Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People English
Día Internacional de las Poblaciones Indígenas Spanish

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People 2012 Theme: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection.

Indigenous cultures across the planet are recognized on International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. Illustration based on artwork from © Niedzieski/Nicolette Neish/Victor Maffe

What do people do?

People from different nations are encouraged to participate in observing the day to spread the UN’s message on indigenous peoples. Activities may include educational forums and classroom activities to gain an appreciation and a better understanding of indigenous peoples. Events may include messages from the UN secretary general and other key leaders, performances by indigenous artists, and panel discussions on reconciliation.

Public life

The UN’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is a United Nations day of observance but it is not a public holiday.


The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is celebrated on August 9 each year to recognize the first UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations meeting in Geneva in 1982. On December 23, 1994, the UN General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People should be observed on August 9 annually during the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People.

In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014). The assembly also decided to continue observing the International Day of Indigenous People annually during the second decade. The decade’s goal was to further strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous peoples in areas such as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, and social and economic development.

In April 2000, the Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution to establish the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The forum’s mandate is to discuss indigenous issues related to culture, economic and social development, education, the environment, health and human rights.


Artwork by Rebang Dewan, a Chackma boy from Bangladesh, was chosen as the visual identifier of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It has also been seen on material to promote the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. It features two ears of green leaves facing each other and cradling a globe resembling planet earth. Within the globe is a picture of a handshake (two different hands) in the middle and above the handshake is a landscape background. The handshake and the landscape background are encapsulated by blue at the top and bottom within the globe.

For this occasion, Rebang Dewan’s artwork is often seen together with a pale blue version of the UN logo with the words “We the peoples” written in the middle. The logo is set on a darker blue background. The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material UN events. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents people in the world.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People Observance

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Wed Aug 9 1995 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 1996 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 1997 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 1998 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 1999 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Wed Aug 9 2000 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2001 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 2002 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2003 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 2004 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Tue Aug 9 2005 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Wed Aug 9 2006 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2007 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2008 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 2009 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Mon Aug 9 2010 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Tue Aug 9 2011 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Thu Aug 9 2012 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Fri Aug 9 2013 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sat Aug 9 2014 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance
Sun Aug 9 2015 International Day of the World’s Indigenous People United Nations observance

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Courtesy of Michael C. Blumenthal

Rita Miljo established a South African rescue operation for baboons, which she called “nature’s unwanted little people.”


Published: July 31, 2012

  • Rita Miljo, whose devotion to rescuing orphaned, injured and mostly reviled baboons earned her the sobriquet “the Mother Teresa of Baboons,” died on Friday in a fire in her home on her 50-acre preserve in South Africa. She was 81.

Bobby, the first baboon she ever saved, in 1980, also perished in the blaze, as did two other baboons that were in her small apartment at the Center for Animal Rehabilitation and Education, a rescue operation she established in the bush of Limpopo Province about 250 miles northeast of Johannesburg.

The center announced Ms. Miljo’s death. Much of its headquarters was destroyed in the fire.

Shirley McGreal, founder of the International Primate Protection League, said in a statement that baboons are regarded as “vermin” in South Africa, despite their high intelligence and social skills. Baboons have long been shot and killed as a nuisance species. At one time, monetary rewards were offered for handing in a scalp and tail of the animal, and it is still legal to shoot baboons in some circumstances.

Tourism officials say baboons raid cars and frighten tourists, farmers say they attack farm animals, and suburban residents say they get too close to their homes. With its snout, the baboon’s face can seem less charming than the more humanlike one of the chimpanzee.

“Just as Mother Teresa cared for the most persecuted human beings in India, Rita cared for the pariah primates of Africa,” Ms. McGreal said.

Ms. Miljo’s conservation work followed the pattern of Jane Goodall’s with chimpanzees in Tanzania, Dian Fossey’s with gorillas in Rwanda and Biruté Galdikas’s with orangutans in Indonesian Borneo. But unlike those women, Ms. Miljo did not begin her work as a scientific researcher.

Rather, she had the same motivation as people who rescue stray cats. She began by spiriting away a battered young Bobby from a national park in Angola. She saved orphans, including one clinging to the decomposing body of its mother in a garbage dump. Some baboons she found were being held captive so that their feces could be collected for use in native medicines. Others had been used in medical experiments. She called baboons “nature’s unwanted little people.”

The 2011 book “Kalahari Dream,” by Chris Mercer and Beverly Pervan, told how Ms. Miljo had repeatedly been charged with transporting and keeping an animal without a permit. In one courtroom, a prosecutor demanded to know why she wasted her time on “problem animals like baboons.”

She responded, “Who are you to tell God that he should not have created baboons?”

Ms. Miljo had earlier rescued warthogs, porcupines, reptiles and birds as well. But by 1989 she had decided to concentrate on her beloved baboons and create a haven for them on the 50 acres she owned near Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The center’s private preserve is home to more than 400 baboons, according to its Web site. Some arrived as orphans or with injuries, and some wandered by as wild baboons attracted by their own kind. The center says the wild and tame baboons live together peacefully, which some people did not think possible.

The sanctuary was only the first step. Ms. Miljo also nudged her baboons into forming “troops,” as they would in the wild, and released them together in what she called a “walk to freedom.” More than a dozen troops, totaling about 250 baboons, have been released in the last 20 years; Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, witnessed one.

Rita Neumann was born into an upper-middle-class family in 1931 in northeastern Germany. At 8 she joined the Hitler Youth and became one of its youngest local leaders. She liked the sports competition the organization provided, and the opportunity to escape an “overprotective mother,” she told The Washington Post Magazine in 2008.

“Only today, in hindsight, do I understand the total madness we were subjected to,” she said.

Though her ambition was to be a veterinarian, Ms. Miljo said, she was thwarted by a West German policy of giving veterans preferential admissions to universities. She worked in the zoo in Hamburg and moved to South Africa in 1953 with her husband, Lothar Simon, a mining engineer. A decade later, she bought the 50 acres of bush that would become her baboon center.

Ms. Miljo is survived by a brother. In 1972, her husband and 17-year-old daughter were killed in a small-plane crash. A brief second marriage, to Piet Miljo, a South African, ended in divorce.

Ms. Miljo was known to remember the location of each unmarked grave of her baboons. She was to be buried with them.





Published: August 1, 2012

  • Norman Alden, a character actor who played a soda jerk in “Back to the Future,” a cameraman in Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” and the title role in the cult director Richard C. Sarafian’s first film, “Andy,” died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Deran Productions

Norman Alden in “Andy,” a drama that was directed by Richard C. Sarafian in 1965.

His death was confirmed by Linda Thieben, his partner of more than 30 years.

Mr. Alden acted in television and film for 50 years, appearing regularly on shows like “The Legend of Wyatt Earp,” “The Untouchables” and “My Three Sons.”

His television career led to parts in films like “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.” He also voiced many cartoon characters, including King Arthur’s foster brother, Sir Kay, in Walt Disney’s “Sword in the Stone,” and Kranix, a robot who narrowly escapes destruction by Unicron, voiced by Orson Welles, in the 1986 animated film “Transformers.”

Mr. Alden’s star turn came in 1965, in the picaresque “Andy.” Andy, the 40-year-old mentally disabled son of Greek immigrants in New York, sets out for a last night of seedy adventures before his parents commit him to an asylum.

“Norman Alden, as the leading character, gropes his clumsy way, giving a throbbing sense of the great, gross energy and the pitiful childishness and inadequacy of the man,” Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times.

Norman Adelberg was born in Fort Worth, Tex., on Sept. 13, 1924. He attended Texas Christian University and served in Europe during World War II before he began acting on the radio and performing stand-up comedy. He also performed in commercials, most notably as Lou the mechanic in AC Delco advertisements.

In addition to his partner, Ms. Thieben, Mr. Alden is survived by a son, Brent, and a daughter, Ashley, from a prior marriage; two stepsons, Randy and Kevin Thieben; a stepdaughter, Sherri Thieben; one grandson; and one step-granddaughter.





Published: August 3, 2012

  • Mihaela Ursuleasa, a Romanian-born pianist renowned for her prodigious technique and often idiosyncratic interpretations, was found dead on Thursday at her home in Vienna. She was 33.

Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

Mihaela Ursuleasa performing in 2008.

The death was announced on Ms. Ursuleasa’s Web site, The Vienna police told European news services that the cause was apparently a brain aneurysm.

Ms. Ursuleasa, who was performing internationally by the time she was a teenager, was known for her large tone, fleet fingers and eclectic programming, though she was perhaps most closely associated with Romantic composers like Prokofiev, Chopin and Schumann.

The winner of the 1995 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition, Ms. Ursuleasa was heard on some of the world’s most renowned recital stages, among them Wigmore Hall in London and Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York. She appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Vienna Symphony, the London Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Critical response to Ms. Ursuleasa’s work ranged from the effusive to the bewildered, often within a single review. Where some reviewers heard tonal power, others heard unwelcome percussiveness. What some saw as interpretive passion, others viewed as excessive liberty with tempos and rhythm.

A 2008 review by Allan Kozinn in The New York Times, of Ms. Ursuleasa’s performance of Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto at the Mostly Mozart Festival, encapsulates her singular approach:

“Ms. Ursuleasa played with a combination of ferocity and clarity that put Beethoven’s already striking contrasts into sharper relief and turned the score into a tense drama,” Mr. Kozinn wrote. “Interpretively she was out on the edge, but it was the kind of high-risk performance that makes the war horses worth revisiting.”

Ms. Ursuleasa was born in Brasov, Romania, on Sept. 27, 1978; her father was a jazz pianist and her mother a singer. Mihaela started piano lessons at 5 under her father’s supervision and began playing in public soon afterward.

Her father died when she was still a girl. Without his moderating influence, she later said, she was pushed harder and harder by her teachers, who urged her to tour heavily and tackle difficult repertory that was beyond her emotional ken — a set of pressures that devolves on many child prodigies.

“I didn’t have time for recreation then,” Ms. Ursuleasa told The St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1997. “I worked at the piano from 8 in the morning until 8 at night.”

When she was about 12, she played for the conductor Claudio Abbado, who arranged for her to study at the Vienna Conservatory. There, with her concert schedule curtailed, she could simply learn, and she did, earning a diploma from the conservatory in 1999.

Ms. Ursuleasa’s survivors include her mother and a daughter.

Her recordings include “Piano & Forte” (2009) and “Romanian Rhapsody,” released last year.

Writing in the classical music magazine American Record Guide, Harold C. Schonberg, a former senior music critic of The New York Times, reviewed Ms. Ursuleasa’s first album in 1996.

The recording, of Beethoven and Mozart concertos with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra under Jesús López-Cobos, was part of Ms. Ursuleasa’s prize for having won the Haskil Competition.

“Well, well. A competition winner who can convey strength without relentless pounding; who has temperament; who has a completely finished technique; who has a wide tonal palette,” Mr. Schonberg wrote, going on to praise Ms. Ursuleasa’s “sparkling finger work and a general feeling of joie de vivre.”

He added, “Here we have a real pianist, and we shall be hearing from her.”





Published: August 1, 2012

  • Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003 after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.

Bernard Gotfryd/Pictorial Parade—Getty Images

GORE VIDAL in a 1969 portrait. An author, screenwriter and essayist with definite opinions and no inhibitions about sharing them, he took great pleasure in being one of the larger-than-life figures of his time.



Related in Opinion

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said.

Mr. Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, put-down or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.

Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate — and though he lost both times, he often conducted himself as a sort of unelected shadow president. He once said, “There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

Mr. Vidal was an occasional actor, appearing in animated form on “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” in the movie version of his own play “The Best Man,” and in the Tim Robbins movie “Bob Roberts,” in which he played an aging, epicene version of himself. He was a more than occasional guest on talk shows, where his poise, wit, good looks and charm made him such a regular that Johnny Carson offered him a spot as a guest host of “The Tonight Show.”

Television was a natural medium for Mr. Vidal, who in person was often as cool and detached as he was in his prose. “Gore is a man without an unconscious,” his friend the Italian writer Italo Calvino once said. Mr. Vidal said of himself: “I’m exactly as I appear. There is no warm, lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the ice, you find cold water.”

Mr. Vidal loved conspiracy theories of all sorts, especially the ones he imagined himself at the center of, and he was a famous feuder; he engaged in celebrated on-screen wrangles with Mailer, Capote and William F. Buckley Jr. Mr. Vidal did not lightly suffer fools — a category that for him comprised a vast swath of humanity, elected officials particularly — and he was not a sentimentalist or a romantic. “Love is not my bag,” he said.

By the time he was 25, he had already had more than 1,000 sexual encounters with both men and women, he boasted in his memoir “Palimpsest.” Mr. Vidal tended toward what he called “same-sex sex,” but frequently declared that human beings were inherently bisexual, and that labels like gay (a term he disliked) or straight were arbitrary and unhelpful. For 53 years, he had a live-in companion, Howard Austen, a former advertising executive, but the secret of their relationship, he often said, was that they did not sleep together.

Mr. Vidal sometimes claimed to be a populist — in theory, anyway — but he was not convincing as one. Both by temperament and by birth he was an aristocrat.

A Child on the Senate Floor

Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr. was born on Oct. 3, 1925, at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where his father, Eugene, had been an All-American football player and a track star and had returned as a flying instructor and assistant football coach. An aviation pioneer, Eugene Vidal Sr. went on to found three airlines, including one that became T.W.A. He was director of the Bureau of Air Commerce under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mr. Vidal’s mother, Nina, was an actress and socialite and the daughter of Thomas Pryor Gore, a Democratic senator from Oklahoma.

Mr. Vidal, who once said he had grown up in “the House of Atreus,” detested his mother, whom he frequently described as a bullying, self-pitying alcoholic. She and Mr. Vidal’s father divorced in 1935, and she married Hugh D. Auchincloss, the stepfather of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis — a connection that Mr. Vidal never tired of bringing up.

After her remarriage, Mr. Vidal lived with his mother at Merrywood, the Auchincloss family estate in Virginia, but his fondest memories were of the years the family spent at his maternal grandfather’s sprawling home in the Rock Creek Park neighborhood of Washington. He loved to read to his grandfather, who was blind, and sometimes accompanied him onto the Senate floor. Mr. Vidal’s lifelong interest in politics began to stir back then, and from his grandfather, an America Firster, he probably also inherited his unwavering isolationist beliefs.

Mr. Vidal attended St. Albans School in Washington, where he lopped off his Christian names and became simply Gore Vidal, which he considered more literary-sounding. Though he shunned sports himself, he formed an intense romantic and sexual friendship — the most important of his life, he later said — with Jimmie Trimble, one of the school’s best athletes.

Trimble was his “ideal brother,” his “other half,” Mr. Vidal said, the only person with whom he ever felt wholeness. Jimmie’s premature death at Iwo Jima in World War II at once sealed off their relationship in a glow of A. E. Housman-like early perfection, and seemingly made it impossible for Mr. Vidal ever to feel the same way about anyone else.

After leaving St. Albans in 1939, Mr. Vidal spent a year at the Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico before enrolling at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He contributed stories and poems to the Exeter literary magazine, but he was an indifferent student who excelled mostly at debating. A classmate, the writer John Knowles, later used him as the model for Brinker Hadley, the know-it-all conspiracy theorist in “A Separate Peace,” his Exeter-based novel.

Mr. Vidal graduated from Exeter at 17 — only by cheating on virtually every math exam, he later admitted — and enlisted in the Army, becoming first mate on a freight supply ship in the Aleutian Islands. He began work on “Williwaw,” a novel set on a troopship and published in 1946, while he was an associate editor at the publishing company E. P. Dutton, a job he soon gave up. Written in a pared-down, Hemingway-like style, “Williwaw” (the title is a meteorological term for a sudden wind out of the mountains) won some admiring reviews but gave little clue to the kind of writer Mr. Vidal would become. Neither did his second book, “In a Yellow Wood” (1947), about a brokerage clerk and his wartime Italian mistress. Mr. Vidal later said it was so bad, he couldn’t bear to reread it. He nevertheless became a glamorous young literary figure, pursued by Anaïs Nin and courted by Christopher Isherwood and Tennessee Williams.

In 1948 Mr. Vidal published “The City and the Pillar,” which was dedicated to J. T. (Jimmie Trimble). It is what would now be called a coming-out story, about a handsome, athletic young Virginia man who gradually discovers that he is homosexual. By today’s standards it is tame and discreet, but at the time it caused a scandal and was denounced as corrupt and pornographic. Mr. Vidal later claimed that the literary and critical establishment, The New York Times especially, had blacklisted him because of the book, and he may have been right. He had such trouble getting subsequent novels reviewed that he turned to writing mysteries under the pseudonym Edgar Box and then, for a time, gave up novel-writing altogether. To make a living he concentrated on writing for television, then for the stage and the movies.

Politics Onstage, and for Real

Work was plentiful. He wrote for most of the shows that presented hourlong original dramas in the 1950s, including “Studio One,” “Philco Television Playhouse” and “Goodyear Playhouse.” He became so adept, he could knock off an adaptation in a weekend and an original play in a week or two. He turned “Visit to a Small Planet,” his 1955 television drama about an alien who comes to earth to study the art of war, into a Broadway play. His most successful play was “The Best Man,” about two contenders for the presidential nomination. It ran for 520 performances on Broadway before it, too, became a well-received film, in 1964, with a cast headed by Henry Fonda and a screenplay by Mr. Vidal. It was revived on Broadway in 2000 and is now being revived there again as “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.”

Mr. Vidal’s reputation as a script doctor was such that in 1956 MGM hired him as a contract writer; among other projects he helped rewrite the screenplay of “Ben-Hur,” though he was denied an official credit. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of his friend Tennessee Williams’s play “Suddenly, Last Summer.”

By the end of the ’50s, though, Mr. Vidal, at last financially secure, had wearied of Hollywood and turned to politics. He had purchased Edgewater, a Greek Revival mansion in Dutchess County, N.Y., and it became his headquarters for his 1960 run for Congress. He was encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt, a neighbor who had become a friend and adviser.

The 29th Congressional District was a Republican stronghold, and though Mr. Vidal, running as Eugene Gore on a platform that included taxing the wealthy, lost, he received more votes in running for the seat than any Democrat in 50 years. And he never tired of pointing out he did better in the district than the Democratic presidential candidate that year, John F. Kennedy.

Mr. Vidal also returned to writing novels in the ’60s and published three books in fairly quick succession: “Julian” (1964), “Washington, D.C.” (1967) and “Myra Breckinridge” (1968). “Julian,” which some critics still consider Mr. Vidal’s best, was a painstakingly researched historical novel about the fourth-century Roman emperor who tried to convert Christians back to paganism. (Mr. Vidal himself never had much use for religion, Christianity especially, which he once called “intrinsically funny.”) “Washington, D.C.” was a political novel set in the 1940s. “Myra Breckinridge,” Mr. Vidal’s own favorite among his books, was a campy black comedy about a male homosexual who has sexual reassignment surgery. (A 1970 film version, with Raquel Welch and Mae West, proved to be a disaster.)

Perhaps without intending it, Mr. Vidal had set a pattern. In the years to come he found his greatest successes with historical novels, notably what became known as his American Chronicles: “Washington, D.C.,” “Burr” (1973), “1876” (1976), “Lincoln” (1984), “Empire (1987),“Hollywood” (1990) and “The Golden Age” (2000).

He turned out to have a gift for this kind of writing. These novels were learned and scrupulously based on fact, but also witty and contemporary-feeling, full of gossip and shrewd asides. Harold Bloom wrote that Mr. Vidal’s imagination of American politics “is so powerful as to compel awe.” Writing in The Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt said, “Mr. Vidal gives us an interpretation of our early history that says in effect that all the old verities were never much to begin with.”

But Mr. Vidal also persisted in writing books like “Myron” (1974), a sequel to “Myra,” and “Live From Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal” (1992), which were clearly meant as provocations. “Live From Golgotha,” for example, rewrites the Gospels, with Saint Paul as a huckster and pederast and Jesus a buffoon. John Rechy said of it in The Los Angeles Times Book Review, “If God exists and Jesus is his son, then Gore Vidal is going to hell.”

In the opinion of many critics, though, Mr. Vidal’s ultimate reputation is apt to rest less on his novels than on his essays, many of them written for The New York Review of Books. His collection “The Second American Revolution” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1982. About a later collection, “United States: Essays 1952-1992,” R. W. B. Lewis wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Vidal the essayist was “so good that we cannot do without him,” adding, “He is a treasure of state.”

Mr. Vidal’s essays were literary, resurrecting the works of forgotten writers like Dawn Powell and William Dean Howells, and also political, taking on issues like sexuality and cultural mores. The form suited him ideally: he could be learned, funny, stylish, show-offy and incisive all at once. Even Jason Epstein, Mr. Vidal’s longtime editor at Random House, once admitted that he preferred the essays to the novels, calling Mr. Vidal “an American version of Montaigne.”

“I always thought about Gore that he was not really a novelist,” Mr. Epstein wrote, “that he had too much ego to be a writer of fiction because he couldn’t subordinate himself to other people the way you have to as a novelist.”

Vidal vs. Buckley (and Mailer)

Success did not mellow Mr. Vidal. In 1968, while covering the Democratic National Convention on television, he called William F. Buckley a “crypto-Nazi.” Buckley responded by calling Mr. Vidal a “queer,” and the two were in court for years. In a 1971 essay he compared Norman Mailer to Charles Manson, and a few months later Mailer head-butted him in the green room while the two were waiting to appear on the Dick Cavett show. They then took their quarrel on the air in a memorable exchange that ended with Mr. Cavett’s telling Mailer to take a piece of paper on the table in front of them and “fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.” In 1975 he sued Truman Capote for libel after Capote wrote that Mr. Vidal had been thrown out of the Kennedy White House. Mr. Vidal won a grudging apology.

Some of his political positions were similarly quarrelsome and provocative. Mr. Vidal was an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and once called Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, and his wife, the journalist Midge Decter, “Israeli fifth columnists.” In the 1990s he wrote sympathetically about Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the Oklahoma City bombing. And after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he wrote an essay for Vanity Fair arguing that America had brought the attacks upon itself by maintaining imperialist foreign policies. In another essay, for The Independent, he compared the attacks to the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, arguing that both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush knew of them in advance and exploited them to advance their agendas.

As for literature, it was more or less over, he declared more than once, and he had reached a point where he no longer much cared. He became a sort of connoisseur of decline, in fact. America is “rotting away at a funereal pace,” he told The Times of London in 2009. “We’ll have a military dictatorship pretty soon, on the basis that nobody else can hold everything together.”

In 2003 Mr. Vidal and his companion, Mr. Austen, who was ill, left their cliffside Italian villa La Rondinaia (the Swallow’s Nest) on the Gulf of Salerno and moved to the Hollywood Hills to be closer to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Mr. Austen died that year, and in “Point to Point Navigation,” his second volume of memoirs, Mr. Vidal recalled that Mr. Austen asked from his deathbed, “Didn’t it go by awfully fast?”

“Of course it had,” Mr. Vidal wrote. “We had been too happy and the gods cannot bear the happiness of mortals.” Mr. Austen was buried in Washington in a plot Mr. Vidal had purchased in Rock Creek Cemetery. The gravestone was already inscribed with their names side by side.

Besides his nephew, Burr Steers, Mr. Vidal’s survivors include his sister, Nina Gore Auchincloss Straight.

After Mr. Austen’s death, Mr. Vidal lived alone in declining health himself. He was increasingly troubled by a knee injury he suffered in the war, and used a wheelchair to get around.

In November 2009 he made a rare public appearance to attend the National Book Awards in New York, where he was given a lifetime achievement award. He had evidently not prepared any remarks, and instead delivered a meandering impromptu speech that was sometimes funny and sometimes a little hard to follow. At one point he even seemed to speak fondly of Buckley, his old nemesis. It sounded like a summing up.

“Such fun, such fun,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 3, 2012

An obituary about the author Gore Vidal in some copies on Wednesday included several errors. Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. a crypto-Nazi, not a crypto-fascist, in a television appearance during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. While Mr. Vidal frequently joked that Vice President Al Gore was his cousin, genealogists have been unable to confirm that they were related. And according to Mr. Vidal’s memoir “Palimpsest,” he and his longtime live-in companion, Howard Austen, had sex the night they met, but did not sleep together after they began living together. It is not the case that they never had sex.





Published: July 31, 2012

  • R. G. Armstrong Jr., a rough-hewed character actor known for playing sheriffs, outlaws and other macho roles, died on Friday at his home in Studio City, Calif. He was 95.

Everett Collection

R.G. Armstrong in the 1960 film “The Fugitive Kind.”

His death was confirmed by his daughter Robbie Armstrong-Dunham.

Mr. Armstrong’s five-decade career took off with guest spots on virtually all the popular Western television shows of the 1950s and ’60s, including “Have Gun — Will Travel” and “Gunsmoke.”

After meeting the writer and director Sam Peckinpah on the set of his 1960 series “The Westerner,” Mr. Armstrong became a regular in his films, playing an outspoken Christian fundamentalist in “Ride the High Country,” with Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea; a minister in “Major Dundee,” with Charlton Heston in the title role; and a vicious deputy sheriff alongside Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan (in a small role) in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.”

Departing from westerns, Mr. Armstrong performed with James Earl Jones in “The Great White Hope” and with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the alien-thriller “Predator.” He appeared on innumerable non-western television shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” and was a favorite of Warren Beatty’s. Mr. Beatty cast him in the films “Heaven Can Wait,” “Reds” and as Pruneface in “Dick Tracy.”

Robert Golden Armstrong Jr. was born on April 7, 1917, in Birmingham, Ala. He graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and moved to New York to attend Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio in the mid-1950s. That led him to parts in Elia Kazan’s original production of Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 1955 (as Dr. Baugh) and in other Broadway shows like “Orpheus Descending” and “The Miracle Worker” before heading for Hollywood’s television studios.

Besides his daughter Robbie, Mr. Armstrong, who was married three times, is survived by two other daughters from his first marriage, Laurie Nell and Daryl Armstrong; a son, Wynn; a daughter from an earlier relationship, Betty; and five grandchildren.


Mr. R.G. Armstrong was a very versatile character actor who always made quite an impression on me whenever I saw him performing.

Not mentioned in the article were three of my favourite R.G. Armstrong films:   “Children of the Corn” (1984), theatrical film release; “Devil Dog : Hound of Hell” (1978), TV movie; and “The Beast Within” (1982), theatrical film release.

It was always fun to see him and hear his voice no matter the role he played.

He will be missed.

Rest in peace, Mr. Armstrong.

Rest in peace.

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Mars rovers compared


Martian Landings, Then and Now

August 2, 2012 | Curiosity is the latest in a string of Martian landers (and landing attempts) that stretches back more than 40 years. > read more

A History of Missions to Mars

August 2, 2012 | This comprehensive list, compiled by the editors of Sky & Telescope, provides a snapshot of every mission intended to reach the Red Planet since 1960. > read more

Star-Shredder’s Brief Pulse

August 3, 2012 | A supermassive black hole spotted last year as it ripped a star apart and spat out a jet had another surprise up its sleeve: a short-lived X-ray heartbeat seen only once before from a galaxy’s central beast. > read more

The Curious Avalanches of Iapetus

July 31, 2012 | Saturn’s two-faced moon hosts extraordinary avalanches that cascade much longer than they should. Figuring out what makes them flow might help scientists better understand landslides on Earth. > read more

Viewing the Flags of Apollo

July 30, 2012 | It’s a question that still gets asked: “Can you see the six flags left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts?” The surprising answer is “Yes”. > read more


Mars, Saturn, and Spica in August

Sky & Telescope diagram

Mars in the Evening Spotlight

August 3, 2012 | This week countless space buffs will be riveted by Curiosity’s arrival at Mars — which can be found, along with Saturn and Spica, in the west after dusk. > 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



Miss a Sky Event? There’s an App for That

July 30, 2012 | Sky & Telescope has released its new SkyWeek Plus app, which combines all the good stuff of our regular SkyWeek app with new reminder and breaking-sky-news features. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Twilight view

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

August 3, 2012 | Mars moves closer each day to Saturn and Spica as twilight fades. After dark, bright Vega passes the zenith. > read more

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

July 30 - August 5, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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By Brett Wilkins

Jul 31, 2012
Port Saint Joe–  A Florida man charged with attempted  murder and hate crime for allegedly shooting an African American man in the head  expressed disbelief over his arrest, telling officers that he “only shot a  nigger.”

The Port St. Joe Star reports  that Walton Henry Butler, 59, of Port St. Joe shot 32-year-old Everett Gant, who  is black, in the head with a .22 rifle on Monday night. Gant had confronted  Butler about an incident in which the latter used a racial slur to describe a  child living in their apartment complex.

According to investigators, Butler had  been calling other children in the complex racist names in recent days. When a  friend of Gant’s told him about what had happened, he went over to Butler’s  apartment to confront him about his racist actions.

Instead of conversation, Gant got a  bullet between his eyes. Butler shut his door and left his victim lying on the  ground bleeding. He then called 911, finished cooking dinner and sat down to  eat.

WJHG reports  that when Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent arrived at the scene of the shooting,  Butler acted as if he were being inconvenienced.

“He was brought to the investigative  unit where he was interviewed and basically admitted to shooting the victim and  said he shot a, just used a racial slur, and said that is what he shot and acted  like it was no big deal or anything to him,” Nugent told WJHG.

Gant is in guarded condition at Bay  Medical Center and expected to survive.

Butler is locked up in Gulf County  Jail.



It is understandable how Mr. Gant must have felt upon learning of these racial slurs being tossed about towards his child.

But, the safest thing that Mr. Gant should have done was to contact the apartment complex management and have them handle the matter.

These types of altercations between tenants at apartments can and often escalate where someone is seriously injured, or worse, dead.

Having the apartment management address this issue, or any others, takes the danger off a tenant, since the management can fine, cite (tenant violations), or evict the offending tenant.

As for the following:

“He was brought to the investigative  unit where he was interviewed and basically admitted to shooting the victim and  said he shot a, just used a racial slur, and said that is what he shot and acted  like it was no big deal or anything to him,” Nugent told WJHG.”

“expressed disbelief over his arrest, telling officers that he “only shot a  nigger.”

“He then called 911, finished cooking dinner and sat down to  eat.”

Since this was not a tussle between two children, but an act that yielded deadly force against a human life, then Mr. Butler will have much time to ponder those prison meals he may look forward to, since he will not be able to cook dinner and sit down to eat whenever, nor whatever, he wants to eat. Last time I read about various prison regulations, you do not live inside a prison with the freedom that you have outside of a prison environment. In prison there are lots and lots of inconveniences:  body cavity searches; strip searches; cell block searches; lights out ( or face a penalty); solitary confinement…….oh, but I am sure Mr. Butler did not think of those things when he fired that .22 rifle.



Such an inconvenient truth.

If he is convicted, I imagine he will have lots of time to reflect on the “disbelief” of facing years in prison for shooting a Black person.

Mr. Butler may not believe in the humanity of his fellow Black citizens.

But, there is one thing he can be rest assured of:

Attempted murder is never a joke.

And doing time in the Big House was never a vacation hotspot for anyone who broke the law.

On the other hand, he can plead innocent by reason of insanity, which in his case would be a flimsy defense since racism cannot be used as a defense in court.

Or he could just invoke the Florida “Stand Your Ground Law’.

What the hell.

It was only a Black human being that he shot in the head.


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When it came down to the wire, it was between Gabrielle Douglas of the USA and Viktoria Komova of Russia on the individual floor exercises.

Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. performs her floor exercise during the women's individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena at the London 2012 Olympic Games

Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. performs her floor exercise during the women’s individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012.

ReutersPhoto by MIKE BLAKE/Reuters

Viktoria Komova performing her floor routine.

Gabrielle gave a tour-de-force performance on the floor exercises, beating out Russia’s Komova by .259 of a point.

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas won the gold medal in the women's individual all-around final in London Thursday.

Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty ImagesU.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas won the gold medal in the women’s individual all-around final in London Thursday with her beautiful routine.
After Thursday's competition, American Gabby Douglas consoles silver medalist Victoria Komova of Russia.

Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty ImagesAfter Thursday’s competition, American Gabby Douglas consoles silver medalist Victoria Komova of Russia.

Russia’s Aliya Mustafina took the bronze.

As the winner of gold medals in both the individual and team all-around competitions, Gabrielle Douglas is the first Black American and first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.

Gabrielle became the fourth U.S. gymnast to capture the coveted all-around title, following Mary Lou Retton (1984), Carly Patterson (2004) and Nastia Liukin (2008). Gabrielles’ win came two days after the Americans won the team gold. An American woman has now won the all-around title at the last three Olympics, marking the first time a women’s program has achieved this feat since the Soviets (1952-60).

Way to go, Gabby!


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Gabrielle Douglas is a sixteen year-old 4’-11″ dynamo from Virginia Beach, Virginia whose skills and expertise are in artistic gymnastics. Gabrielle is the daughter of Timothy Douglas and Natalie Hawkins. She began training in gymnastics at age six when her older sister, Arielle, convinced their mother to enroll her in gymnastics classes.When she was eight years old, Gabrielle won an all-around gymnastics award for her level at the 2004 Virginia State Championships. At age 14, Gabrielle moved from her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to live with a host family in West Des Moines, Iowa, so she could train with Liang Chow, who was the coach of former world and Olympic champion Shawn Johnson. Martha Karolyi of the National Team Coordinator for USA Gymnastics and wife of the famed Bela Karolyi, nicknamed Gabrielle the “Flying Squirrel” for her aerial performance on the uneven bars.

Her favourite parts of gymnastics are the floor exercises and the balance beam. She enjoys Mexican and Italian food, her favourite book is Twilight, and she became interested in gymnastics because of her sister, Arielle, who was a ballroom dancer.

Her career highlights includes the following:
  • 2010 Pan American Championships, team gold medal and gold on uneven bars
  • 2011 World Championships, team gold medal
  • 2012 Pacific Rim Championships, team gold medal and gold on uneven bars

Today, in the 2012 London Olympic Games, Gabrielle soared to all-around gold in the artistic gymnastics competition, making her the first American woman to win both the team gold and the individual all around title.

London 2012 Olympic Gymnastic Photo Essay of Gabrielle Douglas

Official Website for USA Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas

Gabrielle Douglas

U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas leaps into the air during her balance beam routine before going on to win the gold medal in the women’s all-around competition at the London Olympic Games on Thursday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / August 2, 2012)

Congratulations , Gabby!


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Can A Black Girl Start the Next Digital Revolution?

A new non-profit thinks so. And it’s breaking down the “brogrammer” stereotype, one website at a time. Julianne Hing hangs out with the wiz kids.

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Halle Berry’s ex-husband has figured out a novel way to sell his new album: Exploit divisions between dark and light skinned women. For $19.95, you too can buy some white supremacy, writes Akiba Solomon.

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How Our ‘Growth’ Obsession Drives Inequity, and May Kill Us All The problem starts with the very thing we use to measure prosperity: GDP. It’s leading us into darkness.

I Have Photo ID, Therefore I Am Ten Pennsylvania residents have had to spend the past week explaining in court that they do, in fact, exist.

Are You Eligible for No Co-Pay Birth Control? A Handy Guide to Find OutInsurance companies had to begin providing co-pay free contraception this week, due to the Affordable Care Act.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to Keynote Democratic Convention The young politician’s spotlight role is another example of how aggressively the Obama team is courting Latinos.

Tea Party’s Ted Cruz Defeats GOP Favorite, Could Become Texas’ First Latino Senator Cruz, whose father fled Cuba with $100 sewn into his underwear, pulled off a stunning upset this week.

Lupe Ontiveros, Trailblazing Mexican-American Actor, Passes Away at 69 “At first my only lines were ‘Si, señor, no, señor,’ you know, that kind of shit,” she once recalled.

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