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FOR HISTORY BUFFS:  Pres. Biden often uses the word “malarkey.” Where does that come from?

The word malarkey, meaning “insincere or exaggerated talk,” originally found favor in Irish-American usage, though its exact origin remains unknown. We can likely thank a cartoonist of Irish descent, Thomas Aloysius Dorgan (“TAD” for short), for popularizing the word.

Ben Zimmer, a U.S. language commentator, has alleged that the word was first used by Irish Americans.   Contrariwise, Michael Quinion, a British writer, etymologist, and the author of World Wide Words, insists that the word’s origin is still unknown.   (Zimmer added that Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, also popularized “kibitzer” and “hard-boiled” through his cartoons.)

CALL THE MIDWIVES.  A local PBS station is replaying the popular series Call the Midwives. One episode centered on the horrible case of thalidomide babies.

Frederick Dove, himself a “thalidomide baby,” furnishes a fascinating update.  He relates:

Fifty years ago, the sedative Thalidomide was withdrawn after thousands of mothers gave birth to disabled babies. That ageing Thalidomide generation now faces rising care bills – but some hope a possible Nazi link to the drug could bring more compensation.

In November 1961, I was five months old. My family had no idea why their otherwise healthy baby boy had been born with short arms, twisted hands and no thumbs.

But by the end of that month, the truth was finally out in the open.

After a German newspaper reported that Thalidomide was the likely cause for the mysterious spate of disabled babies born in Germany since 1958, the drug’s producer, Chemie Gruenenthal, caved in to growing pressure, and on 26 November withdrew all products containing Thalidomide from what had been very lucrative, over-the-counter sales.

A few days later, Thalidomide’s British licensee, Distillers, followed suit in the UK. But by then, the damage was done.

Thalidomide has strong sedative properties and many women in the early weeks of pregnancy had taken it to ease their morning sickness, utterly unaware its effect on the unborn child can be teratogenic, or “monster-forming”.

Limbs can fail to develop properly, in some cases also eyes, ears and internal organs. No-one knows how many miscarriages the drug caused, but it’s estimated that, in Germany alone, 10,000 babies were born affected by Thalidomide. Many were too damaged to survive for long.

Today, fewer than 3,000 are still alive. In Britain, it’s about 470. Among the nearly 50 countries affected are Japan (approximately 300 survivors), Canada and Sweden (both more than 100), and Australia (45). Spain’s government only recently acknowledged the drug was ever distributed there. No-one knows how many Spanish survivors there are. It could be hundreds.

After 1961, the drug didn’t disappear – medical researchers discovered it can be extremely effective in certain treatments. Stringent precautions should be taken, particularly with women patients of child-bearing age. But sadly, in Brazil, where the drug has been widely used in treating certain leprosy symptoms, there is now another, younger generation of disabled Thalidomide survivors.

Just as the drug’s effect in the womb seems totally random, so too was the compensation received. In recent years, UK survivors have won concessions from the government, the tax authorities and Distillers’ successor company, which has boosted current average compensation pay-outs in the UK to around $63,000 (£40,000) a year.

But elsewhere, survivors still get nothing, or very little. Of today’s 6,000 estimated survivors around the world, nearly half fall under the compensation deal in Germany. That currently provides a yearly maximum of about 13,500 euros (£11,840), which does not cover the needs of those with multiple limb deficiencies. Many have no independent income and require constant care.

Campaigns for higher compensation are gaining support – in Germany and elsewhere. Progress has been slow, but that could change dramatically, if proof is found that it was not Chemie Gruenenthal which discovered Thalidomide, as has always been claimed, but scientists working for the Nazi regime.

Gruenenthal patented Thalidomide in the mid-1950s. But investigations in the past two years have confirmed that the German brand-name – Contergan – was owned by the French pharma-company, Rhone-Poulenc, during the early 1940s, when it was effectively under Nazi control.

It’s also now becoming clear that Gruenenthal was part of a post-war network of German scientists and businessmen who had played leading roles during the Nazi era. Immediately after the war, for example, Gruenenthal employed Dr. Heinrich Mueckter as chief scientist, who was sought in Poland on charges of war crimes after conducting medical experiments in prison camps, during which hundreds of prisoners may have died.

Mr. Dove concludes: “Which is why, on 26 November – 50 years on – we, the German survivors, will march, waddle, limp or roll in wheelchairs from the Brandenburg Gate to the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. ….To celebrate that we are still alive, and to remember those who never lived.”

LAWYERS CORNER. A recent issue of the Champion magazine of NACDL provides a model standing order on the obligations of the prosecution in light of BradyAnother article speaks of creative voir dire in drunk driving cases

OSCAR FESTIVAL.  One of the cable networks is featuring films which won Oscars, including “I’ll Cry Tomorrow.”    This was the story of Singer Lillian Roth, who revealed to the world that she was an alcoholic.

– In February 1953, she appeared on a special episode of the TV series This Is Your Life hosted by Ralph Edwards  . In response to her honesty in relating her story of alcoholism, she received more than 40,000 letters

Lillian Roth, 1910 – 1980, was a child actress. 

She was only 6 years old when her mother took her to Educational Pictures, where she became the company’s trademark, symbolized by a living statue holding a lamp of knowledge. In her autobiography. She attended the Professional Children’s School in New York City with classmates Ruby Keeler and Milton Berle.

In 1917 Roth made her Broadway debut as the character “Flossie” in The Inner Man  [Her film debut occurred the following year, when she performed as an extra in the government documentary Pershing’s Crusaders. She and her sister Ann also toured together during this period as “Lillian Roth and Co.  One of the highlights of their tour was meeting U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who attended the girls’ vaudeville act and afterwards allowed them to ride with him briefly in his chauffeur-driven car.

Roth appeared in Artists and Models in 1923 and went on to make Revels with Frank Fay. During production for the show, she told management she was 19 years of age despite being only 13 at the time.

In 1927, at the age of 17, Roth returned to Broadway to perform in the first of three Earl Carroll Vanities, which was followed by Midnight Frolics, a Florenz Ziegfeld production. Soon the young actress signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures.

Roth headlined the Palace Theatre in New York City and performed in the Earl Carroll Vanities in 1928, 1931, and 1932..

During this time, her personal life increasingly was overshadowed by her alcoholism..

Her theme song, which she began singing as a child performer, was “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)“.

Roth was married six times

In 1947, she met her last husband, Thomas Burt McGuire, scion of Funk and Wagnalls Publishing Company at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting (Roth joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1946).

SPIRITUAL QUESTION. What is the New Testament miracle mentioned in all four Gospels>  ANSWER: The “Feeding of the 5000.”

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DECOMPOSE? A friend sends an interesting list of how long it takes certain objects to completely decompose. Among the interesting items:

Paper towel – 2 to 4 weeks

Banana peel – 3 to 4 weeks

Newspaper – 1 ½ months

Orange peels – six months

Cigarette butts – 10 to 12 years

Plastic cups – 50 years

Plastic containers – 50 to 80 years

Plastic bottles – 450 years

Aluminum cans – 200 to 500 years

Plastic bags – 200 to 1000 years


New York Times

Swelling Anti-Asian Violence: Who Is Being Attacked Where (“Over the last year, in an unrelenting series of episodes with clear racial animus, people of Asian descent have been pushed, beaten, kicked, spit on and called slurs. Homes and businesses have been vandalized. The violence has known no boundaries, spanning generations, income brackets and regions. The New York Times attempted to capture a sense of the rising tide of anti-Asian bias nationwide. Using media reports from across the country, The Times found more than 110 episodes since March 2020 in which there was clear evidence of race-based hate.”)

National Law Journal/ 

Justices, Issuing Rare Order, Spurn Argument Request From Biden DOJ (“Supreme Court advocates often seek the government’s support as amicus when relevant to their cases because of the court’s traditional respect for that office. In addition to Monday’s denial, the Supreme Court rejected argument requests by the U.S. solicitor general in at least two other cases since 2011.”)

Techniques have successfully tracked down elusive serial killers may soon be used to help identify thousands of American service members ‘known but to God.’

Washington Post 

They moved into churches to avoid deportation. Now they’re asking: Is it safe to leave? (“President Biden froze deportations for 100 days, but a judge quickly blocked that order, creating a dilemma for those in sanctuary.”)

He said he spent $15,000 on a Disney World trip. He refused a temperature check and got arrested. (“Kelly Sills paid a small fortune for an enchanting trip to ‘the most magical place on Earth.’ Instead, the Baton Rouge resident — like several other Disney World guests who have defied coronavirus restrictions — visited the Orange County jail.”)


Police officers are prosecuted for murder in less than 2 percent of fatal shootings (“Police officers are rarely prosecuted in the US.”

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