The death of 16 Sherpas last week on Everest—the biggest single loss of life in the mountain’s history—has led to a threatened strike. Why, the Sherpas demand, should they risk their lives, while being excluded from the income generated by the rich, inexperienced climbers they look after?
“What is economics? A science invented by the upper class in order to acquire the fruits of the labor of the underclass.” August Strindberg, 1884
Sherpas on Everest have said they will abandon this year’s climbing season, in honor of sixteen of their colleagues who died on the mountain last Friday. Their announcement today came after Nepal agreed to set up a relief fund for Sherpas who are killed or injured in climbing accidents. Everest’s Sherpa guides and support staff had threatened to strike if a list of demands they presented were not met following the deaths of the sixteen Sherpas.
Last Friday, at 7 a.m., a huge block of ice fell off the West Shoulder of Everest, creating an enormous avalanche that covered a large area of the route through the Khumbu and hit 25 Nepalis working for guided climbing teams. The tragedy of 16 Sherpas killed was the biggest single loss of life in the history of climbing Everest. Many of the other Nepali Sherpas working on the mountain witnessed the avalanche as it covered their friends and fellow workers.
On Sunday night, 300 Sherpa guides and support staff held an emergency meeting at Everest base camp and worked out a list of 12 demands to be met by the Nepal government within a week. Among the demands were for the state to provide 10 million Nepalese rupees ($103,600) each to families of the deceased and critically injured, along with initiatives to increase the overall support infrastructure for local guides working in the Himalayas.
Following the Sherpas’ ultimatums, The Nepalese government considered calling off the 2014 climbing season on the world’s highest peak, in which case the $10,000 fee for all 334 permits would have to be reimbursed. “This is an unprecedented situation,” the Tourism Ministry spokesman Madhu Sudan Burlakoti told journalists. “We do not know what to do if they want their tax back. We will hold further discussions before deciding anything on this issue.” However, today guide Tulsi Gurung said from base camp: “We had a long meeting this afternoon and we decided to stop our climbing this year to honor our fallen brothers. All Sherpas are united in this.”
Sixteen Sherpas died in Nepal last week after an avalanche swept them off the face of Mount Everest. While some are boycotting the climbing season, others say they can’t because it’s their livelihood.
President Lyndon B. Johnson delivering a speech in the East Room of the White House in 1964 during the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Credit Keystone/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — Two days before joining other presidents in Texas to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, President Obama tackled enduring inequality himself on Tuesday, in this case economic disparity based on gender.
His action? Signing an executive order barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay and a memo seeking statistics on contractor salaries.
If the photo-friendly ceremony in the East Room was not exactly the stuff of Mount Rushmore, it did reflect a broader question about the state of the presidency a half-century after Lyndon B. Johnson enacted monumental change in American society: Is it even possible for a president to do big things anymore?
Lilly M. Ledbetter, left, watched Tuesday as President Obama signed an executive order barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries.
President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden on Tuesday, said that his health law “is helping millions of Americans.” video Video: Obama on Health Care Enrollment NumbersAPRIL 1, 2014
President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Fifty years later, his relatives and admirers are working hard to highlight his initiatives. video Video: Legacy of L.B.J.FEB. 15, 2014
President Obama with female members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday. Democrats tried to highlight pay equity.Democrats Use Pay Issue in Bid for Women’s VoteAPRIL 8, 2014
For better or worse, Johnson represented the high-water mark for American presidents pushing through sweeping legislation — not just the Civil Rights Act, but the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Fair Housing Act and major measures on immigration, education, gun control and clean air and water. No president since has approached that level of legislative success, although there are people who argue that is a good thing because government should not be so intrusive.
LBJ Legacy: Vietnam War Often Overshadows Civil Rights Feat
The 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act offers fans of Lyndon Baines Johnson a chance to reassess the 36th president. This law is obscured by his escalation of a failed war in Vietnam.
THE DENVER POST
Two Colorado Department of Transportation workers were injured Monday morning when an explosive round blew up in the barrel of an avalanche-mitigation mortar in Loveland Pass.
The two, a CDOT explosives expert and a Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecaster, were airlifted to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. At 11 a.m., CDOT reported they were in fair condition.
“They were doing avalanche mitigation in Loveland Pass. They were very experienced crews doing the work,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.
The workers were firing the projectiles at about 7 a.m. into snow in the Seven Sisters area that is known for steep chasms on the east side of the pass, Ford said.
The workers, who were conscious when loaded into the helicopter, suffered head and facial injuries. The CAIC forecaster also had leg injuries, said CDOT maintenance supervisor John David. The men’s families were notified, Ford said.
The names of the injured men were not released. There also was a third crew member who was not injured when the device, which CDOT said has fired over 800 rounds this avalanche season, exploded.
David said he has been with CDOT since 1985 and had never known of even a close call when such mortars were being used. He added that the men were heeding protocol by moving behind their vehicle before the launch and that if they hadn’t, there “probably would have” been fatalities.
“We are taking this situation very seriously and will be looking into how to improve the safety of our crew members during avalanche reduction practices,” said Regional Transportation director Tony DeVito in a news release. “The safety of our crews and the traveling public are our top priority and we ask you keep these gentlemen in your thoughts today.”
The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department was investigating the scene, CDOT said.
An email from John Brennan producer of the Falcon GT Avalauncher that was involved in the accident.
There was an in-bore detonation in a Falcon GT Avalauncher today while the Colorado Department of Transportation was doing control work. I was close to the site so I spent about four hour there. I just got back home. Two gunners were injured. They had a truck bed mounted launcher and were using a second truck as their blast shield. I don’t believe it is my place release information before the Department of Transportation releases it, but from internet information the injuries are serious. Our prayers and best wishes are with the injured. The investigation is only in its rudimentary stages so not much information can be gleaned currently. I was unable to get close to the Avalauncher. The Avalauncher fired when they triggered it and the projectile detonated near the Breech end of the machine. They were using CIL Orion Classics. I was told they were the current version with deeper cap wells to accommodate the #12 caps that were being used. I understand that CIL Orion will be sending a representative to Colorado shortly. They were shooting well under 200 psi. In my opinion ALL Avalauncher operations should be suspended while this investigation continues. By this I mean any brand of Avalauncher so as to see what comes out of the investigation of the projectile system as well as the Falcon GT Avalauncher. I will update as soon as possible. Forward this info to all it may help. John Brennan
From a friend in Utah. J.R.
Photos by Jerry Roberts & Noel Peterson
old school launchers
The Montgomery Bus Boycott exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum features a vintage city bus. Visitors can go inside the bus and sit next to a figure of Rosa Parks.
In 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis became America’s first major museum to paint a broad picture of the civil rights movement. Its content hasn’t changed much since then. But this Saturday after a nearly $28 million renovation that took 18 months, the museum will re-open with a new design that aims to appeal to an older generation as well as a post-civil-rights-era audience.
About 200,000 people each year file into the courtyard of what was once the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. They gaze at the second floor balcony where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood before he was assassinated.
That site marks the epicenter of a cultural earthquake. Executive director Beverly Robertson said it was time to take a fresh look at the civil rights movement through the eyes of the people who gave it life.
“We recognize that it was the everyday regular old person who said, ‘I’m going to take a stand for justice,’” she says. “And they stood up, and they spoke out and they made a difference.”
To inspire the conscience of a younger generation, the museum first had to find new ways of getting inside its head. Over 20 years ago, its founders covered the walls in text to make up for what they thought was missing from history books. But students today, with Internet access and shorter attention spans, were skipping past big chunks of history.
“We had to blend history, technology, information boards, artifacts, audio, video to create what we believe is an engaging museum,” Robertson says.
The new exhibits immerse visitors in major chapters of the movement. They can sit at a segregated lunch counter, in a courtroom, or on a vintage city bus next to Rosa Parks. News reports and famous speeches fill the air with urgency. One highlight remains the same: the hotel room where Dr. King spent his final hours. For curators, the biggest challenge was relating all of this to a post-civil-rights-era audience.
“For an older generation, the master narrative says that we are moving toward overcoming — for a younger generation it is that we have overcome,” says Dr. Hasan Jeffries, an associate professor of history at Ohio State University.
Donald Rumsfeld, shown here on a 2006 visit to Iraq, was the Secretary of Defense during the beginning of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Errol Morris spent over 30 hours interviewing Rumsfeld for his latest documentary.
Filmmaker Errol Morris is famous for trying to get inside other people’s minds and understand the motivations behind the choices they’ve made. In his most famous film, The Fog of War, Morris sat down one-on-one with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to talk about the decisions McNamara made in Vietnam. During the course of the conversation, McNamara makes the stunning admission that some of his actions amounted to war crimes.
In his new film The Unknown Known, Morris takes the same approach with Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense who oversaw the U.S. war in Iraq. He saw with Rumsfeld for hours and hours of interviews. But this time, his results were different — and much more disappointing.
Morris talks to NPR’s Rachel Martin about why Rumsfeld, despite being cooperative and sincere, was a frustrating, difficult man to interview.
When I first met Donald Rumsfeld in his offices in Washington, D.C., one of the things I said to him was that if we could provide an answer to the American public about why we went to war in Iraq, we would be rendering an important service. He agreed. Unfortunately, after having spent 33 hours over the course of a year interviewing Mr. Rumsfeld, I fear I know less about the origins of the Iraq war than when I started. A question presents itself: How could that be? How could I know less rather than more? Was he hiding something? Or was there really little more than met the eye?
Many people associate the phrases the known known, the known unknown and the unknown unknown with Rumsfeld, but few people are aware of how he first presented these ideas to the public. It was at a Pentagon news conference on Feb. 12, 2002. Reporters filed in to the Pentagon Briefing Room — five months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq. The verbal exchanges that followed provide an excursion into a world no less irrational, no less absurd, than the worlds Lewis Carroll created in Alice in Wonderland.
Moroccan women face a dangerous daily toil, carrying large bales of duty-free goods back from the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla.
MELILLA, Spain — It was 9 a.m., and hundreds of Moroccan women, many of them older, were already at work, bent over and straining, trying to inch up the hill to the border post here. Many had bundles as big as washing machines lashed to their backs.
Dozens of others, too afraid to go farther, waited off to the side with their packages, exhaustion and defeat on their faces. Up ahead, men in yellow baseball caps, some using their belts as whips, tried to control the surging crowds with little success.
“My children need to eat,” said one of the women, Rkia Rmamda, who was watching the mayhem and sobbing. “What am I going to do? I need to work.”
There is probably no more abrupt economic fault line in the world than the fences that surround Melilla and Ceuta, Spain’s enclaves on the North African coast. Here just a few rows of chain link and barbed wire separate the wealth of Europe from the despair of Africa. So faint a barrier it is, and so tempting to breach, that migrants from Africa regularly try to swarm the defense. The latest attempt was a coordinated assault by about 800 people who tried to scale the fences on Friday.
When Charlie Porter showed up in the Yosemite Valley in the early 1970s and started forging new climbing routes up the famously imposing monolithic rock wall known as El Capitan, he was something of a mystery man, a stranger to the clubby group of mostly Californians who had made Yosemite the center of the climbing world.
He was from the East somewhere — Massachusetts, it turned out — and he had not grown up in the sport the way just about every other accomplished climber had, but his skills seemed otherworldly.
In 1972, he and another climber, Gary Bocarde, established the Shield, which became perhaps the most famous route up El Capitan. That same year, he made the first recorded ascent of the overhanging southeast face of the El Capitan wall, doing it solo, and named the route the Zodiac. In 1973, he scaled the southeast face again by a different route with different challenges, calling it Tangerine Trip, and by the summer of 1974 had established two other paths, Mescalito and Grape Race.
These were world-class feats of mountaineering, but if Mr. Porter, who died at 63 on Feb. 23 in Punta Arenas, Chile, was a mystery then, in many ways he remained one.
A reticent man who was not one to trumpet his achievements and who often set off into the wild by himself without so much as a camera or a notebook, he was, in Yosemite, only beginning an adventuresome life that took him to some of the world’s remotest places.
Among them were Mount Asgard, on Baffin Island in northern Canada, which he climbed solo in 1975, and Cape Horn, the tip of South America, around which he paddled a kayak in 1979, becoming one of a handful of people to navigate the dangerous Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica.
“I remember when I asked him about it, and he said just: ‘Oh, it was a piece of cake. It was a calm day,’ ” his half-brother, Barnaby, said in an interview.
Duane Raleigh, the editor in chief of Rock and Ice, a climbing and mountaineering magazine, called Mr. Porter “probably one of the great adventurers of the 20th century.”
“You’d be hard pressed to find someone so hard core, who would roll the dice like Charlie Porter,” Mr. Raleigh said.
A Note From Jack MIller
I never figured out how to reply directly to your Rogue Bear blog, so I’ll just send this, from a note to a friend from Yosemite days.
Thanks for sending the article on Charlie Porter. Always the enigma in Yosemite perhaps a little shy, or arrogant [unusual to stand out in valley full of odd-balls...]. Or simply a self-motivated, self-confident genius sort who goes directly into a project with full focus and concentration. I remember when he was creating an El Cap route, drilling shallow [say 1/4 deep "] holes and hooking tiny ‘bat-hooks” into them, doing several in a row until placing a full-length one. A gutsy new variation on aid climbing. The old school big wall guys shook their heads in disbelief or dismay: “Charlie’s creating a false route where there’s no true line, no cracks… ” Some routes were not repeated for a long time–if ever. His belay slave, Don somebody from Seattle–whose main job was sitting in his belay seat sharpening drills to send up to Charlie– got unnerved and had to rap off. I saw him right after, still shaking. Nice guy, looked like a normal outdoorsman/climber. He had a sort of nervous breakdown from the ordeal and left the Valley.
Sometime after you, Peter and I did the Seno Otway to S. Obstruction trip, I ran into Charlie in Punta Arenas. He had queried me for maps and I sent him the Armada de Chile’s atlas of charts. He re-designed a double Klepper kayak, fitting it with oars and rigging it so he could face forward and row. Klepper used the design for a similar product.We drank coffee and wolfed down pastry while he talke,er, pontificated. He’d become a [self-appointed] expert on flora and fauna on the region, along with anthropologist. His stories and science seemed to be as creative as his climbs of El Cap, and I had trouble separating the believable from the imagined..
We all know what teachers do, right? After all, we were all students. Each one of us, each product of public education, we each sat through class after class for thirteen years. We encountered dozens of teachers. We had our kindergarten teachers and our first grade teachers and our fifth grade teachers and our gym teachers and our art teachers and our music teachers. We had our science teachers and our social studies teachers and our English teachers and our math teachers. If we were lucky, we might even have had our Latin teachers or our Spanish teachers or our physics teachers or our psychology teachers. Heck, I even had a seventh grade “Communications Skills” teacher. We had our guidance counselors and our principals and some of us had our special education teachers and our study hall monitors.
So we know teachers. We get teachers. We know what happens in classrooms, and we know what teachers do. We know which teachers are effective, we know which teachers left lasting impressions, we know which teachers changed our lives, and we know which teachers sucked.
We know. We know which teachers changed lives for the better. We know which teachers changed lives for the worse.
Teaching as a profession has no mystery. It has no mystique. It has no respect.
We were students, and therefore we know teachers. We denigrate teachers. We criticize teachers. We can do better than teachers. After all: We do. They teach.
We are wrong.
Come senators, congressmen,
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he who gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Bob Dylan – “The Times They Are A-changin’,” 1964
The Culture of Spectacle
On Sunday, February 2, 2014, according to most reliable news sources, 111.5 million people (mostly US residents) participated in viewing the imperial spectacle known as the Super Bowl XLVIII. To be sure, this Super Bowl was not dissimilar to its predecessors; a made-for-television event of commodification, showcasing a package of mediocrity with a mind-numbing violent team sport to be utilized for selling useless junk. According to Bill Wanger, executive vice president for programming and research at Fox Sports, “Big-event television is a great way for people to have a communal event, to talk about it socially and to talk about it as a group.”
Wagner presupposes viewers are ready-made consumers who have lost the ability to think, or perhaps had never developed that ability in the first place. Therefore, if Fox Sports and their free market economy coconspirators set the agenda, people longing for community and communal experiences will simply follow it.
What sets apart this spectacle from the previous ones is not so much the record-setting viewership, despite the noncompetitiveness of the game, but the de-imaginative commercials and the mediocre musical performances of pop artists. One single commercial separates this spectacle from its counterparts of the past: The two-minute drivel of mythologizing patriotism featuring Bob Dylan is the culprit.
The Big Sellout ~~~~~ READ MORE ~~~~
OLD & NEW THOUGHTS ON RISK TOLERANCE
Like many older people I find in recent years that I learn more from those younger than from my peers. I recently gained a new sliver of insight into the matter of risk tolerance from my youngest son, Jason, who lives in Santa Cruz, California and is an avid surfer. Several years ago I heard about Mavericks, the famous, big, dangerous wave an hour north of Santa Cruz. I asked Jason if he knew about and had been to Mavericks. “I don’t do that kind of thing, Dad,” he replied. As a parent I was understandably relieved. Last year the fine biographical film “Chasing Mavericks,” about two Mavericks icons, was released. It is, in my view, a superior film about the human quality of risk tolerance and much more. After I saw it I asked Jason if he had seen it. He knows some of the people portrayed in the film but his busy life as a parent, husband, firefighter, surfer and mountain bike rider had left him no time for the film. But he said something that resonates with lessons for those willing to learn them. He said, “You know, there are only a handful of surfers in the world capable of riding Mavericks, and within that handful there are only a few who want to.”
About 20 years ago I was talking about the latest casualty of the mountains with a friend, a fellow climbing guide. It is a theme that people who live, work and play in mountains return to all too often. Our discussion that day veered away from the specific most recent death of a climber we knew to all the people we had known who had died in the mountains over the period of our lives. Some of them had been friends, a few close ones. For reasons I’ve forgotten, we decided that we would search our memories and each make a list of all the people we knew who had died in the mountains. The next day we resumed our conversation with our respective lists which totaled more than 70.
We were both surprised. We should not have been.
Red Guards — high school and university students — wave copies of Chairman Mao Zedong’sLittle Red Book during a parade in June 1966 in Beijing’s streets at the beginning of China’s Cultural Revolution. More than 1 million people are believed to have died during the decade-long upheaval.
For most of the past half century, China has avoided a full accounting for one of the darkest chapters of its recent history: the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976.
During that time, Chairman Mao Zedong’s shock troops — Communist youth known as Red Guards — persecuted, tortured or even killed millions of Chinese, supposed “class enemies.”
Now, some Red Guards have issued public apologies to their victims, a rare example of the ruling party allowing public discussion of its historic mistakes.
Mao Zedong reviews the army forces of the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” at Tiananmen Square in August 1966.
Some observers hope the apologies will lead to fuller public discussion of this turbulent decade in China’s history. But there are many critics, too: those who say the apologies are insincere and insufficient, and others who feel they unfairly besmirch Mao’s reputation.
The Cultural Revolution was orchestrated by the Chinese leader, an effort to build a utopian society through class struggle. It drove the country to the brink of civil war and, by some estimates, cost more than 1 million lives.
The early phases of the Cultural Revolution were centered on China’s schools. In the summer of 1966, the Communist Party leadership proclaimed that some of China’s educators were members of the exploiting classes, who were poisoning students with their capitalist ideology. Indeed, the educated classes in general were marked as targets of the revolution.
The leadership gave Communist youth known as Red Guards the green light to remove educators from their jobs and punish them.
One of the highest-profile apologies comes from Chen Xiaolu, a Red Guard leader at Beijing’s elite No. 8 high school. He is also the son of Chen Yi, a leading Communist revolutionary and former foreign minister, and that allows him some latitude to speak out.
A propaganda poster from Beijing in late 1966 features Red Guards and an “enemy of the people.”
Jean Vincent/AFP/Getty Images
“On August 19, I organized a meeting to criticize the leaders of the Beijing education system,” Chen, now 67, recalls. “A rather serious armed struggle broke out. At the end, some students rushed onstage and used leather belts to whip some of the education officials, including the party secretary of my school.”
Chen says he was against the violence, but the situation spiraled out of his control. Chen says his school’s party secretary later committed suicide, and a vice secretary was crippled as a result of that day’s attack.
The same summer, Chairman Mao met with crowds of frenzied Red Guards in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. He endorsed their violent tactics — consisting mainly of beatings with fists, clubs and other blunt instruments. In August and September 1966, a total of 1,772 people were killed in Beijing, according to theBeijing Daily newspaper.
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is seen in his Washington office, May 20, 1963. The 1971 burglary of one of the bureau’s offices revealed the agency’s domestic surveillance program.
More than 40 years ago, on the evening of March 8, 1971, a group of burglars carried out an audacious plan. They pried open the door of an FBI office in Pennsylvania and stole files about the bureau’s surveillance of anti-war groups and civil rights organizations.
Hundreds of agents tried to identify the culprits, but the crime went unsolved. Until now.
For the first time, a new book reveals that the burglars were peace demonstrators who wanted to start a debate about the FBI’s unchecked power to spy on Americans. And it’s coming out at a time when the country is weighing the merits of surveillance all over again.
The plotters executed their break-in on a night when millions of people sat glued to their TV sets, watching Muhammad Ali square off against Joe Frazier for the heavyweight championship of the world. That 15-round bout was a brilliant distraction exploited by a group of anti-war activists who set out to burgle a small FBI office outside Philadelphia and expose some of J. Edgar Hoover’s secrets.
Bonnie Raines was one of those activists, and she’s talking publicly about what she did for the first time in 42 years.
“It seemed that no one else was going to stand up to Hoover’s FBI at that time, and we knew what Hoover’s FBI was doing in Philadelphia in terms of illegal surveillance and intimidation,” Raines says. “And we thought somebody needed to confront Hoover and document what many of us knew was happening.”
Stealing From The FBI
Weeks earlier, Bonnie had piled her long hippie hair into a winter cap, put on a pair of glasses and posed as a college student interested in the FBI. She wanted to get a look inside the bureau’s small office in the town of Media, Pa., to case the joint, even if it meant risking imprisonment.
Another member of the team, draft protester Keith Forsyth, was chosen to pick the lock at the FBI office. But when the time came, he got a nasty surprise.
“When I got there, there was a brand-new high-security lock on the door,” Forsyth says.
Forsyth rushed back to confer with the other burglars, and they agreed to keep trying. So he returned to the office, got down on the ground and slowly applied a crowbar to another door.
“It was a great relief, because, you know, the original plan was for me to be in and out in a couple of minutes, and I don’t know how long I spent up there but it was probably at least an hour,” Forsyth says.
Forsyth and the other burglars chose the name of their group carefully.
“We called ourselves the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI,” says John Raines. He was a professor of religion at Temple University and Bonnie’s husband.
The burglars were sure that Hoover — who ruled the bureau with an iron fist — had been carrying out illegal surveillance on Vietnam protesters and civil rights groups.
“And he was an icon — nobody in Washington was going to hold him accountable,” John Raines says. “He could get away with doing whatever he wanted to do with his FBI, and it was his FBI, nobody else’s.”
The breaking and entering was supposed to get evidence of that spying so Congress and the public could no longer ignore it. Not long after the burglary, reporter Betty Medsger received an anonymous package at her desk at theWashington Post: secret documents. She published the story.
“The country learned for the first time that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover was almost completely different from what the country thought it was,” Medsger says.
Earlier today an avalanche took place on Pucker Face just outside the Southern boundary of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. One male was caught in the slide and according to the Bridger Teton Avy Center, has perished as a result.
Alain Leroy, owner of an auction company in Paris, surrounded by sacred Hopi spirit masks.
The auction in Paris was set to move briskly, at about two items a minute; the room was hot and crowded, buzzing with reporters.
More than 100 American Indian artifacts were about to go on sale at the Drouot auction house, including 24 pieces, resembling masks, that are held sacred by the Hopi of Arizona. The tribe, United States officials and others had tried unsuccessfully to block the sale in a French court, arguing that the items were religious objects that had been stolen many years ago.
Now the Annenberg Foundation decided to get involved from its offices in Los Angeles. It hoped to buy all of the Hopi artifacts, plus three more sought by the San Carlos Apaches, at the Dec. 9 sale and return them to the tribes. To prevent prices from rising, the foundation kept its plan a secret, even from the Hopis, in part to protect the tribe from potential disappointment. Given the nine-hour time difference, the foundation put together a team that could work well into the night, bidding by phone in the auction in France.
The foundation had never done something like this before — a repatriation effort — and the logistics were tricky, to say the least.
Two staff members in Los Angeles, one a French speaker, were assigned to the job. The foundation also quietly arranged for a Paris lawyer, Pierre Servan-Schreiber, who had represented the Hopi pro bono in the court proceeding, to serve as lookout in the auction room.
Bill Moyers: “That Sound You Hear Is the Shredding of the Social Contract” Dark money, voter suppression, and a widening gap between the rich and poor threaten our democracy.
I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and—in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular—the defense of a free press.
Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country. He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him. He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, “Why can’t you do it the same way?” His answer: “We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be.”
Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating “a Frankenstein,” I asked, “How so?” He looked around his chambers and replied, “The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about.”
That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration. How I wish he were here now—and still on the Court!
My interview with him was one of 12 episodes in that series on the Constitution. Another concerned a case he had heard back in 1967. It involved a teacher named Harry Keyishian who had been fired because he would not sign a New York State loyalty oath. Justice Brennan ruled that the loyalty oath and other anti-subversive state statutes of that era violated First Amendment protections of academic freedom.
I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him. Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision. The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, “He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him.” Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, “It was the first time I had seen him. Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way.”
Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known—the Framers knew—that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up.” And he didn’t.
the buddha with bud
the dog with virgen
the christmas tree
Nelson Mandela, who was born in a country that viewed him as a second-class citizen, died Thursday as one of the most respected statesmen in the world.
President Jacob Zuma announced the death in a televised speech.
From his childhood as a herd boy, Mandela went on to lead the African National Congress’ struggle against the racially oppressive, apartheid regime of South Africa. For his efforts, he spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner. In 1994, after Mandela was elected president in South Africa’s first democratic elections, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shook with elation as he welcomed Mandela to a rally in Cape Town.
“One man inspires us all. One man inspires the whole world,” Tutu said at the time. “Ladies and gentlemen, friends, fellow South Africans, welcome our brand new state president — out of the box: Nelson Mandela.”
Mandela was born in the Transkei, a region of rolling green hills near the southern tip of the African continent. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom,he recalled his childhood as a simple, joyful time. He herded sheep and cows near his mother’s huts and played barefoot with other boys. He was educated by British missionaries, got a law degree and eventually opened the first black law firm in Johannesburg.
In the 1940s, Mandela became active with the Youth League of the African National Congress.
Tapping into the culture of black resistance that was sweeping Johannesburg, Mandela helped organize strikes and demonstrations against the country’s system of racial segregation.
Death Stirs Sense of Loss Around the World
In Immigration Battle, Advocates for Overhaul Single Out Republicans—We need to get rid of this loser…J.R.
PUEBLO, Colo. — Representative Scott Tipton, Republican of Colorado, entered his town hall meeting and quickly began greeting the assembled crowd, including those who did not necessarily share his political views.
He shook the hands of a group of Hispanic teenagers sitting in the front row, welcoming them like old friends. The teenagers, who had been brought to the country illegally by their parents as young children, had come the day before to lobby Mr. Tipton to support a broad immigration overhaul.
“You were there yesterday!” he said to one of the teenagers, who were dressed in red and had already attended several other events in his district. “Well, thanks for taking the time. Did you have a good drive?” He turned to another member of the group. “I have not got you to smile once,” he said, offering a smile of his own, before moving to the front of the room to start his meeting.
Mr. Tipton has come to know the immigration advocates in his district — and their issue — well. As House Republicans have all but ruled out the possibility of passing any sweeping legislation before the end of the year, immigration advocates are operating with an increased sense of urgency. Their goal is to pressure lawmakers like Mr. Tipton to support an overhaul, creating a call for action from Republican House members that they hope Speaker John A. Boehner and his leadership team will find impossible to ignore.
But persuading Mr. Tipton, a two-term lawmaker who rode into office on the Tea Partywave in 2010, to support any broad immigration legislation will be a tough sell.
Very few of us need to be reminded about what happened 50 years ago today in Dallas.
And with all the remembrances of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the news media this week, there’s no need for us to post yet another.
Let’s go in a different direction. We’re embedding video of his Jan. 20, 1961, inaugural address. We’ll also attach a transcript (per the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum) below.
As NPR has reported before, the president’s “ask not” address still inspires many people. We thought watching and reading it again might be a proper way of noting this day.
From WBUR in Boston:
Since the 1980s, historians have concentrated on leaders’ failings, as well as their successes.
WASHINGTON — The President John F. Kennedy students learn about today is not their grandparents’ J.F.K.
The first — and for many the last — in-depth lesson that American students learn about the 35th president comes from high school textbooks. And on the eve of the anniversary of his assassination 50 years ago, a review of more than two dozen written since then shows that the portrayal of him has fallen sharply over the years.
In general, the picture has evolved from a charismatic young president who inspired youths around the world to a deeply flawed one whose oratory outstripped his accomplishments. Averting war in the Cuban missile crisis got less attention and respect. Legislative setbacks and a deepening commitment in Vietnam got more. The Kennedy-era glamour seemed more image than reality.
For example, a 1975 high school text by Clarence Ver Steeg and Richard Hofstadter said that in his handling of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, “Kennedy’s true nature as a statesman became fully apparent.” In “A People and a Nation,” they said his 1963 limited nuclear test ban treaty “was the greatest single step toward peace since the beginning of the Cold War.”
On civil rights, they said, his administration “did not receive congressional cooperation.” Even so, they wrote, inaccurately, “buses, hotels, motels and restaurants were largely desegregated” in his presidency. Most of those changes came when the Civil Rights Act was signed by his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964.
(CNN) – Leaders in Utah say they found a way to get around the government shutdown.
Utah will reopen its five national parks by Saturday, as well as three other nationally run locations.
Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert made the announcement Thursday, saying a deal had been reached with the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million— $166,572 per day—to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies” an official press statement explained.
The deal would reopen Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks. The other three locations that will be opened are Natural Bridges and Cedar Breaks national monuments, as well as Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.