Monthly Archives: August 2012


Romney’s Campaign Wedge: Taxpayers vs. Welfare Queens

Romney doesn’t have enough white support to win. But economic justice blogger Imara Jones says Romney knows exactly how to get it.

The Real Reason Big Brother’s Still Spying on New York City’s Muslims

A program that was meant to make New York City “safer” from would-be terrorists has proven to be an abysmal failure. Seth Freed Wessler reports. More on NYPD Spying at

Brooklyn’s Afro-Punk Festival Reveals Black Culture’s Dirty Little Secret

Urban politics and youth culture reporter Jamilah King visits the two-day festival to talk to black skaters, artists, hip-hop heads, and self-described nerds.

An Open Letter to Rep. Todd Akin From Women of Color Activists Rep. Akin, I and a few women of color activists have some information for you about the nature of rape and legitimacy. Since you draft laws that affect our bodies, we ask that you read every word.

Ohio’s Jon Husted, the New Bad Boy on the Voting Rights Block In a state already plagued by voting problems, the secretary of state is working hard to close, rather than open access to the polls.

Why We Need More Songs Like Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Bad B@#ch’ Lupe Fiasco’s sonic and visual exploration of the bad b@#ch phenomenon has sparked lots of critique. I’m too busy celebrating it to split ideological hairs.

Texas’ Voter ID Law Officially Blocked By Federal Court A federal court has ruled against a law in Texas that would require voters in that state to present photo identification before being allowed to cast a ballot in November.

Black CNN Camerawoman Says She’s ‘Not Surprised’ by Peanut-Throwing at RNCPatricia Carroll, the CNN camerawoman who was assaulted with peanuts at the Republican National Convention earlier this week says: “I hate that it happened, but I’m not surprised at all.”

Herman Cain: Romney’s Black Supporters Too Busy Working to Take Polls Cain was referencing a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that found Obama continues to lead among key parts of his political base, including blacks (94 percent to 0 percent.)

Humanae: A Portrait Series That Classifies Human Skin Tones as Pantone Colors [ART] Artist Angelica Dass’ ongoing portrait series “Humanae” classifies skin color using Pantones’ color scheme.

Undocumented Immigrants in New Orleans Fear Isaac and Deportation Since Katrina, the Latino population of New Orleans has risen from 15,000, or 3.3 percent of the pre-storm population, to 50,000, 15.2 percent of the current population.

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Quick Facts

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is annually observed on August 30.


International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

The United Nations (UN) observes the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30 each year.

Mothers at Bolivar Square in Bogota, Colombia, holding photos of their children, who are victims of enforced disappearance. ©

What do people do?

On August 30 each year, organizations such as the UN and Amnesty International play an active role in raising awareness that enforced disappearance is a crime and should not be used as a tool to deal with situations of conflict. Many activists openly share personal stories, via the media or public event, about victims of enforced disappearances and the impact that these disappearances have on their families and communities.

Public life

The International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is a UN observance and not a public holiday.


Enforced disappearance is used as a strategy to spread terror within the society. It occurs when people are arrested, detained or abducted against their will and when governments refuse to disclose the whereabouts of these people. Enforced disappearance is a global problem and is not restricted to a specific region of the world.

In December 2010, the UN officially declared that it would annually observe the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30 each year, starting from 2011.

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Tue Aug 30 2011 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances United Nations observance
Thu Aug 30 2012 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances United Nations observance
Fri Aug 30 2013 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances United Nations observance
Sat Aug 30 2014 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances United Nations observance
Sun Aug 30 2015 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances United Nations observance

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Prosecutors: Secret ‘Militia’ in Army Planned to Blow Dam, Poison Apples

by Bill Morlin  on August 27, 2012

Four members of secret militia group, now facing murder charges in Georgia, operated inside the ranks of the U.S. Army and discussed blowing up a dam and poisoning fruit crops in Washington State, authorities said Monday. The motives of the alleged plotters remained murky.

The revelation came as Army Pfc. Michael Burnett, 26, struck a plea bargain with prosecutors in Long County, Ga., agreeing to testify against three other soldiers who called themselves the FEAR militia (Forever Enduring Always Ready).

Burnett pleaded guilty to manslaughter, illegal gang activity and other charges as part of a plea deal, The Associated Press reported. Other members of the militia group include the group’s reported leader, Isaac Aguigui, of Cashmere, Wash., and Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, whose ages and hometown weren’t available, The Associated Press reported.


The four soldiers, stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia, spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components, and now face charges in the execution-style murders last December of former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York. The pair was shot to death in the Georgia woods, near the U.S. Army base. The killers apparently believed the militia group had been betrayed by Roark, who left the military two days before he and York were shot “to be silenced,” The AP reported.

Aguigui, who was home-schooled before being accepted at West Point preparatory school, funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago, The AP reported. Aguigui was not charged, but Long County Prosecutor Isabel Pauley said the young woman’s death “was highly suspicious.” It was not disclosed where she died.

“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” the prosecutor said at Burnett’s court hearing. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action” and possessed the “knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”

In a videotaped interview before he was “separated” from the Army, Aguigui called himself “the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet,” Pauley said, according to The AP. Aguigui used the Army to recruit militia members who wore distinctive tattoos that resemble an anarchy symbol, the prosecutor said.

The group allegedly conspired to bomb an undisclosed hydroelectric dam in Washington and talked about poisoning the state’s apple crop.

Many of the firearms were purchased at High Mountain Hunting, a gun store in Wenatchee, Aguigui’s father, Ed Aguigui, confirmed today when contacted by Hatewatch. “We don’t talk about any of our customers’ purchases,” an employee at the gun store replied when asked about that today.

Ed Aguigui told Hatewatch that he had “no clue” as to the location of the land in Washington State that reportedly was purchased by his son and members of his militia group. “I served my country for 20 years and I honor that, take pride in that,” Ed Aguigui said when asked about his son’s alleged antigovernment activities. “I don’t know what my son’s views are, and where they came from.”

“The only thing I can say right now is this case is moving from the military to the state courts in Georgia,” Ed Aguigui said. “I don’t think it would be right to say much more at this point.”

The suspect’s grandmother, Gloria Aguigui, of East Wenatchee, Wash., said her large family is from Guam. Annette Aguigui, the suspect’s mother, homeschooled Isaac and his five brothers and sister while their father spent a career as a U.S. Army combat engineer. “When they were little kids, they weren’t even allowed to have guns,” Gloria Aguigui told Hatewatch. “Isaac never got into trouble, and was always helping out. I have no idea what happened.”


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Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day against Nuclear Tests is annually observed on August 29. The day raises awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons and a closer approach to eliminating the use of those weapons.


International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Alternative name

Día Internacional contra las Pruebas Nucleares

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

International Day Against Nuclear Tests 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day against Nuclear Tests brings public awareness and education about the effects of global nuclear weapon tests. The day aims to end nuclear testing and to promote peace and security.

International Day against Nuclear TestsInternational Day Against Nuclear Tests aims to educate and bring awareness about the effects of nuclear testing. ©

What do People Do?

The International Day against Nuclear Tests aims to raise people’s awareness on the need to prevent nuclear catastrophes to avert devastating effects on humankind, the environment and the planet. Many people use the day as an opportunity to share their perspective on the issue of nuclear weapons and testing.  Different organizations may host educational and public activities to bring awareness of the use of nuclear weapons and the dangers involved with nuclear weapons testing and usage.

Public Life

The International Day against Nuclear Tests is a global observance but it is not a public holiday.


The history of nuclear testing began on July 16, 1945, when an atomic bomb was used at a desert test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the United States. More than 2000 nuclear tests were carried out worldwide between 1945 and 1996. Nuclear weapons tests are generally broken into different categories reflecting the test’s medium or location:

  • Atmospheric tests.
  • Underwater tests.
  • Underground tests.

Over the years, there have been calls to ban nuclear test to ensure the protection of people’s lives and the environment around them. The UN approved a draft resolution in late 2009 for an international day against nuclear tests to raise public awareness about the threats and dangers of nuclear weapons.  It was also hoped that UN’s member states would move towards the idea of nuclear disarmament.

The International Day against Nuclear Tests was declared to be annually held on August 29, which marks the closing of one of the world’s largest nuclear test sites (in Kazakhstan) in 1991. The day is devoted to enhancing public awareness and education about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions. It also promotes the need for a nuclear weapon-free world. The day’s first official observance was marked for August 29, 2010.

International Day against Nuclear Tests Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sun Aug 29 2010 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance
Mon Aug 29 2011 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance
Wed Aug 29 2012 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance
Thu Aug 29 2013 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance
Fri Aug 29 2014 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance
Sat Aug 29 2015 International Day against Nuclear Tests United Nations observance

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Published: August 22, 2012

  • Willa Ward, who lent her pure, note-bending voice to the Ward Singers, one of the most famous and influential groups of what is considered the golden age of gospel singing, died in Philadelphia on Aug. 12. She was 91.


Willa Ward sang backup for stars like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Chubby Checker and Patti LaBelle.

Her daughter Rita Scarlet confirmed her death.

“He’s your joy in sorrow/He’s your hope for tomorrow,” Ms. Ward intoned as the high backup voice in the Ward Singers’ 1950 hit “Surely God Is Able.” It was one of nearly 90 songs that the group recorded in its heyday, from the mid-1940s to the late ’50s.

Among their other hits were “I’m Climbing Higher and Higher,” “O My Lord What a Time” and “How I Got Over,” all of which were soon covered by two leading white gospel groups, the Blackwood Brothers and the Statesmen Quartet.

“I think they were the best gospel group in the golden era,” Anthony Heilbut, a gospel historian, record producer and author of “The Gospel Sound” (1971), said in an interview. “And if it’s understood that gospel music provides the origins of modern rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll, the Ward Singers would have to be counted as the most influential gospel group.”

In his 2012 book, “The Fan Who Knew Too Much,” Mr. Heilbut wrote that “Aretha Franklin’s style is steeped in the Ward Singers’ hard gospel, from its shouting tempo to its lilting hoop notes.” Little Richard, he said, patterned his “preacher’s growl” on the style of Marion Williams, one of the most famous gospel singers, who joined the Ward Singers for about a decade.

Willa Ward was the last of the original Ward Singers, the most renowned of whom was her younger sister, Clara. The group was formed by their mother, Gertrude, who was singing at a church in Philadelphia when she brought her daughters to the pulpit in 1934. Both girls had mellifluous voices and piano training. First known as the Consecrated Gospel Singers, the group was soon singing in churches all along the East Coast.

In 1943 they performed at the National Baptist Convention in Nashville with Willa leading the song “If We Never Needed the Lord Before” (the next words were “we sure do need him now”). The song’s wartime message brought the group to national attention. With their dynamic surges and sudden octave-high leaps, the Wards and their evolving cast of singers, wearing rhinestone-studded choir gowns, would pack sports arenas and convention halls around the country.

Willa left the Ward Singers in 1958 and formed a pop group, the Gay Charmers Trio, and later a duo with Toni Rose, both of which performed in nightclubs. She also sang backup for stars like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Chubby Checker and Patti LaBelle.

Willarene Ward was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 13, 1920, soon after her parents moved there from South Carolina. Gertrude Ward died in 1981.

Besides her daughter Rita, Ms. Ward is survived by another daughter, Charlotte Sims, and two grandchildren. Her first husband, John Moultrie, died in 1966, and her second husband, Harry Royster, died in 1993.

Of the sisters, Clara went on to greater fame, forming the Clara Ward Singers. Even after Clara died in 1973, the group continued to perform. In 1999, it appeared at the Roots of American Music Festival at Lincoln Center. “Willa Ward, Clara’s sister, was on piano,” Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times, “splashing florid barrelhouse filigrees and glissandos.”



NEIL ARMSTRONG | 1930-2012



Neil Armstrong, as photographed by Buzz Aldrin, working near the Eagle lunar module after the landing on July 20, 1969. More Photos »


Published: August 25, 2012

  • Neil Armstrong, who made the “giant leap for mankind” as the first human to set foot on the moon, died on Saturday. He was 82.

His family said in a statement that the cause was “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” He had undergone heart bypass surgery this month in Cincinnati, near where he lived. His recovery had been going well, according to those who spoke with him after the surgery, and his death came as a surprise to many close to him, including his fellow Apollo astronauts. The family did not say where he died.

A quiet, private man, at heart an engineer and crack test pilot, Mr. Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, as the commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on the mission that culminated the Soviet-American space race in the 1960s. President John F. Kennedy had committed the nation “to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” It was done with more than five months to spare.

On that day, Mr. Armstrong and his co-pilot, Col. Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., known as Buzz, steered their lunar landing craft, Eagle, to a level, rock-strewn plain near the southwestern shore of the Sea of Tranquillity. It was touch and go the last minute or two, with computer alarms sounding and fuel running low. But they made it.

“Houston, Tranquillity Base here,” Mr. Armstrong radioed to mission control. “The Eagle has landed.”

“Roger, Tranquillity,” mission control replied. “We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

The same could have been said for hundreds of millions of people around the world watching on television.

A few hours later, there was Mr. Armstrong bundled in a white spacesuit and helmet on the ladder of the landing craft. Planting his feet on the lunar surface, he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (His words would become the subject of a minor historical debate, as to whether he said “man” or an indistinct “a man.”)

Soon Colonel Aldrin joined Mr. Armstrong, bounding like kangaroos in the low lunar gravity, one sixth that of Earth’s, while the command ship pilot, Michael Collins, remained in orbit about 60 miles overhead, waiting their return. In all, 12 American astronauts walked on the moon between then and the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

The Apollo 11 mission capped a tumultuous and consequential decade. The ’60s in America had started with such promise, with the election of a youthful president, mixed with the ever-present anxieties of the cold war. Then it touched greatness in the civil rights movement, only to implode in the years of assassinations and burning city streets and campus riots. But before it ended, human beings had reached that longtime symbol of the unreachable.

The moonwalk lasted 2 hours and 19 minutes, long enough to let the astronauts test their footing in the fine and powdery surface — Mr. Armstrong noted that his boot print was less than an inch deep — and set up a television camera and scientific instruments and collect rock samples.

After news of Mr. Armstrong’s death was reported, President Obama, in a statement from the White House, said, “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes.”

“And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time,” the president added, “he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”

Charles F. Bolden Jr., the current NASA administrator, said, “As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.”

Mr. Bolden also noted that in the years after the moonwalk, Mr. Armstrong “carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all.” The historian Douglas Brinkley, who interviewed Mr. Armstrong for a NASA oral history, described him as “our nation’s most bashful Galahad.” His family called him “a reluctant hero who always believed he was just doing his job.”

Indeed, some space officials have cited these characteristics, as well as his engineering skills and experience piloting X-15 rocket planes, as reasons that Mr. Armstrong stood out in the astronaut corps. After the post-flight parades and a world tour for the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Mr. Armstrong gradually withdrew from the public eye. He was not reclusive, but as much as possible he sought to lead a private life, first as an associate administrator in the space program, then as a university professor and director of a number of corporations.

Neil Alden Armstrong was born on Aug. 5, 1930, in the small town of Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Stephen Armstrong and the former Viola Louise Engel. His father was a state auditor, which meant the family moved every few years to a new Ohio town while Neil was growing up. At the age of 6, Neil and his father took a ride in a Ford Trimotor airplane, known as the Tin Goose. It must have made an impression, for by the time he was 15, he had learned to fly, even before he got his driver’s license.

Neil became an Eagle Scout when the family later moved back to Wapakoneta, where he finished high school. (The town now has a museum named for Mr. Armstrong.) From there, he went to Purdue University as an engineering student on a Navy scholarship. His college years were interrupted by the Korean War, in which Mr. Armstrong was a Navy fighter pilot who flew 78 combat missions, one in which he was forced to eject after the plane lost one of its ailerons, the hinged flight-control panels on the wings.

In “First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong,” James R. Hansen wrote that in Mr. Armstrong’s first year at Purdue, Charles E. Yeager broke the sound barrier in the rocket-powered Bell X-1. It was exciting but bittersweet for the young student. He thought aviation history had already passed him by.

“All in all, for someone who was immersed in, fascinated by, and dedicated to flight,” Mr. Armstrong told his biographer, “I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late. I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight.”

During the Korean War, Mr. Armstrong was in the unit that the author James A. Michener wrote of in “The Bridges at Toko-Ri.” Back at Purdue after the Navy, Mr. Armstrong plunged more earnestly into aeronautical engineering studies, his grades rising and a career in sight.

By this time, he had also met Janet Elizabeth Shearon, a student in home economics from Evanston, Ill. Soon after his graduation, they were married, in January 1956.

They had two sons, Eric and Mark, who survive. A daughter, Karen, died of an inoperable brain tumor in 1962. The couple were divorced in 1994; Janet Armstrong lives in Utah. In 1999, Mr. Armstrong married Carol Knight, a widow 15 years his junior; she also survives. They lived in Indian Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati.

Other survivors include a stepson and stepdaughter; a brother, Dean; a sister, June Armstrong Hoffman, and 10 grandchildren.

After his first marriage, the newlyweds moved to California, where Mr. Armstrong had been hired as an experimental test pilot for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, the forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at Edwards Air Force Base. His first flight in a rocket plane was in the Bell X-1B, a successor to the plane Mr. Yeager had first flown faster than the speed of sound.

Mr. Armstrong impressed his peers. Milt Thompson, one of the test pilots, said he was “the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots.” Another colleague, Bill Dana, said he “had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge and a memory that remembered them like a photograph.” He made seven X-15 flights at 4,000 miles per hour, reaching the edge of space, and piloted many more of the most innovative and dangerous aircraft ever developed.

In 1958, Mr. Armstrong was chosen as a consultant for a military space plane project, the X-20 Dyna-Soar, and was later named one of the pilots. But the young test pilot was attracted by another opportunity. NASA was receiving applications for the second group of astronauts, after the Mercury Seven. His reputation after seven years at the NASA flight center at Edwards had preceded him, and so he was tapped for the astronaut corps.

“I thought the attractions of being an astronaut were actually, not so much the Moon, but flying in a completely new medium,” Mr. Armstrong told his biographer.

At Houston, the new astronaut began training for flights in the two-person Gemini spacecraft, the successor to the smaller Mercury capsules and forerunner to the three-person Apollos. Mr. Armstrong became the first American civilian astronaut to fly in space, as commander of Gemini 8. He and his co-pilot, David R. Scott, were launched on March 16, 1966. They performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space, their Gemini linking with an unmanned Agena in an essential test for later operations on lunar flights.

Once docked, however, the joined spacecraft began to roll. Attempts to steady the vehicle were unavailing. On instructions from Mission Control, Mr. Armstrong separated Gemini from the Agena, but the rolling only increased, to the point that the astronauts were in danger of passing out. The problem was evidently in the Gemini itself. The astronauts turned the control thrusters off, switching to the re-entry control system. Stability was restored, but once the re-entry propulsion was activated, the crew was told to prepare to come home before the end of their only day in orbit.

Next, Mr. Armstrong was the backup commander for Apollo 8, the first flight to circumnavigate the Moon, doing so at Christmastime in 1968. It was the mission that put Apollo back on track after a cockpit fire during a launching pad rehearsal had killed three astronauts in January 1967. And it put Mr. Armstrong in position to command Apollo 11.

If everything went well with the lunar module test on Apollo 9 and with a shakedown flight to lunar orbit on Apollo 10, then Mr. Armstrong was in line to land on the Moon with Buzz Aldrin and with Michael Collins as the command module pilot. As the commander, NASA officials decided, Mr. Armstrong would be the first to walk on the Moon.

About six and a half hours after the landing, Mr. Armstrong opened the hatch of the four-legged lunar module and slowly made his way down the ladder to the lunar surface. A television camera followed his every step for all the world to see. A crater near the landing site is named in Mr. Armstrong’s honor.

Mr. Armstrong and Colonel Aldrin left a plaque on the Moon that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

After leaving the space program, Mr. Armstrong was careful to do nothing to tarnish that image or achievement. Though he traveled and gave speeches — as he did in October 2007, when he dedicated the new Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue — he rarely gave interviews and avoided the spotlight.

In the biography “First Man,” Dr. Hansen noted, “Everyone gives Neil the greatest credit for not trying to take advantage of his fame, not like other astronauts have done.” To which Janet Armstrong responded: “Yes, but look what it’s done to him inside. He feels guilty that he got all the acclaim for an effort of tens of thousands of people.” Then she added: “He’s certainly led an interesting life. But he took it too seriously to heart.”

For a time, he was an associate NASA administrator for aeronautics, but he tired of a Washington desk job. Ignoring many high-level offers in business and academia, he returned to Ohio as a professor of aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and bought a farm near Lebanon, Ohio. He also served as a director for several corporations.

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits,” his family said in the statement.

Mr. Armstrong re-entered the public spotlight a couple of years ago to voice sharp disagreement with President Obama for canceling NASA’s program to send astronauts back to the Moon. Later, he testified to a Senate committee, expressing skepticism that the approach of relying on commercial companies would succeed.

Last September, Mr. Armstrong testified to a House committee that NASA “must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force.”

Almost as soon as the news of his death was announced, there was an outpouring of well wishes and fond memorials on Web sites and social media, a reflection of the extraordinary public acclaim that came to a very private man.

“As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life,” his family said. “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.”

John Schwartz contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 26, 2012

An earlier version of this obituary misstated the name of the Ohio town where Mr. Armstrong lived. It was Indian Hill, not Indian Hills.





Published: August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller, whose sassy, screeching, rapid-fire stand-up comedy helped open the door for two generations of funny women, died on Monday at her home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. She was 95.

Library of Congress, N.Y. World Collection

Phyllis Diller with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”                            More Photos »


Michael Blake/Associated Press

Phyllis Diller in 2003.

Her agent, Fred Wostbrock, confirmed her death.

Ms. Diller, who became famous for telling jokes that mocked her odd looks, her aversion to housekeeping and a husband she called Fang, was far from the first woman to do stand-up comedy. But she was one of the most influential. There were precious few women before her, if any, who could dispense one-liners with such machine-gun precision or overpower an audience with such an outrageous personality.

One chestnut: “I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they’d boo.”

Another: “I never made ‘Who’s Who,’ but I’m featured in ‘What’s That?’ ”

Ms. Diller, a 37-year-old homemaker when she took up comedy, mined her domestic life for material, assuring audiences that she fed Fang and her kids garbage soup and buried her ironing in the backyard. She exuded an image that was part Wicked Witch of the West (a role she actually played in a St. Louis stage production of “The Wizard of Oz”) and part clown.

In her many television appearances she would typically sashay onstage wearing stiff, outsize, hideous metallic dresses (she did this, she said, so she could lie to her audiences about the state of her body, which was really trim and shapely); high-heeled shoes or boots studded with rhinestones; and a bejeweled collar better suited to a junkyard dog or a fur scarf that she claimed was made from an animal she had trapped under the sink.

Slinking along on skinny legs, her feet invariably pointed outward, penguin-style, she originally carried a long bejeweled cigarette holder that held a make-believe cigarette from which she continually flicked imaginary ashes. (Ms. Diller, who did not smoke, later discarded the cigarette holder.)

Her hair was the blond flyaway variety, sometimes looking as if it was exploding from her scalp; her eyes were large and ferocious, her nose thin and overlong (she ultimately tamed it through plastic surgery). And then there was that unforgettable, ear-shattering voice, which would frequently explode into a sinister cackle that seemed perfectly matched to her image as the ultimate domestic demon.

Among Ms. Diller’s few female predecessors was Jean Carroll, sometimes called “the female Milton Berle,” who made numerous appearances in nightclubs and on Ed Sullivan’s variety show, where she mined her marriage and family for laughs. There were others: Minnie Pearl was an outrageous Southern spinster, Moms Mabley an outspoken black philosopher.

But Ms. Diller’s hard-hitting approach to one-liners — inspired by Bob Hope, who became an early champion — was something new for a woman. Her success proved that female comedians could be as aggressive or unconventional as their male counterparts, and leave an audience just as devastated. She cleared the way for the likes of Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres and numerous others.

Although Ms. Diller used writers to help create her act, she estimated that she wrote 75 percent of the jokes herself. Her approach to humor was methodical. “My material was geared towards everyone of all ages and from different backgrounds, and I wanted to hit them right in the middle,” she explained in her autobiography, “Like a Lampshade in a Whorehouse: My Life in Comedy” (2005), written with Richard Buskin. “I didn’t want giggles — I could get those with my looks — I wanted boffs, and I wanted people to get the joke at the same moment and laugh together. That way I could leave everything to my timing.”

She liked jokes that piled on the laughs in rapid succession. A favorite of hers was this one: “I realized on our first wedding anniversary that our marriage was in trouble. Fang gave me luggage. It was packed. My mother damn near suffocated!”

Phyllis Ada Driver was born on July 17, 1917, in Lima, Ohio, the daughter of Perry Driver, an insurance executive, and the former Frances Ada Romshe. As a child she became interested in classical music, writing and theater.

After briefly attending the Sherwood Conservatory of Music in Chicago, she entered Bluffton College in Bluffton, Ohio, near Lima, with thoughts of becoming a music teacher. She met Sherwood Anderson Diller in her senior year in college, and they were married in 1939.

She never taught music. The Dillers moved to California, where he was an inspector at a Navy air station and later held various other jobs — none, by Ms. Diller’s account, for very long. They struggled financially, even with Ms. Diller working. She wrote a shopping column for a newspaper in San Leandro and advertising copy for a department store in Oakland, then moved on to writing and promotion jobs at radio stations in Oakland and San Francisco.

She started to move toward a career in show business without realizing it. She was poor and unhappy, and she would meet other poor and unhappy women at the Laundromat and regale them with accounts of her home life. She also tried to inject humor into the advertising and publicity copy she wrote. Word spread about Phyllis Diller, and soon she was being asked to give presentations at parties and P.T.A. meetings.

Her husband thought she should be paid to make people laugh. She lacked the confidence to do it until she read a self-help book, “The Magic of Believing” by Claude M. Bristol. Inspired by its message of empowerment, she began to write her own comedy routines, hired a drama coach to give her more stage presence, and took whatever paid or unpaid performing jobs she could get: at hospitals, women’s clubs, church halls.

She made her bona fide professional debut at the Purple Onion, a San Francisco nightclub, in 1955. At first her act contained as much singing as joke-telling, with Ms. Diller’s persona more mock sophisticate than housewife from hell — her signature numbers included “Ridiculous,” a parody of the Eartha Kitt number “Monotonous” — but she gradually developed the character and the look that would make her famous.

She was soon being booked at nightclubs all over the country, and she became nationally known after several dozen appearances on Jack Paar’s “Tonight Show,” beginning in 1958.

She was believable as well as hilarious when she talked about her husband, Fang; her mother-in-law, Moby Dick; and her sister-in-law, Captain Bligh. She was so believable that shortly after she divorced Sherwood Diller in 1965, his mother and sister sued her for defamation of character in an effort to keep her from talking about them in her act. She insisted that she was talking about a fictional family, not them, and eventually settled out of court.

Ms. Diller was never really the grotesque-looking woman she made herself out to be; her body, in fact, was attractive enough that when she posed nude for a Playboy photo spread the pictures ended up not being published — the magazine was going for laughs, and decided that they looked too good to be funny.

And despite her self-deprecating humor, she was concerned about her looks, especially as she began to detect signs of aging in her television appearances in the early 1970s. She became one of the first celebrities not just to have plastic surgery but also to acknowledge and even publicize that fact. By the 1990s she had had more than a dozen operations, including two nose jobs, three face-lifts, a chemical peel, a breast reduction, cheek implants, an eyeliner tattoo and bonded teeth.

She never tried to conceal the work and even kept a plastic surgery résumé, which she would give to anyone who asked. And she continued to make jokes about her appearance. “The ugly jokes would remain a part of my act because my image was already so well established,” she wrote in her autobiography. “Audiences had bought into it because, facially at least, it had been the truth, and for them it would continue to be the truth.”

Although Ms. Diller was a frequent guest on other people’s variety shows, her own network television ventures — “The Pruitts of Southampton” (1966-67), a sitcom, and “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show” (1968), a variety hour — were both short-lived. Late in life she had a recurring role on the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” and did voice-over work on “Family Guy” and other cartoon shows.

Her movie career was not particularly distinguished. While she made a number of films, including three with Bob Hope — “Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!” (1966), “Eight on the Lam” (1967) and “The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell” (1968) — none were as funny as she was.

But her career was not limited to movies, television or stand-up comedy. Between 1971 and 1981 she appeared as a piano soloist with some 100 symphony orchestras across the country under the transparently phony name Dame Illya Dillya. Although her performances were spiced with humor, she took the music seriously. A review of one of her concerts in The San Francisco Examiner called her “a fine concert pianist with a firm touch.”

She also appeared on Broadway, stepping into the lead role in “Hello, Dolly!” for three months in late 1969 and early 1970. She painted, too. And she wrote a number of books, including “Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints,” “The Joys of Aging and How to Avoid Them” and her autobiography.

Her marriage to Sherwood Diller lasted 26 years; in 1965, the same year the Dillers divorced, she married Warde Donovan, an actor. That marriage, too, ended in divorce. She never remarried, but she was the companion of Robert Hastings, a lawyer, from the mid-1980s until his death in 1996.

Ms. Diller is survived by a son, Perry; a daughter, Suzanne Mills; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

When she appeared in Las Vegas in May 2002, three years after suffering a heart attack, Ms. Diller announced that this would be her last stand-up performance. She stuck to that decision. Her final performance was captured in the 2004 documentary “Goodnight, We Love You,” directed by Gregg Barson.

Asked by Bob Thomas of The Associated Press in 2005 whether she missed performing, Ms. Diller answered: “I don’t miss the travel. I miss the laughter. I do miss the actual hour.

“I don’t want to sound like I’m on dope, but that hour is a high; it’s as good as you can feel. A wonderful, wonderful happiness, and great power.”

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 22, 2012

An obituary on Tuesday about the comedian Phyllis Diller misstated the location of her death. She died in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, at her home — not in the city of Brentwood, Calif.





Published: August 17, 2012

  • Carl Davis, a record producer and music impresario who helped shape the sound of Chicago soul on classics like “Duke of Earl” and “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” died on Aug. 9 at his home in Summerville, S.C. He was 77.


Carl Davis

The cause was pulmonary fibrosis, said Gus Redmond, a longtime associate.

Though Chicago’s soul scene was less celebrated than those of Detroit or Memphis, it was rich with talent, and Mr. Davis was at the center of it through the 1960s and ’70s. He worked with Curtis Mayfield, Major Lance, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis, the Chi-Lites and many others in a number of capacities, including producer, scout, manager and record company boss.

“Like Berry Gordy, he understood the modern recording industry of the ’60s and ’70s, and really understood how to make hit records,” said Robert Pruter, who has written several books about soul and R&B music in Chicago.

Carl Henry Davis was born in Chicago on Sept. 19, 1934, to a family full of musicians. But Mr. Davis himself “couldn’t play a note,” his brother George said in a recent interview.

Instead, his talent was recognizing hits, which he refined while working for the popular disc jockey Al Benson in the mid-1950s. Mr. Davis got the job because he knew how to use a typesetting machine. But with a reputation as a hit-spotter, he entered the record business and rose quickly.

In Mr. Pruter’s book “Doowop: The Chicago Scene,” Mr. Davis explains how a half-formed vocal riff he heard during a 1961 rehearsal with a minor group, the Dukays, resulted in one of the biggest songs of the era, “Duke of Earl.”

“Through the door I kept hearing… I thought they were saying, ‘do cover,’ ” he recalled. “They said, ‘We’re just rehearsing our next session. We haven’t even written all the lyrics to the song yet.’ And I said, ‘Run it down, let’s hear it.’ They started, and the song just knocked me. I said, ‘Let me tell you something. If you don’t cut this song tomorrow, there ain’t no session.’ ”

Credited to the group’s lead singer, Gene Chandler, and produced by Mr. Davis, “Duke of Earl” was released on the Vee-Jay label in late 1961. It stayed at No. 1 for five weeks in early 1962 and was Vee-Jay’s first million seller.

In 1962, Mr. Davis was hired by the Columbia subsidiary Okeh as director of A&R, or artists and repertory. His productions there, particularly upbeat tunes by Major Lance like “The Monkey Time,” “Hey Little Girl” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” — most written by Mr. Mayfield and arranged by Johnny Pate — crystallized a new Chicago sound. With punchy brass, Latin-tinged percussion and elegant arrangements, it was sweeter than Motown and cooler than Stax.

After leaving Okeh in 1965, Mr. Davis worked at the Brunswick label, where he recorded Mr. Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and songs by Barbara Acklin and Mr. Chandler. He also released numerous songs by the Chi-Lites, including “Oh Girl,” a No. 1 hit in 1972, and “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So),” which was prominently sampled in Beyoncé’s 2003 hit “Crazy in Love.”

He also founded the labels Dakar, home to Tyrone Davis (no relation), and Chi-Sound, whose acts included the Chi-Lites and Manchild, where the R&B singer and producer Kenneth Edmonds (a k a Babyface) got his start.

By the early 1980s, with soul music long out of fashion, Mr. Davis closed Chi-Sound, his last label. His autobiography, “The Man Behind the Music: The Legendary Carl Davis,” published in 2011, gives details of his later jobs as a security guard and a chauffeur. But in 2007 he revived the label, and Mr. Redmond said it is still active.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Davis’s survivors include his wife, Dedra; his children, Pamela, Carl Jr., Tre, Julio, Carleen and Jaime Davis and Kelli Morris; and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In a 1982 interview with the music journalist Dave Hoekstra, Mr. Davis gave his view on the difference between the Motown and Chicago soul sounds.

“Motown used to put a picture frame together, put in all the background and set the artist to the frame,” he said. “We in Chicago tend to start with the artist, put him there and frame everything around him.”




Worth/Associated Press

From left, Denny Doherty, Michelle Gilliam, Scott McKenzie, Cass Elliott and John Phillips in London in October 1967.


Published: August 20, 2012

  • Scott McKenzie, who performed the 1967 ballad “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” which became a defining hit for the counterculture generation and helped draw tens of thousands to the Haight-Ashbury district for the Summer of Love, died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 73.

The cause was unknown, said Dr. Frank Snyder, one of his physicians. A Web site devoted to Mr. McKenzie said that he had been ill for several weeks and that he suffered from Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nervous system.

“San Francisco” was written by John Phillips, a founder of the Mamas and the Papas, who had been a friend of Mr. McKenzie’s since high school. The two started a band called the Journeymen, which recorded several albums in the 1960s.

In the song, Mr. McKenzie sang lyrics like these with a slow, almost mournful cadence:

All across the nation, such a strange vibration.

People in motion.

There’s a whole generation, with a new explanation.

“San Francisco” hit a nerve with people looking to protest what they saw as an unjust social order, and it rocketed to No. 4 on the pop charts.

But despite the song’s success and a subsequent tour with the Mamas and the Papas, Mr. McKenzie never had another hit single. He took a break from the music business and moved to Virginia Beach, where he was married briefly to Anzy Wells, Dr. Snyder said.

In the late 1980s he made a comeback of sorts. He toured with a reconstituted Mamas and the Papas and, with Mr. Phillips, Mike Love and Terry Melcher, wrote “Kokomo,” an upbeat love song that became a No. 1 hit for the Beach Boys.

Born Philip Blondheim on Jan. 10, 1939, in Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. McKenzie grew up under difficult circumstances. His father died before he was 2 and his mother was forced to travel for work, so he was raised by his grandmother. No immediate family members survive.

In discussions with friends, he expressed mixed feelings about the song that defined his career and life. Fame in the short run had been overwhelming and even terrifying. He found it “sick” and “perverse” that strange women wanted to sleep with him.

But over time, his view of the song changed.

Chris Campion, who is writing a biography of John Phillips, interviewed Mr. McKenzie this year and said that the singer had told him that soldiers returning from Vietnam would sing the song on the airplane to San Francisco. He later became friends with some of those veterans and would tour the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with them.

“He was grateful that he had the opportunity to have such an impact on their lives,” Mr. Campion said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 23, 2012

A picture caption on Tuesday with an obituary about the singer Scott McKenzie, using information from The Associated Press, misspelled the name of one of the people shown with Mr. McKenzie in London in 1967. She is Michelle Gilliam (better known as Michelle Phillips), not Michele Gillian.





Published: August 19, 2012

  • William Windom, who won an Emmy Award playing an Everyman drawn from the pages of James Thurber but who may be best remembered for his roles on “Star Trek” and “Murder, She Wrote,” died on Thursday at his home in Woodacre, Calif., north of San Francisco. He was 88.


William Windom with the Emmy Award he won in 1970 for his role in the sitcom, “My World and Welcome to It.”

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Patricia.

Mr. Windom won the Emmy for best actor in a comedy series in 1970 for his performance in “My World and Welcome to It,” a whimsical TV show based on Thurber’s humorous essays and fantastic cartoons. He subsequently toured the country with a solo show based on Thurber’s works.

But filmgoers and television viewers may be more likely to associate him with roles that, though also fanciful, had a distinctly darker tone. He teamed up with Rod Serling on episodes of both “The Twilight Zone” (“Five Characters in Search of an Exit” in 1961 and “Miniature” in 1963) and “Night Gallery”; played the president in “Escape From the Planet of the Apes”; and had a memorable role in an early episode of “Star Trek.” He was also a guest star on “The Rookies,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and dozens of other television shows.

Not until 1985 did Mr. Windom find another role that drew on his avuncular side with such success: he appeared in more than 50 episodes of “Murder, She Wrote” as the leading physician of Cabot Cove, Me., and a close friend of Jessica Fletcher, the lead character played by Angela Lansbury.

William Windom was born on Sept. 28, 1923, in Manhattan to Paul Windom, an architect, and the former Isobel Wells Peckham. He was named after an ancestor, William Windom, a Minnesota congressman who also served as secretary of the Treasury under Presidents James A. Garfield and Benjamin Harrison.

Mr. Windom attended Williams College in Massachusetts. Before becoming an Army paratrooper in World War II, he joined the Army Specialized Training Program, under whose auspices he studied at the Citadel, in South Carolina; Antioch College, in Ohio; and the University of Kentucky.

While stationed in Frankfurt, during the postwar Allied occupation, he enrolled in the new Biarritz American University in France and became involved in drama there. “To be honest, I signed up because I thought it would be an easy touch,” he told The New York Times in an interview for this obituary in 2009, “and we had heard that actresses had round heels.”

It was in Biarritz that he did his first bit of acting, playing the title role in “Richard III,” and when he returned to the United States he continued to perform at Fordham University — his sixth institution of higher education. “I figure it all adds up to about two years’ worth of education,” he said.

Mr. Windom found work in the New York theater as well as in radio and on television, making numerous appearances on live dramas in the early 1950s. He ultimately appeared in more than a dozen Broadway plays, including a four-show season with the American Repertory Theater and a 1956 revival of Noël Coward’s “Fallen Angels.” He also performed for several seasons in summer stock in places like Bucks County, Pa., and the Southbury Playhouse in Connecticut, and he later toured the United States and other countries with one-man shows about Thurber and the World War II journalist Ernie Pyle.

Mr. Windom made his first film appearance as the prosecuting attorney in the 1962 drama “To Kill a Mockingbird,” sparring with Gregory Peck’s defense lawyer. His subsequent movies included “The Americanization of Emily” in 1964, directed by Arthur Hiller; Robert Altman’s “Brewster McCloud” in 1970; and the John Hughes comedy “She’s Having a Baby” in 1988.

Another notable television role was as the male lead in “The Farmer’s Daughter,” a situation comedy that ran on ABC from 1963 to 1966. His character, a Minnesota congressman (like Mr. Windom’s forebear), is a widower who hires a Swedish-American governess (Inger Stevens) to care for his sons.

Mr. Windom, who was also a tournament chess player, was married five times. Besides his wife of 37 years, Patricia, he is survived by four children, Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel; and four grandchildren.

His biggest critical success was “My World and Welcome to It,” which was broadcast for only one season, 1969-70. But in certain circles he is probably better known for the “Doomsday Machine” episode of “Star Trek.” He played Commodore Matt Decker, the sole survivor of a spacecraft who, along with the crew of the Enterprise, tries to neutralize a planet-destroying robot ship.

Despite the fame that television brought him, it was a stage role that Mr. Windom remembered most fondly.

“A lot of people today think the first thing they saw is the first thing that ever happened, and that means ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ ” he told The Times. “But the thing I’m most proud of is playing ‘Richard III’ in Biarritz.”


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kitt peak national observatory

Govert Schilling

A Changing Landscape for U.S. Astronomy

August 23, 2012 | The budgetary writing is on the wall: the National Science Foundation doesn’t have enough money both to operate all of its existing facilities and to build big, expensive new ones. Something’s got to give. > read more

Curiosity Zaps Its First Martian Rock

August 20, 2012 | A rapid-fire burst of 30 laser pulses from the rover’s ChemCam instrument created an incandescent hotspot on a fist-sized rock about 10 feet away. > read more

NASA Keeps Focus on Mars

August 23, 2012 | NASA announced this week that its next Discovery mission will follow Curiosity to the Red Planet, but the project — named InSight — has a much different assignment than the rover’s. > read more

Opening Days of Astronomy’s “Olympics”

August 22, 2012 | Every three years, the IAU holds a conference that brings together astronomers from around the world to address current issues — a sort of astronomy “Olympics.” > read more

IAU Readies for Conference

August 17, 2012 | Stay tuned as astronomer Jay Pasachoff reports from the upcoming International Astronomical Union conference in Beijing, China. > read more


Full Moon

Gary Seronik

Once in a Blue Moon

August 24, 2012 | We’ll see a “blue Moon” next Friday, but what does that mean? From the Middle Ages to the game of Trivial Pursuit, a folklorist explores the origin of the phrase. > read more

Tour August’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

June 22, 2012 | Mark your calendars for the night of Saturday, August 11th, when the Perseid meteor shower will peak. Stay up late to catch the risings of Jupiter and Venus, or just enjoy Mars and Saturn low in the evening twilight. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Evening twilight. Binoculars help.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 24, 2012 | As August comes to its end, Vega takes the zenith. The Teapot is highest in the south. And the Little Dipper dumps into the Big Dipper. > read more

SkyWeek Television Show
View SkyWeek as seen on PBS click here to watch this week’s episodeSponsored by Meade Instruments

August 20 - 26, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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Racists Accused of Four Murders Sought to ‘Preserve White Race

Bill Morlin  on August 22, 2012

Two white supremacists tied to the brutal murders of four people on the West Coast now face a federal indictment filed in Oregon alleging that they embarked on their rampage in order to “purify and preserve the white race.”

David “Joey” Pedersen, 32, and Holly Ann Grigsby, 24, both from Oregon, were named in a racketeering conspiracy indictment returned by a federal grand last Thursday in Portland. The umbrella-style racketeering charge alleges the pair committed various criminal acts in Washington, Oregon and California including murder, kidnapping, use of firearms during crimes of violence, transporting a stolen vehicle, unauthorized use of bank cards, aggravated identity theft, carjacking resulting in death and felon in possession of a firearm.

The filing of the federal charges means county prosecutors in Oregon and California won’t have to proceed now with costly and time-consuming separate murder cases against Pedersen and Grigsby. They are expected to be arraigned in Portland, Ore., on the federal charges in the next few weeks.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will decide soon if federal prosecutors should seek the death penalty if the pair are convicted of the federal charges.

Pedersen already is serving two life terms after pleading guilty to murdering his father, David “Red” Pedersen, last September in Everett, Wash. His wife — Joey Pedersen’s stepmother — Leslie “DeeDee” Pedersen, was killed at the same time by Grigsby, “consistent with her beliefs and code that a man should not kill a woman,” the federal indictment alleges.

It further alleges that Grigsby “approached potential targets and inveigled them into giving her a ride, enabling Pedersen to kidnap, rob and murder them.”

Pedersen and Grigsby, arrested last October near Sacramento, Calif., also are accused of kidnapping, robbing and murdering two other men: Cody Myers, 19, in Oregon, who they mistakenly thought was Jewish, and Reginald Clark, 53, a disabled black man in Eureka, Calif.

As part of the alleged racketeering enterprise, the two “would identify, kidnap and murder targets on the basis of race, color, religion and perceived ‘degenerate’ conduct to further their white supremacist movement,” the indictment says.

The couple was involved in “promoting and advancing a white supremacist movement to purify and preserve the white race and ‘reclaim our country’ and culture through acts of murder on the basis of race, color, religion and perceived ‘degenerate’ conduct including sexual abuse, vagrancy, drug abuse and other ‘riff raff,’” it continued.

They also are accused of targeting Jewish leaders and organizations, hoping to “use the media to publicize their movement in an attempt to spark a revolution in furtherance of their movement and beliefs.” Joey Pedersen had “researched names and addresses of Jewish organizations in Seattle, Portland and Sacramento as part of the conspiracy and possessed “a draft ‘press release’ to alert the media about the purpose of the planned murders,” the indictment says.

Pedersen and Grigsby robbed victims to finance their enterprise and to obtain transportation to further their movement and avoid apprehension and prosecution, the indictment alleges. They would “use credit cards they stole from victims to obtain money and items of value to sustain themselves, finance the enterprise, conceal evidence and further their white supremacist movement,” it says.

Between June and October of last year, when the pair were arrested near Sacramento, Calif., they communicated “with other white supremacists in and out of prison to rally support for their movement and reaffirm their shared beliefs,” the indictment says.

“These crimes victimize not only individuals and their families, but entire communities,” Amanda Marshall, the U.S. attorney for Oregon said in a statement. “This indictment shows that we will work tirelessly with our federal and state partners to pursue allegations of bigotry and prejudice in order to protect all of our citizens from hate and violence.”


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How the Right’s Building a ‘Poll Watcher’ Network for November

True the Vote began as a small outfit in Houston three years ago. Brentin Mock reports on the group’s agenda to intimidate voters across the country.

[Infographic] An interactive map of how one tea party group is moving the voter fraud meme inside far right and Republican Party politics.

Richard Aoki, the FBI, and the Long (Ongoing) Saga of State Spying

A damning new report alleges that the late Black Panther Richard Aoki may have worked as an FBI informant. Jamilah King reports.

Follow ongoing updates on the allegations of Richard Aoki’s FBI relationship at

Get Ready to Debate Obama’s American Identity, Again

Sally Kohn reports on how in the run-up to the GOP convention, the Romney camp is reviving one of the most offensive themes in American politics.

Basketball Coaches and Starbucks Push For Affirmative Action Without affirmative action the only black and Latino faces on college campuses could be those of student athletes, and that’s unacceptable, college basketball coaches warn.

Court Cases Continue to Decide Future of Voting Rights A weekly digest on early voting, voter ID, and the power of marginalized voters.

What’s Ahead in the ‘Voting Wars’? Certainly Not Peace. A conversation with election law expert Richard Hasen on the true scope of voter fraud, the power of the ACORN myth and John Roberts’ scary interest in the Voting Rights Act.

Obama Leads Romney Among Black Voters 94-0% (Yeah, as in Zero Percent)President Barack Obama has a 4-point lead in the race for the White House, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. But when it comes to black voters he’s thriving.

Richard Aoki Documentary Directors Blast FBI Allegations In response to a new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Seth Rosenfeld this week, the two filmmakers have released a sharp statement criticizing the allegations.

Driver’s Licenses for DREAMers? California Says It’s Not Out of the Question As young people lacking permanent status in the U.S. begin to apply to the Obama administration’s deferred action program questions about who’s eligible to drive are being raised.

Immigrants Make Up Same Share of U.S. Population Today as They Did a Century Ago [Infographic] Take a look at two new infographics that illustrate how immigrants make up roughly the same share of the U.S. population today as they did a century ago.

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Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is held on August 23 each year to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade.

Local names

Name Language
International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition English
Día Internacional del Recuerdo de la Trata de Esclavos y de su Abolición Spanish

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is annually observed on August 23 to remind people of the tragedy of the transatlantic slave trade. It gives people a chance to think about the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of slave trade.

UN International Day for the remembrance of the Slave Trade and its AbolitionThe UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition reminds people of the tragedy of slave trade. © Kolstad

What do people do?

Each year the UN invites people all over the world, including educators, students and artists, to organize events that center on the theme of this day. Theatre companies, cultural organizations, musicians and artists take part on this day by expressing their resistance against slavery through performances that involve music, dance and drama.

Educators promote the day by informing people about the historical events associated with slave trade, the consequences of slave trade, and to promote tolerance and human rights. Many organizations, including youth associations, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations, actively take part in the event to educate society about the negative consequences of slave trade.

Public life

The UN’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is a United Nations observance worldwide but it is not a public holiday.


In late August, 1791, an uprising began in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) that would have a major effect on abolishing the transatlantic slave trade. The slave rebellion in the area weakened the Caribbean colonial system, sparking an uprising that led to abolishing slavery and giving the island its independence. It marked the beginning of the destruction of the slavery system, the slave trade and colonialism.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in many countries, in particular in Haiti, on August 23, 1998, and in Senegal on August 23, 1999. Each year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reminds the international community about the importance of commemorating this day. This date also pays tribute to those who worked hard to abolish slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the actions used to fight against the system of slavery had an impact on the human rights movement.


UNESCO’s logo features a drawing of a temple with the “UNESCO” acronym under the roof of the temple and on top of the temple’s foundation. Underneath the temple are the words “United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization”. This logo is often used in promotional material for the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sun Aug 23 1998 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Mon Aug 23 1999 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Wed Aug 23 2000 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Thu Aug 23 2001 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Fri Aug 23 2002 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Sat Aug 23 2003 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Mon Aug 23 2004 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Tue Aug 23 2005 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Wed Aug 23 2006 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Thu Aug 23 2007 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Sat Aug 23 2008 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Sun Aug 23 2009 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Mon Aug 23 2010 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Tue Aug 23 2011 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Thu Aug 23 2012 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Fri Aug 23 2013 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Sat Aug 23 2014 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance
Sun Aug 23 2015 International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition United Nations observance

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Published: August 15, 2012

  • Al Freeman Jr., a star among a generation of black actors that emerged during the civil rights era, who made his mark in both drama and race relations with his portraits of some of the movement’s most forbidding personalities — angry young men in the 1960s plays of James Baldwin and LeRoi Jones, Malcolm X in a television drama, and the black separatist Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee’s 1992 movie “Malcolm X” — died on Aug. 9 in Washington. He was 78.

20th Century Fox, via Photofest

Al Freeman Jr. in 1968 with Frank Sinatra, left, in “The Detective,” directed by Gordon Douglas.

Warner Brothers, via Photofest

Mr. Freeman in 1992 as the separatist Elijah Muhammad in “Malcolm X,” directed by Spike Lee.

His death was announced by Howard University, where he had been chairman of the theater arts department since 2005. No cause was disclosed.

Mr. Freeman’s lucid fury and psychological insight made him a favorite of literary black playwrights in the 1960s. He made his Broadway debut in 1960 in “The Long Dream,” a stage adaptation of a novel by Richard Wright, playing a black undertaker’s son who discovers his father’s complicity in the racial oppression at the heart of small-town life.

He starred on Broadway again in 1962 with Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alvin Ailey in “Tiger Tiger Burning Bright,” a pessimistic depiction of a black family’s life in New Orleans at the end of World War II. And he returned to Broadway in 1964 to play the ill-fated pastor’s son Richard Henry in Mr. Baldwin’s play “Blues for Mister Charlie,” loosely based on the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black youth murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after supposedly flirting with a white woman.

The same year, at the St. Mark’s Playhouse in the East Village, Mr. Freeman played a poet-revolutionary leading a race war in a production of “The Slave,” by Mr. Jones, now known as Amiri Baraka, which concludes with the sound of gunshots and a simulated bombing, the stage left covered in rubble. “Al Freeman Jr. is brilliant,” the critic Howard Taubman wrote in The New York Times, praising his performance for its “taut intelligence.”

Mr. Freeman viewed his role as a black actor during that time as part of a larger, unfolding drama, he told interviewers. “I wasn’t down there on the front lines with Martin Luther King, or preparing myself with the Black Panthers,” he told Ebony magazine in 1993. But bringing life to characters in plays like “Blues for Mister Charlie” and “The Slave,” he added, “That was my activism.”

By the end of the 1960s Mr. Freeman was being cast in television dramas and feature films like “Finian’s Rainbow,” starring Fred Astaire, and “The Detective,” with Frank Sinatra, both released in 1968. He said he liked the mainstream success, but lost some of the sense of purpose he had felt in dramas about race.

“Everything I’ve done, I’ve always tried to find a good reason for doing it,” he told The Times in 1970, referring to television projects. “But lately I’ve begun to think that maybe it’s my own kind of cop-out rationale.”

In the 1970s Mr. Freeman began appearing on the ABC soap opera “One Life to Live” in the recurring role of a police captain. In 1979 he received a Daytime Emmy for that role — the first ever given to an African-American in a soap opera — as well as critical acclaim for his portrayal of Malcolm X in the mini-series “Roots: The Next Generations.”

Teaching at Howard University beginning in 1988, Mr. Freeman had withdrawn somewhat from acting when Mr. Lee, preparing to direct “’Malcolm X,” asked him in 1991 to audition for the role of Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam leader who inspired Malcolm X and then disappointed him with his marital infidelities.

Mr. Freeman later told interviewers that he felt he could bring to the part a feel for the times and a sense of the promise people saw in the young Malcolm, a part that went to Denzel Washington. “Certainly Spike didn’t pay me that much,” he told Ebony. “The point was that it had to do with my life.”

Reviews seemed to confirm his initial instincts. The critic Gene Siskel said watching Mr. Freeman’s Elijah Muhammad on screen was like watching documentary footage of the man himself.

Albert Cornelius Freeman Jr. was born on March 21, 1934, in San Antonio. After his parents, Albert and Lottie, divorced, he recalled, he spent much of his childhood shuttling between San Antonio, where his mother stayed, and Columbus, Ohio, where his father, a jazz pianist, resettled. In 1960 he married Sevara Clemon, a dancer; the couple divorced in the mid-1980s. No immediate family members are known to survive.

Mr. Freeman said his life as an artist was inextricable from the spirit of the times in which he lived, and that Malcolm X had articulated that spirit more powerfully than anyone. In the 1993 Ebony interview, he recalled once seeing Malcolm X speak in Harlem. “I remember him saying, ‘If a dog attacks you, whether it’s a four-legged dog or a two-legged dog, you kill that dog,’ ” he said. “That’s what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear ‘stand up!’ Not ‘go out and kill anybody,’ but ‘stand up and be a man.’ ”




ABC, via Photofest

The 1970s TV show “Welcome Back, Kotter” featured, from left, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, John Travolta, Robert Hegyes, Ron Palillo (as Arnold Horshack) and Gabe Kaplan.


Published: August 14, 2012

  • Ron Palillo, who portrayed the goofy high school underachiever Arnold Horshack in the hit 1970s sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” with such definitive oddballness that he had trouble for years afterward finding work as an actor, died on Tuesday in West Palm Beach, Fla. He was 63.

The apparent cause was a heart attack, said his agent, Scott Stander.

“I know him, love what he does, not right for the part,” Mr. Palillo said in a 1997 newspaper interview, repeating what he said was the mantra of every casting director he met after his years on “Kotter,” which was on ABC from 1975 to 1979. “Everybody thought of me as Arnold Horshack. I resented Horshack for so many years.”

Welcome Back, Kotter” starred Gabe Kaplan as a high school teacher returning to his alma mater in Brooklyn to take over an unruly class of remedial students known collectively as the Sweathogs (because their top-floor classroom was always hot). The Sweathogs were Vinnie Barbarino (played by John Travolta), Freddie Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), Juan Epstein (Robert Hegyes) and Horshack, to whom Mr. Palillo imparted two trademarks: a braying laugh that sounded like a DisposAll with a utensil caught in it, and a wild waving of his hand to answer Mr. Kotter (usually wrongly) while grunting: “Ooh, ooh, Mista Kahta! Mista Kahta!”

Mr. Travolta was the only one of the four to become a star. Mr. Hegyes died in January at 60.

After the show ended Mr. Palillo had supporting roles on television series like “The Love Boat” and “The A-Team.” But the Horshack typecasting became chronic. “I think producers could smell the desperation in me,” he told The Akron Beacon Journal in 1997.

Things changed in 1991 when he moved to New York. He was in the daytime drama “One Life to Live” for a year and had the lead role in an Off Off Broadway production of “Amadeus.” He taught drama at the University of Connecticut, his alma mater. In 2010, in West Hartford, Conn., he directed the first production of “The Lost Boy,” a musical he wrote based on the life of J. M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.”

Mr. Palillo was born on April 2, 1949, in Cheshire, Conn. He became involved in high school theater as a way of managing his stuttering, which abated over the years. Soon after graduating from college he was cast as an understudy in Lanford Wilson’s Off Broadway play “Hot L Baltimore,” the job he held when he landed the Horshack role.

Last year Mr. Palillo, who moved to Florida in 2010 to be near his aging mother, became a drama teacher at the G-Star School of the Arts, a charter high school in West Palm Beach. His survivors include his partner of 41 years, Joseph Gramm, as well as two brothers and a sister. His mother died last year.

Mr. Palillo made his peace with Horshack in recent years. The character was based largely on the person he was in high school, he told The Miami Herald in 2009. “He was the smartest kid in school,” he said.

The dumb act, he said, was a bluff. “He was giving up his aptitude in order to be liked. Then and now, that is a very common thing in teenagers.”





Published: August 18, 2012

  • Phyllis Thaxter, an actress who got her start in Hollywood in a war movie during World War II, overcame polio while pregnant and then carved out a long acting career that led to her final film role, as Superman’s mother, died on Tuesday in Longwood, Fla. She was 92.

Maurice Seymour

Phyllis Thaxter in 1943.

Warner Brothers, via Photofest

Ms. Thaxter and Glenn Ford as Ma and Pa Kent in “Superman.”

Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Skye Aubrey, who said that Ms. Thaxter had had Alzheimer’s disease for the last eight years.

Frequently praised for bringing a quiet intelligence to her roles, Ms. Thaxter made her movie debut in 1944 in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” Mervyn LeRoy’s film based on the true story of the first American bombing raid of Tokyo, led by Lt. Col. James Doolittle (played by Spencer Tracy). Ms. Thaxter played the wife of a pilot, played by Van Johnson, who volunteers for the mission with her support even though she is expecting a baby. He comes home badly wounded.

Ms. Aubrey said her mother had continued to receive fan mail as new generations discovered the film. “I got a letter about it the day she died, from Australia,” she said.

Under contract to MGM and then Warner Brothers, Ms. Thaxter acted in more than a dozen other films in the 1940s and early 1950s, often cast as the loyal, wholesome girl standing by her troubled or imperiled man.

Her movies included “The Sea of Grass,” with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn; “Blood on the Moon,” with Robert Mitchum; “She’s Working Her Way Through College,” with Ronald Reagan; “Springfield Rifle,” with Gary Cooper; “Jim Thorpe — All American,” with Burt Lancaster; and “The Breaking Point,” with John Garfield and Patricia Neal.

In August 1952, Ms. Thaxter went for a swim in the icy waters off Cushing’s Island, Me., and suddenly lost all strength in her legs. Her brother rescued her. It was the first symptom of polio.

Ms. Thaxter, who was pregnant, wound up in an iron lung because the disease had weakened the muscles needed for breathing. A few weeks later, however, she walked out of the hospital. She gave birth to a healthy son the following January.

The bout with polio left her with nerve problems that caused pain in her feet, her daughter said, but “she never complained.”

During the 1950s Ms. Thaxter began a prolific television career. Among the dozens of shows on which she appeared were “Wagon Train,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Fugitive” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

In “Superman,” the 1978 blockbuster starring Christopher Reeve, she and Glenn Ford played the childless farming couple Ma and Pa Kent, who chance upon a foundling baby under unique circumstances and adopt him, and soon catch on that to call him gifted and talented would be an understatement.

Phyllis St. Felix Thaxter was born on Nov. 20, 1919, in Portland, Me. Her father, Sidney, was a state supreme court justice; her mother, Phyllis Schuyler, was a Shakespearean actress and a journalist.

Ms. Thaxter studied at the Montreal Repertory Theater in the 1930s and made her way to Broadway, where Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne hired her as an understudy. In New York she met the actor Montgomery Clift.

“They were very much in love,” Ms. Aubrey said of her mother and Mr. Clift. “They talked about getting married. They were planning on it. Then he found out he was gay.”

Ms. Thaxter and Mr. Clift remained close friends, Ms. Aubrey said.

Ms. Thaxter was earning rave reviews on stage in the comedy “Claudia” when she was invited to Hollywood for a screen test and hired for “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.”

In a magazine interview soon after, she said she didn’t feel she belonged in Hollywood because she wasn’t beautiful or glamorous. Indeed, the Internet Movie Database says of her, “So natural and unglamorous was she that she tended to blend into the woodwork while the flashier actresses often stole the thunder and the notices.”

In 1944 Ms. Thaxter married James T. Aubrey Jr., who went on to run first CBS and then MGM. They divorced in 1962. Her second marriage, to Gilbert Lea, lasted 46 years, until his death in 2008.

Besides her daughter, Ms. Thaxter is survived by her son, James W. Aubrey; two stepchildren, Ann Fries and Thomas Lea; five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and several step-grandchildren.

In her later years, Ms. Thaxter told her daughter that some of her off-screen relationships with leading men had gone beyond flirtation.

“My mother was always the girl next door,” Ms. Aubrey said. “Well, she had a hell of a good time.”




Santi Visalli/Getty Images

Helen Gurley Brown was Cosmopolitan’s editor from 1965 until 1997. More Photos »


Published: August 13, 2012

  • Helen Gurley Brown, who as the author of “Sex and the Single Girl” shocked early-1960s America with the news that unmarried women not only had sex but thoroughly enjoyed it — and who as the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine spent the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more — died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger.


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Sophia Smith Collection/Smith College

Ms. Brown in 1965.

Marty Lederhandler/Associated Press

Ms. Brown in 1997. She helped reinvent magazines.

The Hearst Corporation, Cosmopolitan’s publisher, said in a news release that she died at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital after a brief stay there. She lived in Manhattan.

As Cosmopolitan’s editor from 1965 until 1997, Ms. Brown was widely credited with being the first to introduce frank discussions of sex into magazines for women. The look of women’s magazines today — a sea of voluptuous models and titillating cover lines — is due in no small part to her influence.

Before she arrived at Cosmopolitan, Ms. Brown had already shaken the collective consciousness with her best-selling book “Sex and the Single Girl.” Published in 1962, the year before Betty Friedan ignited the modern women’s movement with “The Feminine Mystique,” it taught unmarried women how to look their best, have delicious affairs and ultimately bag a man for keeps, all in breathless, aphoristic prose. (Ms. Brown was a former advertising copywriter.)

By turns celebrated and castigated, Ms. Brown was for decades a highly visible, though barely visible, public presence. A tiny, fragile-looking woman who favored big jewelry, fishnet stockings and minidresses till she was well into her 80s, she was a regular guest at society soirees and appeared often on television. At 5 feet 4, she remained a wraithlike hundred pounds throughout her adult life. That weight, she often said, was five pounds above her ideal.

Ms. Brown routinely described herself as a feminist, but whether her work helped or hindered the cause of women’s liberation has been publicly debated for decades. It will doubtless be debated long after her death. What is safe to say is that she was a Janus-headed figure in women’s history, simultaneously progressive and retrogressive in her approach to women’s social roles.

Few magazines have been identified so closely with a single editor as Cosmopolitan was with Ms. Brown. Before she took over, Cosmopolitan, like its competitors, was every inch a postwar product. Its target reader was a married suburbanite, preoccupied with maintaining the perfect figure, raising the perfect child and making the perfect Jell-O salad.

Ms. Brown tossed the children and the Jell-O, though she kept the diet advice with a vengeance. Yes, readers would need to land Mr. Right someday — the magazine left little doubt that he was still every woman’s grail. But in an era in which an unmarried woman was called an old maid at 23, the new Cosmopolitan gave readers license not to settle for settling down with just anyone, and to enjoy the search with blissful abandon for however long it took. Sex as an end in itself was perfectly fine, the magazine assured them. As a means to an end — the right husband, the right career, the right designer labels — it was better still.

In Ms. Brown’s hands, Cosmopolitan anticipated “Sex and the City” by three decades.

Gone was the housewife, apron in tow. In her place was That Cosmopolitan Girl, the idealized reader on whom Ms. Brown and her advertisers firmly trained their sights. Unencumbered by husband and children, the Cosmo Girl was self-made, sexual and supremely ambitious, a potent amalgam of Ragged Dick, Sammy Glick and Holly Golightly. She looked great, wore fabulous clothes and had an unabashedly good time when those clothes came off.

Forty-three when she took the magazine’s helm, Ms. Brown often described the Cosmo Girl as the young woman she had been — or dreamed of being — 20 years before.

A child of the Ozarks, Helen Marie Gurley was born on Feb. 18, 1922, in Green Forest, Ark., the younger of two daughters of a family of modest means. Her father, Ira, was a schoolteacher, as her mother, the former Cleo Sisco, had been before her marriage.

“I never liked the looks of the life that was programmed for me — ordinary, hillbilly and poor — and I repudiated it from the time I was 7 years old,” Ms. Brown wrote in her book “Having It All” (1982).

When Helen was a baby, Ira Gurley was elected to the state legislature, and the family moved to Little Rock. In 1932, when she was 10, Ira was killed in an elevator accident, leaving her mother depressed and impoverished. In 1937, Mrs. Gurley moved with her daughters to Los Angeles. There, Helen’s older sister, Mary, contracted polio; she spent the rest of her life paralyzed from the waist down and in later years battled alcoholism.

Though Helen was valedictorian of her high school class, she feared she could never transcend her family circumstances. At a time when a young woman’s main chance was to marry well, she felt ill equipped. She did not consider herself pretty, she wrote years afterward, and had rampant, intractable acne. She coined the word “mouseburger” to describe young women like her. [mouseburger, n., pejorative, < mouse + -burger. A physically unprepossessing woman with little money and few prospects. Cf. milquetoast, said of men.]

Helen Gurley persevered. She studied briefly at Texas State College for Women (it is now Texas Woman’s University), but with no money to continue, she returned to Los Angeles and enrolled in secretarial school, from which she graduated in 1941.

Around this time she had a short, inadvertent career as an escort. At 19, as Ms. Brown recounted in her memoir “I’m Wild Again” (2000), she answered a newspaper advertisement seeking young women for “social evenings.” She needed to support her mother and sister: What could be simpler, she reasoned, than earning $5 for going on a date? On her first outing, she and her gentleman caller parked and kissed a bit before the full extent of her responsibilities dawned on her. She fled with her $5 and her virtue.

She went on to hold a string of secretarial jobs — 17 by her own count — and discovered the measure of security that sex could bring. At every office, or so it seemed, there were bosses eager to fondle and dandle. In exchange, there might be a fur or an apartment or the wherewithal to keep her family going.

Helen Gurley eventually became an advertising copywriter in Los Angeles, first with Foote, Cone & Belding and later with Kenyon & Eckhardt. In 1959 she married David Brown, a former managing editor of Cosmopolitan who had become a Hollywood producer. “I look after him like a geisha girl,” she told The New York Times in 1970.

Mr. Brown, who produced “Jaws” and other well-known films, died in 2010; the couple had no children. Ms. Brown’s sister, Mary Gurley Alford, died before her.

This year Ms. Brown gave $30 million to Columbia and Stanford Universities, both of which Mr. Brown had attended, to create the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

In the early 1960s, Ms. Brown found herself at loose ends and cast about for a project. Her husband, who had recently stumbled on a cache of letters she had written in her 20s to a married man who was smitten with her, persuaded her to write “Sex and the Single Girl.”

Though the book seems almost quaint today (“An affair can last from one night to forever”), it caused a sensation when it was published in 1962 by Bernard Geis Associates. It sold millions of copies, turned Ms. Brown into a household name and inspired a movie of the same title starring Natalie Wood, released in 1964.

In 1963, the Browns moved to New York. Two years later, the Hearst Corporation asked Ms. Brown to take over Cosmopolitan, one of its less prepossessing magazines. Becalmed in the doldrums, Cosmopolitan favored articles on home and hearth, along with uplifting discussions of current affairs (“The Lyndon Johnson Only His Family Knows”).

Ms. Brown had never held an editing job, but her influence on Cosmopolitan was swift and certain: she did not so much revamp the magazine as vamp it.

Where just months earlier Cosmo’s covers had featured photos of demure, high-collared girl-next-door types like Mary Tyler Moore, Ms. Brown’s first issue, July 1965, showed a voluptuous blond model whose deep cleavage was barely contained by her plunging neckline.

What Cosmopolitan’s previous cover lines had lacked in pith and punch (“Diabetes: Will Your Children Inherit It?”), Ms. Brown’s more than made up for. “World’s Greatest Lover — What it was like to be wooed by him!” her inaugural cover proclaimed. Ms. Brown was not shy about disclosing the fact that in her 32 years with the magazine, her husband wrote all the cover lines.

Readers and advertisers flocked to the new Cosmo. When Ms. Brown took over, the magazine had a circulation of less than 800,000; at its height, in the 1980s, circulation approached three million.

Ms. Brown’s magazine did not find favor with everyone. In 1970, a group of feminists led by Kate Millett staged a sit-in at Ms. Brown’s office, protesting what they saw as her retrograde vision of womanhood. Even several nude male centerfolds (Burt Reynolds, April 1972; Arnold Schwarzenegger, August 1977) were for many critics insufficient counterweights.

But in retrospect, Ms. Brown’s work seems strikingly apolitical, beholden mostly to the politics of personal advancement. (In “Having It All,” she compares herself, favorably, to Eva Peron.) The advice she offered Cosmopolitan’s readers on winning the right friends and influencing the right people was squarely in the tradition of Dale Carnegie, if less vertically inclined.

Ms. Brown was declared a living landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a private nonprofit organization, in 1995. Like many landmarks, she had much restoration work done, which she spoke of candidly: a nose job, breast augmentation, face-lifts, eye lifts and injections of silicone and fat into her face to keep wrinkles at bay, among other procedures.

But while she could offset the physical tolls of aging, Ms. Brown could not always keep pace with changing times. She drew wide criticism for publishing an article in the January 1988 issue of Cosmopolitan that played down the risk of AIDS for heterosexual women. In the 1990s, when prominent men like Justice Clarence Thomas and Senator Robert Packwood were facing accusations of sexual harassment, Ms. Brown publicly disdained the charges, arguing that sexual attention from men is almost always flattering. Her remarks angered many feminists.

In 1996, with circulation declining and the perception that Ms. Brown had lost touch with her readers growing, Hearst announced that she would step down the next year as editor in chief. Ms. Brown’s last issue was February 1997; she was succeeded by Bonnie Fuller, the founding editor of the American edition of Marie Claire magazine.

Ms. Brown stayed on as the editor of Cosmopolitan’s international editions, continuing to work from an office appointed with pink silk walls, leopard-print carpet and a cushion embroidered with the maxim “Good Girls Go to Heaven/Bad Girls Go Everywhere.”

A biography of Ms. Brown, “Bad Girls Go Everywhere,” by Jennifer Scanlon, was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

Ms. Brown’s other books include “Sex and the Office” (1964), “Helen Gurley Brown’s Single Girl’s Cookbook” (1969) and “Sex and the New Single Girl” (1970), all published by Bernard Geis. In 1993, William Morrow published “The Late Show,” Ms. Brown’s advice book for women over 50, in which she suggests that as women age and the supply of available men dwindles, they should simply appropriate their friends’ husbands for jaunty recreational sex.

Perhaps none of these things — not the books, not the unabashed look of Cosmopolitan and its legion of imitators, not the giddy pleasure with which American women embraced sex without shame — would have happened quite as soon if Ms. Brown had heeded a single piece of advice. In 1962, just before “Sex and the Single Girl” was due to be published, she received a telegram from her mother. In an interview with CNN in 1998, Ms. Brown recalled its contents.

“dear helen,” it read. “if you move very quickly, i think we can stop publication of the book.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 16, 2012

An obituary on Tuesday about Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, misstated part of the current name of the university in Texas that she attended. She briefly studied at Texas State College for Women, which is now known as Texas Woman’s University — not Texas Women’s University. The obituary also referred incorrectly to “mouseburger,” a word Ms. Brown invented to describe women, like her younger self, who were physically unprepossessing and had few prospects. She had used the word at least as early as 1971; she did not coin it in her book “Having It All,” published in 1982.


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