Tag Archives: death

Deadly backstreet abortions to rise with Trump restrictions

Thousands of women will die from unsafe abortions and millions will have unwanted pregnancies following President Donald Trump’s decision to ban U.S.-funded groups from discussing abortion, activists said this week.

Trump reinstated the so-called global gag rule, affecting U.S. non-governmental organizations working abroad, to signal his opposition to abortion, which is difficult to access legally in many developing countries due to restrictive laws, stigma and poverty.

“Women will go back to unsafe abortion again,” said Kenyan campaigner Rosemary Olale, who teaches teenage girls in Nairobi slums about reproductive health. “You will increase the deaths.”

The East African nation has one of world’s highest abortion rates and most abortions are unsafe and a leading cause of preventable injury and death among women, government data shows.

Globally, 21.6 million women have unsafe abortions each year, nine out of 10 of which take place in developing countries, according the World Health Organization.

The gag rule, formally known as the Mexico City Policy, prevents charities receiving U.S. funding from performing or telling women about legal options for abortion, even if they use separate money for abortion services, counseling or referrals.

It will hit major reproductive health charities, such as International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, as the United States is the world’s largest bilateral family planning donor.

Unless it receives alternative funding to support its services, MSI estimates there will be 2.1 million unsafe abortions and 21,700 maternal deaths during Trump’s first term that could have been prevented.

“Abortion is a fundamental right for women and also very necessary public health intervention,” said Maaike van Min, MSI’s London-based strategy director.

MSI has been receiving $30 million per year in U.S. Agency for International Development funding to provide 1.5 million women in more than a dozen countries with family planning services.

It will have to cut these services unless it finds other donors, the charity said.

“Women won’t be able to finish their education (or) pursue the career that they might have, because they don’t have control over their fertility,” said van Min.

“Aid is under pressure everywhere in the world and so finding donors who have the ability to fund this gap is going to be challenging.”

INHUMAN

Women who live in remote areas without government services will suffer most, van Min said, highlighting mothers in Nigeria and Madagascar where MIS has large programs.

“If they don’t now control their fertility, they are at high risk for maternal mortality,” she said. “I remember this lady who had had too many pregnancies and she came up to me … in this village and she was like: ‘Can you make it stop?'”

Other important health services are also likely to be cut, said Evelyne Opondo, Africa director for the Center for Reproductive Rights advocacy group, recalling the large number of facilities that closed down in Kenya after President George W. Bush came to power in 2001 and reinstated the gag rule.

“They refused to adhere to the global gag rule so they lost quite a substantial amount of funding,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a phone interview.

“They were also forced to drastically reduce other services that they were providing, including for survivors of sexual violence (and) for HIV.”

Abortion rates across sub-Saharan Africa increased during the Bush administration, according to a WHO study.

“It’s really unfortunate that the lives and the health of so many women are subject to the whims of American politics,” Opondo said. “This is really unethical, if not inhuman.”

Reporting by Neha Wadekar; Editing by Katy Migiro and Ros Russell. This report is from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org to see more stories.

Dylann Roof sentenced to death

A jury on Jan. 10 condemned white supremacist Dylann Roof to death for the hate-fueled killings of nine black parishioners at a Bible study meeting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015.

The same jury last month found Roof, 22, guilty of 33 federal charges, including hate crimes resulting in death, for the shootings at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours.

Roof stared straight ahead as the judge read through the jury’s verdict findings before announcing his death sentence, local media reported on social media.

Roof, who represented himself for the penalty phase, was unrepentant during his closing argument earlier in the day. He told jurors he still felt the massacre was something he had to do and did not ask that his life be spared.

“Today’s sentencing decision means that this case will not be over for a very long time,” Roof’s lawyers, who represented him for the guilt phase, said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

Roof still faces a trial on murder charges in state court, where prosecutors also are seeking the death penalty.

Attorney general statement on the sentencing

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch released the following statement on the sentencing of Dylann Roof:

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Storm Roof sought out and opened fire on African-American parishioners engaged in worship and bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

He did so because of their race.  And he did so to interfere with their peaceful exercise of religion.

The victims in the case led lives as compassionate civic and religious leaders; devoted public servants and teachers; and beloved family members and friends.  They include a young man in the bloom of youth and an 87-year-old grandmother who still sang in the church choir.

We remember those who have suffered, and especially those that lost their lives: Cynthia Graham Hurd, 54;

Susie Jackson, 87;

Ethel Lance, 70;

Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49;

Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41;

Tywanza Sanders, 26;

Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74;

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45;

and Myra Thompson, 59.

Today, a jury of his peers considered the actions Roof took on that fateful day, and they rendered a verdict that will hold him accountable for his choices.

No verdict can bring back the nine we lost that day at Mother Emanuel.

And no verdict can heal the wounds of the five church members who survived the attack or the souls of those who lost loved ones to Roof’s callous hand.  But we hope that the completion of the prosecution provides the people of Charleston — and the people of our nation — with a measure of closure.

We thank the jurors for their service, the people of Charleston for their strength and support, and the law enforcement community in South Carolina and throughout the country for their vital work on this case.

 

Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2016

Embracing Soviet-style communism, Fidel Castro overcame imprisonment and exile to become leader of Cuba and defy the power of the United States at every turn.

The strongman’s half-century rule was marked by the unsuccessful U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. But after surviving a crippling trade embargo and dozens of assassination plots, Castro died in November at age 90.

Perhaps befitting the controversial leader, his death elicited both tears and cheers across the Western Hemisphere.

But Castro was just one of many noteworthy people who died in 2016.

The year also saw the deaths of pop music giants: David Bowie, who broke musical boundaries through his musicianship and striking visuals, and Prince, who was considered one of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times.

Among the political figures who died in 2016 was the world’s longest reigning monarch: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was revered in Thailand as a demigod, a father figure and an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval.

Others in the world of public affairs included former United National Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, ex-senator and astronaut John Glenn, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former Israeli leader Shimon Peres and former U.S. first lady Nancy Reagan.

In the sports arena, the year saw the passing of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, whose fast fists and outspoken personality brought him fans around the world. Other sports figures included: golfer Arnold Palmer, Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe, basketball players Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Nate Thurmond, Olympians Vera Caslavska and Tommy Kono, wrestlers Harry Fujiwara and Chyna, and mixed martial arts fighter Kimbo Slice.

Artists and entertainers who died in 2016 included author Harper Lee, conductor Pierre Boulez, musicians Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard, Maurice White, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Phife Dawg, and actors Gene Wilder, Abe Vigoda, Florence Henderson, Alan Rickman, Robert Vaughn, Garry Shandling, Doris Roberts, Alan Thicke, Fyvush Finkel and Anton Yelchin.

Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2016. (Cause of death cited for younger people, if available.)

JANUARY:

Dale Bumpers, 90. Former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator who earned the nickname “giant killer” for taking down incumbents, and who gave a passionate speech defending Bill Clinton during the president’s impeachment trial. Jan. 1

Pierre Boulez, 90. Former principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic who moved between conducting, composition and teaching as one of the leading figures in modern classical music. Jan. 5.

Pat Harrington Jr., 86. Actor and comedian who in the 1950s got attention as a member of Steve Allen’s fabled TV comic troupe but secured lasting fame decades later as Dwayne Schneider, the cocky handyman on the long-running sitcom “One Day at a Time.” Jan. 6.

Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, 96. Twin sister of Iran’s deposed shah whose glamorous life epitomized the excesses of her brother’s rule. Jan. 7.

Otis Clay, 73. Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist known as much for his big heart and charitable work in Chicago as for his singing internationally. Jan. 8.

David Bowie, 69. Other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust. Jan. 10.

Alan Rickman, 69. Classically-trained British stage star and sensual screen villain in the “Harry Potter” saga and other films. Jan. 14.

Rene Angelil, 73. Celine Dion’s husband and manager, who molded her from a French-speaking Canadian ingénue into one of the world’s most successful singers. Jan. 14.

Dan Haggerty, 74. Rugged, bearded actor who starred in the film and TV series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams.” Jan. 15.

Glenn Frey, 67. Rock ‘n’ roll rebel who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.” Jan. 18.

Abe Vigoda, 94. Character actor whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series “Barney Miller” and the doomed Mafia soldier in “The Godfather.” Jan. 26.

Paul Kantner, 74. Founding member of the Jefferson Airplane who stayed with the seminal band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hit makers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship. Jan. 28.

Signe Toly Anderson, 74. Vocalist and original member of the Jefferson Airplane who left the band after its first record and was replaced by Grace Slick. Jan. 28.

Linus Maurer, 90. Cartoonist and illustrator whose old friend Charles M. Schulz borrowed his first name for Charlie Brown’s blanket-carrying best friend Linus in his “Peanuts” comic strip and cartoons. Jan. 29.

Georgia Davis Powers, 92. Giant in the fight for civil rights in Kentucky and the first African-American woman elected to the state Senate. Jan. 30.

Terry Wogan, 77. His warm Irish brogue and sly, gentle humor made him a star of British television and radio for decades. Jan. 31.

FEBRUARY:

Bob Elliott, 92. Half of the enduring TV and radio comedy team Bob and Ray. Feb. 2.

Maurice White, 74. Earth, Wind & Fire founder whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums. Feb. 3.

Ferd Kaufman, 89. Associated Press photographer who was at Dallas police headquarters as authorities brought in President John F. Kennedy’s assassin. Feb. 3.

Edgar Whitcomb, 98. Former Indiana governor who escaped from a Japanese prisoner camp by swimming overnight during World War II and then made an around-the-world solo sailing trip while in his 70s. Feb. 4.

Edgar Mitchell, 85. Apollo 14 astronaut who became the sixth man on the moon when he and Alan Shepard helped NASA recover from Apollo 13’s “successful failure.” Feb. 4.

Antonin Scalia, 79. Influential conservative and most provocative member of the U.S. Supreme Court. Feb. 13.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93. Veteran Egyptian diplomat who helped negotiate his country’s landmark peace deal with Israel but clashed with the United States when he served a single term as U.N. secretary-general. Feb. 16.

Andrzej Zulawski, 75. Filmmaker and writer named best director last year at a film festival in Switzerland for his latest film, “Cosmos.” Feb. 17.

Angela “Big Ang” Raiola, 55. Raspy-voiced bar owner who gained fame on the reality TV series “Mob Wives.” Feb. 18.

Harper Lee, 89. Elusive novelist whose child’s-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” became standard reading for millions of young people and an Oscar-winning film. Feb. 19.

Umberto Eco, 84. Italian author who intrigued, puzzled and delighted readers worldwide with his best-selling historical novel “The Name of the Rose.” Feb. 19.

Eric “Winkle” Brown, 97. British pilot who flew more kinds of aircraft than anyone in history and was the first person to land a jet on an aircraft carrier. Feb. 21.

Sonny James, 87. Country singer who recorded romantic ballads like “Young Love” and turned pop songs into country hits. Feb. 22.

George Kennedy, 91. Hulking, tough-guy actor who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of a savage chain-gang convict in the 1960s classic “Cool Hand Luke.” Feb. 28.

MARCH:

Tony Warren, 79. British writer who created the long-running soap opera “Coronation Street.” March 1.

Thanat Khoman, 101. As Thailand’s foreign minister, he helped cement his country’s close relations with the United States during the Vietnam War. March 3.

Joey Feek, 40. With her husband, Rory, she formed the award-winning country duo Joey + Rory. March 4.

Pat Conroy, 70. Author of “The Great Santini,” ”The Prince of Tides” and other best-sellers, whose novels drew upon his bruising childhood and the vistas of South Carolina. March 4.

Raymond Tomlinson, 74. Inventor of modern email and a technological leader. March 5.

Nancy Reagan, 94. Helpmate, backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president – and finally during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. March 6.

George Martin, 90. The Beatles’ urbane producer who quietly guided the band’s swift, historic transformation from rowdy club act to musical and cultural revolutionaries. March 8.

Peter Maxwell Davies, 81. Experimental, socially radical composer who served as Queen Elizabeth II’s official master of music. March 14. Leukemia.

Frank Sinatra Jr., 72. He carried on his father’s legacy with his own music career; his kidnapping as a young man added a bizarre chapter to his father’s legendary life. March 16.

Meir Dagan, 71. Former Israeli general and longtime director of the country’s spy agency. March 17.

Bob Ebeling, 89. Booster rocket engineer who spent decades filled with guilt over not stopping the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. March 21.

Andy Grove, 79. Former Intel Corp. chief executive whose youth under Nazi occupation and escape from the Iron Curtain inspired an “only the paranoid survive” management philosophy that saved the chip maker from financial ruin in the 1980s. March 21.

Rob Ford, 46. Pugnacious, populist former mayor of Toronto whose career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced debacle. March 22. Cancer.

Phife Dawg, 45. Lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. March 22. Complications from diabetes.

Garry Shandling, 66. Actor and comedian who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with “The Larry Sanders Show.” March 24.

Earl Hamner Jr., 92. Prolific writer who drew upon his Depression-era upbringing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to create one of television’s most beloved family shows, “The Waltons.” March 24.

Mother Mary Angelica, 92. Folksy Roman Catholic nun who used a monastery garage to begin a television ministry that grew into a global religious media empire. March 27.

Winston Moseley, 81. Man convicted of the 1964 stabbing death of Kitty Genovese, a crime that came to symbolize urban decay and indifference. March 28.

Patty Duke, 69. As a teen, she won an Oscar for playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker,” then maintained a long career while battling personal demons. March 29.

Hans-Dietrich Genscher, 89. Long-serving German foreign minister who was one of the key architects of the country’s 1990 reunification of east and west. March 31.

Imre Kertesz, 86. Hungarian writer who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature for fiction largely drawn from his experience as a teenage prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. March 31.

APRIL:

Leandro “Gato” Barbieri, 83. Latin Jazz saxophonist who composed the Grammy-winning music for the steamy Marlon Brando film “Last Tango in Paris” and recorded dozens of albums over a career spanning more than seven decades. April 2.

Erik Bauersfeld, 93. He turned three words from a minor acting role – “It’s a trap!” – into one of the most beloved lines of the “Star Wars” series. April 3.

Merle Haggard, 79. Country giant who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws, underdogs and an abiding sense of national pride in such hits as “Okie From Muskogee” and “Sing Me Back Home.” April 6.

Howard Marks, 70. Convicted drug smuggler who reinvented himself as an author, raconteur and drug-reform campaigner after publishing the best-selling autobiography “Mr. Nice.” April 10.

David Gest, 62. Music producer, reality TV star and former husband of Liza Minnelli. April 12.

Fred Hayman, 90. Dapper entrepreneur and “Godfather of Rodeo Drive” whose vision transformed a nondescript Southern California street into one of the world’s pre-eminent fashion districts. April 14.

Doris Roberts, 90. She played the tart-tongued, endlessly meddling mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” April 17.

Patricio Aylwin, 97. Lanky law professor who played a decisive role in restoring Chile’s democracy after 17 years of brutal dictatorship and was later elected president. April 19.

Chyna, 46. Tall, muscle-bound, raven-haired pro-wrestler who rocketed to popularity in the 1990s and later made the rounds on reality TV. April 20.

Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, 52. Basketball player who went from New York City playground wonder to Big East star for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. April 20.

Victoria Wood, 62. British comedian who found humor in everyday life and blazed a trail for other female comics. April 20.

Prince, 57. One of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times with hits including “Little Red Corvette,” ”Let’s Go Crazy” and “When Doves Cry.” April 21.

Isabelle Dinoire, 49. Frenchwoman who received the world’s first partial face transplant. April 22.

Billy Paul, 80. Jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and “Philadelphia Soul” classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” April 24.

Remo Belli, 88. Musician who pioneered the synthetic drumhead in time to help a generation of rock-and-rollers shape their sound and then saw it become standard on kits across genres. April 25.

Harry Wu, 79. Former political prisoner who dedicated his later life to exposing abuses in China’s brutal prison labor camp system. April 26.

Ozzie Silna, 83. He turned a fading American Basketball Association franchise into a four-decade windfall of nearly $800 million from the NBA in what’s commonly called the greatest deal in sports history. April 26.

Conrad Burns, 81. Former U.S. senator whose folksy demeanor and political acumen earned him three terms and the bitter disdain of his opponents. April 28.

Rev. Daniel Berrigan, 94. Roman Catholic priest and peace activist who was imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the Vietnam War. April 30.

MAY:

Tommy Kono, 85. He took up weightlifting in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans and went on to win two Olympic gold medals for the United States. May 1.

Madeleine LeBeau, 92. French actress best known for her small but memorable role in “Casablanca” as Rick’s pushed aside girlfriend Yvonne who passionately sings “La Marseillaise” at a pivotal moment. May 1.

Afeni Shakur, 69. Former Black Panther who inspired the work of her son, rap icon Tupac Shakur, and fostered his legacy for decades after he was slain. May 2.

Carl Fredrik Reutersward, 81. One of Sweden’s best-known modern artists and the creator of the iconic statue of a revolver barrel tied in a knot. May 3.

Bob Bennett, 82. Former U.S. senator who shied away from the spotlight but earned a reputation as someone who knew how to get things done in Washington. May 4.

William Schallert, 93. Veteran performer and Hollywood union leader who played Patty Duke’s father – and uncle – on TV and led a long, contentious strike for actors. May 8.

Gene Gutowski, 90. Polish-American Holocaust survivor who was the producer of three films by director Roman Polanski in the 1960s and reunited with him decades later for the Oscar-winning Holocaust drama “The Pianist.” May 10.

Donnovan Hill, 18. California teenager whose paralyzing football injury led to increased safety protections for young players after he sued a youth league. May 11.

Samuel Gibson, 39. Diminutive New Zealand man who inspired many by defying the brittle bones he was born with and pursuing a life filled with rigorous outdoor adventures. May 16. Died after falling from wheelchair during half-marathon.

Guy Clark, 74. Texas singer-songwriter who helped mentor a generation of songwriters and wrote hits like “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” May 17.

Morley Safer, 84. Veteran “60 Minutes” correspondent who was equally at home reporting on social injustices, the Orient Express and abstract art, and who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing Americans’ view of the war. May 19.

Rosalie Chris Lerman, 90. Survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp who was the wife of the founder of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and a passionate advocate of Holocaust remembrance. May 19.

Alan Young, 96. Actor-comedian who played the amiable straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom “Mister Ed.” May 19.

Kang Sok Ju, 76. Top North Korean diplomat who negotiated a short-lived 1994 deal with the United States to freeze his nation’s nuclear programs in exchange for international aid. May 20.

Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour, believed to be in his mid-50s. His brief rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan was marked by mistrust and strife. May 20. Killed in a drone strike.

Thomas E. Schaefer, 85. Retired Air Force colonel who was the ranking military officer among the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days before being released in 1981. May 31.

JUNE:

Muhammad Ali, 74. Heavyweight champion whose fast fists, irrepressible personality and determined spirit transcended sports and captivated the world. June 3.

Peter Shaffer, 90. British playwright whose durable, award-winning hits included “Equus” and “Amadeus.” June 6.

Victor Korchnoi, 85. Chess grandmaster and former Soviet champion who defected to the West and was considered among the best players never to win a world championship. June 6.

Kimbo Slice, 42. Bearded street fighter who parlayed his Internet popularity into a mixed martial arts career. June 6.

Theresa Saldana, 61. “Raging Bull” actress who survived a stalker’s brutal attack to become a crime victims’ advocate and reclaimed her entertainment career with “The Commish” and other TV shows. June 6.

Gordie Howe, 88. Known as “Mr. Hockey,” the rough-and-tumble Canadian farm boy whose blend of talent and toughness made him the NHL’s quintessential star. June 10.

Margaret Vinci Heldt, 98. She became a hairstyling celebrity after she created the beehive hairdo in 1960. June 10.

George Voinovich, 79. Former U.S. senator and a two-term Ohio governor who preached frugality in his personal and public life and occasionally bucked the GOP establishment. June 12.

Lois Duncan, 82. Known for her pioneering suspense novels that captivated young readers, including “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which became a movie. June 15.

Jo Cox, 41. Lawmaker who campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union. June 16. Killed by a gun- and knife-wielding attacker.

Anton Yelchin, 27. Rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films. June 19. Hit by his car in his driveway.

Wayne Jackson, 74. Trumpet player on rock ‘n’ roll, soul, R&B and pop mainstays along with Memphis Horns partner and tenor saxophonist Andrew Love. June 21.

David Jonathan Thatcher, 94. Member of the Doolittle Raiders, who bombed Japan in an attack that stunned that nation and boosted U.S. morale during World War II. June 22.

John Ashe, 61. Former U.N. General Assembly president who was facing criminal charges in a bribery case. June 22.

Michael Herr, 76. Author and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer who viscerally documented the ravages of the Vietnam War through his classic nonfiction novel “Dispatches” and through such films as “Apocalypse Now” and “Full Metal Jacket.” June 23.

Bernie Worrell, 72. “Wizard of Woo” whose amazing array of keyboard sounds helped define the Parliament-Funkadelic musical empire and influenced performers of many genres. June 24.

Bud Spencer, 86. Burly comic actor dubbed the “good giant” for punching out bad guys on the screen, often in a long series of spaghetti westerns. June 27.

Alvin Toffler, 87. Guru of the post-industrial age whose “Future Shock” and other books anticipated the disruptions and transformations brought about by the rise of digital technology. June 27.

Isak Chishi Swu, 87. Militant leader of the Naga tribal insurgency in India. June 28.

Pat Summitt, 64. Winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who uplifted the women’s game from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee. June 28.

JULY:

Elie Wiesel, 87. Romanian-born Holocaust survivor whose classic “Night” became a landmark testament to the Nazis’ crimes and launched his career as one of the world’s foremost witnesses and humanitarians. July 2.

Michael Cimino, 77. Oscar-winning director whose film “The Deer Hunter” became one of the great triumphs of Hollywood’s 1970s heyday and whose disastrous “Heaven’s Gate” helped bring that era to a close. July 2.

Jack C. Taylor, 94. He started a leasing company with seven cars and built it into Enterprise Rent-A-Car. July 2.

Abbas Kiarostami, 76. Iranian director whose 1997 film “Taste of Cherry” won the prestigious Palme d’Or and who kept working despite government resistance. July 4.

William L. Armstrong, 79. Colorado media executive who became a major conservative voice in the Senate. July 5.

Abdul Sattar Edhi, 88. Pakistan’s legendary philanthropist who devoted his life to the poor and the destitute. July 8.

Sydney H. Schanberg, 82. Former New York Times correspondent awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the genocide in Cambodia in 1975 and whose story of the survival of his assistant inspired the film “The Killing Fields.” July 9.

Bernardo Provenzano, 83. Convicted Cosa Nostra “boss of bosses” who reputedly led the Mafia’s powerful Corleone clan. July 13.

Nate Thurmond, 74. Tenacious NBA defensive center who played with Wilt Chamberlain. July 16.

Alan Vega, 78. Punk pioneer who helped form the duo Suicide, widely regarded as a forerunner of punk and electronic music. July 16.

Wendell Anderson, 83. Former Minnesota governor and ex-Olympian described in a 1973 Time magazine cover article as the youthful embodiment of his home state only to lose public confidence later by arranging his own appointment to the U.S. Senate. July 17.

Clown Dimitri, 80. Beloved Swiss clown and mime over nearly six decades who studied under Marcel Marceau and spread smiles from Broadway to Congo. July 19.

Mark Takai, 49. U.S. representative, war veteran and long-time legislator known for his bright nature and deep commitment to service. July 20. Pancreatic cancer.

Thomas Sutherland, 85. Teacher who was held captive in Lebanon for more than six years until he was freed in 1991 and returned home to become professor emeritus at Colorado State University. July 22.

Marni Nixon, 86. Hollywood voice double whose singing was heard in place of the leading actresses’ in such movie musicals as “West Side Story,” ”The King and I” and “My Fair Lady.” July 24.

Rev. Tim LaHaye, 90. Co-author of the “Left Behind” series, a multimillion-selling literary juggernaut that brought end-times prophecy into mainstream bookstores. July 25.

Sam Wheeler, 72. Renowned land speed motorcycle racer. July 25. Injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash.

Youree Dell Harris, 53. Actress who became famous playing the Jamaican psychic Miss Cleo, claiming to know callers’ futures in ubiquitous TV infomercials and commercials. July 26.

Gloria DeHaven, 91. Daughter of vaudeville stars who carved out her own career as the vivacious star of Hollywood musicals and comedies of the 1940s and ’50s. July 30.

AUGUST:

Anne of Romania, 92. Wife of Romania’s last monarch, King Michael. Aug. 1.

Ahmed Zewail, 70. Science adviser to President Obama who won the 1999 Nobel Prize for his work on the study of chemical reactions over short time scales. Aug. 2.

Pete Fountain, 86. Clarinetist whose Dixieland jazz virtuosity and wit endeared him to his native New Orleans and earned him national television fame. Aug. 6.

Helen Delich Bentley, 92. Former Maryland congresswoman who was an expert on the maritime industry. Aug. 6.

Robert Kiley, 80. He is credited with revitalizing and modernizing public transportation networks in Boston, New York and London. Aug. 9.

Harry Briggs Jr., 75. As a young boy, he was at the center of a lawsuit that culminated with the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing segregated public schools. Aug. 9.

Kenny Baker, 81. He played the lovable droid R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” films, achieving cult status and fans’ adulation without showing his face or speaking any lines. Aug. 13.

Fyvush Finkel, 93. Plastic-faced Emmy Award-winning actor whose career in stage and screen started in Yiddish theater and led to memorable roles in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway and on TV in “Boston Public” and “Picket Fences.” Aug. 14.

Bobby Hutcherson, 75. Bricklayer’s son who became one of the most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets. Aug. 15.

Joao Havelange, 100. President of FIFA for two decades, who transformed soccer’s governing body into a multibillion-dollar business but also a hotbed for subsequent corruption. Aug. 16.

John McLaughlin, 89. Conservative commentator and host of a long-running television show that pioneered hollering-heads discussions of Washington politics. Aug. 16.

Arthur Hiller, 92. Oscar nominee for directing the hugely popular romantic tragedy “Love Story” during a career that spanned dozens of popular movies and TV shows. Aug. 17.

John W. Vessey, 94. Army general who rose in a 46-year military career to become chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and helped oversee Reagan’s military buildup. Aug. 18.

Jay Fishman, 63. Former Travelers Group insurance company chief executive who became a national advocate for research into Lou Gehrig’s disease after being diagnosed with it. Aug. 19.

Donald “D.A.” Henderson, 87. Epidemiologist whose leadership resulted in the eradication nearly 40 years ago of smallpox, one of the world’s most feared contagious diseases. Aug. 19.

Toots Thielemans, 94. Belgian harmonica player whose career included playing with jazz greats like Miles Davis and whose solos have figured on numerous film scores. Aug. 22.

Walter Scheel, 97. He helped shape West Germany’s policy of reconciliation with the communist bloc as foreign minister and later served as his country’s president. Aug. 24.

Sonia Rykiel, 86. French designer dubbed the “queen of knitwear” whose relaxed sweaters in berry-colored stripes and eye-popping motifs helped liberate women from stuffy suits. Aug. 25.

Gene Wilder, 83. Frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in “The Producers” and the mad scientist of “Young Frankenstein.” Aug. 28.

Juan Gabriel, 66. Mexican songwriter and singer who was an icon in the Latin music world. Aug. 28.

Harry Fujiwara, 82. Better known as Mr. Fuji, he was a former star wrestler and manager. Aug. 28.

Vera Caslavska, 74. Seven-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist who stood up against the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Aug. 30.

SEPTEMBER:

Jon Polito, 65. Raspy-voiced actor whose 200-plus credits ranged from “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Modern Family” to the films “Barton Fink” and “The Big Lebowski.” Sept. 1.

Sam Iacobellis, 87. Rockwell International engineer who met President Ronald Reagan’s challenge to deliver 100 B-1 bombers as fast as possible in the early 1980s to challenge the Soviet Union. Sept. 3.

Hugh O’Brian, 91. He shot to fame as Sheriff Wyatt Earp in what was hailed as television’s first adult Western. Sept. 5.

Phyllis Schlafly, 92. Outspoken conservative activist who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and founded the Eagle Forum political group. Sept. 5.

Bobby Chacon, 64. Hall of Fame boxer whose memorable fights included victories over Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Danny Lopez and Ruben Olivares. Sept. 7.

Greta Zimmer Friedman, 92. Believed to be the woman in an iconic photo shown kissing an ecstatic sailor in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II. Sept. 8.

Johan Botha, 51. Tenor whose light but muscular voice dazzled audiences at the world’s top operatic stages. Sept. 8.

Lady Chablis, 59. Transgender performer who became a celebrity for her role in the 1994 best-seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Sept. 8.

Jack Hofsiss, 65. Stage and screen director who won a Tony Award in his first outing on Broadway while helming “The Elephant Man” and kept working despite an accident that left him without the use of his arms and legs. Sept. 13.

Rose Mofford, 94. Arizona’s first female governor and a shepherd for the state during a period of political turbulence. Sept. 15.

Edward Albee, 88. Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who challenged theatrical convention in masterworks such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “A Delicate Balance.” Sept. 16.

W.P. Kinsella, 81. Canadian novelist who blended magical realism and baseball in the book that became the smash hit film “Field of Dreams.” Sept. 16.

Charmian Carr, 73. Actress best known for sweetly portraying the eldest von Trapp daughter in “The Sound of Music.” Sept. 17.

Rose Pak, 68. Brash community activist who helped transform San Francisco’s growing Asian American population into a politically powerful constituency. Sept. 18.

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., 68. Musician who rose from a cotton-picking family in southwest Louisiana to introduce zydeco music to the world through his band Buckwheat Zydeco. Sept. 24.

Arnold Palmer, 87. Golfing great who brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner’s touch. Sept. 25.

Jean Shepard, 82. “The grand lady of the Grand Ole Opry” who had a long recording career in country music. Sept. 25.

Ben Steele, 98. Bataan Death March survivor whose art helped him maintain his sanity as a prisoner of war and helped him forgive his captors. Sept. 25.

Curtis Roosevelt, 86. He lived in the White House as a child when his grandfather, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was president and worked for two decades at the United Nations. Sept. 26.

Shimon Peres, 93. Former Israeli president and prime minister, whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state and who was celebrated around the world as a Nobel prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace. Sept. 28.

OCTOBER:

Joan Marie Johnson, 72. A founding member of the New Orleans girl group The Dixie Cups, who had a No. 1 hit in 1964 with “Chapel of Love.” Oct. 3.

Jacob Neusner, 84. He transformed the study of American Judaism, becoming one of the most influential 20th-century scholars of the religion. Oct. 8.

Aaron Pryor, 60. Relentless junior welterweight who fought two memorable bouts with Alexis Arguello. Oct. 9.

Andrzej Wajda, 90. Poland’s leading filmmaker whose career maneuvering between a repressive communist government and an audience yearning for freedom won him international recognition and an honorary Oscar. Oct. 9.

Donn Fendler, 90. As a boy, he survived nine days alone on Maine’s tallest mountain in 1939 and later wrote a book about the ordeal. Oct. 10.

Dario Fo, 90. Italian playwright whose energetic mocking of Italian political life, social mores and religion won him praise, scorn and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Oct. 13.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88. World’s longest reigning monarch, he was revered in Thailand as a demigod, a humble father figure and an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval at home and abroad. Oct. 13.

Dennis Byrd, 51. Former NFL defensive lineman whose career was ended by neck injury. Oct. 15. Car accident.

Junko Tabei, 77. The first woman to climb Mount Everest. Oct. 20.

Tom Hayden, 76. 1960s antiwar activist whose name became forever linked with the Chicago 7 trial, Vietnam War protests and his ex-wife, actress Jane Fonda. Oct. 23.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, 84. Former emir of Qatar who was deposed by his son in a bloodless palace coup. Oct. 23.

Jack T. Chick, 92. His cartoon tracts preached fundamentalist Christianity while vilifying secular society, evolution, homosexuality, and the beliefs of Catholics and Muslims. Oct. 23.

Bobby Vee, 73. Boyish, grinning 1960s singer whose career was born when he took a stage as a teenager to fill in after the 1959 plane crash that killed rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Oct. 24.

Jorge Batlle, 88. Former president was a force in Uruguayan politics for half a century, who led the nation during one of its worst economic recessions. Oct. 24.

Robert A. Hoover, 94. World War II fighter pilot who became an aviation legend for his flying skills in testing aircraft and demonstrating their capabilities in air shows. Oct. 25.

Norman R. Brokaw, 89. Talent agent who represented Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood and other top Hollywood stars. Oct. 29.

NOVEMBER:

Jean-Jacques Perrey, 87. French composer and pioneer of electronic pop music who was best known for co-writing “Baroque Hoedown,” used as the music for the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disney theme parks. Nov. 4.

Janet Reno, 78. First woman to serve as U.S. attorney general and the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration, including the seizure of Elian Gonzalez. Nov. 7.

Leonard Cohen, 82. Baritone-voiced Canadian singer-songwriter who blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like “Hallelujah,” ”Suzanne” and “Bird on a Wire.” Nov. 7.

Robert Vaughn, 83. Debonair, Oscar-nominated actor whose many film roles were eclipsed by his hugely popular turn in television’s “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Nov. 11.

Gwen Ifill, 61. Co-anchor of PBS’ “NewsHour” with Judy Woodruff and a veteran journalist who moderated two vice presidential debates. Nov. 14.

Holly Dunn, 59. Country singer who had a hit in 1986 with “Daddy’s Hands,” about her minister father. Nov. 14.

Mose Allison, 89. Pianist and singer whose witty, Southern-accented lyrics delivered over a backdrop of boogie-woogie blues and jazz piano influenced musicians across a wide spectrum. Nov. 15.

Anthony Brooklier, 70. Los Angeles lawyer whose clients included “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss and his own mob-boss father. Nov. 15.

Melvin Laird, 94. Former Wisconsin congressman and U.S. defense secretary during years when President Richard Nixon sought a way to withdraw troops from Vietnam. Nov. 16.

Mentor Williams, 70. Award-winning songwriter behind the 1970s hit “Drift Away,” which became a soulful rock ‘n’ roll anthem aired on radio stations for generations. Nov. 16.

Denton Cooley, 96. Cardiovascular surgeon who performed some of the nation’s first heart transplants and implanted the world’s first artificial heart. Nov. 18.

Sharon Jones, 60. Powerhouse who shepherded a soul revival despite not finding stardom until middle age. Nov. 18. Cancer.

Ralph Branca, 90. Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who gave up the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” that still echoes six decades later as one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. Nov. 23.

Florence Henderson, 82. Broadway star who became one of America’s most beloved television moms in “The Brady Bunch.” Nov. 24.

Fidel Castro, 90. He led his bearded rebels to victorious revolution in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of U.S. presidents during his half-century of rule in Cuba. Nov. 25.

Fritz Weaver, 90. Tony Award-winning actor who played Sherlock Holmes and Shakespearian kings on Broadway while also creating memorable roles on TV and film from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” to “Marathon Man.” Nov. 26.

Michael James “Jim” Delligatti, 98. McDonald’s franchisee who created the Big Mac nearly 50 years ago and saw it become perhaps the best-known fast-food sandwich. Nov. 28.

Grant Tinker, 90. He brought new polish to the TV world with beloved shows including “Hill Street Blues” as both a producer and a network boss. Nov. 28.

DECEMBER:

Jayaram Jayalalithaa, 68. South Indian actress who turned to politics and became the highest elected official in the state of Tamil Nadu. Dec. 4.

John Glenn, 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. Dec. 8.

Esma Redzepova, 73. One of the most powerful voices in the world of Gypsy music. Dec. 11.

Joe Ligon, 80. Singer and dynamic frontman of the Grammy-winning gospel group Mighty Clouds of Joy. Dec. 11.

E.R. Braithwaite, 104. Guyanese author, educator and diplomat whose years teaching in the slums of London’s East End inspired the international best-seller “To Sir, With Love” and the movie of the same name. Dec. 12.

Alan Thicke, 69. Versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on the sitcom “Growing Pains.” Dec. 13.

Illicit marijuana farms decimate western wildlife

Tony Magarrell isn’t very relaxed for someone who just spent a week in the lush backcountry canyons of Lassen National Forest, 165 miles northwest of Reno.

Magarrell, a special agent for the U.S. Forest Service, wasn’t there to enjoy roaring waterfalls or abundant wildlife. He was cleaning up an illicit marijuana operation, a job that gives him a front-row seat to environmental wreckage most people will never see, reported the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“This site has pretty much taken over the whole drainage out here,” said Magarrell of the 60-acre site that yielded about 6,000 pounds of trash, much of it in the form of hazardous chemicals. “It’s been a long week.”

The bags of trash hauled out by helicopter provided evidence of the damage illicit grows can do to the environment. But the damage goes far beyond the trash left behind.

Environmental damage from the grow sites includes widespread sickness and death among wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.

On U.S. Forest Service land in California alone, authorities have identified more than 400 sites in the past two years with an estimated 1.7 million plants. Although hundreds of sites are identified, only a fraction of them are actually remediated. The number of cleanups fluctuates with availability of personnel and funding, Magarrell said.

Law enforcement officials report frequent instances of wildlife poaching by people working at the sites. Even more damaging than poaching is the mass amounts of poison associated with grow sites. That poison is killing wildlife at the site and being carried away by animals that consume it and die elsewhere.

Magarrell suspects the Burney site was the work of large drug trafficking operators from Mexico, who law enforcement believe are behind most major grows, and the environmental damage they cause.

Similar grow sites have been found in Nevada, although they are smaller and much fewer in number. In recent years, officials have found grows with trash, fertilizer and rat poison in the Spring Mountain National Forest Recreation Area near Las Vegas, the Austin Tonopah Ranger District in central Nevada and the Ely Ranger District in White Pine County.

Both California and Nevada voters have recently approved ballot measures to decriminalize marijuana possession and issue licenses for marijuana businesses. But it’s too soon to tell if that will affect illicit grows in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere. That’s because the vast majority of what’s grown illicitly is sold through black market channels, which still exist because most states and the federal government still consider marijuana to be illegal.

In 2014, Chris Boehm, assistant director of law enforcement and investigations for the Forest Service, estimated drug trafficking organizations are operating in 72 national forests in 22 states.

“It is a national issue, it is not a California issue,” Magarrell said.

Research quantifies environmental damage

The site near Burney, which Magarrell said was typical for illicit grows, contained tons of evidence of environmental damage.

Law enforcement officials identified three camps each with its own dump sites, 18 miles of pipe diverting water from a creek, 11,360 pounds of trash, 1,250 pounds of fertilizer and a host of toxic chemicals.

The list included: insecticides such as Lorsban 480 EM, Sevin carbaryl and Malathion, the rat poison Bromethalin, Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor which can be used as a pesticide and plant hormone concentrate Hormoviton Calor.

The growers use the chemicals for several purposes. Insecticides and herbicides can be used to prevent weeds and insects from damaging the plants, and the fertilizers promote growth.

Rat poison is often spread around the sites in copious amounts to kill everything from rodents to deer that might damage the plants.

The poison is particularly destructive because it often has a pleasant taste to attract animals, which encourages them to eat it.

When other animals, such as owls, mountain lions or bears, scavenge the contaminated carcasses, they can become sick as well.

“A deer is not going to eat a mouse, but if you have 90 pounds of peanut-butter-flavored rodenticide out there, (the deer) just walks in and starts eating the pellets,” said Mourad Gabriel, executive director and senior ecologist at Integral Ecology Research Center and one of the few researchers dedicated to studying ecological impact of illicit grow sites. “It is mimicking the potential legacy effects that other chemicals like DDT have done with wildlife.”

Gabriel, along with co-researcher Greta Wengert, is considered a leading researcher in the field thanks to his efforts to survey grow sites and document the spread of environmental damage.

His research shows the damage is widespread and affects species and habitat throughout the Sierra Nevada, where there are thought to be hundreds, or even thousands, of illicit grow sites.

Gabriel’s most prominent research found rat poison contamination in 85 percent of fisher carcasses tested for all of California. Fishers are forest-dwelling animals related to wolverines, minks and otters.

Gabriel’s research suggests, “contamination is widespread within the fisher’s range in California, which encompasses mostly public forest and park lands.”

The effects go beyond fishers. Gabriel has detected contamination in 67 percent of spotted owls tested.

And he’s documented contamination in black-tailed deer, bears, fox and upland game birds.

One trail camera photo from a grow site in a prime hunting zone captured a trophy buck browsing in a pile of refuse and poison at a grow site.

“This is a deer people would wait a lifetime to hunt,” Gabriel said. “Yet we have these folks who are in there illegally poaching them and illegally poisoning them.”

Important, but dangerous, work

The research is important because it quantifies environmental damage from illicit grows, an overlooked problem.

Recent statewide votes in California and Nevada in favor of relaxing anti-marijuana statutes show much of the public is ambivalent about prohibition.

Environmental damage, however, is a separate issue. Much of the public cares deeply about protecting wildlife and public land and the people who work on cleaning up grow sites want people to know about the damage.

“I believe the research that Mourad and Greta are doing should have already rattled the cages of every environmentalist, every hunter, anybody who gives a damn,” said Kary Schlick, a Forest Service wildlife biologist who has worked on spotted owl research.

The notion of prosecuting growers, when they’re caught, for environment-related offenses in addition to drug offenses is gaining steam among some prosecutors.

Karen Escobar, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California in Fresno, cited cases in which prosecutors highlighted environmental damage as a key component in making cases against growers.

In one case a grower was sentenced for producing plants in the Canebrake Ecological Reserve in Kern County.

In the statement announcing the guilty plea prosecutors highlighted the environmental and cultural sensitivity of the area above the number of plants.

“It was first inhabited in about 1000 B.C. by the Tubatulabel culture and is currently home to numerous rare and protected plants and animals, including the federally protected golden and bald eagles and peregrine falcon, the federally threatened California red-legged frog and Valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher,” they wrote in the statement.

In another statement announcing a 10-year sentence against a grower they highlighted the grower’s, “involvement in a toxic marijuana cultivation operation in the Greenhorn Creek area of the Sequoia National Forest.”

Escobar credited the work of Gabriel and other researchers for providing much needed data in the effort to enhance sentences for environmental offenses related to illicit grows.

When Boehm described the problem to the sentencing commission he said armed guards are a threat to the safety of employees and visitors and cultivation techniques damage the environment.

“It is unknown how many tons of fertilizers, gallons of toxic liquids, or pounds of solid poisons are applied and used during the cultivation process on our public lands,” he testified. “However, we do know that the impacts are significant and far reaching.”

Despite the importance of data to efforts to eradicate damage from grows research into the problem is still limited.

That’s due in part to the fact it can be dangerous to researchers.

Gabriel has been subjected to threats, including the poisoning of his dog with rat poison in 2014. Authorities in Humboldt County, Calif., offered a $20,000 reward but did not identify any suspects.

And Schlick said she’s had to pull spotted owl researchers from the field in Northern California because they were encountering signs of dangerous cartel activity.

“What does it mean to the environment? We are diminishing our survey efforts and possibly not surveying anymore because the risk is too great,” Schlick said. “The quality of the data is at risk.”

Biden: Progress on ‘moonshot’ to find cancer cure

 Vice President Joe Biden said this week the White House’s “moonshot” to find a cure for cancer has been making real progress in the past year, but more needs to be done as the nation prepares to elect a new president.

Speaking to a crowd of hundreds of health care professionals and researchers gathered in Boston, the 73-year-old Democrat touched on a range of initiatives the “Cancer Moonshot” task force he chairs has been working on since President Barack Obama announced the effort in his final State of the Union in January.

Biden, who lost his son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general, to cancer last year, said the administration is trying to speed up the federal drug approval process and make it easier for cancer patients to take part in clinical trials.

He also said the administration is encouraging cancer researchers to share more information among themselves, something that he says doesn’t happen as much as it should.

“We’re just getting started,” Biden said. “We’re on the cusp of enormous, enormous progress.”

He said more work also needs to be done to enhance cancer prevention and detection efforts, particularly among disadvantaged populations.

“This country has the capacity to do anything it sets its mind to,” Biden said. “We’re on the verge of some astounding breakthroughs, I promise you. Stuff that will absolutely take your breath away.”

Biden chairs a task force comprised of the heads of at least a dozen federal departments and agencies, including the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The task force aims to double the rate of progress in cancer research and treatment, accomplishing what could be achieved in ten years in five.

Biden has been making a series of stops since providing the president with a progress report on the “moonshot” effort earlier this week. He told the Boston crowd that he was in New York just hours earlier speaking about the initiative at another event, which was the reason why he was more than an hour late.

Among the dozens of public and private sector initiatives highlighted in the “moonshot” report is a collaboration between Microsoft, Amazon and the National Cancer Institute to build an online repository for cancer genomic data.

The report also mentions commitments from Uber and Lyft to expand free or reduced ride programs to help cancer patients get to medical appointments, and a new study by the Department of Defense to investigate the “biological basis of cancer.”

The report was meant, in part, to serve as a blueprint for future administrations. But Congress has so far yet to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in funding the outgoing Obama administration has sought for the effort.

Biden has promised he’d devote the rest of his life to finding a cure for cancer, though he’s publicly dismissed the notion of working as a member of the next presidential administration on the effort.

Getting it right: Writing your own obituary

When Edna Briggs dies, she doesn’t want a well-meaning loved one to whitewash the ups and downs of her life. To avoid that, she is writing her own obituary.

Briggs, who is 69 and lives in Los Angeles, wants her farewell to offer insights into why her life turned out the way it did. Her two children might not understand how certain events — her father forbidding her from trying for a scholarship to Howard University, for example, or the pride of earning a prestigious internship — affected her path, so she’s handling it herself.

“I will describe my life the way I want it described,” says Briggs, a health care administrator and passionate genealogist. “I believe in having the final say.”

It’s an idea with which many Baby Boomers can identify, says Katie Falzone, spokeswoman for Legacy.com, a website that partners with newspapers and funeral homes to publish obituaries.

“Baby Boomers are comfortable talking about themselves in a way that previous generations never did,” says Falzone. “They’re used to defining their lives,” and to challenging the status quo.

While less than 1 percent of the obituaries on the site are self-written, the number is growing, she says.

Last year, the site ran about 525 self-penned obits, compared to only about 165 a decade ago.

The number has doubled in the last five years.

Who better to recount your story than yourself, says Sarah White, a writing coach in Madison, Wisconsin, who teaches a “selfie obituary” writing class online and at senior centers and libraries.

“Who knows all the parts of your life? Your children know you as a parent. Your co-workers know you professionally. Your spouse probably knows very little about your life at work. They say your siblings are the people with you your whole life,” she says. “I wouldn’t leave this up to my siblings. They don’t know anything about me.”

Kerry Kruckmeyer, who died unexpectedly in April, wrote the obituary that recently appeared about him in the Arizona Daily Star.

“I thought this would be different, amusing and enjoyable,” he wrote. He concluded that he had lived “a very good and blessed life for which I am most thankful.”

Kruckmeyer had distributed the document to his family about a decade ago, says his brother, Korey Kruckmeyer of Tucson, Arizona. “It’s typical of him,” Korey says. “It reflects his sense of humor.”

And the self-written obituary struck a chord with readers. “I’ve gotten a bunch of calls from people who don’t know me or Kerry just wanting to talk about it,” Korey Kruckmeyer says.

Writing such an essay — whether or not it’s actually published someday as an obituary — can be “very affirming,” White says. “It always seems to add up to more than the person realized.”

The writing process got Jim Weber of Tumwater, Washington, thinking about his future as well as his past.

“You may find you have some unfinished business,” says Weber, 60. “It may cause you to make decisions about how you want to spend the rest of your life.”

In his self-written obituary, he notes a strained relationship that he would like to see healed. He also pokes fun at his life, connecting his pursuit of a law degree to hours spent watching “Perry Mason” with his mother, and pointing out that he met his “third and final wife” in the freezer section of the local grocery.

White’s own selfie obituary highlights her love of traveling with her husband, her career as a commercial artist and writer, and her passion for her pets and the outdoors. “She also camped frequently in Wisconsin’s north woods,” she writes, “but would not reveal her favorite campsite even upon her deathbed.”

Putting your life down on paper is also an opportunity to share family history with future generations, she said. “I think people should leave a record of their life,” she says. “Be the ancestor you wish you had.”

Taking White’s class made Pattie Whitehouse of Victoria, British Columbia, realize she had a lot she wanted to say. She ended up with a document of more than 900 words, and intends to continue editing until she meets her ultimate deadline. Whitehouse injected some humor in the piece, which focuses on her passion for the environment. For now, the final line reads: “As she wished, Pattie’s remains were chipped and used as mulch.”

“Which tells you a lot about me,” the 65-year-old says. “The people who know me will recognize me in it.”

She plans to give the document to her partner, Robert, and her sisters to distribute upon her death.

Briggs, a widow, is putting everything in writing because her daughter doesn’t want to discuss the matter, she says. As a genealogist, Briggs says, she has seen too many erroneous obituaries. She also knows that handling the task now will make things easier for her daughter when she passes.

Alan Gelb, 66, of Chatham, New York, began thinking about preparing his final words when he started attending more funerals.

“When I would go to services, I found myself missing the voice of the person who was not with us,” he says.

Gelb, who helps high school students draft college entrance essays, decided that older adults could benefit from a similar task. In his book, “Having the Last Say: Capturing Your Legacy in One Small Story” (Tarcher Books, 2015), he encourages readers to write a story that captures some of their core values, to pass it on to future generations. Gelb recommends having the story read at your funeral. The exercise is a good segue into obituary writing, he says.

“Writing your own obituary is sort of like voting for yourself whenßyou run for office,” he says. “It may be a bit self-serving but it is fully warranted, and it can make all the difference.”

‘I am’ doc celebrates life of JFK Jr.

“I Am JFK Jr. — A Tribute to a Good Man,” which hits select theaters on July 22, captures the fascination with John F. Kennedy Jr., from his early days toddling around the White House to his death in a plane crash in 1999.

Network Entertainment’s Derik Murray made the film in the mold of his other “I Am” movies, including “I Am Bruce Lee,” “I Am Chris Farley” and “I Am Evel Knievel.” The film also airs on Spike TV at 9 p.m. EDT on Aug. 1, and a DVD release is set for Aug. 16.

The film captures JFK Jr. as John John, the tousle-haired toddler of the late President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, saluting his father’s casket after his 1963 assassination.

Highlights include JFK Jr.’s time as an assistant district attorney in New York, his 1988 People magazine Sexiest Man Alive cover and his 1995 debut as publisher of the splashy but short-lived magazine George.

Interspersed are snippets of interviews with celebrities and politicians who knew him well. They include supermodel Cindy Crawford, who famously posed as a midriff-baring George Washington, complete with powdered wig, for the inaugural issue of George; actor Robert De Niro; boxer Mike Tyson; journalist Christiane Amanpour; Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt; former Brown University roommate Chris Oberbeck; and Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow.

“John Kennedy Jr. was destined for greatness, the heir apparent to his father’s legacy, and he knew that,” Murray said.

But the son, a student of history’s great men, had an overriding interest in goodness over greatness.

“After reading about them and who they were at home, how they treated their families, he thought it was more important for him to commit to being a good man,” Murray said. “In his mind, that was often missing in great men.”

Not surprisingly, the film focuses on JFK Jr.’s death at age 38 on July 16, 1999, when the single-engine private plane he was piloting from New Jersey to Martha’s Vineyard en route to a family wedding on Cape Cod crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Killed with Kennedy were his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and her sister, Lauren Bessette.

Friends, acquaintances and pundits reflect on a life cut short and speculate on what he might have become.

President, for instance?

A clip of an interview that JFK Jr. gave to Oprah Winfrey is telling. She insists he surely must have thought about running for office, and he responds, somewhat coyly, “There is this great weight of expectation and anticipation.”

But maybe not.

“John was smart enough to know, ‘I’m Junior. I’m not my father,”” another presidential son, Michael Reagan, says in the film.

“I believe that he had greatness in him,” CNN journalist Chris Cuomo tells the producers. “And I don’t give a damn if that meant anything about politics.”

 

On the web

Online: http://www.iamjfkjr.com/

 

Milwaukee PrideFest responds to shootings, announces plans for tribute

Milwaukee Pride on June 12 issued a statement expressing “absolute sympathy” after the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and said there would be a tribute today at 4 p.m.

The organizers of the Milwaukee LGBT festival, which concludes today, said, “Our love and support goes to the victims, survivors, their friends and families, and hope that all can find peace in the wake of this horrifying event.”

Wes Shaver, president elect of Milwaukee Pride, said, “We are furious about this senseless violence. This act of terror sought to silence our community during a month of national LGBTQ celebration. We will not and cannot allow ourselves to be silenced.”

Shaver said PrideFest would continue today. Since 7:30 a.m., the all-volunteer team has been meeting with local, state and federal agencies to provide the highest level of security possible, according to a news release.

Organizers said three levels of security, including Milwaukee Police Department, Summerfest and PrideFest staff, patrol the grounds from open to close each year.

As a precaution, the festival today will introduce full metal detection at the admission gates and increase security staffing across all areas.

“Unlike some pride festivals, our grounds are open only to ticketed guests who pass through our front gates,” said Eric Heinritz, executive director of Milwaukee Pride, Inc. “All personal items are subject to search before entry, and we do not allow carry-ins. While some may find these rules inconvenient, our first and foremost priority must be the safety of our guests.”

In addition, the festival plans a tribute event at 4 p.m. at the Miller Lite Mainstage. Following a short presentation, PrideFest will honor a moment of silence for the Orlando victims throughout the entire festival grounds.

Today’s performers were encouraged to honor the tragedy during all scheduled performances.

“Today is a day for LGBTQ community solidarity,” said Michail Takach, communications director of Milwaukee Pride. “While thoughts and prayers are welcome, action is required. Today is a day to come out, to be seen, and to be heard, in honor of those whose day was stolen from them. Today is a day to remember where we started and why we started.

“Come together at the Milwaukee Pride Parade in Walker’s Point.  Come together at PrideFest at Milwaukee’s lakefront. Come together with our Proud Partners throughout Wisconsin.

“Wherever you are, today is a day to celebrate your right to live proud.”

California’s End of Life Option Act takes effect June 9

Starting June 9, terminally ill Californians with six months or less to live can request a doctor’s prescription for medications intended to end their lives peacefully.

If that sounds simple, it won’t be.

California’s End of Life Option Act creates a long list of administrative hurdles that both patients and their doctors must clear.

For instance, you must make multiple requests for the drugs, orally and in writing, and provide a written attestation within 48 hours of taking the medication (you must be able to take the drugs yourself, without help, to qualify).

Two doctors must confirm your diagnosis, prognosis and ability to make medical decisions, and you must prove you’re a California resident.

And more.

“This will not be an on-demand service,” says Sarah Hooper, executive director of the UCSF / UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy.

“The patient has to jump through a lot of hoops before accessing the prescription. Those hoops are designed to ensure that the patient has really thought about this and is making the decision voluntarily.”

California will be the fifth state to implement an aid-in-dying law, and the Golden State’s version of it is considered the most stringent, says Sean Crowley, spokesman for the advocacy group Compassion & Choices.

Rather than list every requirement, I’m going describe a few potential challenges you might face if you or a loved one is considering asking for these medications — from doctors who are unwilling to write prescriptions to the cost of the medications themselves.

Let’s start with the doctors.

This law is voluntary “every step of the way,” says Democratic state Sen. Bill Monning, co-author of the law.

That means everyone — patients, physicians, health systems and pharmacies — gets to choose whether or not to participate.

Nothing requires patients to take the drugs once they have obtained a prescription.

Since Oregon implemented its law in 1997, more than one-third of people who obtained prescriptions didn’t take the medications, according to data compiled by the Oregon Public Health Division.

“You can still at any point decide, ‘I’m not going to need this. The hospice care is effective. The palliative care is effective,’” Monning says.

But before you can make that decision, you must first get a prescription — and that might take some doing. That’s because not all health care providers will be on board with the new law. It will be up to you to find the ones who are.

“Patients and families should expect that they will have to be a little proactive in asking questions and getting educated about their care,” Hooper says.

For instance, the Kaiser Permanente system will participate, and patients will be paired with a coordinator to guide them through the process, says spokeswoman Amy Thoma.

If your Kaiser Permanente doctor chooses not to participate, which is his or her right under the law, your coordinator will connect you with a physician who does, Thoma says.

But U.S. military veterans who receive health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will have to look elsewhere for participating doctors, because federal law prohibits the use of federal money for such a purpose, Hooper says.

Nor will the 48 Catholic and Catholic-affiliated hospitals in California participate, including their doctors and staff, says Lori Dangberg, vice president of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care.

Dangberg insists that those providers will not abandon any patient who chooses to end his or her own life. “We will be with that patient and continue to care for that patient throughout their diagnosis and their dying process,” she says. “We just cannot participate in any action that would intentionally hasten a person’s death.”

If your doctor doesn’t participate, ask him or her to refer you to one who does. If your doctor won’t provide a reference, “call us and we can probably help,” says Crowley of Compassion & Choices. That number is 800-893-4548.

Another potential obstacle is the cost of the drugs. Your insurance might not cover them. California’s law does not require health insurers to cover the medications, Monning says.

In Oregon, Washington and Montana — states where aid-in-dying is legal — some health plans cover the cost and some don’t, he says. He expects the same to occur in California.

Insurers “are currently working on how they will implement this law,” says Nicole Kasabian Evans of the California Association of Health Plans.

If you have questions about coverage, she suggests you contact your insurer directly.

Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid program for low-income residents, will cover the cost of the drugs without relying on any federal money, says state Department of Health Care Services spokeswoman Katharine Weir.

If affordability becomes an issue, Compassion & Choices again urges you to call. “We try to work with people to find a way for them to access the law, through any challenges,” Crowley says.

If you need more step-by-step guidance about the law, tap into these resources:

  • Compassion & Choices has online guides for consumers and doctors at www.EndOfLifeOption.org. You can also call the group’s help line at 800-893-4548.
  • The UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science and Health Policy has a helpful fact sheet at http://bit.ly/248Z2l6.
  • The California Medical Association, which represents doctors, has a detailed, 14-page document at www.cmanet.org/endoflife. You’ll need to register on the site to read the document.
  • Once the law takes effect, or soon thereafter, you will be able to find the forms you and your physician need to sign at the Medical Board of California’s website: www.mbc.ca.gov.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation. Kaiser Health News is national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Prince dies at age 57

Prince, the innovative music superstar whose hits included “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” and whose songwriting and eccentric stage presence electrified fans around the world, died on April 21 in Minnesota, his publicist said. He was 57.

“It is with profound sadness that I am confirming that the legendary, iconic performer, Prince Rogers Nelson, has died,” said publicist Anna Meacham.

Prince was found dead at his home at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, a Minneapolis suburb, the Carver County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. The office said it was “investigating the circumstances of his death.”

The local medical examiner declined to comment on the cause of Prince’s death, which was first reported by celebrity website TMZ.

Shocked fans gathered with media crews outside Paisley Park Studios’ gates to mourn the award-winning singer and musician, whose genre-defying music combined jazz, funk and disco, and influenced other musicians. His hit songs also included “Raspberry Beret,” “Little Red Corvette” and “Kiss.”

Prince, who was on a U.S. tour last week, was briefly hospitalized with the flu after his plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Illinois, last week, TMZ reported. A representative told TMZ that Prince had performed in Atlanta even though he was not feeling well and felt worse after boarding the plane for a flight back to Minnesota.

Prince first found fame in the late 1970s, and over the next three decades became known as one of the most inventive and eccentric forces in American pop music.

Often making a statement with bold fashion choices, the diminutive star sometimes appeared on stage sporting ruffled shirts and tight pants or elaborate costumes, including chain mail covering his face, a shimmery orange tunic or bikini briefs.

Prince was regarded as a perfectionist who from 1993 to 2000 changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in what was seen as a protest against his record label at the time.

For a while, he was dubbed “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.”

‘PRIVATE PERSON’

An intensely private person, Prince sold more than 100 million records during his career, won seven Grammy awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

His most recent album, “HITnRUN: Phase Two” was released in December 2015.

Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness about 15 years ago, and was a strict vegan. In 2009, he spoke in a PBS television interview about being born an epileptic and suffering seizures as a child.

He said he was also teased in school, and that “early in my career I tried to compensate by being as flashy as I could and as noisy as I could.”

Prince won an Oscar for best original song score for “Purple Rain,” the 1984 movie whose music was based on his album of the same name. He also starred in the movie.

In 2007, he played the Super Bowl in one of the most celebrated such performances.

While he was more accustomed to performing to arena audiences, two years ago Prince played perhaps his most intimate gig in the living room of British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas’ London home with his band, 3rdeyegirl, Billboard said.

“We’ll work our way up, if people like us, to bigger venues,” Prince quipped at the time.

‘EXPLOSIVE PERFORMANCES’

Born in Minneapolis as Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958, he is said to have written his first song at the age of 7. As well as singing and writing, he played multiple instruments, including guitar, keyboards and drums.

His music was marked by sexually charged lyrics and explosive live performances, while his private life was marked by a string of romances linking him with the likes of Madonna and actress Kim Basinger and Carmen Electra.

Prince was married twice: to his backup singer, Mayte Garcia, in 1996 and then to Manuela Testolini in 2001. Both marriages ended in divorce, and a son he had with Garcia died a week after birth in October 1996.

Music TV channel MTV said it was changing its logo to purple for the day in honor of Prince. Twitter lit up with reaction from dismayed friends and fans.

“And just like that … the world lost a lot of magic ✨ Rest in peace Prince! Thanks for giving us so much,” tweeted pop star Katy Perry.

Film director Spike Lee said on Twitter: “I Miss My Brother. Prince Was A Funny Cat. Great Sense Of Humor.”

“This is what it sounds like when doves cry.. Prince R.I.P.,” tweeted actress and TV personality Whoopi Goldberg.

Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, and Frank McGurty, Amy Tennery and Gina Cherelus in New York; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis.

Musician Prince gestures on stage during the Apollo Theatre's 75th anniversary gala in New York, June 8, 2009. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
Musician Prince gestures on stage during the Apollo Theatre’s 75th anniversary gala in New York, June 8, 2009. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
U.S. singer Prince watches the French Open tennis tournament in Paris June 2, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/Files
U.S. singer Prince watches the French Open tennis tournament in Paris June 2, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/Files
U.S. singer Prince leaves the French Open tennis tournament in Paris June 2, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/Files
U.S. singer Prince leaves the French Open tennis tournament in Paris June 2, 2014. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier/Files
U.S. musician Prince performs on stage at Yas Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh
U.S. musician Prince performs on stage at Yas Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Jumana El-Heloueh
U.S. musician Prince performs for the first time in Britain since 2007 at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, southern England July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
U.S. musician Prince performs for the first time in Britain since 2007 at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, southern England July 3, 2011. REUTERS/Olivia Harris
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL's Super Bowl XLI football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida, February 4, 2007. REUTERS/Kyle Carter/Files
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL’s Super Bowl XLI football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida, February 4, 2007. REUTERS/Kyle Carter/Files
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL's Super Bowl XLI football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida, February 4, 2007. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files
Prince performs during the halftime show of the NFL’s Super Bowl XLI football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida, February 4, 2007. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Blake/Files
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Prince performs on the main stage during Budapest's Sziget music festival on an island in the Danube River August 9, 2011. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
Prince performs on the main stage during Budapest’s Sziget music festival on an island in the Danube River August 9, 2011. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
Prince attends the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center in Los Angeles December 25, 2008. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Prince attends the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at Staples Center in Los Angeles December 25, 2008. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Jorge Drexler greets Prince after winning best original song for "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" at the 77th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 27, 2005. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
Jorge Drexler greets Prince after winning best original song for “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” at the 77th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 27, 2005. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
Prince and wife Manuela Testolini arrive at the 77th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 27, 2005. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Blake MM
Prince and wife Manuela Testolini arrive at the 77th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, February 27, 2005. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Blake MM
"The Artist" formerly known as Prince gives his acceptance speech after being named Male Artist of the Decade at the 14th annual Soul Train Music Awards March 4, 2000. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
“The Artist” formerly known as Prince gives his acceptance speech after being named Male Artist of the Decade at the 14th annual Soul Train Music Awards March 4, 2000. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Gary Hershorn
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Prince performs during the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 19, 2013. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Steve Marcus