The Red Cross is saying it’s taking seriously newly leaked U.S. diplomatic memos that say Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah militants during the terrorist group’s 2006 war with Israel.
A recent cholera epidemic has devastated Haiti, killing nearly 1500 people and hospitalizing 25,000. Cholera, caused by a waterborne bacterium, thrives in areas of unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, and shortages of clean water. It results in diarrhea and rapidly fatal dehydration unless treated promptly with fluids and antibiotics.
The Haitian epidemic resulted from conditions after recent tropical storms and the devastating January earthquake. It is a reminder cholera, a pandemic disease in the 19th Century, can still ravage the 21st Century Third World.
Because improved sanitation and modern medicine have drastically reduced the threat of cholera in the industrialized world, few remember its impact on the United States two centuries ago. Cities, including Chicago, were plagued by successive cholera epidemics, causing tens of thousands of deaths. Because Chicago developed along Lake Michigan, its early history was profoundly influenced by those outbreaks and vestiges of that influence remain today.
Until 1816, cholera was a disease limited to the South Asia. The first cholera epidemic remained contained in eastern Asia until 1823. However in 1826 a second Asian pandemic began and cholera was carried by Russian troops into Poland in 1831. Within a year, the disease was endemic in Europe and the British Isles, devastating London and Paris. It spread as a byproduct of the early Industrial Revolution. Steam powered rapid transportation, urban population migration, crowded slums, inadequate water supplies, ineffective elimination of sewage, and unprepared city governments all played a part.
With trepidation, Americans read in their newspapers of the European epidemic. Inevitably, immigrants on crowded ships from Britain brought cholera to Montreal in 1831. Cholera crossed the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, cutting a swath through Buffalo, Detroit and the Eastern Seaboard cities.
Cholera reached Chicago as a consequence of the 1832 Black Hawk War. Driven from Illinois, Chief Black Hawk, tribal leader of the Sauk and Fox, led a party from Iowa back across the Mississippi. The Illinois Governor dispatched the Illinois militia and requested several thousand federal troops who arrived on ships from Buffalo, commanded by General Winfield Scott (future war hero of the Mexican–American Conflict). This move was probably an overreaction since Black Hawk’s “hostile war party” consisted of only 1000 including 600 women and children, bearing seeds for planting crops.
The Illinois militia quickly dispatched Black Hawk, ending forever the Native American threat to Cook County. However General Scott’s troops, who proved unnecessary, brought cholera from Buffalo to Fort Dearborn and hundreds died just before Chicago was incorporated in 1833.
The continuing threat of cholera was impetus for the creation of the Chicago Board of Health in 1835. Despite this, subsequent cholera epidemics broke out in 1845 (traveling up the Mississippi and brought by workers on the Illinois & Michigan Canal), and at least four other times before 1873, killing thousands of Chicagoans.
Those cholera epidemics were also responsible for Chicago’s first hospitals, several small temporary structures built in the 1840’s and 1850’s designed to isolate cholera and smallpox victims. Inadequate for Chicago’s burgeoning population, they were replaced by Mercy Hospital, the oldest continuously running hospital in Chicago.
Today, orphanages, homes for parentless children, are a little remembered historical footnote. But they were once prominent institutions housing thousands in 19th Century Chicago. The first Chicago orphanage, the Chicago Orphan Asylum and the Catholic Orphan Asylum, began as a result of an 1849 cholera epidemic, which left many children without parents. Social concerns caused orphanages to disappear eventually but the eradication of cholera was one reason they were no longer necessary.
An 1851 cholera epidemic prompted creation of Chicago’s first public water board. The board commissioned an engineer with previous experience working on the Erie Canal to design a city water supply system. The city’s first water pipes were laid with a goal of preventing cholera and other diseases as well as fighting fires in wooden structures of the central business district.
The early burial grounds in Chicago were near Lake Michigan at Fort Dearborn, along the river. In the 1840’s a large city cemetery complex extended in what is now Lincoln Park, including land the city purchased from the estate of a wealthy cholera victim. After another cholera epidemic, the proximity of the city cemetery to the water supply became a public health concern. In the 1860’s large numbers of bodies were transported to cemeteries farther from the lake that remain today, including Graceland, Rosehill, and Oak Woods.
Improvements in sewage and sanitation finally ended the scourge of cholera in Chicago in the early 1880’s. Over the years there were reports of a terrible 1885 epidemic of cholera and typhoid fever that killed 90,000. It is almost certainly an urban myth since no contemporaneous accounts exist, which would be incredible considering the improbably high number of deaths (equivalent to 250 Chicago Fires) . By then, cholera had basically been eradicated in Chicago.
Today, cholera’s impact on early Chicago has been largely forgotten. Barring a cataclysmic natural disaster or major societal upheaval, Chicagoans will never again experience a cholera epidemic. But the story of cholera is as integral to the fabric of Chicago as the colorful accounts of crooked politicians, World’s Fairs, and gangsters that regale us in our history books.
Normally a surge in the price of used equipment relative to new signals a robust order book. Not for truck manufacturers. A series of US and EU standards for diesel engine emissions has added 7 to 10 per cent so far to the cost of a typical heavy duty model while increasing fuel costs by nearly a quarter.
Is anyone actually surprised by anything released by Wikileaks? Apparently, one of the site’s revelations is that leaders and diplomats from Arab Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have approached the U.S. and asked - even pleaded - for America to take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The Los Angeles Times has coverage here.
“Let’s say out loud what many people know but few have publicly said. Diane Ravitch has undergone a personal, not an intellectual, transformation. Because of that personal change she has acquired a new set of friends, including AFT boss Randi Weingarten. Ravitch is basking in the admiration of these new friends for her remarks, but they are not well-thought-out or intellectually honest positions.”
If Americans had any interest in what the future of jurisprudence — and justice — looks like, they would tune into the Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where Orwell’s world has been a reality for the past 17 years. The ICTY is the body that was set up to try cases whose supposed weightiness was compared to “Nuremberg II.” But so ignored by the public and media alike have the proceedings been that no one even notices the perversion of jurisprudence and evisceration of justice that take place there.
When nutty North Korea makes the headlines, you can bet it’s not good news.The regime, in addition to the plutonium-based program that’s produced several bombs, has a parallel, uranium-based nuke effort.
I have just returned from an FPRI lecture in which Dominic Tierney introduced his new book How We Fight: Crusades, Quagmires, and the American Way of War. Americans, he argues, like the first but disdain the second. He would rather they changed their mind and learned to love the morally ambiguous counter insurgency and nation building “quagmires” such as Southern reconstruction, Philippines and Vietnam and disdain regime changing morally unambiguous wars such such as the Civil War or World War II which he claims were inherently vengeful.Only vengeful Americans could demand that the South end slavery, that Germany denazify or that Iraq get rid of Saddam Hussein. He even goes so far as to equate the crusades with the “vengeful” Old Testament and nation building with the “good news” of the New Testament. I pointed out that the Old Testament is the story of a small people who were constantly overrun by great powers and who invented peace as an ideal. And the crusades were undertaken by Christians (as a response to Islamic Jihads on their Byzantine coreligionists). Moreover, unlike Christians and Muslims, Old Testament Jews have never looked forward to a day when the whole world would become Jewish. Believe it or not, Oxford/Harvard educated Tierney justified himself by insisted that when talking about the people of the Old Testament, he was not talking about Jews!
Why is Ben Bernanke insist on printing dollars? Because he wishes “to regenerate the animal spirits of America’s now dormant asset-dependent economy,” writes Stephen Roach. Roach calls the strategy “very dangerous” and doubts its success. I would call it self defeating. I have yet to remember a time when an administration has tried so hard to awaken that spirit or that the American “animal spirits” have been more depressed. Why? Because the Obama administration’s massive experiment in behavioral economics had not not only been failing but had led to a lose of public faith in the credibility of the Fed and, indeed, in the entire country’s economic management.
If only those Israeli leaders would realize that what they do “impacts” Mick Davis’s social life in London - perhaps they wouldn’t insist so rudely that Israel should continue to exist.
That’s the welcome message that Mr. Mick Davis gave to his fellow South African Jew Peter Beinert at a London public meeting Saturday night. http://tinyurl.com/23dl9dw Davis, who chairs Britain’s UJIA (which stands for United Jewish Israel Appeal, but you could strain your eyes trying to find the full title on their website - so please don’t spread it around) and is a member of the Jewish Leadership Council, had a brave message for the amateurs and idiots running Israel these days:
“I think the government of Israel …have to recognise that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London. When they do good things it is good for me, when they do bad things, it’s bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel… I want them to recognise that.” http://tinyurl.com/2appr9r.
No one doubts that if Mick Davis were running things in Jerusalem rather than serving as CEO of the $65 billion mining company Xstrata, everything would be sorted out. But he can’t. So let’s not have Israeli voters whose decisions determine the llife and death of their children and the continued existence of their country doing things that might cause Mr. Davis discomfort in the face of a BBC interviewer or a Guardian reporter.
After all, the Jewish Leadership Council is devoted to helping other Jews “articulate a confident and compelling narrative of Mainstream Jewish life in the United Kingdom.” But when the actuality of Jewish life - and the actuality of the threats to Jewish life - interferes with a narrative that is “confident” (trans. we won’t bother you about anything) and “compelling” (nothing we Jews do will bring a blush to the cheek of a Guardian reader), it’s clear what Mr. Davis would have diaspora Jews choose: the narrative, not the life of the Jews in Israel or the right of people to have a nation if they have the misfortune to be Jews.
As Mick Davis would no doubt put it, “Please, Israel - don’t impact Mick Davis negatively any more!”
The “max” in Newsmax, if pronounced backwards, is “scam.” So the above is pronounced “News-scam.” This time it’s because the cover story of the November issue — “The Truth about Islam in America” — is handled in a way that would make the mainstream media proud.
Suppose there were an outbreak of smallpox somewhere which had already affected 11% of the population with the expectation that this would spread to at least another 10% in the foreseeable future. And suppose that country refused to use an available tried and true vaccine. Would you support the U.S. spending $620 million dollars to care for the ill without insisting that the population be inoculated? This is happening now in South Africa where 5.7 million out of 49 million people are HIV positive though circumcision alone could cut the rate of contracting the virus by as much as 50%. Over the next two decades,South Africa will spend more than 100 billion dollars (much of it borrowed) on trying to contain the number of new infected people at 5 million. In the same way that apartheid became a cause engaging countries of the west to pressure the government of South Africa for change, why aren’t we campaigning and boycotting for mandatory circumcision of male children at birth? Where are the voices of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela insisting on the moral imperative for their government to do this? Is knowingly refusing to contain an epidemic any different than refusing to grant people civil rights?
As someone who bristles at the canard that horrendous experiences are somehow ennobling - and here I can insert three examples that spring instantly to mind: the decision to end The Diary of Anne Frank with that immortal maudlin line; the insulting Oscar winning film Life is Beautiful; the insidious suggestion that positive thinkers recover from cancer more often than pessimistic ones - I have to report that I learned a valuable lesson from a much less unfortunate experience this week.
Conventional wisdom has it that the stunning defeat of Democratic congressional candidates this month was entirely predictable, given the sluggish economy and an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent. But the conventional wisdom is misleading.
The most widely predicted course for Washington over the next two years is gridlock. “What we know is that we’re going to have gridlock,” says NBC’s Chuck Todd. “On the big questions, especially federal spending and taxing, confrontation will be the order of the day […] gridlock is likely to be the dominant theme,” predicts Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein. Washington is in for “two years of legislative deadlock,” holds Sarah Binder of the Brookings Institution. There will “absolutely” be “more intense” gridlock than there was before the 2010 elections, says Thomas Mann, also of the Brookings Institution.
Why is it that Obama/Clinton take every opportunity to express displeasure with Israel’s plans to build additional apartments in Jerusalem, its capital, but are Antisemitic, yes Antisemitic, incitement?
In a piece so puffy and naive that it bears more resemblance to Lil Abner’s Daisy Mae than to its actual subject, the Sunday Times profiled Daisy Khan, wife of the Imam and co-spearheader of the Ground Zero Mosque. Born in Kashmir to an upper-class family, Ms.Khan emigrated to Jericho, land of the Jews when she was 16. No, not the Jericho on the west bank - the Jericho in Long Island which in this article is treated as a shtetl with a high school full of Yids and nary a Christmas tree to be found. The parochial Jews taunted young Miss Daisy, asking whether she rode a camel or an elephant and making her defend her religion to the whole class. Too bad that the work ethic of those studious Jews didn’t rub off on Daisy who dropped out of Long Island University to become a decorator (here described as earning a degree from the New York School of Design - no relation to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design.) A brief one sentence later, Daisy is elevated to an architectural designer who could be found habitually brunching with her Muslim friends at Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass. Never mind that there are no tables to brunch at in Zabar’s, a careless lapse in Daisy’s fabrication and a worse one on the part of the Times’ fact checker. In the interest of full disclosure, I was born and bred on the upper west side, and never, not one single time,have I seen a table of young Muslim architectural designers and their confreres noshing on bagels at Barney Greengrass or picking up some whitefish at Zabar’s. Perhaps the reporter, Michael Grynbaum, is too green to know what these places were like in the 80’s but that’s no excuse for our Daisy trying to showboat her ecumenicism by poaching on revered Jewish culinary temples.
Former President George W. Bush re-emerged with his memoir, “Decision Points.” He’s been making the television rounds, and I’ve caught him on Oprah, the Today show, and with Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. In every interview, he is open, warm, honest, engaging, funny, charming—and wise. Yes: wise.
The reports from our generals in Afghanistan—trying to convince the public to support extension of the war, to be shortly reviewed by the President– remind me of a study by anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard. He wondered how rain makers could stay in business, given that they hardly produce rain on demand. The shamans, he found, had well-honed explanations that kept them in business. Our generals are using the same rationales to keep going. When no raindrops followed the rain makers’ dance, they would claim that the dance was not properly performed. Our generals argue that we did not fight right in the first six years of our engagement in Afghanistan—but now they have found a better way: it is called counterinsurgency. So far, though, it has not produced any better results.
Freedom is the grand theme of the new National Museum of American Jewish History located in the Independence Mall in Philadelphia. To emphasize the point, the core exhibition is divided into: “Foundations of Freedom: 1654-1880,” “Dreams of Freedom: 1880-1945,” and “Choices and Challenges of Freedom: 1945-Today.” Freedom, the curators seem to argue, enabled the transformation of a small Jewish frontier outpost into the largest, richest, most important component of the Jewish Diaspora. However, the building, the accompanying text, and strange omissions raise some interesting questions. Jews are indubitably free in America, but just how free do they feel? Or, to put it more precisely, how free do the museum creators feel? Do they feel free enough to assert their deep commitment to their age old religion? Do they feel free enough to acknowledge their ties to the global Jewish family? Do they feel free enough to take pride in their outsized contribution to America?
Geert Wilders trial for insulting Muslims and inciting hatred and discrimination in Holland has raised questions of freedom of speech, religious freedom and whether Islam demands privileges that the Netherlands doesn’t grant to other religions. Recently, the entire panel of judges hearing the case was dismissed for bias and replaced with another panel. Why? “because an expert witness, a retired professor of Arabic and Islamic thought named J. J. G. Jansen, was affronted by a load of post-structuralist cant. Professor Jansen’s indignation may be just as important as the weighty issues touched on in the prosecution of Wilders. It raises the question of whether our best and brightest are still intellectually equipped even to think about, much less decide intelligently, the great questions of law, freedom, and human rights. What is really troubling, and fascinating, about the Wilders prosecution is how much it depends on the intellectual weapons of “postmodernism,” deployed by a highly educated Dutch elite. In Amsterdam’s battlefield of ideas, the guns of Adorno, Foucault, Kristeva, Derrida, Edward Said, and their countless academic popularizers have been turned against civil rights and human freedom. Learned pretentiousness has consequences.”
When you look back on the great days of the Democratic Party, long gone, one of the things that strikes you is that it had a powerful Southern wing. The states of the old Confederacy were known as the solid South. Still angry at Lincoln, they voted Democratic as a matter of civic religion.
A man was asked what one thing he would take if his house were on fire. “I would take the fire,” he replied. How pragmatic. How American. We like what works: the individual, among other things creating the light bulb, computer chip, and high-definition television.