Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag of Odds and Ends


I thought I’d go light on politics in today’s post. I’ve got a collection of interesting links on varied topics. I hope you’ll find something to your taste.

I’ll begin with some true crime stories.

LA County’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran has completed a review of actress Natalie Wood’s autopsy report and has concluded that she was very likely assaulted before her death and was probably unconscious when she went into the water, indicating that her death is now considered “suspicious.” CBS News reports:

The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office released a new report (pdf) Monday. Sources tell CBS News the review of the original coroner’s report in 1981 raises questions about every major finding that led investigators to originally conclude Natalie Wood’s death an accident. Sources say the report concludes that the bruising on the actress’ wrists, knees, and ankles could be more consistent with injuries from an assault than they were from struggling to climb back on a boat.

Wood died on November 28, 1981, when according to her husband, actor Robert Wagner, she fell off their yacht, the 60-foot-long Splendour, possibly while trying to re-tie a dinghy that had been banging against the side of the boat, disturbing her sleep.

Her body was found hours later floating in the waters off Catalina Island.

Wood’s death was ruled an accidental drowning. But in 2011, Los Angeles Sheriff’s detectives re-opened the case after the skipper of the boat, Dennis Davern, co-authored a book in which he gave a very different account of what happened that night. Davern said, “I believe Robert Wagner was with her right up until the moment she was in the water.”

According to Davern, Wagner asked him not to tell investigators what had happened, but years later he regrets contributing to a “cover-up.”

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood

However, according to CNN the county Sheriff says that Wagner is not a suspect. CNN provides two alternative descriptions of the events leading up to Wood’s disappearance from the yacht.

Davern offered a previously unreported account of how Wood’s death was reported, saying that Wagner waited hours to call the Coast Guard after Wood went missing off Catalina Island following an argument between the couple….

Wood and Wagner married in 1957, divorced in 1962, then remarried in 1972. They invited Wood’s “Brainstorm” co-star, Christopher Walken, to join them on the Thanksgiving weekend sail that preceded her death….

After Wagner then argued with Walken and broke a wine bottle, Wood left in disgust and went to her stateroom, Davern told CNN. Walken also retired to a guest room, Davern added, and Wagner followed his wife to their room. A few minutes later, Davern said, he could hear the couple fighting.

Embarrassed, Davern said, he turned up the volume on his stereo. At one point, Davern recalled, he glanced out of the pilot house window and saw Wagner and Wood on the yacht’s aft deck. “They’d moved their fight outside … you could tell from their animated gestures they were still arguing,” he said.

A short time later, Wagner, appearing to be distraught, told Davern he couldn’t find Wood. Davern searched the boat but couldn’t find her. He noticed the rubber dinghy also was missing.

Wagner claims that Wood went to her room and he didn’t follow her, but sat on deck having drinks with Walken before noticing that his wife was missing.

I’m sure you remember the story of the 10-year-old boy who shot his Neo-Nazi father, Jeff Hall, after years of abuse. I’ve written a couple of posts about it. Well, today the boy was “found responsible” for the death.

Neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall and friends

Neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall and friends

A Riverside County judge on Monday found a 12-year-old boy guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting and killing of his father, neo-Nazi activist Jeffrey Hall, as he slept on the family’s living room couch.

He also was found guilty of a weapons charge, with the judge determining he knew right from wrong.

This kid was 10 years old! Children that young simply cannot understand the consequences of their actions in the same sense as adults can. Yet he was found guilty of second degree murder.

Public Defender Matthew Hardy focused on the boy’s abusive home life, where gunplay and neo-Nazi gatherings were commonplace. Witnesses testified that Hall beat his son repeatedly, often in drunken or drug-addled rages.

Social workers responded to the Hall household more than 20 times. At the time of the shooting, the boy was a dependent of the court, an effort designed in part to shield him from further abuse, Hardy said.

Clinical psychologist Anna Salter, a mental health expert called by the prosecution, testified that the boy’s birth mother used heroin, LSD and other drugs while she was pregnant, which she called
“devastating” to the boy’s development. The boy also has an extensive history of violence dating to when he was 3. In school, he once tried to strangle a teacher with a telephone cord, she said.

The judge acknowledged that years of abuse and exposure to hate-filled Neo-Nazi philosophy had led to the child killing his father. Yet at the same time the judge used the child’s exposure to violence and hate to claim that this boy was mentally more mature than other 10-year-olds.

The youngster, who was 10 when he put a gun to his sleeping father’s head and pulled the trigger, was charged as a juvenile. He could be held in juvenile detention until he is 23.

The boy’s father, Jeffrey Hall, was a West Coast leader for the neo-Nazi organization known as the National Socialist Movement. He was asleep on a couch in the early morning hours of May 1, 2011, when his son crept downstairs with Hall’s .357 magnum revolver and shot his father point-blank in the head.

The judge said Hall’s attempts to indoctrinate his son into the hate group corrupted the thought process of a disturbed boy who already had displayed violent tendencies.

“It’s clear that this minor knows more than the average child about guns, hate and violence,’’ Leonard said.

Still, she added, “this is not a naive little boy unaware of the ways of the world.’’

It’s outrageous. Putting a 12-year-old boy in a facility with older boys who are already hardened criminals will erase any chance this boy has for a decent future.

One more crime story…another person is claiming to know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

An aging mobster who was once a high-ranking member of Detroit’s La Cosa Nostra organized crime family reportedly knows where labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

NBC 4 New York reports that Tony Zerilli, 85, said Hoffa was buried in a field in suburban Detroit, about 20 miles north of the restaurant where he was last seen in July 1975.
“All this speculation about where he is and he’s not,” Zerilli told the station. “They say he was in a meat grinder. It’s all baloney.”

Zerilli said Hoffa’s final resting place is in a field in Michigan’s northern Oakland County. He was buried in a shallow grave and the plan was to move the body at another time, but Hoffa’s remains were never moved from the first spot where they were buried, he said.

I suppose the police will have to go dig up the field and try to find poor old Jimmy Hoffa’s bones…

Since I’ve been struggling with a horrible cold plus a case of norovirus, I decided to check out the health news. I’ll bet you didn’t know that a bad cough will last around 18 days no matter what you do to treat it. According to Mark Ebell, associate professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, recently did a study to compare public attitudes with actual facts about viral illnesses.

A new study shows that although most people think a cough ought to last no more than a week or so, the duration of the most annoying symptom of winter illness is about 18 days — and could be more than three weeks.

Taking antibiotics in the interim is not only ineffective, it could also prompt dangerous side effects — and contribute to the country’s growing problem with bugs becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat them.


“A lot of times patients will come to me and they’ve been coughing for four or five days and they’re not getting any better, so they ask for an antibiotic,” he said. “After eight or nine days, they’re still not feeling better, so they ask for an even stronger antibiotic. Then they’ll say, ‘The only thing that really works for me is this really strong antibiotic.’”

The trouble is, antibiotics aren’t actually the solution for most of the 3 million outpatient cases in the U.S. each year in which cough is the chief complaint, or for the more than 4.5 million outpatient cases diagnosed as acute bronchitis or bronchiolitis. More than 90 percent of such cases are viral, not bacterial, which means they won’t respond to the drugs most folks request, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I love berries, so I found this story interesting: Berries Ward Off MI in Women. MI stands for Myocardial infarction, basically a heart attack.

Young and middle-age women whose diet included high levels of anthocyanins — the flavonoids present in red and blue fruits such as strawberries and blueberries — had a significantly reduced risk for myocardial infarction (MI), a large prospective study found.

Women whose anthocyanin intake was in the highest quintile had a 32% decrease in risk of MI during 18 years of follow-up (HR 0.68, 95% CI 0.49 to 0.96, P=0.03), according to Eric B. Rimm, ScD, of Harvard University, and colleagues.

And in a food-based analysis, women who consumed more than three servings of strawberries or blueberries each week showed a trend towards a lower MI risk, with a 34% decrease (HR 0.66, 95% CI 0.40 to 1.08, P=0.09) compared with women who rarely included these fruits in their diet, the researchers reported online in Circulation.

“Growing evidence supports the beneficial effects of dietary flavonoids on endothelial function and blood pressure, suggesting that flavonoids might be more likely than other dietary factors to lower the risk of [coronary heart disease] in predominantly young women,” they observed.

For years, researchers didn’t bother to study heart disease in women; but in recent years it has become clear that women and men differ in how heart attacks are experienced. Perhaps what we need to do for prevention differs from men too.

Here’s a science story that Dakinikat may find interesting in relation to her fascination with ancient graves and burial rites: DNA Test Sheds Light on Mystery Deaths.

A new DNA test can restore at least part of the identity of long-dead people who left no trace of their image, scientists reported on Monday.

The technique has revealed the hair and eye colours of unknown individuals slaughtered as sub-humans by the Nazis and of a mystery woman buried alongside monks in a mediaeval crypt, they said.

“This system can be used to solve historical controversies where colour photographs or other records are missing,” said Wojciech Branicki from Poland’s Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow.

Here’s one example:

Reporting in the journal Investigative Genetics, the researchers first tested it on a tooth taken from the remains of General Wladyslaw Sikorski, who led Poland’s government-in-exile in Britain in World War II before dying in a plane crash in 1943.

Sikorski’s body was disinterred from a cemetery in Newark, England, in 1993 for reburial in pomp in Krakow, but was exhumed once more in 2008 for further examination to sound out a theory that he had been poisoned, shot or strangled.

Analysis of the genetic code from the tooth gave a 99-percent likelihood that Sikorski had blue eyes, and an 85-percent likelihood that he had blond hair.

Both tallied with contemporary descriptions of Sikorski and with paintings of him made many years after his death (no colour photographs of him are known to exist).

I’m running out of space, but I have a few political reads for you that I’ll post link dump style.

Allyssa Rosenberg at The New Republic: FX is Feminism for Men. Seriously, take a look at this one!

Politico: Biden: W.H. readies 19 executive actions on guns

Alternet: Noam Chomsky Slams America’s Selfish Ayn Randian Elites – Chomsky explains how elites’ obsession with short-term personal gain threatens humanity.

Alternet: 10 Awful Crimes That Get You Less Prison Time Than What Aaron Swartz Faced

Bloomberg: Geithner Says Debt Limit Steps May Run Out by Mid-February

Those are my offerings for today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?

49 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag of Odds and Ends”

  1. BB, that FX is feminism for men link does not work…I can’t fix it…anyway, back to reading your links.

  2. There is one thing I want to share: Newtown Kids Ask You to Make Your Own Sandy Hook Promise – And Change | MyFDL

    They are working through Nancy Lanza’s probate: Nancy Lanza’s Surviving Son To Administer Estate – Courant.com

    But still no new information on the investigation. I know I am obsessing over this, but am I the only one who is asking themselves, why is there nothing to report a full month after the shooting other than what we already knew a couple of days after the massacre?

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Texas Rep. Steve Stockman says he’ll file articles of impeachment if Obama uses executive orders to regulate guns.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s one for Connie. Gov. Rick Scott adopted a rescue dog when he was running for governor and then gave him back to the previous owner because he was too difficult to deal with. There was a major effort at a cover-up, but reporters finally learned the real story.

    • NW Luna says:

      Sounds like Scott ought to give up the governorship based on that same principle.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      I wouldn’t blame the dog. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to that idiot’s dog, cat or any other living thing. I will definitely share this with my animal rescue buds.

      • bostonboomer says:

        You’d think Scott could have hired a personal trainer to work with Reagan. He’s loaded, isn’t he? What a creep. Just more evidence that Republicans have no empathy.

      • ecocatwoman says:

        Unfortunately, some dogs and/or cats have experienced trauma previously that leaves them with “special needs” or a need for special situations. Personally, I think the dog is better off.

        As much as I dislike Republicans, I don’t think a lack of empathy, patience or understanding is limited to just those of that political persuasion. And, I know quite a few Republicans who are involved in rescue.

  5. NW Luna says:

    BB, great info there on how long cough symptoms last after one gets a cold virus. Yeah, cough symptoms usually go on for 3 times as long as any of the other symptoms. But as long as the cough is slowly decreasing, that is (unfortunately) normal.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Can you believe this outrageous stupidity?

    A plan by officials in an Indonesian city to ban women from straddling motorbikes has prompted an outcry from critics, who say local leaders are infringing on women’s safety and freedom in the name of religion. ….

    “We want to save women from things that will cause them to violate Shariah law,” Suaidi told The Jakarta Globe following his speech. “We wish to honor women with this ban, because they are delicate creatures.”


    What’s the one thing women can do that men can’t? Birth babies. Anyone who’s seen childbirth knows it sure as hell isn’t “delicate.”

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    Not sure of the purpose of dragging out another inquiry into the unfortunate death of Natalie Wood. Since it happened over 30 years ago what could be the “new evidence” that prompts this latest investigation?

    Considering that her bruises could have occurred when she fell into the dinghy, or happened as a result of whatever they hope to achieve this time out, the simple fact remains that this happened over 30 years ago with only two other passengers onboard: her husband and co-star. The boat pilot has changed his testimony a few times, and the “truth”, whatever it is, would only be gleaned through a “confession” which is not going to happen.

    It may have been a “cover up” or just a tragic accident but we will never know otherwise and perhaps she should just be left in peace after so many years. No one is going to trial on speculation which is all this case has ever been.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    The coroner said that the bruises were could not have been made by falling into the dingy. She had bruises on her wrists and ankles that suggested restraint and other signs of a physical assault. He also said it was most likely that Wood was unconscious when she went into the water.

    I think the investigation is being pushed by Woods’ family members. Her sister Lana is quoted extensively in one of the articles I posted. It’s not at all uncommon for old murder cases (cold cases) to be reopened and reinvestigated. I’m not advocating for the investigation, just pointing out that it happens fairly frequently.

    BTW, the case has never been closed. It has remained an open case, and the Sheriff’s office always considered it suspicious and has continued to investigate every lead over the years.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Here’s a cold case I wrote about some time ago in which a child murder was convicted after 55 years. The murder happened in 1957

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Just to add to this – I was reminiscing about the film Boys in the Band last week, so I went to IMDB. Many of the actors have since died of AIDS. Cowboy, “the birthday gift”, became a male prostitute when he couldn’t find acting gigs following the film. He claimed that he had often had sex with Walken, who he claimed was/is bisexual. His other claim was that Natalie caught Wagner & Walken in bed, which is what led to the argument & her death. Personally, I would hate to think that Robert Wagner was/is responsible for her death & has lied all these years.

  9. RSM says:

    At the link is NYT columnist David Brooks’ syllabus for his “Humility” course at Yale. Among the questions to be pondered: “We will ask whether it is proper to put a Yale window sticker on the back of your car.” Students will also be discussing a “study tracing the life courses of Harvard Men.”


    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s bizarre.

      • janicen says:

        I just looked at the syllabus. Am I understanding it correctly? Two papers and read the books in order to discuss them? Ha! That’s a joke!

    • janicen says:

      Well my daughter isn’t going to an Ivy, but when she got her “Dean’s List” decal in the mail while she was home on break she marched right out to her car and slapped in on there. I didn’t blame her a bit. She worked her ass off to earn it!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Did you look at the syllabus? I can’t believe Brooks gets paid for that course. A course in humility for narcissists, taught by a narcissist.

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s a class? For Credit? No Tests just 2 2500 word essays on what they think? Taught by who? What is it with these stupid ivies and their grads for pete’s sake?

    • RalphB says:

      We have found the problem with higher education. The Ivies suck and while they babysit the privileged through, the country falls.

  10. janicen says:

    I am breathless that a judge would declare that a helpless child was “toughened up” as a result of the severe abuse he suffered and should therefore suffer consequences imposed upon adults because he now has a higher level of maturity than other kids his age. That’s insane reasoning.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    For my fellow recovering Catholics, head over to The Widdershins and read Pat J.’s latest post. It made me laugh out loud.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Charles Pierce linked to this page of Lutheran insults. Good to use on right wing nut jobs.


    • bostonboomer says:

      Here’s one for Mitt Romney:

      You forgot to purge yourself with hellabore while you were preparing to fabricate this lie.

      • bostonboomer says:

        For the WH press corps:

        People of your sort are hirelings, dumb dogs unable to bark, who see the wolf coming and flee or, rather, join up with the wolf.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Even if your writings were from an angel from heaven I would take this horrible document, and, after having used it as toilet paper, wipe its nose.

  13. RalphB says:

    Matt Yglesias on sheer assholery of Mario Draghi and the ECB.

    The Eurozone Crisis Is Over, but the Eurozone Economy Is Worse Than Ever

    One of the odder trends this winter is the widespread sense that the eurozone crisis is “over” and Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” speech saved the day.

    It’s not that I think the conventional wisdom is wrong, exactly. But the eurozone has slid back into recession over the course of 2012 and if anything the recession seems to be getting worse. Not only are Greece and Spain in tatters and Ireland basically treading water, but German GDP shrank 0.5 percent in the forth quarter. That’s hardly the worst recession on the record books. And if Germany improves a little in Q1 they may even avoid technical recession altogether. But Germany, you’ll recall, is the country that’s supposed to be doing well. And that’s not a “doing well” number. It’s not even close. Things are so bad that EU officials are touting Latvia as a success story even though Latvian GDP is still 16 percent below peak level.

    Worst of all, as Ambrose Evans-Pierce writes the European Central Bank seems to have entirely washed its hands of the situation, deciding that as long as there’s no acute banking crisis they don’t need to care about anything else. This is, among other things, exactly the attitude from the Trichet-Weber years that let the acute banking crisis develop. Over the long-term, it’s all tied together. Banks and sovereigns can’t be solvent if citizens don’t have incomes, Germany can’t export if Spain can’t import.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Jihadists have killed 17 people on US soil since 9/11. Far-right extremists have killed more than 300. Take a look. http://bit.ly/11xsCCY

  15. RalphB says:

    And so it begins.

    Business Insider: The Most Important Line In Fitch’s Warning About The US AAA Credit Rating

    It is not assured that the Treasury would or legally could prioritise debt service over its myriad of other obligations, including social security payments, tax rebates and payments to contractors and employees. Arrears on such obligations would not constitute a default event from a sovereign rating perspective but very likely prompt a downgrade even as debt obligations continued to be met.

  16. roofingbird says:

    Seriously the folks at Alternet could bear a little self editing.

    You might like:
    8 Secrets from Behind-the-Scenes of a Porn Shoot
    After Cutting Little Girls’ Clitorises, Ivy League Doctor Tests Handiwork With a Vibrator
    Anal Sex: Science’s Last Taboo
    Facing the Threat from the Far Right, Noam Chomsky Says He ‘Has Never Seen Anything Like This’

    Stories I might LIKE????

    How about stories that bear reading, or rivet you, digsust you or of vital interest.