Monthly Archives: July 2013



Quick Facts

The International Day of Friendship is annually held on July 30 to celebrate friendships worldwide.


International Day of Friendship

International Day of Friendship 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

International Day of Friendship 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The International Day of Friendship is a United Nations (UN) day that promotes the role that friendship plays in promoting peace in many cultures. It is observed on July 30 each year.

The UN has a special day to promote the concept of friendships across diverse backgrounds and cultures.©

What do people do?

To mark the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, organizations, and community groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that promote solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation.

Public life

The International Day of Friendship is a UN observance and not a public holiday.


In 2011, the UN proclaimed the International Day of Friendship with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, and cultures can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The UN wanted for the day to involve young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.

International Day of Friendship Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sat Jul 30 2011 International Day of Friendship United Nations observance
Mon Jul 30 2012 International Day of Friendship United Nations observance
Tue Jul 30 2013 International Day of Friendship United Nations observance
Wed Jul 30 2014 International Day of Friendship United Nations observance
Thu Jul 30 2015 International Day of Friendship United Nations observance

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Quick Facts

World Hepatitis Day is observed on July 28 every year to raise awareness of hepatitis and encourage prevention and treatment.


World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day 2013

Sunday, July 28, 2013

World Hepatitis Day 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

World Hepatitis Day is annually held on July 28 to promote awareness of hepatitis, a disease that affects the liver.

One way of preventing hepatitis is to get a vaccine against the disease before travelling


What do people do

Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Hepatitis Alliance work with individuals and community groups to promote awareness raising campaigns worldwide about hepatitis. Information about World Hepatitis Day is usually distributed via social media, newspapers, posters, and through the World Health Organization (WHO) website.


Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver and can be caused by different things. One of the most common causes of chronic (long-term) hepatitis is viral infection. According to the World Hepatitis Alliance, about 500 million people are currently infected with chronic hepatitis B or C and 1 in 3 people have been exposed to one or both viruses.

The World Hepatitis Alliance first launched World Hepatitis Day in 2008. Following on, the UN declared official recognition of this event in 2010.


There is a different theme for World Hepatitis Day each year. Past themes included “Get tested” and “This is hepatitis”.

World Hepatitis Day Observances


Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Thu Jul 28 2011 World Hepatitis Day United Nations observance
Sat Jul 28 2012 World Hepatitis Day United Nations observance
Sun Jul 28 2013 World Hepatitis Day United Nations observance
Mon Jul 28 2014 World Hepatitis Day United Nations observance
Tue Jul 28 2015 World Hepatitis Day United Nations observance

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Carline Ray Collection

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm photographed in the 1940s with Carline Ray on guitar, third from left in the second row.


Published: July 27, 2013

  • Carline Ray, a pioneering jazz instrumentalist and vocalist who joined the all-female International Sweethearts of Rhythm in the 1940s, later performed with Erskine Hawkins and Mary Lou Williams and this year released her first recording as a lead vocalist, died on July 18 in Manhattan. She was 88.

Carline Ray Collection

Carline Ray in her first promotional photo.

The cause was complications of a stroke, said her daughter, the jazz singer Catherine Russell.

In an era when female jazz musicians were rare, Ms. Ray was often the only woman in the band in a career that spanned seven decades and multiple instruments and genres, from calypso to choral works.

“She always made a point of saying she wasn’t a female musician,” Ms. Russell recalled. “She was a musician who happened to be female.”

Her mother was proud but also felt a constant need to prove herself in a world dominated by men.

“She would never let anybody help her with her amplifier or her bass,” Ms. Russell said.

Ms. Ray started her career surrounded by female musicians, though, as a member of a later incarnation of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an integrated, all-female group that first formed in the 1930s at a Mississippi school for poor black children.

Ms. Ray had just graduated from Juilliard, in 1946, when she joined the Sweethearts, playing rhythm guitar and singing. A few years later she joined the band led by Mr. Hawkins, singing but also playing rhythm guitar. Later, when she married the bandleader Luis Russell, who had helped organize a group led by Louis Armstrong, she insisted that she continue performing, and she did.

Mr. Russell died, in 1963, when Catherine was 7. Ms. Ray kept playing, taking her daughter to recording sessions and performances. She spent decades as a session musician, playing an electric Fender bass at studios in midtown. She sang classical choral works, including performances of Christmas music conducted by Leonard Bernstein. She sang backup on recordings for Patti Page, Bobby Darrin and other performers.

Ms. Ray often sang and played bass with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, including in its 1971 production of “Mary Lou’s Mass,” by Ms. Williams, the pianist and composer. She also performed with big bands led by Sy Oliver and Skitch Henderson and, when it was under the direction of Mercer Ellington, the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In 1980, she received a grant to study the upright acoustic bass, with Major Holley.

When interest in female performers began increasing in the late 1970s, Ms. Ray became a regular performer at women’s jazz festivals, and later in life she was a mentor to younger female musicians, including the bassists Nicki Parrott and Mimi Jones. She also played in touring and educational groups featuring female musicians, including Jazzberry Jam.

“She wasn’t out there waving the flag saying ‘I’m a woman in jazz,’ ” Sally Placksin, the author of “American Women in Jazz,” said in an interview this week. “She was just always out there playing.”

Carline Ray was born on April 21, 1925, in Manhattan. Her father, Elisha Ray, was a horn player who graduated from Juilliard the year she was born. He had played with James Reese Europe and had offers for more musical work but, seeking steady income for his new family, he took a job with the post office not long after he graduated.

Ms. Ray entered Juilliard at 16 and stayed five years, after changing her major from piano to composition. In 1956 she received a masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Ray is survived by a sister, Irma Sloan.

Ms. Russell spent several years working with her to choose songs and arrangements for “Vocal Sides,” her mother’s first recording as a lead vocalist.

“Her aim was not to be a front person,” Ms. Russell said. “She used to tell me that she wanted to be a part of something bigger.”





Published: July 27, 2013

  • J. J. Cale, a musician and songwriter whose blues-inflected rock influenced some of the genre’s biggest names and whose songs were recorded by Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash among others, died on Friday in La Jolla, Calif. He was 74.

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

J. J. Cale died on Friday in La Jolla, Calif. Mr. Cale was best known as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” songs made famous by his collaborator, Eric Clapton.

Mr. Cale suffered a heart attack and died at Scripps Memorial Hospital around 8 p.m. on Friday evening, a statement posted on his Web site said.

He is best known as the writer of “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” songs made famous when they were recorded by his collaborator, Eric Clapton.

A multi-instrumentalist, Mr. Cale often played all of the parts on his albums, also recording and mixing them himself. He is also credited as one of the architects of the 1970s Tulsa sound, a blend of rockabilly, blues, country and rock that came to influence Neil Young and Bryan Ferry, among others. He won a Grammy Award in 2007 for an album with Mr. Clapton.

“Basically, I’m just a guitar player that figured out I wasn’t ever gonna be able to buy dinner with my guitar playing,” Mr. Cale told an interviewer for his official biography. “So I got into songwriting, which is a little more profitable business.”

John Weldon Cale was born in Oklahoma in 1938. He recorded “After Midnight” in the mid-1960s, according to the biography, but had retreated to his native Tulsa and “given up on the business part of the record business” by the time Mr. Clapton covered it in 1970. He heard it on the radio that year, he told NPR, “and I went, ‘Oh, boy, I’m a songwriter now. I’m not an engineer or an elevator operator.’ ”

Mr. Cale released an album, “Naturally,” in 1972, to capitalize on that success, and continued to tour and release new music until 2009. But he declined to put his image on any of his covers and kept his vocals low amid the instruments on his recordings. He developed a reputation as a private figure and a musician’s musician while his songs were covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Band, Deep Purple and Tom Petty, among others.

“I’d like to have the fortune,” he said in his biography, “but I don’t care too much about the fame.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 27, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled the first name of one of the musicians who was influenced by the Tulsa sound. He is Bryan Ferry, not Brian.




Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Steve Berrios performing with the Fort Apache Band in 2003.


Published: July 27, 2013

  • Steve Berrios, a master percussionist whose command of jazz, Latin and Caribbean folk music traditions figured prominently in the sophisticated rhythmic drive behind a wide range of jazz and Latin-jazz fusion bands, died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 68.

Todd Barkan, a record producer and friend, confirmed the death, but no cause was announced.

Mr. Berrios was a fixture of the New York Latin jazz scene for 40 years, playing in groups led by Max Roach, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente and Grover Washington Jr. He was a founding member of the Fort Apache Band, a popular Latin jazz fusion ensemble led by Jerry Gonzalez.

Mr. Berrios grew up in Upper Manhattan with neighbors like Mr. Puente, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria, all icons of Latin music and friends of his father, Steven Berrios, who was a professional drummer in dance bands.

Starting his professional career at 16, the younger Mr. Berrios credited a host of mentors, including his father, with helping him develop both an authoritative style — described by fellow percussionist Eddie Bobe in 2002 as “reigning behind the beat” — and a sure-footed fluidity in moving from one musical idiom to another, matching his fluency in both English and Spanish.

He began touring and recording at 19 in a band led by Mr. Santamaria, a Cuban-born conga player considered the best of his generation. He learned to play batá sacred drums — hourglass shaped instruments used in the Afro-Caribbean religion called Santería — from Julito Collazo, a prominent drummer in the band who later left music for a religious life.

Mr. Berrios played conga, djembe, cowbells, marimba, timpani and glockenspiel in Dizzy Gillespie’s band on a good-will tour of Cuba in the 1980s.

From the drummer Max Roach, he said, he learned leadership. “I don’t care who the leader of the band is,” Mr. Berrios said in a 2007 interview with the online journal All About Jazz. “Once the tune is counted off, the drummer is the leader of the band. The drummer controls the dynamics, the tempo, the feel of the music, everything.”

Mr. Berrios recorded more than a dozen albums as a member of the Fort Apache Band, including “The River Is Deep,” (1982) “Obatalà,” (1988) “Rumba Para Monk,” (1988) “Earthdance,” (1990) and “Moliendo Café” (1991).

“And Then Some!” (1997), one of the few albums he recorded at the head of his own group, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance.

Mr. Berrios was born in Manhattan on Feb. 24, 1945, soon after his parents arrived in New York from Puerto Rico. He started learning to play the trumpet in junior high, but found his father’s drum set a better fit.

He is survived by four daughters, Aisha Jafar, and Merida, Cindy and Angela Barrios; and a son, Steve.

In recent interviews, he reflected on being little known outside the world of jazz musicians and aficionados despite a long career.

His personal semi-obscurity bothered him less, he said, than the general public disregard for drummers as artists.

“Most people look at the drummer as an ignorant timekeeper that doesn’t know anything about music or forms,” he said in the 2007 interview. “But a drummer has to be as intelligent as the horn players. He has to know the vernacular, the history of the music.” A horn player can take a break. A drummer never leaves. “We’re like royalty,” he said.




George Tames/The New York Times

Sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson interviewed a couple at the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation in St. Louis in 1969.


Published: July 25, 2013

  • Virginia E. Johnson, a writer, researcher and sex therapist who with her longtime collaborator, William H. Masters, helped make the frank discussion of sex in postwar America possible if not downright acceptable, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. She was 88.

Her son, Scott Johnson, confirmed the death.

Dr. Masters was a gynecologist on the faculty of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis when he began his research into human sexuality in the mid-1950s. Ms. Johnson, who joined him in 1957 after answering an advertisement for an assistant, worked alongside him for more than three decades. She was variously his research associate, wife and former wife.

The collaborators burst into public consciousness with their first book, a clinical tome titled “Human Sexual Response.” All about sensation, it created precisely that when it was published by Little, Brown in 1966. Although Masters and Johnson deliberately wrote the book in dry, clinical language to pre-empt mass titillation, their subject — the physiology of sex — was unheard-of in its day.

The book made Masters and Johnson an institution in American popular culture. They were interviewed widely in the news media, wrote for popular magazines including Playboy and Redbook, and on more than one occasion caused heated public controversy. Their work was discussed in rapt half-whispers at suburban cocktail parties and even inspired a band, Human Sexual Response, a Boston-based New Wave group of the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Their other books, also published by Little, Brown, include “Human Sexual Inadequacy” (1970); “The Pleasure Bond: A New Look at Sexuality and Commitment” (1974, with Robert J. Levin); “Human Sexuality” (1982, with Robert C. Kolodny); and “Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving” (1986, with Dr. Kolodny).

The couple’s work was therapeutic as well as scientific. The medical establishment had long treated sexual dysfunctions psychoanalytically, but Masters and Johnson took a more physical approach. They were credited with helping thousands of men with impotence and premature ejaculation, and thousands of women with difficulty in achieving orgasm, among other problems. In doing so, they helped establish the field of modern sex therapy, training a generation of therapists throughout the country.

The couple’s research corrected many longstanding scientific misconceptions and overturned age-old cultural taboos. Much as the biologist Alfred C. Kinsey had paved the way for Masters and Johnson with his reports on human sexuality in the 1940s and early ’50s, Masters and Johnson in turn helped make possible the mainstream careers of later authorities like Alex Comfort, the author of “The Joy of Sex” (1972), and Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

It was an index of just how much their work had been accepted, Masters and Johnson told The Washington Post in 1978, that Johnny Carson had not made a single joke about them in the previous two years.

More than any investigator before them, Masters and Johnson moved sex out of the bedroom and into the laboratory, where it could be observed, measured, recorded, quantified and compared. While Kinsey had relied on interviews and questionnaires to elicit accounts of his subjects’ sexual habits, Masters and Johnson gathered direct physiological data on what happens to the human body during sex, from arousal to orgasm.

Working with an initial group of 694 volunteers — 382 men and 312 women — Masters and Johnson hooked subjects up to instruments that recorded heart rate, brain activity and metabolism as they copulated or masturbated. Using a tiny camera placed in an artificial phallus, they were able to capture direct evidence, previously unseen, of what happens inside the vagina during female sexual arousal.

Among their findings were these:

■ Contrary to popular belief, there was absolutely no difference between a vaginal orgasm (the good kind, according to Freud) and a clitoral orgasm (the bad kind).

■ The length of a man’s penis has no bearing on his ability to satisfy his partner.

■ For elderly people, a group long considered sexually demure if not altogether chaste, vigorous sexual activity was not only possible but normal.

Ms. Johnson was often described in news articles as a psychologist, although in fact she never finished college. When Dr. Masters hired her, she was a divorced mother of two who had been a country singer, psychology student and writer. But as he often said, Ms. Johnson was precisely what he was looking for: an intelligent, mature woman who could help put his female subjects at ease.

Mary Virginia Eshelman was born in Springfield, Mo., on Feb. 11, 1925. An accomplished pianist and mezzo-soprano as a young woman, she performed country music under the name Virginia Gibson on a Springfield radio station, KWTO. She studied at Drury College in Springfield and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and was later a business writer for The St. Louis Daily Record.

As Ms. Johnson said in interviews, she was raised to believe that a woman’s goal was marriage, and she took the injunction to heart. When she was very young, she married a Missouri politician; the marriage lasted two days. She later wed a lawyer many years her senior; that marriage also ended in divorce. In 1950, she married George Johnson, a bandleader, with whom she had two children. The couple were divorced in 1956.

Besides her son, Scott, Ms. Johnson’s survivors include a daughter, Lisa Young, and two grandchildren.

At their organization in St. Louis — originally known as the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation — Ms. Johnson was mainly responsible for administration while Dr. Masters oversaw the science. In 1978, the organization was renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute, with Ms. Johnson as a co-director.

Although many reviewers praised their work over the years, it was not always well received. Their book “Homosexuality in Perspective” (1979) was criticized by both opponents and proponents of gay rights. Opponents condemned the book for its assertion that gay men and lesbians were just as entitled as straight people to have their sexual problems treated. Proponents were angered because the range of treatments Masters and Johnson provided included therapy to “cure” gay people who said they wanted to be straight.

The couple’s most controversial book was “Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS” (Grove Press, 1988), written with Dr. Kolodny. It argued that the virus that causes AIDS was “now running rampant in the heterosexual community” and would continue attacking the straight population “at a frightening pace.” It also suggested that the virus could be contracted through casual contact with things like contaminated contact lenses or food prepared by an infected restaurant worker.

The book touched off an uproar. The authors were widely criticized for its basic premise and alarmist language. They were also taken to task for not having first submitted their findings for peer review, the custom for scientific literature. C. Everett Koop, then the surgeon general, publicly called the book “irresponsible” and accused the authors of using “scare tactics.” In interviews, the authors defended their conclusions.

For much of their 35-year collaboration, Dr. Masters’s and Ms. Johnson’s personal lives were intertwined. In 1971, they were married in a private ceremony. (Dr. Masters had been married once before.) They divorced amicably in 1993, citing the inability to reconcile his relentless workaholism with her more sociable temperament.

Dr. Masters, who later married again, closed the institute in 1994. He died in 2001. In the late 1990s, Ms. Johnson started and ran the Virginia Johnson Masters Learning Center, in Creve Coeur, Mo., near St. Louis; the center provided audiocassettes and literature about overcoming sexual dysfunctions.

During their marriage, Dr. Masters and Ms. Johnson were often asked what helped keep things harmonious between them. Their reply was simple: there was one subject, they said, that they almost never discussed at home.

The subject was politics.

 This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 27, 2013

Because of an editing error, an obituary on Friday about Virginia E. Johnson, who collaborated with Dr. William H. Masters on pioneering research into sexual behavior, omitted her survivors. They are her son, Scott Johnson; her daughter, Lisa Young; and two grandchildren. The obituary also misstated the year their organization, the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation, in St. Louis, was renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute. It was in 1978, not 1973.





Published: July 26, 2013

  • George P. Mitchell, the son of a Greek goatherd who capped a career as one of the most prominent independent oilmen in the United States by unlocking immense natural gas and petroleum resources trapped in shale rock formations, died on Friday in Galveston, Tex. He was 94.

James Estrin/The New York Times

On a hunch, Mr. Mitchell began drilling shale rock formations in the Texas dirt fields where he had long pumped oil and gas.

His family confirmed the death.

Mr. Mitchell’s role in championing new drilling and production techniques like hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is credited with creating an unexpected natural gas boom in the United States. In a letter to President Obama last year, Daniel Yergin, the energy scholar and author, proposed that Mr. Mitchell be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“It is because of him that we can talk seriously about ‘energy independence,’ ” he said. (Mr. Mitchell did not receive the award.)

Mr. Mitchell combined academic training as a petroleum engineer and geologist with a gambler’s cunning to become an influential businessman worth $2 billion. He was a petroleum industry spokesman, then a persistent voice for “sustainable,” or environmentally responsible, economic growth. On 27,000 piney acres north of Houston, he built a town called The Woodlands partly to demonstrate his ideas.

The most significant chapter in his life came last. In the 1980s and ’90s, when many energy analysts foresaw only irreversible declines in hydrocarbon supplies, Mr. Mitchell got busy poking holes in Texas dirt on the hunch that they were wrong. Marshaling mostly existing technologies, he began fracturing shale rock formations in fields where he had long pumped oil and gas at shallower depths.

After 17 years of trying, Mr. Mitchell finally hit pay dirt with gushers of gas in 1998. The flow was so prodigious that a competitor thought that the announcement was a practical joke. The $6 million that Mr. Mitchell had put into the project was “surely the best development money in the history of gas,” The Economist magazine said.

The success enabled him to sell his company, the Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation, to the Devon Energy Corporation for $3.5 billion in 2001. Included in the sale were the results of years of drilling more than 10,000 wells, many of which still yielded hydrocarbons.

Fracking uses water and chemical injections to force more oil from reservoirs. Both the Gas Technology Institute, a nonprofit research organization, and the federal Energy Department worked with Mr. Mitchell, giving him technical help and some financing. He also received federal tax credits.

Techniques for hydraulic fracturing vary, but Mr. Mitchell’s involved drilling straight down, then making a 90-degree turn thousands of feet underground to penetrate shale formations horizontally. A high-pressure mix of chemical- and sand-laced water was then injected, releasing trapped gas.

Fracking and other unconventional techniques have doubled North American natural gas reserves to three quadrillion cubic feet — the rough equivalent of 500 million barrels of oil, or almost double Saudi Arabia’s crude inventory. The increase came after four decades of declines. Gas is also being economically produced in northern states like New York, which had been considered barren of commercial hydrocarbons.

The same techniques worked for oil extraction. The Oil and Gas Journal reported this April that a well that would have produced 70 barrels a day using conventional drilling can produce 700 with fracking. North Dakota’s oil boom is one result.

Environmentalists and landowners worry that the new techniques will pollute groundwater and cause other environmental problems, particularly as they are deployed in virgin territories. Industry promises that good engineering practices will curb abuses, and some independent studies support that view.

“We can frack safely if we frack sensibly,” Mr. Mitchell and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York wrote last year in an op-ed column in The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Mitchell’s roots reached back to Greece, where his father, Savvas Paraskevopoulos, tended goats before immigrating to the United States in 1901, arriving at Ellis Island at the age of 20. He worked for railroads, and gradually moved west. When a paymaster got tired of writing his long name and threatened to fire him, Mr. Paraskevopoulos took the paymaster’s name, Mike Mitchell.

Mike Mitchell settled in Galveston, where he ran a succession of shoe-shining and pressing shops. When he saw the picture of a beautiful woman in a local Greek newspaper, he headed for Florida, where she had settled, according to family lore. He persuaded her to abandon her fiancé and marry him. They lived above the shoeshine shop.

George Phydias Mitchell was born in Galveston on May 21, 1919. His mother died when he was 13, and he finished high school at 16. No college would accept him at that age so he went to another high school for a year and brushed up on math. At Texas A&M University, he scrambled for tuition money until he started selling gold-embossed stationery to students lonesome for sweethearts back home. He finished first in his class in petroleum engineering and was captain of the tennis team.

He worked for Amoco in the oil fields of Texas and Louisiana, before joining the Army Corps of Engineers and overseeing construction projects. After his discharge, he started an oil company with partners, including his brother Johnny, who strolled Houston in jungle shorts and a pith helmet. The brothers did many of their early deals at a drugstore counter.

When a Chicago bookie offered the fledgling company a deal for an area north of Fort Worth known as “the wildcatters’ graveyard,” they bit. They quickly drilled 13 successful wells, and bet everything they had to expand their holdings in the area to 300,000 acres. That became the backbone of a company that hit oil or gas on 35 to 40 percent of the 10,000 wells it drilled.

In the 1960s, Mr. Mitchell, looking to diversify, bought 66,000 acres of mostly undeveloped real estate within a 50-mile radius of Houston. In 1974 he created The Woodlands, a 27,000-acre forested development 27 miles north of Houston, helped by a $50 million loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. More than 100,000 people live there today. The Exxon Mobil corporation is building a 385-acre campus for 10,000 employees there.

Partly motivated by a desire to solve urban problems, Mr. Mitchell visited the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and the Watts section of Los Angeles when planning the project. In 1997, he sold Mitchell Energy’s stake in The Woodlands for $543 million. He said in 2001 that it had not achieved the ethnic mix for which he hoped, but recommended that it be annexed by Houston to increase diversity.

In his early 20s, Mr. Mitchell met two twin sisters, Cynthia and Pamela Woods. He first dated Pamela but married Cynthia, with whom he created the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. It has given more than $400 million to a variety of causes. Mrs. Mitchell died in 2009.

Mr. Mitchell is survived by his sister, Maria Mitchell Ballantyne; three daughters, Pamela Maguire, Meredith Dreiss and Sheridan Lorenz; seven sons, Scott, Mark, Kent, Greg, Kirk, Todd and Grant; 23 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife’s twin sister also survives him.




Richard Perry/The New York Times

Dennis Farina at a “Law & Order” shoot in Times Square.


Published: July 23, 2013

  • Dennis Farina, who spent 20 years as a police officer in Chicago before he began patrolling Hollywood as a character actor, starring as a detective on the television shows “Law & Order” and “Crime Story” and sometimes crossing into crime, as he did in the movie “Get Shorty,” died on Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 69.


Mr. Farina as Lt. Mike Torello, with Darlanne Fluegel, in “Crime Story.’

His publicist, Lori De Waal, announced the death. She said he had recently had a blood clot in his lung.

Mr. Farina eventually had a longer career as an actor than he did in law enforcement, infusing dozens of roles with world-weary credibility and a convincing nexus of nose and mustache.

He had been working as a detective in a special burglary unit in Chicago when a mutual friend introduced him to the director Michael Mann, who was making his first feature film, “Thief.” Mr. Farina was initially a consultant for the movie before being given a small role as a crime boss’s enforcer. The film, which starred James Caan, was released in 1981.

For several years afterward, Mr. Farina juggled his police job with local theater roles and appearances in movies and television shows. He was often cast by Mr. Mann, including in several episodes of his hit show “Miami Vice.”

Mr. Farina quit police work after Mr. Mann cast him in 1986 in the NBC series “Crime Story” as Lt. Mike Torello, a detective who pursues a Chicago mobster to Las Vegas. “Crime Story” was well regarded by critics but lasted just two seasons.

Mr. Farina’s work in “Crime Story” led to a role in the 1986 film “Manhunter,” which Mr. Mann also directed. In 1988 Mr. Farina appeared in the film “Midnight Run” and in 1998 in Steven Spielberg’s World War II epic, “Saving Private Ryan.”

One of his most notable characters was the mobster Ray (Bones) Barboni in the 1995 film “Get Shorty,” based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. The movie, which also starred John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo and Danny DeVito, was a critical and commercial success; Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, called Mr. Farina’s work “a funny deadpan performance.”

The quality of roles he accepted declined for a time after “Get Shorty” — he appeared in a short-lived sitcom on NBC, “In-Laws,” and in several disappointing films, including “Stealing Harvard” — but his fortunes improved in 2004, when he was cast as the dapper detective Joe Fontana on “Law & Order.”

In a radio interview several years ago, Mr. Farina said his character on that show was “firm but fair” and “took advantage of every inch that he could, and if that didn’t work sometimes maybe he had to stretch things a little.”

Mr. Farina said he was honored to be on the show, one of the longest-running in television history, but was also amused, as a former detective, by the increasing number of programs that emphasized the roles of scientists in solving crimes.

“While forensics plays a huge part in law enforcement nowadays, you still need the foot soldiers,” he told The Times in 2004. “You still need the guy who can knock on the door, you still need the guy who can write down the license plate numbers.”

In 2012, Mr. Farina appeared on the short-lived HBO series “Luck” as a henchman to a horse-racing gambler played by Dustin Hoffman. The show, which had its premiere in 2012, ceased filming in March after three horses died during production.

He most recently appeared on the Fox comedy “New Girl” and was in two movies tentatively scheduled for release this year, “Authors Anonymous” and “Lucky Stiff.”

Mr. Farina was born on Feb. 29, 1944, in Chicago. His survivors include his longtime companion, Marianne Cahill; three sons, Dennis Jr., Michael and Joseph, and six grandchildren. His first marriage ended in divorce.

Even after Mr. Farina left the Chicago Police Department in the mid-1980s, he continued to live in his hometown, and the characters he played were often from Chicago even if a show or movie was set elsewhere. The Chicago police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy, said in a statement on Monday that Mr. Farina was “a true-blue Chicago character” who “never forgot where he came from.”

Mr. Farina said as much himself.

“My personality was formed by Chicago,” he told Cigar Aficionado magazine in 1999. “It’s very American, very straightforward. If you can’t find it, or make it there, you won’t make it anywhere. It’s a very honest place.”





July 23, 2013 8:22PM


Willie Louis was a witness for the prosecution in the Emmett Till case. He was known as Wiile Reed at the time of the trial.   |  University of Memphis Library photo

Article Extras

Updated: July 24, 2013 2:24AM

Willie Louis heard Emmett Till scream as he was viciously beaten in 1955.

And Mr. Louis bravely testified in court against two white men — telling the jury of the “hollering” and “licks” he heard — despite the danger his testimony posed in the segregated South.

Mr. Louis, who went by the name Willie Reed before moving to Chicago after the historic trial in Mississippi, died July 18 at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, his wife said.  Mr. Louis, a longtime Englewood resident, was 76.

“What stood out, and what stands out to me about Willie the most, is his courage,” said Emmett Till’s cousin, the Rev. Wheeler Parker, 74, who had traveled to Mississippi with Emmett Till. “He was nothing but a godsend.”

Mike Small, a teacher who has studied the landmark case, called Mr. Louis “one of the unsung civil rights heroes in Chicago.”

Emmett Till was 14 years old when he was murdered after whistling at a white woman outside a grocery store in Mississippi.

The youth was kidnapped  and taken to a tool shed.

It was near there that Mr. Louis, then 18, saw  the boy in a truck with several other men. Mr. Louis also heard a beating coming from inside that tool shed. The truck had also been parked in front of the shed.

In an interview with “60 Minutes” nearly a decade ago, Mr. Louis said, “I heard the screaming, beating, the screaming and beating.”

Mr. Louis was also approached by one of the accused killers, J.W. Milam, who carried with him a pistol, and asked if he’d heard anything. Mr. Louis told him he hadn’t seen anything, he told “60 Minutes.”

But Mr. Louis couldn’t keep secret what he saw, becoming a key witness in the trial.  Despite his testimony, the all-white jury acquitted Milam and co-defendant Roy Bryant.  The murder and acquittal were among the sparks that ignited the civil rights movement.

“I couldn’t have walked away from that like that because Emmett was 14, probably never been to Mississippi in his life and had come to visit his grandfather, and they killed him. That’s not right,” he said in the interview.

The trial took a toll on Mr. Louis. The Greenwood. Miss., native was whisked away after the trial and came to Chicago where he suffered a nervous breakdown, his wife, Juliet Louis, 68, said. Mr. Louis also changed his name to find anonymity.

Mr. Louis worked at Jackson Park Hospital as a surgical orderly for nearly 50 years. That’s where he met his wife.

The pair were working in the intensive care unit at the hospital and Mr. Louis sweet-talked the nurse’s aide.

“He said ‘Hey there. Why don’t you come over here and give me a kiss?’” Juliet Louis said. “I went over there and kissed him on his jaw.”

The couple married in 1976. It was nearly eight years later that Juliet Louis found out about her husband’s involvement in the Emmett Till case.

“He never really got over that,” Juliet Louis said. That was something that really bothered him, and he was keeping it in him.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Louis is survived by his step-son, Sollie McKinnon; seven grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at New Commandment Church of God in Christ, 1742 W. 63rd St.


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Sunspot cycle

D. Hathaway / NASA / MSFC

The Weakest Solar Cycle in 100 Years

July 24, 2013                                                                | Scientists are struggling to explain the Sun’s bizarre recent behavior. Is it a fluke, or a sign of a deeper trend? > read more

Snack Starts Swinging Around Black Hole

July 25, 2013                                                                | Astronomers around the world are watching as the gaseous object called G2 heads for a close pass around the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole. Now it looks like the distended cloud is starting to swing back toward us. > read more

Spacecraft Look Back at Planet Earth

July 23, 2013                                                                | July 19th was a Big Day for our home planet, as two spacecraft, Cassini and Messenger, took snapshots of Earth and Moon from great distances. > read more


Radiant for Delta Aquariid meteors

Sky & Telesope diagram

Catch a “Shooting Star”

July 19, 2013                                                                | The Delta Aquariid meteor shower ramps up in late July, and you already have everything needed to enjoy the show: your eyes. > read more

Tour July’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

May 26, 2013                                                                  | At dusk, you’ll find Venus low in the west, Saturn well up in the south, and a celestial scorpion rising up in the east. Near the Scorpion’s stinger is a small star cluster that’s observable by eye. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

July 26, 2013                                                                  | Scorpius stands highest at nightfall, meteor showers are active, and the asteroid Juno awaits you at its brightest. > read more

            SkyWeek Television Show

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Sponsors: Meade Instruments Woodland Hills Camera & Telescope

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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 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

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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weiner on a roll cartoon

Randy Bish has been drawing cartoons at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review since 1985, where he produces six political cartoons each week and a sports cartoon on Sundays.

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Racists React With Shock, Anger to Fellow Activist’s Renunciation

by  Mark Potok  on July 18, 2013

White nationalists, learning yesterday of activist Derek Black’s renouncing of the movement, reacted with disbelief, conspiracy theories and unbridled fury. But it was the fact that Black, son of the former Alabama Klan leader who now runs the largest racist Web forum in the world, made his comments to the Southern Poverty Law Center that seemed to be the single factor that most rankled the racist world.

The reaction that may have been the most noticed came from Don Black, who expressed his shock about his son’s comments on his Stormfront blog. “Derek was here all weekend, helping us build and replace old windows” at the family home in West Palm Beach, Fla., the elder Black wrote. “He’s made it annoyingly obvious over the past few months he was no longer interested in WN [white nationalist] activism, but he always said he was still WN. I knew the Jews at the Poverty Palace [SPLC] were working hard, since he would be such a big prize for them.

“But he didn’t give us a clue as to what he planned today.”

“I don’t want to talk to him, but his big sister called him, and he confirmed that he had written what the SPLC posted,” Black added. “He says he doesn’t understand why we’d feel betrayed just because he announced his ‘personal beliefs’ to our worst enemies. Oh well. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anything else.”

On Vanguard News Network (VNN), another racist Web forum, one Leonard Rouse sounded similar. “He sent an email, meant for publication, to his worst enemy, repudiating everything he formerly stood for and that his father claimed and claims to stand for. …. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but Jesus.”

Others were far harsher. On the white nationalist Occidental Dissent website, “Maxfield Parrish” didn’t hold back. “He is a traitor, one without hope and one without redemption,” he said of Derek Black, 24. “Should WN’s ever seize power his name should figure prominently on the ‘Hunt Down List.’” Parrish went on to describe how the younger Black should be “softened up with brass knuckles to the face and groin, then water-boarded,” ultimately “reducing him to a quivering, gelatinous lump of obedient flesh,” before being exiled to Africa.

“He is now an open enemy of the survival of the race,” said a VNN posting from “N.B. Forrest” — a reference to Nathan Bedford Forrest, an antebellum owner of a major slaveyard, Confederate general and first national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Others, less furiously, were shocked by what they saw as Black’s adoption of “politically correct” language — talking about “people of color,” “structural oppression,” the need for affirmative action and so on. Some were particularly incensed that he apologized for actions that had harmed minorities and “activists striving for opportunity and fairness for all.” Doubtless, that sounded suspiciously like SPLC staffers to many of those reacting angrily to Black’s statement.

“Black has not only rejected WNism, he appears to have embraced the hardest of hardcore anti-racism in the process, and with the zeal of a convert,” a poster who gave his name only as Lew complained on the Occidental Dissent thread. “He covered the bases in regurgitating every anti-white cliché I can think of.”

Numerous posters on racist websites theorized that Derek Black had taken up with a Jewish, liberal or non-white girlfriend; that he was secretly gay; that he was acting out of anger at his father; that he was being blackmailed by the SPLC with an unspecified secret; or that he was still a believer, but wanted a normal life.

There were a few who tried to look at their own movement for answers. On Occidental Dissent, “Pro White Joe,” who is actually well-known Montana neo-Nazi April Gaede, said the problem with the white nationalist movement was its “overwhelming Negativity.” “The problem I see with WN and Nationalist websites in general, is you go to them expecting WN to be about ‘identity, preservation and self determination for Whites’ — Yet almost all of the discussion is rants about ‘niggers, jews and nazis’ and everyone is angry and paranoid.” Gaede is the mother of two daughters who once formed a racist band, Prussian Blue, but who have since renounced white nationalism like Derek Black.

And then there were those who acknowledged the most obvious conclusion — that it’s an error to indoctrinate young children and then expect them to hold to those beliefs as they become adults. “It’s a mistake to involve kids in the Movement, as we have learned the hard way,” “Kievasky” wrote on the Occidental Dissent thread. “Teach your kids right and wrong but don’t use them as spokesmen or public faces for anything. Religions do that too — they force children to publicly announce beliefs when they are too young to even have formed beliefs. You got to let kids be kids. White nationalism is like booze, guns and fast cars — for adults only.”



“But he didn’t give us a clue as to what he planned today.”

He did not give you a clue because he knew how you and your ilk would respond—-so the less you knew of his plans, the better for him.

“I don’t want to talk to him, but his big sister called him, and he confirmed that he had written what the SPLC posted,” Black added. “He says he doesn’t understand why we’d feel betrayed just because he announced his ‘personal beliefs’ to our worst enemies. Oh well. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anything else.”

On Vanguard News Network (VNN), another racist Web forum, one Leonard Rouse sounded similar. “He sent an email, meant for publication, to his worst enemy, repudiating everything he formerly stood for and that his father claimed and claims to stand for. ….”

Maybe, your son has realized that continuous hate consumes a person in heart, in body, in mind, in spirit. Your son obviously had enough of the poison that he was drowning in. The hate you fed him as a child. The vicious destruction you committed against him in the form of child abuse–teaching him to hate his fellow human beings.

“On the white nationalist Occidental Dissent website, “Maxfield Parrish” didn’t hold back. “He is a traitor, one without hope and one without redemption,” he said of Derek Black, 24.”

No, Mr. Parrish. You are a traitor. You are a traitor to treating all people right; you are a traitor against the Constitution of the United States of America; you are a traitor against all that is moral and right in accepting the decision that this young  man made for himself.

“Parrish went on to describe how the younger Black should be “softened up with brass knuckles to the face and groin, then water-boarded,” ultimately “reducing him to a quivering, gelatinous lump of obedient flesh,” before being exiled to Africa.”

So, terroristic threats to commit bodily injury is how you attempt to bring this young man back to the racist secesh fold? Keep in mind, any harm that befalls young Mr. Black will result in criminal charges against the attacker. Assault with intent to commit bodily injury; torture (waterboarding), and “reducing him to a quivering, gelatinous lump of obedient flesh” (“There must be obedience, or die!”), all fall under felony charges. Since young Mr. Black is an adult, he still has the right to make decisions for himself. Forcing him to continue beliefs in racist hate is stupid, and if you are able to forcibly detain him against his will, whether in his own home, or anywhere else, that constitutes kidnapping, which is still a federal offense.

As for young Mr. Black “being exiled to Africa”, all I can say is  “WTF!?”

So, that is the ultimate punishment for this young man:  send him on a vacation to Africa? And where to in Africa?

Tanzania? Kenya? Cote d’Ivoire?

I hear that Tanzania is very beautiful, the people friendly, and the flora and fauna are off the chain.

But, of course, in your twisted mind, Mr. Parrish, sending anyone to Africa is supposed to be some sort of death knell. On the contrary. Had this young man remained with the likes of his father and people like you, he most certainly would have gone through  a death of the soul, as well as the body–if he messed with the wrong person.

“On Occidental Dissent, “Pro White Joe,” who is actually well-known Montana neo-Nazi April Gaede, said the problem with the white nationalist movement was its “overwhelming Negativity.” “The problem I see with WN and Nationalist websites in general, is you go to them expecting WN to be about ‘identity, preservation and self determination for Whites’ — Yet almost all of the discussion is rants about ‘niggers, jews and nazis’ and everyone is angry and paranoid.”

Oh, wow, who’d have thunk it?

Constant harping about niggers, Jews, and  nazis (why Nazis, since so many of your ilk are just as venomous as they are) and your rampant demented paranoia, only serves to drive people away from such monsters as yourselves, Mr. Black senior and Mr. Parrish, as well you, Ms-well-known Montana neo-Nazi April Gaede.

 “White nationalism is like booze, guns and fast cars — for adults only.”

And just like booze (alchoholics), guns (excessive puerile love affairs with AK-47s), and fast cars (driving at top speeds to get away from the scenes of crimes some of you have committed), so many of you haters have pretty much destroyed yourselves by your own hands.

No need for anyone to go looking for a fight with any of you.

All of you are so very, very good at annihilating yourselves.

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Frank Wolfe/LBJ Library, via Reuters

Helen Thomas, a White House correspondent, questioned President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office in 1968. More Photos »


Published: July 20, 2013

  • WASHINGTON — Helen Thomas, whose keen curiosity, unquenchable drive and celebrated constancy made her a trailblazing White House correspondent in a press corps dominated by men and who was later regarded as the dean of the White House briefing room, died on Saturday at her home in Washington. She was 92.

Her death was announced by the Gridiron Club, one of Washington’s leading news societies. Ms. Thomas was a past president of the organization.

Ms. Thomas covered every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama for United Press International and, later, Hearst Newspapers. To her colleagues, she was the unofficial but undisputed head of the press corps, her status ratified by her signature line at the end of every White House news conference: “Thank you, Mr. President.”

Her blunt questions and sharp tone made her a familiar personality not only in the parochial world inside the Washington Beltway but also to television audiences across the country.

“Helen was a true pioneer, opening doors and breaking down barriers for generations of women in journalism,” President Obama said in a statement on Saturday. “She never failed to keep presidents — myself included — on their toes.”

Presidents grew to respect, even to like, Ms. Thomas for her forthrightness and stamina, which sustained her well after the age at which most people had settled into retirement. President Bill Clinton gave her a cake on Aug. 4, 1997, her 77th birthday. Twelve years later, President Obama gave her cupcakes for her 89th. At his first news conference in February 2009, Mr. Obama called on her, saying: “Helen, I’m excited. This is my inaugural moment.”

But 16 months later, Ms. Thomas abruptly announced her retirement from Hearst amid an uproar over her assertion that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back where they belonged, perhaps Germany or Poland. Her remarks, made almost offhandedly days earlier at a White House event, set off a storm when a videotape was posted.

In her retirement announcement, Ms. Thomas, whose parents immigrated to the United States from what is now Lebanon, said that she deeply regretted her remarks and that they did not reflect her “heartfelt belief” that peace would come to the Middle East only when all parties embraced “mutual respect and tolerance.”

“May that day come soon,” she said.

Ms. Thomas’s career bridged two eras, beginning during World War II when people got their news mostly from radio, newspapers and movie newsreels, and extending into the era of 24-hour information on cable television and the Internet. She resigned from U.P.I. on May 16, 2000, a day after it was taken over by an organization with links to the Unification Church.

Weeks later, Ms. Thomas was hired by Hearst to write a twice-weekly column on national issues. She spent the last 10 years of her working life there.

When Ms. Thomas took a job as a radio writer for United Press in 1943 (15 years before it merged with the International News Service to become U.P.I.), most female journalists wrote about social events and homemaking. The journalists who covered war, crime and politics, and congratulated one another over drinks at the press club were typically men.

She worked her way into full-time reporting and by the mid-1950s was covering federal agencies. She covered John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1960, and when he won she became the first woman assigned to the White House full time by a news service.

Ms. Thomas was also the first woman to be elected an officer of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the first to serve as its president. In 1975, she became the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, which for 90 years had been a men-only bastion of Washington journalists.

Ms. Thomas was known for her dawn-to-dark work hours, and she won her share of exclusives and near-exclusives. She was the only female print journalist to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his breakthrough trip to China in 1972.

“Helen was a better reporter than she was a writer — but in her prime had more than her share of scoops the rest of us would try to match,” Mark Knoller, the longtime CBS News White House reporter, wrote in a Twitter message on Saturday morning.

And, he added, “Pity the poor WH press aide who would try to tell Helen, ‘You can’t stand there.’ ”

In the Watergate era, she was a favorite late-night confidante of Martha Mitchell, the wife of John N. Mitchell, Mr. Nixon’s attorney general and campaign official. Mrs. Mitchell told Ms. Thomas that responsibility for the “third-rate burglary” at the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington and the cover-up that followed it had gone far above the midlevel officials who were implicated early on.

Helen Thomas Grills the Presidents

People with a vested interest in discrediting Mrs. Mitchell hinted that she was emotionally unstable and that she drank too much. But volatile or not, she was right. Ms. Thomas called Mrs. Mitchell, who died in 1976, “one of the first victims, and perhaps the only heroine, of the Watergate tidal wave.”

On April 22, 1981, three weeks after the attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life, Ms. Thomas and a reporter for The Associated Press interviewed the president, who told them of the “paralyzing pain” he had felt when a bullet went into his chest and of the panic that had overcome him when he could not breathe.

In 1971, Ms. Thomas married Douglas Cornell, a widower, who was about to retire as a White House reporter for The A.P. and was 14 years her senior. He died in 1982.

Ms. Thomas wrote half a dozen books. Her first, “Dateline: White House,” was published by Macmillan in 1975. Four others were published by Scribner: “Front Row at the White House: My Life and Times,” in 2000; “Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom From the Front Row at the White House,” in 2003; “Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public,” in 2006; and “Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do,” written with Craig Crawford, in 2009. With the illustrator Chip Bok, she also wrote a children’s book, “The Great White House Breakout,” about a little boy whose mother is president.

Helen Thomas was born in Winchester, Ky., on Aug. 4, 1920, and grew up in Detroit, one of 10 children of George and Mary Thomas. Her father, who could not read or write, encouraged his children to go to college.

In 1942, when Ms. Thomas graduated from what is now Wayne State University in Detroit with a major in English, the country was at war. She went to Washington to look for a job.

She found one, as a waitress. But she did not last long. “I didn’t smile enough,” she recalled years later.

The Washington Daily News soon hired her in a clerical job; soon after that, she began her career with the United Press news service.

“Where’d this girl come from?’” she asked of herself in an appearance before a women’s group in 1999. “I love my work, and I think that I was so lucky to pick a profession where it’s a joy to go to work every day.”

Before she left U.P.I. in May 2000, the news service had been shrinking its payroll and closing bureaus for years, a decline that led to its takeover by News World Communications, the organization founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church. It also publishes The Washington Times, a favorite of conservative readers in Washington.

“I do not intend to stay,” she said on departing. “United Press International is a great news agency. It has made a remarkable mark in the annals of American journalism and has left a superb legacy for future journalists. I wish the new owners all the best, great stories and happy landings.”

Ms. Thomas bitterly opposed the war in Iraq and made no effort to appear neutral at White House news conferences, where some of her questions bordered on the prosecutorial. In “Watchdogs of Democracy?,” she wrote that most White House and Pentagon reporters had been too willing to accept the Bush administration’s rationale for going to war.

In an interview with The New York Times in May 2006, Ms. Thomas was characteristically uncompromising and unapologetic.

“How would you define the difference between a probing question and a rude one?” she was asked.

“I don’t think there are any rude questions,” she said.

Mark Landler contributed reporting.





Published: July 20, 2013

  • Ashton Springer, who parlayed a professional life as an owner of a laundry into a career as the first high-profile black producer on Broadway, drawing theatergoers black and white to shows like “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” “Eubie!” and Athol Fugard’s “A Lesson From Aloes,” died on Monday in Mamaroneck, N.Y. He was 82.

Chris Sheridan

Myra and Ashton Springer at their home in 1978. His first Broadway production was “No Place to Be Somebody.”

The revue “Bubbling Brown Sugar” starred, from left, Lonnie McNeil, Carolyn Byrd, Newton Winters and Alton Lathrop.

The cause was pneumonia, his son Caz said.

A producer or co-producer of nearly a dozen Broadway shows in the 1970s and early ’80s, Mr. Springer was considered the first black producer to wield real power on the Great White Way. He is credited not only with helping to bring theater by and about African-Americans to wider public consciousness, but also with helping to bring late-20th-century African-American audiences to Broadway.

In 1979, The Washington Post called him “the hottest black producer out there.”

Mr. Springer’s first Broadway production, “No Place to Be Somebody,” centered on the lives of black denizens of a rough-and-tumble New York saloon, a milieu rarely explored by mainstream theater of the period. The play, by an unknown black writer named Charles Gordone, won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1970.

Writing in The New York Times, Walter Kerr described Mr. Gordone, who would become the first African-American dramatist to win the Pulitzer, as “the most astonishing new American playwright to come along since Edward Albee.”

Mr. Springer went on to produce two hit musical revues, “Bubbling Brown Sugar” (1976) and “Eubie!” (1978).

“Bubbling Brown Sugar,” which ran for 766 performances, celebrated the songs of black titans like Eubie Blake, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and W. C. Handy.

“Eubie!” focused on Blake’s work. Featuring the spectacular tap dancing of the brothers Gregory and Maurice Hines, it played 439 performances.

Mr. Springer was the executive producer of “A Lesson From Aloes,” Mr. Fugard’s critically acclaimed drama about racial tensions in South Africa. The play, which opened on Broadway in 1980 and ran for 96 performances, starred James Earl Jones, Maria Tucci and Harris Yulin.

Ashton Springer Jr. was born in Manhattan to parents who had come from the West Indies. As a student at Evander Childs High School in the Bronx, where the family moved when he was a boy, he helped produce local concerts featuring the likes of Miles Davis.

Mr. Springer attended Ohio State University before becoming a social worker in the Bronx. In the 1950s, he and his wife, Myra, opened a coin-operated laundry in the Jackson Heights section of Queens.

Through a friend of a friend, Mr. Springer met to N. Richard Nash, a playwright known for the 1954 drama “The Rainmaker.” Seeking a nontheatrical side business, Mr. Nash became an investor in the laundry. He gave Mr. Springer a room in his office in Manhattan’s theater district.

Captivated, Mr. Springer became Mr. Nash’s assistant on the 1960 musical comedy “Wildcat,” starring Lucille Ball, for which Mr. Nash was a producer and the author of the book.

In the mid-’60s, Jeanne Warner, a college classmate of Mr. Springer’s who was married to Mr. Gordone, gave him a copy of “No Place to Be Somebody.” Mr. Springer spent years trying to raise the money to produce it but was told repeatedly that audiences would care nothing for a gritty drama about black people.

He eventually persuaded Joseph Papp to stage it at the Public Theater, where it opened to admiring notices in 1969. It went on to play briefly at the ANTA Playhouse as part of a festival of Off Broadway plays, winning the Pulitzer shortly afterward.

In 1971, Mr. Springer and Ms. Warner brought the play to the Morosco Theater on Broadway, where it ran for 39 performances.

Mr. Springer’s other Broadway credits include “Cold Storage” (1977), a play about cancer patients starring Martin Balsam and Len Cariou, and an all-black revival of “Guys and Dolls” (1976), starring Robert Guillaume and Norma Donaldson.

In 1982, after an investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office, a State Supreme Court judge ordered Mr. Springer to “make an offer of full restitution” of more than $120,000 to 33 investors in “Eubie!” whose money had not been returned.

“The bottom line is that the show never grossed enough money to pay back anyway,” Mr. Springer told The Times that year.

In an e-mail message on Friday, Julianne Boyd, who conceived and directed “Eubie!,” said that Mr. Springer was never able to repay investors in that show.

The episode marked the end of Mr. Springer’s Broadway career. He was later a producer of Off Broadway shows, including the musical “Rollin’ on the T.O.B.A.,” about the black vaudeville circuit.

Mr. Springer’s marriage to Myra Burns ended in divorce; she died in 2005. Besides his son Caz, his survivors include another son, Mark, and a sister, Caludia Holston.

Today, although black directors, actors and playwrights are more visible on Broadway than in years past, they remain scarce among the ranks of its producers.

In an interview with The Associated Press in 1979, Mr. Springer voiced the hope that one day Broadway would be home to theater that transcended racial lines.

“Not black theater,” he explained. “Not white theater. Just theater.”





Published: July 17, 2013

  • Laurie Frink, an accomplished trumpeter who became a brass instructor of widespread influence and high regard, died on Saturday at her home in Manhattan. She was 61.

Alan Nahigian

Laurie Frink in May.

The cause was cancer of the bile duct, said the classical violist Lois Martin, her partner of 25 years.

Ms. Frink built her trumpet career as a section player, starting when few women were accepted in those ranks. She worked extensively on Broadway and with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, the Mel Lewis Orchestra and Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, often playing lead.

“She was one of the most accurate trumpet players I’ve ever heard,” John McNeil, who recalled playing in trumpet sections alongside Ms. Frink some 40 years ago, said in an interview.

Ms. Frink and Mr. McNeil wrote a book together, “Flexus: Trumpet Calisthenics for the Modern Improvisor,” which has become an essential resource for many trumpeters since its publication a decade ago. The book’s exercises and études came from Ms. Frink’s reservoir of strategies for addressing physical issues on the horn, especially where a player’s embouchure, or formation of lips and facial muscles, was concerned.

“She would take each player and find out what was causing the problem — and then do it to herself, so she could figure out a solution,” said the celebrated trumpeter Dave Douglas, who sought out Ms. Frink when he ran into embouchure problems in the early 1990s. Meeting with her, Mr. Douglas recalled, “was like a combination of therapy, gym instruction and music lesson.”

A warm but private person with a sharp wit, Ms. Frink earned the protective loyalty of her students. Some of the brass players she counseled — trombonists and others as well as trumpeters — were, like Mr. Douglas and Mr. McNeil, working professionals seeking to discreetly avert career-ending difficulties.

But as a faculty member at several leading jazz conservatories, she also mentored many trumpeters at a more formative stage, including Ambrose Akinmusire and Nadje Noordhuis, who have since gained prominence in jazz circles. “I always encourage my students to be the square peg,” Ms. Frink said in 2011. “Sometimes it’s difficult for them, so I try to nurture that. They call me trumpet mother.”

Laurie Ann Frink was born on Aug. 8, 1951, in Pender, Neb., a small town now claimed by the Omaha Indian Reservation, to James and Carol Frink. Her father was a candy salesman. In addition to Ms. Martin, she is survived by her brother, James.

Ms. Frink studied with Dennis Schneider, the principal trumpeter with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, at the University of Nebraska. After moving to New York in her early 20s, she met Carmine Caruso, a brass guru who devised an adaptable set of calisthenic exercises for trumpet.

Ms. Frink became Mr. Caruso’s protégée, and for more than a dozen years his romantic partner. He died in 1987. Her own style of instruction was an extension of the Caruso method.

Ms. Frink never stopped playing at a high level. She appears on every album by the Maria Schneider Orchestra, including two that won Grammy Awards. “When I wrote these subtle inner parts, I would always give them to her,” Ms. Schneider said. “I knew she was the person who would really spin the heart into the line.”

Ms. Frink also worked in recent years with other critically acclaimed big bands, including the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project. Her recorded work will endure, but for many of her former students her instruction is her chief legacy. “In a way it’s a very living art form,” Mr. Douglas said. “There are people all over town, and all over the world, doing what she told them to do.”

He said he practiced a routine of hers on Sunday morning after hearing the news of her death.




Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

Jim Buck, near Central Park in 1964, is considered the first professional dog walker in New York City. He ran a business in which he and two dozen assistants walked more than 150 dogs a day.


Published: July 12, 2013

  • There are eight million occupational stories in New York City, and none cries Gotham louder than that of the professional surrogate — the shrewd city dweller who spies a void that other New Yorkers are too hurried, harried or hard-pressed to fill and rushes enterprisingly in.

Over time, the city has spawned professional car-movers and professional line-standers, but its most visible — and audible — paid surrogates are indisputably its professional dog walkers.

By all accounts, Jim Buck was the first of them.

Mr. Buck, who died on July 4 at 81, is widely described as the first person to professionalize dog walking in New York City and, by extension, in the United States.

Starting in the early 1960s, Mr. Buck, the scion of a patrician Upper East Side family, rose each morning at dawn to walk passels of clients’ dogs, eventually presiding over a business in which he and two dozen assistants walked more than 150 dogs a day.

When he began that business, Jim Buck’s School for Dogs, it was the only one of its kind in New York. Today, the city has scores of professional dog walkers.

During the 40 years Mr. Buck ran his school, he was an eminently recognizable figure: an elegantly turned out, borzoi-thin man of 145 pounds, he commanded the leashes of a half-dozen or more dogs at a time — a good 500 pounds of dog in all — which fanned out before him like the spokes of a wheel.

He walked in sun; he walked in rain. In wintertime, his charges might be clad in small sweaters bearing the logos of the European resorts where their masters skied.

Jim Buck’s School for Dogs was equal parts exclusive preparatory academy, exercise class and reform school. In a 1964 profile of Mr. Buck in The New York Times, Gay Talese described him, plying his trade, as looking “like Charlton Heston in the chariot-racing scene in ‘Ben-Hur.’ ”

But with hindsight, it is more apt to liken Mr. Buck to Lee Marvin in the 1967 film “The Dirty Dozen.”

Mr. Buck’s clients were refined. Their dogs were less so.

The clients, mostly Upper East Siders, included some of the city’s most prominent names in the arts, government, finance and industry. (Continuing the tradition of walker-client confidentiality to which Mr. Buck long hewed, his family declined to name them. It did confirm Mr. Buck’s death, at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in Manhattan, apparently of complications of emphysema and cancer.)

The dogs included the intractable, the obstinate and the profoundly pampered.

One, an otterhound known to Mr. Buck’s staff as Oliver the Awful, was used for some years to audition prospective employees.

“Oliver knows when he’s testing someone new, and he can be counted on to leap into the first phone booth along the way and slam the door and wedge himself against it,” Mr. Buck told The New Yorker in 1965. “Brute force is of no avail; the only way to get him out is to remain poised and quietly talk him out.”

James Augustine Farrell Buck was born in Manhattan on Nov. 28, 1931. His family, socially prominent, had prospered in steel and shipping. As a youth, Jim showed dogs; he also trained horses at the Connecticut country homes of his uncles.

Footloose, determined and eager to flout convention, Mr. Buck bypassed college.

But by the early ’60s he was leading the sort of gray-flannel life of which he despaired, chafing in New York as a salesman for an electronics concern.

Mr. Buck knew dogs — as a young man, he bred Great Danes. He also knew New Yorkers. Before long, a void was filled.

By 1964, The Times reported, he was making $500 a week, more than his electronics job paid.

His cobbler enjoyed a regular cut: Mr. Buck wore through the soles of his shoes every two weeks.

Mr. Buck’s marriage to Ann Sage ended in divorce. A resident of Manhattan, he is survived by three sons, Jonathan, Christopher and Graham; two sisters, Mother Debra Joseph, a Benedictine nun, and Connie Buck; and a brother, Richard.

Jim Buck’s School for Dogs is gone now, closed a decade ago when Mr. Buck retired. But its legacy endures: some of the city’s professional dog walkers are his former employees.

As the city changes, so too does their work. There are no more telephone booths for latter-day Olivers to barricade themselves in. Few cobblers remain.

And in years to come, in perhaps the keenest loss of all, there may well be no more newsprint. A 20th-century artifact increasingly deemed redundant in the electronic age, it remains, for New York’s dog walkers, a vital, and indispensable, means of upholding the law.


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With the renewed interest that is being shown in my previous post on the living and breathing Uncle Ruckus himself, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, it got me thinking about the original Uncle Ruckus.

Hidden in this deliciously, hilariously funny cartoon character is biting satire and cutting edge commentary on blackness and whiteness. Ruckus never fails to go to the nth degree in debasing himself in the worship of whiteness and the disparagement of blackness.

So, without further ado, I now present to you my favourite king of the self-haters.

I give you Uncle Ruckus at his most despicable-self-hating-all-loving-that-is-whiteness, Uncle Ruckus.


Uncle_Ruckus  photo 1

uncle_ruckus photo 2

uncle ruckus photo 4

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Hubble view of moon S/2004 N 1

NASA / ESA / M. Showalter (SETI Inst.)

Neptune’s Newest Moon

July 15, 2013                                                                | Using Hubble images taken in several patches over a six-year period, astronomers have spotted a tiny object circling Neptune. This find, the first in a decade, brings the planet’s moon count to 14. > read more

The Chaotic Music of Variable Stars

July 15, 2013                                                                | Space-based observations of RR Lyrae variable stars, once considered the paragon of simplicity, are revealing turmoil in their daily vibrations. > read more

A Fix for the “Faint Young Sun”

July 18, 2013                                                                | For 40 years astrobiologists have wrestled with how to make the early Earth warm enough to support life even though the young Sun was at least 30% fainter than it is now. New climate models, powered by supercomputers, are converging on a solution. > read more

Magnifying Quasars

July 17, 2013                                                                | Twinkle, twinkle, quasi-star: cosmic lenses could tell us what you are.  > read more

The Sun’s Heat Wave

July 16, 2013                                                                | Astronomers at the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division meeting discussed new evidence that magnetic waves are the reason our star’s corona is blazing hot. > read more


Delta Aquarids

Sky & Telescope

Catch a “Shooting Star”

July 19, 2013                                                                | The Delta Aquarids meteor shower ramps up in late July, and you already have everything you need to enjoy the show – your naked eye. > read more

Tour July’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

May 26, 2013                                                                  | At dusk, you’ll find Venus low in the west, Saturn well up in the south, and a celestial scorpion rising up in the east. Near the Scorpion’s stinger is a small star cluster that’s observable by eye. > read more


Blue Marble


Wave at Saturn — But Will Cassini See You?

July 18, 2013                                                                | Cassini is taking our picture on Friday, but how much light do we humans actually reflect? We’ve crunched the numbers, and the answer may surprise you. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

July 19, 2013                                                                  | The Moon occults a star, Venus passes Regulus, and Jupiter passes Mars.  > read more

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