May 17, 2013
The clothespin gravestone marked the grave of W. Jack Crowell, who owned the National Clothespin Company, the last wooden clothespin manufacturer in the United States (today it produces plastic clothespins and barrettes). Originally, Jack wanted a giant clothespin with real spring so children could teeter on it.
May 16, 2013
Unhappy diners 'beat top Japanese chef to death'
Top Japanese chef Miki Nozawa has died after apparently being attacked by two German men who were unhappy with the fried noodles from his restaurant on the North Sea island of Sylt.
The men, aged 36 and 50 are thought to have beaten 57-year-old Nozawa to death outside a strip club on the upmarket holiday island, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday.
Earlier in the evening the pair had eaten Nozawa's beef, vegetable and fried noodle dish, which they disliked and refused to pay for. They left his restaurant and headed to a nearby strip club, where they bumped into the chef.
Nozawa recognized them and insisted both give him €10 – a request that was not met well and as the argument escalated the trio went outside. It was allegedly there that the two handymen beat the chef so badly he had to be taken to hospital.
He died on Tuesday as a result of his injuries, Ulrike Stahlmann-Liebelt, state prosecutor from the nearby city of Flensburg, confirmed. She would not say whether reports that the men beat him until his entire left side was, as the Bild newspaper said, “one big purple bruise,” were true.
Rest in peace
Going to the Gallows with a Grin
The gallows used to hang an infamous prohibition-era gangster in one of America's last public executions have been discovered in a dusty old barn. Bootlegger Charlie Birger was hanged in the town of Benton on April 19, 1928. He famously went to his death with a grin telling the crowd who had gathered to watch: 'It's a beautiful world.'
He had been sentenced to death for ordering the murder of an Illinois town's mayor and was one of the last people to be publicly hanged in the state of Illinois.
Charlie Birger, a Russian immigrant whose real name was Shachna Itzik Birger, was executed on April 19, 1928 after spending a year in jail.
According to the jail museum, he was a well-liked 'protector,' known for tossing coins to kids and even sharing his wealth among a few neighbors in the southern Illinois community of Harrisburg.
In the mid 1920s he famously went to war with the Ku Klux Klan who supported supported prohibition viewing alcohol as 'un-American'.
To law enforcement, he was known for for his bootlegging business, which he ran out of a speakeasy called the Shady Rest.
The business is what led him to be convicted in plotting the murder of Joseph Adams, who was the mayor of West City, Illinois.
Adams got into the middle of a turf war between Birger's gang and another group of bootleggers and as violence escalated, Adams wound up dead. He was allegedly shot to death at the front door of his home by two of Birgers' men.
Birger was later arrested for plotting Adams' murder.
Some say Birger's smile on the day of his hanging could have been a result of the dosage of morphine he was provided just before he walked to the gallows. Others claim, however, that Birger had actually declined the drugs.
Bill Murray recalls the last time he saw Gilda Radner
“Gilda got married and went away. None of us saw her anymore. There was one good thing: Laraine had a party one night, a great party at her house. And I ended up being the disk jockey. She just had forty-fives, and not that many, so you really had to work the music end of it. There was a collection of like the funniest people in the world at this party. Somehow Sam Kinison sticks in my brain. The whole Monty Python group was there, most of us from the show, a lot of other funny people, and Gilda. Gilda showed up and she’d already had cancer and gone into remission and then had it again, I guess. Anyway she was slim. We hadn’t seen her in a long time. And she started doing, “I’ve got to go,” and she was just going to leave, and I was like, “Going to leave?” It felt like she was going to really leave forever.
So we started carrying her around, in a way that we could only do with her. We carried her up and down the stairs, around the house, repeatedly, for a long time, until I was exhausted. Then Danny did it for a while. Then I did it again. We just kept carrying her; we did it in teams. We kept carrying her around, but like upside down, every which way—over your shoulder and under your arm, carrying her like luggage. And that went on for more than an hour—maybe an hour and a half—just carrying her around and saying, “She’s leaving! This could be it! Now come on, this could be the last time we see her. Gilda’s leaving, and remember that she was very sick—hello?”
We worked all aspects of it, but it started with just, “She’s leaving, I don’t know if you’ve said good-bye to her.” And we said good-bye to the same people ten, twenty times, you know.
And because these people were really funny, every person we’d drag her up to would just do like five minutes on her, with Gilda upside down in this sort of tortured position, which she absolutely loved. She was laughing so hard we could have lost her right then and there.
It was just one of the best parties I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ll always remember it. It was the last time I saw her.”
May 14, 2013
Young girl killed in India for her organs
Gurkiren Kaur Loyal's family said she was being treated for a simple case of dehydration when staff at a clinic gave her a mystery injection which took her life.
Her relatives said they guarded the eight-year-old's body, meaning her organs could not be taken in time to be used in transplant operations.
But she was then subjected to a "medieval" post-mortem, during which all her major organs were removed in a bid to hide the truth of how she had been killed, the grieving family claim.
It was only once her body was flown home to Britain that they discovered her organs were missing and only her eyes remained, the family said.
The Indian police and medical authorities made little attempt to investigate the death, they say.
Her mother Amrit Kaur Loyal said: "My baby was innocent and now I am devastated without her. Gurkiren was fine, she was chatting to us and planned to buy some gifts for her cousins. While we were talking an assistant came up carrying a pre-filled syringe and reached for the tube in her hand.
"I asked what was the injection for, but he gave me a blank look and injected the liquid into her.
"Within a split-second Gurkiren's head flipped back, her eyes rolled in her head, and the colour completely drained from her. I knew they had killed her on the spot. I knew my innocent child had been murdered."
Coun Kooner, a friend the family, said it was "highly probable" that she had been killed in a bid to harvest her organs.
There is reportedly a "lucrative underground market" for human organs in India.
In 2007, Ravindranath Seppan, of the Chennai Doctors' Association for Social Equality, admitted: "India's rich are turning to India's poor to live longer."
He said the commercial trade of human organs remained big business, despite having been banned in 1994.
A botched funeral for Navy Seals leads to call for a congressional investigation
Navy Seal Team 6 were the special forces that hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011
Just 93 days later, 30 American troops, most of them members of Team 6 were among 39 killed in Afghanistan when the Chinook helicopter they were riding in was shot down by a Taliban fired rocket-propelled grenade in the largest single loss of life since the war in Afghanistan began.
• Both Vice President Biden and President Obama broke protocol to reveal Navy Seal Team 6 as Bin Laden's killers and by so doing put a target on their backs. Protocol would require that they be referred to only as "special forces".
• These men were sent on a hastily planned mission intended to aid 47 Army Rangers in the Tangi Valley even though the Rangers controlled the battle zone
without special operation aviation but with a standard transport Chinook helicopter, without proper air support, i.e. no escort, without the requested pre-assault fire, but with Afghani forces inserted at the last minute who were not properly vetted.
Even more disturbing was their funeral. It was a bizarre mixed Judeo-Christian funeral for the servicemen mixed in with a Muslim funeral for the Afghanis.
Military brass prohibited any mention of a Judeo-Christian God at their funeral, but instead invited a Muslim cleric whose prayer over the fallen has the families up in arms. You can see the imam prayer here in this video. I have copied the subtitles below>
“Amen I shelter in Allah from the devil who has been cast with stones. In the name of Allah the merciful giver. The companions of the fire (the sinners and infidels who are fodder for hell fire )are not equal with the companions of heaven( muslims). The companions of heaven are the winners. Had we sent this Koran to a mountain, you would have seen the mountain prostrated in fear of Allah, (mocking the God of Moses). Such examples are what we present to the people; to the people, so that they would think (repent and covert to Islam). Blessings are to your God, the God of glory of what they describe. And peace be upon the messengers and thanks be to Allah the lord of both universes.(mankind and Jinn)”
Stephen Coughlin, an Islam expert, was commissioned to provide a 2nd translation. and he claims that the funeral rite that was delivered over the dead soldiers is “a standard funeral rite among Muslims.” Naturally, non-Muslims may be surprised by this claim, but the Islam expert expounded in detail:
“Even a standard prayer is actually a little bit offensive because … it comes from a book of the Koran or a chapter of the Koran that’s basically about defeating the infidels. And [in exploring the issue] I basically showed that there were two verses quoted in the funeral rite.
If you back it up one verse, it gives you the greater context of the fact that the people who are not Muslim are condemned to hell, by those prayers and so I basically showed that. So my point isn’t that the imam was deliberately inflammatory — my point was that it’s inflammatory even when they’re not trying to, because it goes to the issue of the fundamental and irreconcilable difference between Islamic orientation and a non-Muslim orientation.”
While they initially expected footage from the event to arrive (it is apparently standard procedure for military families to get video of funeral proceedings before the body is sent back home), they purportedly never receive it. But in January, a source that the family declined to name finally sent it to them.
The Vaughn family held onto the footage for a few weeks before watching, understanding that it would be an emotional experience for them. While Karen enjoyed the prayer that was seemingly offered by a U.S. chaplain — the one that came before the imam’s — she said that her “jaw literally dropped” when she heard the cleric’s portion of the address.
“We knew instantly we needed to translate this,” she said, noting that she contacted a friend who has experience with Arabic translations.
The family sat on the video for months, as the grieving parents considered how to proceed. Now, it appears they have come forward not only about the cleric’s alleged verbal offense, but also about other issues that were highlighted earlier today at the press conference.
“Our sons were subjected to a final act of betrayal by their government,” Karen Vaughn told TheBlaze of the prayer being read.
May 13, 2013
"You gave me an opportunity to live"
A San Francisco man who almost took his life eight years ago by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge has been reunited with the hero who saved his life.
Kevin Berthia was perched on the iconic bridge ready to take a fatal leap on March 11, 2005, when he heard the voice of California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs calling out to him from above.
Over 60 life-changing minutes, Briggs managed to convince Berthia, as he has done with hundreds of suicidal men and women, to climb back over the rail and give life another shot. Since that significant day Berthia hasn't looked back and is now happily married with two children.
And this week he was able to thank the man who made all that possible. The pair reunited as part of an emotional ceremony honoring Briggs and other members of the CHP known as the Guardians of the Golden Gate Bridge, whose job it is to gently talk people like Berthia down from the structure.
'It was phenomenal,' Berthia, 30, told Yahoo News about the reunion at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention public service ceremony.
'I didn't know what I was going to feel, or how I was going to react,' he said. 'But when I first saw him, he walked up me and I just shook his hand. It felt like I had known this man my whole life. The nerves weren't there. It was just two old friends being reunited.'
As he presented Briggs with the award, Bertha explained how grateful he was for Briggs' help and urged others to seek help, insisting they could too get better and life a fulfilled life.
'I didn't want him to try and stop me but now I'm glad he did,' he told the crowd. 'All I can say is that I am truly grateful. You gave me an opportunity to live.'
A resounding image of the man clinging to the bridge as Briggs spoke to him provoked an outpouring of support from the Bay area community.
After he received the award, Briggs said he was 'very humbled, honored and happy' to have the recognition for his team's hard work.
'I (accept this award) on behalf of the California Highway Patrol and police officers across this country who strive to do their best each and every time they receive a suicide call.
'During my career I've encountered numerous suicide attempts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Of those attempts, I've only lost one person. It's something you never forget.
'Kevin found the courage in himself that day to climb back over the rail, thus beginning a new stage in his life. Here, standing before us, is the reason we do what we do.'
May 10, 2013
"I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again"
A seamstress wept with relief as she was pulled alive from the rubble of the Bangladesh clothing factory, 17 days after the disaster that has claimed more than 1,000 lives.
Nineteen-year-old Reshma Begum, who emerged almost unscathed, had been trapped near a basement prayer room and survived by scavenging for dried food in the wreckage around her.
She was discovered after rescuers heard groaning, moments before they were due to demolish a concrete slab surrounding the tiny space where she was entombed.
Speaking from her hospital bed in Dhaka, she said: 'It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again.'
She told police she had made contact with three other people under the rubble, but one by one they fell silent - rescue workers later recovered their bodies near from where Reshma was found.
The incredible discovery came as the death toll from the accident, which has become the world's worst industrial accident since the Bhopal disaster in India in 1984, rose above 1,000. There are fears many more bodies are trapped inside.
'I heard voices of the rescue workers for the past several days. I kept hitting the wreckage with sticks and rods just to attract their attention,' she told the private Somoy TV from her hospital bed as doctors and nurses milled about, giving her saline and checking her condition.
'No one heard me. It was so bad for me. I never dreamed I'd see the daylight again,' she said.
'There was some dried food around me. I ate the dried food for 15 days.
'The last two days I had nothing but water. I used to drink only a limited quantity of water to save it. I had some bottles of water around me,' she said.
It is unimaginable how horrific this fire and collapse has been. How many grieving families. More than 1000 people lost so we could have cheap clothes.
No F-words on headstones
Sonny ‘Uno’ Santiago, 23, was a rapper who died in a car crash in February. Commissioners at Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn this week unanimously rejected his family's request to inscribe his gravestone with a song verse that included a profanity.
The panel became aware of the language when the company inscribing the 3-foot tall memorial submitted drawings to commissioners.
The inscription read: 'You gonna remember the damn name, I give a f*** if I die with no damn friends, I got my fam by my side and that’s until the end.’
Pine Grove Cemetery regulations posted online state that ‘the cemetery office must approve all inscription work on monuments.’
City officials contacted the family about the inscription and they agreed to have the gravestone inscribed with a different, profanity-free verse from a song Santiago wrote.
Good for them.
The Burial of Tamerlan
Nobody wanted his body. The Worcester police chief asked for assistance in burying the terrorist, the Boston bomber. An anonymous individual stepped up and the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was buried at an undisclosed location in the middle of the night.
Thomas L. McDonald reminds us that burying the dead is one of the seven corporal acts of mercy. Tobit, and Tamerlan: The Dignity of Burial
Tobit was a righteous man. His story is told in the book of the Bible that bears his name….
Tobit is a man who performs many acts of charity, but the most dangerous is his burial of the dead, particularly strangers, and, notably, those who have been executed.
Touching the dead rendered one impure for a period of time. Although it was a necessary thing to do, performing the act for strangers is a profound act of charity. Indeed, Tobit is forced to sleep outside after performing the burial because he is impure, and he winds up blind as a result.
Some of the bodies buried by Tobit have been cast “beyond the wall,” where the unjust would have been thrown. It’s interesting to note, however, that the only place in the law where rapid burial is explicitly commanded is in the case of criminals who have been executed….
Sudden deaths of people who never imagined that they were going to die that day
Adding to the recent spate of sudden deaths of people who were just out having a good time are these stories, each one reminding us of our mortality.
A British Olympic champion, Andrew Simpson, was killed after his 50 MPH catamaran capsized while he was practicing for the America's Cup and he was stuck under its hull for 10 minutes.
They were on their honeymoon on Reunion Island, an overseas region of France located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. While his wife lay on the beach, a French man on his honeymoon went surfing when sharks attacked and killed him.
Death by Killer Bees
A climber and his faithful dog have perished in Arizona after they appear to have been attacked by killer bees as he scaled a cliff.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office says that 55-year-old Steven Johnson, a counselor with some 30 years experience hiking and climbing was found dead, hanging 70-feet from the ground in his climbing gear in the Santa Rita Mountains on Monday night.
The cause of death has not been determined yet, but officials said that Johnson was covered in bee stings when he was found while his dead dog was discovered at the top of the cliff.
Johnson was last seen Friday when he went hiking, and friends became worried when he didn't go to work on Monday.
Sheriff's Lt. Raoul Rodriguez says Johnson may have disturbed bees by hammering a spike into the cliff.
Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office said the 55-year-old man was found hanging from his climbing gear on a cliff near Mount Hopkins
'He had anchored himself to the wall as he was going down so he was actually anchored and he must have been attacked and was not able to climb back up or go back down,' said Rodriguez.
He said Johnson's dog had also been attacked by bees and was found dead nearby.
Johnson is described as a father, climber and friend, who was well-liked throughout the climbing community in Southern Arizona.
Once stung, the bee releases a pheromone that attracts other bees to attack - which is why most African bee attacks are in swarms.
Condolences to his family.
May 5, 2013
Death by angry soccer player
A 46-year-old soccer referee who was punched by a teenage player during a game and later slipped into a coma has died, police said.
Ricardo Portillo of Salt Lake City passed away at the hospital, where he was being treated following the assault last weekend, Unified police spokesman Justin Hoyal said Saturday night.
Police have accused a 17-year-old player in a recreational soccer league of punching Portillo after the man called a foul on him and issued him a yellow card.
“The suspect was close to Portillo and punched him once in the face as a result of the call,” Hoyal said in a press release.
The teen, whose name hasn’t been released because of his age, has been booked into juvenile detention on suspicion of aggravated assault.
It was a Vicious punch
A police report said the incident happened April 27 at a youth match at Eisenhower Junior High School in Taylorville. As players jostled for position, Portillo saw the suspect – a goalkeeper — push an opponent with his hands.
Portillo issued a yellow card to the suspect and began writing the infraction in his official’s notebook.
After that, the suspect punched the referee on the head. Feeling dizzy, Portillo sat down and began vomiting blood, according to police officer Jason Huggard in his report.
May 3, 2013
How Not to Die: The videos of Angelo Volande Angelo Volandes's low-tech, high-empathy plan to revolutionize end-of-life care
He decided to go to medical school, not just to cure people but “to learn how people suffer and what the implications of dying and suffering and understanding that experience are like.” Halfway through med school at Yale, on the recommendation of a doctor he met one day at the gym, he took a year off to study documentary filmmaking, another of his interests. At the time, it seemed a digression.
That man is Angelo Volande who may very well revolutionize the way you die.
Unless you are a doctor or nurse, you don't have much experience in medical end-of-life decisions. So when it comes to medical decisions that must be made for a family member who is very ill and probably dying, most people would choose the medical care that is most life-prolonging. Of course, I want my mother to be feed even if it means a feeding tube.
But doctors who have lots of experience in such end-of-life decisions choose quite differently. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care that they could want. But, they choose not to have 'heroic' and aggressive treatments. They chose comfort care and quality of life. As a result, they are far more likely to have a gentle and serene death.
Angelo Volande is bringing videos to those who are making end-of-life medical decisions so they will know what doctors know.
How Not to Die Angelo Volandes's low-tech, high-empathy plan to rend-of-life care.
Volandes nods. “Here’s the sad reality,” he says. “Physicians are good people. They want to do the right things. And yet all of us, behind closed doors, in the cafeteria, say, ‘Do you believe what we did to that patient? Do you believe what we put that patient through?’ Every single physician has stories. Not one. Lots of stories.
“In the health-care debate, we’ve heard a lot about useless care, wasteful care, futile care. What we….have been struggling with is unwanted care. That’s far more concerning. That’s not avoidable care. That’s wrongful care. I think that’s the most urgent issue facing America today, is people getting medical interventions that, if they were more informed, they would not want. It happens all the time.”
I think he's right on the money with this.
Unwanted treatment is American medicine’s dark continent. No one knows its extent, and few people want to talk about it. The U.S. medical system was built to treat anything that might be treatable, at any stage of life—even near the end, when there is no hope of a cure, and when the patient, if fully informed, might prefer quality time and relative normalcy to all-out intervention.
What should have taken place was what is known in the medical profession as The Conversation. The momentum of medical maximalism should have slowed long enough for a doctor or a social worker to sit down with him and me to explain, patiently and in plain English, his condition and his treatment options, to learn what his goals were for the time he had left, and to establish how much and what kind of treatment he really desired.
The first film he made featured a patient with advanced dementia. It showed her inability to converse, move about, or feed herself. When Volandes finished the film, he ran a randomized clinical trial with a group of nine other doctors. All of their patients listened to a verbal description of advanced dementia, and some of them also watched the video. All were then asked whether they preferred life-prolonging care (which does everything possible to keep patients alive), limited care (an intermediate option), or comfort care (which aims to maximize comfort and relieve pain). The results were striking: patients who had seen the video were significantly more likely to choose comfort care than those who hadn’t seen it (86 percent versus 64 percent). Volandes published that study in 2009, following it a year later with an even more striking trial, this one showing a video to patients dying of cancer. Of those who saw it, more than 90 percent chose comfort care—versus 22 percent of those who received only verbal descriptions. The implications, to Volandes, were clear: “Videos communicate better than just a stand-alone conversation. And when people get good communication and understand what’s involved, many, if not most, tend not to want a lot of the aggressive stuff that they’re getting.”
Even now, after years of refinement, Volandes’s finished videos look deceptively unimpressive. They’re short, and they’re bland. But that, it turns out, is what is most impressive about them. Other videos describing treatment options—for, say, breast cancer or heart disease—can last upwards of 30 minutes. Volandes’s films, by contrast, average six or seven minutes. They are meant to be screened on iPads or laptops, amid the bustle of a clinic or hospital room.
They are also meant to be banal, a goal that requires a meticulous, if perverse, application of the filmmaker’s art. “Videos are an aesthetic medium; you an manipulate people’s perspective,” Volandes says. “I want to provide information without evoking visceral emotions.
Routine use, however, is far, far away. According to Volandes, only a few dozen U.S. hospitals, out of more than 5,700, are using his videos
May 1, 2013
Video shows why the proposed memorial to Dwight Eisenhower as designed by Frank Gehry should never be built
The current proposed Washington memorial to President Eisenhower designed by Frank Gehry is a de-constuctionist horror that even the family opposes. George Weigel called it "ghastly"
Quoting biographer Steven Ambrose's description, “Dwight Eisenhower was a great and good man. He was one of the outstanding leaders of the Western world of [the 20th] century,” Weigel calls the proposed memorial an "historical and aesthetic travesty".
The present Eisenhower Memorial design, by postmodernist Frank Gehry, has virtually nothing to do with the Dwight David Eisenhower of history. Plans call for Ike to be memorialized in sculpture as a barefoot farmboy on the Great Plains: not the great wartime leader; not the soldier-diplomat; not the chief executive of the United States who presided over eight years of peace and prosperity. The Gehry conceit seems both obvious and entirely in tune with the postmodern deconstruction of history: There are no great men; there are no great virtues; there is no great striving; nor is there great accomplishment or great service to others. No one, visiting the Eisenhower Memorial as designed by Frank Gehry, would have the slightest reason to grasp the truth of the man himself, as Stephen Ambrose once described him:
As a soldier, he was, as George C. Marshall said at the end of the war, everything that the U.S. Army hoped for in its finest products — professionally competent, well versed in the history of war, decisive, well disciplined, courageous, dedicated, and popular with his men, his subordinates, and his superiors. His leadership qualities also included a high degree of intelligence, integrity, commitment to basic principles, dignity, organizational genius, tremendous energy, and diplomatic ability. As a man, he was good-looking, considerate of and concerned about others, loyal to friends and family, given to terrible rages (which he learned to control), ambitious, thin-skinned and sensitive to criticism, stubborn and inflexible about his habits, an avid sportsman and sports fan, modest (but never falsely so), almost embarrassingly unsophisticated in his musical, artistic, and literary tastes, intensely curious about people and places, often refreshingly naïve, fun-loving — in short, a wonderful man to know or be around. Nearly everyone who knew him liked him immensely, many — including some of the most powerful men in the world — to the point of adulation.
None of this is conveyed by the sculpture of a barefoot boy on the plains. None of it is conveyed by the other elements in the Gehry design: 80-foot-tall, nondescript cylindrical posts (they can’t even be properly described as pillars) holding up perforated metal “tapestries,” creating what Gehry himself once called a “theater for cars.” But what does a “theater for cars,” or any other kind of postmodernist knock-off of a Fifties drive-in, have to do with creating a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander who planned the invasion of Normandy, the president who ended the Korean War and who proposed “Open Skies” as a means to lower the temperature of the Cold War?
A new video slams the unbuilt memorial for its $142 million cost and impermanent design.
The design for a proposed Eisenhower Memorial has inspired much heartache and anger among historians, architects, veterans and even the Eisenhower family, who say this wasn't the way they imagined a monument to the 34th president and D-Day commander.
The video, created by the National Monuments Foundation in Atlanta and shared with Whispers Tuesday, uses digital modeling to show viewers exactly what the unbuilt monument would look like, and the foundation says the results are troubling.
April 30, 2013
Death by his own hair
A record-holding Indian stuntman known for using his long hair in weird ways died Sunday as he attempted to cross a river on a zip-line attached to his ponytail.
Officials say Sailendra Nath Roy, 49, was halfway across the Teesta River in West Bengal when he suffered a massive heart attack and died. His body, held to the wire by his ponytail 70 feet above the river, hung for nearly 45 minutes as horrified spectators, who had come to cheer him on, watched from a nearby bridge
Roy, a police officer, made it about 300 feet across the 600-foot wire before he became stuck.
"He was desperately trying to move forward. He was trying to scream out some instruction,” Balai Sutradhar, a photographer who was covering the stunt, told BBC News. “But no one could follow what he was saying. After struggling for 30 minutes he became still.”
“His wife used to urge him to quit doing dangerous stunts,” an anonymous friend told the BBC. “Mr. Roy convinced her that crossing the Teesta River would be his last. Unfortunately, that became his last stunt."
Roy had no permission to do the stunt and had set up the zip-line earlier in the day. He wore a life jacket but had little else in the way of safety gear. The BBC reported there were no doctors or emergency personnel on site.
“He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot,”
When Roman Blum died last year at age 97, his body lingered in the Staten Island University Hospital morgue for four days, until a rabbi at the hospital was able to track down his lawyer.
Mr. Blum, a Holocaust survivor and real estate developer, left behind no heirs and no surviving family members — his former wife died in 1992 and the couple was childless.
Much about Mr. Blum’s life was shrouded in mystery…..But perhaps the greatest mystery surrounding Mr. Blum is why a successful developer, who built hundreds of houses around Staten Island and left behind an estate valued at almost $40 million, would die without a will.
That is no small matter, as his is the largest unclaimed estate in New York State history, according to the state comptroller’s office.
“He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot,” said Paul Skurka, a fellow Holocaust survivor who befriended Mr. Blum after doing carpentry work for him in the 1970s.
Gary D. Gotlin, the public administrator handling the case, sold Mr. Blum’s home on Staten Island, auctioned off his jewelry and his furniture and is putting other properties that he owned on the market. Mr. Gotlin’s office, which is overseen by Surrogate’s Court in Richmond County, is also using Mr. Blum’s estate to pay his taxes, conduct an in-depth search for a will and hire a genealogist to search for relatives. If none are identified, the money will pass into the state’s coffers. That, Mr. Blum’s friends said, would be a tragedy, compounding the one that befell him as a young man in Eastern Europe.
“I spoke to Roman many times before he passed away, and he knew what to do, how to name beneficiaries,” said Mason D. Corn, his accountant and friend for 30 years. “Two weeks before he died, I had finally gotten him to sit down. He saw the end was coming. He was becoming mentally feeble. We agreed. I had to go away, and so he told me, ‘O.K., when you come back I will do it.’ But by then it was too late. We came this close, but we missed the boat.”
Roman Blum was, by all accounts, an emotional man with a large personality. Six feet tall and handsome, he was a ladies’ man, a gambler and a drinker. He was also enterprising and tough in business.
“He had deeds on his desk piled up to the ceiling of properties he owned,” said Vincent Daino, who was Mr. Blum’s neighbor for 25 years and became his unpaid driver when the older man’s eyesight began to fail. “There were royalties from oil rigs in Alaska, money from his stocks — about once a month he would have me drive him to the bank so he could deposit $100,000 checks.”
In the months after the war, Mr. Blum met a family of survivors with two daughters. One of them, Eva, had been in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
He married her, although by all accounts it was not a love match. “It was immediately after the war — he thought she was the last Jewish woman alive, and she thought there were no more men,” said a friend and fellow Holocaust survivor who met Mr. Blum around that time.
The Blums struggled to start a family. Mrs. Blum told her friends that she was unable to have children, and the couple spent thousands of dollars on doctors’ visits. According to stories that swirled around the couple, Mrs. Blum had been a subject of the dreaded Dr. Josef Mengele while at Auschwitz, and his experiments had rendered her infertile.
In the 1960s, on a five-week trip to Israel on the Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Blum found a boy, an orphan, whom he wished to adopt. But friends who were with them said Mrs. Blum begged him not to go through with the adoption, convinced that her doctors would ultimately be able to help them conceive. They did not adopt the boy and never had children.
Then, in 1964, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened, linking Brooklyn and Staten Island, and many in the group, including Mr. Blum, began buying land on Staten Island. Prices were low, and Mr. Blum began developing land and building homes……
By the 1980s, with his business thriving, Mr. Blum decided to relocate to Staten Island. He built a large brick house in the upscale neighborhood of Southeast Annadale, with four bedrooms and five bathrooms, a two-car garage and a pool.
Mrs. Blum did not want to move. “He wanted her to go live with him in his big house with a swimming pool, but she loved the city,” said the friend who wished to be unidentified. “All her friends were there, and with his lifestyle, if she went with him, she knew she would be alone a lot.” Mrs. Blum stayed in Queens and Mr. Blum moved into the new house.
“Fifty years of marriage and he just left,” said Sherri Goldgrub, who married Charles Goldgrub in 1980 and knew the Blums well. “He would sometimes come back and bring her his laundry, but she sat home waiting, thinking he’d be back for dinner.”
After the hospital rabbi found his body in the morgue, he notified Mr. Fishler, the lawyer, who then notified Mr. Blum’s old friends from Queens. To the surprise of many, Mr. Blum had bought a cemetery plot next to his former wife’s. He was buried there.
“It is a heartbreaking story, a tragedy,” said Mr. Pomeranc, who was one of the few people who attended Mr. Blum’s funeral. “I spoke with him three days before he died. We were going to get the whole group together and take a ride out to see him that weekend. But it didn’t happen, and then the next week he passed away.”
Too late, too late.
Gravestones hold hands over a wall that separates a wife from her husband
What a lasting image of love the walls that separate people
Grave of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband. The Protestant Colonel of Cavalry, JWC of Gorkum married the Catholic damsel JCPH of Aefferden. This "mixed" marriage, at that time (the 19th century), would have given them trouble. The wife wanted to be buried next to her husband, but the difference in their denomination would not allow that. So the Colonel was buried in the Protestant part, against the separation wall and his wife was buried on the Catholic side.
April 29, 2013
Giving Martyrdom a Bad Name
We all have a lot of reasons to be irate with Islamic extremists these days. I’d like to add one to the list: they’re giving martyrdom a bad name.
Muslims, it seems, think that they can martyr themselves so long as their suicide involves carnage and the death of infidels. I’m not certain whether any Muslim can choose to initiate the process at any time, or whether further restrictions apply, but in any case it doesn’t work the same way in Christianity. For Christians, killing your way to the glory of martyrdom has never been an option. You have to be the one to die, and not by your own hand; somebody else (motivated by hatred for the faith) has to do the deed. This requirement has been a source of frustration for many a would-be martyr. St. Francis of Assisi hoped for martyrdom, but the poor devil was so likable that he couldn’t convince anybody to off him. He had to settle for being a saint, the first stigmatist, and the founder of one of the Church’s greatest religious orders.
The Christian way is better, and not only because it clearly does not permit us to place a bomb next to an innocent 8-year-old and detonate it. It is better because it clarifies what martyrdom is really about: not killing, but dying, and dying as a means of honoring one’s deepest commitments.
I think it is not too much to state that, if there is nothing for which you would be willing to die (at least in principle, though in practice we can never know our own strength until the moment presents itself), you have no honor. You may make superficial gestures towards commitment, but at the end of the day, the thing that matters most to you is you. Everything else can be tossed aside if need be, for the sake of preserving your own miserable hide. That is not the state of an honorable person.
April 27, 2013
We do not want you to be like whose who have no hope
We do not want you to be like whose who have no hope – A Reflection on Modern Christian Attitudes Toward Dying
it is not necessarily death that we fear, but dying. Dying is something none of us have ever done before, and we tend to fear the unknown. Further, most of us realize the dying involves some degree of agony. Instinctively, and understandably, we draw back from such things.
Even Jesus, in his human nature, recoiled at the thought of the agony before him, so much so, that he sweat blood and asked if possible, that the cup of suffering could be taken from him. Manfully though he embraced Father’s will, and our benefit rather than his. Still, he did recoil humanly at the suffering soon to befall him. So then, here are some reasons that explain and make understandable why we do not run toward death.
But it remains true, that for a faithful Christian, the day we die is the greatest day of our life.
Addiction to comfort has deceived, and seduced us such that we are no longer in touch with our hearts greatest long and we cling to passing things and (I would argue, as does my family friend) we seem little different from those who have no hope. Put most regretfully, we no longer witness to a joyful journey to God that says, “Closer to Home!….Soon and Very Soon I am going to see the King….Soon I Will be Done with the troubles of this World….Going home to live with God!”
As stated, there are legitimate reasons to be averse to dying. But how about even a glimmer of excitement from the faithful as we see the journey coming to an end. St Paul wrote to the Thessalonians regarding death We do not want you to be like those who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13).
“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,”
Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medicine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.
“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,” said Parnia, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital and director of the school’s resuscitation research program. “It continues for a few hours after death, albeit in a hibernated state we cannot see from the outside.”
It sounds supernatural, and if their memories are accurate and their brains really have stopped, it’s neurologically inexplicable, at least with what’s now known. Parnia, leader of the Human Consciousness Project’s AWARE study, which documents after-death experiences in 25 hospitals across North America and Europe, is studying the phenomenon scientifically.
Wired interviewes Parnia
I decided that we should study what people have experienced when they’ve gone beyond cardiac arrest. I found that 10 percent of patients who survived cardiac arrests report these incredible accounts of seeing things.
When I looked at the cardiac arrest literature, it became clear that it’s after the heart stops and blood flow into the brain ceases. There’s no blood flow into the brain, no activity, about 10 seconds after the heart stops. When doctors start to do CPR, they still can’t get enough blood into the brain. It remains flatlined. That’s the physiology of people who’ve died or are receiving CPR.
Not just my study, but four others, all demonstrated the same thing: People have memories and recollections. Combined with anecdotal reports from all over the world, from people who see things accurately and remember them, it suggests this needs to be studied in more detail.
Wired: One of the first after-death accounts in your book involves Joe Tiralosi, who was resuscitated 40 minutes after his heart stopped.
When Tiralosi woke up, he told nurses that he had a profound experience and wanted to talk about it. That’s how we met. He told me that he felt incredibly peaceful, and saw this perfect being, full of love and compassion. This is not uncommon.
People tend to interpret what they see based on their background: A Hindu describes a Hindu god, an atheist doesn’t see a Hindu god or a Christian god, but some being. Different cultures see the same thing, but their interpretation depends on what they believe.
At the very least, it tells us that there’s this unique experience that humans have when they go through death. It’s universal. It’s described by children as young as three. And it tells us that we should not be afraid of death.
These observations raise a question about our current concept of how brain and mind interact. The historical idea is that electrochemical processes in the brain lead to consciousness. That may no longer be correct, because we can demonstrate that those processes don’t go on after death.
There may be something in the brain we haven’t discovered that accounts for consciousness, or it may be that consciousness is a separate entity from the brain
April 25, 2013
The Artist David Shrigley , 2013 Turner Prize Nominee
April 22, 2013
Dogs in Heaven
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” - Will Rogers
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons."
- James Thurber
"Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe, we are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made."
Grave desecration in Georgia by relic hunters?
Historical cemetery dating back to 1758 holds graves of veterans from the Revolutionary War, Civil War and World World
Among those dug up was the grave of 14-month Emma Jane McElmurray who was buried in 1884
Caretakers of one of Georgia’s oldest cemeteries say the scene was heart-breaking: A toddler’s bones were spilled on the ground. The uniform buried with a soldier in another plot was strewn on the ground.
This iron casket contained the remains of a 14-month-old girl which were dumped out.
Clothing buried with a soldier was removed, leaving his bones exposed, Burke County sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Cochran said.
Among the soldiers desecrated were those dating back to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and World War I, he said.
Relic hunting is a possible motive, he said, though authorities aren’t certain what the motivation was.
'Most of the time when soldiers were buried, they were buried with their items to keep the enemy soldiers from getting them,' Cochran said.
Leroy Bell Jr., commander of the American Legion post that cares for the cemetery, discovered the damage on Saturday.
'Somebody is very sick to do something like this, to desecrate a grave,' Bell told WFXG.
April 19, 2013
Moments before his death, alert and perched, waiting for his father
This photo is heartbreaking.
Martin perched on spectator fencing waiting to give his runner father a hug. Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is seen lurking behind him in the crowd
April 18, 2013
Noonan on the Thatcher funeral
Thatcher's funeral was striking in that it was not, actually, about her. It was about what she thought it important for the mourners to know. The readings were about the fact of God, the gift of Christ, and the necessity of loving your country and working for its betterment. There were no long eulogies. In a friendly and relatively brief address, the bishop of London lauded her kindness and character. No funeral of an American leader would ever be like that: The dead American would be the star, with God in the position of yet another mourner who'd miss his leadership.
At the end of the funeral they all marched down the aisle in great procession—the family, the queen, the military pallbearers carrying the casket bearing the Union Jack. The great doors flung open, the pallbearers marched forward, and suddenly from the crowd a great roar. We looked at each other. Demonstrators? No. Listen. They were cheering. They were calling out three great hurrahs as the pallbearers went down the steps. Then long cheers and applause. It was electric.
England came. The people came. Later we would learn they'd stood 30 deep on the sidewalk, that quiet crowds had massed on the Strand and Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill. A man had held up a sign: "But We Loved Her."
Lessons from the Thatcher funeral
When planning a funeral, there are important lessons that can be learned from the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.
1. Funerals should not be a celebration of the life of the deceased. That's the important function of the after-party or memorial when people get together to share stories of the deceased and to laugh and cry together. Funerals should be a ritual of well-chosen words and hymns that by their very unoriginality bring order to troubling feelings and awaken a sense of mortality in all present. By remembering that we all will die, we become more alive.
2. Choose beautiful music to express what can not be said.
Christopher Howes Margaret Thatcher's funeral: a miraculous pairing of words and music
The nation discovered its own feelings through the beautifully judged ceremonial of Lady Thatcher’s funeral.
For the guests at St Paul’s there were lines from Eliot’s “Little Gidding” to contemplate while they waited. “A people without history is not redeemed from time,” they read. “In a secluded chapel, / History is now and England.” If not in a secluded chapel, but in a cathedral so airy that a crowd of 2,000 merely carpeted its pavement, history was present, under every sight and sound.
This funeral was not a celebration of life, not even a memorial. The service chosen by Lady Thatcher did not feature quirky personal favorites. Many people think they are being original by choosing Stairway to Heaven or Bat Out of Hell for their own funerals. It was unoriginal, and in that lay its power. It was not personalized, but leant on the Book of Common Prayer and well-thumbed hymn books.
For that very reason it was relevant to all those in St Paul’s and all who found time to watch on television. From the moment her coffin was met at St Clement Danes with the words, “We who are baptised in the death of Christ,” the topic was something universal: death. This was not divisive but, in the words of the Bishop of London, “the common destiny of all human beings”. It was, yesterday, as if the millions watching were following a stage tragedy. The difference was that this was a true story, and the tragic flaw of the heroine was not a moral failing but mortality itself.
The Church of England service emphasized two things: the reality of death, with no demurring, and the hope of resurrection. “The days of man are but grass,” read Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin. “For as soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone.” Left at that, it would be no more than Hadrian’s sad farewell to the soul: “Animula, vagula, blandula.” But it was not left at that. From deep, dim waters it strove upwards towards the light.
“Let not your heart be troubled,” the Prime Minister read from the Gospel of St John. “I go to prepare a place for you.” Those were words of Jesus, and, in the passage read, Thomas usefully responded, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest.” Nothing could rub in more sorely that we cannot see beyond the dark and narrow gates of death.
Even so, the words read out may have made an uncertain impression. We are not used to listening. A sermon is a thing to be shunned, though the Bishop of London summed up proceedings as well as could be done in one sentence: “The natural cycle leads inevitably to decay, but the dominant note of a Christian funeral service, after the sorrow and the memories, is hope.”
For all the feebleness of fleeting words to capture the attention, something else penetrates the leathery coating of the unexercized heart – music. That was surely what brought a tear to the eye of anyone capable of weeping. It takes different people in different ways. Vaughan Williams’s setting for Bunyan’s To Be a Pilgrim brought out its defiance: “Though he with giants fight: / He will make good his right / To be a pilgrim.” Like “Invictus” (“I am the master of my fate”), its defiance is clear, but can it be true? If we fight a giant, won’t the giant win?
So for me, the dart that pierced the carapace was Fauré’s setting of In Paradisum. This Latin antiphon is associated with the carrying of the corpse to the grave. Fauré’s gentle music let the words speak: “Et cum Lazaro quondam paupere / aeternam habeas requiem.” With Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest. The Lazarus in question is the man in the parable who lay, full of sores, at the rich man’s gate.
The point is not political, but rather that, if we are lucky, we will fare as well as a loathsome beggar, who was carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham. If all careers end in failure, all lives end in absolute poverty. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither,” said Job. The point is obvious, which is why it needed to be said at a funeral, where things are spoken that are impossible to say informally between mourning members of a family.
Many wonderful pictures at the links
More than 250,000 lined the streets of London, clapping and cheering as her coffin processed through London. Others threw white roses in the path of the gun carriage that carried Lady Thatcher to St Paul's.
Many mourners fell silent as the coffin travelled by gun carriage to St Paul's Cathedral
This is my favorite…..
Except for this. The Chapel of St Mary where the coffin rested overnight is simply gorgeous.
April 17, 2013
Grave Vandal, Clare Burke, 79
Clare Burke was filmed after a widower upset at the desecration of his wife’s final resting place hid a CCTV camera in a nearby tree. Ron Wilks, 77, saw Burke throwing dead flowers and gravel on to the grave of his wife Jill and their one-day-old granddaughter Hayley Reynolds.
Burke attacked the grave because she had a grudge against Mr Wilks, a court was told. She resented him because he had become engaged to a woman who used to date her former partner.
Prosecutor Sharon Jomaa told Cheltenham magistrates that the hidden camera showed Burke emptying carrier bags full of dead flowers and gravel over the grave.
Claire Burke repeatedly desecrated the grave of Jill Wilks and her one-day-old granddaughter. She would pull up live flowers and ‘plant’ dead ones in flower holders at the burial plot at Coney Hill Cemetery in Gloucester, she said.
‘The matter was very distressing for all the family and for Mr Wilks’s daughter Debbie, the mother of the one-day-old baby,’ she told the court.
‘Any interference with a grave is a reprehensible act and it was intended to cause distress. There is a great deal of background in this case but none can justify what she did and she doesn’t suggest that it does.’
Burke, of Oxmoor, Gloucestershire, admitted a charge of harassment. She was given a conditional discharge for 12 months and a two-year restraining order prohibiting her from contacting Mr Wilks or his fiancee or going near the grave. She was also ordered to pay £100 costs.
After the trial, Mr Wilks said: ‘This has been going on for a long time. At first I thought it was children messing around but it was happening so often that I realised it was malicious.
‘It makes no sense to me why she did it. She has shown no remorse to us.’
"My grasp of the English language doesn't really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was"
I am following the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philly and every day it gets more horrifying.
He kept baby feet in jars! Like trophies. He considered himself "a good person".
Former employees testified last week that Gosnell gave different explanations for why he kept up to 30 specimen jars containing fetal feet. He told some the feet were for DNA testing and others they were for medical research
The remains of aborted fetuses were stored in water jugs, pet food containers and a freezer at a West Philadelphia abortion clinic, the city's chief medical examiner testified in the murder trial of the doctor who ran the facility.
Medical Examiner Sam Gulino told jurors Monday he had to examine the remains of 47 aborted fetuses, some of which were frozen, as part of the investigation into the charges against Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
Authorities accuse Gosnell, 72, of using scissors to sever the spinal cords of fetuses who emerged from their mothers still alive.
"There was no guidance on how to proceed," Gulino said, adding that the lacerated fetuses had to be thawed slowly so the tissue would not be destroyed. "I was never asked to do that (before)."
When authorities searched Gosnell's office, they found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building. Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf. Furniture and equipment was blood-stained, dusty and broken.
"My grasp of the English language doesn't really allow me to fully describe how horrific this clinic was -- rotting bodies, fetal remains, the smell of urine throughout, blood-stained," Williams said.
Gosnell's freezer was full of aborted babies
Today, a former janitor testified that toilets were backed up with body parts from abortions.
Johnson worked as a janitor, maintenance man and plumber of sorts and he was the common-law husband of 51-year-old Elizabeth Hampton, who is herself Gosnell’s wife’s sister. He told jurors some of the morbid details that appear in the grand jury report — including how he threatened to quit working at the abortion clinic because he refused to pull any more flesh from aborted babies out of the plumbing.
His job was to collect abortion remains and take them to basement — but he eventually refused to participate and bags began piling up.
He told the jury toilets backed up one-two times a week and said he opened the outside clean out pipe and fetal parts such as babies’ arms came spilling out.
Such horrors were the result of how Gosnell's practice of inducing labor in the pregnant women then severing the spinal cords of the live babies.