I am very happy with the results of this law suit and pleased that the jury found an invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Jury Awards Father Nearly $11 Million in Funeral Protestors Case
The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral.
The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress to the Marine's father, Albert Snyder of York, Pa.
The defendants are the hateful people from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas who go around the country protesting at soldiers' funerals with signs saying "Thank Go for dead soldiers" and "Thank God for IEDs because they think the US war dead are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
I wrote about this suit last year Funeral Protesters Sued
We think it's a case we can win because anyone's funeral is private," Snyder lawyer Sean Summers said. "You don't have a right to interrupt someone's private funeral."
In A Soldier They Called "Pipes, I wrote about the dozens of uniformed and plain clothes cops who stood baring the sight of the protesters from the family and gathered throng of several thousand including the Governor in an outpouring of sympathy and patriotism in Marblehead, MA.
For the Patriot Guard Riders, every funeral of an American soldier became a mission to show respect and to shield the mourning family from the protesters.
"DNA testing in family history is reaching critical mass" now that a new
website uses DNA testing to help family members trace their ancestry.
Ancestry.com, the largest family history website on the web, is partnering with Sorenson Genomics, a privately held DNA research team, to offer DNA results.
You swab a cheek, send in $200 and they will analyze the DNA and put the results into their massive databases,
Some may consider this as social networking for genes
HT to book of joe's Who's Your Daddy?, a post that caused me to wonder what havoc that might bring to some families.
She contracted the hospital superbug, c. difficile, while undergoing dialysis and passed it on to husband when she returned home.
When both were in the hospital, the staff moved their beds next to each other so they hold hands, then they switched off the life support machines.
They died within 20 minutes of each other.
Their deaths are blamed on the superbug that thrives on poor hygiene that appears to be endemic in NHS hospitals in Britain.
The man who funded the Pequot Indians in Connecticut when they wanted to build a casino died yesterday. The Pequots had gone to 35 banks and investment houses and were turned down when they turned overseas to Malay-Chinese entrepreneur who became a billionaire by developing Genting Highlands, a casino in the highlands of the Muslim country of Malaysia.
Genting Highlands, the mountaintop casino and resort complex close to Kuala Lumpur, illustrates Malaysia's grudging relationship with gambling and, some have argued, with its entire Chinese community of 7.3 million. Lim Goh Tong, its creator, was granted permission to build a casino “on a 1,700m mountain, out of sight and out of mind”, as one journalist put it, in return for helping to build a tourist infrastructure in the newly independent federation. As his gambling retreat grew and grew — becoming “the Las Vegas of Malaysia” — it became an ever-greater affront to the Muslim majority but ever-more indispensable to a government in need of money.
His bet on Indian gaming in the United States was prescient. The rest is history. Foxwoods, now the world's largest casino, takes in an estimated $1 billion in revenue each year.
Kevin Kelly's blog Cool Tools is a favorite of mine because I'm always finding good information about products and services that make life easier.
I wrote a much longer post with excerpts and photos but for some reason I'm unable to post it despite several tries over the past week
I have a big crate of old slides and photo albums just waiting to be scanned. So far, I've taken a number of slides to my neighborhood camera store for a specific project and been pleased with the results.
So until my next big project, I'm going to hold off, but I'd be interested in the experience of anyone who uses them.
A man whose dying wish was to be buried along with his mobile phone has to be dug up again after his family discovered they had forgotten to insert his SIM card.
... after his funeral, his family discovered that his grandson, who was playing with the device, had taken out the SIM card.
"We put the phone in the coffin as he wanted, but my 10-year-old son had been playing with it and had taken the card out without my knowledge," Brano said. "So now we have got to dig him up again to put it in the phone."
More than 1000 people turned out in Liberty for the funeral of Jeremy Burris, a 22-year-old Marine lance corporal who, after rescuing two of his wounded buddies, was killed by an explosive device in Iraq.
He was buried in the Cooke Memorial Cemetery and within hours the grave was desecrated.
About 30 sprays of flowers were ripped apart, petals strewn over the loose earth. Flags decorating the gravesite were also torn down and sentimental notes and posters shredded.
"It looked like a big debris field about 40 feet square," said Liberty Police Chief Mike Cummings. "This wasn't done by the wind or animals. It was obviously intentional. We don't know if someone did this for a stupid prank or they were anti-war or what."
Liberty outraged over grave desecration
Let's hope the police quickly find the perpetrators. Freedom of speech and opinion does not include the desecration of graves.
UPDATE: Arrest made of Wallace DeBlanc, 41, who ripped the 25 floral arrangements apart so he could get to the wire stands, pewter cross and other decorations that could be resold to floral shops.
He was a thief.
They were newlyweds spending a brilliant autumn day hiking through the White Mountains, a pair of Harvard graduate students enjoying the foliage of the northern woods.
When Brian Wood and Stine Rossel sat on a fallen tree at the top of a crest, they thought they had found the perfect perch to view the fall colors. Then, from the simplest act - a picnic in the woods - a bizarre, rapid-fire series of events led to unimaginable tragedy Saturday.
Wood said he "scooted over" to be closer to his new wife, then heard a snapping sound - the tree breaking at its roots. In a flash, the part of the tree where they were sitting shifted, sending the couple tumbling down the hill. The tree rolled down on top of them, slamming into Rossel's head and knocking her unconscious.
"She was extremely happy" Matskevich said. "She got married to the man she loved. She finished her PhD. She was full of plans. Who could have guessed it was her last evening?"
"She was like the sun," Wood said of his wife. "It's like the sun disappearing from the sky."
What a sad story. Condolences to her family, especially her husband.
"An artist of impeccable grace and beauty" read the citation for Deborah Kerr's honorary Oscar in 1994 awarded after she was nominated six times as Best Actress, never winning one.
She died at 86 after suffering many years with Parkinson's disease.
Heaven Knows Mr. Allison with Robert Mitchum
London Telegraph obituary
Kerr was the unfadingly ladylike and prototypical English rose whose red-haired, angular beauty and self-possessed femininity distinguished more than 50 films in four decades of cinema.
She made serenity dramatic; and though her poise might be ruffled at critical moments in scenes of passion (most famously exemplified by her encounter on the beach with Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity in 1953), her well-bred airs and social graces made her a model of British womanhood in Hollywood.
......her type of refined sensuality proved refreshingly attractive, since it hinted at hidden desires and forbidden feelings, giving her acting an extra edge and interest.
You can see a clip of the famous kiss on the beach on YouTube.
Ann Althouse quotes from a New York Times piece that has since disappeared in the best summary of all.
She could be virginal, ethereal, gossamer and fragile, or earthy, spicy and suggestive, and sometimes she managed to display all her skills at the same time.
Writing in Encounter magazine in 1955, the British anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer argued that death had become the great unmentionable. The Victorians were prudish about sex and candid about death, he said, whereas Westerners of the mid-20th century were garrulous about sex and, well, stiff about stiffs. Death be not loud.
The New Death by Stephen Bates in the Wall St Journal.
But we shouldn't be too hasty in congratulating ourselves and deriding earlier generations as uptight and self-deluded. We can chatter and chortle about death without honestly confronting it. In fundamental ways, our culture is reinventing death rites and, in the process, growing further apart from death itself.
What's wrong with all this? At the individual level, funerary frivolity trivializes both the death and the life that preceded it. At the social level, tradition and ritual, passed from generation to generation, create a common framework for discussing life's ultimate questions. When we choose customized, individualized, let-it-be-me funerals, we start slipping from lingua franca to tabula rasa. Soon, we're talking only to ourselves.
Next week, October 30 at 9 pm, Frontline will present a documentary featuring the poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch about whom I've written a number of posts.
The Calling of a Funeral Director
Going the Distance
The Gorer quote brings to mind a favorite quote, Money has replaced sex as a driving force, death has replaced sex as a taboo, and sex has replaced bridge as a social event for mixed foursomes, Reginald Perrin.
A woman who was not invited to her boyfriend's funeral, snuck into the cemetery, dug up his grave and stole an urn containing his ashes.
Athens County Prosecutor David Warren said it is the first case of body snatching he has had to investigate,...
"I have crimes that I like to refer to as aggravated stupid," Warren said. "I have been doing this for almost 30 years now and I have never had anyone steal someone's ashes."
What an amazing, remarkable woman, Countess Andree de Jongh obituary in the London Telegraph.
She founded and organised the Comet Escape Line, the route from Belgium through France to Spain used by hundreds of Allied airmen to escape from Nazi-occupied Europe.
Dédée de Jongh made more than 30 double crossings and escorted 116 evaders, including more than 80 aircrew. But on the night of January 15 1943 she was sheltering at Urrugne with three RAF evaders when she was betrayed. The house was stormed and she was captured. When interrogated under torture by the Gestapo, in order to save others she admitted being the leader of Le Reseau Comète.
The Gestapo, however, refused to believe that such a young and innocent girl could be in charge of an underground movement whose compass stretched from from Belgium to Spain.
Dédée de Jongh was sent to Mauthausen and Ravensbruck concentration camps. For two years she lived on a diet of dirty potato and turnip soup, practising her nursing skills and trying to avoid being singled out. Although she survived, she had become gravely ill and undernourished by the time she was released by the advancing Allied armies in April 1945.
After recovering her health Dédée de Jongh went to Buckingham Palace, in 1946, to receive the George Medal — the highest civilian award for bravery available to a foreigner. After the ceremony the RAF Escaping Society gave a dinner in her honour hosted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry. The Americans awarded her the Medal of Freedom and the French appointed her a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur. The Belgians appointed her a Chevalier of the Order of Leopold and awarded her the Croix de Guerre with palm. In 1985 she was created a countess by King Baudouin.
Then she went to the Belgian Congo to work in a leper colony and from there to Ethiopia.
Her philosophy was simple.
In 2000 she recalled: "When war was declared I knew what needed to be done. There was no hesitation. We could not stop what we had to do although we knew the cost. Even if it was at the expense of our lives, we had to fight until the last breath."
According to recent survey in England some of the most popular requests by people planning their funerals are
BURY me naked.
Put a mobile phone in the coffin.
Cremate me with my pet's ashes.
Bury me with my teeth in.
And do make sure I'm actually dead.
The most common request is to have a beloved pet cremated with them. Of course, the pet has to be dead before it can be cremated.
David Muffett, London obit in the Telegraph
David Muffett, who has died aged 88, applied the skills he had honed when dealing with cannibals in colonial Africa to battling education ministers and teaching unions in his role as chairman of Hereford and Worcester County Council education committee.
In 1960 he apprehended the Tigwe of Vwuip, a northern Nigerian tribal chief who had eaten the local tax collector. The Tigwe had apparently been so impressed by the man's ability to acquire money on demand that he had — understandably — decided to try to assimilate his powers.
It was not so much this particular misdemeanour that bothered Muffett; what really worried him was the fact that a UN delegation was due to visit the area, and "I wasn't about to have one of them eaten. I considered that it would be a highly retrogressive step."
via Mark Steyn
A deranged cannabis smoker who was obsessed with Satanism stabbed a country vicar to death in his churchyard.
Father Paul Bennett, 59, was killed in a vicious daylight attack by Geraint Evans as he tried to protect his family.
His horrified wife fought desperately to fend off paranoid the schizophrenic as he knifed the grandfather repeatedly in the head and throat.
Georgina Bennett grabbed the first thing she could find - her grandson's toy sword - in a brave effort to protect her husband but was unable to stop the killer land a final knife blow through the vicar's heart.
What a terrible way for a country vicar to die. May in rest in peace and deep condolences to his family.
For a look at funeral customs in Japan, sushiwalker, a 25-year-old Japanese man who lives in America most of the time happened to be in Japan when his grandfather died. He describes the death, the wake and funeral and the cremation in Chronicles of a Japanese Funeral.
(the type is very small, I had to bump it up twice for ease in reading.) via BoingBoing
"I fell in the grave backwards," Murphy said, two and a half weeks into his recovery. "I hit my left side on the corner of the grave. All of a sudden, I saw a cloud of dust, and that's where I was in the hole."
A gloved hand reached down and Murphy, who will be 80 in two weeks, reached up with his right hand and was raised from the grave.
"A gentleman from the cemetery said, 'Leo, you all right?'," Murphy recalled. "I thought I was going to die. I couldn't breathe."
Then his son, Pat, convinced him to get into the Plummer Funeral Home hearse to ride to the emergency room at MaineGeneral Medical Center.
"I was in the front seat when the security guard came around," Murphy said. "He said, 'Usually they don't come in this end.'"
Brother Thomas Bezanson lived for 25 years a sa monk at Weston Priory in New York where he spent most of his time when not praying making small ceramics - mugs and teapots which the monastery sold to support the monastery.
So talented was he, that In 1985 he moved to become the artist in residence at Mount Saint Benedict, a convent in Erie Pennsylvania where he was the only man among a community of 140 nuns. As he become more skilled in ceramics, using rich glazes and unexpected textures, he attracted the attention of the Pucker Gallery on Newbury St. in Boston and many other collectors. His work is exhibited in more than 80 museums around the world.
Last December, Benzanson was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer.
In a letter he wrote to Pucker when he learned he was dying, Bezanson said, "My thought is simply to help other artists as I have been helped. I am not thinking of recognizing or rewarding successful artists but to give a 'leg-up' to artists in need. I am not thinking specifically of any one medium, although I certainly have a bias towards those working in the art of fire-and-clay, the potter. . . . It is good work in the world to support what is Good, True and Beautiful."
After spending more than 50 years making pottery that earned him acclaim from museum curators around the world, the Benedictine monk - whose ceramics have sold for as much as $60,000 apiece - wanted to support artists in need.
His wish is becoming a reality.
The Newbury Street gallery that owns the largest collection of Bezanson's work - $15 million worth - is joining with the Boston Foundation, which distributes millions of dollars in grants each year, to use proceeds from the sale of his ceramics to create a fund that would support struggling artists in Boston.
Sale of monk's art will aid city's struggling artists.
Photographer Bobby Neel Adams uses photo-montage, not photoshop, to create his extraordinary photographs that show's time's arrow.
Below from the series called age-maps.
This photo-montage from the series Family Tree show how the "visual DNA" is passed on.
Even more disconcerting are his montages of couples - two partners as one figure as the image of their commitment.
After 53 years, a family can bury US Army Air Force Technical Sergeant Hyman Stiglitz, who was lost in a mission to bomb a German aircraft factory
...last month, the military told Stiglitz's nephews that it had positively identified his remains and those of his eight crewmates.
"It's just incredible that [military officials] have the respect for doing this."
The recovery and identification of the remains of the airmen was part of an effort by the Defense Department to locate 78,000 American troops still missing after World War II,
Tower Hamlets Cemetery, an historic graveyard that now serves as a nature preserve, is the focus of a big controversy in London.
Anger over plan to dig up 350,000 bodies in historic London cemetery for Muslim burial site
The local newspaper has been bombarded with letters from historians and nature lovers declaring: "There is no way we'll allow them to dig up our ancestors."
But the Labour-controlled council's environment spokesman Abdal Ullah appeared to be in no doubt about the feasibility of the plan when he said: "To preserve the respect and dignity for everyone, I think most of the graves would have to be cleared out and we'd start afresh."
He said a corner of the cemetery would be reserved for Muslims who are buried in shrouds at a depth of 6ft and on their side facing Mecca.
By law, any graves more than 75 years old can be removed.
At the cemetery yesterday, liaison officer Ken Greenway - the only paid member of staff tending the 33-acre site - said he was astonished that anyone would even contemplate such a move.
The most influential violin teacher in town might just be a Hungarian man who died in 1944 and barely stepped foot in Boston.
His name was Carl Flesch. He was an eloquent and patrician soloist but, most of all, he was a superb pedagogue who in many ways created the modern art of teaching string instruments. He wrote with unusual clarity about the mysteries of musical performance, and he had incisive technical advice for any student wishing to brave the task of placing a stubborn box of wood under one's chin and coaxing it into song
In his posthumously published memoirs, Flesch trained his sharp diagnostic eye on his own playing and was extremely self-critical. But looking back, he also happily noted that artistic greatness was not the only path to immortality. "What a noble mission - a spiritual propagation - is the transmission of one's knowledge and experience to the younger generation," he wrote. "[O]ne can live again not only in one's children but also in one's pupils."
Beth McCoy's Illumination Suite performed in a concert along with Brahms and Debussy
“The first movement is about the scurry of life, and then bang, something happens,” McCoy said. “The second movement is called ‘Through the Tunnel.’ Everything is in the numbers of three, as in the trinity of the father, the son and the holy ghost. The third movement is about coming back from a near death experience and I called it ‘Returned, Transformed.’ It’s about coming back with a new sense of life.”
However, her near death experience isn’t exactly what prompted her to compose the piece.
“It was when I read Don Piper’s ‘90 Minutes in Heaven’ and read that he said that he would give up everything, even leave his family, to go back to heaven to hear the music,” McCoy said. “It was the music that he heard in heaven that made him feel that way.”
Christopher Hitchens writes a moving piece about a young boy killed in Iraq by an IED who was in part persuaded to enlist by Hitchens' own pro-war articles.
I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.?
Overwhelmed to be invited to the scattering of ashes of the man he never knew, Hitchens quotes Shakespeare from MacBeth
Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.
This being Shakespeare, the truly emotional and understated moment follows a beat or two later, when Ross adds:
Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.
Whenever I see a piece by Thomas Lynch, I know it's going to be great and I know I will to do a post about it.
I already have in Going the Distance and Death Lite. A funeral director for 40 years, Lynch is also a poet, a writer whose work appears frequently in various publications. He is the author of The Undertaking, a slim, wonderfully written book about the 'dismal trade' that I heartedly recommend.
Now, in a piece about the calling of funeral directors, Lynch talks about his own, Faith 'profession' - Catholic funeral directors see role as bringing God to the grieving, honoring deceased.
..his calling was not to the priesthood, but to follow his father into funeral service. That calling came for his father when he was 12 and saw “two men in shirtsleeves” lift the body of an uncle – a young priest – from a table and place him into a casket The symbolism of his father’s calling stayed with Lynch. “You have to understand, that for most Catholics, the elevation of the dead body is the central metaphor of our liturgy,” he said.
he is outspoken about the need for the bereaved to experience grief. The generation today bringing loved ones to funeral homes is the first generation, he said, that tries to get past grieving by not having a body at a funeral. He believes this carries the risk of spiritual and emotional peril.
Hat tip to The Deacon, a new blog I quite enjoy.
A new art exhibit opens at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, Eternal Ancestors, Art of the Central African Reliquary.
Holland Cotter calls it a "gorgeous, morally and spiritually vibrant" in his New York Times review, Keeping Watch Over the Dead.
Anyone familiar with Western religious art, particularly art before the modern era, will recognize its basic theme: life as a cosmic journey homeward, with parental spirits, embodied in materials and images, coddling, counseling and chiding us every step of the way.
It is intended, as far as is ever possible in a Western museum, especially one as staid as the Met, to offer a view of traditional African art as it might have been seen through African eyes.
When the demolition guys found an old suitcase, tucked into a crawl space, they opened it up to find photo albums, a yearbook, a college paper or two, and several photos. For some reason, they kept it though they didn't know who it belonged to until, a year later, Dan Barnett started googling and calling.
And there they were, those construction workers in their heavy boots, those guys with scarred hands who tear down and rip out, respectfully watching the white-haired lawyer.
Shaughnessy's father died in 1985, and his mother died two years later.
Now, two decades after their deaths, he was staring silently at their unearthed pictures, confronting memories of his past.
The Chinese woman who killed her lover with a kiss of death when she suspected him of being unfaithful was sentenced to death in Shanghai.
She passed a capsule of rat poison from her mouth to her lover who swallowed the capsule and died.