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Paul Motian obituary November 24, 2011

The American percussionist, composer and bandleader Paul Motian, who has died aged 80, was perhaps most famous for enhancing the work of a brilliant jazz pianist. This he did not just once, but three times: in Bill Evans’s pioneering trio from 1959 to 1962, over the next two years with Paul Bley, and then with Keith Jarrett from 1966 to 1977. Motian added “beautiful” to the adjectives associated with the drummer’s art, and was much in demand by the most adventurous jazz improvisers.

The saxophonists Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter and Tim Berne had their ideas unobtrusively reshaped by Motian. So did the guitarists Bill Frisell and the Austrian Wolfgang Muthspiel, the bassist-bandleader Charlie Haden – Motian was for some years the drummer in Haden’s rousing Liberation Music Orchestra – and the pianists Geri Allen, Alan Pasqua and Marilyn Crispell. The careers of Lovano and Frisell gathered pace during their creative apprenticeships with the drummer, which began for both of them in 1981 and ran on through the 1990s.

Motian’s method lay between the supply of texture, colour and rhythm that a classical percussionist sporadically injects and the groove-laying drive of a jazz drummer. If swing was needed, he could swing superbly, though often with darkly whispering cymbal sonorities and low-pitched kick-drum sounds of his own. But his innovations really lay in a conversational, instantly reactive approach.

In rethinking the connection between the rhythmic pulse and the improvised melodies unfolding around him, Motian was as significant a drummer as Charlie Parker’s partner Max Roach had been in the 1940s, and played a key role in transforming the sound of small jazz ensembles from the 1970s on. As a composer, he produced original material of quietly persuasive character that offered irresistible invitations to improvisers – beginning with the album Conception Vessel (1972), with Jarrett on flute or impressionistically free-jazzy piano, and Haden in the lineup.

Motian (pronounced “motion”) had Armenian ancestry, was born in Philadelphia and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, taking up drums at the age of 12. After serving in the navy during the Korean war, he studied music at the navy school of music in Washington until 1954, and then at the Manhattan School of Music. He also began working with leading figures, including the composer-arrangers Gil Evans and George Russell, Thelonious Monk, the saxophonists Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn – and in 1958 with such architects of the low-key “cool school” style as the pianist Lennie Tristano and the saxophonist Warne Marsh.

Motian also met Evans, classically trained and a student of Tristano’s dynamically restrained, extended-improv methods, and played on Evans’s debut album, New Jazz Conceptions (1956). Evans’s trio with Motian and the bassist Scott LaFaro was noted for its collaborative and spontaneously contrapuntal approach. When the 18-year-old Manfred Eicher heard it in New York in 1961, the experience inspired him to found, eight years later, the influential ECM record label, in order to document a new kind of improvised, jazz-influenced chamber music.

Though his employers included more orthodox artists such as the blues singer-pianist Mose Allison (1965), Motian gravitated increasingly towards free jazz. Through the self-help Jazz Composers’ Orchestra Association, he worked with the saxophonist Ornette Coleman, the trumpeter Don Cherry and the composer Carla Bley, another figure associated with the Liberation Music Orchestra. Motian also began touring his own music from 1977 – at first in trios including the saxophonist Charles Brackeen, and from 1981 in a highly creative threesome with Lovano and Frisell. The group stunningly re-examined the music from Conception Vessel on It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago (1984), explored a shared devotion to the work of Monk in Misterioso (1986) and recast standard songs in launching the On Broadway series of recordings that continued with various lineups into Motian’s last years. Sound of Love (1995), a live session from Village Vanguard, New York, confirmed the trio’s continuing creativity.

Motian formed the co-operative trio Tethered Moon with the Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and the bassist Gary Peacock in the early 90s; recorded in that decade with Paul Bley, Muthspiel and the Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi; and in 1992 formed his Electric Bebop Band, exploring a funkier electric-jazz from his own lateral perspectives. He displayed a mischievous fascination with the improv possibilities of doubled-up instrumentation, particularly using two guitarists of contrasting styles.

Though after heart surgery in his 70s he restricted his perambulations to Manhattan, Motian had been unfazed by life on the road for decades, often travelling simply with a single cymbal and relying on a succession of more or less ramshackle locally supplied drumkits. John Cumming, director of the UK promoters Serious Productions, recalled managing European tours involving Motian in the 1980s: “He had a kit that was falling apart in mid-gig with the Liberation Orchestra once. Two of us were fixing it with hammers and nails. He’d look round, still playing, and hiss, ‘Have you been to the hotel yet? What’s the restaurant like?’ He was funny, modest, very calm, a bit solitary, but a wonderful collaborator.”

In his last years, Motian launched ventures involving the saxophonists Chris Potter and Bill McHenry, and the pianist Jason Moran, and made the ECM album Live at Birdland (2009) with Haden, the saxophonist Lee Konitz and the pianist Brad Mehldau. With The Windmills of Your Mind (2011) he enlisted Frisell and the alt-rock vocalist Petra Haden, daughter of Charlie, to give such potentially cheesy materials as Tennessee Waltz and Let’s Face the Music and Dance a new bite.

Almost till the end – he last played at the Village Vanguard in September – Motian was stirring the same mix of tickling cymbal figures followed by exclamatory slams, softly whispering brushwork and brief surges of swing. Lovano once told me how a piece based on a very perfunctory structure “takes total shape on its own” with the right players. “Playing with Paul Motian taught me about that. Feed in the melody, then let it happen, and how it flows from that moment on comes completely from your imagination and everybody’s collective imagination. Man, that’s an exciting place to be.”

Motian is survived by his sister, Sarah.

• Stephen Paul Motian, percussionist, composer and bandleader, born 25 March 1931; died 22 November 2011

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Anne McCaffrey obituary November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffrey’s worldwide reputation as a writer depended largely on an extended series of science-fiction novels (several of them co-written with her son Todd), set on the world of Pern.

This was a distant planet settled by humans but threatened regularly by life-destroying “Threads”, which fell from a neighbouring planet. To combat these, the humans genetically modified a species of winged reptile, native to Pern, each one of which was bonded symbiotically with a rider from the moment of the human’s birth. These dragons then dealt with the global menace against the same kind of daunting odds as were faced by the RAF’s “few” when repelling the Luftwaffe in 1940 – a parallel sometimes quoted by McCaffrey, who has died after a stroke aged 85.

The books and stories were written unpretentiously and lyrically, with a refreshing taste for heroism and adventure as well as, perhaps surprisingly, an imaginative knowledge of biochemistry that made the dragons seem at least scientifically plausible. Weyr Search, the first long story in the sequence (which later became part of the novel Dragonflight, 1968) won a Hugo award, and a year later a second story, Dragonrider, won the Nebula award.

Because of their accessible and down-to-earth prose, McCaffrey’s books appealed in particular to children. Teenagers and young adults also relished them because of their realistic and often moving depictions of emotional dilemmas, and there was a constant appeal to women readers of all ages, because of the energetic drawing of strong female characters as uncompromising but compassionate human beings.

McCaffrey was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After high school she went to Radcliffe College, where she majored in Slavonic languages and literature. Like many writers-to-be, she had several short-lived jobs in her 20s, including working for a music shop, the Helena Rubinstein cosmetics company, and writing advertising copy. She had a good soprano voice and studied singing for nearly a decade. While working in the theatre she became interested in stage direction of opera, and produced (and performed in) the first American performance of Carl Orff’s Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus.

McCaffrey married in 1950 and raised three children, Alec, Todd and Georgeanne. The marriage ended acrimoniously 20 years later, and she moved herself and the children from New York to Ireland, where she lived for the rest of her life.

Her writing career started slowly, with a few short stories published in the low-paying science-fiction magazines of the time, but once she had been recognised for her Pern stories, a course was set. The novels were all consistent with each other, but some were addressed overtly to younger audiences. Many Dragonrider books followed at a steady pace; more than a dozen titles before the end of the century. The first collaboration with Todd came with Dragon’s Kin (2003). Over the course of the series, the early emphasis on a kind of scientific plausibility moved into the background, with adventure, romance and character intrigues evolving. She was once described as a writer of “science fiction tinged with the tone and instruments of fantasy”, which summed up her work well.

A prolific writer (there are approximately 100 titles), McCaffrey developed many more sequences of stories and novels. She began with a well-regarded standalone volume, Restoree (1967), a traditional science-fiction book for adults, and another nine singleton novels were to follow, but it is for her wide range of series that she is best known.

Closely following the Pern books in popularity are the novels known as the Brainship sequence, which began with a story soon to make her famous, The Ship Who Sang (1961). This deeply personal work, with resonances of the death of her father (a colonel in the US army), describes a society in which the undamaged minds of severely disabled babies are groomed to become cyborg intelligences in command of starships. Such a cyborg mind is partnered with a “brawn”, a trained human companion. The story ends with the funeral service of a brawn, in which the cyborg sings Taps, the US army bugle call. Audiences at McCaffrey’s public readings were often moved to tears by the climax, and the author herself often succumbed.

There were another dozen book sequences from McCaffrey, many of them targeted at young readers. A large number of these were co-written with other authors, including SM Stirling, Elizabeth Moon, Mercedes Lackey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, but all were distinctively part of her oeuvre.

McCaffrey was a warm, kind and emotional woman with a wonderful no-nonsense attitude and a love of hard work. She was still writing just before she died. She is survived by her children.

• Anne Inez McCaffrey, science-fiction and fantasy writer, born 1 April 1926; died 21 November 2011

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Newt Gingrich’s child labor plan cleans up | Ana Marie Cox November 22, 2011

Who doesn’t love Newt Gingrich‘s idea to fire school janitors and replace them with actual school children? I mean, besides janitors and school children.

If the world had listened to Newt Gingrich 30 years ago, there would be no Freddy Krueger! Countless Scooby Doo villains would be forced pull off their masks in in private, with less drama.

Newt argues that union policies and child labor laws – the only things standing between our schools and a “Newsies”-style takeover of our schools – are “crippling” children, apparently unaware that prior to the implementation of child labor laws, many children were crippled by their laboring.

I think my favorite insight, though, is his deduction that it’s in “the poorest neighborhoods” where we see the truly “tragic” results of not allowing kids to get jobs, because they then miss out on “the whole process of making work worthwhile”. This seems not to be a problem in the non-poorest neighborhoods – mostly because everyone works for their dad.

Lauding the ethic that working for a living instills, Gingrich told his audience at Harvard (who, presumably, already know that “work is worthwhile” – even though they were sitting in a political lecture on a weekday afternoon) that it was important for them to “[g]et any job that teaches you to show up on Monday”, and “Get any job that teaches you to stay all day even if you’re having a fight with your girlfriend.” Like, say, Speaker of the House.

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Bangkok Residents Clean Up after Flood November 20, 2011

Residents of Bangkok, Thailand were hard at work cleaning up their city Sunday, during a “Big Cleaning Day” campaign launched by the city.

Sunday saw blue skies, dry weather and hundreds of people with brooms sweeping mud and debris from homes, while teams of volunteers removed rotting piles of garbage from the streets, as flood waters finally began receding from the center of the capital.

Thai government officials say flood waters have been receding steadily and that most streets in Bangkok, should be dry in two weeks.

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Michael Bloomberg’s brave new world | Amy Goodman November 17, 2011

Democracy Now! coverage of the OWS eviction from Zuccotti Park and its aftermath, 15 November 2011. Video: DemocracyNow!

We got word just after 1am Tuesday that New York City Police were raiding the Occupy Wall Street encampment. I raced down with the “Democracy Now!” news team to Zuccotti Park, renamed Liberty Square. Hundreds of riot police had already surrounded the area. As they ripped down the tents, city sanitation workers were throwing the protesters’ belongings into dump trucks. Beyond the barricades, back in the heart of the park, 200-300 people locked arms, refusing to cede the space they had occupied for almost two months. They were being handcuffed and arrested, one by one.

The few of us members of the press who managed to get through all the police lines were sent to a designated area across the street from Zuccotti Park. As our cameras started rolling, they placed two police buses in front of us, blocking our view. My colleagues and I managed to slip between them and into the park, climbing over the trashed mounds of tents, tarps and sleeping bags.

The police had almost succeeded in enforcing a complete media blackout of the destruction.

We saw a broken bookcase in one pile. Deeper in the park, I spotted a single book on the ground. It was marked “OWSL”, for Occupy Wall Street Library, also known as the People’s Library, one of the key institutions that had sprung up in the organic democracy of the movement. By the latest count, it had accumulated 5,000 donated books. The one I found, amidst the debris of democracy that was being hauled off to the dump, was Brave New World Revisited, by Aldous Huxley.

As the night progressed, the irony of finding Huxley’s book grew. He wrote it in 1958, almost 30 years after his famous dystopian novel, Brave New World. The original work described society in the future where people had been stratified into haves and have-nots. The Brave New World denizens were plied with pleasure, distraction, advertisement and intoxicating drugs to lull them into complacency, a world of perfect consumerism, with lower classes doing all the work for an elite.

Brave New World Revisited was Huxley’s nonfiction response to the speed with which he saw modern society careening to that bleak future. It seemed relevant, as the encampment, motivated in large part by the opposition to the supremacy of commerce and globalisation, was being destroyed. Huxley wrote in the book:

“Big Business, made possible by advancing technology and the consequent ruin of Little Business, is controlled by the State – that is to say, by a small group of party leaders and the soldiers, policemen and civil servants who carry out their orders. In a capitalist democracy, such as the United States, it is controlled by what Professor C Wright Mills has called the Power Elite.”

Huxley goes on to write:

“This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country’s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to buy its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communication, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody.”

One of the People’s Library volunteers, Stephen Boyer, was there as the park was raided. After avoiding arrest and helping others with first aid, he wrote:

“Everything we brought to the park is gone. The beautiful library is gone. Our collection of 5,000 books is gone. Our tent that was donated is gone. All the work we’ve put into making it is gone.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s office later released a photo of a table with some books stacked on it, claiming the books had been preserved. As the People’s Library tweeted: “We’re glad to see some books are OK. Now, where are the rest of the books and our shelter and our boxes?” The shelter, by the way, was donated to the library by National Book Award winner Patti Smith, the rock ‘n’ roll legend.

Many other Occupy protest sites have been raided recently. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admitted to the BBC that she had been on a conference call with 18 cities, discussing the situation. Another report noted that the FBI and Homeland Security have been advising the cities.

A New York state judge ruled late Tuesday that the eviction will stand, and that protesters cannot return to Zuccotti Park with sleeping bags or tents. After the ruling, a constitutional attorney sent me a text message: “Just remember: the movement is in the streets. Courts are always last resorts.” Or, as Patti Smith famously sings, “People have the power.”

• Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column

© 2011 Amy Goodman; distributed by King Features Syndicate

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Gingrich defends Freddie Mac work

In 2008, Newt Gingrich criticised Barack Obama’s contributions from Freddie Mac

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has defended the large fees he was paid by a federal mortgage lender.

He was reacting to a Bloomberg report that he had earned up to $1.8m (£1.1m) as a consultant from 1999-2008.

The former congressman says he never lobbied on behalf of Freddie Mac and did not confirm how much he was paid by an organisation he would now abolish.

This week, opinion polls saw Mr Gingrich rise above rival Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.

Federally backed Freddie Mac and its larger sister institution, Fannie Mae, own or guarantee about half of all US mortgages.

Although embraced by many on the political left as champions of affordable housing, the lenders are blamed by Republicans for the US housing meltdown.

Monthly retainer

A Freddie Mac spokesperson said Mr Gingrich had been paid for consulting services, not lobbying.

Continue reading the main story

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Having someone who actually knows Washington might be a really good thing”

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Newt Gingrich

Campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, the former House of Representatives Speaker sought to cast his work with the lender in a positive light.

“It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington,” he told reporters. “We just tried four years of amateur ignorance, and it didn’t work very well.

“So having someone who actually knows Washington might be a really good thing.”

Mr Gingrich said he had been hired to give “strategic advice over a long period of time” to Freddie Mac, although he could not specify exactly how much he was paid.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that Mr Gingrich had been hired “to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it”.

The story said Mr Gingrich’s relationship with Freddie Mac began five months after he resigned in 1999 from Congress and as House Speaker.

He was paid a monthly retainer of between $25,000 and $30,000 until 2002. Mr Gingrich was contracted again by the group from 2006-08 for a total of $600,000.

In a CNBC televised debate last week, Mr Gingrich said he had been approached by the lender to give advice as a “historian”.

He told the debate that he had warned the organisation its lending practices were “insane”, and their business model was in a “bubble”.

Freddie Mac has disputed this account.

In his latest book, To Save America, Mr Gingrich has advocated replacing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae with smaller, private organisations.

But in Iowa on Wednesday, Mr Gingrich defended Freddie Mac’s work, saying: “Every American should be interested in expanding housing opportunities.”

During a televised debate in October, he criticised Democrats for their close ties to Freddie Mac lobbyists.

And in the 2008 presidential race, Mr Gingrich criticised Barack Obama for accepting campaign contributions from executives of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Mr Gingrich’s rise in the polls has placed him under more scrutiny.

A Public Policy Polling survey published on Monday put him in first place at 28%.

Georgia businessman Herman Cain was at 25% and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney on 18%.

A CNN/ORC International poll released on the same day put Mr Gingrich in second place, between Mr Romney and Mr Cain.

As House Speaker between 1995-99, Mr Gingrich presided over the longest federal government shutdown in US history.

The deadlock ended after 21 days when then-President Bill Clinton presented a budget that promised to close the federal deficit in seven years.

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Lee Serle: following in the footsteps of Trisha Brown November 16, 2011

On Sunday night the young Australian choreographer Lee Serle premiered his new dance work, POV, in the Astor Hall of the New York Public Library. The work had been made specially for the space: the grid-like patterns of the choreography referenced the marble patterned floor, also bringing a party atmosphere to the Beaux-Arts grandeur of the hall, with its sweeping stone staircase, vaulted ceiling and giant candelabras.

Most of the audience were seated around the edges of the hall, or standing in the upper galleries, but 30 of us were seated on swivel stools in the centre of the space. We’d been put there as kind of stage furniture, fixed points around which the dancers moved, but also as sitting targets for performer-audience interaction. At various points, the dancers engaged us in conversation, sang to us and, in a couple of cases, persuaded us to get off our stools and dance (not me, I hasten to add).

What made the evening unique, however, was not the audience participation but the audience itself. Unlike any experimental dance work I’ve ever seen, this one had among its first night public Peter Hall, Jessye Norman, Fiona Shaw, Trisha Brown and Brian Eno, with Peter Sellars perched near me on one of the stools. If I found the experience surreal sitting in the middle of it all, Serle as choreographer admitted to me later that he had found it all “pretty intimidating”.

This unlikely constellation of stars had been brought together by the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a funding scheme set up in 2001 to revive the traditional relationship of master and apprentice by pairing young professionals with established masters and funding them for a year to engage in a shared conversation, creative process or working relationship. The mentors this time were Eno, Sellars, Anish Kapoor, Zhang Yimou and Hans Magnus Enzenbeger. Serle himself, a freelance dancer and choreographer from Melbourne, was paired with veteran choreographer Trisha Brown, co-founder of the experimental 60s dance collective Judson.

It’s easy to be overawed by the level of genius that Rolex has managed to harness to this scheme (previous mentors have included William Forsythe, David Hockney, Jessye Norman, Pinchas Zukerman and Martin Scorsese). Easy, too, to feel wary of the kind of wand-waving magic that Rolex can create in the lives of young artists. Yet the scheme is pretty much unique in the funding world, and just as it elicits passionate endorsement from those involved – Sellars wept openly when he spoke of the relationship he’d formed with his Lebanese theatre protege, Maya Zbib – it also raises intriguing issues about the ways in which the arts are best supported.

Serle is based in Melbourne, which for all its thriving dance community remains relatively isolated from the variety of training and performance that’s taken for granted in cities like London or New York. That matters: despite the global reach of the internet and YouTube, dance as an art form remains profoundly local, dependent on the physical transmission of knowledge, the hands-on process of teaching. Elements of Brown’s style featured significantly in Serle’s own training: her through-the-body flow and weight and ease of movement; her emphasis on human simplicity and scale. Yet inevitably it had been diluted though its dispersion through other teachers. He had never seen her work performed live.

The Rolex Initiative funding – no sums are announced publicly, but money is given for seemingly unlimited travel and costs, as well as replacement of lost earnings (plus the mentors get a Rolex watch to keep) – changed everything for Serle. He spent a year in Brown’s company, learning and performing her repertory, collaborating in the creation of new choreography, having her in the studio with him as he created his own new work. It was an astonishing, profound absorption in her style and practice, into a history of dance-making that spans 50 years. As he says, “it was like going back to the source”.

All Serle learned was evident in POV, which he created partly as homage to Brown: its meticulous structure, its loose, witty movement, its animation of the building all references in her work (Brown, as recent London seasons on the South Bank and at the Barbican have reminded us, was a pioneer of site-specific dance, with pieces like Roof Piece and Walking on the Wall).

But POV was also Serle’s own piece, especially in the skill with which he folded an exuberance of physical detail into the linear structure of the dance. Now that he’s back in Melbourne, he plans to develop it into a large work. Yet what he will also be bringing back to Melbourne is the body of knowledge he picked up in Brown’s studio. Teaching his own dancers and students, Serle can bring the dance community of Melbourne that bit closer to “the source” than it has previously been.

This has also been the case with previous Rolex dance proteges like Junaid Jemal Sendi, who returned to his native Ethiopia after a year with Saburo Teshigawara, and Sang Jijia, who is back choreographing and teaching in China after an inspirational period with William Forsythe in Frankfurt. It was these proteges’ good fortune to be chosen for the one-on-one intensity of the Rolex scheme, but their luck was then spread around, often to a degree that it’s hard precisely to compute.

For the next funding cycle, the dance mentor will be the Taiwanese choreographer Lin Hwai-min, director of Cloud Gate dance theatre. Lin is likely to have an equally powerful effect – Sylvie Guillem spoke of him reverentially as a “master teacher” while collaborating with him on the choreography for her duet Sacred Monsters with Akram Khan. When I asked Lin how he envisaged his role as mentor, he said he didn’t want to have someone coming into his company as Serle did with Brown: he was more interested in having a young choreographer with whom he could talk, exchange ideas. In fact, he laughed, he was seriously considering taking his protege mountain hiking, or on a pilgrimage.

Certainly it’s the intensity the Rolex conversations that seems to count most among many of its beneficiaries, as well as the fact that they continue long after the cycle has finished. They multiply, too – creating what Sellars pointed out was an unprecedented global network of artists, larger and freer than any institution.

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Chelsea Clinton is hired by NBC News

November 15, 2011

by legitgov


Chelsea Clinton is hired by NBC News 14 Nov 2011 Chelsea Clinton began work at NBC News on Monday, the second daughter of a former president at the network. NBC said it had hired the 31-year-old Clinton to work on projects for “NBC Nightly News” and Brian Williams’ newsmagazine, “Rock Center.” The only child of former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is pursuing a doctorate at Oxford and working for the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.

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MTA Plans Unprecedented Overnight Subway Shutdowns

November 15, 2011

by legitgov


MTA Plans Unprecedented Overnight Subway Shutdowns –MTA says plan will save more than $1 million 15 Nov 2011 (NY) The MTA revealed Monday that it plans to shut down entire sections of subway lines overnight for several different periods to complete track work and maintenance, rather than do the repairs in pieces on weekends. Transit officials plan to pilot the unprecedented program on the Lexington Avenue line between Grand Central Terminal and Atlantic Avenue starting Jan. 9 by shutting down parts of the 4, 5 and 6 trains between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for several days in a row.

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Occupy Oakland: demonstrators prepare for police action – live updates November 14, 2011

1pm: Here’s a lunchtime summary of the happenings in Oakland this morning:

Police have cleared the Occupy Oakland encampment in California. Officers entered Frank H Ogawa plaza on Monday morning and began to clear away tents. Around 20 people were arrested, according to reports. Protesters are being prevented from accessing the camp.

Oakland’s mayor Jean Quan said she was “relieved” that the operation to clear the camp was peaceful. AP reported that Quan said the camp had put the city’s resources to the test and placed a “tremendous strain” on all departments. Interim police chief Howard Jordan said there were no injuries to police or protesters.

Quan’s legal advisor, Dan Siegel, has resigned from his position in protest at the eviction. Siegel, a long-time friend of Quan’s, said he resigned at 2am Monday, adding: “Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators”. He told the San Francisco Chronicle the police raid was “tragically unnecessary”.

Scott Olsen, the former marine seriously injured during a previous police attempt to clear the Occupy Oakland camp, has released his first statement. “I’m feeling a lot better, with a long road in front of me,” Olsen said. A picture posted by Olsen to Google+ showed him wearing a neck brace with a scar visible on his forehead. “My speech is coming back but I’ve got a lot of work to do with rehab”.

12.37pm: Video courtesy of CBS San Francisco showing the camp in Oakland being cleared this morning:

The report says police are continuing to dismantle tents in Frank H Ogawa plaza.

12.15pm: Just received a text from the ‘Occupy Oakland alert system’ – a text information service run by Oakland occupiers – with updates on arrests and the police operation at the camp.

“20 interfaith folks arrested this morn. Camp mostly dismantled. Some folks remain @14thBdway. RECONVENE 4PM TODAY @ LIBRARY (14thMadison). Pls fwd!”

11.39am: More from Mercury News – Mayor Quan has said she was “relieved” that the police operation to clear the camp was peaceful.

A tired-looking Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said Monday that she was “relieved” that the police raid on the camp was peaceful. She implored protesters not to be destructive.

At a press conference, Quan said the camp had put the city’s resources to the test and placed a “tremendous strain” on all departments. She said there were 179 calls to 911 that didn’t get answered because police were responding to demonstrators last week.

Interim Chief Howard Jordan said there were no injuries reported by police or protesters.

City spokeswoman Karen Boyd said the city is asking employees and businesses to delay work until 10 am. today.

The 12th Street BART station remains closed due to the police action.

11.18am: Here’s the statement from Scott Olsen – check it out on his Google+ page here – where the injured 24-year-old says the support shown by fellow protesters has “meant the world” to him.

Scott Olsen Photograph: Google+

I’m feeling a lot better, with a long road in front of me. After my freedom of speech was quite literally taken from me, my speech is coming back but I’ve got a lot of work to do with rehab. Thank you for all your support, it has meant the world to me. You’ll be hearing more from me in the near future and soon enough we’ll see you in our streets!

11am: The legal advisor to Oakland Mayor Quan has apparently resigned over the police clearing of the Occupy Oakland protest.

Dan Siegel, of Siegel and Yee attorneys, a long-time friend of Quan’s, served as an unpaid legal adviser to the mayor until 2am PDT on Monday, according to his Twitter feed.

“No longer Mayor Quan’s legal advisor. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators,” Siegel wrote.

Siegel had previously told the Associated Press that Quan was doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

10.47am: A summary of events so far in Oakland this morning, courtesy of Associated Press:

Police on Monday moved into an anti-Wall Street protester encampment in Oakland, California, clearing out occupants and and taking down tents, witnesses said.

The action was part of an expected clearing operation. Before the camp was completely cleared of protesters, police took away at least 12 people, as a crowd of protest supporters outside shouted “Shame on you!”

More were arrested later.

Dozens of police in riot gear took down more than 100 tents, lit by a searchlight from a helicopter overhead, as a separate line of officers kept people from entering the camp.
When the operation was finished, collapsed tents and debris lay scattered throughout the camp.

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson told reporters that the tent area was now a crime scene, and that they should keep off the campsite.

“We don’t want anyone to go through where we have to document property,” she said.

The police had also set up makeshift fencing around a plaza facing protesters, some 200 of whom were in the street and chanting at an intersection in the early morning hours.

The city of Oakland put out a notice addressed “Dear Business Leader” on Monday morning, saying the police were enforcing an order issued on Friday.

It said “the City could not assure adequate public health and safety in the plaza” the protesters were occupying.

The statement also said: “We have instructed City staff working around Frank Ogawa Plaza this morning to delay their arrival … to 10 am. We are sharing this information with Downtown Businesses so that you can use discretion on whether to delay your work day based on your assessment of the situation.”

10.13am: Mercury News is also live blogging the police operation in Oakland, and reports that “hundreds” of police are involved.

Some 20 people have been arrested so far, Mercury News says.

The plaza has been cleared of media by police. A small group of protesters has taken up residence in a tree house in a sycamore along 14th Street.

A van carrying Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana, Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan and a few other officials just left to tour the plaza.

The crowd in the intersection of 14th and Broadway has thinned to about 100 protesters, facing down police on the west side of Broadway.

9.44am: On the live stream police can be seen in the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank H Ogawa plaza, apparently dismantling structures.

@OakFoSho is filming outside the main camp, where scores of protesters are looking on.

If police do proceed to dismantle the Occupy camp, it will be the second time they’ve done it. The first, now somewhat infamous, effort was on 25 October when police used tear gas and apparently flash bang grenades to clear protesters, allegedly injuring Scott Olsen in the process.

As onlookers are pointing out on Twitter, the fact police have thus far been able to achieve the goal of re-taking Frank H Ogawa plaza without using ‘non-lethal’ projectiles makes one wonder why they were ever used in the first place.

9.28am: Police have entered the plaza and are pulling down tents, according to reports.

Joshua Holland, a writer and editor at AlterNet, is tweeting from the scene and says police are “tearing down tents” – something confirmed by Susie Cagle.

9.24am: A couple have just got married in front of police lines at Occupy Oakland, according to various reports.

@mrdaveyd A couple just got married in front of police line #occupyoakland .. It was pretty cool they did live mic everything.. #ows

@susie_c #occupyoakland A couple is getting married now in front of the riot line. Vows delivered through ppls mic. Yes really.

9.21am: Susie Cagle, a journalist based in Oakland who has covered the Occupy protests there since day one, is documenting the police action on Twitter @susie_c.

Cagle reports that all protesters are kettled at the camp, apart from a group to the north. She says police are currently “arresting peaceful protesters at [the] interfaith tent”.

Cagle says police have not fired projectiles yet, using “human force”.

9.00am: This live feed from Occupy Oakland shows the ongoing situation at Frank H Ogawa plaza.

Thanks to Occupy Oaklander (and dedicated live streamer) @OakFoSho for the feed.

8.45am: Good morning. Police have approached the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank H Ogawa plaza, with some protesters there suggesting they may be evicted.

Reports from California suggest the plaza is surrounded by officers, with some protesters still in the camp and others gathered on the streets around the area.

Police have previously used tear gas and other ‘non-lethal’ projectiles in Oakland to clear protesters. On 25 October Scott Olsen, a former marine who served in Iraq, was apparently struck by a projectile and suffered serious injuries. He issued his first public statement on Sunday, saying he had a “long road” ahead of him. On 2 November police again used tear gas following occupiers’ general strike in Oakland.

Follow live updates on the developing situation in Oakland here.

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Official chosen to run Dover military mortuary probe steps aside November 12, 2011

Washington (CNN) — The man selected on Tuesday to run an independent investigation of problems within the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base has already bowed out.

When news broke that the Air Force was disciplining three people for improper handling of the remains of four service members, it was announced that former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona would run an independent review of procedures at Dover AFB Port Mortuary.

On Friday, just three days later, the Pentagon announced Carmona was stepping down from the investigation to run for public office. Carmona had announced on Thursday that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate seat from Arizona that will soon be vacated by Republican Jon Kyl.

“Dr. Carmona notified the department this morning that he is stepping down from the panel,” the Pentagon’s press secretary said Friday in a statement. “Secretary Panetta agrees with that decision, and he will name a replacement very soon.”

Carmona first came to national prominence when President George W. Bush chose him to be the U.S. surgeon general. Prior to his appointment, he was a doctor with experience in nursing and law enforcement in Arizona.

He is running as a Democrat.

A senior Pentagon official said his departure should not affect the probe.

“It’s clear that he wouldn’t be able to run a serious investigation into Dover and a political campaign at the same time,” the official said. “The decision was obvious for everyone. Since the panel hasn’t yet met, there’s been no impact to its work, which will begin in earnest soon.”

But late Friday, Carmona released a statement saying that he has been working for a couple of months to put together a panel to investigate Dover.

“It is … critical that the Dover review committee that I chaired and began assembling in August of this year moves swiftly and aggressively to review the actions of the Air Force,” Carmona wrote. “In order to avoid the opportunity for the appearance of partisanship with this important work, I have decided to recuse myself from the panel.”

Carmona was to have headed a panel of experts to conduct an independent review of operations at Dover.

It is one of two new investigations of the Dover situation. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered the Air Force chief of staff to consider whether appropriate punishment was given the three Dover mortuary employees.

On Tuesday, the Air Force revealed instances of mismanagement and inadequate accountability at the mortuary. It reported incidents of missing body parts and, in one case, the sawing off of an arm so a body would fit in a casket.

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War wounds that can’t be seen

(CNN) — Taryn Davis is helping young military widows find the emotional support they need.

Davis was just 21 years old when her husband, an Army corporal, was killed in Iraq. Four months after his death, she created the American Widow Project. The nonprofit has connected more than 900 young military widows through the Internet and weekend retreats since 2007.

CNN asked Davis for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you’d been selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Taryn Davis: I was getting everything ready for an American Widow Project retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Widows were arriving as I was on the phone.

Words truly cannot describe what this means to me, my fellow widows, our husbands and all the healing and camaraderie that will come from this amazing platform and honor. The (Hero) title, though, should be Heroes, as it is a title that encompasses not only my life, love and dedication, but that of every widow that is a part of the American Widow Project and each of the heroes whose lives and legacies they carry on.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the American Widow Project?

Davis: This means that more widows will know they are not alone. It may seem like a simple statement, but more than 3,000 widows had their lives changed with two men at their door. After they get that news, the real struggles start. And that’s where the American Widow Project comes in.

CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award that you receive for being selected as a top 10 CNN Hero?

Davis: It will be an integral part in helping facilitate the daily running of the American Widow Project, but most importantly it will go toward our events for the widows throughout the country. We cover all costs for their time with us, so the only thing they need to worry about is healing and connecting with their fellow widows.

With nine to 10 events held nationally throughout the year — with hopes to do more — these are a major aspect of the organization and connecting this generation’s widows. This money will truly go toward not only saving lives, but the legacies of our nation’s heroes.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

Davis: The wounds from those affected by these conflicts, many can be seen with the naked eye.

For this generation’s military widows and widowers, their wounds can’t be seen (even) though they are some of the most severe. It is due to that fact that most of those suffering from the most major of losses don’t receive the support and compassion they so deeply deserve.

The work the American Widow Project does recognizes their sacrifice, survival and perseverance and allows them to find healing in a title they never thought they’d hold.

Read the full story on CNN Hero Taryn Davis:

Connecting a new generation of military widows

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Report Says Iran Moving Closer to Nuclear Weapons November 8, 2011

U.S. media say the U.N. nuclear agency has been provided with intelligence showing Iran has carried out work on developing nuclear weapons technology.

The Washington Post reported late Sunday that according to Western diplomats and nuclear experts who reviewed the intelligence, Iran has taken key steps in overcoming technical challenges with the help of foreign scientists.

David Albright, a former official with the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the newspaper that the advancements include obtaining the design for, and testing of, a capsule of explosives used to trigger a nuclear explosion.  The New York Times reports that officials briefed on the intelligence say Iran has a facility some believe is used to test such a device.

The IAEA is due to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program this week.

Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami warned IAEA chief Yukiya Amano Monday to not release what the Iranian leader called a report of lies, saying that would hurt the U.N. agency’s credibility.

Western powers suspect Iran of developing nuclear weapons and have imposed sanctions in an attempt to curb its program.  Iran says its nuclear activities are peaceful.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said Friday that the international community is closer to pursuing a military option than a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program.  He called on world leaders to “fulfill their promises” to stop Iran.

His comments came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama said Iran’s nuclear program poses a “continuing threat,” and he urged Tehran to meet its nuclear obligations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.


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Fourth woman accuses Herman Cain

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Sharon Bialek alleges Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain sexually assaulted her in 1997

A woman has told a news conference how Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain groped her when she asked for his help finding work in the 1990s.

Sharon Bialek, a former employee of a restaurant lobby group, said Mr Cain had reached up her skirt and pulled her head towards his crotch.

Hers is the fourth allegation of sexual misconduct to emerge against Mr Cain.

The Cain campaign immediately issued a denial: “All allegations of harassment against Mr Cain are false.”

Mr Cain, a former pizza magnate, is a leading contender for the Republican nomination to take on President Barack Obama in 2012.

Washington news website Politico reported a week ago that at least two women had complained of sexual harassment while he was head of a lobby group, the National Restaurant Association, in the 1990s.

A third woman came forward days later, accusing Mr Cain of inappropriate behaviour at around the same time.


Ms Bialek is the first of the accusers to speak publicly.

She told a news conference in New York that she had first met Mr Cain when she was seated next to him during a meal at the association’s annual convention. She described him as “warm and attentive” towards both her and her boyfriend at the dinner.

Herman Cain has surprised pollsters by rising to the top of many opinion polls in recent weeks

A month later, she was sacked from her job as a manager at the association’s education foundation.

Ms Bialek’s boyfriend suggested that she should contact Mr Cain to help her find other employment.

She said that Mr Cain had agreed to meet her in Washington DC in mid-July 1997, where he upgraded her hotel room.

The alleged groping incident occurred after they had dinner and Ms Bialek asked Mr Cain if he could help find her work at the state-level of the association, she told reporters.

“Instead of going into the offices he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg, under my skirt toward my genitals,” she said.

“He also pushed my head toward his crotch.”

Ms Bialek appeared to struggle to maintain her composure as she told journalists that she had asked Mr Cain what he was doing, to which he allegedly replied: “You want a job, don’t you?”

‘Serial sexual harassment’

She was flanked at the Manhattan news conference by her lawyer, Gloria Allred, who has represented several high-profile clients, including an alleged mistress of golfer Tiger Woods.

Continue reading the main story


The instant reaction is that it is all over for Cain. The detailed claims, which sound more like sexual assault than harassment, are graphic and extremely serious.

But he denies the allegations and they can hardly be proved after all these years. Meanwhile, right wing talk radio is already full of fury at the way the “liberal media” will do anything to destroy a conservative front runner. Many of his supporters simply won’t believe what is being said about their favourite candidate. If another woman came forward with a detailed account that might change their minds.

If it is not yet terminal, it is doing great damage. The scandal drowns out any other message. The cloud will hang over him, and any opponent will have sunnier prospects.

In the unlikely event that he became the Republican nominee with this still unresolved, it would be gold dust for Obama’s campaign.

The lawyer said she had two sworn statements from Ms Bialek’s then boyfriend, as well as a longstanding friend, who said she had told them about Mr Cain’s alleged behaviour shortly afterwards.

His campaign spokesman JD Gordon called Ms Allred a “major donor” to Democrats, and blamed the lawyer for bringing “false accusations” against Mr Cain “just as the country finally begins to refocus on our crippling $15 trillion national debt”.

Federal election commission reports show that Ms Allred gave $1,000 (£624) to Hillary Rodham Clinton and $2,300 to Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Ms Allred said that if all the allegations by other women are true, “then I, for one, am disgusted at Mr Cain’s serial sexual harassment of women”.

Mr Cain acknowledged last week that one of his accusers received a financial settlement from the National Restaurant Association.

That woman – who reportedly won a $45,000 (£28,000) payout – issued a statement on Friday through her lawyer saying that Mr Cain had made a “series of inappropriate behaviours and unwanted advances”.

But despite being released from a confidentiality clause in the settlement, she said she wished to remain anonymous.

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Occupy Oakland awaits police response November 3, 2011

November 2, 2011

by legitgov


Occupy Oakland awaits police response 02 Nov 2011 Economic inequality is the driving force behind the Occupy Wall Street protests. Oakland has become a flashpoint for the movement following violent clashes between protesters and police. On Wednesday, organizers there called for a general strike. Many in Oakland did stay away from work. The demonstrators call themselves members of the 99-percent and say they reflect a wide cross-section joined by one thing: A call for more economic equality.

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Townshend calls Apple ‘a vampire’ November 1, 2011

Pete Townshend said “a creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored”

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has urged Apple’s iTunes to use its power to help new bands instead of “bleeding” artists like a “digital vampire”.

Townshend made the comments in BBC 6 Music’s inaugural John Peel Lecture, named in honour of the legendary DJ.

He also argued against unauthorised file-sharing, saying the internet was “destroying copyright as we know it”.

“The word ‘sharing’ surely means giving away something you have earned, or made, or paid for?” he said.

The rock legend listed eight services that record labels and music publishers have traditionally provided to artists, such as editorial guidance and “creative nurture”.

“Is there really any good reason why, just because iTunes exists in the wild west internet land of Facebook and Twitter, it can’t provide some aspect of these services to the artists whose work it bleeds like a digital vampire, like a digital Northern Rock, for its enormous commission?” he asked.

Apple should employ 20 talent scouts “from the dying record business” to give guidance to new acts and provide financial and marketing support to the best ones, he added.

ITunes accounts for more than 75% of all legal downloads. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on Townshend’s remarks.

The guitarist also said that people who downloaded his music without paying for it “may as well come and steal my son’s bike while they’re at it”.

If someone “pretends that something I have created should be available to them free… I wonder what has gone wrong with human morality and social justice”, he said.

But he also told listeners: “It’s tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do. I’ve done all right.”

Creative dilemma

And he added: “A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul: he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored.”

The guitarist praised John Peel, who died in 2004, for his dedication to listening to the music he was sent by up-and-coming acts.

“Sometimes he played some records that no-one else would ever have played, and that would never be played on radio again,” he said.

“But he listened, and he played a selection of records in the course of each week that his listeners knew – partly because the selection was sometimes so insane – proved he was genuinely engaged in his work as an almost unconditional conduit between creative musicians like me to the radio audience.”

The talk, held as part of the Radio Festival, will become an annual event given by a different music figure every year.

Held at The Lowry theatre in Salford, it is intended to be the music industry’s equivalent of the annual MacTaggart Lecture, which is given by a leading media executive at the Edinburgh International Television Festival every August.

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Charles Napier obituary October 29, 2011

Charles Napier, who has died aged 75, was one of Hollywood’s most distinctive and imposing character actors. With his blockish head, heavy jaw and formidable stare, he was called upon most often to play no-nonsense heavies. In a career lasting more than 40 years, he appeared in some of Hollywood’s most successful films and television series, and was cherished in particular by the directors Russ Meyer and Jonathan Demme, who cast him repeatedly.

Napier resigned himself long ago to the character actor’s lot – familiarity without celebrity. “Wherever I go, people will look at me as though they recognise me,” he wrote in his autobiography, Square Jaw and Big Heart: The Life and Times of a Hollywood Actor (2011). “They see that square jaw with the big smile. They may not know my name, but they know that face.”

He was born in Allen County, Kentucky, to Linus Pitts Napier, a tobacco farmer and postman, and his wife, Sara. After graduating from high school, Napier joined the US army and became a sergeant in the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He then enrolled at the Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, and graduated with a degree in art before moving into teaching. Around the same time, he started acting on stage, and in 1967 landed a small part in the television show Mission: Impossible. More TV work followed – he was especially memorable as an intergalactic hippy in thigh-length boots in an episode from the third series of Star Trek – before a chance meeting with Meyer.

Napier remembered accompanying his then girlfriend to an audition for Meyer’s 1970 film Cherry, Harry and Raquel! “I walked in, and [Meyer] basically said ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ And I said ‘Well, she doesn’t feel comfortable around you.’ And he said, ‘Do you feel comfortable around me?’ And I said, ‘About as far as I can throw ya.’ And I wound up in a movie.” Napier was cast as a sheriff involved in drug smuggling, but his responsibilities stretched to more than acting. “We took two cameras, [Meyer] handheld both of them, edited all of them, and I did all the stunts, I did all the car driving, I did all the makeup and that shit.” The actor was cast again by Meyer in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) and The Seven Minutes (1971).

His decision to take a two-year break from acting to become a writer-photographer on Overdrive, a trucking magazine, was inspired by his experience making Moonfire (1973), a little-seen thriller about truck drivers hunting a Nazi in Mexico. He returned to acting for Meyer in the 1975 film Supervixens, which is rumoured to have led Alfred Hitchcock to persuade Universal to put Napier on contract. The fruits of that contract included appearances on Kojak, The Rockford Files, and Starsky and Hutch.

Napier’s work with Meyer also brought him to the attention of Demme, who hired him to play a bigamous truck driver in the comedy Citizens Band (aka Handle with Care, 1977), and cast him in all but a handful of his subsequent movies. Among Napier’s array of voice work, he could lay claim to being one of two actors who provided the monstrous hero’s growl on the TV series The Incredible Hulk.

In the 1980s Napier worked mainly in television, with some notable exceptions: Demme’s Melvin and Howard (1980), in which he played a mysterious associate of Howard Hughes; a brief but unforgettably caustic turn as an aggrieved country-and-western musician in The Blues Brothers (1980); a duplicitous bureaucrat who provokes the hero’s ire in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985); and against type as a hairdresser in Married to the Mob (1988), also by Demme.

Napier scarcely had time to breathe between film and TV appearances in the 1990s. For Demme, he played a cop who meets a grisly end at the hands of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), as well as a compassionate judge in the Aids drama Philadelphia (1993). (Napier expressed some chagrin at having his role largely cut from the latter film.) He also appeared in Stephen Frears’s The Grifters (1990) as a businessman conned by Annette Bening; alongside Jim Carrey in the twisted comedy The Cable Guy (1996); and as a stock military type in the 1997 spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (a role he reprised in the 1999 sequel, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). He provided the voice of Duke Phillips, a media mogul supposedly based on Ted Turner, in the cult animated series The Critic (1994-95).

Although much of Napier’s work in the last 10 years had been voice only, he was also cast in some choice roles in front of the camera. For an actor who once said “I would like the chance to be funnier on the screen”, it must have pleased him that there was a comic emphasis in the later parts he was offered. In The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009), he played a car salesman with Alzheimer’s disease who is prone to rancid outbursts. He also appeared in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (2007).

Pondering the business of acting, he once said: “I think actors have very childish minds, or are more uninhibited, let’s put it that way … Or maybe some of us actors … don’t even have a real self, so it’s easy.”

Napier is survived by his second wife, Dee; their two children, Hunter and Meghan; and a son, Chuck, by a previous marriage, which ended in divorce.

• Charles Napier, actor, born 12 April 1936; died 5 October 2011

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Maroon 5′s Adam Levine goes to war with ‘evil’ Fox News October 21, 2011

Maroon 5‘s Adam Levine has entered a war of words with US broadcaster Fox News, which has been using the band’s songs as background music. Levine described Fox as an “evil fucking channel”, prompting Fox to question Levine’s right to describe his work as “music”.

“Dear Fox News,” Levine tweeted. “Don’t play our music on your evil fucking channel ever again. Thank you.” It’s unclear what set the singer off. Although he’s a host on the talent show The Voice, on rival network NBC, Maroon 5 songs such as This Love and She Will Be Loved have soundtracked a thousand TV montages.

Fox supporters and pundits were quick paint Levine’s remarks as a liberal smear. Writing on her popular blog, the Fox contributor and conservative journaist Michelle Malkin referred to the tweet as “bigotry”. “[It's] irrational, self-defeating, blanket hatred,” she said.

Greg Gutfeld and Adam Levy, hosts of Red Eye on Fox News, seemed even more offended. “Fun joke: why did Maroon 5 cross the road? Because crappy music is legal there,” Gutfeld tweeted. Levy compared Maroon 5′s work to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”. Shortly after, while recording Red Eye, they deliberately played a clip from Maroon 5′s Sunday Morning. “If you go to iTunes and search under the category called crap, that comes up!” Gutfeld said.

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US bishop charged with failing to report abuse October 15, 2011

A bishop has become the highest-ranking US Catholic official indicted on a charge of failing to protect children after he and his diocese waited five months to tell police about hundreds of images of child pornography discovered on a priest’s computer.

Bishop Robert Finn, the first US bishop criminally charged with sheltering an abusive clergyman, and the Kansas City-St Joseph Catholic Diocese have pleaded not guilty on one count each of failing to report suspected child abuse.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Finn and the diocese were required under state law to report the discovery to police because the images gave them reason to believe a child had been abused.

“Now that the grand jury investigation has resulted in this indictment, my office will pursue this case vigorously,” Baker said. “I want to ensure there are no future failures to report resulting in other unsuspecting victims.”

The indictment, handed down 6 October but sealed because Finn was out of the country, says the bishop failed to report suspicions against the priest from 16 December, 2010, when the photos were discovered, to 11 May, 2011, when the diocese turned them over to police.

Finn denied any wrongdoing in a statement on Friday and said he had begun work to overhaul the diocese’s reporting policies and act on key findings of a diocese-commissioned investigation into its practices.

“Today, the Jackson County Prosecutor issued these charges against me personally and against the Diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph,” said Finn. “For our part, we will meet these announcements with a steady resolve and a vigorous defence.”

Finn faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of the misdemeanour. The diocese also faces a $1,000 fine.

After the Catholic sex abuse scandal erupted in 2002, grand juries in several regions reviewed how bishops handled claims against priests. However, most of the allegations were decades old and far beyond the statute of limitations.

Until Finn was indicted, no US Catholic bishop had been criminally charged over how he responded to abuse claims, although some bishops had struck deals with local authorities to avoid prosecution against their dioceses.

A former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Monsignor William Lynn, was charged in February with child endangerment. A grand jury had released a report accusing the archdiocese of keeping some credibly accused clergy in church jobs where they had access to children. Lynn has pleaded not guilty.

The grand jury report in Philadelphia and the case in Kansas City have raised questions about how closely other dioceses are following the national discipline policy the US bishops adopted in 2002. Church leaders had promised to remove all credibly accused clergy from church work.

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Appeals court: Alabama police can detain suspected illegal immigrants

A federal appeals court issued a ruling Friday that temporarily blocked parts of an Alabama law requiring schools to check the immigration status of students but let stand a provision that allows police to detain immigrants that are suspected of being in the country illegally.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued the order after the Justice Department challenged what is considered the toughest immigration law in the nation. The opinion also blocked a part of the law that makes it a crime for immigrants to not have proper documentation.

A final decision on the law won’t be made for months to allow time for more arguments.

Since a federal judge upheld much of the law in late September, many frightened Hispanics have been driven away from Alabama, fearing they could be arrested or targeted by police. Construction workers, landscapers and field hands have stopped showing up for work, and large numbers of Hispanic students have been absent from public schools.

To cope with the labor shortage, Alabama agriculture commissioner John McMillan at one point suggested farmers should consider hiring inmates in the state’s work-release program.

It’s not clear exactly how many Hispanics have fled the state. Earlier this week, many skipped work to protest the law, shuttering or scaling back operations at chicken plants, Mexican restaurants and other businesses.

Immigration has become a hot-button issue in Alabama over the past decade as the Hispanic population has grown by 145% to about 185,600 people, most of them of Mexican origin. The Hispanic population represents about 4% of the state’s 4.7m people, but some counties in north Alabama have large Spanish-speaking communities and schools where most of the students are Hispanic.

In addition to the Obama administration, a coalition of advocacy groups also filed a separate appeal of the law, claiming it has thrown Alabama into “chaos.”

Alabama’s law was considered by both opponents and supporters to be stricter than similar laws enacted in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. Federal judges in those states have blocked all or parts of those measures.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer earlier this year asked the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the legal fight over her state’s tough immigration law.

The Justice Department has called the Alabama law a “sweeping new state regime” and urged the appeals court to forbid states from creating a patchwork of immigration policies. The agency also said the law could strain diplomatic relations with Latin American countries, who have warned the law could impact millions of workers, tourists and students in the U.S.

The law, it said, turns illegal immigrants into a “unique class who cannot lawfully obtain housing, enforce a contract, or send their children to school without fear that enrollment will be used as a tool to seek to detain and remove them and their family members.”

“Other states and their citizens are poorly served by the Alabama policy, which seeks to drive aliens from Alabama rather than achieve cooperation with the federal government to resolve a national problem,” the attorneys have said in court documents.

State Republicans have long sought to clamp down on illegal immigration and passed the law earlier this year after gaining control of the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed the measure, saying it was crucial to protect the jobs of legal residents amid the tough economy and high unemployment.

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