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  • Notorious RBG: A Study in Values

    • By admin
    • October 8, 2020

    Rabbi Jacob Weinstein once said, “You can’t tell the size of an evergreen until it is cut down.”  With the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American jurisprudence just lost — following the Rabbi Weinstein metaphor — a sequoia. Justice Ginsburg, agree with her politics or not, was a game changer.  Her positions, particularly on gender equality, are now baked into the national experience. She became a liberal icon, the Notorious RBG, because of the barriers she overcame and opportunities she created for women — but her values cut across political and gender lines. Some of Ginsburg’s most famous cases involved wronged men.  As an ACLU...

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  • Seventy-Two Years of TV Coverage at National Convention

    • By admin
    • September 7, 2020

    Television made its debut at national political conventions in 1948.  The audience was confined to the east coast, national coverage still four years away. Conventions in those days were not tightly scripted affairs: they featured some entertaining gaffes and “hot microphone” moments. At the ’48 Democratic gathering, President Harry Truman was nominated and gave his acceptance speech in one day — one long day. Following extensive proceedings, a delegate walk-out, and much bluster, House Speaker Sam Rayburn was set to introduce President Truman at 1:43 am.  Prior to Truman’s entry, 48 “doves of peace” were to be released from within a floral display of the Liberty...

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  • Jazz Starts Here: Celebrating Charlie Parker at 100

    • By admin
    • July 12, 2020

    When Charlie Parker, the prodigiously talented alto saxophonist, passed away, his obituary in The New York Times listed his age as “about 53.” In reality, Parker was only 34. What created this egregious error? New York Times’ obits are usually spot-on. The story of Parker’s death is as tragic as much of the rest of his life. As the astute jazz chronicler, Nat Hentoff, wrote: “There have been a number of instances in jazz history of the incandescent hero-as-world-overturning-improviser eventually plunging, like Icarus, into burnt out extinction…but there has been no more daring, dangerous, revolutionary flight than that of Charlie Parker.” Jazz critic Whitney...

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  • Living In The COVID Question

    • By admin
    • May 29, 2020

    A few months ago, the world was assured that there was “no clear evidence” of human-to-human transmission of Covid-19. Shortly thereafter, when it became obvious that the virus was spreading among people, scientists believed that Covid-19 was primarily a respiratory infection that could result in viral pneumonia. Today we know a lot more about this serial killer — and perhaps the most important fact we know is there’s a lot we simply do not know. “One of the things that’s really frustrating is that because everyone is really hungry for answers, there’s this sort of a tendency to kind of pounce on the first information that becomes available,” Ellie Murray, professor...

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  • Sheltering While the Bombs Fell During WWII

    • By admin
    • April 11, 2020

    In the early stages of World War II, Winston Churchill declared that London was “the greatest target in the world.” His assessment was strikingly accurate. Adolf Hitler wanted to destroy the British morale, so his air fleet (the terrifying Luftwaffe) launched a sustained bombing offensive that ultimately killed or seriously injured more than 80,000 and destroyed a million buildings in the London area. During the Blitz (meaning lightening war), September 1940 until May 1941, nightly raids by the Germans relentlessly pounded the city — 30,000 bombs were dropped in a display of unstoppable air power. But Hitler failed to achieve his goal. The British developed a “Blitz...

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  • Recalling the Wisdom of Anne Frank in Troubled Times

    • By admin
    • April 11, 2020

    “Everyone is scared…the end is nowhere in sight…one small act of carelessness and we are done for.” During these times of unsettling widespread lockdowns and tragic deaths due to COVID-19, the words of Anne Frank offer special meaning. Frank and seven others hid out in a 450 square foot “secret annex” in the heart of Amsterdam from July 6, 1942 until August 4, 1944. That is 761 days. Anne Frank was 13 years old when she entered this loathsome exile. The “annex” was a cleverly concealed, three story apartment at the rear of a spice factory once owned by Anne’s father, Otto Frank. The reason for hiding: the Franks were Jewish at a time when Adolph Hitler launched...

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  • Seeking Truth About Life After Life

    • By admin
    • December 2, 2019

    This is a true story. In the early morning hours of March 2, 1957, two sisters, Jean and Alice, sat in a hospital room, watching their seventy-nine-year-old mother, Ella, die. On December 28 of the preceding year, Ella had fallen and broken her hip. Complications from a hip fracture — potentially fatal even today — were a virtual death sentence in the 1950’s. The sisters, both in their late thirties, knew that the journey was nearly over — for several hours, Ella had been conversing with relatives who had passed away, as if preparing for whatever was ahead. Ella was particularly engaged with her late husband, Henry. Although her words were coherent, the subject matter...

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  • The Death and Surprising Return of John Dillinger

    • By admin
    • October 4, 2019

    The woman in red, Ana Sage, was actually wearing orange that night. The lights of the Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago tinted her dress crimson, a vivid color suitable for gangland folklore. Her real name was Ana Cumpanas and on July 22, 1934, she was on a blood mission designed to net a $10,000 reward and freedom from pending deportation issues. Her job: identify the loathsome psychopathic killer and bank robber, John Dillinger. The gaudy outfit she wore was a prop devised to make her easily recognizable to law enforcement officers who were waiting to apprehend the criminal. Sage, a brothel operator, Dillinger, and his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, entered the Biograph at...

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