It was so distressing for to see one of our Sky Dancing family have such a traumatic reaction to one of our post a few days ago, I could somewhat understand, as my rape experience comes back in nightmares…and even in flashes of memory during times when I least expect it. But I could not think of anything to say, of any words to offer that would be consoling…it was like I froze up. I was afraid to even look at the comments yesterday. I did not want to face up to it.
Why couldn’t I do that? What was making me recoil from the blog like that?
I feel so bad, and still do not know what to say to my dear one, who know who she is…
I’ll try to keep from lingering on the issue, but there are a few disturbing stories I am bringing y’all today that will probably rub salt in old wounds.
First some good and happy news, on Friday Bill Elliott’s son Chase Elliott won his first Nationwide Series NASCAR race: Dawsonville’s Chase Elliott wins first Nationwide race at Texas
Hometown hero Chase Elliott used a strong move on the outside to pass Kevin Harvick for the lead at Texas Motor Speedway and then sailed away his first career Nationwide Series victory.
The 18-year-old won in his sixth career start and is the second youngest winner in series history. He’s roughly four months older than Joey Logano, who was 18 years and 21 days when he won his first career Nationwide race in 2008.
Elliott won in a Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, driving the No. 9 as a tribute to his father, 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott.
“I can’t believe it, just to have the opportunity to race with these guys at JR Motorsports, just to have this opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any racer who wants to make it to the top,” Elliott said. “It just means the word for me to be here.”
Elliott became the fourth driver in Nationwide history to earn his first series victory at Texas, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne.
Chase is finishing his senior year of high school…my dad worked for Bill here in Banjoville when Chase was born…and it is a funny thing. See, Daddy put up the wallpaper in Chase’s nursery, and now look at what the kid has done!
On another personal note, hurray: UConn beats Florida 63-53 to make NCAA final. (I went to UConn for my Paralegal degree…)
And…one more, the title of this post is referring to the Housewife Bakery in Tampa, Florida.
When I was a little girl we would drive by this bakery every day except Sundays. It was on the way to my ballet studio…and the name of the place always pissed me off!
I would always complain, “Why would they call that Housewife bakery, how sexist!”
Ugh, it still rubs me the wrong way.
A Chinese ship searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has detected a pulse signal for a second time, Australian co-ordinators say.
Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston called the discovery in the southern Indian Ocean an “important and encouraging lead” but warned that there was no confirmation of a link to flight MH370.
He told reporters that the second signal was monitored for about 90 seconds and was detected less than 2 km (1.2 miles) from the original.
Update on a case in China where the school children were poisoned to death: Chinese kindergarten head sentenced to death for child poisoning | The Raw Story
A Chinese court has sentenced the head of a kindergarten and an accomplice to death for killing two children with poisoned yoghurt in northern China, state-run media reported Sunday.
Kindergarten head Shi Haixia poisoned the children last year in a revenge attack aimed at a rival school in Hebei province which had higher enrollment, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
A court in Hebei sentenced Shi and an accomplice to death, while another person was given a five-year jail sentence, the report said.
Two village girls died after their grandmother found the yoghurt, which was laced with rat poison and placed on a roadside along with several notebooks, state media reported earlier.
The children, whose ages were not given, were found “foaming at the mouth,” the report said. One died before reaching hospital while the other died after receiving treatment.
China has a shortage of state-run kindergartens, and competition between private profit-driven institutions can be intense.
And in another horrifying news story dealing with a young girl: Senegalese law bans raped 10-year-old from aborting twins | Global development | theguardian.com
A 10-year-old girl who is pregnant with twins after she was raped by a neighbour has been forced to continue with her pregnancy after human rights campaigners lost their fight to secure a legal route to abortion.
The plight of the girl, who is five months pregnant and lives in Ziguinchor in the south, highlights the heavy cost women and children are paying for a Napoleonic law on abortion that is still in force in the former French colony.
“She is going to have to go through with the pregnancy,” said Fatou Kiné Camara, president of the Senegalese women lawyers’ association. “The best we can do is keep up pressure on the authorities to ensure the girl gets regular scans and free medical care.
“Senegal‘s abortion law is one of the harshest and deadliest in Africa. A doctor or pharmacist found guilty of having a role in a termination faces being struck off. A woman found guilty of abortion can be jailed for up to 10 years.”
It is sickening.
But there is more disgusting shit…this time back here in the US: 6 suspended amid Missouri school rape allegations – Yahoo News
Months after vowing to boost security at a Kansas City school where a student says she was dragged to a room and raped, district officials have suspended six employees amid new allegations from a 14-year-old girl who alleges a boy repeatedly raped her at school.
The girl in the latest case, who the police report describes as autistic, told authorities the 14-year-old boy raped her “on numerous occasions” over the last month at Southwest Early College Campus while a 13-year-old girl stood in the hall as a lookout. The boy and the alleged lookout were charged Wednesday in juvenile court with one count each of rape and sodomy and ordered to remain detained Friday.
The school district began its own investigation after learning of the new allegations Wednesday. Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent R. Stephen Green said in a statement released Thursday the district has placed “a number” of school employees on administrative leave and that other personnel could be put on leave depending on the outcome of the district’s probe.
“Once the investigation is complete, a final decision will be made about whether they will continue as employees of KCPS or will be dismissed,” Green said in his statement.
Please read more of the details of all these stories at the links.
I am going to move on to more newsy reads for you after the jump.
Well Banjoville is getting hit with another bad day weather wise…don’t get me wrong, I’ve become a mole…all content inside the house. No need to venture out, hermitage that would be considered a lonely spot, is heaven for me.
Most of the links today are from earlier in the month, I saved them and just haven’t found a use for them until now. The images are from pinterest, all pulp covers, and all of them have a little something in common. First up though, a run of news stories getting attention.
There was a mudslide in Washington state last night, via the LA Times: Sounds of life heard from Washington state mudslide debris
Rescuers searching a Washington state community devastated by a deadly mudslide said Saturday night that they had heard signs of life coming from the debris and would continue searching even as the danger of flooding rose.
“We’ll be here all night long doing what we can to rescue people,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said.
Trenary, speaking at a televised news conference, did not specify what kinds of sounds had been detected. He said the search had been made difficult by the sheer devastation to the area about 40 miles north of Seattle. At least three people were killed and six homes destroyed.
“There’s nothing left in the area,” he said.
Let’s hope there are survivors…that link was about an hour old as of 4:30 am. In fact, the authorities are expecting more flooding.
Debris and mud let loose by the slide have created a dam on the Stillaguamish River, and water continues to collect behind it. Authorities called on people living downriver, from Oso to Arlington, to evacuate Saturday night.
“Although this is still a rescue operation, it’s a preparedness operation,” Pennington said. He urged people living near the river to seek shelter.
Pennington said that water had been rising behind the dam 10 to 12 inches every half hour, making flooding inevitable.
“That water is going to break loose,” he said.
Violence broke loose in Spain, BBC reports Spain austerity: Huge Madrid protest turns violent
Violence has broken out at the end of an anti-austerity protest attended by tens of thousands of people in the Spanish capital Madrid.
Dozens of youths threw projectiles at police, who responded by charging at them.
Demonstrators were protesting over issues including unemployment, poverty and official corruption.
They want the government not to pay its international debts and do more to improve health and education.
The BBC’s Guy Hedgecoe in Madrid says protesters travelled from all corners of Spain, many of them making the journey on foot, in order to voice their anger
They called their protest the march of dignity, our correspondent says, because they say that the government of Mariano Rajoy is stripping Spaniards of just that.
For many of them, the cutbacks that Mr Rajoy has implemented, in particular to health and education, are causing Spain irreparable damage.
It looks like the protest started peaceful enough, but then got violent later…video and pictures at the link.
Bloomberg has a story out about the New York Times, check it out: New York Times Story on Pakistan Censored by Local Printer
A NewYork Times story saying Pakistan’s government protected Taliban forces was censored by the publisher’s printing partner in that country, resulting in a blank hole on the front page of its international edition.
The article, a 4,800-word excerpt from a forthcoming book by Times reporter Carlotta Gall to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt next month, appeared in the New York Times magazine in the U.S. and was intended as a front-page article of the International New York Times. While the story appears on most copies of the international edition, it doesn’t show up in papers distributed in Pakistan, about 9,000 copies, according to the publisher.
The Times’s Pakistan printer, part of the Express Tribune newspaper in that country, removed the article without its knowledge, according to Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.
“We would never self-censor and this decision was made without our knowledge or agreement,” she said in an e-mail. “While we understand that our publishing partners are sometimes faced with local pressures, we regret any censorship of our journalism.”
It is unclear if the Times will continue its partnership with Express Tribune.
Mediaite has a picture of the paper here: Story on Bin Laden’s Pakistan Ties Disappears from International New York Times
And….in Vatican City: Pope names woman assaulted by priest, others to sex abuse commission – CBS News
Pope Francis named the initial members of a commission to advise him on sex abuse policy Saturday, signaling an openness to reach beyond church officials to plot the commission’s course and priorities: Half of the members are women, and one was assaulted by a priest as a child.
The eight members were announced after Francis came under fire from victims’ groups for a perceived lack of attention to the abuse scandal, which has seriously damaged the Catholic Church’s reputation around the world and cost dioceses and religious orders billions of dollars in legal fees and settlements.
The Vatican in December announced that Francis would create the commission to advise the church on best policies to protect children, train church personnel and keep abusers out of the clergy. But no details had been released until Saturday and it remains unknown if the commission will deal with the critical issue of disciplining bishops who cover up for abusers.
In a statement, the Vatican hinted that it might, saying the commission would look into both “civil and canonical duties and responsibilities” for church personnel. Canon law does provide for sanctions if a bishop is negligent in carrying out his duties, but such punishments have never been imposed on a bishop for failing to report a pedophile priest to police.
It is a step in the right direction…
And hey, did you see this story from last week? ‘I have a bomb in my a**’: Man annoyed by slow security checks prompts airport evacuation
An airport passenger has been detained for five days after he told officers he had a bomb hidden in his rectum – because he was frustrated with the time it was taking to get through security.
He didn’t have a bomb, but the comments prompted a security alert and partial evacuation at Beijing’s international airport. The man was arrested at the scene.
In a hurry to make his flight, the unnamed man had made a number of vocal complaints about the slow progress of security checks, Beijing city government’s news website reported.
He had also shown signs of anxiety while queuing at the checkpoint, it said.
When he was asked to remove his shoes before passing through security screening, he told an officer: “Do I need to drop my pants as well? I have a bomb in my a**.”
After the area was cleared, the man was searched and taken to the local police station, where he has been held since the incident on Monday.
You know…there are some things that you obviously don’t say when you are getting a closer screening at an airport checkpoint. I have a bomb in my ass is one of those things.
I will tell you another obvious no no…you do not remake Hitchcock’s The Birds. No. You. Do. Not.
In life, there are few things one can predict with accuracy, even after years of training. Just ask a financial analyst who works for 80 hours a week studying the intricacies of stock price movement only to finally manage a fund that consistently underperforms the market. Just ask a couple divorcing after 30 years of marriage. Just ask a NCAA tournament Cinderella team that makes it to the Final Four against all odds. But there is one thing, in this world of uncertainty, that can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy: a Michael Bay-produced remake of an Alfred Hitchcock movie is going to gargle goat balls.
Yes, it’s happening, according to Variety. The director most famous for the Transformers franchise is graduating from updated live-action versions of glorified toy commercials from the early 80′s to ruining treasured Hollywood cinematic achievements and pissing off Tippi Hedren. He won’t be directing; that honor will go to Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen. But his production company — which is also behind such cinematic farts as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, and Friday the 13th remakes — will be calling the shots.
If you think this is a joke, it is not. Um…So Michael Bay Is Remaking Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’: LAist
…Hedren thinks a remake of The Birds is a horrible idea. She spoke to MTV (via Cinema Blend) about this back in 2007 when there was talk about a remake:
“A couple of years ago, when they were first thinking about it, they called and asked what I thought about a remake of The Birds, and I thought ‘Why would you do that? Why?’ I mean, can’t we find new stories, new things to do?”
She added: “Must you be so insecure that you have to take a film that’s a classic, and I think a success and try to do it over? They tried to make Psycho over and it didn’t work.”
Yeah, just more CG crap…CG birds, big fake explosions, running from big fake explosions and big fake tits everywhere…
This month JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (2013) will finally be leaving the festival circuit and getting a wider release on March 21st. Frank Pavich’s new documentary chronicles the long strange and turbulent development of what many consider to be one of greatest unrealized films in cinema history and allows us to imagine what Jodorowsky’s unfinished film might have looked like if it had been completed. Jodorowsky’s unruly vision was based on Frank Herbert’s science fiction opus and featured production design by the Swiss surrealist H. R. Giger and French cartoonist Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, a soundtrack by the psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd and a cast that included Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Salvador Dali and Amanda Lear. Pre-production on this big-budget film started in 1974 and millions of dollars were spent before the project eventually fell apart. Unfortunately, Jodorowsky’s story isn’t uncommon and there are thousands of forgotten unmade movies that we’ll never get the opportunity to see although they may not have had the same ambition or scope as the long lost DUNE. With this in mind I decided to compile a list of some particularly intriguing film projects that never made it to the big screen. These are the forgotten dreams of frustrated directors and writers but from time to time I find them unspooling in my head and my imagination has transformed them all into minor and, in some cases, major masterpieces.
Enjoy that blog post…
Now a bit on something that should never have been made into a play…especially a musical…Theater Review: Rocky — Vulture
Do you remember a while back I mentioned this play in a Sunday post? It was just beginning rehearsals.
The huge Winter Garden — lately home to the inane juggernaut Mamma Mia! — is not a theater in which you’d expect to find a sad and delicate romance. Yet one is playing out there. Amid gorgeous shadows and the monumental grimness of a city in decline, a scrappy small-time boxer, pursuing modest dreams of redemption in the ring and in love, hits apparent dead ends in both. At 29, he’s past his prime as a fighter; meanwhile Adrian, the girl he likes, is withdrawn to the point of hostility. They’re each other’s “flip side,” they slowly learn: The boxer convinced he’s all body, no brain, the abused Adrian just the opposite. That he’s not as dumb as he looks, nor she as plain as her cat’s-eye glasses indicate, is hardly a novel narrative notion, but it makes for a touching theatrical combo. Unfortunately, this two-character, black-and-white kitchen-sink drama, reminiscent of Paddy Chayefsky in his made-for-TV days, is trapped inside (and eventually strangled by) a garishly colorful bloated mess of an unmusical musical called Rocky.
This was inevitable. From its inception, Rocky the musical was a cynical endeavor, driven not by artistic necessity or even plausibility but financial opportunity. (The movie Rocky and its five sequels, all written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, have grossed more than $1.5 billion, adjusted for inflation.) The notion of characters who can barely talk, who are by definition stuck in place, being made to sing and dance — in Philadelphia, yet — was so patently misguided as to invite ridicule. Bringing aboard some of the most highly regarded talents in the field to get around the problem only made it worse. These artists, trying harder and succeeding more than you might expect, have only exaggerated by contrast the contours of their overall failure. This was a job, if ever there was one, for Frank Wildhorn.
I don’t know directors or other broadway stage folk…but I saw that preview video back last year and thought it was shit! I mean like really shitty.
Ahrens, scrambling for hooks that won’t sound musical theaterish and twee, has actually found some, but they come at the cost of a certain outlandishness, like Rocky’s introductory solo “My Nose Ain’t Broken.”
(The book, hewing close to the movie, including “Yo, Adrian” and the sides of beef, is credited to Thomas Meehan and Stallone himself.) It’s in this sphere — the whole insane hoopla of an overhyped sporting event — that the designers, especially Zinn, go crazy. To judge from the clichés passing for costumes, Creed and his synchronized-sass entourage, dressed largely in Pimp Purple, have arrived in Philadelphia from a Saturday Night Live sketch about Soul Train.
And then there’s the famous boxing ring, which, in a coup de théâtre twenty minutes before the end, slides forward past the orchestra pit over part of the audience. (The 111 people in the affected seats — center section, rows AA through F — have by this point been moved to bleachers onstage, producing something like the in-the-round orientation of an actual fight.) All the whizbang effects $16 million can buy now come out of the closet, as any residual pretense of sincerity is burned off in the blinding light. It is admittedly, astonishing stagecraft, but also astonishing vulgarity. (Nor can you really understand what’s going on.) It’s bad enough that this Las Vegasized championship fight sequence, complete with anachronistic-for-1975 computer graphics, underlines what was already trashy in the earlier material, especially the portrayal of all the women (except for Adrian) as gum-snapping, vowel-honking floozies. But it also undermines whatever was good. It turns out that the love story was bait for the spectacle instead of the other way around.
New things to do? As Hedren asked above…nope.
Alright…just a few more links.
I thought this was a fun thread: Paris Review – Small Wonder, Sadie Stein
“Bond always mistrusted short men. They grew up from childhood with an inferiority complex. All their lives they would strive to be big—bigger than the others who had teased them as a child. Napoleon had been short, and Hitler. It was the short men that caused all the trouble in the world.” ―Ian Fleming
Every class has one, or maybe two: a child so improbably small that this becomes his or her identity. There he is, on the end of your class picture year after year, forced to play a pawn in the fifth grade human-chess game (wearing a teacher’s old velour shirt as a tunic), any child role in a play, and later the deadweight in a freshman year trust exercise. He humbly takes this as his due. He does not need James Bond proto-Godwin-ing to make him feel the sting of his lowly position.
I have come across many treasures on the giveaway table of my building’s lobby, but my most recent acquisition is perhaps the greatest. Short Chic: The everything-you-need-to-know fashion guide for every woman under 5’4″ could have come from the apartments of literally half my neighbors, but now it is mine. The cover features a petite woman dressed in the height of 1981 style: slouchy heeled boots, what looks like a leather duffel coat, a large woolen scarf, and some kind of bulbous cap that (the helpful height chart next to her informs us) brings her to a towering 5’1″. The two authors, according to their back-flap bios, are, respectively, 5’3″ and 5’2″.
Why, 5’3″ that is enormous! Especially for someone like me! (Who is 4’11″ on a good day.) But damn, to think that James Bond did not like short
people I mean men. Go figure.
Oh, and I think my mom had a copy of that book…somehow that cover looks very familiar to me.
I don’t know about shortness causing men to go all Hitler and Napoleon and such…shit, most of the men in my family are short as hell but they aren’t evil murdering bastards. Hey, but if you want murdering batass crazy nut cases then take a look: This is your brain on murder: What the mind of a psychopath looks like – Salon.com
Burly, bearded James Fallon tells people he has the brain of a psychopathic killer. And he has some brain scans he thinks back up his claim.
The PET scans behind his surprising claim—and which have provided entertaining material for his lectures—were taken where he works. He’s Professor Emeritus of Anatomy & Neurobiology and Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). There he studies higher brain functions at the Human Brain Imaging Lab. Fallon describes his interests as “the neural circuitry and genetics of creativity, artistic talent, psychopathology, criminal behavior, and levels of consciousness.”
A neuroscientist with a forty-year-long, successful career, Fallon, now sixty-six, arranged to have his own brain scanned. He made the decision after his mother, Jenny, recalled some interesting family history during a family barbeque. She knew her son, the scientist, lectured about his research on violent offenders. His lectures covered what he saw in the brains of murderers and what the images revealed to him about the causes of violent behavior. That led Jenny, as she said on NPR, to challenge her son: “Jim, why don’t you find out about your father’s relatives? I think there were some cuckoos back there.”
She was right. There turned out to be numerous—and murderous— cuckoos back there, including Lizzy Borden and seven other alleged killers. They were all on his father’s side, to his mother’s amusement. Borden, the most infamous, was acquitted—quite controversially—of the axe murders of her father and stepmother in 1882. One of Fallon’s male ancestors, Thomas Cornell, wasn’t so lucky. He didn’t beat the rap for the crime he was accused of committing: the murder of his mother. He hung for it in 1667.
You should find that article interesting for a Sunday morning.
Now, one to get you pissed. School Officials Take Over Student Paper After Rape Culture Article
After a student newspaper published a feature on rape culture, district officials in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin have set new rules governing the subject matter that appears in the publication.
Through Fon de Lac High School Prinicpal Jon Wiltzius the district will now determine what stories and issues the students can write about. The issue began over an article published in Cardinal Columns, the school’s student-run newspaper. The article by Tanvi Kumar was titled “The Rape Joke: Surviving Rape in a Culture That Won’t Let You,” and featured a discussion on rape culture. You can see the story here (it’s quite powerful and well worth a read). Here’s what the article entailed, according to Raw Story:
The story begins with an account of an anonymous student, “Sarah,” who stayed silent about her rape because she “didn’t know it was rape because there weren’t and drugs, and we weren’t at a party.” Despite having told her attacker “no” numerous times, her friends convinced her that sex had been consensual.
It recounts similar stories from other students — including one about a girl who had been molested by an uncle who is will be released from prison shortly — that demonstrate the way in which rape culture causes victims of rape and sexual abuse to blame themselves for the actions of their attackers.
The school district apparently balked at the idea of this kind of subject matter being in a high school paper and stepped in with the new rules for publication.
Read more about that decision at the link. It made me think of this picture I saw on Facebook the other day.
That is some fucked up shit!
Which brings me to the last link for today’s post…Study: Barbie May Be Hazardous to Your Daughter’s Career Aspirations – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
Supportive parents tell their daughters they can grow up to do just about anything. But this message of empowerment may be undercut by one of their girls’ favorite playthings: Barbie dolls.
In a newly published study, four- to seven-year-old girls who briefly played with a Barbie picked a more limited set of potential career options than those who had played with a Mrs. Potato Head doll. Surprisingly, this effect occurred no matter if Barbie was dressed as a model or as a physician.
“Playing with either type of Barbie reduced the number of careers that girls saw as possibilities for themselves, compared to the number they perceived as possible for boys,” write psychologists Aurora Sherman of Oregon State University and Eileen Zurbriggen of the University of California-Santa Cruz. Their study is published in the journal Sex Roles.
I bet you know where this is going.
Participants were 37 girls growing up in a mid-sized Oregon city. Fifty-nine percent of them owned at least one Barbie; 57 percent owned two or more of the famously big-busted, slim-wasted dolls.
The experiment began with a five-minute play session, in which each girl was invited to play with one of three dolls: Mrs. Potato Head, who came with a purse and hat, but lacked glamor or sex appeal; “Fashion Barbie,” who wore a “short-sleeved pink dress with black lace overlay and pink high-heeled shoes;” or “Doctor Barbie,” who wore a white lab coat over her “scrubs-style V-neck shirt” and “tight fitting blue jeans.”
Afterwards, each girl was shown 10 pictures of workplaces representing specific occupations. For example, she would be shown a photo of a diner, told “this is a restaurant, where a food server works.” After looking at each, she was asked two questions: “Could you do this job when you grow up?” and “Could a boy do this job when he grows up?”
Aside from the restaurant, which was considered gender-neutral, the girls were asked about five occupations usually associated with women (including teacher and librarian) and five usually associated with men (including pilot, doctor, and police officer).
However, it was a different story for those who played with either Barbie. They “reported fewer careers as future possibilities for themselves than they reported were possible for boys.” In other words, those who played with a Barbie doll “saw fewer future opportunities for themselves.”
“This was true whether the Barbie was dressed as either a fashion model or as a doctor,” Sherman and Zurbriggen add. “It appears that the doll itself trumps the role suggested by the costuming.”
The researchers noted that:
…“adding a doctor coat and a stethoscope” may not have been sufficient “to override the sexualized clues embedded in the outfit.” A Doctor Barbie in plain medical scrubs may have had a different effect. So, presumably, might the realistically proportioned Barbie-like doll which, coincidentally, has just been unveiled by its inventor.
It is a small study of course but it does make you think…hmmm.
Well, I hope you have enough there to chew on this morning. Give us some thoughts in the comments below and have a wonderful day.
For completely selfish reasons I’m going to focus this post on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane mystery, because I’m obsessed with the story and I want to read about it.
A week after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from radar, what happened is still a mystery. Where could it have gone? Early Saturday morning, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the plane was diverted off course by “deliberate action.” Faith Karimi and Barbara Starr at CNN:
“Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation on crew and passengers aboard,” Najib told reporters. “Evidence is consistent with someone acting deliberately from inside the plane.” [....]
“Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, we are investigating all major possibilities on what caused MH370 to deviate,” he said.
Shortly after he spoke, a source close to the investigation told CNN that Malaysian police had searched the home of pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53. Shah lives in a gated community in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier Saturday there was no police presence at the residence of his co-pilot, Fariq Ab Hamid, 27.
Here’s a transcript of the Prime Minister’s statement at CNN.
From Bernama, the National News Agency of Malaysia: Cops Visit Residence Of Missing Flight’s Captain.
SHAH ALAM, March 15 (Bernama) — Police were seen arriving at the residence of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the pilot of the Flight MH370 at about 2.42pm Saturday.
This followed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s press conference on the development of the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) aircraft.
A check by Bernama noted that three plain clothed police personnel introduced themselves as coming from Bukit Aman police headquarters to the security guard manning the Laman Seri residence at Section 13 here before obtaining a security pass to go in.
It was believed that the police have conducted a search at the pilot’s house and all of them were seen leaving the residence at about 4.46pm.
From the Sydney Telegraph: Investigators digging deep into the lives of the pilots from the missing airliner.
THE psychological background, family life and connections of the two pilots aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have become a major focus of the investigation into the missing jet.
Pilots Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and Fariq Abdul Hamid have been described as respectable, community-minded men.
Mr Fariq has drawn the greatest scrutiny after the revelation that in 2011, he and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for a flight from Phuket, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur….
Fariq, the son of a high-ranking civil servant in Selangor state, joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007. With 2763 hours of flight experience, he had recently started co-piloting the Boeing 777. “His father still cries when he talks about Fariq. His mother too,” Ahmad Sarafi said.
Fariq had a brush with fame when he was filmed recently by a crew from “CNN Business Traveller,” and reporter Richard Quest described it as a perfect landing of a Boeing 777-200, the same model as the plane that vanished. Neighbour Ayop Jantan said he had heard Fariq was engaged and planning his wedding. The eldest of five, Fariq’s professional achievements were a source of pride for his father.
Zaharie, the pilot of MH370, joined the airline in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of experience. His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft. Born in northern Penang state, the captain and grandfather was an enthusiastic handyman and proud home cook.
Back to CNN story on the Prime Minister’s statement, linked above:
“The plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean,” Najib said.
Given that the new search area involves a number of countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been given access to the new information. Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry will brief the governments that had passengers aboard the plane and will brief the relatives of its 239 passengers and crew….
“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, was disabled just before the aircraft reached the East Coast of peninsular Malaysia,” the Prime Minister said. “Shortly afterward, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off. From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft — which was believed but not confirmed to be MH370 — did turn back.”
Military radar showed the jetliner flew in a westerly direction back over the peninsula before turning northwest toward the Bay of Bengal or southwest into the Indian Ocean, he said.
“Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane,” he said, adding that investigators had confirmed by looking at the raw satellite data that the plane in question was the Malaysia Airlines jet.
American and British aviation authorities agreed with these conclusions. A story from McClatchy (via the Miami Herald) explains that an experienced person must have been flying the plane.
Najib’s comments further suggest that someone with significant flying experience must have commandeered the flight, or that a hijacker managed to coerce the crew to take two actions that diverted the flight from reaching Beijing. One involved disabling the flight’s “Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System” over the northeast coast of Malaysia. Then, at 1:21 a.m, someone turned off a transponder that was reporting the aircraft’s location, altitude, speed and other information.
Forensics work and a review of Malaysian radar, Najib said, has now revealed that MH 370 turned back and started traveling in a westerly direction. But the flight was still tracked by satellites overhead. A review of that data, Najib said, revealed that the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time last Saturday, nearly seven hours after air traffic controllers lost track of it.
Based on this new data, the prime minister said, investigators think the plane could have traveled in two possible directions — “a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian ocean.” An international search effort has already shifted its attention to those areas, he said.
That first scenario raises the possibility that a hijacker or hijackers could have attempted to land the plane and its passengers in a remote part of Central Asia known to harbor militant groups. But in an age of satellites, doing so undetected would be extremely difficult, and so far there’s been no reported claim of responsibility for the plane’s disappearance.
According to The New York Times, Search for Malaysian Jet Becomes Criminal Inquiry.
Mr. Najib’s news conference, at an airport hotel here on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, came a day after American officials and others familiar with the investigation told The New York Times that Flight 370 had experienced significant changes in altitude after it lost contact with ground control, and altered its course more than once as if still under the command of a pilot.
Military radar data subsequently showed that the aircraft turned and flew west across northern Malaysia before arcing out over the wide northern end of the Strait of Malacca, headed at cruising altitude for the Indian Ocean.
News sources indicate the plane could have kept flying as long as 7 hours after it cut off contact.
“The investigation team is making further calculations, which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after the last point of contact,” Mr. Najib said, reading a statement in English. “Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with a satellite.”
The northern arc described by Mr. Najib passes through or close to some of the world’s most volatile countries, home to insurgent groups, but also over highly militarized areas with robust air-defense networks, some run by the American military. The arc passes close to northern Iran, through Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, and through northern India and the Himalayan mountains and Myanmar.
An aircraft flying on that arc would have to pass through air-defense networks in India and Pakistan, whose mutual border is heavily militarized, as well as through Afghanistan, where the United States and other NATO countries have operated air bases for more than a decade.
Air bases near that arc include Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where the United States Air Force’s 455th Air Expeditionary Wing is based, and a large Indian air base, Hindon Air Force Station.
A few more articles on missing Flight 370:
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Today is the 50th anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York. This was a crime that shocked and outraged America and the world, and still horrifies and fascinates people to this day. At The New Yorker, Nicholas Lehmann describes some of the reasons this news story has become so iconic and reviews two new books on the case. Lehmann argues that New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal created a news environment in which this particular murder became the focus of so much attention. Lehmann deliberately shaped the coverage of the murder in a sensational and misleading manner. The story ended up as the focus of a classic psychological study.
a post about this in August 2009, and I thought I’d put that post up again today.
I wrote a piece about this in August 2009. I thought I’d repost it today. I’ve made a few minor edits to the original. At the end, I list some recent books and articles for further reading.
The Kitty Genovese Case: A Fascinating Intersection of True Crime, Psychology, and Media Misinformation
A Murder in Kew Gardens
On March 13, 1964, at around 3:30AM, there was a murder in the Kew Gardens section of Queens, New York. The murder probably wouldn’t have gotten much publicity at all if it hadn’t been for a sensational article that appeared on the front page of The New York Times, a couple of weeks later. The Times story led to groundbreaking research in social psychology and the discovery of new and counter-intuitive information about human behavior.
It was very late, very cold, and very dark when 28-year-old Catherine “Kitty” Genovese parked her car at the Kew Gardens train station after driving from Ev’s Eleventh Hour Bar in Hollis, where she worked nights as manager. When she got out of her car, she saw a stranger walking toward her. The man, Winston Mosley, 29, stabbed Genovese two times as she hurried past a bookstore on Austin Street, pehaps headed a local bar named Bailey’s to seek assistance. She called out, “Oh my God. He stabbed me. Please help me,” and fell to the ground. Winston was leaning over her to stab her again, when he heard a man’s voice calling from a window in an apartment building across the street, “Leave that girl alone!”
- Winston Mosley
Startled, Mosley ran down an alley, got into his car, and backed up, ready to drive off. Lights had gone on in the nearby apartment building, but they went off again. Mosley got out of the car and again followed Genovese, who had reached the doorway of her apartment building, which was in the back of the building at 82-62 Austin Street. As she fell forward through the doorway, crying out, “I’m dying, I’m dying,” Winston caught up with her, stabbed her again, and then raped her. A short time later, a neighbor, Greta Schwartz, who had called the police after receiving a phone call from another neighbor, ran down to the lobby and cradled Kitty in her lap until the paramedics arrived.
From interviews in the neighborhoods of the two stabbing incidents, police learned that as many as 37 people had seen or heard part of the stalking and murder of Kitty Genovese by Winston Mosley, but supposedly none of them had called the police except Greta Schwartz.
The New York Times Breaks the Story
On March 27, 1964, The New York Times published a front page story by Martin Gansberg (Warning, PDF) headlined “37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call Police.”
Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector
For more than half an hour 38 respectable, law-abiding citizens in Queens watched a killer stalk and stab a woman in three separate attacks in Kew Gardens.
Twice the sound of their voices and the sudden glow of their bedroom lights interrupted him and frightened him off. Each time he returned, sought her out and stabbed her again. Not one person telephoned the police during the assault; one witness called after the woman was dead.
That was two weeks ago today. But Assistant Chief Inspector Frederick M. Lussen, in charge of the borough’s detectives and a veteran of 25 years of homicide investigations, is still shocked.
He can give a matter-of-fact recitation of many murders. But the Kew Gardens slaying baffles him–not because it is a murder, but because the “good people” failed to call the police.
Just that brief excerpt contains a number of inaccuracies, which I’ll get to a little later. Nevertheless, it was from this newspaper article that Americans–and people around the world–formed their lasting impressions of the tragic death of Kitty Genovese. The story shocked the nation; everyone was talking about how terrible it was that in big cities like New York, people just didn’t seem to get to know their neighbors or care about them. Those of us who lived in small cities and towns were sure things would be different in our neighborhoods.
Psychological Study of the Bystander Effect
In 1968, J.M. Darley and B. Latane published a study (pdf) in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that was inspired by the supposed behavior of the 37 “witnesses” to Kitty Genovese’s murder. They hypothesized that the reason bystanders did not take action was “diffusion of responsibility,” and that the more bystanders in an emergency situation, the more these bystanders believe that “someone else will help, so I don’t need to.”
Participants in the study were college students in an introductory psychology class at New York University.
Darley and Latane told participants that they wanted to study how students adjust to university life in a highly competitive, urban environment. They said they wanted participants to discuss their problems honestly with other students; and in order to avoid personal discomfort, participants would sit in separate rooms equipped with an intercom system.
There were three different groups. Students in group one were told they would be talking with one other person. In group two, students were told there would be two other people on the intercome with them. Group five was told there would be five other people listening in to the conversation. In reality, all of the students were alone and they the other voices they heard were on tape. The emergency was that one of the participants in the discussion has epileptic seizure (the sounds of the seizure were actually played on tape).
As the intercom discussions began, students heard the first student, a male, tell about his difficulties concentrating on his studies and problems adjusting to life in New York City. He then added, with some embarrassment, that he sometimes had severe seizures, especially when under a lot of stress. Then the conversation switched to the next student. In group 1, the actual student’s turn came next. In the other two groups, the real student heard one or more other students speak first. After the real student took a turn speaking, the first “student” again started to speak normally, then began having a seizure, and asked for help. Darley and Latane measured how long it took subjects to help the student in trouble (helping was defined as leaving the cubicle and notifying an experimenter of the problem).
Why? Not because they were apathetic. All subjects were anxious and showed physical signs of nervousness. Darley and Latane conclued that as the number of people involved in an emergency situation increase, it’s easier for bystanders to assume that someone else will handle it; and the potential guilt for not helping is divided up. Other possible reasons for failure to act are fear of embarrassment or ridicule, fear that they are misinterpreting the situation. The authors also pointed out that most people don’t have much experience with emergency situations and are likely to become confused or overwhelmed when they encounter one.
Joseph De May, Jr., and the Kew Gardens History Page
In 2000, Joseph De May, who had lived in Kew Gardens since 1974, decided to build a website that would contain a comprehensive pictorial history of the neighborhood. As part of his project, De May dug up as much information as he could about the Kitty Genovese murder and then critiqued the original New York Times article and debunked some myths that had grown up around the case. Here is the “short version” of his critique:
# There were only 2 attacks, not 3.
# The attacks were not continuous. There was about a 10 min. interval between them when the killer moved his car to a parking place farther away.
# There were not 38 eye witnesses to either of the attacks. Only 3 people are known to have seen one or the other of the stabbings.
# The first attack on Austin Street – the one that awakened the witnesses – was likely over before all but a few of the witnesses got to their windows.
# Probably many more than 38 were ear witnesses to Kitty’s screams. However, that first attack occurred a few yards away from a bar known for its late night rowdiness.
# After the first attack, Kitty left the scene under her own power without making any outcries for help.
# The second attack took place in a small vestibule in the rear of a building where only one witness was in a position to see it.
# Given the layout of the crime scene, it would have been impossible for anyone to have seen or heard everything.
# Assuming the police were not timely called – a big assumption in my opinion – there were reasons apart from apathy why they were not.
- Crime scene photo: back of apartment building where Kitty died
Furthermore, a 15-year-old boy named Michael Hoffman saw Winston Mosley run away after the first attack in front of the bookstore and saw Kitty Genovese get up and stagger in the other direction. He didn’t know there had been a stabbing, but he told his father what he had seen and the father called the police. The police later admitted they had received several other calls. One man did see the knife and understood that a woman was being stabbed. This man never called the police and couldn’t explain his inaction. At least five other people saw Mosley return to the original scene, but by that time Kitty Genovese was gone.
There were two attacks, not three as the New York Times reported. A man on the first floor of Kitty’s building open his door and saw the final attack. He wanted to call police, but said his wife didn’t want him to get involved. He went to Greta Schwartz’s apartment and asked her to call police, which she did. She then ran downstairs with a friend, found Kitty still alive and cradled her until an ambulance arrived. Also contrary to The New York Times story, the occupants of Kitty Genovese’s apartments building knew and were friendly with each other. Many knew and liked Kitty and her roomate Mary Ann Zielonko.
The Real Kitty Genovese
In 2004, on the fortieth anniversary of Kitty Genovese’s death, Mary Ann Zielonko came forward and talked about Kitty publicly for the first time. She was interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. In the interview, Zielonko, who now lives in Vermont, revealed that she and Kitty Genovese were lovers. A lesbian blogger in Vermont wrote a piece about her own feelings after she learned about Kitty’s sexual orientation.
Hearing that Genovese was a lesbian has shaken up my psyche. Genovese’s name was always a cautionary tale – about being a woman alone in the city at night, about the need to care and take action in the face of assault. But now it’s also somehow more about me as a lesbian, about our denied and undiscovered herstory, about the dangers we faced then – and now.
In 1964, it was not okay to be queer. The only place to go to hold your lover’s hand in semi-public was a bar. Mary Ann remembers the Swing Rendezvous on MacDougal St. and the Seven Steps on Houston. Police raids and being beaten up for wearing butch or femme drag were common events.
Until now we’ve never had the opportunity to ask whether the neighbors’ indifference might have had an element of homophobia (not that the word existed then). Kitty and Mary Ann lived together in the apartment Kitty was so desperately trying to reach that March night. Mary Ann says some of the neighbors suspected they were lesbians, because they were always together. “But we didn’t look ‘gay,’ whatever that means.” Mary Ann got home from her own shift tending bar and went to sleep – until the police knocked at her door at 4 a.m. and drove her from the tree-lined streets of their Kew Gardens, Queens, neighborhood where Kitty died, to the hospital morgue to identify Kitty’s body.
Some of the neighbors may have suspected that Kitty and Mary Ann were gay, but several reported in interviews that she was a friendly, smiling young woman whom they liked. A few told police and reporters that they “didn’t want to get involved,” but most weren’t sure what they had seen or heard and couldn’t say why they didn’t call for help. It was after 3AM on a winter night, in a neighborhood where there were often loud voices and even fighting among people leaving local bars. As with the participants in Darley and Latane’s study, some of the witnesses may have feared giving a false report to police and looking foolish.
In addition, Joseph De May reports that in those days, NYC police demanded that callers identify themselves rather than just accepting reports of emergencies. That may have deterred some from calling police or holding on long enough to get someone to listen. Even if witnesses had called police to report screaming or fighting, they would likely have taken a long time to respond, because of the bars in the area.
In 2004, The New York Times interviewed De May about his research.
In the end, Mr. De May’s conclusion about the murder is that, while the behavior of the witnesses was hardly beyond reproach, the common conception of exactly what occurred that night is not in fact what occurred. What did occur, he argues, is far more complex and far less damning to the residents of Kew Gardens.
”Yeah, there was a murder,” Mr. De May said. ”Yeah, people heard something. You can question how a few people behaved. But this wasn’t 38 people watching a woman be slaughtered for 35 minutes and saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be involved.”’
Mr. De May began his research with the seminal Times article of March 27, 1964. ”I remember reading through it, then putting it down and thinking, ‘Well, this doesn’t hang together at all,”’ he said. ”And then I read it again carefully. I knew the area. I knew the crime scene because I go by there every day.”
Mr. De May soon found himself poring through legal documents related to the case, scouring books and articles, and interviewing neighbors. At one point, he even ran the route of Ms. Genovese’s flight up Austin Street, timing it with a watch. He became convinced that his first impression was correct. ”Here’s something that everyone thinks happened,” he said, ”that isn’t so.”
Kitty’s murderer had no idea that she was a lesbian. He had set out that night to kill a woman. He was certainly a sociopath and may have been a serial killer. He confessed to having killed at least one other woman after he was arrested for the Genovese murder. In 1968, Mosley managed to escape from police custody and raped a pregnant woman in her home. In April, 2008, the New York Daily News reported on Mosley’s latest parole hearing.
Forty-four years after stalking and stabbing Kitty Genovese, her killer still blames his wife-beating father for the vicious murder.
“My father was at the time stalking my mother and thinking about killing her,” Winston Moseley told the parole board last month when asked about the infamous 1964 slaying.
“But the problem was not just at that moment in time,” he said. “It existed for many years of sort of the emotional trauma that I was going through.”
Moseley, whose parole bid was rejected for a 13th time, has long displayed little remorse for the March 13, 1964, slaying – although he did offer an apology this time, a transcript of the hearing shows.
In 2008, Charles E. Stoller, the man who prosecuted Winston Mosley for the murder of Kitty Genovese and two other murders, published a book about the cases, Twisted Confessions: The True Story Behind the Kitty Genovese and Barbara Kralik Murder Trials.
Catherine Pelonero, Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences (2014)
Kevin Cook, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America (2014)
Boston Globe book review, ‘Kitty Genovese’ by Kevin Cook and ‘Kitty Genovese’ by Catherine Pelonero
Nicholas Lehmann, A CALL FOR HELP: What the Kitty Genovese story really means.
AP (via CBS Local NY), 50 Years Later, Kitty Genovese Murder Case Still Grips NYC, Nation.
Fabian Tepper (Christian Science Monitor), Kitty Genovese murder: would you have helped?
Nancy Dillon (NY Daily News), Brother of Kitty Genovese to release documentary about sister’s 1964 murder, which prompted ‘Genovese Syndrome’ research
I’ve had a scary couple of days. I woke up on Sunday morning to find my house very cold. I soon realized there was something wrong with my furnace. It was still running and there was hot air coming out of the vents, but it wasn’t pushing out enough heat to warm up the house. It turned out the blower motor had died.
Why is it these things always seem to happen on a weekend or holiday? Luckily it hasn’t been terribly cold so I’ve managed to stay relatively comfortable by wearing lots of layers and using a portable electric heater. I was able to find someone to come and fix it yesterday. I got so relaxed that I overslept this morning, and so this post is going to be late.
So now I’m completely broke but warm, and I’m prepared for the upcoming snowstorm. Yes, the Weather Channel is predicting another one and has given it one of those annoying names. You can check out the predicted impact on your area in this summary article, Winter Storm Vulcan Forecast: Long Swath of Snow Across Rockies, Midwest, Northeast. I can only hope this one turns out to be a bust like the last one. Otherwise, I’ll be shoveling snow again on Friday.
The story of the missing Malaysion plane continues. Here are the latest reports:
Reuters (via Nipawin Journal): Malaysia military tracked missing plane to west coast: Source
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s military believes a jetliner missing for almost four days turned and flew hundreds of kilometres to the west after it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country’s east coast, a senior officer told Reuters on Tuesday.
In one of the most baffling mysteries in recent aviation history, a massive search operation for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has so far found no trace of the aircraft or the 239 passengers and crew.
Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital Beijing.
“It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,” the senior military officer, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters.
That would appear to rule out sudden catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean the plane flew around 500 km (350 miles) at least after its last contact with air traffic control, although its transponder and other tracking systems were off.
A non-military source familiar with the investigations said the report was one of several theories and was being checked.
Authorities are pretty sure there was no terrorism involved. At least one of the men with stolen passports was an asylum-seeker from Iran.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – At least one of the two men traveling on a missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner was an Iranian asylum seeker, officials said Tuesday, as baffled authorities expanded their search for the Boeing 777 on the opposite side of the country from where it disappeared nearly four days ago with 239 people on board.
In the absence of any sign that the plane was in trouble before it vanished, speculation has ranged widely, including pilot error, plane malfunction, hijacking and terrorism, the last because two passengers were traveling on stolen passports. The terrorism theory weakened after Malaysian authorities determined that one of the two men was an Iranian asylum seeker.
Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said at a news conference Tuesday that the international police agency had identified two Iranian men, Pouri Nour Mohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29. Noble said based on investigations carried out into the men to date, they were “probably not terrorists.” The chief of police in Kuala Lumpur said earlier in the day that Mohamadi was apparently trying to fly to Europe as an asylum seeker.
The plane took off from Kuala Lumpur, on the western coast of Malaysia, early Saturday en route to Beijing. It flew overland across Malaysia and crossed the eastern coast into the Gulf of Thailand at 35,000 feet. There it disappeared from radar screens. The airline says the pilots didn’t send any distress signals, suggesting a sudden and possibly catastrophic incident.
I was surprised and saddened last night to learn that Joe McGinniss has died at 71 of complications from inoperable prostate cancer. McGinniss was only 26 when his first book The Selling of the President 1968 hit the bestseller lists. I bought the book and read it way back then. I couldn’t put it down. Same thing with his pathbreaking true crime book on the Jeffrey MacDonald case, Fatal Vision. From the AP obituary (via First Post World), ‘Fatal Vision’ author Joe McGinniss passes away at 71.
McGinniss was a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1968 when an advertising man told him he was joining Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign. Intrigued that candidates had advertising teams, McGinniss was inspired to write a book and tried to get access to Humphrey. The Democrat turned him down, but, according to McGinniss, Nixon aide Leonard Garment allowed him in, one of the last times the ever-suspicious Nixon would permit a journalist so much time around him. Garment and other Nixon aides were apparently unaware, or unconcerned, that McGinniss’ heart was very much with the anti-war agitators the candidate so despised.
The Republican’s victory that fall capped a once-unthinkable comeback for the former vice president, who had declared six years earlier that he was through with politics. Having lost the 1960 election in part because of his pale, sweaty appearance during his first debate with John F. Kennedy and aware of his reputation as a partisan willing to play dirty, Nixon had restricted his public outings and presented himself as a new and more mature candidate.
McGinniss was far from the only writer to notice Nixon’s reinvention, but few offered such raw and unflattering details. “The Selling of the President” was a sneering rebuttal to Theodore H. White’s stately “Making of the President” campaign books. It revealed Nixon aides, including future Fox News chief Roger Ailes, disparaging vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew, drafting memos on how to fix Nixon’s “cold” image and debating which black man — only one would be permitted — was right for participating in a televised panel discussion.
Historian David Greenberg wrote in “Nixon’s Shadow,” published in 2003, that McGinniss “sneaked in under the radar screen, presenting himself to Nixon’s men as such an insignificant fly on the wall that they never thought to swat him away.”
McGinnis was criticized for getting too close to Jeffrey McDonald and somehow betraying him, but I think McGinnis got it right. His contract stated that he would have full independence. He started out thinking McDonald could be innocent of the murders of his wife and two daughters, and he had an inside track on the defense; but in the end McGinnis concluded that MacDonald was guilty and wrote about his change of heart in the book.
His 1983 book “Fatal Vision” became a classic of the true crime genre and was based on unlimited access he gained to former Green Beret Jeffrey MacDonald and his attorneys during MacDonald’s 1979 murder trial in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
MacDonald, who at the time of the 1970 killings was an Army doctor, was found guilty and is serving three life sentences.
He has maintained the murders were committed by drug-crazed intruders. McGinniss had begun by expressing support for MacDonald but ended by concluding in his book that he was guilty of killing his family.
“I kept trying to find any reason I could to believe that he was not guilty,” McGinniss testified at a 2012 court hearing where MacDonald sought to be granted a new trial.
New Yorker magazine writer Janet Malcolm, in a 1989 article, accused McGinnis of displaying the underside of journalism by deceiving MacDonald with a show of support and then betraying his confidence, an argument McGinnis vehemently denied.
A terrific writer has left us far too soon.
Edward Snowden has been making more virtual appearances than a best-selling author on a publicity tour. Yesterday he was at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin Texas. I’m sure everyone here knows I’m not a fan of the pale and nerdy defector, so I’ll spare you my editorial comments and just give you a couple few links.
From Politico’s Josh Gerstein: Snowden Inc.
First, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden popped up in Hong Kong. Then, Russia. By Monday, the fugitive from justice, a man regularly accused of treason, was in Austin, Texas, hitting the nation’s hottest tech festival — via the Web, of course.
“They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet,” Snowden warned darkly, in jerky video relayed through a series of proxies from an undisclosed location in Russia. With an image of the U.S. Constitution projected behind him, he urged the tech-savvy SXSW attendees to ride to the rescue against rampant surveillance by the NSA and others. “The people who are in this room, now, you guys are all the firefighters, and we need you to help fight this,” he said, sounding every bit the geek as he described various encryption applications he believes should get wider use.
Snowden was painstaking in how he assembled a huge trove of top-secret documents while working as a tech contractor at an NSA facility in Hawaii. And he’s been equally deliberate in the way he and the team around him have crafted and cultivated his public image — controlling and carefully managing how he’s been perceived by the public in the months since he burst into the spotlight. It’s an endeavor that’s involved everything from coordinated efforts to beat back Obama administration attacks to the careful parceling out of tantalizing tidbits about his everyday life.
Snowden is campaigning for clemency; but frankly, I hope he ends up stuck in Russia for life. Ooops! Sorry, that’s my last nasty comment. A couple more links:
The Washington Post: ‘They’re setting fire to the future of the Internet’
I’ll wrap this up with some interesting articles on the crisis in Ukraine.
Putin biographer Masha Gessen at the LA Times, Is Vladimir Putin insane? Hardly. He is merely acting the way he always has, like a playground bully.
Robert Shrum at The Daily Beast, Obama’s All Eisenhower On Russia: Like Ike before him, Obama’s non-moves against Russia are the right moves.