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President Trump’s Mental Health Is Deteriorating Amid Mueller Investigation, ‘Morning Joe’ Claims

President Donald Trump could be suffering from stress and diminished mental capacities, MSNBC’s Morning Joe contributors suggested Thursday.

On Wednesday, the president appeared to slur words during a speech announcing his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The show’s contributors now question his physical fitness, saying they partly attributed Trump’s condition to the stress of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign acted inappropriately in reaching out to Russia before the 2016 election.

Political commentator Mike Barnicle said “that impairment is chilling” to see in a president. The White House has dismissed questions about the struggled speech, saying Trump had a dry throat.

“When you consider [President Trump’s] age, his physical condition, he does not look in great physical shape and hasn’t for some time,” Barnicle said. “The anxiety, the worry, the burden of knowing that Bob Mueller and the special prosecutor is out there investigating nearly every aspect of his life and his family’s financial life—and the fact that, you know, he doesn’t really know the mechanics, the nuts and bolts, of what he’s talking about a lot of times.”

56b87_1207trumpspeech President Trump's Mental Health Is Deteriorating Amid Mueller Investigation, 'Morning Joe' Claims Political commentators on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” have questioned President Donald Trump’s physical fitness. Getty Images

Co-host Mika Brzezinski observed that Trump “seemed like he was almost hanging on to the prompter and hanging on to the words.” She said the “struggle” was scary to see, though White House spokesman Raj Shah rejected the idea that Trump was suffering from any ailments during the speech.

“His throat was dry,” Shah said. “There’s nothing to it.” 

The most recent speculation about Trump’s physical health comes one week after co-host Joe Scarborough questioned whether Trump was struggling with early stages of dementia. Scarborough remarked that Winston Churchill “was at the top of his game” at 71 and expressed doubt that Trump’s speech could have diminished so rapidly, unless he was losing his mental capacity. 

Scarborough’s mother struggled with dementia for a decade. The MSNBC host continues to worry that Trump is showing a similar pattern with outlandish behavior, a perceived mental decline and inability to speak. 

Scarborough suggested last week that Trump was “mentally unfit” after the president implied in a tweet that Scarborough killed his intern in 2001. When Scarborough was a Republican congressman in Florida, his intern, Lori Klausutis, was found dead in his district office after falling and hitting her head. A medical examiner did not find signs of foul play, and there is no evidence that Scarborough had anything to do with the death.

“There are many things that you don’t take personal from people who are struggling with certain issues because their personality changes,” Scarborough said. “That’s something I’ve dealt with in my family, and you sit there and say, ‘OK, that’s not the person I knew.’… In this case, Donald Trump has control of nuclear weapons, and if we can’t talk about this now…I don’t know when we can talk about it.”

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With teen mental health deteriorating over five years, there’s a likely culprit

Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.

What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.

All signs point to the screen

Because the years between 2010 to 2015 were a period of steady economic growth and falling unemployment, it’s unlikely that economic malaise was a factor. Income inequality was (and still is) an issue, but it didn’t suddenly appear in the early 2010s: This gap between the rich and poor had been widening for decades. We found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.

However, according to the Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership crossed the 50 percent threshold in late 2012 – right when teen depression and suicide began to increase. By 2015, 73 percent of teens had access to a smartphone.

Not only did smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, but time spent online was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets. We found that teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely than those who spent less than an hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor (depression, thinking about suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide). Overall, suicide risk factors rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online.

Of course, it’s possible that instead of time online causing depression, depression causes more time online. But three other studies show that is unlikely (at least, when viewed through social media use).

Two followed people over time, with both studies finding that spending more time on social media led to unhappiness, while unhappiness did not lead to more social media use. A third randomly assigned participants to give up Facebook for a week versus continuing their usual use. Those who avoided Facebook reported feeling less depressed at the end of the week.

The argument that depression might cause people to spend more time online doesn’t also explain why depression increased so suddenly after 2012. Under that scenario, more teens became depressed for an unknown reason and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.

What’s lost when we’re plugged in

Even if online time doesn’t directly harm mental health, it could still adversely affect it in indirect ways, especially if time online crowds out time for other activities.

For example, while conducting research for my book on iGen, I found that teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows. Feeling socially isolated is also one of the major risk factors for suicide. We found that teens who spent more time than average online and less time than average with friends in person were the most likely to be depressed. Since 2012, that’s what has occurred en masse: Teens have spent less time on activities known to benefit mental health (in-person social interaction) and more time on activities that may harm it (time online).

Teens are also sleeping less, and teens who spend more time on their phones are more likely to not be getting enough sleep. Not sleeping enough is a major risk factor for depression, so if smartphones are causing less sleep, that alone could explain why depression and suicide increased so suddenly.

Depression and suicide have many causes: Genetic predisposition, family environments, bullying and trauma can all play a role. Some teens would experience mental health problems no matter what era they lived in.

But some vulnerable teens who would otherwise not have had mental health issues may have slipped into depression due to too much screen time, not enough face-to-face social interaction, inadequate sleep or a combination of all three.

It might be argued that it’s too soon to recommend less screen time, given that the research isn’t completely definitive. However, the downside to limiting screen time – say, to two hours a day or less – is minimal. In contrast, the downside to doing nothing – given the possible consequences of depression and suicide – seems, to me, quite high.

It’s not too early to think about limiting screen time; let’s hope it’s not too late.

Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology, San Diego State University

Taliban Claims US Hostage Health Deteriorating

Afghanistan’s Taliban claims the health condition of an American hostage, Kevin King, is rapidly deteriorating and he urgently needs better medical care.

The 60-year-old King and his Australian colleague, Timothy Weeks, 48, were teaching at Kabul’s American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) before they were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

FILE – An Afghan security official patrols after an attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2016.

The Islamist insurgency later claimed responsibility and demanded release of Taliban prisoners held by both the Americans and Afghans.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Monday King has been suffering from “dangerous heart and kidney diseases” and requires urgent medical treatment.

“We have periodically tried to treat and care for him but since we are facing war conditions and do not readily have access to health facilities therefore we are unable to deliver complete treatment,” Mujahid asserted.

His feet have begun swelling, he frequently losses consciousness and his health is deteriorating rapidly, said the spokesman.

Taliban demands

Mujahid urged the United States to urgently accept Taliban demands to secure the release of the two hostages.

“Since the American side does not care about the life and death of its nationals hence we are warning them to accept the demands of the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] presented for the freedom of these two detainees and secure their release,” the spokesman added.

If King’s illness becomes “incurable or he loses his life” the Taliban will not be held responsible, Mujahid warned.

It was not possible to seek independent verification of the claims made by the Taliban.

AUAF swiftly released a statement in response to the Taliban’s announcement, saying its board of trustees, students, staff and faculty “are deeply saddened and disturbed to receive the news about the deteriorating health condition of King and his colleague.”

It again urged the Taliban kidnappers to immediately release the hostages unharmed.

“They are innocent victims of a criminal abduction. They came to Afghanistan to teach Afghan youth and contribute to building a peaceful Afghanistan. They have done no harm to anyone,” noted the statement.

“Kevin, we are immensely sad to hear about your health situation. Please know that you and Tim remain in our thoughts and prayers. We will not stop trying to work for your release. We urge your kidnappers to release you at once.”

Video messages

The insurgents released two video messages from the hostages this year. In the last message in June, both men urged U.S. President Donald Trump and the Australian Prime Minister to negotiate their freedom with the Taliban.

King and Weeks looked haggard in the video and said the Taliban wants freedom for its “soldiers” being held at the U.S.-run Bagram air base and the Afghan prison called Pul-e-Charkhi in return for their freedom.

U.S. officials, while responding to the video at the time, said the administration was committed to seeing its citizens returned safely to their families and the department worked closely with agencies across the government to do so.

“We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Taking and holding civilian hostages is reprehensible and we condemn such actions in the strongest terms,” they maintained.

The two hostages are believed to be in the custody of the notorious Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban. One of the prisoners the insurgents are demanding to be freed is Annas Haqqani who is on death row in an Afghan prison.

He is the youngest son of the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Other hostages rescued

Earlier this month, Pakistani security forces acting on an a tip from U.S. intelligence rescued American citizen Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, along with their three children from the custody of Haqqanis.

The rescue operation was launched hours after the family was transported into Pakistan from the Afghan side, according to Pakistani and U.S. officials.

FILE – In this still image taken from a December 2016 video released by the Afghan Taliban, U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle read a statement urging then-President-elect Donald Trump to negotiate to secure their release.

The U.S. CIA chief in a public talk later claimed Haqqanis held the hostages in Pakistan since they were kidnapped in 2012 from the volatile Afghan province of Wardak.

But in a recent interview to a Canadian newspaper, Coleman disputed Pakistani and U.S. statements, saying the family was brought to the Pakistani side of the porous border more than a year ago.

Caitlan was pregnant and was backpacking with her husband in Wardak when they went missing. The Taliban later claimed responsibility and demanded release of prisoners for freeing the westerners. Caitlan gave birth to four children in custody, but the family said their fourth child was killed by their Haqqani captors and their mother was also raped.

The Taliban denied the charges, saying Caitlan suffered a miscarriage due to lack of facilities in captivity and declared rape charges as baseless and an attempt to defame the Islamist insurgency.

Taliban Claims US Hostage Health Deteriorating

Afghanistan’s Taliban claims the health condition of an American hostage, Kevin King, is rapidly deteriorating and he urgently needs better medical care.

The 60-year-old King and his Australian colleague, Timothy Weeks, 48, were teaching at Kabul’s American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) before they were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

FILE – An Afghan security official patrols after an attack on the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 25, 2016.

The Islamist insurgency later claimed responsibility and demanded release of Taliban prisoners held by both the Americans and Afghans.

Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said Monday King has been suffering from “dangerous heart and kidney diseases” and requires urgent medical treatment.

“We have periodically tried to treat and care for him but since we are facing war conditions and do not readily have access to health facilities therefore we are unable to deliver complete treatment,” Mujahid asserted.

His feet have begun swelling, he frequently losses consciousness and his health is deteriorating rapidly, said the spokesman.

Taliban demands

Mujahid urged the United States to urgently accept Taliban demands to secure the release of the two hostages.

“Since the American side does not care about the life and death of its nationals hence we are warning them to accept the demands of the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] presented for the freedom of these two detainees and secure their release,” the spokesman added.

If King’s illness becomes “incurable or he loses his life” the Taliban will not be held responsible, Mujahid warned.

It was not possible to seek independent verification of the claims made by the Taliban.

AUAF swiftly released a statement in response to the Taliban’s announcement, saying its board of trustees, students, staff and faculty “are deeply saddened and disturbed to receive the news about the deteriorating health condition of King and his colleague.”

It again urged the Taliban kidnappers to immediately release the hostages unharmed.

“They are innocent victims of a criminal abduction. They came to Afghanistan to teach Afghan youth and contribute to building a peaceful Afghanistan. They have done no harm to anyone,” noted the statement.

“Kevin, we are immensely sad to hear about your health situation. Please know that you and Tim remain in our thoughts and prayers. We will not stop trying to work for your release. We urge your kidnappers to release you at once.”

Video messages

The insurgents released two video messages from the hostages this year. In the last message in June, both men urged U.S. President Donald Trump and the Australian Prime Minister to negotiate their freedom with the Taliban.

King and Weeks looked haggard in the video and said the Taliban wants freedom for its “soldiers” being held at the U.S.-run Bagram air base and the Afghan prison called Pul-e-Charkhi in return for their freedom.

U.S. officials, while responding to the video at the time, said the administration was committed to seeing its citizens returned safely to their families and the department worked closely with agencies across the government to do so.

“We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. Taking and holding civilian hostages is reprehensible and we condemn such actions in the strongest terms,” they maintained.

The two hostages are believed to be in the custody of the notorious Haqqani network, an ally of the Taliban. One of the prisoners the insurgents are demanding to be freed is Annas Haqqani who is on death row in an Afghan prison.

He is the youngest son of the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Other hostages rescued

Earlier this month, Pakistani security forces acting on an a tip from U.S. intelligence rescued American citizen Caitlan Coleman, 31, and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, along with their three children from the custody of Haqqanis.

The rescue operation was launched hours after the family was transported into Pakistan from the Afghan side, according to Pakistani and U.S. officials.

FILE – In this still image taken from a December 2016 video released by the Afghan Taliban, U.S. national Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle read a statement urging then-President-elect Donald Trump to negotiate to secure their release.

The U.S. CIA chief in a public talk later claimed Haqqanis held the hostages in Pakistan since they were kidnapped in 2012 from the volatile Afghan province of Wardak.

But in a recent interview to a Canadian newspaper, Coleman disputed Pakistani and U.S. statements, saying the family was brought to the Pakistani side of the porous border more than a year ago.

Caitlan was pregnant and was backpacking with her husband in Wardak when they went missing. The Taliban later claimed responsibility and demanded release of prisoners for freeing the westerners. Caitlan gave birth to four children in custody, but the family said their fourth child was killed by their Haqqani captors and their mother was also raped.

The Taliban denied the charges, saying Caitlan suffered a miscarriage due to lack of facilities in captivity and declared rape charges as baseless and an attempt to defame the Islamist insurgency.

Palestinian hunger striker’s health ‘deteriorating’

A Palestinian prisoner’s health is “rapidly deteriorating” as he enters his 12th day of hunger strike, according to his father.

Hassan Showka, from the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, was arrested on September 29 without charges for a second consecutive time. He is being held in administrative detention at Israel’s Ofer prison. 

“He does not have family visitation rights, so we can’t see him, but we’re in touch with his lawyer who is able to see him every now and then,” his father, 57-year-old Hassanein Showka, told Al Jazeera.

Hassan, 29, has been denied the right to see his family members, including his toddler.

Administrative detention is a legal procedure that allows Israel to imprison Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip without charge or trial, for renewable periods of up to six months. Israeli authorities have been using this procedure for more than 50 years, based on secret evidence.

“The lawyers who manage to see him [Hassan] depict to us his current state, but most times we’re unsure whether the picture depicted is 100 percent accurate – usually they want to spare us the pain,” Hassanein said.

“They don’t want us to worry about him, but we know he’s unwell.”

Earlier this year, Hassan went on another hunger strike to protest his previous term of administrative detention, his father said. He was arrested again days later.

Today, there are some 600 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, 16 of whom are children.

“Administrative detention is a real problem. We’ve been trying to understand why, what’s the purpose behind his arrest, but we’re still left wondering and haven’t been provided with a valid explanation,” Hassanein said. “From the day they took him and until this very moment, we’re all confused … This is our son and he’s precious to us.”

Hunger strikes have traditionally been used as a way to pressure Israel into improving living conditions in prisons and to push for basic rights, including visitations.

Deprivation of rights

On Monday, Mousa Soufan, a prisoner diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, was planning to start an open-ended hunger strike to protest medical neglect in Israeli prisons, local media reported.

Under international law, Israel is obliged to maintain the wellbeing of the prisoners in its custody.

Amina al-Taweel, a spokesperson for the Hebron-based Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies, told Al Jazeera that those in administrative detention are treated the same as prisoners facing charges.

“The rights they’re deprived of, including healthcare, visitation rights, and their overall living conditions are identical to those prisoners who actually face charges,” Taweel said. “But those who are on hunger strike specifically face very dangerous consequences.”

Earlier this year, 1,500 Palestinian prisoners embarked on a 40-day hunger strike to achieve better conditions.

It was dubbed as the longest hunger strike in the history of the prisoners’ movement. They survived on salt and water, and eventually managed to gain more visitation rights and access to phone booths.

Addameer, a Ramallah-based prisoners’ rights group, told Al Jazeera that the conditions in Ofer prison – which mostly holds administrative detainees – are dire, with overcrowded cells that often hold up to six people at a time.

There are also “insect and rat infestations”, said Dawoud Yusef, Addameer’s advocacy coordinator.

“Collective punishment is common, where the Israeli prison service imposes price surges at the canteen, strips prisoners of their bi-monthly visits, and withholds medical treatment,” he said. “Solitary confinement is common … They are locked within the cell for 23 hours a day, mostly without sunlight, and are often shackled during their one hour outside.”

This year, the number of arrests surged for the first time in years. Throughout the summer months, more than 1,000 Palestinians were arrested in the aftermath of the al-Aqsa crisis in occupied East Jerusalem, which erupted in July after three Palestinian citizens of Israel killed two Israeli guards. The attackers were also shot dead. 

Elder Robert D. Hales dies after deteriorating health

Known as a valiant missionary and servant of the Lord, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Sunday at 12:15 p.m. in a hospital surrounded by his wife and family as well as President Russel M. Nelson, according to church officials. He was 85.

Hales’ health has been deteriorating over the past few years as he has aged. 

Hales was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 2, 1994.

Born Aug. 24, 1932, in New York City to J. Rulon and Vera Marie Holbrook, Hales grew up on Long Island, New York, in a home where the gospel was the center of family life.


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Elder Hales had a fondness for dogs. Here he is with Red.


Courtesy of the LDS Church

Hales recalled a moment in his young life when his father took time out of his busy schedule go on a trip with him to the Sacred Grove in upstate New York.

“When I was a deacon, my father took me to the Sacred Grove,” Hales said. “There we prayed together and dedicated our lives. Then he talked to me of sacred things. When we got back home, my father, who worked as an artist in New York City, painted a picture of the Sacred Grove for me. I’ve always hung that picture in my office, and when I look at it, I remember my father and our talk that summer afternoon.”

Early life


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Elder Robert D. Hales in high school in 1950. 


Courtesy of the LDS Church

As a high school freshman, Hales was the starting pitcher for the school’s baseball team, according to LDS biographical information. One time when he was in a pitching slump, he caused the team to lose three games in a row, each by a score of 1–0. The headline in the school paper read, “Hard-Luck Hales Loses Again.”

He took his uniform and went to tell his coach he was going to quit. When he got to the coach’s office, his coach said, “Do you know why you’re losing? Your pitching arm is tired at the end of the game because before the game when you’re supposed to be warming up, you’re out there impressing everybody with your fastball and curveball. You probably pitch (the equivalent of) two or three innings doing that. (Stop) showing off and you won’t wear out your arm.” Robert listened, and the next game he pitched a shutout.

Hales attended the University of Utah and like many students returned home for the summers. It was while he was home and attending his home ward in Queens that he met Mary Crandall. She had just moved across the country with her family from California to New York. She too was a college student, but at the U’s arch rival Brigham Young University.

“After I met her, I never went out with anyone else,” Hales said in his memoirs. “We were together every evening after work for the first two months sharing family activities. She’d help me wash my car, and I’d help her babysit her brothers; it was as though we were never going to be apart.”


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Elder Robert D. Hales and his wife, Mary, at the Brigham Young University Junior Prom in 1953. 


Courtesy of the LDS Church

At the end of the summer, they both went back to college in Utah — Robert to the U of U and Mary to BYU. The following summer, on June 10, 1953, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.

Hales graduated from the University of Utah in 1954 with a degree in communications and business. Following graduation, he entered into active duty in the U.S. Air Force. In 1955, Robert and Mary, with their newborn son, Stephen, moved to Florida. For four years, Robert served as a jet fighter pilot. Their second son, David, was born in 1958.


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Elder Robert D. Hales was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.


Courtesy of the LDS Church

Hales later returned to university life and received a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University. Prior to his call to full-time church service, Hales had a distinguished business career, serving in executive positions with three major national companies.

Church service

He was called as a general authority on April 4, 1975. He served as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was presiding bishop of the church from April 1985 until called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.


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Robert D. Hales in the early 1970s.

LDS Church biographical information indicated Hales was a regional representative for five years prior to his call as a general authority. He earlier served as a branch president, bishop, high councilor, and stake president’s counselor. He was president of the England London Mission in the late 1970s and has served as first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.

In June 2015, he was directing training at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

As part of that training, Hales testified that the Lord sustains and supports His children in missionary service.

“The first couple weeks (as a new mission president) you will not sleep without one foot on the floor and one hand on the phone,” Hales said, speaking with his wife, Sister Mary Hales, about missionary service.

Elder Hales gave the 126 new mission presidents a warning. “The adversary can have no joy until one of us falls,” he said. “That is true with your missionaries. He lies at the door. One mistake, he is there. Your missionaries have to understand this. A shield of faith and obedience protects them.”

Funeral arrangements are still pending.




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