White House doctor: Trump in ‘excellent health’

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with White House Physician Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson, following his annual physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 13 January 2018
0

White House doctor: Trump in ‘excellent health’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s White House physician declared him in “excellent health” after the president received his first medical checkup at Walter Reed military hospital on Friday, undergoing a physical examination amid suggestions in a recent book and by his detractors that he’s mentally unfit.
Dr. Ronny Jackson, in a statement released by the White House, said the examination “went exceptionally well. The President is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday.” Trump spent about three hours at the medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, for the Friday afternoon checkup, his first as president, before departing for Florida for the weekend.
The fairly routine exam for previous presidents has taken on outsized importance in the age of Trump, given the tone of some of his tweets, comments attributed to some of his close advisers and Trump’s recent slurring of words on national TV.
Some of the comments were published in a new book about Trump’s first year, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, which White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has denounced as “complete fantasy” for portraying her 71-year-old boss as undisciplined and in over his head as president.
Trump himself has pushed back hard against any suggestion that he’s mentally unfit, declaring himself “a very stable genius.” He told reporters on Thursday that he expected the exam “to go very well. I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t.”
The examination lasted several hours and measured things like Trump’s blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, heart rate and weight. The White House did not provide specific results of those tests. Jackson, who also provided care for President Barack Obama and became a White House physician in 2006, is expected to provide a detailed readout of the exam on Tuesday and answer questions from reporters.
But conclusions about Trump’s mental acuity were not expected. The White House said Trump would not undergo a psychiatric exam. Officials did not address a different type of screening: assessments of cognitive status that examine neurologic functions including memory. Cognitive assessments aren’t routine in standard physicals, though they recently became covered in Medicare’s annual wellness visits for seniors.
While the exams are not mandatory, modern presidents typically undergo them regularly and release a doctor’s report declaring they are “fit for duty.”
Two months before the November 2016 election, Trump released a five-paragraph letter from his longtime physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, who concluded that Trump “is in excellent physical health.” A year earlier, Bornstein said in a December 2015 letter: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”
The 2016 letter put Trump’s blood pressure and cholesterol measurements in the healthy range, though he uses a cholesterol-lowering statin medication. His EKG, chest X-ray, echocardiogram and blood sugar were normal.
The 6-foot-3 Trump weighed 236 pounds (107 kilograms), and his body mass index, or BMI, of 29.5 put him in the category of being overweight for his height.
Trump takes Crestor for his cholesterol, a low-dose aspirin for heart attack prevention, Propecia to treat male-pattern baldness and antibiotics for rosacea. The doctor’s 2016 letter stated that Trump’s testosterone level, 441.6, was in the normal range, as were his PSA reading for prostate abnormalities and tests of his liver and thyroid.
Trump was 70 when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017, making him the oldest person ever elected to the nation’s highest office.
How much of Trump’s health information is released to the public is up to the president, but Sanders said she expects the White House to release the same kind of details past presidents have made public.
Obama’s three medical reports included sections on vital statistics; physical exam by system, such as eyes, pulmonary and gastrointestinal; lab results; his past medical and surgical history; his social history; and medications, among others.
Trump has said he gets most of his exercise playing golf. The American Heart Association has said the best types of exercise increase the heart rate and make a person breathe heavily, but that activities like golf don’t provide as much cardiovascular benefit since they don’t require much extra effort. The association suggests players walk the golf course instead of renting a golf cart. Trump drives a cart from hole to hole.
Obama played basketball, lifted weights, worked out on an elliptical machine or treadmill and played golf. George W. Bush traded running for mountain biking to preserve his knees. Bill Clinton was a runner who installed a jogging track at the White House. He also played golf and indulged in Big Macs.
Trump likes fast food, too, along with well-done steaks, chocolate cake and double scoops of vanilla ice cream. He reportedly downs 12 Diet Cokes a day. In their recent book, “Let Trump Be Trump,” former top campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie described the four major food groups on Trump’s campaign plane as “McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke.”
 


Migrants keep crossing Strait of Gibraltar despite bad weather

Updated 13 December 2018
0

Migrants keep crossing Strait of Gibraltar despite bad weather

  • The onset of autumn, with the cold, storms and fog, has not stopped migrants from crossing the Mediterranean from Morocco to Spain
  • On some days as many as over 500 migrants can be brought to shore by Spain’s maritime rescuers

TARIFA, Spain: A radio message comes in from a Spanish maritime rescue boat to the service’s command center in the southern town of Tarifa: “34 migrants rescued.”
The onset of autumn, with the cold, storms and fog, has not stopped migrants from crossing the Mediterranean from Morocco to Spain, a journey that has this year claimed the lives of hundreds of youths.
From the heights of Tarifa, veteran sailors work in shifts behind radar screens at the rescue service command center monitoring the Strait of Gibraltar, through which 100,000 ships transit every year.
“When the weather is good we can see homes in North Africa from here,” said its head, Adolfo Serrano.
Just 14 kilometers (nine miles) separates northern Morocco from Spain’s southern Andalusia region at the Strait’s narrowest point.
“But with a quickly changing sea, strong currents, fogs that can surprise you, it’s a dangerous crossing,” added Serrano.
It is especially perilous because human traffickers put migrants on packed inflatable boats or plastic canoes that can easily overturn, he said.
“I can’t remember an autumn like this. Boats keep arriving with pregnant women, children,” said Jose Antonio Parra, a mechanic of 25 years experience with the Guardia Civil police force’s maritime unit.
The 34 migrants rescued from an inflatable boat — including six females who appeared to be in their teens — were taken to the port of Algeciras, where they were first attended to by the Red Cross before being handed to police.
Small migrant boats are hard to detect by radar. They are often only located when the migrants themselves sound the alarm by telephone.
Rescuers did not detect the boat which sunk on November 5 during a storm off the coast of the town of Barbate, an hour’s drive west of Algeciras, killing 23 young Moroccans.
Only 21 people on board survived.
“There was a hell of a storm. Many of them did not know how to swim,” said spokesman for the Guardia Civil in Cadiz province, Manuel Gonzalez.
Andalusia’s regional government took charge of nine minors who survived, while police jailed two passengers suspected of having steered the boat.
The other 10 adults who were on board were ordered back to Morocco under an agreement between Madrid and Rabat.
Since then, more bodies have washed ashore on other beaches.
Nine sub-Saharan African migrants drowned after spending a week adrift at sea, according to the only survivor of the ordeal, a Guinean teenager who saw his brother die, said Gonzalez.
The migrants had paid 700 euros ($800 dollars) each for what they had been told would be a trip on board a rigid-hulled inflatable boat with an engine but were instead forced to take a “toy-style boat” with just one oar, he added.
Between January and December 2, 687 migrants died trying to enter Spain by sea, more than three times as many as last year, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) figures.
More migrants have died trying to reach Italy and Malta this year — nearly 1,300 — but Spain has become the main entry point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 55,000 migrants have arrived in the country so far this year.
Rescuers describe two types of migrants: Sub-Saharan African migrants, who sing when rescuers arrive to pluck them from the sea, and Moroccans who try at all costs to reach the shore without being detected because they face deportation back to Morocco if caught.
“Our boat rocked, there was so much joy,” Abou Bacari, an 18-year-old who left Ivory Coast two years ago after he lost his job at a banana plantation, told AFP in Madrid, as he recalled his rescue at sea off the Spanish coast in October.
There were 70 people on board the inflatable boat, including four children and eight women, when it departed Tangiers for Spain, he said.
“Guineans, Malians, Ivorians... we were lost at sea for two days,” Bacari said, adding “even the men cried” when the boat developed a puncture.
On some days — such as last weekend — as many as over 500 migrants can be brought to shore by Spain’s maritime rescuers.
“I had never before seen a boat just with 45 migrants aged around 14-15 on board. Even the one who steered it, who supposedly worked for the traffickers, was a minor,” said Parra.
It’s now 30 years since the first photo of the body of a drowned migrant on a beach in Andalusia was published.
Today rows of tombstones at Tarifa’s cemetery mark where unnamed migrants are buried.
“Sometimes we find migrants with their names tattooed on their arms in case they die. We are seeing a normalization of death and that is unacceptable,” said Jose Villajos, the head of an association that helps migrants founded in Algeciras in 1991.
He accused the European Union of “using North African countries to stop migration and act a bit like Europe’s police but this policy leads to even more deaths.”
“When agreements are being ironed out with African countries like Morocco, curiously, the number of migrant boats increase greatly because it is a way to put pressure on Europe,” he claimed.
Maria Jesus Herrera, the head of the IOM mission in Spain, said that while it was important to increase cooperation with the migrants’ country of origin to help boost their living standards, Europe must at the same time “open regular channels of emigration, which are safe and dignified.”