March 29, 2013

Jesus of Nazareth, obituary

 Obit Jesus

From the blog Stories, etc.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2013

Rabbi Herschel Schacter, R.I.P.

Rabbi Who Cried to the Jews of Buchenwald: ‘You Are Free’

The smoke was still rising as Rabbi Herschel Schacter rode through the gates of Buchenwald.

It was April 11, 1945, and Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army had liberated the concentration camp scarcely an hour before. Rabbi Schacter, who was attached to the Third Army’s VIII Corps, was the first Jewish chaplain to enter in its wake.

That morning, after learning that Patton’s forward tanks had arrived at the camp, Rabbi Schacter, who died in the Riverdale section of the Bronx on Thursday at 95 after a career as one of the most prominent Modern Orthodox rabbis in the United States, commandeered a jeep and driver. He left headquarters and sped toward Buchenwald.

By late afternoon, when the rabbi drove through the gates, Allied tanks had breached the camp. He remembered, he later said, the sting of smoke in his eyes, the smell of burning flesh and the hundreds of bodies strewn everywhere.

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In Buchenwald that April day, Rabbi Schacter said afterward, it seemed as though there was no one left alive. In the camp, he encountered a young American lieutenant who knew his way around.

“Are there any Jews alive here?” the rabbi asked him.

He was led to the Kleine Lager, or Little Camp, a smaller camp within the larger one. There, in filthy barracks, men lay on raw wooden planks stacked from floor to ceiling. They stared down at the rabbi, in his unfamiliar military uniform, with unmistakable fright.

“Shalom Aleichem, Yidden,” Rabbi Schacter cried in Yiddish, “ihr zint frei!” — “Peace be upon you, Jews, you are free!” He ran from barracks to barracks, repeating those words. He was joined by those Jews who could walk, until a stream of people swelled behind him.

As he passed a mound of corpses, Rabbi Schacter spied a flicker of movement. Drawing closer, he saw a small boy, Prisoner 17030, hiding in terror behind the mound.

“I was afraid of him,” the child would recall long afterward in an interview with The New York Times. “I knew all the uniforms of SS and Gestapo and Wehrmacht, and all of a sudden, a new kind of uniform. I thought, ‘A new kind of enemy.’ ”

With tears streaming down his face, Rabbi Schacter picked the boy up. “What’s your name, my child?” he asked in Yiddish.

“Lulek,” the child replied.

“How old are you?” the rabbi asked.

“What difference does it make?” Lulek, who was 7, said. “I’m older than you, anyway.”

“Why do you think you’re older?” Rabbi Schacter asked, smiling.

“Because you cry and laugh like a child,” Lulek replied. “I haven’t laughed in a long time, and I don’t even cry anymore. So which one of us is older?”

Rabbi Schacter discovered nearly a thousand orphaned children in Buchenwald. He and a colleague, Rabbi Robert Marcus, helped arrange for their transport to France — a convoy that included Lulek and the teenage Elie Wiesel — as well as to Switzerland, a group personally conveyed by Rabbi Schacter, and to Palestine.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:24 AM | Permalink

March 27, 2013

Rent a Mourner

 Prof Lady Mourners

image from Connectingdirectors.com

Mourners-for-rent hired to blub at funerals

British mourners are renting "professional sobbers" to blub at funerals to make people believe the deceased was really popular.

For £45 an hour, the fake mourners can be rented to cry for the duration of a funeral service in order to swell the numbers at funerals.  Ian Robertson, the founder of Rent-a-Mourner, in Braintree, Essex, admits the idea may be unfamiliar to the British, although the phenomenon is popular in places such as Asia.

The mourners-for-hire are briefed on the life of the deceased and would be able to talk to friends and relatives as if they really had known their loved one.
Rent-a-Mourner has 20 staff on its books to hire out for funerals, which Mr Robertson said were friends of his rather than professional actors.  He added that they are not required to well up, but are mainly there just to make up the numbers.

"We were actually inspired by the market growth in China," said Mr Robertson.
"The Middle Eastern way is to provide wailers - crying women - as opposed to the quiet, dignified methods we use.

"Our staff will meet with the client beforehand and agree 'the story', so our staff will either have known the deceased professionally or socially. They will be informed of the deceased's background, achievements, failures etc. so they can converse with other mourners with confidence."

Mr Robertson set up Rent-a-Mourner in January last year, and said he has had 52 bookings since the company began, with 15 in the first six months.
"It is growing in the UK - our bookings are up 50 per cent year on year," he said.
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Birtles, the founder of personal finance site MoneyMagpie.com, said: "Hiring a stranger to weep at a funeral may seem strange, but it's a deep-seated tradition in the East.
"It's still a niche market at the moment but demand for professional mourners is increasing year on year as more people from East Asian and Middle Eastern countries move to the UK, bringing their customs with them.

"The rise in popularity shows a cultural shift taking place in how we choose to pay our last respects and like with many other cultural imports, it's only a matter of time before it crosses over into mainstream culture."

"At the moment it's not the sort of thing most people can treat as a career, but if it continues to increase in popularity then crying on demand could soon become a highly-prized skill."

This is not a joke, but a real firm with a real website. 

                         Rent A Mourner

Graeme Archer comments on the sad truth that too many people die alone, that is, not at the instant of death; but alone for the years which precede it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2013

Invite to cremated remains

Truman Capote's cremated remains invited to attend 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' Broadway premier

Broadway producers who want big stars at their premier usually want ones with a pulse.
But the folks who put Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway wanted the late author cremated remains at the play premier’s after party, since Capote himself couldn't make it.  They even went so far as to offer the ashes—and their owner—a flight from Los Angeles to New York for the show.

A source of the New York Post confirmed the bizarre offer.  ‘We did try to get him here,’ the source said. ‘We thought it would have been poignant for the entire company.’
Former wife of Johnny Carson, Joanne Carson, keeps the In Cold Blood author’s remains in the Bel Air bedroom where he died in 1984. The two were close friends up until his death and Carson has seen the ashes argued over, stolen, returned, and nearly stolen again over the years.

The ashes were famously boosted during Carson’s 1988 Halloween party, along with $200,000 worth of jewelry.  However, they were mysteriously returned shortly thereafter.

The ghoulish invite was declined.  When I was checking the spelling of 'ghoulish', I found that the term 'ghoul' comes from the Arabic, gul, a desert demon believed to rob graves and devour corpses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:24 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2013

He almost died except for the kindness of strangers and the efficiency and compassion of the American health care system

A writer for the Atlantic, Ta-Nishi Coates was on a train to Boston when he ate a bad nut and almost died.

[I] went into anaphylactic shock.  A doctor who happened to be seated nearby shot me up with an epipen. The train made an emergency stop in New London where the paramedics were waiting. I was shivering crazily, which was better than the bullets I'd been sweating moments before. The doc told me it was the adrenaline. I kept apologizing. I couldn't believe I was making a scene on the Quiet Car.
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When I got the hospital the doctors took great care of me. Two points: First, my theory of assholes clearly should be revised; the kindness of strangers is always amazing. Second, America, whatever its flaws, is very often amazing in its efficiency and compassion. It did not escape my mind that in some other place I might have died. This is not chest-thumping or jingoism. It is a fact of my residency.
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When I fell out on the train, everyone on the car was white. So were all the paramedics and all the doctors and nurses.
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What I know is I live in a time that people who made me possible only dreamed of. And then yesterday I almost lost it all.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

“Grief sorts out and realigns those around the grief-struck; how friends are tested; how some pass, some fail.”

In a review of Julian Barnes new book, Levels of Love, Hannah Furness writes how Barnes was disappointed in how friends reacted to his wife's death.

The author, a former Man Booker Prize winner, worked out precise details while grieving for Pat Kavanagh, his wife of 30 years.

In his new novel, Levels of Life, he writes for the first time about coping with her death from cancer, aged 68, in 2008, and attacks friends whom he believes were too cowardly to speak her name
He describes Kavanagh, a literary agent, as “the heart of my life; the life of my heart”.

He goes on to note: “Grief sorts out and realigns those around the grief-struck; how friends are tested; how some pass, some fail.”

He adds: “You might expect those closest to you in age and sex and marital status to understand best. What a naivety. I remember a 'dinner-table conversation’ in a restaurant with three married friends of roughly my age.

“Each had known her for many years – perhaps 80 or 90 in total – and each would have said, if asked, that they loved her. I mentioned her name; no one picked it up. I did it again, and again nothing. Perhaps the third time I was deliberately trying to provoke, being p----- off at what struck me not as good manners but cowardice.

“Afraid to touch her name, they denied her thrice, and I thought the worse of them for it.
” Barnes, who has been known for more cryptic works, also admitted considering suicide after her death…..But he decided his end would be akin to a second death of his wife, since he was “her principal rememberer”.

Remember:  A person who is grieving the loss of a loved one, likes to talk about the departed.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:12 PM | Permalink

March 21, 2013

The Deposition: A Maelstrom of Grief

A Maelstrom of Grief

Il Rosso Fiorentino's hands-down masterpiece, a 12-foot-tall "Deposition" painted in 1521, is located somewhat pleasantly off the beaten track in the Tuscan hilltop town of Volterra. It's an easy day trip from either Siena or Florence. The arch-topped painting resides in the quiet Pinacoteca Comunale, which even in the summer, when tourists wander around Volterra, can seem deserted. For a work of art almost half a millennium old, however, it's shockingly modern. The phrase that surprisingly popped into my head when I first saw it was "WPA mural." But the little interior voice murmuring those words to me meant them as a compliment. Let me explain….

The Deposition in full resolution

           Rosso Fiorentino Deposition

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

“I’m not going to be here forever and I want Zac to know me”

Roger Ailes on his looming death and the mementos he's collected to leave his son.  Excerpts from the new book, Roger Ailes Off Camera by Zev Chafets

One day in his office, Ailes showed me a photo of Zac in a school play. The boy was made up as Teddy Roosevelt, in a suit and a fake mustache. Ailes studied the picture wistfully. The most painful fact of Ailes’s life is that he isn’t likely to see his son as a grown man. “I never really knew much about my father’s life, what it was really like,” he says. “I’m not going to be here forever and I want Zac to know me.”

Since Zac was four, Ailes has been putting things away for him in memory boxes; there are now nine, stuffed with mementos, personal notes, photos, and messages from Ailes to his son. They are meant to be opened when Ailes is gone. I was curious to see what Ailes was leaving behind. He was reluctant to show me, but he finally brought one of the boxes to his office. I had been expecting an ornate trunk, but it turned out to be nothing more than a large plastic container stuffed with what appeared to be a random assortment of memorabilia. There was a pocket-size copy of the U.S. Constitution in which Ailes had written, “The founders believed it and so should you”; photos of Zac and Ailes’s wife Beth on family vacations; an itinerary of their trip to the White House Christmas party; and a sentimental 14th-anniversary card from Beth (“It’s important for him to know that his mommy loved his daddy,” Ailes said), on which he had scrawled a note to Zac: “Your mother is a beautiful woman. Always take care of her.” I saw a printed program from a Fourth of July celebration in Garrison in which father and son had read patriotic texts aloud, a few articles and press releases about Ailes’s career, and a couple of biographies of Ronald Reagan. Tossed in with the other stuff was a plain brown envelope that contained $2,000 in cash and a note: “Here’s the allowance I owe you,” which Ailes said was an inside joke sure to make his son smile. There were also a few symbolic gold coins, “just in case everything goes to hell,” he told me. “If you have a little gold and a handgun, you can always get across the Canadian border.” Zac is still too young for a pistol, but he sometimes accompanies his father to the shooting range at West Point for target practice.

At the bottom of the box there was a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War with paternal advice inscribed on the first page:

Z—
Avoid war if at all possible but never give up your freedom—or your honor. Always stand for what is right.
If absolutely forced to fight, then fight with courage and win. Don’t try to win … win!
Love, Dad

“This is advice Zac might need to hear from me in 10 years and I won’t be here to give it to him,” Ailes said as he closed the box. “I’ve told him, if he has a problem or he feels he needs me, to go off to a quiet place and listen, and he will hear my voice.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:43 AM | Permalink

March 18, 2013

When dealing with hospice and the end of life cuts close

Two people, knowledgeable and experienced in end-of-life issues for other people, deal with those terrible questions personally.

For a Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call

Mr. Brenner’s voice had already weakened when I spoke with him briefly a couple of weeks ago. He was only 73, but 18 months of declining health and months spent in hospitals and nursing homes had sapped his strength. Still, when I asked how many people he thought he had helped to die, I could hear a quiet pride in his response. “Oh, thousands,” he said.

For more than 25 years, starting in the late 1970s when the word “hospice” still drew blank looks (and years before hospice became a Medicare benefit), Mr. Brenner led nonprofit hospice organizations. Yet when his health faltered, choosing to become a hospice patient himself proved unexpectedly difficult. That’s what I wanted to talk about.

A Mother's Death Tested Reporter's Thinking About End-Of-Life Care

My father and sister looked to me for my thoughts. In our family, after all, I'm the go-to guy for all things medical. I've been a health care reporter for 15 years: at the The Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times and now ProPublica. And since I have a relatively good grasp on America's complex health care system, I was the one to help my parents sign up for their Medicare drug plans, research new diagnoses and question doctors about their recommended treatments.

In this situation, like so many before, I was expected to have some answers. Yet none of my years of reporting had prepared me for this moment, this decision. In fact, I began to question some of my assumptions about the health care system.....

We knew her end-of-life wishes: She had told my dad that she didn't want to be artificially kept alive if she had no real chance of a meaningful recovery. But what was a real chance? What was a meaningful recovery? How did we know if the doctors and nurses were right? In all my reporting, I'd never realized how little the costs to the broader health care system matter to the family of a patient. When that patient was my mother, what mattered was that we had to live with whatever decision we made. And we wouldn't get a chance to make it twice.
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I asked Fisher: Did he consider what my family did a waste of money?  No, he said. And he wouldn't have found fault with us if we decided to keep my mom on a ventilator for another week or two, although he said my description of her neurological exams and test results sounded pessimistic.

"You never need to rush the decision-making," he told me. "It should always be about making the right decision for the patient and the family. … We have plenty of money in the U.S. health care system to make sure that we're supporting families in coming to a decision that they can all feel good about. I feel very strongly about that."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:18 PM | Permalink

Not lost but hidden

Father Joseph in writing about grief over the recent loss of a loved one  (The Aftermath) quotes Thomas Howard, someone I've never read, but I find what he had to say quite beautiful

He [Thomas Howard] speaks in a straightforward yet eloquent manner of the struggles of suffering, death, and grief, and he leaves us with a profound hope in what the goodness of God is working behind the scenes.

“Someone finds he has cancer; the medical treadmill begins, with its implacable log of defeat; hope is marshaled, begins the march, is rebuffed at every juncture, flags, rouses, flags again, and is finally quietly mustered out… everyone is dragged into the maelstrom that marks the place where our experience eddies into the sea of the divine will. The whole question of prayer gapes open…  And meanwhile, the surgery goes on its horrific way, and the radiation burns on, week after grim week; and suffering sets in, and the doctors hedge and dodge into the labyrinthine linoleum-and-stainless-steel bureaucracy of the hospital world, and our hearts sicken, and we try to avert our eyes from the black flag that is fluttering wildly on the horizon, mocking us.

“And the questions come stealing over us: ‘Where is now their God?’ ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ ‘He trusted in God that he would deliver him…’ and so on… We look for some light.  We look for some help… But only dead silence.  Blank.  Nothing…
“For [those whose loved ones died despite their prayers] there was no walking and leaping and praising God.  No embracing and ecstatic tears of reunion.  Only the silence of shrouds and sepulchers, and then the turning back, not just to the flat routines of daily life, but to the miserable duel with the tedious voices pressing in upon their exhausted imaginations with, ‘Right! Now where are you?  Tell us about your faith now!  What’d you do wrong?’…

“But there is more.  Turning again to the disclosure of God in Scripture, we seem to see that, in his economy, there is no slippage.  Nothing simply disappears.  No sparrow falls without his knowing (and, one might think, caring) about it.  No hair on anybody’s head is without its number.  Oh, you say, that’s only a metaphor; it’s not literal.  A metaphor of what, then? we might ask.  Is the implication there that God doesn’t keep tabs on things?
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“And so we begin to think about all our prayers and vigils and fastings and abstinences, and the offices and sacraments of the Church that have gone up to the throne on behalf of the sufferer.  They have, apparently, been lost in the blue.  They have vanished, as no sparrow, no hair, has ever done.  Hey, what about that?  And we know that this is false.  It is nonsense.  All right then—we prayed, with much faith or with little; we searched ourselves; we fasted; we anointed and laid on hands; we kept vigil.  And nothing happened.

“Did it not?  What angle of vision are we speaking from?  Is it not true that again and again in the biblical picture of things, the story has to be allowed to finish?  Was it not the case with Lazarus’ household at Bethany, and with the two en route to Emmaus? And is it not the case with the Whole Story, actually—that it must be allowed to finish, and that this is precisely what the faithful have been watching for since the beginning of time? … And is not that Finish called glorious?  Does it not entail what amounts to a redoing of all that has gone wrong, and a remaking of all that is ruined, and a finding of all that has been lost in the shuffle, and an unfolding of it all in a blaze of joy and splendor?

“A finding of all that is lost?  All sparrows, and all petitions and tears and vigils and fastings?  Yes, all petitions and tears and vigils and fastings.  ‘But where are they?  The thing is over and done with.  He is dead.  They had no effect.’

“Hadn’t they?  How do you know what is piling up in that great treasury kept by the Divine Love to be opened in that Day?  How do you know that this death and your prayers and tears and fasts will not together be suddenly and breathtakingly displayed, before all the faithful, and before angels and archangels, and before kings and widows and prophets, as gems in that display?  Oh no, don’t speak of things being lost.  Say rather that they are hidden—received and accepted and taken up into the secrets of the divine mysteries, to be transformed and multiplied, like everything else we offer to him—loaves and fishes, or mites, or bread and wine—and given back to you and to the one for whom you kept vigil, in the presence of the whole host of men and angels, in a hilarity of glory as unimaginable to you in your vigil as golden wings are to the worm in the chrysalis”

(Thomas Howard “On Brazen Heavens,” from The Night is Far Spent).
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

March 13, 2013

Death by Freon

What a sad and tragic death.

Parents' nightmare as girl, 12, dies in her family's bathroom after huffing freon from the air conditioner

A 12-year-old girl searching for a high has died after she collapsed in her grandmother's bathroom when she huffed freon from the air conditioner outside.

Kristal Salcido, a seventh grader in Victorville, California, was declared brain dead after the incident last week. Her family took her off life support four days later.

Kristal's horrifying death is a nightmare for her parents and a warning for families everywhere about the dangerous trend of teenagers tapping air conditioning units to inhale the freon gas.
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Ron Postoian, who owns an air conditioning repair service in Victorville, said many - if not most - of his repair calls are to recharge the freon in air conditioners.

He believes that most of the time the lost freon is the result of young people huffing the gas.

Mr Postoian said the gas doesn't actually provide a high - it just deprives the brain of oxygen, which can have dangerous side effects.

He is encouraging parents to install safety locks on the air conditioners that prevent access to the freon gas.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

"It wasn't my wife and I knew it"

Mortuary buries wrong woman after mix-up even AFTER her husband of 51 years complained

A California funeral home has admitted to a massive mix-up by burying the wrong woman - even after the deceased's husband told them that it wasn't his wife.

At an open casket viewing on March 1st, Evans Davidson, 73, informed officials at Simpson's Mortuary in Ingelwood that he was 'pretty certain' the woman in the casket wasn't Darlene, his wife of 51-years.

'It wasn’t my wife and I knew it,' said Davidson. However, he claims he was pressured by mortuary employees into going ahead with the funeral after they told him the embalming process can sometimes change a loved ones appearance.

However, six days after they had buried 82-year-old Darlene, the family received a phone call from the mortuary informing them that their loved one in fact had never left the building and they had buried a complete stranger.
'He had a lady over there jumping up and down, saying the lady that she came to visit was not her mother,' said Davidson.

Hesitant about being asked to identify a body, when he wanted to believe his wife was already laid to rest, Davidson reluctantly made his way over.
'I didn’t know what to think,' said Davidson to NBC Los Angeles. 'Why am I going to ID a body when my wife’s supposed to be buried already?'

Upon arriving, he was stunned. 'I saw my wife, and the shock just knocked me down,' said the traumatized widower.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:05 AM | Permalink

March 12, 2013

Are DNA Ancestry tests worth it?

DNA ancestry tests branded 'meaningless'

Commercial DNA tests that claim to tell people whether they are related to Richard III or descended from the Vikings are no more than "genetic astrology", scientists have warned.
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Last year the website ancestry.com was valued at $1.6 billion (£1 billion) and at least 40 companies offer genetic ancestry tests around the world for prices between £30 and £300.
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Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics at UCL said: “On a long trudge through history – two parents, four great-grandparents, and so on – very soon everyone runs out of ancestors and has to share them.

"As a result, almost every Briton is a descendant of Viking hordes, Roman legions, African migrants, Indian Brahmins, or anyone else they fancy.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Harry Stamps "ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler" died at 80

Not only does this obituary make Harry Stamps someone I wished I had known, it's the best example I know of how to write a wonderful obituary about an 'ordinary' person.  None of us is ordinary, we are all in our ways extraordinary.

Obituary for Harry Stamps

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on.

He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal--just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 AM | Permalink

March 10, 2013

How do banks get away with this?

What a sad death.  I can't believe that the bank acknowledged its blunder but went ahead anyway with a cut rate auction.

Elderly man who lost his house because of Wells Fargo TYPO collapses and dies in court as he was still fighting the bank two years on

A 62-year-old veteran has keeled over and died in a California court while fighting a legal battle against banking giant Wells Fargo, which foreclosed on his home by mistake. Larry Delassus, of Hermosa Beach, lost his house two years ago after a typo in his assessor's parcel number suggested he was behind in his property taxes - but the number actually corresponded to his neighbor's home. Despite records proving he was in fact ahead of schedule on his mortgage payments and had paid his property taxes in advance, Delassus still had to go to court, which is where, on December 19, 2012, he suffered a massive heart attack and died.

His attorney and friend, Anthony Trujillo, was arguing against a tentative ruling issued by a Torrance Courthouse judge that sided with Wells Fargo, according to the Easy Reader. Trujillo noticed the bank's error while going through his friend's accounts and informed the bank, which acknowledged the blunder and fixed Delassus's credit history.  But they went ahead with selling his home at a cut price auction, the Easy Reader reported.
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Judge Laura Ellison told Trujillo the case facts didn't justify his client's claim of fraud and negligence.
After almost an hour going through bank documents to prove Wells Fargo's mistake and his friend's innocence, Delassus went into cardiac arrest.

'He was sure that when a judge heard that he was never even late on a payment, that (the judge) would do something,' Debbie Popovich, a friend who accompanied Delassus to court, told Easy Reader.

In a statement, Wells Fargo called the death of their customer 'tragic' but said he had no business being in the courthouse.
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The coroner determined heart disease killed the Navy veteran but his friends say the system that made undoing the bank's careless but catastrophic mistake near impossible really took his life. 

'He was very sensitive,' Popovich told LA Weekly. 'He was a very good person. He was kind of shy, and he had a really good sense of humor — really, he was a very simple guy who just liked to work and do his thing.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:18 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2013

The Undertaker on Trial for Murder of his Wife whose Body is Missing

Shades of Agatha Christie.  There's a fascinating murder trial underway in England.

Undertaker 'killed his wife while having affair with a widow he seduced with red roses after arranging her late husband's funeral'

An undertaker murdered his wife while enjoying an affair with a widow he seduced after arranging her late husband’s funeral, a court heard today.  John Taylor, 61, is accused of killing wife Alethea, six months in to the ‘intense’ affair with Alison Dearden, 53.

A court today heard he began bombarding the widow with text messages within weeks of Mr Dearden’s death. Taylor even left red roses on her doorstep, a jury heard, and dipped into the marital joint bank account to buy a ‘love nest’ he planned to share with his mistress.  Mrs Dearden told the court she began sleeping with Taylor in July 2011, eight months after liaising with the funeral director over her husband David’s funeral.

The Taylors had known Mrs Dearden, who lived in a nearby village, for 12 years, after first meeting at church, the jury were told. But following Mr Dearden’s death Taylor began confiding in her about his ‘unhappy’ marriage, she said.

Taylor is charged with his wife’s murder even though no trace of the former teacher has been found since she was last seen at their home in January last year.
The court heard Mrs Taylor, 63, had discovered the affair, and had written that her husband had become ‘besotted with a certain little widow’.

Taylor denied the affair when questioned by police on the night of his wife's disappearance. 

Taylor told neighbors his wife was suffering from a brain tumor who disappeared while in the grip of dementia.

The widow lover, Alison Deardon, testified that she thought his wife had left him because she found out about their relationship.
 
Week one roundup

Mrs Taylor's blood found on the couple's bedding and on the rear seats of her husband's car.  Defendant spotted vacuuming car trunk.  Wife had not abvisou signs of mental illness.

Accused was 'fed up' with wife and moaned she never cooked.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

The Death of Hugo Chavez - UPDATED

'I don't want to die, please don't let me die': Last words of Hugo Chavez revealed as medics admit president died of heart attack

President Hugo Chavez mouthed 'I don't want to die… please don't let me die' just before he suffered a heart attack and died, it was revealed today.
The head of Venezuela's presidential guard said the 58-year-old leader, who was battling cancer, died after 'great suffering'.

It came as Russia's communist leader called for an investigation into claims the U.S.had 'infected its enemies in Latin America with the disease'.
Gennady Zyuganov said: 'This was far from a coincidence. How did it happen that six leaders of Latin American countries which had criticised US policies and tried to create an influential alliance in order to be independent and sovereign states, fell ill simultaneously with the same disease?'
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Venezuelan authorities have not said what kind of cancer Mr Chavez had or specified exactly where tumors were removed.Tens of thousands of ‘Chavistas’ dressed in revolutionary red lined the streets of Venezuela yesterday to witness President Hugo Chavez’s coffin being driven through the city centre.

-Hugo Chavez Coffin Caudillos

His coffin, adorned with his country's flag, was placed on the top of a car and driven slowly to the military academy where his body will lie in state for three days before a massive state funeral on Friday.

Chavez, who was 58, died after a two-year cancer battle that has been shrouded in secrecy. And it appears his death is to take on the same level of mystery as claims emerged yesterday that he died in a Cuban hospital instead of a military hospital in Venezuela's capital, Caracas.  Spanish newspaper ABC claimed that after Chavez's health deteriorated after he returned to Cuba on Friday for emergency treatment.  Unnamed sources told the paper Chavez was secretly moved back to Cuba and died there yesterday morning. ABC claims that Chavez died at 7am Cuban time when his family made the decision to withdraw care. To back up the claims it was noted that government ministers were not seen attending his bedside.

Yesterday there was a heavy military presence amid fears of unrest with soldiers deployed after Venezuelan officials called for peace and unity stating in television broadcasts that the government and the military were standing together.  The outspoken left-winger, was staunchly anti-American and enjoyed close ties to states such as Russia and Iran.

Church vs. Chavez Highlighted Power of a Faithful Fight Against Tyrants  Venezuela's clerics didn't fear tangling with the ruler when moral principles and human rights were on the line.

When Hugo Chavez opponent Cardinal Ignacio Velasco died in 2003, the Venezuelan strongman declared the pro-democracy cleric was “in hell.”  At Velasco’s wake, Chavez’s flock brandished pictures of the cardinal with devil horns and hurled stones while chanting Chavista slogans.  After all, Velasco had committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of the autocrat: questioned Chavez’s self appointment as supreme being and urged the people to embrace democracy and human rights instead of the Simon Bolivar fanboy.  “Every day we turn another cheek. I have no cheeks left because every day there is a new insult,” Velasco said of his nemesis the year before he died.

The cardinal was succeeded in Caracas by Rosalio Castillo Lara, who was equally vilified by Chavez for using his influential post — governed by the Vatican, not by the Bolivarian thought factory — to note “the only solution is democratic, which must involve the resistance of all the people.”  “If the Venezuelan people fail to grasp the seriousness of the situation and fail to categorically speak out in favor of democracy and freedom, we will find ourselves subjected to a Marxist-style dictatorship,” the cardinal said shortly before his death in 2007.

Castillo Lara was once asked if he’d like to give Chavez a blessing. “More than a blessing,” the cardinal responded. “I’d give him an exorcism.”

Hugo Chavez died 'in the bosom of the Church'

In announcing Chavez’s death to the nation on March 5, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the Venezuelan leader died “clinging to Christ.” The source in Venezuela told CNA that during the last weeks of his life, Chavez requested spiritual direction and asked to receive the sacraments.

Death of a Caudillo

Hugo Chávez, the late president of Venezuela, liked to present himself as a revolutionary, a socialist for the 21st century. Many members of the American Left presented him this way too. In reality he was the latest in the long line of caudillos, the strongmen who have been the scourge of Spanish America; “throwback” and “reactionary” are therefore more fitting ways to describe him.

Violence was his medium. A junior army officer, he did not hesitate to mount a coup, and once in power to devise a constitution that made him leader for life. He drove thousands into exile, expropriating their land and property. Venezuela depends on its oil, and nationalization of the oil companies gave him funds with which to buy popularity. Nobody knows the scale of the ensuing corruption, but rumor has it that Chávez and his family have amassed a fortune of $2 billion.

Hugo Chavez dies: socialists might see him as a saint but this charismatic conman was no angel

First, the good stuff. Chavez spent Venezuela’s oil money on reducing destitution and expanding access to healthcare and education. As a result, poverty was cut in half, child mortality fell by a third and death from malnutrition fell by 50 per cent. Homelessness was reduced and almost everyone gained access to clean drinking water. To his fans, this was all part of new model of development that was socialist without rejecting some element of free enterprise and activist without sacrificing democratic checks and balances. Between communism and capitalism, Chavez’s revolution held out the hope for a future without the exploitation that invariably accompanies both.
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Chavez himself entered politics by way of a coup attempt in 1992 (the government he tried to overthrow was incompetent and corrupt but technically legitimate). He was a late convert to the ballot box and when he did finally form a government he wrote his own constitution and, even then, regularly broke its spirit. He persuaded a loyal legislature to grant him the right to rule by decree and he used it to pursue a revolution based on exploiting high oil prices to build a powerbase among the poor. His critics were basically anyone with an interest that conflicted with his – the Catholic Church, trades unions, private business, liberal parties. There is a global Left-wing myth that Chavez survived so long in power because his only opponent was the USA. In fact his domestic critics were plentiful, but they were either too divided to exploit their numbers or else were overpowered by Chavez loyalists in the military or the slums. It also helped that the great leader shut down over 30 radio stations and many newspapers and TV stations.
As Brendan O’Neill notes, this was not democratic socialism on the liberal European model but rather authoritarianism on the Peronist model.
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Chavez should have spent the oil money on building a capitalist economy and a stronger civil society. Instead his administration was notorious for corruption and waste. During his time in office there were 120,000 murders, a rate four times that of post-war Iraq. The causes were inflation running at highs of 30 per cent, stubborn unemployment and poorly paid police.

Chavez joins Lenin and Ho Chi Minh as President's body is to be preserved forever and displayed inside glass tomb at museum

'We have decided to prepare the body of our `Comandante President,' to embalm it so that it remains open for all time for the people. Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong,' Maduro said…. the body would be held in a 'crystal urn' at the Museum of the Revolution, a mile from Miraflores presidential palace.

The announcement followed two emotional days in which Chavez's supporters compared him to Jesus Christ, and accused his national and international critics of seeking to undermine his 'revolution.'A sea of sobbing, heartbroken humanity jammed Venezuela's main military academy Thursday to see Chavez's body, some waiting 10 hours under the twinkling stars and the searing Caribbean sun to file past his coffin.

UPDATE: 'Too late' to embalm body of Hugo Chavez

The body of Hugo Chavez will no longer be embalmed and placed on permanent display, after Venezuelan's acting president said it had not been properly prepared in time.

The rumors that he died in Cuba seem more likely now.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:03 AM | Permalink

March 6, 2013

Death by Lion

Woman mauled to death by lion as she made love to her boyfriend in the African bush

A woman was mauled to death by a lion as she made love to her boyfriend outdoors in Zimbabwe, it was reported today.
Sharai Mawera died yesterday after the big cat pounced while she was enjoying a romantic moment in the bush with her unnamed partner.
The My Zimbabwe news website reported that the predator attacked the couple at a secluded spot in the bush near the northern town of Kariba.

Ms Mawera's boyfriend, who has not been identified, is believed to have jumped up and fled in the nude when the lion lunged forward.
A source told the newspaper the young woman died at the scene.  He said: 'Unfortunately the woman was mauled to death by the lion, but her boyfriend managed to escape naked.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:17 AM | Permalink

March 1, 2013

A Final Salute from 300 Strangers

A final salute from 300 strangers: Royal Marine, 70, with no family gets a grand send-off after vicar rallies mourners on Facebook

They’d never met him and they knew precious little about him. But hundreds turned out yesterday to mark the passing of a former Royal Marine who died with no known family . . . or friends.  Some travelled hundreds of miles to the funeral of James McConnell in Portsmouth after a local vicar used Facebook to appeal for mourners.

 Royal Marine James Mcconnell
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Yesterday, in the biting cold, a procession through the cemetery was led by Royal British Legion standard bearers  followed by a group of flag-bearing motorcycles from the legion’s riders’ branch.

 Crowd For Royal Marine


Two buglers from the Royal Marines band played the Last Post as Mr McConnell’s coffin was lowered into the ground.And mourners surrounded the grave with poppy wreaths – one with the poignant, handwritten message: ‘Stand at ease, your work is done.’

Mr Mason, who conducted the service at Milton Cemetery, told the estimated 300 who attended: ‘The great majority of you who have come here today did not know James McConnell but wanted him to have a dignified farewell.

‘I thank you for that kindness and generosity of spirit.’ After the ceremony he said: ‘It was a very cold morning, and people were shivering, but it is testament to the sacrifice people were prepared to make in order to attend.’

Well done

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink