Monday, January 31, 2011

Replacing Mubarak

All the media powers and pols on all sides seem to be behind ousting Hosni Mubarak.  I remember when the same was true of ousting Fulgencio Batista (Cuba).  Batista was toxic waste in an army tank...And 'we' (what Gore Vidal calls the [single] BANK PARTY that controls the US) supported him and vampirized Cuba.  Fine.  Repentance good.  But they then went all for CASTROOops.  Mubarak is a Care Bear compared to Batista -or Castro.  And maybe compared to anyone (or junta) likely to replace him. 

Prayer is very much more appropriate than faith in a blind ride. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Foreign Aid: Prosperity (for a few) and Population Control!

So I've been mostly posting other people's stuff instead of my own, lately...  That may be a good thing, even if I'm just about the only one who ever reads this blog. 

If anyone else out there's looking in, keep in mind that people I quote and/or admire are in no way tinged by or responsible for my sometimes 'way to the Left, sometimes 'way to the Right, sometime Just Waaay Out rants and ruminations.

A relative sometimes writes into FrumForum, so I've been reading it 'frum' time to time, and found
Much good stuff.  Try this:
To which I responded (at this time, I don't know if I'll be Comment Approved, so, what the heck:)

Superb article! One of the first things to get me into ‘conspiracy theories’ (still non-doctrinaire and on the amused sidelines) was finding out – barely teen and several decades ago – that FOREIGN AID was largely MILITARY aid, and we were giving to both sides of most local conflicts.

Our taxes pay for it – oh, but nothing creates jobs like a military-industrial complex: Just close your eyes and ignore that it’s blood trickling down to feed our souls … Still thirsty? Maybe it’s because those jobs at home are necessarily done by aliens since everybody (in the media, the [R]COCs and [D]demagogocracy) knows that Americans Won’t Work. ‘Proof’: Cheney (‘Bush’) wanted to give over the security of our ports to the sheiks, and Bam wanted to give our airport security to an Israeli company. Or maybe it’s because we so often Just Send Money so that our wannabe combat-ready little buddies in both sides can buy from ‘centrist’ Frenchies & Swedes, or from the ex-Soviet scavenged yard sale, or go all Hooray for Global Free Marketing Make Their* Own.

WHO PROFITS? Not me. If only we could reboot the political conversation in this country with the common assent that All Contracts with Government Are Socialism ~ So let’s only allow those which reallyreallyreally provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare: ‘Common’ and ‘general’ meaning EVERY citizen, and understanding that the quintessence of defense and welfare is the freedom of not getting our lives and worth ground up in the insatiable jaws of war.

*via scientists educated at Cal Tech, MIT, UCLA…

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jihadi 'Book of Martyrs' Found on Illegal Im. Trail
Surprise, surprise--?  Not for people who've kept their eyes open and brains turned on in Southern California!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abortion Industry Self-Regulates

From Aol's POLITICS DAILY Woman Up
Kermit Gosnell's Pro-Choice Enablers (Is This What an Industry That Self-Regulates Looks Like?)
Melinda Henneberger   Editor in Chief

The ultimate non-partisan body – a criminal grand jury – has supplied us with the graphic, 261-page horror story of Kermit Gosnell, M.D., who stands accused of butchering seven babies – yes, after they were born alive -- and fatally doping a refugee from Nepal with Demerol in a clinic that smelled of cat urine, where the furniture was stained with blood and the doctor kept a collection of severed baby feet. As often as possible, the report says, Gosnell induced labor for women so pregnant that, as he joked on one occasion, the baby was so big he could "walk me to the bus stop." Then, hundreds of times over the years, he slit their little necks, according to the grand jury report:

[He] regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.

And the kicker? This nightmare facility had not been inspected in 17 years – other than by someone from the National Abortion Federation, whom he actually invited there. For whatever reason, Gosnell applied for NAF membership two days after the death of the 41-year-old Nepalese woman, Karnamaya Mongar. Even on a day when the place had been scrubbed and spiffed up for the visit, the NAF investigator found it disgusting and rejected Gosnell's application for membership. But despite noting many outright illegalities, including a padlocked emergency exit in a part of the clinic where women were left alone overnight, the grand jury report notes that the NAF inspector did not report any of these violations to authorities:

So too with the National Abortion Federation. NAF is an association of abortion providers that upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. Gosnell, bizarrely, applied for admission shortly after Karnamaya Mongar's death. Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell's application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen.

The report says outright that the lack of oversight after pro-life Democrat Bob Casey left the Pennsylvania governor's office in 1993 was overtly political. When pro-choice Republican Tom Ridge took over for Casey, the report says,

...[t]he Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be "putting a barrier up to women" seeking abortions. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety. Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer.

This is where those of you who are pro-choice may well want to cross your arms over your chest, but the kind of regulation that if enforced might have prevented this atrocity is in all cases seen as an infringement by abortion rights advocates, and thus is strenuously opposed. In Evansville, Indiana, for instance, the pro-choice community was outraged in 2008 after county commissioners passed an ordinance requiring abortion clinic doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. As an Evansville Courier editorial decrying the ordinance put it, "Abortion rights groups see it as an attempt to harass abortion providers and to limit women's access to legal abortions.'' But wouldn't such a requirement also provide a degree of protection to women – particularly the poor, immigrant population Gosnell preyed upon? Not surprisingly, Gosnell had no such hospital admitting privileges, though he was well known to local hospital doctors who, the report says, regularly had to clean up after him, and treat patients like the 19-year-old who had to have a hysterectomy after Gosnell punctured her uterus.

Abortion-rights activists call such regulations "TRAP laws" – short for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers; these laws attempt to regulate abortion clinics at the same level of other outpatient surgical centers, for instance by requiring that hallways be wide enough to get a gurney through if something goes wrong. What difference could that possibly make? Well, it took Emergency Medical Service workers 20 minutes to get Karnamaya Mongar out of Gosnell's clinic and into an ambulance because the hallways were blocked and the emergency exit padlocked. (Here, Tarina Keene, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, registers the standard complaint that such regulation is too costly and is "really just designed to shut these places down. It has nothing to do with medical care.")

Only, on the day of the annual marches marking the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I want to ask my pro-choice friends whether opposing all regulation is in fact in the best interest of the women I know you care about. Wherever you stand on this issue – and I am a liberal Catholic who is not pro-choice – we agree that what Gosnell is accused of doing exceeds all bounds of decency. But without regulation and enforcement, how can we be sure there aren't other Gosnells out there?

Other kinds of free-standing ambulatory clinics are inspected periodically by state health departments, but abortion clinics are not, says Mary Spaulding Balch, of National Right to Life, who tracks legislation and regulations in all 50 states. And, again quoting from the grand jury report, here is what the lack of enforcement of regulations already on the books looks like:

Almost a decade ago, a former employee of Gosnell presented the Board of Medicine with a complaint that laid out the whole scope of his operation: the unclean, unsterile conditions; the unlicensed workers; the unsupervised sedation; the underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street. The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an offsite interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.

Shortly thereafter the department received an even more disturbing report – about a woman, years before Karnamaya Mongar, who died of sepsis after Gosnell perforated her uterus. The woman was 22 years old. A civil suit against Gosnell was settled for almost a million dollars, and the insurance company forwarded the information to the Department of State. That report should have been all the confirmation needed for the complaint from the former employee that was already in the department's possession. Instead, the department attorneys dismissed this complaint, too. They concluded that death was just an "inherent" risk, not something that should jeopardize a doctor's medical license.

The same thing happened at least twice more: The department received complaints about lawsuits against Gosnell, but dismissed them as meaningless. A department attorney said there was no "pattern of conduct." He never bothered to check a national litigation database, which would have shown that Gosnell had paid out damages to at least five different women whose internal organs he had punctured during abortions."

Though we're constantly told that there are only a handful of brave doctors performing late-term abortions, an '06 survey by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute in New York found that about 1.5 percent of the 1.2 million abortions performed annually – in other words, about 18,000 abortions a year -- are performed at 21 weeks or later. Nearly a quarter of providers, according to Guttmacher, offer abortions after 20 weeks, and slightly more than 1 in 10 will perform an abortion after 24 weeks. That translates to 140 known providers doing truly late-term procedures. But as the National Right to Life's Douglas Johnson asks, "Do you suppose this guy in Philadelphia was dutifully filling out the Guttmacher reports and turning them in?"

I'm well aware that the counter-argument is that if late-term abortions in particular were more readily accessible and less stigmatized, there would be fewer Gosnells in this world. But how stigmatized was he, pocketing $1.8 million a year while allegedly maiming women and killing their living, breathing children with no apparent fear of detection from officials who according to the grand jury feared that inspections would pose obstacles to choice?

Though I've never heard of any case this grisly, Johnson says it's "not all that isolated a case, but usually they're just local news stories.'' Last year, the license of New Jersey abortion doctor Stephen Brigham was pulled after authorities learned he was routinely starting illegal late-term abortions in New Jersey then transporting the women to Maryland to finish the job. And how was he discovered? Again, by accident. According to a recent story by The Associated Press, "Brigham's practices first caught the attention of Maryland regulators after a patient was hospitalized with a ruptured uterus and small intestine.''

This story reports on the owners of several shoddy Florida clinics, including the one in Hialeah where in 2006, an 18-year-old who was 23 weeks pregnant gave birth to a child whose body was discovered, according to the police, after someone reported hearing crying coming from a trash can. Officers who searched the clinic said they finally found the body where it had been moved -- in a biohazard bag stashed on the clinic's roof.

And a case that made the news 20 years ago now involved New York's Abu Hayat, whom the tabloids dubbed "The Butcher of Avenue A." As it happened, I knew Hayat by sight – and talk about the banality of evil -- because he lived in my building, where I frequently wound up sharing a lap lane with him in the pool.

In each of these well-known cases, many more victims came forward after some particularly gruesome event brought these doctors' methods to light; how many more like them go undetected?

In 2002, a piece of legislation called the "Born-Alive Infant Protection Act'' began requiring doctors to treat children born alive during abortions the same way they treat other newborns. Initially, advocates for choice adamantly opposed that legislation, too, as an assault on Roe v. Wade.

But what about assaults on children who, having somehow gotten out of the birth canal alive, we agree are children? And what of the assaults on women, who uniformly deserve sterile conditions and an unlocked emergency exit? How can we know they are treated competently without the regulation and oversight of this, as any other industry? Just like other industries, the abortion industry prefers the self-policing that in the Gosnell case did not prevent tragedy any more than the self-regulation and lax enforcement of the oil industry prevented the BP oil spill.

On Saturday, President Obama affirmed his support for Roe v. Wade by saying that "government should not intrude on private family matters." But it's a hands-off lack of oversight that allowed Kermit Gosnell to do so much damage before he was finally stopped – by accident, by authorities investigating him for over-prescribing OxyContin.

Perhaps Gosnell himself best summed up the underlying problem at his arraignment, where he reportedly seemed confused by the proceedings: "I understand the one count, because a patient died,'' he told the court, "but I didn't understand the seven counts.'' It apparently never occurred to him that the dead infants – one of them photographed in a plastic shoe box, another kept frozen in a gallon of spring water – were people, too.

Gap Between Rich And Poor Named 8th Wonder Of The World

The Onion - America's Finest News Source      January 24, 2011       ISSUE 47•04,18914/

PARIS—At a press conference Tuesday, the World Heritage Committee officially recognized the Gap Between Rich and Poor as the "Eighth Wonder of the World," describing the global wealth divide as the "most colossal and enduring of mankind's creations."

"Of all the epic structures the human race has devised, none is more staggering or imposing than the Gap Between Rich and Poor," committee chairman Henri Jean-Baptiste said. "It is a tremendous, millennia-old expanse that fills us with both wonder and humility."

"And thanks to careful maintenance through the ages, this massive relic survives intact, instilling in each new generation a sense of awe," Jean- Baptiste added.

The vast chasm of wealth, which stretches across most of the inhabited world, attracts millions of stunned observers each year, many of whom have found its immensity too overwhelming even to contemplate. By far the largest man-made structure on Earth, it is readily visible from locations as far-flung as Eastern Europe, China, Africa, and Brazil, as well as all 50 U.S. states.

"The original Seven Wonders of the World pale in comparison to this," said World Heritage Committee member Edwin MacAlister, standing in front of a striking photograph of the Gap Between Rich and Poor taken from above Mexico City. "It is an astounding feat of human engineering that eclipses the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and perhaps even the Great Racial Divide."

According to anthropologists, untold millions of slaves and serfs toiled their whole lives to complete the gap. Records indicate the work likely began around 10,000 years ago, when the world's first landed elites convinced their subjects that construction of such a monument was the will of a divine authority, a belief still widely held today.

Though historians have repeatedly disproved such claims, theories still persist among many that the Gap Between Rich and Poor was built by the Jews.

"When I stare out across its astounding breadth, I'm often moved to tears," said Johannesburg resident Grace Ngubane, 31, whose home is situated on one of the widest sections of the gap. "The scale is staggering—it makes you feel really, really small."

"Insignificant, even," she continued.

While numerous individuals have tried to cross the Gap Between Rich and Poor, evidence suggests that only a small fraction have ever succeeded and many have died in the attempt.

Its official recognition as the Eighth Wonder of the World marks the culmination of a dramatic turnaround from just 50 years ago, when popular movements called for the gap's closure. However, due to a small group of dedicated politicians and industry leaders, vigorous preservation efforts were begun around 1980 to restore—and greatly expand—the age-old structure.

"It's breathtaking," said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a longtime champion and benefactor of the rift's conservation. "After all we've been through in recent years, there's no greater privilege than watching it grow bigger and bigger each day. There may be a few naysayers who worry that if it gets any wider, the whole thing will collapse upon itself and take millions of people down with it, but I for one am willing to take that chance."

Added Blankfein, "Besides, something tells me I'd probably make it out okay."

Today's bio: local plutocrat pioneer hero~
You can't say it was all his fault.  Remember that a great many the most eminent -and ruling class exclusive- schools in the world were founded as charitable institutes for poor orphans.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thin Line Between Legal Abortion & Murder Crossed

Guess he just went on automatic pilot.  This article speaks for itself, but don't ignore the import of the first line; he 'catered' to those whom Margaret Sanger suggested to Hitler (among her other early enthusiasts, as well as later 'humanitarians' such as the Club of Rome) ought to receive catering...With extreme prejudice:

Pa. Abortion Doctor Charged With 8 Counts of Murder by Maryclare Dale and Patrick Walters AP

PHILADELPHIA -- An abortion doctor who catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said. State regulators ignored complaints about him and failed to visit or inspect his clinic since 1993, but no charges were warranted against them, District Attorney Seth Williams said.

Gosnell "induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord," Williams said.

Williams said patients were subjected to squalid and barbaric conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society.

Authorities went to investigate drug-related complaints at the clinic last year and stumbled on what Williams called a "house of horrors."

"There were bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses were scattered throughout the building," Williams said. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid.

Workers, some of whom were also charged with murder, were untrained and unlicensed, including a high-school student who performed anesthesia with potentially lethal narcotics, Williams said.

Gosnell and nine other employees are in custody, authorities said.

Gosnell has been named in at least 10 malpractice suits, including one over the death of a woman who died of sepsis and a perforated uterus.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cold Comfort, Hot Madness

Among no doubt many other things in the news of which it would be kinder never to (have to?) hear:

'Baby Doc' Duvalier came back to Haiti, welcomed and cheered (at least by his old literal and metaphorical military, privileged, and other goons, and their still-advantaged offspring.

Men in North Africa are setting themselves on fire to protest their governments' poor handing of uh, the poor (after which they have, it seems, mostly been rescued-as-much-as-possible by police and gov workers and put into public hospitals).

I'm wondering if B.D. might try for election or more pre-emptive forms of recovering power:  He has, after all, kept Haiti's wealth (such as it's ever been, post-colonial) safe in his and the late-if-not-late-soon-enough Papa Doc's Swiss bank accounts.  He could run on these slogans:  'The Ton Ton Macoutes kept away earthquakes!' Or 'Our biggest exports, Voodoo Economics and ZOMBIES, are the greatest powers in the World today! ~ perfected by les Duvaliers!!    

There are actually some people and places in the world who can even now make Americans seem sorta sane by comparison...Even Americans in the blogsphere or reality/pundithead TV!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

'Admission' Day

The Tucson Shooting has elicited such  inappropriate, wanton grandstanding and other unseemly display that many of us find it much more of which to be sick 'n' tired than the everpresent plague-storm of common barrel-bottom profanity...To the point that we can begin to think fondly of strung-out-over-the-abyss Linda Partridge's command (via Julianne Moore in Magnolia -remember?) to her lawyer to Just Shut the %^(# Up.   But, for all the misuse to which rabid partisans and issue-obsessives put them, we do have to deal with matters like abortion, war, gun ownership and use, and whether we become safer or more endangered by monitoring the (allegedly, contextually) mentally disturbed / oddballs, and 'doing something about them'.
How gracious it would be if we could agree to have at least one day a year in which we could all agree that these issues and more are extremely complex, that widely differing sides each have compelling arguments for their inclinations, that masses of us change our minds (often more than once) on them as we learn more, and that (though there are people who embrace bad positions for no other 'reason' than viciousness), holding opinions that are at odds with our own doesn't make those holders bad people, or us better.
A general confession.  An 'Admission' Day.

Mayday! Mayday! John Paul II to be Beatified May 1

Click here: Pope John Paul to Be Beatified May 1

An awful lotta awf'ly significant things were decided to be given birth on May 1.  Too coincidental?

But then, today's / tomorrow's (depending on where you live) date has quite a lot of corkers, too:

Tucson Shooting, Barbarian Grief

Melissa Clouthier 's  'Caught In A Device Of His Own Making: President Obama Gives His Best Speech In The Worst Way' (  : 

You know the formerly fat chick who diets down, gets fit and then keeps the attitude and wears clothes as though she were still heavy? That was President Obama’s speech last night. The tone and content of the speech felt right, but the attitude of the left and venue of the memorial service was all wrong.

For two years, President Obama hasn’t quite mastered the art of Presiding or leading or even sounding Presidential. He’s walked out on press conferences. He’s had to have beer summits to repair intemperate remarks. He’s given inappropriate gifts. He’s seemed distant and disjointed behind the scenes and when trying to connect with voters. His domestic policy has been so partisan as to force Americans, en masse, to vote in a whole slew of Republicans.

And then, the Giffords shooting happened; tragedy beset Arizona and the Nation.

President Obama and his team had a couple days to prepare themselves for this speech and prepare, they did. They created a logo and T-shirts. They picked a venue that could pack as many of his voters into one place as possible in Tucson–the University of Arizona stadium. They had a cheerleader, a positively giddy one, President of the College, Robert N. Shelton introduce the speakers like he was the ringleader for the WWE and this event was Monday Night Raw. And the adoring fans cheered. They cheered non-stop and inappropriately, but I repeat myself.

Surrounding a clearly stricken President Obama were the devastated survivors, mourning family members, and heart-broken friends of the lost or wounded. They stoically sat in the sea of frivolity with their pain written on their faces.

The contrast was jarring to watch. It felt wildly inappropriate. It was rather embarrassing in a skin-crawling, get-me-out-of-here way. I wanted to turn off the “show”, but forced myself to hang in there because I wanted to hear the President’s words. He and his wife Michelle’s expression matched my personal emotions and so I had hope that the speech would be comforting.

Before his speech, though, Governor Brewer spoke, and was booed. My thoughts were: Have these young people been taught nothing of dignity and grace? Do they not know the simple rules of etiquette and manners in a time such as this? Shame on their parents! And shame on the President of the school for not setting the ground-rules before the evening. But really, in this day and age, shame on the Obama crew for expecting anything else from the indulged children they invited into the memorial that was supposed to be about the fallen and the heroes, not the President and not U of A.

So, President Obama spoke. The rousing intro he received clashed with the tone of the speech and to his credit, President Obama looked uncomfortable with the callous display. The adoration was too overt. The stagecraft was off. He was trying to be somber while the crowd was too high on the ecstasy of having the Rock Star President in their very midst. They were ebullient.

President Obama’s speech was beautiful. The words were chosen perfectly. The individual attention to those lost and the telling of their stories gave them honor. I was moved to tears. For the first time in his Presidency, I felt the President sounded, looked and most importantly, acted Presidential. He acted like a President should act. His presence instilled confidence. His words bestowed grace. His kindness to those around him gave them comfort.

In a cathedral or mission or some sort of religious venue, the impact would have been more profound. Instead, President Obama’s speech fought against the tension of being in the center ring of a campaign circus. The viewer could not relax into the moment. The cheering, blue-clad adoring hordes wouldn’t allow it.

And so, making the speech on the backdrop of a campaign spot undermined the messenger. The viewers got the messages alright. Tucson loves Janet Napolitano. Tucson most certainly does not love Jan Brewer. (This bitter welcome stood in stark contrast with the words encouraging unity and civility as the Democratic audience lacked both.) Tucson loves University of Arizona. Tucson loves Mother Gaia and what’s under the earth. And they love President Obama, man. They dig him. He’s a righteous dude.

If you’re wondering how Tucson felt about those who died and lost, it’s understandable. It seemed that the ones focused on that grief had the floor seats. Many crest-fallen faces were there. It was obvious, they needed this memorial. I hope they found comfort in the service.

President Obama’s best speech had the misfortune of competing with the worst venue possible. It was a tactical and practical error. I don’t know if President Obama just didn’t want to speak in a religious place. I don’t know if his advisers saw a great marketing and campaign opportunity. I don’t know what they were thinking or if they were thinking at all.

It’s unfortunate. Because while the President’s words were powerful, the meta message was at least as powerful. It’s difficult to take someone seriously–to believe it’s about a memorial and about the lost–when the environment is all about The One. It is difficult to hear the words calling for civil discourse when the crowd boos their ideological opposition and the media and political left (both supporters of the President) have demonized their opposition.

I think President Obama realized that by crafting this moment in this way, it undermined him.

The speech, both the words and delivery, were the best the President has ever given. Like much of this presidency, it feels like one more opportunity lost.
Many felt I should have been more critical last night, but I simply couldn’t. This was the time for the families to grieve and mourn. Plus, I felt the speech was good. Some expressed umbrage that I was judging how someone else was grieving. Puhleeze. These young people lacked decorum, pure and simple. Enabling their misbehavior only misses a teachable moment. You know how fond the left is of those.
I don't agree with all of the above, but it's vastly above the partisan whining and of most Tucson Shooting related commentary/spew from the Right or the Left (phrases that mean less - especially as related to 'Conservative' and 'Liberal' - every year for a number of decades, now).  The shooter read from classics and arcana of the totalitarian socialist Left and Right, from strange crossroads of Librtarianism, hard currency advocacy, and (allegedly) Christian Dominionism; from (alleged) science in the pursuit of giving over his capacity for personal responsibility to thelemic fantasy.

It's not about Obama's empty promises or usually too cold-&-dry affect.  It's not about Palin and the Teeps's essence and priority centered in a maelstrom of defensive self-imagery of saintly martyrdom.  The Tucson Shooting was not about their hypocrisies or jumping on bandwagons or war wagons in the name of Rep. Giffords, a moderate whose voting record has no doubt been unsettling to both sides and is for now so (perforce) conveniently quiet admidst their shameless monkey screechings.  It was not about vying for points.

The memorial was not partisan, but was centered in the same INFANTILE NARCISSISM and WOUNDED SELF-RIGHTEOUS HIVE-BEING MENTALITY as the loathesomely reflexive  partisan pixel pundits. 

I still shudder to remember the aggressive sectarian riffs of Franklin Graham at the Columbine Memorial and of some mullahs at the 911 Memorial, and Nikki Giovanni's 'we are V-Tech, and we will survive!' chant, but this so-called Tucson Memorial was scarely anything but a PEP RALLY from start to finish.  I will not be in the least surprised if the next 'memorial' (and you know there will be one) has pom-pom girls screaming out victim-names to spell in stadium call-and-response:  'gimme a G!'  The clapping, whooping and noisemakers are already in.  Thinking of the film, The Queen?  I remember when the Brits (before drugs and multiculturalism) were considered the best-mannered people in the world, but now... Maybe the next royal funeral will feature event souvenir T-shirts; maybe rattles and airhorns and big foam pointy-fingered hands to show the ol' team spirit (like, this thing  has really FN bummed me bad, dude!  I'm Wounded Too!!) in Westminister Cathedral - but we'll probably beat them to it.  I hope we don't take up the 'rave' style of terrorist funerals (bouncing around the coffin like a beach ball at a rock concert).  ...Do we even have a non-commercial holi-/memorial day?           

And it wasn't just 'young people'.  POTUS 'might oughta' have calmed them down more, but the nature of the thing as rah-rah whoop-de-do was already fixed.  What the hell made a grey-haired physician giving the 'blessing' spend more time on his own intro than the invocation?  What made the president of a university mistake himself for the warm-up MC of a halftime show?  Why do we all keep buying in to this manic rabid barbarianism?  If we don't go back to YES, CIVILITY, and teach (and demand) old-style behaviors of respect, decorum, soberness, solemnity, dignity, and most of all a proper sense of those occasions when IT'S NOT ABOUT US, IT'S ABOUT THEM, we'll keep sliding toward the same hopelessly festered mentality of the shooter.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Israel's Rightward Lurch Scares Some Conservatives

Here's another one~,8599,2041613,00.html?xid=rss-top-aol (by Karl Vick)
This time on Israel's temptation to genuinely fall (after so much constant pushing!) into racist police-state ways. Israelis, Moslems, America's political doctrinists, etc., & so many more: The sense of oneself as VICTIM and MARTYR is so corrupting!  ...As current events (the Tucson Shootings) show.  Right and Left:  Bloodsuckers!  Hypocrites!  Whining, selfish, snivelling, brutal, SHAMELESS!

Who Owns Ya, Baby!?

This is copyrighted, so I can't copy it here, but READ it:  It's important!~

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goodbyes, 2010 and These Few New 2011 Days

Copying stuff; I hope legit'ly.  I don't endorse the obitchyary bits nor agree with everything - & some seems much too short, but this is mostly for looking-up-the-names.  The originals have more in hyperlink form than I'm goimg to try to re-trasmit.  God bless everyone!!!

New York Observer 1/5/2011       REX REED's COLUMN

The goodbye word takes on a somber and rueful new meaning as I begin the annual task of wrapping up an old year by waving adios to the bearded man with the scythe, and welcoming a new kid on the block with his year to grow. We lost so many famous and celebrated people in 2010 that by midsummer I already had 35 pages of handwritten names. So before we begin anew, join me in a toast to those who departed in the year just ending. “Attention must be paid,” wrote Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman, and that applies to one and all.

Topping the list of my personal losses is Jean Simmons, my loyal and cherished friend for 40 years, and a legendary star of the silver screen who truly earned the label. From the good old days when she was married to film director Richard Brooks and we were the unbeaten champion partners who staged annual canasta parties in their Beverly Hills home every New Year’s Eve, collecting money from all the guests on their way out, to strawberry picking in muddy Connecticut fields and crawling around on our hands and knees trying to find her lost reading glasses at the re-release of Spartacus, we had some laughs. Earlier this year, I helped her daughter Tracy stage a triumphant memorial at London’s Covent Garden. The attention she deserved was finally paid in a jam-packed royal sendoff, with poems and memories by Claire Bloom, Hayley Mills, Edward Fox, and Joss Ackland, among others, as well as critics, historians, friends and fans. When Dame Judi Dench ended the hour singing “Send in the Clowns” with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett at the piano, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. One of the warmest, most elegant and luminous stars of the last half-century, her departure was another nail in the coffin of a movie legacy that will never come again.

I will also miss my friend June Havoc, the equally legendary show business icon and sister of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee whose early days in vaudeville as Baby June were portrayed in two autobiographies and the Broadway musical Gypsy. Havoc, as she was called by friends, never approved of the way that show inaccurately portrayed her mother Rose, played by Ethel Merman. During the Depression she stayed alive by entering dance competitions, which she later chronicled in a brilliant 1963 play, Marathon ’33 starring Julie Harris. She died at 97, but never lost her radiant spark right up to the end, receiving guests in her Connecticut bedroom with her blonde curls tied in a baby-blue satin ribbon.

In a diminishing world of first-rate singers you can still listen to without an Excedrin, the sadness was overwhelming when Lena Horne died at 92, smoldering through her last eight bars with no reprise. In the pantheon of prejudice that poisoned so many illustrious careers in America’s ugly past, Lena broke every rule and crashed through every barrier with her supersonic talent and breathtaking beauty. She was an international star of films, Broadway musicals, concert stages, Las Vegas, and soignée supper clubs who was in a class by herself. Yet she never achieved the respect, personal happiness or household fame she deserved. Still, unlike other black icons who were victimized by the bigotry of race and class, Lena became a rabid civil rights activist, proud member of the NAACP, and got even with a life well lived in an unenlightened age. I loved my friendship with Lena. She always called Liz Smith and me her “adopted white children” and one of my fondest memories was sitting on her lap one night at a party where she fed me birthday cake with long, elegant fingers dazzled by diamonds. In the end, she unfortunately became a bitter recluse who spent her days in the dark, throwing things at the TV set, rarely seeing even her own grandchildren. But there was so much to be proud of. Her singing was unparalleled, she smashed stereotypes, made history, and inspired hundreds of girl singers. In 1981, when Tom Snyder gave me 90 minutes on NBC because I was the only interviewer she would talk to, she said: “You get into the habit of surviving.” If only she had enjoyed it more.

Who could forget Patricia Neal, 1964 Oscar winner for Hud, a model of talent and courage who endured the perils of Job, learning to walk and speak all over again after three paralyzing strokes, then returned to the screen in 1968 in The Subject Was Roses. Later she became a great favorite on the New York social scene, raising millions for the hospital named after her in her native Kentucky for brain injured children and adults. In a voice like a mello cello rubbed with rye whiskey, she polished off her trademark sarcasm in many unforgettable performances on stage and screen, but my favorite was the 1950 Hemingway noir, The Breaking Point, in which John Garfield asked her if she’s ever been to a cockfight. She curled her lip and snarled, “All that trouble for an egg.”

It’s been a terrible time for the Redgrave acting dynasty. Following Natasha Richardson, this year marked a final curtain call for her uncle, Corin Redgrave, and her aunt, Lynn Redgrave, who lost her long battle with cancer at age 67, leaving Vanessa and her daughter Joely Richardson as the last two survivors of a historic family legacy. 2010 also framed final closeups for Kathryn Grayson, the trilling soprano who was one of the brightest stars in MGM musicals like Show Boat, Anchors Aweigh and Kiss Me Kate, and Bronx-born dese-dem-and-doser Tony Curtis, whose career never amounted to much more than a T-shirt and a tight pair of jeans until Sweet Smell of Success in 1957. Then he made up for lost time with Spartacus, Some Like it Hot, and others. Somewhere along the way, he also learned to act.

Who will take up the hell-raising reigns surrendered by Dennis Hopper? At 74, the cinema’s raunchiest rebel without a cause had long ago overcome his Easy Rider mantle as psychedelic guru to become a grizzled character actor riddled with repercussions from his excessive early years. He was, to put it succinctly, a mess. But he was also a far cry from his National Enquirer image. Nervously seated next to him at a Toronto Film Festival lunch a few years ago, I was jarred when he spent the entire time discussing recipes for turkey stuffing. Also: Jill Clayburgh, who lost her 21-year battle with leukemia at a still-young 66; Lina Romay, famous “latin from Manhattan” and the pepper pot who sang with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra in a series of lavish MGM Technicolor musicals in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s; Peter Graves, impossibly handsome, square-jawed hunk who never became a star until he spoofed his own image in Airplane! as the closeted all-American pedophile pilot with a special passion for little boys visiting his cockpit; Nan Martin, distinguished character actress who graced every medium; child star Corey Haim (The Lost Boys) who shocked the world when he died of a drug overdose at 38; Betty Lou Keim, lovely actress who played rebellious teenagers in some excellent Fifties films, holding her own opposite James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Sinatra and Ginger Rogers; James Mitchell, the brilliant American Ballet Theatre star who danced with Cyd Charisse in the MGM musical extravaganza The Bandwagon, before he threw away his toe shoes, played the dramatic role of an illegal Mexican immigrant in Border Incident, and joined the soap opera “One Life To Live” for the next 30 years; Adele Mara, B-movie actress at Republic studios who co-starred with John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima; Lionel Jeffries, British comic famous for family flicks like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Ian Carmichael, Peter Sellers’ owlish cohort in comedies like I’m All Right, Jack; Christopher Cazenove, another English star of Dynasty and PBS’ “Masterpiece Theatre” who recently toured America in a revival of My Fair Lady. Critics pointed out one major difference between him and the original star, Rex Harrison: “Mr. Cazenove could sing.”

The list of sayonaras goes on. Corey Allen, 75, was the last surviving member of the ill-fated Rebel Without a Cause cast. He played Buzz, the handsome tough guy who challenged James Dean to the fatal “chicken race”. Ursula Thiess, 86, was the German B-movie siren and widow of screen legend Robert Taylor. Ilene Woods, 81, was the voice of Cnderella in Disney’s timeless classic. Have you forgotten Cecile Aubry, the beautiful French actress who co-starred with Orson Welles and Tyrone Power in the epic spectacle The Black Rose? She landed on the cover of Life magazine, then disappeared. It was rumored she was being held captive in a Turkish harem. Turns out she was secretly married to the son of a Moroccan pasha for six years, after which she returned to France and authored a series of children’s books. Also destined for obscurity but saved by the obituary page was 1970’s Albanian heartthrob Bekim Fehmiu, the first actor from Yugoslavia (now Bosnia) to become a Hollywood star. He played opposite Candice Bergen and romanced both Ava Gardner and Brigitte Bardot, but life in the fast lane backfired. This year, he committed suicide. What memories were conjured by the death of Johnny Sheffield, who played Boy in eight Tarzan films although he could not swim. Later, he dragged his old loin cloth out of moth balls for the Bomba, the Jungle Boy series, retired in 1955, and went into business, importing lobsters from Baja. It was one last gaze into the crystal ball for Zelda Rubenstein­the four-foot-three actress who played Tangina the Psychic in Poltergeist and became an advocate for the rights of “little people”. Last but not least, let’s raise a glass to Shirley Bell Cole, the radio voice of Little Orphan Annie (“Leapin’ lizards!”) who was an inspiration to children during the Depression, and to Meinhardt Raabe, the Munchkin coroner, and Olga Hardone­at three feet tall, the tiniest of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz. Olga danced as the center member of the Lullaby League and was one of the first to welcome Judy Garland to Oz. That leaves only three remaining Munchkins alive today.

The cameras stopped rolling for Kevin McCarthy, respected actor regrettably best known as the panicky doctor who tried to save the world from alien pods in the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers; James McArthur, forever youthful son of Helen Hayes and star of a string of Disney classics; Simon McCorkindale, 58, handsome leading man who played the suave, romantic murderer in the all-star Agatha Christie thriller Death on the Nile; Gloria Stuart, 100, glamorous blonde in Thirties horror flicks who made a miraculous, Oscar-nominated comeback in 1997 as the oldest living survivor in the blockbuster, Titanic; and Norman Wisdom, 95, England’s most beloved slapstick comic­a silly, baggy-pants clown whose stumbling, bumbling pratfalls were a smash in his Broadway debut in the 1967 musical Walking Happy. He was a great favorite of Queen Elizabeth, who knighted him in the year 2000. It was one last double-take for Leslie Nielsen, a serious actor who never lived up to the potential of his early dramatic work on live TV and films like Ransom! and Forbidden Planet. Sidetracked in dumb Naked Gun farces, he got rich, but the acting career went over the falls in a barrel.

Among the TV pioneers who watched their final test pattern fade in 2010: living-room sitcom favorites Tom Bosley, who went from doorman at Tavern on the Green to Tony-winning star of the Broadway musical Fiorello!, followed by 11 years of “Happy Days”, and Barbara Billingsley, who, as June Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver”, was the perfect Eisenhower-era wife and mother, wearing high heels and pearls even when running the vacuum cleaner, and at the end of the day was always home with freshly baked cookies. No more cable re-runs for Pernell Roberts, the eldest Cartwright son on “Bonanza”, a show he hated, equating his participation with “Isaac Stern playing with Lawrence Welk”. He later moved to “Trapper John, M.D”, but few people remember he sang the leading role in the pre-Broadway tryout of Mata Hari, directed by Vincente Minnelli. No more ratings wars for Art Linkletter, the unpretentious CBS House Party host for 18 years, or for precocious midget Gary Coleman (Diff’rent Strokes),John Forsythe (Dynasty), Robert Culp (I Spy), Harold Gould (Valerie Harper’s father on Rhoda and Betty White’s boyfriend on Golden Girls), and blonde flapper Dorothy Provine (The Roaring 20’s). Fess Parker, TV’s Davy Crockett, hung up his coonskin cap, and sportscaster Don Meredith called his last shot from the 40-yard line on “Monday Night Football”. It was a cheerless sign-off for Buff Cobb, a popular staple of TV’s “golden age” who co-hosted two of the first “live” talk shows with then-husband Mike Wallace and appeared as a regular panelist on Masquerade Party with Ilka Chase and Ogden Nash; for David Wolper, who produced the mini-series Roots and The Thorn Birds; for witty, rumpled and eternally grumpy newscaster and Today show anchor Edwin Newman; for award-winning news analyst Daniel Schorr; for Clay Cole, producer of Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” and rock guru who gave teens their first look at the Rolling Stones; for crusading 48 Hours news correspondent Harold Dow; and for controversial Mitch Miller, who, during his tenure as an influential recording-industry producer at Columbia Records, steered the careers of Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and Doris Day, before becoming a TV star himself with a nauseating crop of corn called Sing Along With Mitch. One critic suggested it would be best watched with the sound off. Ever the curmudgeon, he called rock and roll “a disease” and turned down contracts with Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, while plugging polkas and insipid pap like “Mule Train” and forcing Frank Sinatra to record a gimmicky horror called “Mama Will Bark”, accompanied by a pack of howling dogs. Sinatra never spoke to him again. His bad taste proved the American people will buy anything, while he went on record saying “I would never buy that stuff for myself.” I was devastated by the early exits of my two favorite Southern belles­oversexed Golden Girl Rue McClanahan and honey-dripping Tennessee glamourpuss Dixie Carter, who used her languid Julia Sugarbaker accent from Designing Women in several seasons of acclaimed cabaret performances at New York’s swanky Café Carlyle. A multi-talented actress, lady to the manner born, and ex-wife of the former editor of the New York Observer, you could rockabye your baby to her Dixie melody. I guess I should not overlook Eddie Fisher, whose wonky voice crooned its way off-key through TV shows, hit records and unfathomable marriages and scandalous divorces (Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds and Connie Stevens). It was the mystery career of the century, somewhat explained now in his trashy autobiography and daughter Carrie’s sarcastic tell-all monologues and one-woman confessionals. But my favorite summation came the night Debbie Reynolds walked out on the stage of Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, cased the joint, and said, to tumultuous applause: “Look at this place. I guess I married the wrong Fisher.”

Hard to believe they all passed on in 2010, as well as some of the powers behind the scenes who guided them to greatness. Films won’t look the same without cameraman William Fraker, whose images go unchallenged in 45 films, including Rosemary’s Baby, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and especially Bullitt. Strapped to a Mustang going 100 m.p.h. with his white beard flapping across his eyes, his camerawork is as electrifying as anything else in the movie. In an industry dominated by cutthroats, gone are the rare gentleman producers David Brown and Robert Radnitz (Sounder), flamboyant Dino De Laurentiis, and directors Claude Chabrol (labeled “the French Hitchcock” for more than 80 crime thrillers about murder and mayhem with escargot), B-movie hack Clive Donner (when London stopped swinging, so did he), Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde), James Hickenlooper (Casino Jack), Italy’s Mario Monicelli (Big Deal on Madonna Street), Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back, the sequel to Star Wars), Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Ronald Neame (despite distinguished films like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Tunes of Glory, it was to his everlasting dismay that he was best known for his least favorite, The Poseidon Adventure). We must also add boring Eric Rohmer. A favorite of many American critics, this overrated French yawn was aptly eulogized in Arthur Penn’s wonderfully unconventional thriller, Night Moves. Gene Hackman is asked by his wife to go to an Eric Rohmer film playing in an L.A. art house. “I don’t think so,” he replies. “I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry.” Truer words were never spoken. His films re-defined narcolepsy. Claire’s Knee, My Night with Maud, among others. I slept through them all.

With one foot already in the toilet, the quality of today’s film scripts will never be the same after Irving Ravetch (who with wife Harriet Frank, Jr. turned out Hud, Norma Rae and The Sound and the Fury), and writer-director Joseph L.’s son, Tom Mankiewicz (who wrote several of the James Bond films). I will also miss reading Bob Thomas, the veteran syndicated columnist who covered Hollywood royalty for six decades. Joan Crawford could out-drink him, Marilyn Monroe told him first about her love affair with JFK, and when Clark Gable was whisked in secrecy to the hospital following his heart attack, Bacon was waiting. Aghast, Gable grinned and said, “How’s the food in this joint?” Those were the days.

Literature will be less readable without my favorite author, J. D. Salinger. One seriously weird dude, he drank his own urine and spoke in tongues, but he also raised the bar for aspiring writers throughout the world. Other men of letters who locked their typewriters and computers and threw away the keys were Erich Segal (they slammed Love Story, but it sold 22 million copies, proving “Success means never having to say you’re sorry”); Alan Stilltoe, the British novelist whose early works, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, were adapted into highly praised movies symbolizing the angst of the angry British working class; Dick Francis, champion steeplechase jockey turned best-selling mystery novelist; Robert B. Parker, who created the popular detective Spenser in more than 60 best sellers; and Robert Katz, American writer who lived in Italy, chronicling the Vatican’s complicity in the massacre of thousands of Jews under Mussolini in Death in Rome and The Cassandra Crossing. Broadway dimmed the marquees for veteran librettist Joseph Stein, who wrote the book for Fiddler on the Roof. He was followed, a few days later, by the great composer Jerry Bock, who wrote music to fit his partner Sheldon Harnick’s lyrics for such legendary musicals as Fiddler, She Loves Me and Fiorello! Ironically, Mr. Bock, Mr. Stein, and Fiorello! star Tom Bosley all died within a few weeks of each other, taking a chunk of Broadway history with them.

Music will sound sour without swinging pianist Hank Jones; Oscar Peterson’s guitarist Herb Ellis; jazz singer and political activist Abbey Lincoln (a softer, less toxic Nina Simone); harmonica virtuoso Jerry Adler; Duke Ellington vocalist Joya Sherrill; revered West Coast singer-pianist Joyce Collins; jazz drummer Ed Thigpen (called “Mr. Taste” for his sensitive accompaniment of Ella Fitzgerald); soul singer Teddy Pendergrass; John Dankworth, arranger-composer-saxophone wizard and husband of Cleo Laine; Claiborne Cary, zany but dependable cabaret singer-disciple (and sister of loopy actress Cloris Leachman); father of the jazz accordion Art Van Damme; be-bop Benny Goodman piano player John Bunch; Cherie De Castro, last surviving member of the singing De Castro Sisters, whose recording of “Teach Me Tonight” topped the charts in the 1950’s; ace trombonist and big-band-era orchestra leader Buddy Morrow; versatile jazz drummer Jake Hanna, who played with both Woody Herman and Harry James; the elegiac piano chords of Billy Taylor--musician, composer, historian, educator and eloquent voice of NPR, who won a Ph.D in music and instructed everyone to “Call me Doctor”; and Canada’s Rob McConnell, the last of the great jazz orchestra leaders who wrote and conducted big brass arrangements for Mel Torme’s “Velvet and Brass” album (for which I wrote the liner notes). What a shame we won’t be reading about them in the carefully worded erudition of biographer-songwriter-critic-jazz journalist Gene Lees, whose English lyrics for Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights” made history and whose monthly Jazzletter, one of the first series of idiosyncratic essays on jazz, was a blog before the word was invented. No more arias by Blanche Thebom, the mezzo-soprano who specialized in Wagner, singing more than 350 performances at the Metropolitan Opera before joining Mario Lanza in MGM’s The Great Caruso, or Met sopranos Shirley Verrett (called “the black Callas”) and Dolores Wilson, who moved to Broadway to co-star with David Wayne in the ill-fated musical The Yearling. It was curtains for Cesare Siepi, who, like Ezio Pinza, also appeared on Broadway, and for Joan Sutherland, the diva with a voice rich and powerful enough to rise above every orchestra, blasting away at full tilt in three languages. After her 1961 Metropolitan Opera debut, singing the mad scene in Donizetti’s Lucia, was followed by a 12-minute standing ovation, she was labeled “La Stupenda” and it stuck.

Politics won’t seem as pithy without Theodore Sorenson, JFK’s main man, or Liz Carpenter, Washington powerhouse during the Lyndon Johnson administration and Lady Bird’s press secretary during her White House days. I ate my last meal at Elaine’s, but I’ll miss eternally agitated proprietress and genuine New York character Elaine Kaufman, who served inedible food to the rich and famous, threw garbage can lids at the paparazzi, and leaned on the tables of unwanted customers, snarling “You’re gonna hate it here!” It was a year of horrible losses, from Glen Bell, who invented Taco Bell, to Agethe von Trapp, the last of the singing “Sound of Music” family. She was little Liesel in the movie who sang “15 Going on 17”, but she died at 97. Time flies when you’re humming.

Hard to believe they all shuffled off this mortal coil in 2010, but for pure spirit and spunk, I’ve reserved a special place for Doris Travis, the last living Ziegfeld Girl, who lived to 106. Two weeks before she died, she appeared one last time on a New York stage as part of the annual Easter Bonnet Competition to benefit BroadwayCares/Equity Fights AIDS. She did a few kicks, then apologized that she no longer performed cartwheels. It brought down the house. I miss her already--and the others, too. When Boris Karloff died, he said “I’ll be back.” In my dreams, so will they all.

# # #

Others, though not all~~~

January 02, 2011
By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times:

Denis Dutton, a scholar, author and Internet trailblazer who founded Arts & Letters Daily, a pithy website that links thousands of devoted followers around the world to smart, provocative writing online about books, culture and ideas, died Tuesday in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he taught philosophy at Canterbury University. He was 66.

The cause was complications of prostate cancer, said his brother, Doug, of the famous Dutton's Books family, which ran independent bookstores in Los Angeles for five decades.


Actor Pete Postlethwaite dies

Oscar nominee dies peacefully in hospital at age of 64 after long struggle with cancer

Matthew Weaver and agencies, Monday 3 January 2011 11.25 GMT

The actor Pete Postlethwaite (OBE) has died at the age of 64. Friends said he passed away peacefully in hospital in Shropshire yesterday having suffered from cancer for some time.

Postlethwaite was once described by the film director Steven Spielberg as "probably the best actor in the world today".

He worked with Spielberg on two films in 1997 – the fantasy adventure film The Lost World: Jurrassic Park, and Amistad, about a slave mutiny on a ship.

The craggy-featured actor received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Guiseppe Conlon in the 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, about the wrongful convictions of the Guildford Four.

His notable films included the 1996 film Brassed Off, in which he played the leader of colliery band in a Yorkshire community devastated by mine closures. The film was a favourite of the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, and became the inspiration for a coalfield regeneration programme.

Postlethwaite also played the menacing criminal mastermind Kobayashi in the 1995 hit film The Usual Suspects.

In recent years Postlethwaite became known as much for his political activism as his acting. He was the front man in the climate change film The Age of Stupid, arriving at the 2009 London premiere on a bicycle.

After the film's release he threatened to hand back the OBE he was awarded in 2004 in protest at the government's controversial decision to give the go-ahead for Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent.

He also adapted his home to become environmentally responsible, installing a wind turbine and other features.

In 2003 he marched against the war in Iraq and was a vocal supporter of the Make Poverty History campaign.

Born in Warrington, Postlethwaite had originally planned to be a priest. He became a teacher but eventually took to the stage, beginning his career at the Everyman theatre in Liverpool. In 2008 he returned to the Everyman to play the lead in King Lear, a role he had always wanted to play. The performance was one of the highlights of Liverpool's year as the European Capital of Culture.

He is survived by his wife, Jacqui, his son, Will, and daughter, Lily.


Anne Francis dies at 80; costarred in the 1950s science-fiction classic 'Forbidden Planet'

A shapely blond with a beauty mark next to her lower lip, the New York native also played the title role in 'Honey West,' the mid-1960s TV series about a sexy female private detective with a pet ocelot.

By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times January 3, 2011

Anne Francis, who costarred in the 1950s science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and later played the title role in "Honey West," the mid-1960s TV series about a sexy female private detective with a pet ocelot, died Sunday. She was 80.

Francis, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy, died of complications of pancreatic cancer at a retirement home in Santa Barbara, said Jane Uemura, her daughter. Friends and family members were with her, said a family spokeswoman, Melissa Fitch.

A shapely blond with a signature beauty mark next to her lower lip, Francis was a former child model and radio actress when she first came to notice on the big screen in the early 1950s.

She had leading or supporting roles in more than 30 movies, including "Bad Day at Black Rock," "Battle Cry," "Blackboard Jungle," "The Hired Gun," "Don't Go Near the Water," "Brainstorm," "Funny Girl" and "Hook, Line and Sinker."'

She also achieved cult status as one of the stars of "Forbidden Planet," the 1956 MGM movie costarring Walter Pidgeon and Leslie Nielsen and featuring a helpful robot named Robby.

Francis, however, never became a major movie star and was more frequently seen on television as a guest star on scores of series from the late '50s and decades beyond, including an episode of "The Twilight Zone" in which she played a department store mannequin who comes to life at night.

But it's as the star of "Honey West," the first female detective to be featured in a weekly TV series, that Francis may be best remembered.

Based on the title character in G.G. Fickling's series of Honey West paperback mysteries launched in 1957, Francis' Honey West was introduced to TV viewers in an episode of "Burke's Law" in the spring of 1965.

The episode served as the pilot for the half-hour "Honey West" series, which was executive produced by Aaron Spelling and made its debut in the fall of 1965.

In it, West, who inherited a Los Angeles detective agency from her late father, had a partner named Sam Bolt (played by John Ericson), shared an apartment with her Aunt Meg ( Irene Hervey) and owned a manhating pet ocelot named Bruce Biteabit.

In what Francis later described as "a tongue-in-cheek, female James Bond," her karate-chopping private eye drove a custom-built Cobra convertible sports car and, when necessary, worked out of a specially equipped mobile surveillance van that masqueraded as a TV service vehicle.

Among her Bond-style gimmicks: a lipstick radio transmitter, a fake martini olive on a toothpick for bugging conversations, earrings that exploded with tear gas when they were thrown to the floor and a black garter with pink lace that doubled as a gas mask.

As the glamorous and sexy Honey, Francis was outfitted in an eye-catching wardrobe that included a black snakeskin trench coat, a white beaded gown trimmed in sable and a tiger- skin bathing suit with matching cape.

In a television era of Donna Reed and Harriet Nelson housewives, the independent, take-charge Honey West has been described as being a role model for young baby-boomer women.

"She was probably the forerunner of what we would call the good aspects of female independence," Francis told the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal in 1997.

"Producers and writers I work with, young women in their 30s and 40s, tell me all the time, 'You have no idea what an influence you had on me with Honey West. You showed that I could do something unusual with my life, that I could have my freedom and not be dependent on another human being for my livelihood.'"

Francis won a Golden Globe as best female TV star and received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal oHoney West.

The series received good ratings, but ABC canceled it in 1966 after 30 episodes. "They were able to buy 'The Avengers' [spy drama] from England for less than it cost to produce our show," Francis later said.

She was born Sept. 16, 1930, in Ossining, N.Y. At the age of 7, after her family moved to New York City, she was signed by the John Robert Powers modeling agency.

Her career as a child model led to acting roles on the children's radio shows "Let's Pretend" and "Coast-to-Coast on a Bus," and she then moved on to radio soap operas. In 1941, she also appeared on Broadway, playing Gertrude Lawrence as a child in "Lady in the Dark."

Francis arrived in Hollywood for the first time in 1946 and was signed to a contract with MGM. But after a year of "grooming" at the studio, during which she had a small part in the Mickey Rooney musical "Summer Holiday," the teenage Francis returned to New York, where she began appearing in live TV productions.

After playing a teenage prostitute with a baby in a girl's reform school in "So Young, So Bad," a 1950 moviedrama shot in New York, Francis was signed to a contract at 20th Century Fox. After three years at Fox, she was signed again at MGM and by the late '50s was freelancing.

While at MGM, she co-starred in "Forbidden Planet," a big-budget, box-office hit that received an Oscar nomination for special effects.

Francis played Altaira, the alluring daughter of the scientist character played by Pidgeon: the two sole-surviving human inhabitants of the mysterious, technologically advanced planet.

"I got that part because I was under contract to MGM and I had good legs," Francis, who wore futuristically abbreviated costumes, said in a 1992 interview for Starlog magazine.

At the time, she recalled, "I don't think that any of us really were aware of the fact that it was going to turn into a longtime cult film, probably much, much stronger today than it was then. … 'Forbidden Planet' just had a life of its own, something that none of us was aware was going to happen."

Francis, who wrote the 1982 memoir "Voices From Home: An Inner Journey," continued to appear on television throughout the '90s.

In addition to Uemura, the twice-divorced Francis is survived by another daughter, Maggie, and a grandson, Fitch said.

Anne Francis official site

<< 2010s deaths        (Category) 2011 deaths

For more recent deaths, see Deaths in 2011. For earlier deaths, see Deaths in 2009, Deaths in 2008, Deaths in 2007, Deaths in 2006, Deaths in 2005, Deaths in 2004, Deaths in 2003, Deaths in 2002, Deaths in 2001, Deaths in 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, ...

Who's Alive and Who's Dead:

ZSA ZSA:  The ultimate in bouffant mitteleuropean glamor hiding the strength of the Budweiser Clydesdales - however, going in today for a leg amputation against a massive blood clot, at age 93 and after recent 'near-death experiences'.  May it be for her as she wishes, in all mercy.

JAMES GRADY'S Our Year of Zombie Politics

A SUPER article:


Wait: Even in politics, 2010 was the year of zombies?

Sure, the hot new wonky tome "Zombie Economics" tells how "dead" economic theories walk among us to shape our paychecks, and sure, zombies lumber out of our TVs almost no matter what channel we click to, and sure, my fellow fantasy prose-slingers are flinging new novels about the undead at the dust of Stephen King and George Romero, but zombies as a metaphor for 2010's politics?

Come on!

What happened to vampires?

Vampires are a great political metaphor! Bloodsuckers. Say no more.

But zombies? Who are they in America's 2010 politics?

Not President Obama, who rode into the post-election zombie -- I mean, "lame duck" -- Congress with hordes of RIPS (Ratified Important Political Speakers) proclaiming his shellacking, only to have him then ride out for Hawaii with a couple new notches carved on his gun and a gotchya grin.

Not Sarah Palin, by golly, who's still gotchya wonderin' what the heck kind of creature she is as her cash registers ring and her poll numbers exist.

Not members of Congress who -- except for a few survivors -- either got re-elected in An Election That Meant Something Profound or lost that job only to be miraculously reborn as escorts servicing our corridors of power for whoever has the right kind of dollars.

So if 2010's politics are about zombies, then who must they be?

Are "they" -- us?

You can see where that scary idea comes from: We're all slouching through this gray December with our hands thrust into our pockets, headed over the horizon called 2011, shuffling past 2010's stack of days. Or daze.

We walked through Wall Street's rubble and what's been made afterward with wheelbarrows full of taxpayers dollars and the assurance that we had no other choice, the promise that things will get better, that the bulls & bears "on the street" and in the banks will play nice, will play fair, won't savage us -- again.

We walked the shoreline of our Gulf slick with blood and oil, where the promise had been that that would never happen, or now won't happen again, or is what we must do to fuel our high-octane lives. We walked past a caved-in coal mine in West Virginia where the cost of 29 dead contains a promise of that's just the way it's always been, walked past new armies of giant Don Quixote windmills on our Great Plains that spin promises of clean energy for America with the cash profits spun mostly to foreign companies.

We walked through our local grocery stores where clerks frantically pulled half a billion eggs off the shelves in a salmonella outbreak that was but one of 2010's dangerous food incidents, which killed some of us and catalyzed a compromise victory in the 20-year big-bucks political fight in Congress to overhaul food safety standards set in 1938.

And walked past the Politics Daily report revealing the politics behind our government list of toxins, which nonetheless are allowed seemingly wherever we are and whatever we're doing, toxins that are likely to contribute to learning disabilities such as autism.

We walked alongside shouting hordes of our fellow citizens from every partisan group, watched some self-labeled champions of ordinary real Americans become in a blink bankrolled by billionaires. We watched both parties become cannibals -- not quite like zombies, but . . .

But by our own choice we walked past our old politics -- when a senator would not be re-elected after embracing prostitution and a financial-scandal-tainted congressman would join such a colleague in disgrace instead of returning triumphant to D.C. Yes, back to our center of democracy, where, as The Washington Post revealed the day after Christmas, 35 congressmen and senators on a committee writing rules this past June for the financial industry "in the wake of its 2008 meltdown," collected "$440,000 in donations from that same industry, which was then lobbying heavily for looser rules."

And as we walked past that, we heard all the players use a needle they called bipartisanship to tattoo new battle lines on the flesh of our politics.

Sadly, some of our soldiers who walked the sand of Afghanistan and Iraq left their lives in those boot prints, even though, as Politics Daily's David Wood reported, "Nine years since U.S. forces struck into Afghanistan to destroy the 9/11 terrorists, almost all of the war's objectives remain unreached," and in Iraq, the data and the dead keep piling up.

Meanwhile, wiser heads than ours are proclaiming the worst of these economic times are over, but most of us are walking down streets where signs read FORECLOSURE. Many of us feel like just continuing to walk might be the best we can do right now.

All those punched-out promises we walk past.

No wonder the new album from my generation's Great American Author, Bruce Springsteen, is "The Promise": "And when the promise was broken, I cashed in a few of my dreams."

Been there, done that, adios 2010.

That year, we walked past the news of who died, whether it was someone we knew since second grade but they didn't merit even a single line of an obituary on some newspaper page blowing down the street, or whether they were some headline star of whom we could say, "Hey, I know who that is!" People like Lena Horne, Tony Curtis, Lynn Redgrave, J.D. Salinger, Lucille Clifton, Alex Chilton, or Dennis Hopper, the madman of movies that most American baby boomers define themselves against, from "Rebel Without a Cause" to "Giant" to "Easy Rider" to "Apocalypse Now" to "Hoosiers" to (gulp) "Blue Velvet."

And still we walked on through 2010.

But in 2011 we'll walk on -- with open eyes and scared hearts, because we are not zombies.

We refuse to be just the undead that some in politics wish we were. We refuse. We are the alive.

We're not a slouching horde. We may not agree on why or how we're doing, but what we all want is a better life. If we look around and really see this movie we're in, we'll know we're all in it together, and wherever we're going, we're the ones who've gotta get us there. And we know on that scrap of a newspaper blowing down a nowhere street, what's written on the other side of the obituaries page are the birth notices of children named Maria and grandchildren named Desmond.

We are not zombies. We're human beings. Walking toward our brave tomorrow. Not for nothing, we're Americans. We were born to promise.

Promises still light our eyes. Because we know some promises are kept. We know that our hands create politics' promises. And we know there is nothing more wondrously powerful than our own promise to be true.