first, and predators started to move in behind them.”

None of the Crittercam clips showed evidence that Chicago’s downtown coyotes are regularly hunting dogs, cats, or other pets, a concern of many people.

Admirable Underdogs

Even so, coyotes have always been the underdog—which is part of why Gehrt admires them.

The coyote is the only carnivore to have doubled its range across North America in the face of intense persecution, including frequent hunts organized by government agencies.

“They don’t live anywhere where people want them, and that includes cities,” he said.

“They’re successful in spite of us, not because of us.”

 

Nursing Home Heroes–Cook and Janitor

 

‘If We Left, They Wouldn’t Have Nobody’

source
Maurice Rowland (left) and Miguel Alvarez were working at an assisted living home last fall. When it shut down, Maurice -€- the cook --” and Miguel — the janitor --” stayed to take care of the residents left behind.

Maurice Rowland (left) and Miguel Alvarez were working at an assisted living home last fall. When it shut down, Maurice -€- the cook –” and Miguel — the janitor –” stayed to take care of the residents left behind.

StoryCorps

When an assisted living home in California shut down last fall, many of its residents were left behind, with nowhere to go.

The staff at the Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.

“There was about 16 residents left behind, and we had a conversation in the kitchen, ‘What are we going to do?’ ” Rowland says.

“If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody,” the 34-year-old Alvarez says.

Their roles quickly transformed for the elderly residents, who needed round-the-clock care.

“I would only go home for one hour, take a shower, get dressed, then be there for 24-hour days,” says Alvarez.

Rowland, 35, remembers passing out medications during those long days. He says he didn’t want to leave the residents — some coping with dementia — to fend for themselves.

“I just couldn’t see myself going home — next thing you know, they’re in the kitchen trying to cook their own food and burn the place down,” Rowland says. “Even though they wasn’t our family, they were kind of like our family for this short period of time.”

For Alvarez, the situation brought back memories from his childhood.

“My parents, when they were younger, they left me abandoned,” he says. “Knowing how they are going to feel, I didn’t want them to go through that.”

Alvarez and Rowland spent several days caring for the elderly residents of Valley Springs Manor until the fire department and sheriff took over.

The incident led to legislation in California known as the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014.

“If I would’ve left, I think that would have been on my conscience for a very long time,” says Rowland.

Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall.

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

Runaway Bus–note

 

Previous post reminded me of this good novel.  rjn

John Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus

 Steinbeck’s vision comes wonderfully to life in this imaginative and unsentimental chronicle of a bus traveling California’s back roads, transporting the lost and the lonely, the good and the greedy, the stupid and the scheming, the beautiful and the vicious away from their shattered dreams and, possibly, toward the promise of the future.  source

Runaway Bus

 

Useless Information Podcast Script

Original Podcast Air Date: February 10, 2014  Source
And now for today’s story which is titled Busman’s Holiday, which requires us to once again hop in our time machine and set our clocks back to Friday March 28th of 1947.

Bus-NYC-Untapped Cities-NYC History.jpg Photo by MISTERLINSKY  Photobucket - Google Chrome 11122014 34911 PM(Mister Linksy via Photobucket)

Calling all cars!  Calling all cars!  Be on the lookout for a brand new 44 passenger cream and red colored diesel passenger bus #1310.   Its driver, 37-year-old William Lawrence Cimillo, is also missing and is presumed to have stolen the bus.

 Okay.  I may be dramatizing a bit here to grab your attention.  But this bus and its driver really were missing.  What was known at the time was that Cimillo drove the one-month old $18,000 (that’s nearly $183,000 today) bus out of the Surface Transportation System garage at 2050 Webster Avenue in the Bronx at 6:50 AM for his usual run that morning and never picked up a single fare.  Two hours later the bus was spotted about 20 miles or 32 kilometers away in Clifton, NJ near the home of one of the company’s mechanics.  Just a wee bit off course… 
 
Almost immediately a teletype alarm was transmitted to police in 11 states around New York to keep an eye out for the bus.   
So here you have this gigantic bus that is missing.  It’s big.  It’s huge.  It’s not the kind of thing that one can hide easily.  Yet no one could find it.  The bus seemed to have just vanished into thin air and the press was having a field day with the story.  Within 48 hours the story had hit the front page of newspapers all across the United States. 
 
But the bus was still nowhere to be found. 
 
That was until 7 AM of Monday March 31st when police found it sitting empty on the side of the road on US Route 1, about two miles outside of Hollywood, Florida, not too far from the Gulfstream Park Racetrack. 
 
Whoa!  Florida?  What?  Florida?  How in the world did that bus get from New York City to Florida in that short of a period of time?  Keep in mind that this was 1947 – before the days of major highways everywhere – and the bus was about 1500 miles or 2400 kilometers away from home. 
 
What’s even more interesting is that the Hollywood police had no clue that the bus was stolen.  They simply saw this bright, shiny bus with NY license plates that was unlike anything that they had ever seen in this area before.  The only reason that the officers stopped to look at it was sheer curiosity.  What they found was a locked bus that was in perfect shape.  Inside they observed a brown jacket hanging on the back of the driver’s seat, a sleeveless sweater, and a tan shirt that looked like it had been hand washed and hung to dry. 
 
And the bus would have sat there for days if the vice president of the Surface Transportation Company, Thomas J. Hackett, back in New York hadn’t received an urgent telegram at 8:34 AM.  It said, “With disabled bus No. 1310. STOP  In need of $50.  STOP  Answer care of Western Union.  STOP  Send money to Hollywood. STOP Cimillo” 
 
Yes.  You heard that correctly.  Cimillo ran out of money and contacted the company that he stole the bus from to send him additional cash. 
 
Instead of wiring cash, Vice President Hackett contacted the NYC police, who then telegraphed their colleagues down in Hollywood to arrest Cimillo.  They, in turn,  planted men around the abandoned bus and also at the racetrack.   
 
They waited and waited and then, at 6:30 PM, a man fitting Cimillo’s description walked into the Western Union office at the racetrack to see if any money had been wired to him.  Officers approached and asked if he was Cimillo, which he did confirm.  He was arrested and placed in the local jail.  When asked if he had placed any bets while at the racetrack, Cimillo denied that he had, having only $2.60 in his possession. 
 
He was unable to explain why, but he had this incredible impulse to just keep driving and driving.  “Something happened to me when I pulled out of that garage.  All of a sudden I was telling myself ‘Baby, this is it.’  I left town in a hurry.  Somehow, I didn’t care where I went.  I just turned the wheel to the left, and soon I was on Highway No. 1, bound for Florida.” 
 
After leaving New York, he had driven 15 hours before making his first stop.  He slept the first night in a tourist cabin in Virginia, followed by a stay in a Georgia cabin the next.  Cimillo had replaced the Subway sign on the bus with the word Special and any time someone questioned where he was headed, he simply said “South.”   
 
After driving through eight different states, he arrived in Hollywood, Florida that Sunday morning and wired his request for additional funds.  Amazingly, he did not believe that the company would hold a grudge against him since he had every intention of returning the bus unharmed.   
 
On April 5th, four days after his arrest, Cimillo was handed an armload of coconuts as a souvenir of his stay in Florida, boarded the bus, and started upon his journey back to New York.   This time, however, Cimillo was not at the wheel.   That  responsibility was assigned to company mechanic John Anderson.  Two detectives, along with a prisoner being returned from Florida on abandonment charges, were also aboard the bus.  

William Cimillo-Untapped Cities-This American Life-Radio Diaries-SFC-NYC-Daily WhatWilliam Cimillo (Screen Capture via Vimeo)

By the time the bus pulled into Wilmington, Delaware three days later, Cimillo had become a national hero.  Here was the common man who had grown frustrated with the daily grind and basically told his boss to take this job and shove it, as the expression goes.   The bus was immediately surrounded by reporters, photographers, and movie cameramen, who insisted on a complete reenactment of Cimillo’s arrival in town.

 And they did, but things didn’t go quite as planned.  As the cameras rolled, the bus, with Cimillo aboard, was triumphantly escorted through the city by a patrolman on a motorcycle.  As they approached Pennsylvania Station, which is now the Joe Biden or Wilmington station, the motorcycle came to a stop.  Unfortunately, the bus didn’t and bumped into the patrolman and knocked him to the ground. 
 The driver was taken to the Wilmington police station and the bus company forked over $17.50 for damage to the motorcycle.   

 
The next morning, as the bus emerged from the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan, it stopped one block from the Beach Street police station to let off the nine reporters and photographers who had jumped aboard back in Delaware.  Again totally staged, Cimillo and the bus to make its grand return alone, where they were met by hundreds of cheering people and dozens of additional reporters standing outside the police station. 
 
Inside, Cimillo was booked on a charge of grand larceny, which carried a possible sentence of up to ten years in jail.  But he didn’t stay there long.  Amazingly, the company that he had stolen the bus from paid the $1000 bail so that Cimillo could go home and see his wife and three sons. 
 
When questioned, company president Victor McQuistion refused to say as to whether or not the company would press charges against Cimillo.  But lets face it, if they were posting bail, things were already looking up for their employee.   
 
At least it appeared that way until the next day, when he was arraigned in Bronx County Court.  Chief Assistant District Attorney Sylvester Ryan made it clear that Cimillo’s behavior was totally unacceptable.  “We are living in a system where in order to maintain law and order we are required to restrain our impulses.”  It was revealed that on October 30th Cimillo had been fined $25 on a bookmaking charge, which was followed on December 11th of another $200 fine for the same offense.  This time, however, he was given a 30 day suspended sentence for his crime.   In other words, Cimillo was not the innocent character that the press had made him out to be.  In fact, he was a petty gambler who owed $1896 to various loan companies. 
 
It was also revealed in the press that Cimillo had been suspended by the bus company three months earlier due to an inconsistency between the fares that he collected and the account book that he had turned in.  The suspension lasted only one day – Cimillo was cleared of any wrongdoing and his wages were completely restored. 
 
Cimillo responded, “I had a little trouble financially and I wanted to get away and go somewhere to think it over quietly.”  He added, “I had no intention of stealing the bus.  I just went for a joyride.”  
 
Yet, a few bad words in the press did little to change the public’s perception of Cimillo.  Drivers back at the bus terminal voted to hold a dance at the Bronx Winter Garden on May 1st to raise funds to pay off all of Cimillo’s debts and to hire the best legal talent possible. 
 
Finally, on April 17th, Cimillo received the word that he had been eagerly awaiting.  The bus company decided to give him his old job back.  He was placed on one-year probation and was back to work the very next day.  Cimillo was given the same bus route but not the same new bus. 
 
Seven reporters and photographers accompanied him on his first trip out of the garage.  Passengers went out of their way just to ride aboard Cimillo’s bus.  One of the dance committee members rode on the bus and tickets for the fundraiser sold briskly.  After school let out that afternoon, an estimated 350 screaming high school girls tried to board his bus for a ride home, even though three other buses were lined up right behind Cimillo’s.   
 
And that was basically it until September 14th of 1948 when Cimillo made the news once again.  But this time he had done nothing wrong.  He received a company award for safe driving.  He was one of 1,100 out of 2,200 drivers to get the award, but I bet he was the only one to make the national papers with the announcement. 
 
On October 16th of 1950, that’s 3-years, 6-months, and 19-days after Cimillo stole the bus, the larceny charge against him was fully dismissed.   
 
The tragic death of Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband Mike Todd once again thrust Cimillo’s spring outing into the spotlight.  Legend has it that Todd had been working on a script for his next movie production, tentatively titled “Busman’s Holiday.”  The script was forwarded by airmail to Mike’s office in California, but it didn’t arrive.  Both Todd and the script had gone down in separate airplane crashes.  Todd was killed in a crash near Grants, New Mexico, and the script went down near Chicago.   
 
After his death, the script was finally delivered to Todd’s office with its pages scorched and water stained.  In June of 1958 it was announced that Mike Todd’s son Mike Jr. and his stepmother Elizabeth Taylor had set up a production company and that their first film would be titled “Busman’s Holiday.”  Taylor would not only star as a beauty queen in the film, but it would also mark the first time that she ever sang on film.   The film must have been very, very  loosely based on Cimillo’s bus excursion, since I never came across a single mention of a beauty queen in any of my research.  While filming did commence on the movie, for unknown reasons the project was scrapped and never completed.  
 
When interviewed in March of 1960, Cimillo said “This New York traffic gets you.  It’s like driving in a squirrel cage.”  When questioned as to whether he would ever do something so drastic again, he added, “You tell somebody a joke a second time and it’s not always so funny.” 
 
William Lawrence Cimillo died in September of 1975 at 66 years of age.  

photo source

_______________________________________________________________

National Public Radio show This American Life ran a good piece on this story recently.  It includes interviews with Cimillo’s two sons.  Listen here.

The older son remembers these events with bitter resentment.  He tells how it felt to see his father on the television news, in handcuffs, and how embarrassing it was that people approached the family on the street and in restaurants asking for autographs.

The younger son is a fan, has made a scrapbook and collected memorabilia about his dad’s adventure, including a tape of the television report of Cimillo’s arrest.  He was an infant at the time.

 

A Generation of Young Men — Dead

 

The First World War started 100 years ago.  Time check:  my father was 13 years old.   rjn

 

This note is included in a post here last year: “One hazy morning in 1917 the senior mistress of Bournemouth High School For Girls (in England) stood up in front of the assembled sixth form and announced to her hushed audience: “I have come to tell you a terrible fact.  “Only one out of ten of you girls can ever hope to marry. This is not a guess of mine. It is a statistical fact.  ‘Nearly all the men who might have married you have been killed.’ ”  source

British Empire  deaths WWI:  908,000  source

 

U.S. casualties WWI:   Killed in action  35,500      Died of wounds 14,800                                                              Wounded severely   91,000    source

New way of getting at World War I :

                           1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War                                         Has articles, links to other WWI websites.