Sex and the Constitution

 

I heard the author of this book on the radio.  He said that at the time the Constitution was written most Americans were not religious, certainly not the writers.   RJN

 SEX AND THE CONSTITUTION by Geoffrey R. Stone

SEX AND THE CONSTITUTION

Sex, Religion, and Law from America’s Origins to the Twenty-First Century

KIRKUS REVIEW                     

Sexual expression, obscenity, contraception, and abortion are the focus of this wide-ranging legal, political, and social history.

Stone (Law/Univ. of Chicago; Speaking Out!: Reflections on Law, Liberty and Justice, 2010, etc.), a constitutional scholar whose previous books include an award-winning history of free speech, offers a broad, fascinating overview of the nation’s shifting, often incendiary, attitudes toward sexuality and the impact of those attitudes on politics and law. Colonists “clearly and emphatically rejected” Puritans’ repressive views about sex, and the country’s founders, Stone asserts, had no interest in regulating sexuality nor in promoting Christianity. Most were “broad-minded skeptics who viewed religious passion as divisive and irrational, and who consistently challenged, both publicly and privately, traditional Christian dogma.” The claim that America is a “Christian nation” originated in the Second Great Awakening, which swept the country from the 1790s to the 1840s. At a time of unsettling social change, “charismatic preachers” excited religious passions that infused “politics, culture, education, relations between the sexes, attitudes about sex,” and, most significantly, views on the relationship between religion and government. Believing sex to be sinful, evangelicals mounted a campaign against masturbation and contraception; without fear of pregnancy, they claimed, women’s inherent lasciviousness would be uncontrollable. After the Civil War, those ideas were taken up by Anthony Comstock, who policed sexuality with unabated vigor, specifically the dissemination of obscene material through the postal service; obscenity laws persisted even after his death in 1915. In the 1970s, Protestant fundamentalists incited a third awakening, embraced by the Republican Party that coveted the voting power of the Moral Majority. Stone enlivens his narrative with deft portraits of the many judges involved in cases on obscenity, contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Some Supreme Court justices, appointed to uphold the views of the Christian right, disappointed their constituencies. The author applauds decisions that reflect the “protection of human dignity and equality” and believes, maybe too optimistically, that religious groups are now “on the defensive.”

A compelling history of a nation grappling with the moral and legal freedoms that the founders strived to ensure.

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Biggest Dinosaur Footprints Found

March 27     source
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Where can you see dinosaur tracks in the U.S. ?
http://dinosaurstop.com/listings-by-state/
Search on DINOSAUR TRACKS yields information for various sites around the country.
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More than 100 million years ago, on a muddy stretch of land that is now Australia, nearly two-dozen species of dinosaur once roamed.

There were duck-billed ornithopods, which left long, three-toed tracks in their wake. Heavy armored dinosaurs pressed large, tulip-shaped prints into the soil. Predators scratched the ground with their talons. And the feet of gigantic, long-necked sauropods created bathtub-sized depressions in the dirt.

Asteroids struck, continents moved, sea levels rose and fell. What was once a damp, forested environment surrounded by shallow seas became the hot, rugged coastline of northwestern Australia.

But the dinosaurs’ tracks remained. The footprint assemblage, which contains evidence of 21 species, is the most diverse in the world, researchers reported Friday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

One of those tracks is the largest dinosaur print ever recorded: a 5-foot-9-inch print from a sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur. The tracks also provide the first evidence that spiky tailed stegosaurs lived in the land down under.

“The tracks provide a snapshot, a census if you will, of an extremely diverse dinosaur fauna,” lead author Steve Salisbury, a paleontologist at the University of Queensland, told Gizmodo. “Twenty-one different types of dinosaurs all living together at the same time in the same area. We have never seen this level of diversity before, anywhere in the world. It’s the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti. And it’s written in stone.”

There are thousands of marks along the 15-mile stretch of coastline, called Walmadany by the indigenous Goolarabooloo people and labeled James Price Point on most maps. Salisbury likened the region to “Australia’s own ‘Jurassic Park.’ ”

The Goolarabooloo have known about the fossil trackways for millennia. The massive markings, which are visible only at low tide, are featured in Goolarabooloo oral histories, or “song cycles,” Salisbury told the BBC.

“They relate to a creation mythology, and specifically the tracks show the journey of a creation being called Marala — the emu man. Wherever he went he left behind three-toed tracks that now we recognize as the tracks of meat-eating dinosaurs,” he said.

In 2008, Walmadany was selected as the preferred site for a natural gas plant. Worried that the sacred and scientifically significant site would be lost, the Goolarabooloo reached out to paleontologists and asked them to look into the tracks.

“We needed the world to see what was at stake,” Goolarabooloo leader Phillip Roe said in a statement.

The area was listed as a natural heritage site in 2011, and plans for the natural gas plant fell apart two years later.

Working alongside the Goolarabooloo, who are considered the region’s “traditional custodians,” Salisbury and his colleagues spent 400 hours investigating the markings. Each one was measured with three-dimensional photogrammetry, a technique used to build a 3-D reconstruction of an object by taking photographs from a variety of angles. For some tracks, the scientists also made casts out of flexible silicon, which can later be used to produce museum replicas of the prints.

According to Salisbury, most other Australian dinosaur fossils come from the continent’s eastern side and date back to the mid-Cretaceous, about 90 to 115 million years ago. These tracks, which are between 127 and 144 million years old, represent the only fossil evidence from the early Cretaceous and are some of the oldest dinosaur remains in Australia, he said.

 

Max Schmeling, Big Good Guy

 

Max-schmeling.jpg Image result for hitler photosImage result for joe louis photos

Hitler came to power in Germany and started rounding up gays, Roma (Gypsies), people of color,  handicapped people, and millions of Jews to be loaded into cattle cars and shipped to their deaths; all with the support of thousands of Germans who attended his rallies and cheered as he ranted, Deutschland uber alles, “ Germany first.

That’s about the time I was born in the 1930’s.  A time when prize-fighting was very popular in the U.S. and Europe and the Olympics were held in Berlin.

Hitler expected the black Americans to fail in the Games and the white Germans to prevail. Wrong!  And he expected the German champion heavyweight fighter, Max Schmeling, to beat the young black American.  Well, he was right the first time–Schmeling knocked out Joe Louis in the 12th round of their first fight.  Two years later, Louis hammered Schmeling  unconscious in the first 124 seconds of the fight.

Schmeling had been thought to be a stooge of Hitler.  In fact he didn’t like the Nazis, resisted their pressure to fire his Jewish manager, and he risked life hiding two Jewish boys on Kristalnacht.

(On Kristalnacht, Night of Broken Glass, Nazi thugs ravaged Jewish neighborhoods.  My Rabbi saw his father beaten in the street that night.)

Louis volunteered for the U.S. Army and Schmeling was drafted into the German forces.  Disabled by a  battle-wound, he visited American P.O.W. camps in Germany, boxed in exhibition bouts, and occasionally tried to help conditions for the prisoners.

What interests me here is that after the War, Max and Joe spoke often on the phone and became friends !  When Max visited Joe in Chicago in 1954, they shared regret that publicity over the years had made them appear to be bitter enemies.

Image result for schmeling and louis

 

Schmeling became rich in the Coca Cola business and with others helped to support Joe Louis who never saw most of the  $4.6 million he earned fighting. Louis worked for awhile as a greeter at  Caesar’s Palace, a Las Vegas casino, even tried pro wrestling to earn his living.

Max gave money to Joe’s widow when he died.

Though Max had always asked him to avoid talking about the event, Henri Lewin, the president of the Sands Hotel, made this statement at a dinner in 1989:

“Beginning on Nov. 9, 1938, for four days, Max Schmeling hid my brother and me in his Berlin apartment. That was the night known now as ‘the Crystal Night,’   when the Gestapo began picking up all Jews off the streets”.

“Max Schmeling risked everything he had for us. If we had been found in his apartment, I would not be here this evening and neither would Max. And that, friends, is the kind of champion Max Schmeling is.”

______________________________

http://www.raoulwallenberg.net/es/prensa/2005-prensa/max-schmeling-joe-louis-s/    Detailed article followed Schmeling’s death in 2005 at age 99.  “Above all, Max Schmeling was much appreciated inside and outside Germany as a human being and private person.”

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Louis_vs._Max_Schmeling#Louis.E2.80.93Schmeling_paradox   The two fights with background information.

http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/9404398/more-just-fight                     It was … the fight’s cultural, racial and political ramifications that set it apart and led historian Bert Sugar to label it “The greatest sporting event of the 20th century.”

http://articles.latimes.com/1989-12-23/sports/sp-588_1_max-schmeling      “An old friend recalls how the former champion saved his life by outwitting the Gestapo”

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht  ” . . .  pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and German civilians.”

 

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-historical-odd-couples  ” . . . they formed an enduring friendship that lasted the rest of their lives.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LNzWHuygpw VIDEO First round knockout  VIDEO of 128-second 2nd fight.  Warning:  it’s brutal.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSaXM0vZrws   VIDEO  “Great Documentary about the lives and fights between Max Schmeling and Joe Louis!”

Max Schmeling, Max Schmeling an Autobiography. 1998, Bonus Books. German edition, 1977. Lots of photos.                                                                           Reviewer doubts distance between himself and Hitler and Nazis that  Schmeling claims,  http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-56625-108-2

 

 

 

 

RJN

 

 

City Stable Closing

Image result for horse carriage chicago photo
As Old Town stable faces demolition, carriage owners see tenuous future
Elyssa CherneyContact Reporter  Chicago Tribune  12.9.16

The sprawling, two-story stable that sits in the middle of a residential block in Old Town has overcome its share of hurdles.

Since debuting as a riding school in 1871, the red-brick building has survived multiple bankrupted owners, a business license debacle, a horse heist by a former employee and two fires — the most recent was ruled arson.

But the Noble Horse Theatre, regarded as Chicago’s last original stable, may finally meet its end when a developer seeks approval Thursday to erect a seven-story apartment building in its place.

The likely demolition of Noble Horse represents the latest blow to an already beleaguered industry, business owners said. In addition to rising property prices, the horse carriage companies grapple with a number of challenges in Chicago, they said, including restrictions on carriage stand locations and a rush-hour ban.

“It’s hard to see that the city, and society in general, no longer values the entertainment, the contribution and the amazingness of horses,” said Wendy Burtt, Antique Coach & Carriage, one of two companies that housed animals and equipment at Noble Horse until this past spring. “It’s the history of the building that’s so amazing.”

Across from the Brown Line “L” tracks, trash, leaves and stale horse pellets littered the stable grounds Thursday. A gap in the metal fence around the property allowed access to the multibuilding campus, where insulation hung from the ceilings and the walls peeled. Neon spray-painted graffiti was scribbled in a dark hallway that led to a riding arena.

LG Development Group is seeking a zoning change to construct a 252-unit complex at the intersections of North Orleans, West Schiller and North Sedgewick streets and is scheduled to appear before the Chicago Plan Commission next week. LG Development did not respond to a request for comment.

Now Antique Coach and the second business that used the space, Great Lakes Horse & Carriage, have been forced to find lodging elsewhere. Burtt relocated to a warehouse in Lincoln Park, converting it to a stable. Jim Rogers, owner of Great Lakes, said he trucks his horses in from northwest Indiana.

“We are victims of gentrification just like every other small business,” said Burtt, spokeswoman and driver for Antique Coach. “We’re a dying industry. At some point, real estate will be out of our financial reach.”

The 1-acre lot that Noble Horse occupies was worth $500,000 in 1991, according to the Cook County recorder of deeds. In April, when it was sold for development purposes, the land went for at least $7.8 million, records show.

For some Old Town residents, Noble Horse Theatre is a relic of how the neighborhood was in the 1990s before — as one woman walking her dog put it — “it was all fancy with condos.”

Maurice Simpson, 53, who has lived nearby since the 1960s, said he never went inside the stable but is sad to see it go. One of his friends rented a carriage for his wedding eight years ago, Simpson said.

“I’m against any sort of demolition in the old neighborhood,” he said. “But we are undergoing massive changes. Some people don’t see the [stable] as necessary.”

Some younger residents who were newer to the area weren’t familiar with the property and wondered about its purpose. After learning about Noble Horse from a Chicago Tribune reporter, Allison Hammer, a 31-year-old nurse, said she would have been curious to know more.

“Historical landmarks are an important part of preserving the city,” said Hammer, who’s lived in Old Town for three years.

The carriage operators have mixed reactions about the fate of Noble Horse. Burtt will mourn the loss of a city gem. Rogers, however, is more concerned with practicalities.

Rogers said he got six months’ notice to vacate but has struggled finding another affordable space to rent where landlords don’t mind livestock. In his 20 years of running the company, Rogers said, he’s relocated at least eight times. He operates three horse-drawn carriages in the city.

“It was extremely inconvenient, but it’s just like another change of address,” he said. “It’s a great place, and it’s too bad.”

Burtt and Ortega, who run 10 carriages each, said their operations are too large to transport by truck. They need to house the horses close to downtown so the animals can walk to Michigan Avenue, where throngs of eager tourists make up the heart of their profits.

Ortega, whose stable is in an industrial area at North Kingsbury and West Willow streets, was among the first to rent stable space at Noble Horse in 1981. That was when the property straddled the troubled Cabrini-Green housing project and gunshots frequently rang out, recalled Ortega.

“When I started there, it was dirt poor,” he said. “There were shootings there in the middle of the street, and the neighbors were happy we moved onto the street because we brought some civility and they felt they could come out at night.”

Dan Sampson, who used to run the city’s largest carriage company, operated the Noble Horse then. He took it over in 1984 and revived the stable over 25 years, offering riding lessons, the carriage service and eventually a dinner-show production. He also pushed a $2.5 million renovation, adding 300 seats to the arena in 2003.

But Sampson also faced adversity. The stable was nearly bankrupt in 1991, a real estate company threatened to bulldoze it in 1997 and a fire ravaged the interior in the same year.

As Sampson built the business, the neighborhood changed. Cabrini Green shuttered for good in 2011. Gentrification continued as swanky restaurants popped up, and The Second City comedy club attracted an artsy crowd to settle nearby, though the 2008 economic crisis stalled some of the development.

At its height in the ’80s and ’90s, there were 60 horse-drawn carriages clopping the streets of downtown — compared with the 23 in use now. Though the current companies have converted some spaces to serve as stables, they say the Noble Horse building is the last standing stable originally built for that purpose.

By 2009, Sampson could not sustain his carriage and dinner-show business, blaming the city’s regulations for a hand in its demise. Afterward, Burtt and Rogers rented space from the property owner, real-estate developer Sheldon Baskin.

The most recent blaze in February, which damaged 13 horse-drawn carriages, appears to have been set by animal rights extremists, according to the FBI. Graffiti typically associated with that movement — spray-painted messages of “Save the horses” and “freedom” — was discovered in the barn, said the FBI, which is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Burtt said the industry can’t afford to fight the Noble Horse closure and said she had to emotionally detach from the property. She filmed as the last horse rode out of the barn for the final time April 1, chronicling what she calls the end of an era.

“There are kids in the city who will never have contact with horses like ours if we’re gone,” Burtt said. “Tourism in Chicago is a No. 1 industry, and we bring a very important aspect to the tourism industry, but they are forgetting about us … We’re not big business companies, we’re not corporate finance. We’re just small people trying to do our thing.”

Those Big Boxes

 Image result for photos shipping containers

The Shipping Container    LISTEN at source  (9 minutes)

Listen in pop-out player

Shipping goods around the world was – for many centuries – expensive, risky and time-consuming. But 60 years ago the trucking entrepreneur Malcolm McLean changed all that by selling the idea of container shipping to the US military. Against huge odds he managed to turn “containerisation” from a seemingly impractical idea into a massive industry – one that slashed the cost of transporting goods internationally and provoked a boom in global trade.

Image result for photos shipping containers

President-Elect Trump on the Issues

 

CHARTS: Here’s What Donald Trump Has Said On The Issues

Hand holding bullhorn blocked by cork stopper

Gillian Blease/Getty Images/Ikon Images

Before Donald Trump takes the oath of office in January, there are a lot of questions about how he will decide key policy issues.

We’ve identified the top 10 issues voters care about most according to a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center and charted what Trump has said about each of them. The issues are, in order: the economy, terrorism, foreign policy, health care, gun policy, immigration, Social Security, education, Supreme Court appointments and the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.

Where we could, we gave Trump’s stances a simple “Yes” or “No,” but also used the rating “It’s Complicated” in cases where his stance is more nuanced or has changed.

(Trump has given clues on what he’ll prioritize in his first 100 days, which we’ve posted here and fact checked here.)


The Economy

Trump hopes to grow the economy by significantly lowering taxes. Under his plan, he says a middle-class family with two children would get a 35 percent income tax cut. He will also reduce the number of tax brackets from seven down to three, which would largely benefit the wealthiest Americans. When it comes to business tax rates, Trump wants to go from a 35 percent rate to 15 percent.

Trump is also big on infrastructure as a way to create jobs. He says he would grant the permit needed for the Keystone Pipeline despite opposition from environmental activists, as NPR’s Scott Horsley outlined. He also plans to cancel all payments to U.N. climate change programs and put that money toward “water and environmental infrastructure,” as he wrote in his 100-day action plan. Trump would also lift restrictions on the oil, coal, shale and natural gas industries. In addition, he plans to impose tariffs to discourage companies from relocating to other countries.

Relevant stories

Terrorism

Trump made fighting terrorism a central pillar of his campaign and strengthened his hard-line stances with each high-profile terror attack, from the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., last December to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., in June.

In his 100-day action plan, Trump promised to “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.” During his campaign, he also condoned other extreme counter-terrorism tactics, like waterboarding.

Relevant stories

Foreign Policy

When it comes to foreign policy, Trump’s main focus has been to upend U.S. trade policy. He has promised to renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA, the United States’ free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. According to NPR’s Marilyn Geewax, actually doing away with NAFTA might not actually be feasible, but Trump could undermine it. He also wants to label China a currency manipulator and, per his 100-day plan, “identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.”

Relevant stories

Health

Trump’s main goal for health care policy is to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That feat will be harder than Trump seems to think, as we reported. To completely repeal and replace the act, he would need 60 votes in the Senate, which is the number needed to overcome a filibuster. Though they’ll make up a majority, there will be only 51 Republican senators come January. He recently signaled in an interview that he may be open to keeping provisions of Obamacare that expand insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and to young people.

Trump has also promised to allow tax deductions for child care and elder care and to create tax-free dependent care savings accounts, with matching contributions for low-income families. As we reported earlier this year, that would cost the government $25 billion annually.

Relevant stories

Gun Policy

Donald Trump aligned himself strongly with the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him, and also with Second Amendment protectionists (though no major candidate claimed to want to take away gun rights outright). Trump has said states should be more diligent about putting criminal and mental health records into existing background check systems.

Relevant stories

Immigration

Restricting immigration appears to be top-of-mind for Trump’s presidency, at least initially. In his 100-day plan, Trump promised to cancel federal funding to “sanctuary cities,” though he hasn’t specified which funds he would cut. There’s no legal definition for this type of city; it’s used to describe places with policies limiting how much local authorities can collaborate with federal authorities on immigration issues, such as detention requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to CNN.

Trump has also promised to undo all of President Obama’s executive actions, which include two on immigration (only one of which is in effect). Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows certain people brought to the country illegally as children to apply for protection against deportation for two-year periods. That protection would go away, it seems.

Trump has also promised to deport immigrants in the country illegally who have committed crimes, stop immigration from “terror-prone” regions and begin “extreme vetting” of people entering the U.S. He has also mostly stood by his vow to build a wall on the country’s southern border, and make Mexico pay for it. Trump and some surrogates have said recently they would be OK with certain areas of the border having fence, rather than wall.

Relevant stories

Social Security

Trump does not want to privatize Social Security, nor does he want to raise the retirement age or increase taxes. He told AARP he plans to fund the entitlement program through “an economy that is robust and growing,” and he specifically highlighted his tax and immigration plans as key players in that growth.

Relevant stories

Education

Trump has been vocal about school choice, which allows parents to choose to send their child to any type of school: traditional public, private or charter. Critics sayschool choice leads to a gap in equitable school investment. Proponents say it increases competition between schools. In addition to school choice, Trump wants to end the Common Core standards, which are the federal guidelines created for K-12 education across the country. States were able to choose to opt in (some didn’t) — and the federal government encouraged it.

Relevant stories

Supreme Court Appointments

Trump has released two lists, adding up to 21 judges, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy resulting from Antonin Scalia’s death last February. According to NPR’s Nina Totenberg, the lists are very conservative and a lot is unknown about who is helping Trump make this selection. With two other justices over 80 years old, it’s possible Trump will be able to nominate more than one justice during his presidency.

Relevant stories

The Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities

The relationship between police and their treatment of African-Americans was a common topic this election year. Trump ran as the “law and order” candidate and he’s sticking to it: He plans on increasing funding for federal law enforcement “to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.” He also wants to provide more funding and training to local police departments.

Trump has been criticized for his own rhetoric on minorities, most notably referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists in his June 2015 announcement speech and calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Relevant stories

Stephan Bisaha, Alyson Hurt, Clinton King and Lisa Charlotte Rost designed the charts for this post. A version of this story, breaking down where all the major candidiates stood, was published ahead of Election Day.

Fact-Checking

Image result for photo suspicious face  Heard on the radio today:

There are are more subscribers on Facebook now than there were in the whole world 200 years ago.

Let’s check.

Number of people in the world year 1800:    913,000,000   source

Number of people on Facebook:   As of the third quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.79 billion monthly active users. In the third quarter of 2012, the number of active Facebook users had surpassed 1 billion. source

Fact-checking is a new industry, and so helpful !  Whenever a politician makes a speech, the checkers are on it immediately.  And they check everything–it’s fun to read.

Here is a list of fact-checking web sites for politics, hoaxes, scams, myths, conspiracies, etc.

Cooling Earth (and the way it used to be)

When our kids were kids, they were annoyed by my referring to our fridge as “ice box”.  I had that habit because when I was their age, we had in the kitchen a  box cooled by ice put in  at the top.  The melting ice cooled the contents of the box and the water had to be removed at the bottom.

The Lincoln Ice Company’s yellow truck came once a week.  The delivery man often gave us a piece of ice to suck. He handled the blocks of ice with tongs.

Much ice came from frozen lakes, stored in the summer  packed in straw.

The  Lake County museum has photos of harvesting ice from Diamond Lake with teams of horses.

Now we use refrigerators and air conditions releasing a gas that warms the planet.  RJN

Image result for photo antique ice boxImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongsImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongsImage result for photo ice delivery man with tongs

GOOD NEWS:    In “one giant swoop,” over 170 countries agreed to cut a planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators   source

Negotiators from more than 170 countries on Saturday reached a legally binding accord to counter climate change by cutting the worldwide use of a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
The talks in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, have not drawn the same spotlight as the climate change accord forged in Paris last year. But the outcome could have an equal or even greater impact on efforts to slow the heating of the planet.

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Secretly Sick Presidents

THE SECRET AILMENTS OF PRESIDENTS

A history of illnesses kept from public

By Joel Achenbach and Lillian Cunningham                                                                                       The Washington Post in Chicago Tribune 9.13.16

In his second term as president, Dwight Eisenhower looked like an old man. He’d had a serious heart attack in 1955, requiring extensive hospitalization. He later suffered a stroke. In contrast, his successor, John F. Kennedy, seemed vibrant and flamboyant.

The reality was that Eisenhower wasn’t really that old — he was just 62 when he was first elected. And Kennedy wasn’t that vigorous and indeed was secretly afflicted by serious medical problems, including Addison’s disease*, that his aides concealed from the public.

In his second term as president, Dwight Eisenhower looked like an old man. He’d had a serious heart attack in 1955, requiring extensive hospitalization. He later suffered a stroke. In contrast, his successor, John F. Kennedy, seemed vibrant and flamboyant.

The reality was that Eisenhower wasn’t really that old — he was just 62 when he was first elected. And Kennedy wasn’t that vigorous and indeed was secretly afflicted by serious medical problems, including Addison’s disease, that his aides concealed from the public.

The history of the presidency includes a running thread of illness and incapacity, much of it hidden from the public out of political calculation. A stroke incapacitated Woodrow Wilson in 1919, for example, but the public had no inkling until many months later. And when Grover Cleveland needed surgery in 1893 to remove a cancerous tumor in his mouth, he did it secretly on a friend’s yacht cruising through Long Island Sound.

Presidential history reveals a more subtle trend: Age isn’t what it used to be. American culture has redefined old age, pushing it back significantly as people live longer and expect to be more active into their eighth or ninth decade or beyond.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and Donald Trump is 70. They’re the oldest pair of major party candidates in history. If elected, Clinton would be the second-oldest person to assume the presidency, after Ronald Reagan. Trump would be the oldest.

Health has suddenly become a preoccupation on the campaign trail in the wake of Clinton’s wobbly episode Sunday when she left a 9/11 service in New York City. The Clinton camp initially called it merely a case of overheating. Late in the day, the campaign revealed that, in fact, she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. On Monday, a Clinton spokesperson acknowledged that the campaign could have been more forthcoming on Sunday.

Neither candidate has released detailed medical records.

Clinton’s gender gives her an advantage on one respect: Women in the U.S. outlive men by several years. According to the Social Security Administration’s online life expectancy calculator, a woman of Clinton’s age is likely to live an additional 18.4 years. A man of Trump’s age is likely to live an additional 15.2.

Voters will have to determine if the murky health status of Clinton and Trump should be a factor in the November decision. What’s certain is that the campaign trail can be brutal and that the presidency itself can pound away at the health of whoever occupies the Oval Office.

President Cleveland kept his cancer surgery secret in part because cancer at the time was such a dreaded disease. He also didn’t trust reporters or think his medical condition was anyone’s business, Cleveland biographer Matthew Algeo, author of “The President is a Sick Man,” told The Washington Post.

Algeo makes a broader observation: The desire for secrecy led many American presidents to avoid the best doctors. “With presidents, a lot of times they don’t get the best care. You would expect they would, but they’re so paranoid about anyone knowing what’s wrong with them that they employ old family doctors,” Algeo said.

The public had limited information about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s physical condition and the fact that he used a wheelchair. By the time he ran for a fourth term in 1944, he had heart disease, was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. Frank Lahey, a surgeon who examined Roosevelt, wrote a memo saying FDR would never survive another four-year term. The memo was not disclosed until 2011.

Roosevelt sailed to another victory and died in April 1945, leaving Harry Truman to close out World War II.

Kennedy suffered from Addison’s disease and had to take steroids and other drugs to ward off the symptoms, but he did so secretly. As the Los Angeles Times reported: “During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy’s opponents said he had Addison’s. His physicians released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison’s disease caused by tuberculosis, and the matter was dropped.

“Kennedy collapsed twice because of the disease: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain.”

The history of the presidency includes a running thread of illness and incapacity, much of it hidden from the public out of political calculation. A stroke incapacitated Woodrow Wilson in 1919, for example, but the public had no inkling until many months later. And when Grover Cleveland needed surgery in 1893 to remove a cancerous tumor in his mouth, he did it secretly on a friend’s yacht cruising through Long Island Sound.

Presidential history reveals a more subtle trend: Age isn’t what it used to be. American culture has redefined old age, pushing it back significantly as people live longer and expect to be more active into their eighth or ninth decade or beyond.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and Donald Trump is 70. They’re the oldest pair of major party candidates in history. If elected, Clinton would be the second-oldest person to assume the presidency, after Ronald Reagan. Trump would be the oldest.

Health has suddenly become a preoccupation on the campaign trail in the wake of Clinton’s wobbly episode Sunday when she left a 9/11 service in New York City. The Clinton camp initially called it merely a case of overheating. Late in the day, the campaign revealed that, in fact, she was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday. On Monday, a Clinton spokesperson acknowledged that the campaign could have been more forthcoming on Sunday.

Neither candidate has released detailed medical records.

Clinton’s gender gives her an advantage on one respect: Women in the U.S. outlive men by several years. According to the Social Security Administration’s online life expectancy calculator, a woman of Clinton’s age is likely to live an additional 18.4 years. A man of Trump’s age is likely to live an additional 15.2.

Voters will have to determine if the murky health status of Clinton and Trump should be a factor in the November decision. What’s certain is that the campaign trail can be brutal and that the presidency itself can pound away at the health of whoever occupies the Oval Office.

President Cleveland kept his cancer surgery secret in part because cancer at the time was such a dreaded disease. He also didn’t trust reporters or think his medical condition was anyone’s business, Cleveland biographer Matthew Algeo, author of “The President is a Sick Man,” told The Washington Post.

Algeo makes a broader observation: The desire for secrecy led many American presidents to avoid the best doctors. “With presidents, a lot of times they don’t get the best care. You would expect they would, but they’re so paranoid about anyone knowing what’s wrong with them that they employ old family doctors,” Algeo said.

The public had limited information about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s physical condition and the fact that he used a wheelchair. By the time he ran for a fourth term in 1944, he had heart disease, was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. Frank Lahey, a surgeon who examined Roosevelt, wrote a memo saying FDR would never survive another four-year term. The memo was not disclosed until 2011.

Roosevelt sailed to another victory and died in April 1945, leaving Harry Truman to close out World War II.

Kennedy suffered from Addison’s disease and had to take steroids and other drugs to ward off the symptoms, but he did so secretly. As the Los Angeles Times reported: “During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy’s opponents said he had Addison’s. His physicians released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison’s disease caused by tuberculosis, and the matter was dropped.

“Kennedy collapsed twice because of the disease: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain.”

 * Addison’s disease is a disorder that occurs when your body produces insufficient amounts of certain hormones produced by your adrenal glands. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands produce too little cortisol and often insufficient levels of aldosterone as well.  Read more at source.

Eating Deer, Elk, and People Spreads Disease

A sign said DEPOSIT DEER AND ELK HEADS HERE at a government building next door to our hotel in Fort Collins, Colorado.  The heads were to be used in the study of chronic wasting disease which is related to mad cow disease and kuru.  RJN

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WHEN PEOPLE ATE PEOPLE, A STRANGE DISEASE EMERGED

In 1962, a local leader in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea asks Fore men to stop the sorcery that he believes is killing women and children.  Courtesy Shirley Lindenbaum

Most of the world didn’t know anyone lived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea until the 1930s, when Australian gold prospectors surveying the area realized there were about a million people there.

When researchers made their way to those villages in the 1950s, they found something disturbing. Among a tribe of about 11,000 people called the Fore, up to 200 people a year had been dying of an inexplicable illness. They called the disease kuru, which means “shivering” or “trembling.”

Once symptoms set in, it was a swift demise. First, they’d have trouble walking, a sign that they were about to lose control over their limbs. They’d also lose control over their emotions, which is why people called it the “laughing death.” Within a year, they couldn’t get up off the floor, feed themselves or control their bodily functions.

Many locals were convinced it was the result of sorcery. The disease primarily hit adult women and children younger than 8 years old. In some villages, there were almost no young women left.

“They were obsessed with trying to save themselves because they knew demographically that they were on the brink of extinction,” says Shirley Lindenbaum, a medical anthropologist with the City University of New York.

But what was causing it? That answer eluded researchers for years. Afterruling out an exhaustive list of contaminants, they thought it must be genetic. So in 1961, Lindenbaum traveled from village to village mapping family trees so researchers could settle the issue.

But Lindenbaum, who continues to write about the epidemic, knew it couldn’t be genetic, because it affected women and children in the same social groups, but not in the same genetic groups. She also knew that it had started in villages in the north around the turn of the century, and then moved south over the decades.

Lindenbaum had a hunch about what was going on, and she turned out to be right. It had to do with funerals. Specifically, it had to do with eating dead bodies at funerals.

In many villages, when a person died, they would be cooked and consumed. It was an act of love and grief.

As one medical researcher described, “If the body was buried it was eaten by worms; if it was placed on a platform it was eaten by maggots; the Fore believed it was much better that the body was eaten by people who loved the deceased than by worms and insects.”

Women removed the brain, mixed it with ferns, and cooked it in tubes of bamboo. They fire-roasted and ate everything except the gall bladder. It was primarily adult women who did so, says Lindenbaum, because their bodies were thought to be capable of housing and taming the dangerous spirit that would accompany a dead body.

“So, the women took on the role of consuming the dead body and giving it a safe place inside their own body — taming it, for a period of time, during this dangerous period of mortuary ceremonies,” says Lindenbaum.

But women would occasionally pass pieces of the feast to children. “Snacks,” says Lindenbaum. “They ate what their mothers gave them,” she says, until the boys hit a certain age and went off to live with the men. “Then, they were told not to touch that stuff.”

Finally, after urging from researchers like Lindenbaum, biologists came around to the idea that the strange disease stemmed from eating dead people. The case was closed after a group at the U.S. National Institutes of Health injected infected human brain into chimpanzees, and watched symptoms of kuru develop in the animals months later. The group, whichwon a Nobel Prize for the findings, dubbed it a “slow virus.”

But it wasn’t a virus — or a bacterium, fungus, or parasite. It was an entirely new infectious agent, one that had no genetic material, could survive being boiled, and wasn’t even alive.

As another group would find years later, it was just a twisted protein, capable of performing the microscopic equivalent of a Jedi mind trick, compelling normal proteins on the surface of nerve cells in the brain to contort just like them. The so-called “prions,” or “proteinaceous infectious particles,” would eventually misfold enough proteins to kill pockets of nerve cells in the brain, leaving the cerebellum riddled with holes, like a sponge.

The process was so odd that some compared it to Dr. Jekyll’s transformation to Mr. Hyde: “the same entity but in two manifestations — a ‘kind’, innocuous one and a ‘vicious’, lethal one.”

The epidemic likely started when one person in a Fore village developed sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to kuru. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in a million people in the U.S. develop CJD the difference is that others rarely come into contact with infected human tissue.

Though the Fore stopped the practice of mortuary feasts more than 50 years ago, cases of kuru continued to surface over the years, because the prions could take decades to show their effects.

According to Michael Alpers, a medical researcher at Curtin University in Australia who tracked kuru cases for decades, the last person with kuru died in 2009. His team continued surveillance until 2012, when the epidemic was officially declared over. “I have followed up a few rumoured cases since then but they were not kuru,” he wrote in an email.

When Shirley Lindenbaum visited a South Fore village in 2008, one man said excitedly, “See how many children we have now?”  Courtesy Shirley Lindenbaum

But while they remain rare, transmissible prion diseases did not die out with the last kuru case, as people have found repeatedly in recent decades. People have developed variant CJD after eating the meat of cattle infected with mad cow disease. Dr. Ermias Belay, a prion diseaseresearcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that’s the only scenario in which there is “definitive evidence” that humans can develop a prion disease after eating the infected meat of another species.

But, he says, there are still a lot of open questions about how and why humans get prion diseases.

For one, it’s still a mystery why animals, including humans, have those proteins in the first place — the Jekylls that can be so easily turned into Hydes. One leading hypothesis, described recently in the journal Nature, is that they play an important role in the protective coating around nerves.

But here’s the bigger question, says Belay: “How many of these diseases actually jump species and affect humans?”

Kuru showed that people could get a prion disease from eating infected people. Mad cow disease showed that people can get a prion disease from eating infected cow. But what about other prion diseases in other animals? Could, say, hunters get sick from eating infected deer? That’s what researchers in North America, including Belay, are trying to find out right now.

Chronic wasting disease in North America is spreading fast,” says Belay. The disease causes infected wild deer and elk to starve to death. “In early 2000, we had about three states that reported CWD in the wild in deer and elk. Today, that number is 21.”

Belay says the disease is “a little bit concerning” because, unlike mad cow disease and kuru, where infectious prions were concentrated in the brain and nervous system tissue, in an animal with chronic wasting disease, the misfolded prions show up all over the body. They can even be found in saliva, feces and urine, which could explain how the disease is spreading so quickly among wild deer and elk.

The CDC is working with public health authorities in Wyoming and Colorado to monitor hunters for signs of prion disease.

“Unfortunately, because these diseases have long incubation periods, it’s not easy to monitor transmission,” says Belay. He says he and his colleagues have yet to find any evidence that hunters have picked up chronic wasting disease from the meat of infected wild animals.

“And that, in itself, is good news for us,” he says.

But, as with kuru, it will take years — maybe even decades — before he can know for sure.