You are browsing the archive for 2019 April 24.

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America Flirted with Legalized Prostitution During the Civil War

April 24, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

In July 1863, a riverboat bearing important cargo sailed into Louisville on the Ohio River. It was a shipment from the Union Army—not unusual in the days of the army’s occupation of the Kentucky city during the Civil War. But the Idahoe’s cargo was anything but ordinary, and the city refused to let the ship dock on its shores.

The ship wasn’t carrying weaponry—its cargo was human. Inside were over 100 prostitutes from Nashville, women who had been forced onto the ship at the behest of Union Army officials trying to stem a public health crisis of sexually transmitted diseases. They blamed the prostitutes for causing and spreading the diseases, which were nearly impossible to treat in a time before modern contraceptives or medical treatments, so they banished them from Nashville.

The women’s failed trip north on the Idahoe, a chartered boat known forever after as the “floating whorehouse,” was just the beginning of a strange period in the city’s history. When nobody would allow the ship to stop at their shores, Nashville officials had to devise another solution to their city’s crisis. In response, the city legalized prostitution in an attempt to prevent women with sexually transmitted infections from passing them along to large number of soldiers.

A license to protect sex workers, signed by George Spalding circa 1863.

Modern research has shown that when sex work is legalized, sexually transmitted diseases fall—but over a century ago, the potential benefits of regulated sex work seemed clear even without those studies. The brief but successful experiment only lasted through the end of the Civil War. But it proved the benefits of allowing sex workers to practice their trade publicly.

“In the realm of unmarried sex,” writes historian Thomas Power Lowry, “Nashville remains America’s first experiment with legalized, regulated prostitution. Even with the primitive medical treatment available then, it seems to have been a remarkable success.”

Nashville had been occupied by Union soldiers since February 1862, and served as a large garrison for soldiers from the North. They didn’t come alone. Though there were about 200 prostitutes in the city before the Civil War began, the profession flourished and grew along with the Union occupation.

A parade of soldiers in Union-occupied Nashville, circa March 1862.

Smokey Row, in what is now downtown Nashville, went from an uncomfortable city secret to a thriving red-light district with some …read more


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Scapegoating Opioid Makers Lets True Offender Get Away

April 24, 2019 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

April 24 (UPI) — John Oliver is a brilliant comedian with
a large platform, and he has been using it of late to
the pharmaceutical companies that produce opioids.
Major targets of his attack are Purdue Pharma and its Sackler
family principals, developers of OxyContin, which, until around
2010 was a drug of choice for non-medical users.

Like the tobacco companies in the 1990s, it is understandable to
focus indignation at companies, driven by the profit motive, that
purvey products that can cause harm and even death. It is
reasonable to question and criticize their marketing ethics and

But at the end of the day, extracting a pound of flesh from the
Sacklers won’t stop the overdose rate from climbing. That’s because
the standard narrative that overprescribing of opioids caused the
overdose crisis is based upon misinformation — as is the
belief that opioids have a high overdose and addiction

Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as well as
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clearly show

no correlation
between the number of opioid prescriptions
dispensed and “past month non-medical use” or “pain reliever use
disorder” among adults over age 12. As high-dose opioid
prescriptions dropped 58 percent from 2008 to 2017 and overall
prescriptions dropped 29 percent in that time period, the overdose
rate continued to climb. Decreasing the availability of
prescription pain relievers for diversion into the black market
only drives non-medical users to more dangerous heroin and

The real villain is the
war on drugs. Yet it’s getting off scot-free.

In 2017, heroin and fentanyl
75 percent of opioid-related overdose deaths. Deaths
from prescription pain pills also involved drugs like cocaine,
heroin, fentanyl, alcohol and benzodiazepines 68 percent of the
time. Less than 10 percent of overdoses from prescription pain
pills in 2017 did not involve other drugs.

Opioids prescribed in the medical setting have been repeatedly
shown to be safe. Researchers following over 2 million North
Carolina patients prescribed opioids noted an overdose rate of

0.022 percent
, and nearly two-thirds of those deaths had
multiple other drugs in their system. A 2011 study of chronic pain
patients treated in the Veterans Affairs system found an overdose
rate of
0.04 percent
. A larger population
found an overdose rate of 0.01 percent.

Researchers at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities recently
a total misuse rate of 0.6 percent in over 560,000
patients prescribed opioids for acute and post-op pain between 2008
and 2016.
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Source: OP-EDS

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Will President Xi Jinping Visit Pyongyang?

April 24, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For six years, the People’s Republic of China placed North
Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in diplomatic deep freeze.
Despite Kim’s evident desire for an invitation to visit the
PRC, none came.

Although Beijing spoke of the bilateral relationship with
restraint, the Chinese public exercised none, criticizing
“Fatty Kim” and suggesting that the North should be
left to its fate. In turn, North Korean officials did not hide
their displeasure with their supposed ally, which joined America in
steadily tightening sanctions in response to the North’s
missile and nuclear tests.

But everything changed last year with rapprochement between the
U.S. and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. President
Xi Jinping took a sudden, unexpected interest in the DPRK, rushing
to meet Kim twice before the latter’s first summit with
President Donald Trump. In March 2018 Kim traveled to Beijing; two
months later the Kim and Xi met in Dalian, a Chinese city closer to
North Korea.

A visit to Pyongyang from
Xi would be decisive confirmation that the two nations had
normalized their relationship.

A week after Kim’s June summit with Trump, China’s
and the North’s leaders met again, in Beijing. This January,
Kim again went to China’s capital to talk with Xi. At that
point Xi was

one visit ahead of President Moon Jae-in, who had met three ties
with Kim. Perhaps the most notable public aspect of the trip was
Xi’s reported acceptance of Kim’s invitation to visit
Pyongyang, rumored likely to happen this month.

The numerous meetings demonstrate both an improved relationship
and a notable gain in leverage by the DPRK. The two nations, both
sides oft have said, are as close as lips and teeth. But that
reflects geography more than interest or temperament. Beijing
desired a pliable buffer. In 1950 China’s new communist
government demonstrated that it was willing to fight a new war, a
year after the PRC’s final victory over the Nationalist
forces, to keep U.S. forces away from its border.

However, Pyongyang resolutely guarded its independence against
Beijing as well as other nations. Indeed, contrary to claims of
some Washington policymakers that China manipulated its small
neighbor against America, Pyongyang often ostentatiously flouted
the PRC’s wishes. Beijing criticized North Korea’s
system of monarchical communism as well as development of nuclear
weapons. Although China often moderated new U.S. sanction
proposals—fearing an implosion on its border—it refused
to protect the North from increased economic pressure.

Xi and his predecessors encouraged Kim’s father to follow
the Chinese model of economic reform, without effect. After taking
over Kim Jong Un accelerated both missile and nuclear development;
two years after taking power he executed his uncle, the
DPRK’s chief interlocutor with …read more

Source: OP-EDS