Monthly Archives: October 2010

SKYWATCH: SKYWEEK iPHONE APP, HOW DARK ARE YOUR SKIES, AND MORE

Sky & Telescope's SkyWeek app

Bulletin at a Glance

News
Observing
This Week’s Sky at a
Glance
Community

S&T Introduces SkyWeek App

October
25, 2010 | Sky & Telescope is proud to
present its first application for mobile devices. > read more

How Many
Earths?

October 28, 2010 | A team of planet-hunting astronomers
argue, based on discovery statistics, that Earth-mass worlds should be orbiting
a quarter of stars like the Sun. > read more

Observing

Great World Wide Star Count
Windows
to the Universe / UCAR

How Dark
Are Your Skies?

October 28, 2010 | Take part in this
year’s Great World Wide Star Count, and you’ll be joining thousands of other
“citizen scientists” in raising dark-sky awareness around the globe. > read more

Encounters
with Comet Hartley 2

October 28, 2010 | Comet Hartley 2 comes
back into moonless view around the morning of November 1st — in time for the
spacecraft encounter on November 4th! > read more

Tour
November’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

October 29, 2010 | The
change back to standard time brings earlier nightfall — and a chance to spot
mighty Jupiter dominating the November evening sky. Host: S&T’s Kelly
Beatty. (5MB MP3 download: running time: 5m 33s) > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Dawn view, looking east

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

October 29, 2010
| Jupiter shines high all evening.
Mira remains (so far) at an unusually bright maximum. And keep an eye out for
Taurid and Hartley-id meteors! > read more

Community

Sky brightness by date, New Lebanon, NY

Has Your
Observing Site Gotten Brighter?

October 23, 2010 | Measurements
with a Sky Quality Meter indicate that none of the author’s observing sites has
gotten significantly brighter over the last 5 years. > read more

Guest
Blog: In Defence of GPS

October 26, 2010 | A reader expounds the
virtues of electronic navigation — for automobiles and telescopes. > read more

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HATEWATCH: NEW KKK WIZARD PROMISES SECOND RALLY

Just in time for Halloween.

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NEW KKK WIZARD PROMISES SECOND RALLY

by Kyle Martin and Tracy McManus, Staff Writers

Sunday, October 24, 2010

As of midnight, the Ku Klux Klan in the Southeast was Duwayne Johnson’s Klan and he planned to introduce it with a spectacle.

The Ku Klux Klan burns a cross during a ceremony in Warrenville, S.C. Saturday night.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff

Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
The Ku Klux Klan burns a cross during a ceremony in Warrenville, S.C. Saturday night.

The KKK sets a cross on fire to initiate Duwayne Johnson as their new imperial wizard and induct new members  Michael Holahan/Staff

Michael Holahan/Staff
The KKK sets a cross on fire to initiate Duwayne Johnson as their new imperial wizard and induct new members

The cross-burning was part of the ceremony to induct a new leader and new members into the group.

The cross-burning was part of the ceremony to induct a new leader and new members into the group.

Duwayne Johnson, who is now the leader of the group, said it was the first KKK crossing made open to the public in 50 years.

Duwayne Johnson, who is now the leader of the group, said it was the first KKK crossing made open to the public in 50 years.

The group had earlier protested at Augusta State University in support of a student who is suing the university claiming she is being discriminated against because she is a Christian.

The group had earlier protested at Augusta State University in support of a student who is suing the university claiming she is being discriminated against because she is a Christian.

For the ceremonial cross burning, Klansmen wrap the 16-foot wooden cross with burlap, then leave it to soak in kerosene.   Michael Holahan/Staff

Michael Holahan/Staff
For the ceremonial cross burning, Klansmen wrap the 16-foot wooden cross with burlap, then leave it to soak in kerosene.

A Klansman nails a piece of burlap to a cross in preparation for a cross burning.  Michael Holahan/Staff

Michael Holahan/Staff
A Klansman nails a piece of burlap to a cross in preparation for a cross burning.

A Klansman pours kerosene on a cross to prepare it for burning Saturday.  Michael Holahan/Staff

Michael Holahan/Staff
A Klansman pours kerosene on a cross to prepare it for burning Saturday.

A Klansman douses a burning cross with water following a KKK cross burning ceremony.

A Klansman douses a burning cross with water following a KKK cross burning ceremony.

A Klansman douses a burning cross with water following a KKK cross burning ceremony.

A Klansman douses a burning cross with water following a KKK cross burning ceremony.

For his initiation as the imperial wizard of the All American Invisible Knights and the admittance of three new members to that group, Johnson set a cross ablaze in a ceremonial cross lighting for the public at a house in Warrenville, S.C. He said it was the first KKK cross lighting made open to public in 50 years.

It was five hours after the KKK group rallied in front of Augusta State University in protest of the school’s treatment of a graduate student.

At the cross lighting, which began at dusk, Johnson said his group would soon have a larger presence in Augusta. The group is planning another rally after 300 counter-protesters accused them of hatred and racism at ASU Saturday.

“We’re coming back to Augusta because of the disrespect given today,” Johnson said. “(Protesters) never gave us a chance to say what we had to say.”

Johnson said he ended the rally in front of ASU early because “people there tried to make it about hate, but it was about constitutional rights.”

The KKK members prepared a 16-foot cross by wrapping it in cotton sheets and burlap pieces. They doused it in kerosene and let it soak while the members changed into traditional robes.

Johnson insisted that their rituals did not represent the hatred and intimidation that cross lightings are historically known for.

He said while other Klans represent racism and white supremacy, his Invisible Knights are a new era of Klansmen who stand for heritage.

Their message calls for the protection of American values and promoting political ideals, such as keeping illegal immigrants from taking U.S. jobs.

“We understand when you hear Ku Klux Klan you think racism and hatred,” Johnson said. “We do not believe in hate. … This is strictly ritual.”

Johnson said there are at least 13 other Klan groups in the South that do not promote violence or hatred.

Across the street from the cross lighting, Tom Clay, 68, was appalled.

Clay knows the history of the Klan well because he spent his childhood attending rallies with his father, Al Dean Clay, a KKK grand dragon.

He recalls giant crosses being set ablaze during rallies at Stone Mountain, Ga. He also witnessed beatings and dog attacks in Alabama.

“It just turns your stomach,” he said about the violence.

As for his neighbor’s actions, Clay said he didn’t give it any weight.

“It’s just something to keep (things) going,” he said.

Johnson said that image of the KKK is what his group is putting behind them. His Invisible Knights, which he says has 922 members across nine states, has “a new era of thinking.”

The Klansmen walked circles around the blazing cross, repeating a chant of their leader in a black Klan hood.

After the flames burned through the cotton and burlap, a Klansmen sprayed the cross before the wood could burn through.

The group then headed inside the house to finish its initiation.

“What happens after this, we do not open to the public,” Johnson said.

SOURCE

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IN REMEMBRANCE: 10-31-2010

JAMES MACARTHUR, ‘DANNO’ CHARACTER OF ‘HAWAII FIVE-O’
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: October 29, 2010
James MacArthur, who played Danno, the boyish-looking but hard-driving sidekick on the long-running  television detective show “Hawaii Five-O,” died Thursday. He was 72.
October 29,
2010
United Press International
James MacArthur and his mother, Helen Hayes, on the set of “Hawaii-Five O” for a 1975 episode on which Hayes appeared.
Mr. MacArthur died in Florida of natural causes, his agent, Richard Lewis, told The Associated Press.
For 11 of the 12 years that “Hawaii Five-O” first ran on CBS, Mr. MacArthur, as Detective Danny Williams chased thieves, hit men, swindlers, spies and assorted loonies. His boss was Detective Steve McGarrett, played by Jack Lord, the straitlaced, tight-lipped head of a small, elite police team determined to keep the idyllic islands from turning into a modern Wild West.
When the bad guy was captured McGarrett would tell his partner, “Book him, Danno!,” which became the show’s popular catchphrase.
Most of the original show’s main actors are now dead. Mr. Lord died in 1998; Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho Kelly, died in 2002; and Gilbert Lani Kauhi (credited as Zulu), who played Kono Kalakaua, died in 2004.
The original “Hawaii Five-O” ran from 1968 to 1980, making it one of television’s longest-running crime shows. It was seen in more than 80  countries. Mr. MacArthur left in 1979, saying that he wanted to pursue other acting challenges.
Last month, a new version of “Hawaii Five-O” made its debut on CBS.
If acting was not in Mr. MacArthur’s blood, it was certainly in his upbringing.
James Gordon MacArthur was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 1937. When he was seven months old he was adopted by the celebrated actress Helen Hayes and her husband, Charles MacArthur, the playwright best known as the co-author, with Ben Hecht, of “The Front Page.”
“They did teach me a lot about the theater just through my life with them,” Mr. MacArthur said of his parents in a 1957 interview in Teen Life magazine. Starting as a teenager in summer stock productions, he would go on to a career onstage, in more than a dozen movies and on many television shows.
Mr. MacArthur considered the real start of his acting career the 1955  television production of John Frankenheimer’s “Deal a Blow,” in which  he played a misunderstood teenager on the verge of manhood in trouble with his parents and the law. It was remade in 1957 for the big screen as  “The Young Stranger,” with Mr. MacArthur reprising the role.
Reviewing it for The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote that Mr. MacArthur was “clean-cut and energetic,” bringing “a refreshing ingenuousness and candor to the role.”
Before “Hawaii Five-O,” Mr. MacArthur acted in several Disney adventures, including “Kidnapped” and “Swiss Family Robinson.” He had a small but significant role in the taut 1965 cold war thriller “The Bedford Incident.” In the rambunctious 1967 film “The Love-Ins,” Mr. MacArthur’s character hung out in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco and smoked banana peels.
Besides “Hawaii Five-O,” Mr. MacArthur acted in many TV shows, including “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “The Love Boat” and “The Untouchables.” But it was his appearance in the 1968 movie “Hang ’Em High,” a low-budget spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood, that prompted Leonard Freeman, the creator of “Hawaii Five-O,” to cast him.
One of his favorite “Hawaii Five-O” episodes, Mr. MacArthur said, was “Retire in Sunny Hawaii Forever” (1975), because it was one of the rare times that he worked with his mother. Miss Hayes played Danno’s Aunt Clara, who visits Hawaii and helps the detectives solve a murder.
Mr. MacArthur is survived by his wife of more than 25 years, Helen Beth Duntz, four children and seven grandchildren. His first two marriages — to the actress Joyce Bulifant, from 1958 to 1967, and to the actress Melody Patterson, from 1970 to 1975 —  ended in divorce.
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GEORGE CAIN, WRITER OF ‘BLUESCHILD BABY’
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Published: October 29, 2010
George Cain,  a writer whose 1970 novel “Blueschild Baby” was greeted as an important exploration of the black urban experience in the United States but who abruptly disappeared from the literary scene as drugs took over his life, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 66.
October 29,
2010
Black World/Negro Digest
George Cain in 1975.
The cause was complications of dialysis he was receiving for kidney disease, his son, Malik, said.
Written in a stream-of-consciousness style, in a poetic vernacular that draws heavily on street language, Mr. Cain’s autobiographical novel — the hero’s name is George Cain — describes a fevered journey through drug addiction and self-hatred to drug-free redemption. In the process, the hero comes to terms with his identity as a black man in the United States.
In form, the novel echoes classic slave narratives of imprisonment and escape, and their later evolution in memoirs like Claude Brown’s “Manchild in the Promised Land” and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
In The New York Times Book Review, the scholar of black American literature Addison Gayle Jr. called it “the most important work of fiction by an Afro-American since ‘Native Son,’ ” and if other critics took a more measured view, most still regarded it as a promising first outing by a young writer with a compelling voice.
There was no second novel. Instead, Mr. Cain struggled for the rest of his life with a dependence on drugs, primarily heroin, a future foreshadowed in his novel. “We stop at a stand selling all sort of African jewelry and I spot this necklace with a monkey’s head,” the narrator says. “Just like the monkey that haunts me. I buy it and throw it on. He hangs it round my neck and the hunger shall always be a threat.” George Maurice Hopkins was born in Manhattan on Oct. 27, 1943, and grew up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. His father, an employee with the Department of Labor, ascended the civil service ladder and reached the position of assistant regional manager, a job that allowed him to move the family to a middle-class neighborhood in Teaneck, N.J., soon after George graduated from high school.
A precocious student, George went to public schools but after graduating from junior high school earned a scholarship to the McBurney School, a private academy run by the Y.M.C.A. of Greater New York. He attended Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., on a basketball scholarship but left in his junior year to travel to Texas, California and Mexico. In Mexico he spent six months in jail for marijuana possession.
The narrator of “Blueschild Baby” attends a white prep school, where he takes drugs for the first time. After his beloved grandmother dies in a fire at the family’s apartment building, he experiences a crisis.
Unable to bear the burden of expectations imposed by his family and the residents of his Harlem housing project, he turns his back on the bourgeois white world and plunges into the drug underworld, joining, as he puts it, “the dead.”
“George was confused as to which side of his identity he wanted to embrace,” his former wife, Jo Lynne Pool, said. “Did he want to be street or middle class? His parents wanted him to be upwardly mobile, but he still had a lot of friends from the street, and they were going down.”
On returning to the United States in 1966, he settled in Brooklyn and began writing “Blueschild Baby,” adopting the pen name Africa Cain. The surname reflected his fascination, as one of a pair of identical twins, with the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The first name, which he later dropped in favor of George, hinted at a continuing search for identity that led him, at various times, to make common cause with the Black Panthers and to convert,  briefly, to Sunni Islam.
This search underlay some of his novel’s most impassioned pages. “Everybody but me had a piece of George Cain,” his alter ego thinks as he is cheered on by the crowd at a basketball game. “Was no longer me; but a composite of all their needs and hopes.”
The book’s success opened up bright prospects for Mr. Cain. On his book tour he met literary celebrities like James Baldwin. Staten Island Community College hired him as a lecturer. He began a second novel, a sequel to “Blueschild Baby.”
Drugs dashed these hopes, and his life unraveled during the 1970s. His wife left, taking their children with her, and the marriage ended in divorce. He lost his job and lived a marginal existence in Brooklyn and, for many years, in Harlem. He produced no more literary work. In 1987, the Ecco Press reissued “Blueschild Baby” in paperback.
In addition to his son, Malik, of Washington, Mr. Cain is survived by two daughters, Nataya Carter of Houston and Sabrina Giral of Manhattan; two brothers, Edmund and Keith, both of Manhattan; a sister, Arlann Walker of Teaneck, N.J.; and five grandchildren.
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GREGORY ISAACS, REGGAE SINGER AND SONGWRITER
By ROB KENNER
Published: October 25, 2010

Gregory Isaacs, reggae’s “Cool Ruler,” whose aching vocals and poignant lyrics about love and loss and ghetto life endeared him to fans of Caribbean music, died on Monday at his home in London. He was 60.

October 26,
2010
David Corio
Gregory Isaacs in 1982.
The cause was lung cancer, said his wife, June Isaacs, who lives in Kingston, Jamaica.
Cat Coore, the guitarist and cellist for the seminal reggae band Third World, has called Mr. Isaacs “the Frank Sinatra of Jamaica” for his elegant vocal phrasing. But as the singer’s friend and former manager Don Hewitt observed, “It goes further than that, because Sinatra was not a songwriter.”
Mr. Isaacs’s nuanced compositions eschewed sentimental cliché and boastful machismo in favor of a sensitive, even vulnerable point of view. But on songs like “Slave Master” and “Hand Cuff,” he revealed a more militant side.
“Gregory used to sit and go through his lyrics with a dictionary,” his wife, a secondary-school teacher, said in a telephone interview. “He was very clean with his lyrical content and his grammar.”
Born on July 15, 1950, in the rough Kingston neighborhood Denham Town, Mr. Isaacs picked up the nickname Jah Tooth after a policeman broke one of his teeth. Inspired by the American soul singer Sam Cooke, he got his start on a local radio talent show, “The Vere Johns Opportunity Hour.” He was briefly a member of the vocal trio the Concordes before making his name with the solo single “All I Have Is Love” in 1973. Although he established his own Jamaican label and record shop, African Museum, with his fellow reggae singer Errol Dunkley, Mr. Isaacs was later signed to the British labels Virgin and Island.
While true mainstream success eluded him, few recording artists in any genre could rival his prolific output. He recorded hundreds of albums’ worth of original material, starting in the ’70s and concluding in 2008 with his final CD, “Brand New Me.”
Mr. Hewitt said of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones that when he was introduced to Mr. Isaacs, “he carried on like he’d met Jesus.”
Mr. Isaacs was best known for his 1982 release “Night Nurse,” on which he was backed by the renowned band Roots Radics, which he organized in the 1970s. His 1988 album “Red Rose for Gregory” proved that he was equally at home singing over the hard-edged digital rhythms of reggae’s dancehall era.
He was also renowned for his fashion sense; he performed in the 1978 film “Rockers” wearing a powder-blue tuxedo and black fedora. “He was always dapper,” Mrs. Isaacs said. “Very proud, very tidy, very laconic, a man of few words.”
But he could be an aggressive businessman, she added. “He always stood up for what he deserved in whichever way he could,” she said. “When it came to what was due to him, he had to get that. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”
When he and his wife were arrested for illegal possession of a firearm in 1983, she said, “he took the rap so I could go free” and served time in Kingston’s General Penitentiary. He was also arrested repeatedly for possession of cocaine and struggled with addiction for many years.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, Enid Murray; a brother, Sylvester; 12 children; and a grandson.
In a 2001 interview, Mr. Isaacs reflected on his legacy. “Look at me as a man who performed works musically,” he said. “Who uplift people who need upliftment, mentally, physically, economically — all forms. Who told the people to live with love ’cause only love can conquer war, and to understand themselves so that they can understand others.”
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ROY SKINNER, WHO RECRUITED FIRST BLACK BASKETBALL PLAYER IN SEC
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: October 30, 2010
Roy Skinner, the Vanderbilt University coach who recruited the first black athlete to play varsity basketball in the Southeastern Conference and who  led the Commodores to more victories than any other coach, died Monday in Nashville. He was 80.
October 31,
2010
Vanderbilt University
Roy Skinner, right, coached at Vanderbilt for 20 years.
The cause was respiratory failure, Mr. Skinner’s daughter Chris said.
When Vanderbilt’s chancellor, Alexander Heard, encouraged Mr. Skinner to recruit black players in the mid-1960s, Mr. Skinner  immediately began to search for suitable players and eventually recruited Perry Wallace, a high school star in Nashville.
“I don’t think Skinner was looking to make history, but he was aware of it,” said Andrew Maraniss, a Vanderbilt alumnus who is writing a biography of Mr.  Wallace. “I think the most important thing to Skinner would be that Wallace was a great player, and also a great student, a valedictorian.”
Mr. Wallace, 63, said that although Mr. Skinner rarely if ever addressed the racial hostility Mr. Wallace faced, he was a calming influence during difficult times.
“The test is not, did he stand up to hostile crowds?” Mr. Wallace said. “His basic manner and his approach and the fact that he was sincere in trying to help me was most important to me.”
Mr. Skinner later said that recruiting black athletes from the North was difficult because black students “were skeptical going to the South.” He also said that he received petitions from alumni against recruiting blacks.
“I only took that with a grain of salt,” he said in a 2007 article on the Vanderbilt Commodores’ Web site.  “There wasn’t anything they could do about that.”
Roy Gene Skinner was born in Paducah, Ky., on Apr. 17, 1930. He graduated from Presbyterian College in South Carolina in 1952, and he played point guard throughout his high school and college years.
Mr. Skinner took his first job coaching basketball for Paducah Junior College in 1955. In 1957, he became an assistant coach at Vanderbilt, and in 1958 he became the acting head coach. He became the head coach in 1960 and held the position until 1977.
He won 278 games during his career and was named the SEC’s coach of the year four times.
Mr. Skinner is survived by his second wife, Nathleene Skinner; five children from his first marriage, Kim  Skinner and Chris Skinner, both of Dothan, Ala., Joe  Skinner of Greenville, S.C., Tapp  Skinner of Greer, S.C., and Dea  Skinner Johnson of Anderson, S.C.; and eight grandchildren.
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THEODORE C. SORENSON, KENNEDY COUSELOR
George Tames/The New York Times
Theodore C. Sorensen with President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office in 1961. More Photos »
By TIM WEINER
Published: October 31, 2010
Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.
He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath “he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people,” she added.
Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read: “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.
“You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time,” President Kennedy’s archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had “a rare gift”: the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.
He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech.
First hired as a researcher by Mr. Kennedy, a newly elected senator from Massachusetts who took office in 1953, Mr. Sorensen collaborated closely — more closely than most knew — on “Profiles in Courage,” the 1956 book that won Mr. Kennedy a Pulitzer Prize and a national audience.
After the president’s assassination, Mr. Sorensen practiced law and politics. But in the public mind his name was forever joined to the man he had served; his first task after leaving the White House was to recount the abridged administration’s story in a 783-page best-seller simply titled “Kennedy.”
He held the title of special counsel, but Washington reporters of the era labeled him the president’s “intellectual alter ago” and “a lobe of Kennedy’s mind.” Mr. Sorensen called these exaggerations, but they were rooted in some truth.
President Kennedy had plenty of yes-men. He needed a no-man from time to time. The president trusted Mr. Sorensen to play that role in crises foreign and domestic, and he played it well, in the judgment of Robert F. Kennedy, his brother’s attorney general. “If it was difficult,” Robert Kennedy said, “Ted Sorensen was brought in.”
Mr. Sorensen was proudest of a work written in haste, under crushing pressure. In October 1962, when he was 34 years old, he drafted a letter from President Kennedy to the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, which helped end the Cuban missile crisis. After the Kennedy administration’s failed coup against Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs, the Soviets had sent nuclear weapons to Cuba. They were capable of striking most American cities, including New York and Washington.
“Time was short,” Mr. Sorensen remembered in his interview with The Times, videotaped to accompany this obituary. “The hawks were rising. Kennedy could keep control of his own government, but one never knew whether the advocates of bombing and invasion might somehow gain the upper hand.”
Mr. Sorensen said, “I knew that any mistakes in my letter — anything that angered or soured Khrushchev — could result in the end of America, maybe the end of the world.”
The letter pressed for a peaceful solution. The Soviets withdrew the missiles. The world went on.
Theodore Chaikin Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Neb., on May 8, 1928 — Harry S. Truman’s 44th birthday, as he was fond of noting. He described himself as a distinct minority: “a Danish Russian Jewish Unitarian.” He was the son of Christian A. Sorensen, a lawyer, and Annis Chaikin, a social worker, pacifist and feminist. His father, a Republican who had named him after Teddy Roosevelt, ran for public office for the first time that year; he served as Nebraska’s attorney general from 1929 to 1933.
Lincoln, the state capital, was named for the 16th president. Near the statehouse stood a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a slab with the full text of the Gettysburg Address. As a child, Mr. Sorensen read it over and over. The Capitol itself held engraved quotations; one he remembered was “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
He earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Nebraska and, on July 1, 1951, at the age of 23, he left Lincoln to seek his fortune in Washington. He knew no one. He had no appointments, phone numbers or contacts. Except for a hitchhiking trip to Texas, he had never left the Midwest. He had never had a cup of coffee or written a check.
Eighteen months later, after short stints as a junior government lawyer, he was hired by John F. Kennedy, the new Democratic senator from Massachusetts. Mr. Kennedy was “young, good-looking, glamorous, rich, a war hero, a Harvard graduate,” Mr. Sorensen recalled. The new hire was none of those, save young. They quickly found that they shared political ideals and values.
“When he first hired me,” Mr. Sorensen recalled, Mr. Kennedy said: “ ‘I want you to put together a legislative program for the economic revival of New England.’ ” Mr. Kennedy’s first three speeches on the Senate floor — late in the evening, when nobody was around — presented the program Mr. Sorensen proposed.
Senator Kennedy made his mark with “Profiles in Courage,” published in January 1956. It was no great secret that Mr. Sorensen’s intellect was an integral part of the book. “I’ve tried to keep it a secret,” he said jokingly in his interview with The Times. But Mr. Sorensen drafted most of the chapters, and Mr. Kennedy paid him for his work. “I’m proud to say I played an important role,” Mr. Sorensen said.
He spent most of the next four years working to make his boss the president of the United States. “We traveled together to all 50 states,” Mr. Sorensen wrote in his book “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History,” a memoir published in 2008, “most of them more than once, initially just the two of us.” There was no entourage until Mr. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination in 1960. It was not clear at the outset that he could do that, much less capture the White House.
“It was only after we had crisscrossed the country and began to build support at the grass roots, largely unrecognized in Washington, where Kennedy was dismissed as being too young, too Catholic, too little known, too inexperienced,” Mr. Sorensen said in the interview.
In those travels, Mr. Sorensen found his own voice as well as Mr. Kennedy’s. “Everything evolved during those three-plus years that we were traveling the country together,” he said. “He became a much better speaker. I became much more equipped to write speeches for him. Day after day after day after day, he’s up there on the platform speaking, and I’m sitting in the audience listening, and I find out what works and what doesn’t, what fits his style.”
The Kennedy White House was never a Camelot: “Neither Kennedy nor any of us who worked with him were mythical characters who had magical powers,” he said, “and we obviously had our share of mistakes.” But Mr. Sorensen was not ashamed to say he worshipped President Kennedy. He was devastated by his assassination in November 1963.
“It was a feeling of hopelessness,” he said, “of anger, of bitterness. That there was nothing we could do. There was nothing I could do.”
For more than 40 years after he left the White House, Mr. Sorensen practiced law, mostly as a senior partner at the New York firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He counseled leaders including Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Anwar Sadat of Egypt.
His life went on, in public and private; he was writing and making speeches well past his 80th birthday. But it was never the same.
In 1970, two years after Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated on the presidential campaign trail, Mr. Sorensen ran for the Senate seat that Robert Kennedy had held in New York. The run was a mistake, he conceded. “I simply thought that if I were to carry on the Kennedy legacy, if I were to perpetuate the ideals of John Kennedy, as Robert Kennedy tried to do, that I would need to be in public office,” he said. “Frankly, it was an act of hubris on my part.”
In December 1976, out of the blue, President-elect Jimmy Carter offered Mr. Sorensen the post of director of central intelligence. “I had to make a very quick decision,” Mr. Sorensen remembered. “I did not know whether a lawyer and a moralist was suitable for a position that presides over all kinds of law-breaking and immoral activities. But I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be back in government at a position where I could help things in a sound and progressive way, and so I said, ‘Yes, I accept.’ ”
Opponents of the nomination pointed out a potential problem. More than 30 years before, after the end of World War II, Mr. Sorensen, not yet 18, had registered with his draft board as a conscientious objector to combat. President-elect Carter’s top aide, Hamilton Jordan, placed an angry call to Mr. Sorensen, asking why he had not mentioned this suddenly salient fact before accepting the nomination.
“I said, ‘I didn’t know that the C.I.A. director was supposed to kill anybody,’ ” Mr. Sorensen recalled. “He wasn’t too happy with that answer.”
The nomination was withdrawn. That ended Mr. Sorensen’s ambition to return to work in Washington.
Mr. Sorensen remained active in Democratic politics and took a particular liking to a freshman senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, when he arrived in Washington in 2005. When Mr. Obama began running for president two years later, Mr. Sorensen endorsed his candidacy and campaigned across the country, particularly to audiences who were opposed to the Iraq war.
“It reminds me of the way the young, previously unknown J. F. K. took off,” Mr. Sorensen said in an interview with The Times in 2007.
A year after Mr. Obama took office, Mr. Sorensen acknowledged frustration with his presidency, particularly the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan, a conflict that he called “Obama’s Vietnam.” But, Mr. Sorensen said, “The foreign policy problems are more difficult than they were in Kennedy’s day.”
“I still think it was amazing that a man with his skin color — and also he was a liberal Democrat, let’s face it — was elected,” Mr. Sorensen said in a 2009 interview in his Manhattan apartment, where a photograph of Mr. Obama joined a tableau of images from the Kennedy administration. “I haven’t the slightest doubt that there are a lot of white men who still find it difficult to accept the fact, the reality, that we have a black president in this country.”
President Obama said in a statement on Sunday, “I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier.”
Mr. Sorensen’s 1949 marriage to Camilla Palmer and his 1964 marriage to Sara Elbery ended in divorce. In 1969 he married Gillian Martin. She survives him, along with their daughter, Juliet Sorensen Jones; three sons from Mr. Sorensen’s first marriage, Eric, Stephen and Phil; a sister, Ruth Singer; brother, Phillip; and seven grandchildren.
Despite his stroke in 2001 and diminishing eyesight, Mr. Sorensen worked on and completed “Counselor,” his  memoir, over the next six years. “I still believe that the mildest and most obscure of Americans can be rescued from oblivion by good luck, sudden changes in fortune, sudden encounters with heroes,” he concluded. “I believe it because I lived it.”

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ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: OCTOBER 31

#1 Song 1964:  “Baby Love,” the Supremes

Born:  Ethel Waters, 1896; Illinois Jacquet, 1922; Julia Lee, 1902; Otis Williams (The Temptations), 1941; Bernard Edwards (Chic), 1952

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1953   Perhaps the perfect R&B vocaal group single ever issued, the Flamingos’ third 45, “Golden Teardrops” ($1,200) was released.

1959   Bo Diddley had his biggest pop hit when “Say Man” reached #20 (#3 R&B) today. Diddley (actually Otha Ellas Bates) was nicknamed after a one stringed African guitar called a “Bo Diddley.” He decided to be a bluesman afer hearing “Boogie Chillen” by John Lee Hooker.

1960   Gary “U.S.” Bonds charted with his debut 45, “New Orleans,” which went on to #5 R&B and #6 pop. Gary’s producer decided to change his name from Gary Anderson to “U.S.” Bonds because of the government’s successful and highly publicized campaign for people to “Buy U.S. Bonds.” Gary himself did not find out about the name change until he heard his recording on the radio. Why should anyone tell him? He was the only artist!

1960   The Blue Notes, a doo-wop group from Philadelphia, charted with “My Hero,” reaching #19 R&B and #78 pop. The group would go on to become Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass.

1964   Ray Charles was arrested by customs agents afer arriving at Logan Airport in Boston for a show at the Back Bay Theatre. He was charged with possession of narcotics after a hypodermic needle, a small amount of marijuana, heroin, and a spoon were found in his possession.

1992   Thirty years after it charted in America, Jon Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” peaked at #116 in Britain, his highest of four chart singles there. Patience must be a virtue:  he was seventy-five at the time.

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ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: OCTOBER 30

#1 R&B Song 1965: “Rescue Me,” Fontella Bass

Born: Eddie Holland, 1939

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1952 The “5” Royales recorded their biggest hit, “Baby, Don’t Do It” (#1 R&B, $400), and the legendary “Laundromat Blues” ($120).

1954 The Midnighters’ “Annie’s Aunt Fannie” (#10 R&B, $60) and the Rivileers’ “Eternal Love” ($120) were released. In addition, the Charms, with Otis Williams on lead (Not the Temptations’ Otis Williams), charted with “Hearts of Stone,” reaching #1 for an astounding nine weeks R&B while rising to #15 pop. It was a tremendous feat considering that the pasteurized pop version by the Fontane Sisters reached #1 pop.

1971 Michael Jackson charted with his solo hit, “Got To Be here,” reaching #4 on both the R&B and pop hit lists. Michael was influenced from childhood by the recordings of Jackie Wilson and James Brown. The single would be the first of forty-six pop hits for the King of Pop through 2001.

1971 “You Are Everything” by the Stylistics hit the R&B charts, rising to #110 (#9 pop). It was the third of twelve straight Top 10 R&B hits.

1994 Little Richard performed at Washington, DC’s Ford Theater at the Gala for the President with a beaming President Clinton looking on.

1998 The Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum in Sharon, PA, held its inaugural induction, hosted by legendary deejays Jack “The Rapper” Gibson, Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg (the first Black female deejay), and publisher/author Jay Warner. Among te fourteen groups enshrined were the Platters, the Drifters (with Clyde McPhatter), the Supremes, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Ravens, the Mills Brothers, the Golden Gate Quartet, and Sonny Til & the Orioles.

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ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: OCTOBER 29

#1 R&B Song 1983:  “All Night Long (All Night), Lionel Richie

Born:  Hadda Brooks, 1916; Eugene Daughtry (the Intruders), 1939; Randy Jackson, 1961

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1902   The Dinwiddie Colored Quartet recorded for the first time, consequently becoming the first Black voices on record. They sang a pop song and five spirituals for the Victor Talking Machine Company’s Monarch Records in Camden, NJ. Originally known as the Old South Quartet, they formed their group in 1898, and disbanded in 1904. The group consisted of Sterling C. Rex (tenor), J. Clarence Meredith (tenor), Harry B. Cruder (bass), James Mantell Thomas (bass).

1952   R&B group the Diamonds (Atlantic) recorded their initial four sides, including the exquisite debut disc “A Beggar For Your Kisses” ($1,500).

1955   The first R&B show held at Carnegie Hall in New York included Etta James & the Peaches, the Five Keys, Gene & Eunice, the Clovers, and Big Joe Turner.

1977   The disco group Chic charted for the first time with “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” on their way to #6 R&B and pop. The group, helmed by producers Bernard edwards and Nile Rodgers, were originally a ’60s rocck band called New World Rising and then a rock-fusion aggregation, the Bi Apple Band, before freaking out altogether as Allah & the Knife-Wielding Punks (no kidding!) for a short time. A return to sanity soon followed with the much more acceptable Chic.

1979   Michael Jackson’s album Off the Wall reached # 3 and would go on to sell more than 10 million copies around the world.

1983   Lionel Richie Day was proclaimed by he mayor of Lionel’s hometown, Tuskegee, AL.

1991   Interstate highway 55 in Jackson, MS, was renamed B.B. King Freeway.

1997   The O’Jays filed a copyright infringement suit for $1.5 million against rapper Master P for his use of their 1978 hit “Brandy” in his “I Miss My Homies.”

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ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: OCTOBER 28

#1 R&B Song 1972: “I’ll Be Around,” the Spinners

Born: Cleo Laine, 1927; Telma Hopkins, (Dawn), 1948

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1964 The Supremes performed in the T.A.M.I. (Teenage Music International) show, a stage extravaganza that included James Brown, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Lesley Gore,the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, and the Rolling Stones, among others. The performance at the Civic Auditorium in  Santa Monica, CA, was videotaped for British movie release and American TV broadcast.

1978 Chic’s “Le Freak” charted on its way to #1 R&B for six weeks and #1 pop for five weeks. The disco hit of the age would go on to be one of the best-selling singles of the ’70s.

1978 Turning everything she could her hands on into a disco recording, Donna Summer reached #5 in Britain with the 1968 Richard Harris epic, “MacArthur Park.” It would also make #1 pop and #8 R&B in the U.S.

1989 The Gap Band charted with “All My Love,” an eventual #1 R&B hit and the last of their four chart toppers, starting with “Burn Rubber” in 1980.

1993 George Benson and Patti Austin performed at London’s Wembley Arena, kicking off a five-date British tour.

1994 Seal performed as the opening act for the Rolling Stones at the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, CA.

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