September 30, 2011

Let's make death fun!

Want to enjoy the ride of your life along with the last ride of your life?

That's what Julijonas Urbonas envisions with his Euthanasia Coaster.

The three-minute ride involves a long, slow, climb -- nearly a third of a mile long -- that lifts one up to a height of more than 1,600 feet, followed by a massive fall and seven strategically sized and placed loops. The final descent and series of loops take all of one minute. But the gravitational force -- 10 Gs -- from the spinning loops at 223 miles per hour in that single minute is lethal.

According to Urbonas, the "Euthanasia Coaster is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely -- with elegance and euphoria -- take the life of a human being."

 Suicide Rollercoaster

Urbonas, who once worked at an amusement park in his native Lithuania, is a PhD candidate in London's Royal College of Art's Design Interactions department. He considers this research in "Gravitational Aesthetics."

That's because Euthanasia Coaster isn't simply meant to be about death. Urbonas sees it as both an intellectual and artful departure from the world, one that isn't about the paperwork and medical issues of the current euthanasia system. The few places where voluntary euthanasia is legal include: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington.

"There is no special ritual, nor is death given special meaning except that of the legal procedures and psychological preparation. It is like death is divorced from our cultural life…" Urbonas writes. "…But if it is already legal, why not to make it more meaningful?"

Astonishing isn't it.  That anyone would think that suicide by rollercoaster is  a 'meaningful' death or in any way an 'intellectual and artful departure from the world'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

September 29, 2011

Two died in sewage tanks

This headline made me laugh.  Kennebunkport Coroner Sends Out for Another Bale of Potpourri

Two Augusta-area men were found dead inside a lodge's sewage holding tank Tuesday, police said.

Richard Kemp, 70, of Monmouth, and Winfield Studley, 58, of Windsor, were employees of Stevens Electric and Pump Services of Monmouth and were servicing a pump Tuesday in the tank at The Lodge at Turbats Creek.

Kennebunk Police Chief Craig Sanford said there were no witnesses and it's unclear how the men ended up dead in the tank.

Sanford said the two were working alongside an employee from Kennebunk-based Nest and Sons, which was pumping the tank. The Nest and Sons employee left with a load of sewage, and when he returned 30 to 45 minutes later, the men were not there.

Apparently both men were very liked and their deaths has hit their families hard.  Condolences to their families.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

An engineer with heart

Wilson Greatbatch, the 'humble tinkerer' who invented the pacemaker, dies at 92

Wilson Greatbatch, who saved countless lives with his invention of the implantable cardiac pacemaker, has died at the age of 92.

 Wilson Greatbatch

A family spokesman confirmed that Mr Greatbatch died yesterday at the Oxford Village assisted living centre in Canterbury Woods, a suburb of Buffalo, New York state. His family was by his bedside, according to staff at the centre.

Referring to himself as a 'humble tinkerer', Mr Greatbatch was responsible for more than 320 inventions, and he received more than 150 patents. Throughout his life he researched heavily into plant-based fuels, invented tools used in AIDS research and a wide range of medical applications. He even invented a solar-powered canoe, which he took on a 160-mile voyage on the Finger Lakes in New York on his 72nd birthday.

But it is his invention of an implantable pacemaker, first used in humans in the U.S. in 1960, that he will be best remembered.

The American Heart Association says that more half a million pacemakers are now implanted every year.

Mr Greatbatch served as a rear gunner on bombers in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War. As a chief petty officer, he also taught in the Navy's radar school - an extension of a childhood hobby of ham radio.

After the war Mr Greatbatch was trained as an electrical engineer at Cornell University and the University at Buffalo. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, in 1988.

He lived with his wife of more than 60 years, Eleanor - the maker of his trademark bow ties - in an 1845 converted schoolhouse about 15 miles east of Buffalo. The couple had five children and had recently moved to their assisted-living residence. Mrs Greatbatch died in January at the age of 90.
Despite his fame, fortune and undoubted contribution to science and medicine, Mr Greatbatch remained a humble man who believe that God had guided him through his greatest works.
In his memoir, The Making Of The Pacemaker, published in 2000, he said: 'To ask for a successful experiment, for professional stature, for financial reward or for peer approval, is asking to be paid for what should be an act of love.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

His life after dying

Dr. George Ritchie can be seen on this dramatized YouTube video witnessing to his near death experience when he was 20 and a private in the army.

The video promotes his book  My Life After Dying, published in 1991,  a re-titling of his original book Return from Tomorrow, published  in 1978.

George G. Ritchie  became a  physician, served his residency in psychiatry at the University of Virginia and then began a private practice in psychiatry in Virginia.  He died at 84, leaving his wife of  60 years, a son and a daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Raymond Moodie, a student at the University of Virginia, first became aware of Near Death Experiences after hearing Ritchie's story.  Moodie went on to investigate over 150 cases of NDEs

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

September 27, 2011

It’s too expensive to be left in a crypt.

Randall Jourdan played the guitar for more than 40 years.  Father of nine and grandfather of 29, Randall told everyone that he wanted to be buried with the guitar,

Cemetery Worker Stole Guitar from Army Vet's Casket

After Jourdan’s September 19 death, his casket was transported to the cemetery, where it was placed in a mausoleum building. A funeral director told Conard and another cemetery worker, James Lang, that “a guitar was in the casket with Randall’s body and the family wanted to verify that it was still there prior to the casket being placed in the burial chamber.” Jourdan is seen at left.

When the funeral director left to rejoin Jourdan’s family members, Lang told deputies that Conard opened the casket and remarked, “That’s a Telly, a really expensive guitar. I have to have that guitar. It’s too expensive to be in a crypt.” Lang, who recalled that the Telecaster was atop Jourdan’s body, added that as Conard closed the casket, he asked “if he would say anything if he took the guitar.”

When Lang checked the casket a second time, he discovered the Fender missing and contacted his supervisor, who summoned sheriff’s deputies. When apprised of the guitar’s pilfering, Jourdan family members “were distraught over the situation.”
Steven Conard, a 39-year-old grounds worker at the Allouez Catholic Cemetery, was arrested Saturday and charged with felony “theft from person or corpse.” Conard, who plays in a band, reportedly confessed to stealing the Fender Telecaster when confronted at his Green Bay home by Brown County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

“This isn’t something I normally do,” Conard said, according to a Circuit Court criminal complaint. “I just have a respect for fine musical instruments.” The cream-colored guitar was recovered from Conard’s living room, where the instrument was on the floor “in plain view.”
The Telecaster was subsequently returned to Jourdan’s kin and “final entombment” was completed Saturday, according to a press release from cemetery officials. Conard, who appeared today in court, remains in custody at the Brown County jail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

It’s too expensive to be in a crypt.

Randall Jourdan played the guitar for more than 40 years.  Father of nine and grandfather of 29, Randall told everyone that he wanted to be buried with the guitar,

Cemetery Worker Stole Guitar from Army Vet's Casket

After Jourdan’s September 19 death, his casket was transported to the cemetery, where it was placed in a mausoleum building. A funeral director told Conard and another cemetery worker, James Lang, that “a guitar was in the casket with Randall’s body and the family wanted to verify that it was still there prior to the casket being placed in the burial chamber.” Jourdan is seen at left.

When the funeral director left to rejoin Jourdan’s family members, Lang told deputies that Conard opened the casket and remarked, “That’s a Telly, a really expensive guitar. I have to have that guitar. It’s too expensive to be in a crypt.” Lang, who recalled that the Telecaster was atop Jourdan’s body, added that as Conard closed the casket, he asked “if he would say anything if he took the guitar.”

When Lang checked the casket a second time, he discovered the Fender missing and contacted his supervisor, who summoned sheriff’s deputies. When apprised of the guitar’s pilfering, Jourdan family members “were distraught over the situation.”
Steven Conard, a 39-year-old grounds worker at the Allouez Catholic Cemetery, was arrested Saturday and charged with felony “theft from person or corpse.” Conard, who plays in a band, reportedly confessed to stealing the Fender Telecaster when confronted at his Green Bay home by Brown County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

“This isn’t something I normally do,” Conard said, according to a Circuit Court criminal complaint. “I just have a respect for fine musical instruments.” The cream-colored guitar was recovered from Conard’s living room, where the instrument was on the floor “in plain view.”
The Telecaster was subsequently returned to Jourdan’s kin and “final entombment” was completed Saturday, according to a press release from cemetery officials. Conard, who appeared today in court, remains in custody at the Brown County jail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:54 AM | Permalink

September 26, 2011

Goodbye Mr Chips

Doritos creator dies at 97... and his family wants to sprinkle them over his body before he is buried

The family of the man who created Doritos are to bury dozens of the chips next to his ashes, they have revealed.

Relatives of Arch West said that they would scatter Doritos in the grave before placing the urn containing his remains inside and covering it over with dirt.

It is not clear if the family are following Mr West’s last requests or if they took it upon themselves to make the 'tribute'.

But the intent appears to be to honour the man who created what became almost overnight one of the most popular snacks in the U.S.

It was back in 1961 that Mr West, who has died of natural causes at the age of 97, was on a family holiday in San Diego when he was struck by the tasty fried tortilla chips he tried at a food truck.

He came up with the idea for a new snack which he called 'Dorito' as it sounded like 'doradito', or 'little golden' in Spanish.

The marketing executive at Frito-Lay, the U.S. snack food giant where he worked, were initially unsure but the product was an immediate success following its launch in 1964.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 PM | Permalink

September 25, 2011

Paying the dead

The Office of Personnel Management manages the civil service of the federal government but they still haven't managed to note when retirees die.

Gov't paid $600 million in benefits to dead people

The federal government has doled out more than $600 million in benefit payments to dead people over the past five years, a watchdog report says.

Such payments are meant for retired or disabled federal workers, but sometimes the checks keep going out even after the former employees pass away and the deaths are not reported,
In one case, the son of a beneficiary continued receiving payments for 37 years after his father's death in 1971. The payments - totaling more than $515,000 - were only discovered when the son died in 2008.

The government has been aware of the problem since a 2005 inspector general's report revealed defects in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund. Yet the improper payments have continued, despite more than a half dozen attempts to develop a system that can figure out which beneficiaries are still alive and which are dead, the report said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:22 PM | Permalink

"He had glow sticks and a flashlight attached to his head"

A sad death.

Brother thinks dead man was trying to hid gun in river even though he was licensed to carry.

A man found dead at the downtown flood wall was likely trying to retrieve a gun he tossed into the water to hide it from police, his brother said.

Police believe Matthew Bleistein, 30, of Lancaster, Penn., may have died while trying to retrieve a Glock semi-automatic pistol from the Merrimack River. A passerby found Bleistein's body suspended by a rope around his waist last Saturday morning, police said.
Steve Bleistein said his brother told him afterward that he and the other resident had exchanged words and that the resident had threatened him and then called police.

Matthew Bleistein always carried a gun for protection, his brother said. When the police arrived, he threw the gun over the flood wall into the Merrimack River, Steve Bleistein theorized.

"I think he just panicked. He knew the cops were coming and wanted to avoid further problems," Steve Bleistein said. "But that's a guess. He never said a word to me about it."

Police didn't see him toss the gun into the river, either. They learned of his action only later, from his grandmother.
Afterward, Matthew Bleistein apparently wanted his gun back, so he went to a nearby Walmart, where he bought a nylon rope and pulley, O'Connell said.

"He purchased the rope to retrieve the gun," O'Connell said.

Sometime late last Friday or early Saturday, Matthew Bleistein apparently tied the rope around his waist and used the pulley to hoist himself over the wall and down toward the river. He had glow sticks and a flashlight attached to his head, police said.

Around 8 a.m. last Saturday, somebody walking near the wall saw the rope, which was attached to a nearby chain-link fence, and Matthew Bleistein's body.

Harbormaster Michael Vets used a boat to retrieve Matthew Bleistein's body. Vets estimated the distance from the top of the wall in the area where the body was found to be 10 to 12 feet from the water's surface at high tide and 15 to 16 feet at low tide.

A commenter reported that the harbormaster said if he had waited til low tide the gun would of only been in 3 feet of water and he could of waded to it and retrieved it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:15 PM | Permalink

Woman decapitated in Mexico

Woman journalist is decapitated by Mexican drugs cartel over comments she made on social networking site

Police found a woman's decapitated body in a Mexican border city on Saturday, alongside a handwritten sign saying she was killed in retaliation for her postings on a social networking site.

The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said on the internet.
the woman posted on the local social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, or 'Nuevo Laredo Live,' rather than her role at the newspaper, that resulted in her killing.

The site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points — possibly the information that angered the cartel.

The message found next to her body on the side of a main thoroughfare referred to the nickname the victim purportedly used on the site, 'La Nena de Laredo,' or 'Laredo Girl.'

Her head was found placed on a large stone piling nearby.

'Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours,' the message read.

'For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl...ZZZZ.'

The letter 'Z' refers to the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel, which is believed to dominate the city across from Laredo, Texas.

It was unclear how the killers found out her real identity.  By late Saturday, the chat room at Nuevo Laredo en Vivo was abuzz with fellow posters who said they knew the victim from her online postings, and railing against the Zetas, a gang founded by military deserters who have become known for mass killings and gruesome executions.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:16 PM | Permalink

September 23, 2011

Euthanasia hides behind a false mask of compassion

Wesley Smith writes Legal Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse.

He points to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and testimony relating to Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation by Marie-These Connolly, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  What she had to say is truly horrifying.  People with dementia suffer staggering rates of mistreatment.  A 2010 study in California found that 47% of people with dementia being cared for at home by family members were mistreated.

Then he points to a specific case of man who posed as a dedicated husband willing to risk jail to help his beloved wife who was suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis kill herself.

The Myrna Lebov assisted suicide–facilitated by her husband, George Delury to put her out of his misery– serves as an apt example of how easy it is to hide abuse behind a false mask of “compassion.”

Turns out his computer records show how he destroyed her will by making her feel worthless and a burden who kept him from living the life he wanted.  In the end he gave his wife enough drugs for overdose, but, anxious the drugs might not worked,  he murdered her by suffocating her with a plastic bag.

 Old Man's Hands Crutch

The Netherlands continues to be at the deadly edge of killing old people.  At least in Niger and Afghanistan, doctors are supposed to save lives, not take them. Not so in the Netherlands.

Could there be a worse place in the world to be a doctor than the Netherlands? Not because of the standard of its health care; it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. But because the professional association of Dutch physicians has decreed that euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s job.
Ten years after legalisation in the Netherlands, euthanasia for the terminally ill has become commonplace. Some elderly people are so afraid of being killed by doctors that they carry please-do-not-euthanse-me  cards. About 2,400 people officially die through euthanasia every year -- although the real number may be significantly higher because doctors often fail to do all the paperwork required by the government.

Now public debate has moved on to euthanasia for those who are weary of life but not ill and euthanasia for people with dementia and psychiatric conditions....If this is not a repudiation of all that doctors stand for, what is?

Living wills for people who want to live

BioEdge recently reported that nervous Nellies in the Netherlands were carrying “please DO resuscitate me” cards instead of “do not resuscitate” cards. Apparently they are worried about the possibility of involuntary euthanasia.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, In the Hand of God

Dr. Bernard Nathanson described himself as a man who "helped usher in this barbaric age" of abortion-on-demand, "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States."  As one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL), who admitted fabricating the numbers of illegal abortions and women killed from botched abortions, he paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
Ultrasound helped him see what pro-lifers knew -- the human being in the womb.  He committed his last abortion in 1979..... Science, reason, and human dignity changed his mind on abortion.  Love transformed his heart toward God.
He wrote of his two conversions in his autobiography, "The Hand of God."
[H]e feared a culture that endorses abortion would lead to industrial euthanasia.  "Drawing largely from my experience with a similar brand of pagan excess,
I predict that entrepreneurs will set up multiple small, discreet infirmaries for those who wish, have been talked into, coerced into, or medically deceived into death. ...

But that will only be the first phase.  As the thanatoria flourish and expand into chains and franchised operations, the accountants will eventually assume command, slashing expenses and overheads as competition grows.  The final streamlined, efficient, and economically flawless version of the thanatorium will resemble nothing so much as the assembly line factories that abortion clinics have become and - farther on down the slope - the ovens of Auschwitz."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 PM | Permalink

Harvesting Organs

Medical research institute accused of stealing 99 brains from organ donors

Anne Mozingo claims the institute removed her late husband's entire brain - along with its lining, plus his liver, spleen and pituitary gland - without her consent after he died of a brain aneurysm in 2000.

The lawsuit – which claims include infliction of emotional distress, fraud and negligent misrepresentation - accused the defendants of acting ‘beyond all possible bounds of decency.’
The institute denies any wrong doing and says it never knowingly obtained brains without full consent from next of kin.

It says it used a network of ‘brain harvesters’ in Maine and three other states to collect hundreds of brains for use in the study of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The term 'network of 'brain harvesters' is profoundly creepy.

Attack of the Euthanasia Organ Harvesters

So, let’s be clear: Mentally ill and disabled people are being euthanized and harvested in Belgium! But rather than an outcry, instead we merely have learned journal articles dispassionately describing the whole thing. To use a metaphor: Jack Kevorkian is euthanizing Hippocrates–and the world yawns. Unless the euthanasia organ harvest is outlawed, it will mark the end of medical morality.

Changes in controversial organ donation method stirs fears

Surgeons retrieving organs for transplant just after a donor’s heart stops beating would no longer have to wait at least two minutes to be sure the heart doesn’t spontaneously start beating again under new rules being considered by the group that coordinates organ allocation in the United States.

The organization is also poised to eliminate what many consider a central bulwark protecting patients in such already controversial cases: an explicit ban on even considering anyone for those donations before doctors and family members have independently decided to stop trying to save them.
Critics, however, say the move heightens the risk that potential donors will be treated more like tissue banks than like sick people deserving every chance to live, or to die peacefully.

“This is another step towards this idea of hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs,” said Michael A. Grodin, a professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University. “The bottom line is that they want to do everything they can to increase organ donation.”

You can't even wait 2 minutes for my heart to stop beating before you start harvesting organs?

If this is enacted, I'm going to revoke my organ donation directive. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink

Dolores Hope, wife of comedian Bob Hope, dies at age of 102

Dolores Hope, the 'first lady of the USO' on her husband's tours of duty

They met and fell in love at the height of the Great depression in 1933. Marrying and moving to California to further her husband's film and radio career, she kept her hand in show business while her husband, Bob Hope, became legendary. Dolores Hope has died at the age of 102.
Dolores Hope was active as a philanthropist and became known as the "first lady of the USO" as she helped entertain U.S. troops stationed overseas during wartime along with her husband. Dolores would usually close the shows with a rendition of "Silent Night." "They didn't come any more patriotic, caring or talented than Dolores," Carol Channing said. 

 Dolores Hope

Dolores last USO show performance was at the age 84, when she sang "White Christmas" to Operation Desert Storm troops from the back of a truck in the Saudi desert.

Proving that it was never too late to pick up a career thread, Dolores restarted her singing career at the age of 83 by recording several albums. She also performed with Rosemary Clooney at Rainbow and Stars in New York for several weeks.

A native New Yorker, Dolores DeFina was a singer at Manhattan's Vogue Club when she met Bob Hope in 1933. It was "love at first song," the biography quotes Bob Hope as saying. The couple married the following year and adopted four children.

London Telegraph obit

 Dolores Bob Hope

Having put her own career behind her, she concentrated on creating a stable home life for Bob Hope, who was invariably away on tour, and often abroad. “When we were celebrating our 50th anniversary, people would say: 'Fifty years?’ And Bob would say, 'Yeah, but I’ve only been home three weeks’,” Dolores Hope told an interviewer in 1995.

To mark their golden wedding anniversary she gave him a paperweight inscribed: “Don’t think these three weeks haven’t been fun.”

Bob Hope would try out new jokes on his wife and children, with Dolores, a devout Roman Catholic, deciding if they were suitable for a family audience.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:33 PM | Permalink

Spontaneous Human Combustion

Irishman dies of spontaneous human combustion coroner finds

Michael Faherty, 76, died in his own home and coroner Dr.Kieran Mcloughlin stated that in his 25 years of inquests he had never come across such a cause of death, the Irish Independent reports.

Faherty’s body was badly burnt but there was absolutely no source for the flames other than spontaneous combustion.

A senior police officer and fire officer said that they had completely ruled out that he had caught fire by any outside means.

Wikipedia on spontaneous human combustion, some explanations and two survivors

Two examples of people surviving static flash events[clarification needed] are given in a book on SHC.  Author John Heymer claims that the two subjects, Debbie Clark and Susan Motteshead, speaking independently and with no knowledge of each other, give similar histories.

In September 1985, Debbie Clark was walking home when she noticed an occasional flash of blue light.  As she claimed, "It was me. I was lighting up the driveway every couple of steps. As we got into the garden I thought it was funny at that point. I was walking around in circles saying: 'look at this, mum, look!' She started screaming and my brother came to the door and started screaming and shouting 'Have you never heard of spontaneous human combustion?'" Her mother, Dianne Clark, responded: "I screamed at her to get her shoes off and it [the flashes] kept going so I hassled her through and got her into the bath. I thought that the bath is wired to earth. It was a blue light you know what they call electric blue. She thought it was fun, she was laughing."

In winter 1980, Cheshire, England, resident Susan Motteshead was standing in her kitchen, wearing flame-resistant pajamas, when she was suddenly engulfed in a short-lived fire that seemed to have ignited the fluff on her clothing but burned out before it could set anything properly alight.

Some more reported cases here.

More possible explanations for the phenomenon at How Stuff Works. 

The first known account of spontaneous human combustion came from the Danish anatomist Thomas Bartholin in 1663, who described how a woman in Paris "went up in ashes and smoke" while she was sleeping. The straw mattress on which she slept was unmarred by the fire. In 1673, a Frenchman named Jonas Dupont published a collection of spontaneous combustion cases in his work "De Incendiis Corporis Humani Spontaneis."

The hundreds of spontaneous human combustion accounts since that time have followed a similar pattern: The victim is almost completely consumed, usually inside his or her home. Coroners at the scene have sometimes noted a sweet, smoky smell in the room where the incident occurred.

What makes the charred bodies in the photos of spontaneous human combustion so peculiar is that the extremities often remain intact. Although the torso and head are charred beyond recognition, the hands, feet, and/or part of the legs may be unburned. Also, the room around the person shows little or no signs of a fire, aside from a greasy residue that is sometimes left on furniture and walls. In rare cases, the internal organs of a victim remain untouched while the outside of the body is charred.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

The hit man who fell in love with his victim

He was hired by a housewife who wanted Iranildes ,whom she suspected of having an affair with her husband, killed.

But the Hired hit man fell in love with his victim...then faked her death with tomato ketchup

Hitman Carlos Roberto de Jesus, from Brazil, was paid £345 to murder Iranildes Aguiar Araujo.
But when de Jesus saw his intended victim he fell head over heels in love with her and confessed the plot.

The pair then conjured up a plan to fool his employer into believing he had carried out the hit.  The new lovers bought two bottles of ketchup from a local supermarket.

De Jesus then got his supposed victim to rip her shirt and grip a machete under her armpit.  He then taped her mouth up, tied her hands, smothered her with ketchup and got her to lie still on the floor as if she were dead.The ex-convict photographed Araujo and sent the picture to the 'cheated' wife saying he had killed her.
But the ruse was discovered three days later when Simoes saw the hired assassin kissing the very woman he was meant to have bumped off.  She then went to the police to complain he had stolen 1000 dollars from her.
The hitman and his 'victim"' faces extortion charges and the woman who hired him charges of making threats to kill.

Sheriff Lima said: 'In eight years of policing I've never heard anything like it.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2011

In limbo

When a loved one vanishes on a cruise, the family is in limbo.  Dead or missing?  Do they hold a funeral?  Collect on insurance?  Those families are living a nightmare.

Some 165 people have gone missing from cruise ships in recent years

‘It has been incredibly difficult, surreal really, and terrible for the children,’ she says. ‘In my heart I believe he is dead, that he is gone, that he somehow slipped and went overboard. I can’t think of any other explanation.

‘A search of the sea was carried out at the time, but nothing was found. I am told there are sharks in the area: it is very painful to think about.’

But is the idea of someone ‘slipping overboard’ credible? The rails on cruise ships are at least 3ft 6in high, which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone — even someone who might be drunk or ill — to pitch overboard.

‘Life goes on,’ she says. ‘I need money to pay the bills and we’ve lost John’s salary. John took out travel insurance and I’ve been on to the company to try to make a claim but they simply say: “What are you claiming for?”

‘Thomson haven’t given me any support, either. John was in their care, but I haven’t had so much as a letter from them. I can’t get a widow’s pension because we don’t know if John is dead.

‘We’re living a nightmare and we can’t see a way out of it. It is so unreal that we can’t grieve. We are in limbo. What do we do? Should we hold a funeral? But how can we if we’re not sure he’s dead?’
Are they the victims of a sinister crime wave? Have they had a mishap at sea and fallen overboard, or perhaps chosen to take their own lives?

The sad fact is that, in many cases, no one knows. And for the family and friends they left behind, that only compounds the heartache. Loved ones such as Ruth Halford and her children, who remain in limbo; bereft, baffled and unable to grieve.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:23 AM | Permalink

September 20, 2011

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms’’

Helping patients in their final moments

 Hospice Worker

As a hospice worker, Joe Ackerman is in the room when patients take their last breath. These moments, he said, are often filled with dignity and grace.

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms,’’ said Ackerman, 40, an administrator at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill. “You see the best in people at that time, and I leave with a sense of love and spirit that reaffirms life.’’

Patients come to a hospice when a cure is no longer possible for their illness, whether HIV, congestive heart failure, or neurological diseases. For cancer patients, hospice can be a peaceful end to depleting rounds of chemotherapy, and the pain and nausea that follows.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms’’

 Hospice Worker

Helping patients in their final moments

As a hospice worker, Joe Ackerman is in the room when patients take their last breath. These moments, he said, are often filled with dignity and grace.

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms,’’ said Ackerman, 40, an administrator at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill. “You see the best in people at that time, and I leave with a sense of love and spirit that reaffirms life.’’

Patients come to a hospice when a cure is no longer possible for their illness, whether HIV, congestive heart failure, or neurological diseases. For cancer patients, hospice can be a peaceful end to depleting rounds of chemotherapy, and the pain and nausea that follows.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms’’

 Hospice Worker

Helping patients in their final moments

As a hospice worker, Joe Ackerman is in the room when patients take their last breath. These moments, he said, are often filled with dignity and grace.

“It is an honor for me to be allowed in these rooms,’’ said Ackerman, 40, an administrator at the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill. “You see the best in people at that time, and I leave with a sense of love and spirit that reaffirms life.’’

Patients come to a hospice when a cure is no longer possible for their illness, whether HIV, congestive heart failure, or neurological diseases. For cancer patients, hospice can be a peaceful end to depleting rounds of chemotherapy, and the pain and nausea that follows.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:01 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2011

Good Grief

A Meditation of How Grief can be a Gift in Strange Package

Many years ago (1990) my sister died in a fire. She had been mentally ill all her life and I struggled to relate to her. In many ways I feared her. When I first got news she had died in the fire I just went numb. We in the family wondered if we might be able to view her body or not. The funeral director told us we could view her privately but since her skin has been singed in the fire it was too delicate to touch her. Further, because of this, he had not been able to adjust her face in any way. Nevertheless he thought she was presentable enough for the family to have a private viewing. We I looked upon my sister and saw her face it was very clear that she was crying when she died. For the first time in my life I wept for my sister and lamented the awful mental illness that had caused her such hardship. For the first time I understood her dignity. I guess I am sorry that it took her death for me to come to that appreciation and love of her. But that was the gift that my grief gave me, it intensified my love for my sister. I still cry from time to time when I think of that moment. It was painful but it was a gift and it remains so.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 PM | Permalink

"Electron Boy" dies at 14


Electron Boy lit up the lives of many

In real life he was Erik Martin, a Bellevue boy with a constellation of severe health problems and a rare form of cancer. But in his imagination he was Electron Boy, a superhero who saved Seattle from the forces of darkness and evil one spring day last year.

Erik died Friday at home. He was 14.

In April 2010, hundreds of volunteers in Seattle and Bellevue came together to make Erik's superhero story come true, in an elaborately choreographed event created by the Washington chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Wearing a handmade superhero costume that he had helped design, and riding in a DeLorean sports car, Erik rescued the Seattle Sounders from Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy. He saved a Puget Sound Energy (PSE) worker stuck in a bucket truck, rescued a group of people trapped on the observation deck of the Space Needle, and captured the villains, played to the hilt by Edgar Hansen and his sidekick Jake Anderson, both of Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch."

The story of his big wish went viral on the Internet. The foundation was swamped by people pledging money and offering to help other children with life-threatening illnesses see their dreams come true.

"Erik's wish just cast this net and brought them into the mission" of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, said spokeswoman Jeannette Tarcha. "People just wanted to be part of it."
"I'm just thinking about how fortunate I felt to be a part of his short and powerful little life," said Rob Burgess, a local actor who played Electron Boy's sidekick, Lightning Lad, on Erik's wish day.

Martin and his wife, Judy, who started caring for medically fragile foster children after their own two children were grown, began taking care of Erik when he was 6 weeks old. He was born with a malformed heart missing its right atrium and ventricle and required several surgeries to fix. He had no spleen, and sensory problems made him extremely sensitive to touch.

Three years ago, Erik was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called paraganglioma, which spread throughout his body and was not treatable with surgery or chemotherapy.

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to grant him his wish, Erik told wish manager Jessie Elenbaas that he wanted to do things he has never been able to do: to run fast, be powerful and help people.

"Everyone wants to see someone become a superhero for a day, especially someone struggling with as many issues as Erik was," she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:05 PM | Permalink

"I'm like a butterfly with broken wings"


He was only 39 when Spartacus actor Andy Whitfield died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, just 18 months after he was diagnosed. 

New York Times obituary

Andy Whitfield, who starred in the television series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” died on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
Mr. Whitfield, who was from Wales but lived in Australia, was a relatively unknown actor until he was chosen for the series, a sex- and blood-soaked version of the early life of the Thracian gladiator who led a slave rebellion against the Roman ruling class from 73 to 71 B.C.

Mr. Whitfield took what was supposed to be a temporary leave from the show, which was an instant hit after its January 2010 debut, after a routine check-up in March of that year revealed a recurrence of cancer.

His grieving wife Vashti revealed the star's final words
as he tried to comfort Jesse, six, and Indigo, four, on the last day of his life.

Vashti said he had told the children: 'I am going to go to sleep now as my body won't work any more. I am like a butterfly with broken wings.

'I will always be with you and will always be watching over you. I love you.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:24 PM | Permalink

September 16, 2011

Old Friends

Your personal legacy archives can help  Old Friends as  Robin of Berkeley found out when she put together a photo story book for her best friend who was stricken with a catastrophic illness, her mind now ravaged by disease.

I assembled a bunch of pictures of Teri and me throughout the decades. I put them together in a photo book, one that allowed me to write next to the picture who was the person in the frame. I’d write, “Here’s you and me and that hot guy, Jeff, that you dated.” Or, “Here we are looking all young and happy, the world being our oyster.”

My husband helped me put the whole project together. While he’s generally a stoic type, I saw him fighting back tears as he saw that every picture of Teri and me showed us holding each other, clinging to each other actually, like sisters, always so close in body and mind.

I can’t even imagine losing Teri, not just her but someone carrying our memories. I need someone else to hold with me the remembrances of when we were young, when we were carefree and naive, of all of our adventures and misadventures. I suppose I will one day be the one to hold the memories myself, which I will carry as close to my heart as I possibly can.

Sadly, it often takes disaster to snap us out of denial; it generally takes a loss or a potential loss to make us realize what life is really about: love and truth and strengthening our relationship with God every single day. And that true love never dies; that it remains alive in our hearts even when bodies turn to dust.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 PM | Permalink

What a letter can mean

He Had a Great Career

The sun shone brightly that September morning as the brothers stood next to the grave of their late father.  Just a few minutes before, the grave had been surrounded by family and their father’s business friends and their ears filled with the kind words of Father Benton, their parish priest.  These words of praise for their father’s life ringing in their ears left them feeling empty and uncomfortable as they stared at the granite headstone.

“I would only say this to you, but I don’t know how I should feel right now.”  Mike declared to Greg as they walked back to their car.  “Dad spent our entire lives on an airplane, chained to his office or playing golf with his buddies on the weekend.  I feel like we didn’t even know him.  I know this sounds selfish, but I feel cheated!”

Greg nervously took the pages from his mother’s hand and saw what looked to be a typed letter to him and his brother from their father.  It was dated September 12th- the day before he was found dead of a heart attack on the running trail near his office.  He began reading…
I have been reflecting a lot lately on my life and the kind of husband and father I have been.  It is probably no surprise to you that I give myself a failing grade.  I realize very clearly that I have not been there for you and your mother over the years.  It is easy to justify and rationalize our actions and I have done that for years.  I convinced myself that our big house, nice cars, great vacations and the lifestyle I provided for us was worth my slavish devotion to my career.  In many ways I am acting exactly like my own father.  I thought this justified all of my absences and the sacrifices I forced our family to make over the years.  I now realize that I have been living a lie… it was not worth it.
I want you to promise me something... Please learn from my example!  Be a better father, husband and steward than I was and don’t waste the years ahead of you.  I wish someone had gotten my attention when I was much younger and helped me not waste the greatest years of my life.  I hope to do that for you in the years ahead.

I have seen the light and I hope to make amends.  Again, please find it in your hearts to forgive me.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

Dwarf Porn Double Found Dead in Badger Den

Gordon Ramsay's Dwarf Porn Double Found Dead In A Badger Den

In a bizarre case that would have even CSI's top investigators stumped, a dwarf porn star who was Gordon Ramsay's doppelganger was found dead in a badger set in the U.K. has learned.

Percy Foster, star of X-rated movie Hi-Ho Hi-Ho, It's Up Your A**e We Go, was about to be rocketed into the ranks of celebrity porn lookalikes due to his resemblance to the Hell's Kitchen host when his partially eaten body was discovered in a badger's den.

According to a report in U.K. tabloid The Sunday Sport, the 3'6" actor was found "deep in an underground chamber by Ministry of Agriculture experts ahead of a planned badger-gassing program near Tregaron, west Wales."

Expert CSI teams had to use fingertip technology to remove his body from the six-foot-deep burrow, and investigators have not yet ruled out the possibility of suicide.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:07 PM | Permalink

Disemboweled and hanged for blogging


Tortured, disemboweled and hung from a bridge for tweeting: Couple killed by Mexican drug cartel as gruesome warning to bloggers who 'snitch' online

A couple have been found hanging from a bridge in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo after being disembowelled and mutilated by attackers.

The motive for the gruesome attack was to warn social media users not to criticise Mexican drug cartels on the internet.

Next to the battered bodies was a sign reading: ‘This is going to happen to all those posting funny things on the internet, You better (expletive) pay attention. I’m about to get you.’
Over the last five years more than 34,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the country.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

September 15, 2011

Death by mouthwash


Dental patient, 30, 'turned blue and died after swilling mouthwash led to fatal allergic reaction'

A young woman died after suffering a fatal reaction to mouthwash while she was sitting in the dentist's chair, an inquest heard yesterday.

Sacha Rumaner, 30, was undergoing routine treatment and was not under anaesthetic when she went into shock at the Morley Street dental clinic in Brighton, East Sussex, on February 2, this year.

She complained of feeling hot and having an itchy leg and back moments before collapsing and sliding off the chair on to the surgery floor.

Within just a few minutes she was dead, after her dentist missed the warning signs that Miss Rumaner was suffering an anaphylactic shock.

The Brighton inquest heard she had been given a rinse with household mouthwash Corsodyl to treat a possible infection a week after she had a tooth removed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:58 AM | Permalink

September 14, 2011

"We were like 'wow'"

Many baby boomers don't plan to leave their children an inheritance
Unlike previous generations, some baby boomers believe they've already given their children enough, and they plan to spend the money they've saved on themselves.

Upending the conventional notion of parents carefully tending their financial estates to be passed down at the reading of their wills, many baby boomers say they instead plan to spend the money on themselves while they're alive.

In a survey of millionaire boomers by investment firm U.S. Trust, only 49% said it was important to leave money to their children when they die. The low rate was a big surprise for a company that for decades has advised wealthy people how to leave money to their heirs.

"We were like 'wow,'" said Keith Banks, U.S. Trust president.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:06 PM | Permalink

They died in their sleep...of SUNDS

The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect: When Intense Belief Kills

They died in their sleep one by one, thousands of miles from home. Their median age was 33. All but one -- 116 of the 117 -- were healthy men. Immigrants from southeast Asia, you could count the time most had spent on American soil in just months. At the peak of the deaths in the early 1980s, the death rate from this mysterious problem among the Hmong ethnic group was equivalent to the top five natural causes of death for other American men in their age group.

Something was killing Hmong men in their sleep, and no one could figure out what it was. There was no obvious cause of death. None of them had been sick, physically. The men weren't clustered all that tightly, geographically speaking. They were united by dislocation from Laos and a shared culture, but little else. Even House would have been stumped.

Doctors gave the problem a name, the kind that reeks of defeat, a dragon label on the edge of the known medical world: Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome. SUNDS. It didn't do much in terms of diagnosis or treatment, but it was easier to track the periodic conferences dedicated to understanding the problem.

Twenty-five years later, Shelley Adler's new book pieces together what happened, drawing on interviews with the Hmong population and analyzing the extant scientific literature. Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind Body Connection is a mind-bending exploration of how what you believe interacts with how your body works. Adler, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, comes to a stunning conclusion: In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their beliefs in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia.


Nightmare image from Cure Byte with news about clinical trials aimed to treat nightmares

Sleep paralysis or "nocturnal pressing spirit attacks" or mixture of brain states?

Across cultures, night-mare visits play out in very similar ways. Victims experience the strange feeling of being "awake." While they have a realistic perception of their environment, they can't move. Worse, they feel an "overwhelming fear and dread" accompanied by chest pressure and difficulty breathing. Scientists have a pretty good grasp of how all of this happens. The paralysis, the feeling of pressure on the chest, all that is explained quite nicely within the scientific models of sleep. During sleep paralysis, a person experiences an "out of sequence" REM state. In REM sleep, we dream and our minds shut off the physical control of the body; we're supposed to be temporarily paralyzed. But we are not supposed to be conscious in REM sleep. Yet that is precisely what happens during sleep paralysis: it is a mix of brain states that are normally held separate.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:06 PM | Permalink

The Cloud of Witnesses

From an interview by Kathryn Lopez of Father George Rutler, Priest Walks among the Dead

Lopez: Is there a literal cloud of witnesses?

FATHER RUTLER: I do not know how people see in Heaven, without biological eyes, but their vision is better than 20/20. They see the essence of each other. Whatever that essence is, we can only surmise that it is akin to what was seen by Jesus when he looked into the hearts of men. In that sense, the “cloud of witnesses” consists of people who have become with inexpressible vividness what they were meant to be in this world.
Lopez: “It is an indictment of our time that [saints] are largely ignored, almost self-consciously so by our schools”?

FATHER RUTLER: No explanation, sociological or psychological or anthropological, can adequately explain how saints get to be saints. They are the evidence of divine grace, and to acknowledge their existence is to acknowledge that grace. So most of our schools prefer to destroy the evidence. Thus the greatest people who ever lived are treated nervously or ignored altogether. This is the biggest and most blatant lacuna in our curricula. For instance, how many Ph.D’s have ever heard of St. Lawrence of Brindisi? Yet, a good case may be made for saying that there would be no Doctors of Philosophy today, and no civilization at all as we know it, had it not been for him.
Lopez: What’s the most important lesson these people all helped impress upon you?

FATHER RUTLER: They only proved to me the doctrine of the greatest doctors of souls from Basil to Augustine to Newman: Each human soul is worth more than the entire universe.

Lopez: Is the main point of your book to love one another?

FATHER RUTLER: Yes, of course. But it is much easier to love one another than to like one another. I am happy that we are not commanded to do the latter.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:27 PM | Permalink

September 12, 2011

The 9/11 Memorial in NYC

 Tributelight, Memtower Ladylib

'It was a huge relief to see that it's actually beautiful': 9/11 Memorial opens to first members of the public

The plot of land known for a decade as Ground Zero today opened to the public for the first time since that terrible morning in 2001, transformed into a memorial consisting of two serene reflecting pools ringed by the chiselled-in-bronze names of the nearly 3,000 souls lost.

Visitors were allowed to walk among hundreds of white oak trees on the eight-acre site and gaze at the water on the exact spots where the World Trade Center's twin towers stood.

From The Big Picture: Ground Zero Sept 11. 2001 -September 11. 2011

 Opening Ground Zero-1

 9:11Memorial North Pool

 Twopresidents Groundzero

Kathryn Lopez writes in 'Raised with Christ' on 9/11

Growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time at St. Francis of Assisi Church, steps away from Madison Square Garden, the home parish of Fr. Mychal Judge, who rushed to the scene that day ten years ago. There is a memorial there now, with a foundation of three pieces of steel from the World Trade Center. But what the eye is drawn to is the artistic addition. As one description puts it: “A single golden rose rises gently from the mass of contorted steel and transcends the senseless brutality with an enduring promise of hope.”

 Frmychalljudgememorial Stfrancisassisichurchnyc

We are a creative people, and we reach for hope using our talents. But ultimately, we don’t have to create a thing. Before all else, there is the cross, which points to Christ, our source of hope.

As New York Jesuit Fr. James Martin recently wrote: “God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That's how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.”

 Wtc-Cross Light

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:47 PM | Permalink

September 11, 2011

Grief at Ground Zero and Shanksville

I'm of the same mind as The Anchoress in Calling Olly Olly Oxen Free at Ground Zero

In Shanksville, Pennsylvania and in New York City, two new memorials were unveiled, and all of the dignitaries involved, Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, Vice-President Biden and Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, participated with great dignity. In New York they even managed to add a bit of scripture and prayer, which were effective amid the poignant moments of silence.

But had the ceremony progressed from its opening, to include a few remarks from first responder representatives, and perhaps a bit of music, and then an official proclamation of the opening of the memorial garden, with an invitation to the families to linger there for as long as they wished, it might have been a more powerful, and perhaps healthier remembrance than the six hours that followed, which were moving until (as family members began to top each other in declarations of love and remembrance) they became numbing; until (when it appeared a women meant to name all 11 of her grandchildren and tell her dearly departed what each had been up to since last they’d chatted) it seemed like we were barreling toward self-indulgent grief porn, from which we should avert our eyes.

For the families of the passengers on Flight 93 and for many of the families of victims whose remains were never found, the opening of the two memorials was the first time they could ever visit something like grave and for them the memorials are the cemeteries of their loved ones who died on 9/11.

'We'll never forget, we'll never forget, we'll never forget': The heart-wrenching words of the broken father who has become the symbol of a nation's grief

Overwhelmed by emotion to the point of collapse, he is the broken father who has come to symbolise a nation's grief.

Robert Peraza lost his son on 9/11 after he was trapped on the 104th floor of the North Tower, just above the gaping hole left in the building by the impact of American Airlines flight 11.

Although ten years have passed since his son Rob came down with the towers, Mr Peraza showed just how strong the feeling of loss still is for those who lost a loved one that day.

 9:11 Memorial Robert Peraza

Mr Peraza said he did not have to look hard for his son's name on the memorial - he was somehow just drawn to it.

'I just began to walk, and I found it,' he said.

'It was, to me, very emotional to find the name. I knew it was in the north pool. It’s very moving.'

He added: 'All I am doing here is to honour his memory. The issue isn’t about me.'

The Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 will likely be the last time we see such private grief on public display. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

September 10, 2011

Critics assess the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero before its opening

These critics reviewed the Ground Zero memorial before it opened.

Michael J. Lewis on America resumed: 9/11/ remembered

Violent acts such as bombings or shootings tend to be swift events, and it is usually only the grisly aftermath that finds its way to television. But the prolonged destruction of the World Trade Center, from the televised airplane impact to the final shuddering collapses, offered prolonged images of unusual graphic clarity.
In one other respect was the experience without precedent: the destruction was witnessed by an audience with an acute and immediate sense of personal danger, a fact that is not sufficiently appreciated.

The architects for the memorial came up against a transformed public sensibility that they no longer recognized. Accustomed as they were to adulation and critical respect for their transgressive gestures, they were caught off guard by the intensity of the public wrath.
The one thing the public did demand, and in the most vehement terms, was a solemn and respectful memorial to the dead.


Here, for once, the authorities moved efficiently, selecting a design in 2003 and rushing it through to completion this month, although at the rather astonishing cost of nearly half a billion dollars. It now opens as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center, and, in many respects, it is commendable. It has a austere dignity appropriate to its site and character: within the footprints of the towers, a perpetual internal waterfall flows, surrounded by stone tablets on which are incised the names of the dead. The flowing water gives a welcome living note to what would otherwise be a place of nearly unbearable oppressiveness.

With its air of tragic dignity, the September 11 Memorial is better than might have been expected.
In the end, there is something distressing about making a monument out of a calamitous national defeat.
The buildings and institutions that were targeted on that day were chosen as symbols of American national identity; those who were murdered were not collateral casualties but were killed in their capacity as Americans. The entire framework of the attack was a deliberate and focused assault on those objects that stood for the American government and American capitalism. (Although the target of United 93 is sometimes said to have been the White House, it was surely headed for the United States Capitol, a far more conspicuous—and realistic—target for a novice pilot). But if the context of the event was explicitly American, this was precisely the terrain on which the arbiters of American culture—at least a substantial faction—felt themselves uneasy. Feelings of national solidarity, the sense of personal participation in the fate of one’s nation-state, have so long been disparaged as jingoism that even those artists who felt unaccountable patriotic stirrings found themselves utterly unable to make artistic use of them.
But it is also because of a taboo, imposed gradually and imperceptibly over the past few decades, about expressing strong emotions in national terms—other than that of grief.

Edward Rothstein, Amid the Memorials, Ambiguity and Ambivalence

Has any attack in history ever been commemorated the way this one is about to be? What might we have anticipated, that morning of Sept. 11, as we watched the demonically choreographed assault unfold? What could we have imagined when New York City was covered in the ashes of the twin towers and their dead, or when a section of the Pentagon — the seemingly invulnerable core of the world’s most powerful military — was reduced to rubble? Or when we finally understood that but for the doomed bravery of several heroes, the destruction of the Capitol or the White House was assured?
The sheer quantity of cultural events is overwhelming; so is their scattered miscellany, a potpourri of sentiment and argument, memorialization and self-criticism, reflection and political polemic. It seems as if every cultural institution, television network and book publisher feels duty-bound to produce some sort of Sept. 11 commemoration. Is there a precedent for this almost compulsive variety show about an attack on a nation’s people?
That impulse of self-blame still runs through many cultural commemorations. Indeed, because little during the past decade was an unmitigated triumph, the impulse has even grown stronger. A poll from the Pew Charitable Trust this week shows that while in September 2001, 33 percent of those asked thought United States wrongdoing might have motivated the attacks, now 43 percent hold that belief. Many of the Sept. 11 books now being published are sentimental recollections of loved ones; another hefty segment is about criticism of American policy before and after Sept. 11.

This means that memorialization, rather than simply recalling the dead, or strengthening the resolve to pursue an enemy, becomes an opportunity to push these arguments further. Disaster becomes ambiguously commemorated. Any victory is also ambiguously celebrated because it is seen as scarred by sin (though surely no victory is ever unmarred). The delays in the reconstruction at ground zero are as much a result of these tensions as anything else.
Moreover, they stress that commemorations here and abroad should “emphasize the positive.” The implication is made that at one time “fear” was the response to Sept. 11; now “resilience” is.
The memos almost treat Sept. 11 as if it weren’t Sept. 11. It is certainly not about Islamist extremism or the jihadist proclamations by its aspirants. It isn’t even really about us. We are told: “We honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation of the world.
Indeed, so anxious is the White House to filter out any historical aspects of Sept. 11 that it proclaims this anniversary “the third official National Day of Service and Remembrance.” It should be used to encourage “service projects” and a “spirit of unity.”

Daniel Greenfield on Memorials of Grief

It was around the time of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, that memorials stopped being remembrances of virtue, and became therapy sessions. The old statues of determined men gave way to empty spaces to represent loss. Their lessons of courage and sacrifice, were replaced by architecture as therapy session, clean geometrical shapes, reflective pools and open areas in which to feel grief at what was lost and then let go of it.

September 11 memorials have inevitably followed this same pattern, empty spaces, still pools of water groves and names tastefully inscribed in row after row. How do you tell the Ground Zero memorial from the Oklahoma City memorial? The Oklahoma City memorial has one reflecting pool and the September 11 memorial has two pools.

Forgetfulness is the underlying theme of everything. Stop being angry. Stop being vengeful. Forget!
Drown history in enough reflecting pools and it stops mattering. Put up enough empty benches and people will remember to forget. Tell them that they're courageous for moving on and they'll admire themselves for putting it all behind them. And if they won't forget, then fill them with grief until they can't take it anymore and willingly forget.
We don't need more holes in the ground, more places to feel empty and alone. What we need are things to aspire to. The World Trade Center's towers were not targets of convenience, no more than the Saudi and Emirati skyscraper building spree is. Towers are symbols of achievement. They are guardians of the skyline who remind us of what we can accomplish.

The terrorists and the memorialmakers have a common purpose-- to make us forget what we are capable of.
Grief is for the foregone conclusion. But though thousands upon thousands are lost-- we are not yet lost. And the war is not over
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

September 7, 2011

Mid-air collision

Pilot dies after his plane hits aircraft flown by his girlfriend as they speak to each other via radio

The couple were talking to each other from separate planes when they crashed over Nightmute, Alaska.  The girlfriend survived; the pilot didn't.

Sprague, of Idaho, told the investigator she was dating Veal, who reportedly was going through a divorce, Johnson said.

'They meet up in the air,' Johnson told the Anchorage Daily News.

'There's some manoeuvring that's done en route at about 1,200 feet (above sea level). The 207 pilot loses track of where the 208 is.'

'The next thing she knows is his air-plane strikes her right wing, and nearly severs the right wing,' Johnson said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:05 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2011

Sante Muerte

The Rise of the Cult of Death

Her shrines can be found in the lairs of the most violent criminal gangs, her worshipers are known to have committed verified human sacrifices, and her cult has spread from secret temples in rural Mexico to almost every large city in America. Santa Muerte — the death goddess of Mexican narco-cults — has arrived in America and established a foothold in our communities that will be impossible to dislodge. While many are rightfully concerned about jihadists crossing our southern border, there is another death cult spreading among us that is just as dangerous as Islamic terrorists.

The origins of the Santa Muerte cult are a mystery even to adherents...Worshipers claim that this “saint” is actually the goddess Mictecacíhuatl, who was said to eat the dead and was worshiped by skinning human sacrifices alive.

Little wonder that the Catholic Church officially describes the veneration of Santa Muerte as devil worship. Still, many Mexicans who consider themselves Catholic make offerings to the black goddess for protection, success, or vengeance.
Santa Muerte shrines have increasingly been found among gang related businesses such as drug trafficking and prostitution rings, especially businesses run by MS-13,the Latin Kings, and the 18th Street gang. The shrines are used both to supernaturally aid the worshipers and to terrorize the communities they are in.
The veneration of Santa Muerte is a magical tradition that has little in the way of moral or philosophical instruction. Instead it simply transmits a series of rites designed to appease a being devotees think is an ancient goddess of death who once demanded people be killed in horrible ways to appease her. And while not all of the cultists commit crimes, a significant number of them come from the ranks of violent gangs, the virulently racist and anti-Semitic Reconquista movement, and impressionable dabblers in the occult seeking thrills.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2011


A new way of disposing of dead bodies and bringing new meaning to the phrase, "circling the drain"

Sounds creepy to me since the wastewater goes down the drain and then is "reclaimed" to water lawns and golf courses.

Funeral of the future: 'Liquefaction' unit unveiled in Florida that dissolves dead bodies

A Florida funeral home is the first in the world to have a commercial 'liquefaction' unit that dissolves dead bodies.

The cremation alternative uses a process called resomation, which uses water and alkali rather than high heat to quickly decompose a body.

The dead body, enclosed in a silk or woollen coffin is placed in the steel chamber with potassium hydroxide and water.

The temperature is set to 180C and the pressure is raised, dissolving the body in two to three hours.  The process is claimed to use only a seventh of the energy of a traditional cremation.

Sandy Sullivan, who makes the liquefaction units, said: 'Unlike flame cremation, it's not using combustion, it uses a water and alkali process, and that process will chemically reduce the body to ash.'

The first liquefaction chamber has been installed at the Anderson-McQueen funeral home in St Petersburg.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 PM | Permalink

September 1, 2011

They didn't know it was the last day of their lives

Death can come at any time,  unexpectedly like a thief in the night. 

Each of these people woke up in the morning, not knowing it was the last day of their lives.   

Spanish man on pilgrimage to give thanks for recovery from a car crash is run over and killed a mile into the journey.

A year earlier, he had been injured in a road accident and made a full recovery.

So the man decided to make a pilgrimage to a shrine to give thanks for his survival – only to be knocked down and killed by a car less than a mile into his trek.

The 40-year-old Spanish man died instantly after being hit by the vehicle just 20 minutes into his journey.

Killed too were his two companions by a driver who had probably fallen asleep at the wheel.

Father and Son Die of Heart Attacks an Hour Apart

Charles Sr, 84, died of a heart attack while watching the Pittsburgh Steelers' preseason game on television.   

His son, Charles Jr, 54, was at that game.  When he learned of his father's death, he rushed out of Heinz field with his wife when he suddenly felt chest pains and suffered a heart attack of his own and died in the parking lot.

There's the 29-year-old cyclist who died after getting run over by car near her Brooklyn home

Erica Abbott was pedaling her bike southbound on Bushwick Ave. and rode through a construction site near Powers St. about 7 p.m., police and witnesses said.

Abbott suddenly lost her balance near a pile of loose wood on the street after a car horn honked and she turned her head, witnesses said.

The cyclist, who was wearing a helmet, fell toward traffic and a 2002 Mercedes-Benz ran her over, police and witnesses said.

-Mourning Angel

Momento mori Remember you will die.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:36 PM | Permalink