(Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune / November 5, 2013 )
Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim speaks to the media about the grisly double murder in Antioch. He is joined by George Filenko, head of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.
I can't stand hearing this Ted Cruz go on and on about how Obamacare is not working. Not working? It's not in effect yet. He can't stand the fact that Barack Obama achieved this health care plan that EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE ROOSEVELT has tried to pass.
Sorry, but there has never been a law challenged like this -- a law that passed the House and the Senate, the signature of his presidential election -- and he was elected and oh, it was upheld by the Supreme Court.
And the Republicans can't stop trying. They have tried 47 times to repeal this law.
Here is what I hope comes of all this. That people pay attention in the next election. And stop electing people who do not care about what is good for ALL THE PEOPLE. Which included about 55 MILLION uninsured Americans.
So for all those who are wealthy and who say these people just need to get a job -- I hope they come back in their next life uninsured, with preexisting conditions and see what this is like. Where is the compassion?
These people are a disgrace. Let's vote them out of office next time.
Follow Susan Berger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MsJournalist
Paul Ruby, general manager of the Herrington Inn in Geneva,
suffers from Parkinson’s disease and founded the Paul Ruby Foundation for
Parkinson’s Research. In light of the new study, it’s important to rethink
research funding, he says. (James C. Svehla, Chicago Tribune / August 29, 2013)
By Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune
September 4, 2013
A recent study questions long-held assumptions about the way a brain protein
affects the progression of Parkinson's disease.
Researchers in 1997 linked Parkinson's with the protein alpha-synuclein. They began looking
for ways to block it to slow the progression of the disease, which is
characterized by such symptoms as tremors, rigidity, trouble walking and
slowness of movement and affects more than a million Americans.
Demetrius Maraganore, a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, has
been working with Mayo Clinic researchers to study that brain protein, focusing
on its relationship to two key effects of Parkinson's disease: motor and cognitive impairment and dementia.
Maraganore said the recently released study of 1,098 Mayo patients over 15 years suggests
that lowering alpha-synuclein may have the opposite effect of what doctors have
long thought. Rather than help, that treatment may increase the risk of
Parkinson's patients becoming physically incapacitated and demented, he said.
The study found that patients with a lower amount of alpha-synuclein had a 23
percent greater risk of becoming wheelchair dependent or developing dementia,
Maraganore said. The finding runs counter to a clinical trial underway in Vienna
that's designed to reduce alpha synuclein in Parkinson's patients.
Maraganore said it appears that alpha-synuclein has a dual and opposite effect. His study
suggests that before a person develops Parkinson's, less alpha-synuclein is good
and reduces the risk for developing the disease. But it seems that once the
disease is contracted, less of the protein is bad, posing a greater risk for motor impairment or dementia, he said.
Katerina Markopoulou, a neurologist at NorthShore and an author of the study, said this
is the first time they observed that more alpha-synuclein increased the risk for
developing Parkinson's disease and less alpha-synuclein resulted in worse motor and cognitive skills.
"This raises concerns about the efficacy and safety of therapies designed to reduce
alpha-synuclein expression in Parkinson's disease," Markopoulou said.
Todd Sherer, a doctor and CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's
research, said that although this study may be an important contribution in the
field, it does not change his view of the importance of the Vienna clinical trial.
The Vienna study "hasn't changed our view of the importance of targeting
alpha-synuclein as a therapeutic strategy," Sherer said. "There are studies that
show the opposite of what Dr. Maraganore is showing. The jury is out. This is a
scientific process playing out, and we are really excited by this area of
research around alpha-synuclein for developing treatment. We hope to learn a lot from it and move forward with alpha-synuclein as a strategy."
Parkinson's is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. Approximately 20 percent of
people who have it will develop Parkinson's disease dementia. There are an
estimated 7 million to 10 million people with the disease worldwide, and about
60,000 are diagnosed each year. There is no cure, although medications can treat symptoms.
Maraganore has discussed the new study with colleagues, learning that they have anecdotal
evidence from their patients that support his findings.
"This is the first large genetic association study of alpha-synuclein and longitudinal
outcomes in Parkinson's disease," said Eric Ahlskog, a Mayo author on the study.
"If replicated, this research may change the treatment paradigm focused on alpha-synuclein reduction for Parkinson's disease."
Maraganore thinks more trials and observational studies are needed, as they can provide
information for much longer periods of follow up than clinical trials, at a fraction of the cost.
Paul Ruby, of Geneva, was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in 2006 and
is the founder of the Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $500,000.
Ruby remains optimistic about finding a cure, saying that even small grants for
research make a difference. His foundation funded a project at Northwestern
University's Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center having to do with sleep and Parkinson's disease.
But Ruby cautions about where to direct research funding in light of what this new study found.
"It's critical they don't spend time, money or energy on therapies that may not be
working," Ruby said. "Especially if there is more anecdotal evidence; it's counterproductive."
Anne Cohn Donnelly, 68, of Winnetka, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease more than
two years ago. Donnelly, a doctor of public health, said her handwriting became
tiny, her voice got quiet and her toes curled. A visit to her regular doctor
suggested she have further tests.
Donnelly is frustrated that there is no proven way of slowing or preventing the disease.
"There is a lot of money put into finding what is wrong, but there are still no
definitive answers," she said.
Funding agencies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars on research studies of
alpha-synuclein, Maraganore said. By January 2012, The Michael J. Fox Foundation
had invested more than $47 million in projects targeting
"In my 20 years, if this finding proves to be correct, it is the single most
important contribution that I have made in my career. It would rank up there
with the 1997 discovery of the importance of alpha-synuclein," Maraganore said.
"It is telling us, yes, this protein is at the heart of this disease. However,
we don't understand its role well enough yet to safely move forward with
treatment, and we need to explore a completely new
© 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
After September 11th whenever I heard anyone say if we live in fear they win, I would jokingly say "OK, they win."
And now 12 years later, the attack in Boston has brought it all back. We live in a scary, unpredictable world with people who really hate us and only want to hurt us.
The thought of a bomb that may have been triggered by remote control only makes me want to stay away from crowds, big stadiums full of people, rock concerts and parades.
I know. Feeling this way they win.
But the reality of a dead eight-year-old boy with a severely injured mother and little sister who lost her leg, a two-year-old with a head injury, two brothers that each lost a leg and a photographer at the scene saying that the first thing he saw were legs blown off is horrendous. All on a beautiful spring day. Patriot's Day. A day that Bostonians love to celebrate.
I can't imagine I am alone. I want to hang with my children, my husband, my dogs and my friends. I want to read good books, to continue to work and write but as for big crowds -- no, thank you. I will wait until I feel a little safer.
Which brings me to my theory about reality TV. Why is our society so obsessed with Kim Kardashian, bachelors and bachelorettes that profess love after a couple of dates, Honey Boo Boo and her dysfunctional family, the Octomom and overly self-indulgent housewives who behave like junior high teens?
Why are Americans obsessed with lots of mindless shows?
Because following September 11th, the world got way too serious. I believe the popularity of reality television is directly related to terrorism. After Americans watched people jump from the burning Twin Towers, doesn't it make sense that a little mental pabulum was needed in their diet?
Many brilliant intelligent people have spent evenings watching everything from the most inane like the Jersey Shore, The Osbournes and Here comes Honey Boo Boo to shows that are somewhat educational like Top Chef, America's Top Model, The Apprentice or Celebrity Rehab. Or just entertaining like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. And then there are those who love all those Real Housewives. Why? We come away thinking we are more grounded, a better friend and a lot less botoxed than these women in Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Miami and Atlanta. They legitimize us.
So before you criticize those who spend mindless hours watching reality television just remember. There are no pipe bombs or people who want us dead in our living rooms.
Follow Susan Berger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MsJournalist
4:36 p.m. CDT, April 8, 2013
By Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune
Reminiscent of the elegant simplicity of her mother, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy captivated the approximately 300 guests of the Highland Park Library with stories about her family and love of poetry.
She was the keynote speaker on April 5 at an event celebrating the library's 125th year.
Kennedy discussed her new book, "Poems to Learn by Heart," a companion to her bestselling "A Family of Poems."
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering introduced Kennedy, reciting the Eugene Feld poem "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" that she had learned as a fifth grade student at Highland Park's Braeside School.
"I haven't heard too many mayors do that lately," Kennedy said. "Maybe they get the profile in courage award if they do."
Kennedy said she was fortunate to grow up in a family that cared about words and ideas, and said her father, President John F. Kennedy, spent a lot of time reading because he was so sick as a boy.
"The time he spent reading about heroes, soldiers and leaders really shaped his view of patriotism and bravery and courage and really led to 'Profiles in Courage' and that indispensable virtue in public life that he is known for," Kennedy said, referring to her father's book.
Kennedy said that many people didn't understand her mother's love of the written word.
"After my mother died," Kennedy said, "People were so focused on her sunglasses and her fashion and all that, that I felt they were missing the really special person she was — and that was from her love of reading and words."
And so Kennedy began to look through the many poems her mother insisted she and her brother John Jr. copy and illustrate and give her for birthdays, Xmas and mother's day.
In her search, she came across this poem, her brother gave to her mother one Mother's Day:
Careless Willy with a thirst for gore
Nailed her sister to the door
Mother cried with humor quaint
Careful Willy don't spoil the paint
"I realized this summed up our entire relationship," she said. "I learned poems about flowers and love and he waltzed off with that."
Her grandmother Rose Kennedy loved the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," which they recited when they were young.
"She absolutely loved that poem, because she grew up in Concord. We thought she was so old that maybe Paul Revere stopped by her house," Kennedy said.
Kennedy spent some private moments with two finalists in the Poetry Out Loud: Poetry Recitation Contest before she addressed the crowd.
She met with Rapheal Mathis, 18, a senior at Plainfield High School who won first place and will travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the national contest, representing the state of Illinois.
"I was sort of in shock to meet her," Mathis said. "She was so down to earth and such an inspiration."
Eli Singer, 16, a sophomore at Deerfield High School, said he was "a little star-struck" to meet Kennedy. He said he found her serious "but in a good way" and will relish this once in a lifetime experience.
Both students performed poems before Kennedy spoke.
Kennedy spent almost an hour signing books for the crowd. Among them was Pat Lee of Highland Park, who came to the event because she grew up in New York City with Kennedy's husband, Edwin Schlossberg.
Lee said she and Schlossberg attended The Birch Wathen Lennox School in Manhattan and walked to school together every day.
Kennedy promised to tell her husband she met her.
"I am nothing less than delighted to meet her," Lee said. "She is so much prettier and younger in person."
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
Theater community joins family, friends in mourning Elana Silverstein
By Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune
2:08 p.m. CST, December 19, 2012
Elana Ernst Silverstein loved singing and dancing, performing in plays at Highland Park High School, and in "Bye Bye Birdie" at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. At 18 she toured the country with the Broadway hit "Mamma Mia!"
She had a voice that many described as stunning, pure and haunting, and quite amazing for someone so petite. Her sudden death on Dec. 10 left friends, family and the theater community reeling. She was 29.
Silverstein died after a routine surgery — the result of a medication reaction.
Every seat was taken at Silverstein's funeral at Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Deerfield last week.
A tremendous outpouring of love and grief appeared on Silverstein's Facebook page, so notable that Rabbi Alex Felch quoted many of the postings during the service:
"Her talent was inspiring … the indelible impact (she had) on the life of so many … that gorgeous voice in that compact beautiful body … her singing always seemed supernatural, impossible even ... her heart was incorruptible … as a performer and as a person she was the real deal."
Silverstein was supposed to leave for the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati after graduating high school in 2000, but postponed college to perform in "Bye, Bye Birdie" at the Marriott Theatre. She then left for a 10-month tour of "Mama Mia!" leaving the tour due to a paralyzed vocal cord.
Her mother said it took two years for her vocal cord to heal, and yet her college professors were amazed at her success with only one vocal cord.
Silverstein went on to perform with the Music Theatre Company of Highland Park and the Chicago Children's Theatre and also performed in "Gypsy" and "Annie Get Your Gun" at the Ravinia Festival as well as in shows at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.
She met her husband, David Silverstein, on an online matchmaking site. It was a fluke they found each other, he said, as he is 10 years older and lived in Minnesota. But they stumbled upon each other's profiles, and had texted for just 48 hours when Elana picked up the phone and called him.
"She's a go-getter," he said.
They married two years later and have a daughter, Maya Blue, who turned 1 on Dec. 11, the day after her mother's death.
"I have never met a better mom," David Silverstein said. "Everyone says they have never seen such a great baby. So much of our child is her personality. I am so grateful for every moment I had with Elana."
Bizar Entertainment, a DJ company that performs at bar and bat mitzvahs plans to honor Silverstein as well. Silverstein worked for the company starting at 16 and was the "the most requested dancer," said Dawn Bizar Berks, a close friend.
"There is a whole community of our staff from the past 13 years that are heartbroken," Bizar Berks said. "Elana danced at their bar mitzvahs and was such an inspiration. There are no words to convey how truly wonderful and special she was and how she touched so many."
David Silverstein shared a story at the funeral about how, after the surgery, every nurse told him how wonderful his wife is.
"I told Elana that people are saying all these fabulous things about you and they barely know you."
She smiled and said, "Good. I'm glad. I always wanted to live my life as a nice person."
Copyright © 2012 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC