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Read the open letter more than 150 LGBT elected officials sent to Trump

More than 150 LGBT elected officials, representing millions of people from across the country, are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to respect LGBT Americans and continue efforts to advance equality.

In an open letter to the president-elect, 156 elected officials express grave concerns about his cabinet appointees and implore Trump to “be a president for all Americans.”

The letter is signed by U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Mark Pocan, as well as openly LGBT mayors, state legislators, city councilmembers and other LGBT elected officials.

“These LGBT elected officials represent America at its best — diverse leaders who make the values of inclusion, fairness and justice the cornerstone of their policy positions and decision-making,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, resident & CEO of the Victory Institute.

“This letter urges the president-elect to govern by those core American values, and to put forward legislation and policies that improve quality of life for all Americans. They are using their collective voice to demand continued progress on equality, and to make clear they will oppose any efforts that threaten our rights or families.”

More than 40 LGBT elected officials began work on the open letter during a strategy session at Victory Institute’s International LGBT Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2016.

Full text of open letter to President-elect Donald Trump:

January 13, 2017

Dear President-elect Donald Trump:

Congratulations on being elected the 45th President of the United States. We are 156 proud lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elected officials representing millions of constituents, and we urge you to join us in embodying the highest ideals of our great and diverse nation.

The long and divisive presidential campaign is over, and now more than 300 million Americans depend on you to bring our nation together. To do this, we ask you deescalate the hostility and intolerance expressed by a small but vocal minority throughout the election season. We ask you appoint individuals with inclusive policy solutions that aim to better the lives of all Americans. And we ask you declare full support for LGBT equality, and remain true to earlier statements promising to be a president supportive of our rights.

We believe in an America that values and accepts everyone, and a country that strives to improve quality of life for all people, regardless of their background or beliefs. These principles are what distinguish America in an often-troubled world – they are what make America great. And it is the elected leadership of our nation that determines whether our government embodies or undermines those ideals. It is elected leaders like ourselves – from the U.S. president to city councilmembers – that either appeal to the better angels of our fellow Americans, or use fear and rancor to spur unproductive discord.

While we hope you appeal to those better angels and support inclusive and fair-minded policies, we have grave concerns given the individuals appointed to your administration thus far. Nearly all hold anti-LGBT views aimed at denying our community acceptance and inclusion in American society. Many proudly tout legislative records opposing basic rights for LGBT Americans, and others express disdain for our lives and relationships. Intended or not, these appointments signal a Trump administration preparing to rollback recent advances for LGBT people, and an administration opposed to LGBT people living open and free.

Our concern is not unfounded, given our historic gains are recent and vulnerable. Openly LGBT men and women can now proudly serve in the Armed Forces; committed same-sex couples can legally marry nationwide; federal contractors can no longer discriminate against LGBT employees or job applicants; the U.S. State Department is leading the world in advancing global LGBT equality; and more than 300 openly LGBT individuals were appointed to positions in the federal government over the past eight years. These hard-fought advances transformed our place in American society, and we are disturbed that most of your appointees opposed these efforts.

Mr. President-elect, our nation will be weaker if LGBT military personnel are prevented from serving openly and equally. America will be worse off if discrimination protections for LGBT government employees or students are revoked. The entire country will suffer if there is a national attempt to implement “religious exemptions” that allow businesses to turn away LGBT customers. And the world will be a darker place without America speaking against anti-LGBT violence and injustices abroad. We need you to vocally reject our country moving backward – to reject the anti-LGBT positions of your appointees and promise a pro-equality Trump administration.

We also must emphasize the LGBT community is as diverse as our nation. We are black, we are Latino, we are white, we are immigrants, we are Muslim, we are Jewish, we are women, and we are people with disabilities. LGBT elected officials know well the sting and consequences of discrimination, injustice and intolerance, and we carry that lived experience into our policy positions, legislation and decision-making. We hold central the American values of fairness, justice and liberty – and ensure these values are the foundation for our work as public servants. As the nation debates economic security, immigration, women’s rights, voting rights, policing, and mass incarceration, we ask you also apply the American values of fairness, justice and liberty, and ensure the best interests of all communities are incorporated into your policies and positions.

Americans of every political party, ideology, race, ethnicity and religion support LGBT equality – it does not need to be a partisan issue. As elected officials, we understand support for LGBT equality as both morally appropriate and politically shrewd. History looks fondly upon leaders who stand for social justice when those around them argue otherwise. History also views harshly those who fail to recognize and support morally righteous causes – and history will undoubtedly view LGBT equality as both moral and righteous.

We sincerely hope you aim to be a president for all Americans – including LGBT Americans of every race, ethnicity, gender and religion. As representatives of the LGBT community, we will hold your administration accountable for actions that infringe upon our rights and opportunities, and will oppose presidential appointees who denigrate or harm our community. But we much prefer to work with you to continue the incredible progress toward LGBT equality – to have you stand with us on the right side of history. We hope you voice your support for existing rights and protections for LGBT Americans, and commit to furthering LGBT equality during your presidency. We promise to be a strong and persistent voice for equality either way.



Representative Sean Patrick Maloney

U.S. House of Representatives

New York, Congressional District 18


Representative Mark Pocan

U.S. House of Representatives

Wisconsin, Congressional District 2




Representative Patricia Todd

Alabama House of Representatives, District 54




Representative Daniel Hernandez

Arizona House of Representatives, District 2


Representative Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete

Arizona House of Representatives, District 30


Lawrence Robinson

Governing Board Member

Roosevelt School Board


Karin Uhlich

Councilmember, Ward 3

Tucson City Council




Kathy Webb

Vice Mayor

Little Rock City Board




Senator Toni Atkins

California State Senate, District 39


Jovanka Beckles


Richmond City Council


Kevin Beiser

Board Vice President

San Diego Unified School District


Sabrina Brennan


San Mateo County Harbor Commission


Mayor Christopher Cabaldon

West Sacramento


Adam Carranza


Mountain View Board of Education


Chris Clark


Mountain View City Council


John D’Amico


West Hollywood City Council


John Duran


West Hollywood City Council


Representative Susan Talamantes Eggman

California State Assembly, District 13


Joel Fajardo

Vice Mayor

San Fernando City Council


Ginny Foat


Palm Springs City Council


Larry Forester


Signal Hill City Council


Mayor Robert Garcia

Long Beach


Assemblymember Todd Gloria

California State Assembly, District 78


Georgette Gomez

Councilmember, District 9

San Diego City Council


Steve Hansen

Councilmember, District 4

Sacramento City Council


John Heilman

Mayor Pro Tem

West Hollywood City Council


Gabe Kearney


Petaluma City Council


Geoff Kors


Palm Springs City Council


Senator Ricardo Lara

California State Senate, District 33


Steven Llanusa

Vice President, Board of Education

Claremont Unified School District


Assemblymember Evan Low

California State Assembly, District 28


Rafael Mandelman


City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees


Alex Randolph


City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees


Jeff Sheehy

Supervisor, District 8

San Francisco Board of Supervisors


Rene Spring


Morgan Hill City Council


Tom Temprano


City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees


Wanden Treanor


Marin Community College District


Christopher Ward

Councilmember, District 3

San Diego City Council


Scott Wiener

California State Senate, District 11


Ken Yeager

Supervisor, District 4

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors




Representative Joann Ginal

Colorado House of Representatives, District 52


Representative Leslie  Herod

Colorado House of Representatives, District 8


Debra Johnson

Clerk and Recorder



Representative Paul Rosenthal

Colorado House of Representatives, District 49B


Robin Kniech

Councilmember, At-Large

Denver City Council


Gwen Lachelt

Vice Chair, County Commissioner, District 2

La Plata County Commission


Senator Dominick Moreno

Colorado State Senate, District 21


District of Columbia


Jack Jacobson

President, Ward 2

District of Columbia State Board of Education




Heather Carruthers

Commissioner, District 3

Monroe County Commission


Lesa Peerman


Margate City Commission


Representative David Richardson

Florida House of Representatives, District 113


Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith

Florida House of Representatives, District 49




Representative Park Cannon

Georgia House of Representatives, District 58


Representative Karla Drenner

Georgia House of Representatives, District 85


Representative Sam Park

Georgia House of Representatives, District 101


Alex Wan

Councilmember, District 6

Atlanta City Council




Representative John McCrostie

Idaho House of Representatives, District 16A




James Cappleman

Alderman, Ward 46

Chicago City Council


Representative Kelly Cassidy

Illinois House of Representatives, District 14


Representative Gregory Harris

Illinois House of Representatives, District 13


Raymond Lopez

Alderman, Ward 15

Chicago City Council


Colette Lueck


Oak Park Village Board


Deborah Mell

Alderman, Ward 33

Chicago City Council


Carlos Ramirez-Rosa

Alderman, Ward 35

Chicago City Council


Debra Shore


Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago


Mark Tendam

Alderman, Ward 6

Evanston City Council


Thomas Tunney

Alderman, Ward 44

Chicago City Council




Representative Liz Bennett

Iowa House of Representatives, District 65


Senator Matt McCoy

Iowa State Senate, District 21




Mike Poppa

Councilmember, Ward 4

Roeland Park City Council




Senator Justin Chenette

Maine State Senate, District 31


Representative Ryan Fecteau

Maine House of Representatives, District 11


Representative Lois Reckitt

Maine House of Representatives, District 31


Representative Andrew McLean

Maine House of Representatives, District 27




Delegate Luke Clippinger

Democratic Caucus Chair

Maryland House of Delegates, District 46


Delegate Bonnie Cullison

Maryland House of Delegates, District 19


Delegate Anne Kaiser

Majority Leader

Maryland House of Delegates, District 14


Byron Macfarlane

Register of Wills

Howard County


Senator Richard Madaleno

Maryland State Senate, District 18


Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Maryland House of Delegates, District 43


Mayor Jeffrey Slavin





Senator Julian Cyr

Massachusetts Senate, Cape & Islands District


Jeremy Micah Denlea

Vice President, Ward 5

Attleboro Municipal Council


Eileen Duff

Councilor, District 5

Massachusetts Governor’s Council


Mayor Kevin Dumas



Representative Jack Patrick Lewis

Massachusetts House of Representatives, Middlesex District 7


Mayor Alex Morse



Mayor E. Denise Simmons





Mayor Jim Carruthers

Traverse City


Mayor David Coulter



Mayor Amanda Maria Edmonds



Representative Jon Hoadley

Michigan House of Representatives, District 60


Brian McGrain

Commissioner, District 10

Ingham County Board of Commissioners


Jason Morgan

Commissioner, District 8

Washtenaw County Commission


Representative Jeremy Moss

Michigan House of Representatives, District 35


Richard Renner

Township Supervisor

Pioneer Township


Mayor Kenson J. Siver





Representative            Susan  Allen

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 62B


Carol Becker


Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation


Representative Karen Clark

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 62A


Senator D. Scott Dibble

Minnesota State Senate, District 61


Representative Erin Maye Quade

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 57A




Shane Cohn

Alderman, Ward 25

St. Louis Board of Alderman


Representative Randy Dunn

Missouri House of Representatives, District 23




Barbara Baier

Member, District 3

Lincoln Board of Education




Representative Nelson Araujo

Nevada State Assembly, District 3


Senator David Parks

Nevada State Senate, District 7


New Hampshire


Mayor Dana Hilliard



Christopher Pappas

Councilor, District 4

New Hampshire Executive Council


New Jersey


Michael DeFusco

Councilman, Ward 1

Hoboken City Council


Assemblyman Tim Eustace

New Jersey General Assembly, District 38


Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

New Jersey General Assembly, District 15


Pamela Renee


Borough of Neptune City Council


Edward Zipprich


Borough of Red Bank Council


New Mexico


Senator Jacob Candelaria

New Mexico State Senate, District 26


Mayor Javier Gonzales

Santa Fe


Linda Siegle

Governing Board Secretary

Santa Fe Community College Board of Trustees


Senator Liz Stefanics

New Mexico State Senate, District 39


New York


Assemblymember Harry Bronson

New York State Assembly, District 138


Matt Haag

Councilmember, At-Large

Rochester City Council


Gregory Rabb

President, At-Large

Jamestown City Council


Michael Sabatino

Councilmember, District 3

Yonkers City Council


Assemblymember Matthew Titone

New York State Assembly, District 61


North Carolina


Representative Cecil Brockman

North Carolina House of Representatives, District 60


Mayor Lydia Lavelle



LaWana Mayfield

Councilwoman, District 3

Charlotte City Council


Damon Seils


Carrboro Board of Aldermen


North Dakota


Representative Joshua Boschee

North Dakota House of Representatives, District 44




Representative Nickie J. Antonio

House Minority Whip

Ohio House of Representatives, District 13


Sandra Kurt

Clerk of the Court

Summit County Clerk of Courts




Representative Karin Power

Oregon House of Representatives, District 41




Mayor Matt Fetick

Kennett Square


Bruce A. Kraus

Councilman, District 3

Pittsburgh City Council


Robert Langley


Meadville City Council


Lori Schreiber

Commissioner, Ward 14

Abington Township Board of Commissioners


Representative Brian Sims

Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 182




Chris Anderson

Councilmember, District 7

Chattanooga City Council


Nancy VanReece

Councilmember, District 8

Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County


Brett Withers

Councilmember, District 6

Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County




Representative Mary González

Texas House of Representatives, District 75


John Turner-McClelland

President, District 11-A

Denton County Fresh Water Supply Board of Directors


Sheriff Lupe Valdez

Dallas County




Arlyn Bradshaw

Councilmember, District 1

Salt Lake County Council


Senator Jim Dabakis

Utah State Senate, District 2




Representative Bill Lippert

Vermont House of Representatives, Chittenden-4-2 District




Delegate Mark Levine

Virginia House of Delegates, District 45


Michael Sutphin


Blacksburg Town Council




Mayor Dave Kaplan

Des Moines


Senator Marko Liias

Washington State Senate, District 21


Representative Nicole Macri

Washington House of Representatives, District 43


Ryan Mello

Councilmember, At-Large Position 8

Tacoma City Council


Michael Scott

Councilor, Central Ward

Bainbridge Island City Council


West Virginia


Kevin Carden

Councilmember and Town Recorder

Corporation of Harpers Ferry




Vered Meltzer

Alderperson, District 2

Appleton Common Council


Michael Verveer

Alder and Council President, District 4

Madison Common Council




Representative Cathy Connolly

Minority Floor Leader

Wyoming State House of Representatives, District 13


Clinton wins endorsement race, but do endorsements matter?

“A clear and present danger to our country.” “Xenophobia, racism and misogyny.” “Beneath our national dignity.”

Those aren’t excerpts from attack ads by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Those are longtime Republican newspapers disavowing Donald Trump.

If newspaper endorsements equaled victory, Clinton would be in line for a historic landslide. She has been endorsed by dozens of papers ranging from such expected backers as The New York Times to such once-certain GOP advocates as the Dallas Morning News, the Arizona Republic and the Cincinnati Enquirer, which on Sept. 23 called for “a leader who will bring out the best in Americans, not the worst.”

On Friday, USA Today ended its tradition of not taking sides and published an anti-endorsement, contending that Trump “lacks the temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.” The paper didn’t back Clinton but advised readers to “Stay true to your convictions.” The same day, The San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed Clinton — the first Democrat it has endorsed in its history.

Trump, meanwhile, is supported by far fewer publications. They include a paper owned by son-in-law Jared Kushner (the New York Observer) and the National Enquirer, a tabloid whose parent company is run by Trump friend David Pecker and whose content usually focuses on celebrity scandal.

Trump scorned the negative editorials Friday, tweeting that “The people are really smart in cancelling subscriptions to the Dallas & Arizona papers & now USA Today will lose readers! The people get it!”

“I don’t read USA Today,” he said later to WZZM13 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, “It’s not much of a newspaper as far as I’m concerned.”

If Clinton’s overwhelming advantage among editorial boards mirrors the revulsion Trump has inspired from officials in both parties, the endorsements may also illustrate the decline in newspapers’ power to shape opinions and the strength of Trump’s anti-establishment appeal. Polls show Clinton trailing in Texas, Arizona and Ohio despite the unexpected support of GOP papers. During the primaries, the venerable conservative paper the New Hampshire Union Leader endorsed Chris Christie, only to have the New Jersey governor lose the state decisively, drop out and back Trump. The Arizona Republic favored John Kasich in the state’s GOP primary, but Trump won easily, and the Ohio governor finished fourth.

“Newspaper endorsements don’t have nearly the impact they used to,” says Mark McKinnon, co-host of Showtime’s political show The Circus and a longtime adviser who has worked with former President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the GOP’s 2008 presidential candidate. “There are just way too many other sources of information for voters today.”

“They are just part of the wave,” says political historian Rick Perlstein, who is in the midst of a multivolume series on the rise of the conservative movement and has written in depth about elections of the 1960s, ‘70s and beyond. “They don’t start anything, and probably didn’t determine much — but betoken a widespread disgust in the air.”

Readers may not let editorials tell them how to vote, but they care enough to respond. Dallas Morning News editor Mike Wilson recalls a group of about a dozen people demonstrated against the endorsement across the street from the paper. Wilson went down to talk with them. In a series of tweets, he described a discussion that began angrily but settled into a serious dialogue. “I got a few words in and persuaded zero people,” he tweeted.

Wilson said he’s received some messages from Clinton supporters thanking the newspaper for the editorial, but hasn’t heard that it changed anyone’s mind. “They’re not really meant to end arguments, they’re mean to start discussions, and this one certainly did that,” he said.

“One of the reasons we exist is to take editorial positions on things that can improve lives in our community,” he said. “That is one of the core functions of a newspaper.”

Peter Bhatia, editor and vice president of audience engagement at the Cincinnati Enquirer, said he knows that the impact of editorial endorsements has lessened. “The days of people taking the endorsements of an editorial board and going into the polling place with them are pretty much long gone,” he said. But he still considers it an important obligation. The newspaper’s editorial board came to consensus pretty quickly so they decided to get it out.

As anticipated, some readers lashed out. Bhatia said he received some 150 angry emails and there were some canceled subscriptions. “I am impressed by how thoroughly rehearsed some of the attacks on Hillary Clinton are,” he said. “They have a very familiar bent to them.”

He also cites their incivility, but doesn’t find that unusual in the internet age.

For the record: Wisconsin leaders respond to attack in Orlando

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has ordered that flags above the Capitol be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of the Orlando attack.

Ryan said in a statement, “It is horrifying to see so many innocent lives cut short by such cowardice. Tonight, and in the long days ahead, we will grieve with the families. We will thank the heroes. We will hope for a swift recovery for the injured.

“As we heal, we need to be clear-eyed about who did this. We are a nation at war with Islamist terrorists. Theirs is a repressive, hateful ideology that respects no borders. It is a threat to our people at home and abroad. Our security depends on our refusal to back down in the face of terror. We never will.”

Other statements from political leaders in Wisconsin:

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.: “As a nation, we have all witnessed a historic tragedy in Orlando. As we offer our thoughts and prayers, we also must come to terms with the fact that they are not enough. This was not only a horrific attack on the LGBT community, it was an attack on the freedoms we all hold dear. The question now for America is are we going to come together and stand united against hate, gun violence and terrorism? I understand it may not be easy, but I know we are better than this and it is past time to act together.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the brave men and women who risked their lives to save others. My committee will work to support the federal role in investigating this terror attack and protecting against further threats. As Americans we must unite to defeat terrorism’s threat to our nation’s security.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus: “As we grapple with the horrific events that took place yesterday morning in Orlando, my thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone affected during Pride Month. The targeting of the LGBT individuals in this heinous act of violence has reignited many fears and uncertainty in our community. As a country, we must stand together to denounce bigotry and hatred and embrace love and acceptance.

“President Barack Obama declared this ‘an act of terror and an act of hate,’ an action perpetrated with a military-style assault weapon. Across the country people are asking themselves what they can do to help and what can be done to prevent such a devastating event from happening again.

“As a Member of Congress I contemplated these thoughts as well, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Congress won’t do a thing about any of these issues again this week. In fact, all too often actions and language here in Congress and on the campaign trail actually exacerbate would-be terrorists. And actions even on the Floor of the House of Representatives all too often reinforce the hate of some people. Unfortunately, this body is too chicken to address the epidemic of military-style assault weapons because that would upset the gun manufacturers and special interests.

“In the end all we will do is have yet another moment of silence, rather than a moment of action. That disrespects the lives of the people who were killed not just yesterday, but every day by gun violence. There may be blood in the streets, but if Congress continues to fail to act, we will have blood on our hands.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.: “My heart aches over the tragic events that took place last night in Orlando, Florida. As details about this horrific incident emerge — including the background of the perpetrator — make no mistake, this was indeed an act of terror. This savage act was carried out in an effort to intimidate and terrify our LGBT brothers and sisters.

“This senseless loss of life transpired in a club that was meant to be a safe space for an already vulnerable group of Americans, but we must never forget that an attack on the LGBT community is an attack on all of us. As we mourn for those whose lives have been touched by this act of barbarism, we must do everything in our collective power to put an end to the attitudes and behaviors that help cultivate a society where such hate can come to fruition. Today, Milwaukee stands with the City of Orlando and our nation’s LGBT community.”

Gov. Scott Walker: “Tonette and I extend our prayers to those killed or injured in Orlando and to their loved ones following this tragic act of violence.”

State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit: “I’m horrified by the attack in Orlando early Sunday morning. This was a terrible tragedy, an act of terror, and a hate crime perpetrated against the LGBTQ community. That this attack came during Pride Month, which is meant to celebrate what it means to be LGBTQ, is especially heartbreaking. My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims, to their friends and family, and the entire LGBTQ community that is deeply hurting after this attack.

“Although we cannot accept that this kind of massacre is something that happens in this country, we must not scapegoat entire groups of people. Instead, we must lay the blame where it belongs: the ideology of violent extremism.

“Let us take action to promote legal and social equality, and to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who seek to use them to do harm. Let us choose love over hate, and hug our friends, family, and neighbors even more closely in the days and weeks ahead. Let us continue to build a community where this kind of act really is unthinkable.”

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison: “What happened yesterday in Orlando is a heartbreaking act of hate and terror. Today, my thoughts are with the victims, their families, the LGBT community, and the people of Orlando.

“Sadly, we cannot simply legislate away hate and bigotry, but we can put an immediate end to the discriminatory laws and political rhetoric that only serve to fuel the kind of hatred and fear that too often provoke violence. And we can pass common sense gun laws that prevent tragedies such as this one.

“It makes no sense that we continue allowing easy access to weapons that make the killing of dozens of people in a matter of minutes possible. We must take immediate action to get assault weapons out of our communities, make guns less readily available, and keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm.

“We have all watched in horror as community after community has had to confront the tragedy of mass shootings. These tragedies are preventable, and it is high time the NRA and those politicians beholden to them stop standing in the way of public safety.”

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison: “I can’t imagine the terror and horror inside that Orlando night club early Sunday morning. I can’t imagine the fear the club-goers felt after the first shots rang out. And I can’t imagine the chill that family members and friends experienced when they saw the news alert about the shooting pop up on their phones and televisions. Their texts and calls to loved ones going unanswered.

“My heart is heavy for the victims, their families, and the LGBTQ community and their fight for equality. We mourn together with them. It is now our responsibility to learn who the victims were and carry out their legacies. These were sons and daughters – who loved and were loved. These were friends, neighbors, and co-workers – passionate about life, whose most basic freedom was taken from them. It is now incumbent upon all of us to make the world a better place to honor and remember them for who they were and what they cared about.

“The time for hashtag politics and empty wishes of ‘thoughts and prayers’ with no action is over. I will not be honoring these victims with moments of silence. I will be honoring them with my voice and my actions. We must immediately address this public health crisis of gun violence in America.”

State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee: “Yesterday, I woke up to the tragic news that a mass shooting had taken place at an LGBT night club in Orlando, Florida. We know now that 50 people, likely all LGBT Americans, were slain and 53 wounded.

“LGBT Wisconsinites and our allies were devastated, of course, but in Milwaukee we still held our annual Pride Parade in the Walker’s Point neighborhood I am honored to represent in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

“I can tell you that our hearts were heavy, but we were resolute in our desire to come together as a community, to march shoulder-to-shoulder, to cheer each other on, and to celebrate our pride as LGBT immigrants, LGBT Wisconsinites and LGBT Americans. We marched to show that even in our grief, we are proud to be out, active, contributing members to society and to our communities.

“As an openly bisexual member of my beloved LGBT community, I send the deepest of sympathies to the victims, their families and to all LGBT Floridians.

“As an out elected leader in Wisconsin, I commit to continuing to fight for LGBT equality and I join the chorus of so many other leaders, including President Obama, in insisting on common sense gun reform now before one more life is lost.”

State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee: “Sunday saw the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando. As of today, fifty innocent people were killed and scores still remain hospitalized.

“My heart breaks with the loss and suffering of the victims and their families.

“I am thankful for law enforcement and medical personnel in the area who stopped the killer, rescued the victims, treated the wounded, and comforted those who grieved.

“I am also grateful for everyone who answered the call and stood in long lines to donate blood for the injured.

“This atrocity took place during Pride Month, and on a weekend where – all across the country – members of the LGBT community, our supporters, and allies came together to celebrate the progress made in civil rights and equality in our nation.

“Milwaukee held its 30th annual PrideFest parade on Sunday. As I walked the parade route I spoke with many friends and strangers who shared my recollections of times past when the LGBT community was under attack, from denial of basic civil rights to the devastating losses of the AIDS crisis. Although our hearts break, we are resilient, we will persevere, and we will continue to work for a better world.”


State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison: “Like millions of Americans, I am absolutely sick over Sunday morning’s massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando. For the hundreds of families suffering the unbearable loss of a loved one to those still grappling with the unknown – I am so sorry for your pain and send my deepest condolences. Despite our recent historic gains for fairness and equality, there is still ignorance and intense hatred that exists towards the LGBTQ community. As public officials our words matter. At a time when we should be united, it’s disappointing to see that there are some that refuse to acknowledge this incident for what it was – an intentional, hateful, deadly attack on the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“In a country where it can be is easier to obtain certain high-level military assault weapons than vote, we must re-examine our priorities in the face of this inexplicable tragedy. We’ve seen 20 first graders violently gunned down, we’ve seen a television reporter shot on live television and now we’ve seen 49 Americans murdered this weekend within a matter of minutes – how can we stand here and do nothing? We can work to make our communities safer through commonsense gun safety measures or we can continue down the same path of inaction and hate-filled rhetoric that is poisoning our society.”

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We ask if the weapons were obtained legally or illegally. We ask if it was an act of terrorism or of hatred, or of both. These distinctions do not matter.

“Once again, innocent and good people who loved and were loved by family and friends, are dead – the victims of the obscene firepower available in this country sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

“We need to stand up to the NRA and the peddlers of death.

“There is a range of reasonable steps that can be taken without infringing on the provision of the Second Amendment, which ensures the establishment of a well-regulated militia: weapons registration, owner registration, background checks, waiting periods, and control on weapons sales. Limitations on firepower are reasonable, sensible actions.

“Here in Madison we feel compassion and pain for those who perished; who deserved to live their lives in happiness and love. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones and to the people of Orlando. I have conveyed our sympathies to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning: “I speak for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and myself when I say our hearts go out to the people of Orlando, the victims and their families, the responders, and the LGBT community.

“Yesterday, we saw the absolute worst of humanity, when the hatred of one individual turned into the largest mass shooting in American history. This was an act of terror; this was an act of hate, and this was an attack on all of us.

“We must stand together in the face of such hatred, and not let acts like these drive us apart. I and millions across this country stand with our friends and family in the LGBT community. Violence like this will not deter our resolve to ensure that regardless of who an individual loves or how they identify, they are treated with respect and receive equal protection under the law.”


Protesters target big money in politics

Protesters channeling themes from the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders dumped faux contributions into Boston Harbor on April 15, one of some 30 demonstrations planned across the country against big money in politics.
In Washington, about a dozen members of the liberal action Democracy Spring cuffed themselves inside the Capitol rotunda in a protest of the influence of special interests in U.S. politics and to denounce laws making it more difficult to vote.
The Democracy Spring demonstration followed the arrest of hundreds at events all week including a sit-in protest on the steps of the Capitol, the seat of the U.S. Congress.
Both the weeklong protests in Washington and the nationwide demonstrations led by the activist group Represent.Us have tapped into some of the voter frustration seen on the presidential campaign trail.
“From super PACs (political action committees) to lucrative job offers and campaign contributions, there are tons of perfectly legal ways to bribe a politician,” said Charlotte Hill, communications director for Represent.Us.
The group, which has promoted anti-corruption resolutions in American cities, says it neither endorses nor opposes any presidential candidate. Represent.Us said it would stage events in 33 cities.
Trump, a billionaire Republican, and Sanders, who describes himself as a democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination, have both denounced the influence of large campaign contributions in their surprising runs for the White House.
“Our message is it doesn’t matter if you’re conservative or progressive. Two hundred and 43 years after the original Boston Tea Party, Americans of all political stripes are still facing taxation without political representation,” said Dan Krassner, political director of Represent.Us.
About 40 activists attended the symbolic re-staging of the Boston Tea Party near the spot where American colonists dumped tea into the harbor to protest taxes levied by the British. Represent.Us activists tossed a stack of wooden crates into the water, representing campaign contributions.
“We’ve got to get the money out of the system. Our country’s going to be run by global corporate wealth,” said Richard Painter, an activist with Take Back Our Republic, a group promoting campaign finance reform.
In Washington on April 15, Democracy Spring activists cuffed themselves to scaffolding in the Capitol rotunda. A video provided by the group ended when Capitol Police advised them they would be arrested because demonstrations inside the Capitol are prohibited.
“We the people demand a democracy free from the corruption influence of big money and voter suppression,” the protesters said in unison. “We demand a democracy where every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

A blindfolded demonstrator holds up a copy of the United States Constitution while protesting against the Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in midtown Manhattan in New York City. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files
A blindfolded demonstrator holds up a copy of the United States Constitution while protesting against the Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump in midtown Manhattan in New York City. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files

Analysis: GOP’s deficit reduction promises are unfeasible without tax increases and program cuts that they’ll never support

Thanks to Congress’ recent tax-and-spending spree, Republicans vowing to balance the budget will have to raise taxes and propose far deeper cuts than the public would accept.

If the GOP should won the White House in 2016, those promises — the same ones they make in every election cycle — are likely to come back and haunt them. The last president to balance the budet was Democrat Bill Clinton, who presided over an era of great prosperity that’s not likely to be equaled in the near future. 

In fact, the weakening economy that the nation is currently experiencing means Republicans will have to dig even further into the budget to find sufficient spending cuts to balance the budget, according to the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office. The budget — a non-binding wish list of cuts and policies — was already unrealistic, promising cuts that lawmakers have never shown they’d be willing to make.

Last year, for instance, Republicans promised more than $5 trillion in spending cuts over a decade. Instead, they worked with President Barack Obama to add about $750 billion to the deficit over the decade through a mix of spending increases and permanent tax cuts. Even a token effort to curb the federal crop insurance program was immediately reversed after a revolt by farm state lawmakers.

Now, the dismal fiscal picture, budget experts say, would mean Republicans would have to slash more than $2 trillion over 10 years, with the most draconian cuts required in the final years. That’s assuming they will still try to balance the budget.

“Realistically speaking, that’s just not going to happen,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington group that advocates for lower deficits.

With Social Security, the Pentagon and most of Medicare insulated politically from cuts, Republicans are likely to call for even further reductions to programs like Medicaid, domestic agency budgets, student loan subsidies and food stamps.

The GOP chairmen of the House and Senate Budget panels insist they will find a way.

“It’s not only realistic but essential,” Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said of balancing the budget. “This country is going to be bankrupt if we don’t do something.”

Under Congress’ arcane budget process, lawmakers vote first on a broad, non-binding outline called a budget resolution — which is akin to the blueprints for a house — and then use follow-up legislation to fill in the details. The second-step of votes to implement the budget are invariably more difficult than the first.

Congress does a lot more bragging about budget blueprints than actually trying to enact them. House Republicans boast but they’ve never drafted legislation detailing how they would turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for most future retirees or cut Medicaid funding by about one-fifth — and force many millions of people from health coverage or nursing home care.

Even architects of the budget acknowledge that there’s no stomach to actually try to impose its cuts.

“The critical mass does not yet exist in the country or the Congress that recognizes that we need to save and strengthen and secure these mandatory programs,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. Price was referring to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, whose mandatory budgets grow automatically unless Congress cuts them.

So in some ways the budget process is perfect for politicians: It gives them a chance to tell voters they’re cutting spending even as they avoid the politically dangerous votes required to actually do it.

The budget process also fits into Speaker Paul Ryan’s vision for using the House agenda to tell voters what they’ll get if Republicans win the White House. The annual budget debate will come before efforts to replace the health care law or reveal the party’s plans to update the loophole-clogged tax code after five years of controlling the House.

Conspicuously left off the agenda? Emphasizing spending cuts, even as the deficit has begun growing again and the latest estimates reveal trillion-dollar deficits returning in just a few years.

“Clearly that’s going to take a Republican president because this president has continued to kick the can down the road and I see no change in his behavior,” Ryan, R-Wis., said recently.

But it’s by no means clear that balancing the budget will be a top priority for presidential candidates who have promised big tax cuts and aren’t really talking about the issue on the campaign trail. If there is a GOP president next year, he will have to answer questions about living up to the balanced-budget promises of Republicans in Congress.

If a GOP president embraces a balanced budget, they’ll have to offer an enormously difficult set of cuts to Republican lawmakers unschooled in what balancing the budget really means.

“The magnitude of the policy changes that you would have to implement to achieve the savings that are promised in the budget — I don’t think there’s an appreciation for the magnitude of those changes,” said Neil Bradley, a former top House GOP aide who now works for the Conservative Reform Network, which offers policy advice to GOP candidates and lawmakers.

Obama submits his budget Feb. 9, and House and Senate Republicans promise floor debates on their alternatives in March.

Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2015

Sometimes the act of dying, by itself, represents a type of victory.

Such was the case for Richard “Dick” Walters, who was a leader in the effort to get the state of Vermont to pass aid-in-dying legislation. Diagnosed with lung cancer, Walters ultimately used the law to end his own life in October at age 90, becoming one of the many notables who died in 2015.

Among political figures were King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a Saudi prince, Saud al-Faisal, recognized as the world’s longest-serving foreign minister. He retired earlier in the year after 40 years in the position and died in July at age 75.

Former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, along with Arpad Goncz and Kim Young-sam, the former presidents of Hungary and South Korea, were among world leaders who died. Other political figures included Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi; and Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Deaths in the arena of science and innovation included John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the film “A Beautiful Mind.”

Some other deaths in the science world:  inventor Forrest Bird, nuclear physicist Ralph Nobles, engineer Oscar Carl Holderer, chemist Carl Djerassi and  scientist Richard Post.

Among the entertainers who died in 2015 was an actor who helped take TV viewers to alien worlds while showing the common humanity that unites everyone: Leonard Nimoy, 83, who was beloved by generations of “Star Trek” fans for his portrayal of the pointy-eared Mr. Spock.

For some, the end came far too soon. At just 22, Bobbi Kristina Brown died in July in hospice care. Her death came six months after she was found face-down in a bathtub in her home, creating an eerie echo of the death of her mother, singer Whitney Houston.

Others in arts and entertainment who died this year include: actors Christopher Lee, Maureen O’Hara, Dick Van Patten, Yvonne Craig and Martin Milner; musicians B.B. King, Demis Roussos, Allen Toussaint, Lynn Anderson, Ben E. King and James Horner; filmmakers Wes Craven and Eldar Ryazanov; writers Terry Pratchett, Gamal el-Ghitani and Guenter Grass; cartoonist Tom Moore and ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.

Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2015. (Cause of death cited for younger people, if available.)


Mario Cuomo, 82. Son of Italian immigrants who became an eloquent spokesman for a generation of liberal Democrats during his three terms as governor of New York. Jan. 1.

Donna Douglas, 82. She played the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Jan. 1. Pancreatic cancer.

Little Jimmy Dickens, 94. A diminutive singer-songwriter known as the oldest cast member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jan. 2.

Maher Hathout, 79. Prominent interfaith leader hailed as the father of the Muslim American identity. Jan. 2.

Edward W. Brooke, 95. Former U.S. senator from Massachusetts who, as a liberal Republican, became the first black in U.S. history to win popular election to the Senate. Jan. 3.

Arch Alfred Moore Jr., 91. Former West Virginia governor and his era’s most successful Republican in a Democrat-dominated state. Jan. 7.

Andrae Crouch, 72. Legendary gospel performer, songwriter and choir director whose work graced songs by Michael Jackson and Madonna and movies such as “The Lion King.” Jan. 8.

Anita Ekberg, 83. Swedish-born actress and sex-symbol of the 1950s and ‘60s who was immortalized bathing in the Trevi fountain in “La Dolce Vita.” Jan. 11.

Tony Verna, 81. Television director and producer who invented instant replay for live sports. Jan. 18.

Reies Lopez Tijerina, 88. Pentecostal preacher turned activist who led a violent raid of a northern New Mexico courthouse nearly 50 years ago. Jan. 19.

Anne Kirkbride, 60. A star of British soap opera “Coronation Street” for more than 40 years. Jan. 19.

Melvin Gordon, 95. Longtime Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. chairman and CEO, who helped turn the enduring popularity of the humble Tootsie Roll into a candy empire. Jan. 20.

Wendell Ford, 90. Former U.S. senator and Kentucky governor who was an unapologetic smoker whose unfiltered chats and speeches endeared him to voters. Jan. 22.

King Abdullah, 90. The Saudi monarch was a powerful U.S. ally who fought against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, including by nudging open greater opportunities for women. Jan. 23.

Ernie Banks, 83. Hall of Fame slugger and two-time MVP who never lost his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite years of playing on losing Chicago Cubs teams. Jan. 23.             

Stig Bergling, 77. Former Swedish security officer who sold secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War and brazenly escaped while serving a life sentence for espionage. Jan. 24.

Otto Carius, 92. World War II German panzer ace credited with destroying more than 150 enemy tanks, mostly on the Eastern Front. Jan. 24.

Demis Roussos, 68. Renowned Greek singer who was a household name in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe and beyond. Jan. 25.

Rod McKuen, 81. Husky-voiced “King of Kitsch” whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ‘70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history. Jan. 29.

Carl Djerassi, 91. Chemist widely considered the father of the birth control pill. Jan. 30.

Lizabeth Scott, 92. Her long tawny hair, alluring face and low seductive voice made her an ideal film noir star in the 1940s and ‘50s. Jan. 31.


Ann Mara, 85. Matriarch of the NFL’s New York Giants for the past 60 years. Feb. 1.

Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton Jr., 89. Pilot known as the “Dean of Flight Test” for his involvement in pioneering programs including the space shuttle piggyback flights. Feb. 4.

Niki Quasney, 38. Terminally ill woman whose desire to have her same-sex marriage recognized by Indiana before she died helped galvanize efforts to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban. Feb. 5. Cancer.

Dean Smith, 83. Coaching innovator who won two national championships at North Carolina, an Olympic gold medal in 1976 and induction into basketball’s Hall of Fame more than a decade before he left the bench. Feb. 7.

Kenji Ekuan, 85. Japanese industrial designer whose works ranged from a bullet train to the red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser. Feb. 7.

Jerry Tarkanian, 84. Hall of Fame coach who built a basketball dynasty at UNLV but was defined more by his decades-long battle with the NCAA. Feb. 11.

Bob Simon, 73. Longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent who covered riots, Academy Award-nominated movies and wars and was held captive for more than a month in Iraq two decades ago. Feb. 11. Car crash.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, 84. Revered Islamic spiritual leader who helped bolster unity in Malaysia’s opposition bloc and was a key advocate of Islamic law. Feb. 12.

Gary Owens, 80. Droll, mellifluous-voiced announcer on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and a familiar part of radio, TV and movies for more than six decades. Feb. 12.

Michele Ferrero, 89. World’s richest candy maker whose Nutella chocolate and hazlenut spread helped raise generations of Europeans and defined Italian sweets. Feb. 14.

Louis Jourdan, 93. Dashingly handsome Frenchman who starred in “Gigi,” “Can-Can,” “Three Coins in the Fountain” and other American movies. Feb. 14.

Lesley Gore, 68. She topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hit “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” Feb. 16. Lung cancer.

John Willke, 89. Obstetrician who helped shape the modern anti-abortion movement with ideas including a belief that a woman can resist conception from a sexual assault. Feb. 20.

Ralph Nobles, 94. Nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and later led efforts to save thousands of acres of San Francisco Bay wetlands from development. Feb. 20.

Leonard Nimoy, 83. Actor loved by generations of “Star Trek” fans as Mr. Spock, the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer. Feb. 27.

Robert Benmosche, 70. Former AIG President and CEO who led the insurer’s turnaround after its $182 billion government bailout. Feb. 27.

Natalia Revuelta Clews, 89. Cuban socialite who emptied her bank account and sold her diamond jewelry to support Fidel Castro when he was a little-known insurgent. Feb. 27.

Boris Nemtsov, 55. Charismatic Russian opposition leader, former deputy prime minister and a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin. Feb. 28. Fatally shot near the Kremlin.


Minnie Minoso, 90. He hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat when he became major league baseball’s first black player in Chicago in 1951. March 1.

Beverly Hall, 68. Former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent charged in what prosecutors called a broad conspiracy to cheat on state exams. March 2. Complications from breast cancer.

Dean Hess, 97. Retired Air Force colonel who helped rescue hundreds of orphans in the Korean War and whose exploits prompted a Hollywood film starring Rock Hudson. March 2.

Jim Molyneaux, 94. Soft-spoken, cautious politician who led the Ulster Unionist Party through some of Northern Ireland’s bloodiest years and early efforts at peacemaking. March 9.

Florence Arthaud, 57. First woman to win the prestigious Route du Rhum transatlantic sailing race. March 9. Helicopter crash.

Claude Sitton, 89. Journalist who set the pace for reporters covering the civil rights movement in the South in the 1950s and ‘60s and later won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. March 10.

Richard Glatzer, 63. He co-wrote and directed the Alzheimer’s drama “Still Alice” alongside his husband, Wash Westmoreland, while battling ALS. March 10.

Terry Pratchett, 66. Fantasy writer who was the creator of the exuberant, satirical “Discworld” series and author of more than 70 books. March 12.

Michael Graves, 80. Celebrated architect who created whimsical postmodern structures and later designed products for people with disabilities and household goods such as whistling Alessi teakettles and stainless steel colanders. March 12.

Rev. Willie Barrow, 90. Frontline civil rights fighter for decades and a mentor to younger generations of activists. March 12.

Samuel Charters, 85. Historian of American blues, folk and jazz who helped introduce a generation of music lovers to Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and other performers. March 18. Bone marrow disorder.

Malcolm Fraser, 84. Former Australian prime minister who was notoriously catapulted to power by a constitutional crisis that left the nation bitterly divided. March 20.

Jerry Warren, 84. The editor of San Diego’s largest newspaper for 20 years and a White House press secretary during the Nixon and Ford administrations. March 20.

Chuck Bednarik, 89. Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the last great two-way NFL players. March 21.

Lee Kuan Yew, 91. Founder of modern Singapore who was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world’s richest nations while in power for 31 years. March 23.

Gary Ross Dahl, 78. Creator of the wildly popular 1970s fad the Pet Rock. March 23. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Yehuda Avner, 86. Former Israeli diplomat and aide to a string of prime ministers who turned his insider stories about the country’s leaders into a best-selling memoir. March 24.

Carlos Gaviria, 77. Former Colombian presidential candidate who became an icon of the country’s democratic left while presiding over its constitutional court. March 31.


Cynthia Lennon, 75. First wife of the late Beatles singer-sonwriter-guitarist John Lennon. April 1. Cancer

John Paul Hammerschmidt, 92. Longtime Arkansas congressman who defeated Bill Clinton in the former president’s first race for political office. April 1.

Rev. Robert H. Schuller, 88. California televangelist and author who beamed his upbeat messages on faith and redemption to millions of followers from his landmark Crystal Cathedral only to see his empire crumble in his waning years. April 2.

Sarah Kemp Brady, 73. She became an activist for gun control after her husband was shot in the head in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.  April 3.

Robert Burns Jr., 64. Former drummer and a founding member of the Southern hard rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. April 3. Vehicle crash.

Richard Dysart, 86. Veteran stage and screen actor who played senior partner Leland McKenzie in the long-running TV courtroom drama “L.A. Law.” April 5.

James Best, 88. Prolific character actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” April 6. Complications of pneumonia.

Richard Post, 96. Prominent scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who researched how to store renewable energy. April 7.

Jean-Louis Cremieux-Brilhac, 98. A Jewish member of the French Resistance in charge of propaganda during World War II. April 8.

Joel Spira, 88. He brought the light dimmer switch to households across the nation and transformed his Lutron Electronics Company into a leading manufacturer of lighting controls. April 8.

Lauren Hill, 19. Freshman at Ohio university who fought an inoperable brain tumor to play college basketball. April 10.

Guenter Grass, 87. Nobel-winning German writer who gave voice to the generation that came of age during the horrors of the Nazi era but later ran into controversy over his own World War II past and stance toward Israel. April 13.

Percy Sledge, 74. He recorded the classic 1966 soul ballad “When a Man Loves a Woman.” April 14.

Robert Griffin, 91. Former U.S. Republican senator whose withdrawal of support hastened President Richard Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal. April 16.

Cardinal Francis George, 78. Vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church’s response to the clergy sex abuse scandal and led the U.S. bishops’ fight against provisions of Obamacare. April 17.

A. Alfred Taubman, 91. Self-made Michigan billionaire whose philanthropy and business success _ including weaving the enclosed shopping mall into American culture _ was clouded by a criminal conviction late in his career. April 17.

Mary Doyle Keefe, 92. The model for Norman Rockwell’s 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II. April 21.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 93. Former Auschwitz prisoner and member of Poland’s underground World War II resistance who helped save Jews and later served twice as the country’s foreign minister. April 24.

Don M. Mankiewicz, 93. Oscar-nominated screenwriter from a legendary Hollywood family who created the television shows “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Ironside.” April 25.

Suzanne Crough Condray, 52. Youngest daughter on the hit 1970s television show “The Partridge Family.” April 27.

Jack Ely, 71. Singer known for “Louie Louie,” the low-budget recording that became one the most famous songs of the 20th century. April 28.

Jean Nidetch, 91. New York housewife who tackled her own obesity, then shared her guiding principles with others in meetings that became known as Weight Watchers, the most widely known company of its kind. April 29.

Dan Walker, 92. Combative populist who became Illinois governor after condemning Chicago’s reaction to Democratic National Convention demonstrations as “a police riot” and later went to prison for bank fraud. April 29.

Ben E. King, 76. Unforgettable lead singer for the Drifters and solo star whose plaintive baritone graced such pop and rhythm ‘n blues classics as “Stand by Me,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Spanish Harlem.” April 30.

Frank Olivo, 66. He was the fill-in Santa whose downfield jaunt at a Philadelphia Eagles game in 1968 lives on in sports history for the hail of snowballs and shower of boos that rained down on him. April 30.


Grace Lee Whitney, 85. She played Captain Kirk’s assistant on the original “Star Trek” series. May 1.

Maya Plisetskaya, 89. She was regarded as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, her career at the Bolshoi Theater spanning more than 35 years. May 2. Heart attack.

Michael Blake, 69. Writer whose novel “Dances With Wolves” became a major hit movie and earned him an Academy Award for the screenplay. May 2.

Oscar Carl Holderer, 95. He was the last known surviving member of the German engineering team that came to the United States after World War II and designed the rocket that took astronauts to the moon. May 5.

Jim Wright, 92. Longtime Texas Democrat who became the first U.S. House speaker in the nation’s history to be driven out of office in midterm. May 6.

Kenan Evren, 97. Turkish general who led a 1980 coup that ended years of violence but whose rule unleashed a wave of arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings. May 9.

William Zinsser, 92. Teacher, author, journalist and essayist whose million-selling book “On Writing Well” championed the craft of nonfiction and inspired professionals and amateurs to express themselves more concisely and vividly. May 12.

Jim Gaines, 48. An Associated Press video software architect known for his dedication to technological innovation. May 12. Killed in train derailment.

B.B. King, 89. His scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues. May 14.

Elisabeth Bing, 100. Lamaze International co-founder who popularized what was known as natural childbirth and helped change how women and doctors approached the delivery room. May 15.

Bruce Lundvall, 79. Recording executive who revived the iconic Blue Note Records label in the mid-1980s and turned it into a major influence on the contemporary jazz scene during his 25 years as president. May 19.

Bob Belden, 58. Grammy-winning jazz musician, composer, arranger and producer who was the first American musician to perform in Iran since its 1979 revolution when he toured there in February. May 20. Heart attack.

Marques Haynes, 89. Legendary Harlem Globetrotters showman often called the greatest dribbler in basketball history. May 22.

John Forbes Nash Jr., 86. Mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind.” May 23. Killed along with his wife, Alicia Nash, in a car crash.

Anne Meara, 85. Actress and comedian whose comic work with husband Jerry Stiller helped launch a 60-year career in film and TV. May 23.

Hugh Ambrose, 48. He wrote the World War II history “The Pacific” after years of researching for his father, the renowned historian Stephen Ambrose. May 23. Cancer.

Paula Cooper, 45. Indiana woman who was once the nation’s youngest person on death row but whose sentence was eventually commuted to a prison term. May 26. Apparent suicide after she was released.

Doris Hart, 89. Tennis great who won each Grand Slam tournament at least once, and once won three Wimbledon titles in a single day. May 29.

Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, 46. The son of Vice President Joe Biden and two-time Delaware attorney general. May 30.

L. Tom Perry, 92. A Mormon leader who was a member of the faith’s highest governing body. May 30.


Jean Ritchie, 92. Kentucky-born folksinger who brought the centuries-old ballads she grew up with to a wide audience from the 1950s onward. June 1.

Irwin Rose, 88. Biochemist who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering a way that cells destroy unwanted proteins, which was the basis for developing new therapies for diseases such as cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis. June 2.

Clarence “Bevo” Francis, 82. He had 113 points for Rio Grande College in a 1954 game and was one of college basketball’s great scorers. June 3.

Marguerite Patten, 99. Home economist and chef who helped educate Britons on how to survive on rations during World War II. June 4.

Tariq Aziz, 79. Debonair Iraqi diplomat who made his name by staunchly defending Saddam Hussein to the world during three wars and was later sentenced to death as part of the regime that killed hundreds of thousands of its own people. June 5.

Vincent Bugliosi, 80. Prosecutor who parlayed his handling of the Charles Manson trial into a career as a bestselling author. June 6.

Christopher Lee, 93. Actor who brought dramatic gravitas and aristocratic bearing to screen villains from Dracula to the wicked wizard Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. June 7.

Vincent Musetto, 74. Veteran newspaperman who wrote one of the industry’s most famous headlines: “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” June 9.

Ornette Coleman, 85. Jazz legend and the visionary saxophonist who pioneered “free jazz” and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. June 11.

Jack King, 84. NASA public affairs official who became the voice of the Apollo moon shots. June 11.

Virgil Runnels, 69. Former professional wrestler known by his fans as Dusty Rhodes. June 11.

Jim Ed Brown, 81. Longtime Grand Ole Opry member who had solo and group hits and was a prominent figure on country music television shows. June 11.

Blaze Starr, 83. “Knockout” burlesque icon and stripper who drew tourists to post-World War II Baltimore, lent glamour to New Orleans and became known far and wide for her affair with a colorful mid-century Louisiana governor. June 15.

Kirk Kerkorian, 98. Billionaire eighth-grade dropout who built Las Vegas’ biggest hotels, tried to take over Chrysler and bought and sold MGM at a profit three times. June 15.

Suleyman Demirel, 90. Former Turkish president who was a master pragmatist whose remarkable talent for staying on top of Turkish politics saw him survive two coups. June 17.

Ralph Roberts, 95. He built Comcast from a small cable TV system in Mississippi into an entertainment and communications behemoth. June 18.

Donald Featherstone, 79. Creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, perhaps the ultimate example of American lawn kitsch. June 22.

James Horner, 61. Composer who won Oscars for accompanying movies’ biggest moments in film such as “Titanic” and “Braveheart.” June 22. Plane crash.

Dick Van Patten, 86. Genial, round-faced comic actor who premiered on Broadway as a child, starred on television in its infancy and then, in middle age, found lasting fame as the patriarch on TV’s “Eight is Enough.” June 23. Complications from diabetes.

Miguel Facusse, 91. Wealthy Honduran businessman involved in a two-decade fight with poor farmers who invaded his palm plantations on the Atlantic coast. June 23.

Patrick Macnee, 93. British-born actor best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running 1960s TV series “The Avengers.” June 25.

Jack Carter, 93. His brash, caustic comedy made him a star in early television and helped him sustain a career of more than a half-century in TV, nightclubs, movies and on stage. June 28.


Nicholas Winton, 106. Humanitarian who almost single-handedly saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, earning himself the label “Britain’s Schindler.”  July 1.

Boyd K. Packer, 90. Mormon leader who was president of the faith’s highest governing body. July 3.

Burt Shavitz, 80. Reclusive beekeeper who co-founded Burt’s Bees, and whose face and wild beard appeared on labels for the natural cosmetics. July 5.

Ken Stabler, 69. He led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory and was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1974. July 8. Complications from colon cancer.

Saud al-Faisal, 75. Saudi prince who was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister with 40 years in the post until his retirement earlier in the year. July 9.

Omar Sharif, 83. Egyptian-born actor with the dark, soulful eyes who soared to international stardom in movie epics, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.” July 10. Heart attack.

Roger Rees, 71. Lanky Tony Award-winning Welsh-born actor and director who made his mark onstage as Nicholas Nickleby and later played English multi-millionaire Robin Colcord on the TV show “Cheers.” July 10.

Satoru Iwata, 55. He led Japanese video game company Nintendo Co. through years of growth with its Pokemon and Super Mario franchises. July 11. Bile duct tumor.

Marlene Sanders, 84. Veteran television journalist for ABC and CBS News at a time when relatively few women did that job. July 14. Cancer.

Tom Moore, 86. “Archie” cartoonist who brought to life the escapades of a freckled-face, red-haired character. July 20.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, 83. Former Indian president known as the father of the country’s military missile program. July 27.

Ann Rule, 83. True-crime writer who wrote more than 30 books, including a profile of her former co-worker, serial killer Ted Bundy. July 26.

Bobbi Kristina Brown, 22. Daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, she was raised in the shadow of fame and shattered by the loss of her mother. July 26. Died in hospice care six months after she was found face-down in bathtub.

Lynn Anderson, 67. Her strong voice carried her to the top of the charts with “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden.” July 30. Cardiac arrest.

Howard Jones, 104. He pioneered in vitro fertilization in the United States. July 31.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, 61. Kilt-wearing trash-talker who headlined the first WrestleMania and later found movie stardom. July 31.

Richard S. Schweiker, 89. Former Pennsylvania senator who was a liberal Republican, named as the prospective vice presidential running mate of Ronald Reagan in the latter’s unsuccessful 1976 campaign and later served in Reagan’s Cabinet. July 31.


Forrest Bird, 94. Inventor whose medical respirators breathed life back into millions of patients around the world. Aug. 2.

Les Munro, 96. New Zealander who was the last surviving pilot from the specialized World War II “Dambuster” mission targeting German infrastructure. July 4.

Arnold Scaasi, 85. Designer whose bright, flamboyant creations adorned first ladies from Mamie Eisenhower to Laura Bush and film stars from Elizabeth Taylor to Barbra Streisand. Aug. 4.

Frederick R. “Fritz” Payne, 104. World War II fighter ace who left his mark on aviation and wartime history by shooting down six Japanese warplanes during the Battle of Guadalcanal.  Aug. 6.

Manuel Contreras, 86. General who headed the feared spy agency that kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands during Chile’s military dictatorship. Aug. 7.

Frank Gifford, 84. Pro Football Hall of Famer who led the New York Giants to a league championship in 1956 and later teamed up with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the “Monday Night Football” booth. Aug. 9.

Rogelio Livieres Plano, 69. A former bishop in Paraguay who was revered by some for building a successful seminary but who was ousted by Pope Francis amid several controversies. Aug. 14. Complications related to diabetes.

Julian Bond, 75. Civil rights pioneer and longtime board chairman of the NAACP. Aug. 15.

Hamid Gul, 78. He led Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency as it funneled U.S. and Saudi cash and weapons to Afghan jihadis fighting against the Soviets and later publicly supported Islamic militants. Aug. 15. Brain hemorrhage.

Yvonne Craig, 78. She played the sexy, crime-fighting Batgirl in the 1960s TV hit “Batman.” Aug. 17. Complications from breast cancer.

Ieng Thirith, 83. A Khmer Rouge leader who was the highest-ranking woman in the genocidal regime that oversaw the death of nearly 2 million Cambodians in the late 1970s. Aug. 22.

Paul Royle, 101. Australian pilot who took part in a mass breakout from a German prisoner of war camp during World War II that is remembered as The Great Escape. Aug. 23.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, 104. Civil rights activist who helped lead the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama. Aug. 26.

Darryl Dawkins, 58. His board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker “Chocolate Thunder” and helped pave the way for breakaway rims. Aug. 27. Heart attack.

Wes Craven, 76. Prolific writer-director who startled audiences with iconic suburban slashers like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream.” Aug. 30.

Oliver Sacks, 82. His books, including “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat,” probed distant ranges of human experience by compassionately portraying people with severe and sometimes bizarre neurological conditions. Aug. 30.

Wayne W. Dyer, 75. He became the pied piper of the self-help movement with the 1976 publication of his runaway best-seller, “Your Erroneous Zones: Step-By-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life.” Aug. 30.

Dean Jones, 84. His boyish good looks and all-American manner made him Disney’s favorite young actor for such lighthearted films as “That Darn Cat!” and “The Love Bug.” Aug. 31. Parkinson’s disease.


Ben Kuroki, 98. He overcame the American military’s discriminatory policies to become the only Japanese American to fly over Japan during World War II. Sept. 1.

Judy Carne, 76. A star of TV’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” she popularized the laugh line, “Sock it to Me,” on the hit comedy show. Sept. 3.

William Grier, 89. Psychiatrist who co-authored the groundbreaking 1968 book, “Black Rage,” which offered the first psychological examination of black life in the United States. Sept. 3.

Martin Milner, 83. His wholesome good looks helped make him the star of two hugely popular 1960s TV series, “Route 66” and “Adam-12.” Sept. 6.

Dick “Dickie” Moore, 89. Saucer-eyed child star of the 1930s who appeared in “Our Gang” comedies, gave Shirley Temple her first screen kiss and was featured in many major Hollywood productions. Sept. 7.

Moses Malone, 60. Three-time NBA MVP and one of basketball’s most ferocious rebounders. Sept. 13.

Fred DeLuca, 67. Co-founder of Subway, who turned a sandwich shop he started as a teenager into one of the world’s largest fast-food chains. Sept. 14.

Jackie Collins, 77. Bestselling author of dozens of novels including “Hollywood Wives” that dramatized the lifestyles of the rich and the treacherous. Sept. 19. Breast cancer.

Sultan Esmail Kiram II, 76. Leader of a sultanate in the southern Philippines that staged a 2013 invasion of a bustling Malaysian state and sparked a deadly security crisis. Sept. 19. Kidney failure.

Ben Cauley, 67. Trumpeter and member of the Stax Records group the Bar-Kays and the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that killed most of his bandmates and Stax star Otis Redding. Sept. 21.

Yogi Berra, 90. Hall of Fame catcher renowned for his dizzying malapropisms and his record 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees. Sept. 22.

Richard G. Scott, 86. Mormon leader who was a member of a church governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1988. Sept. 22.

Richard Rainwater, 71. Son of a North Texas grocer who went on to amass a fortune as an investment manager before becoming a billionaire investor and philanthropist in his own right. Sept. 27.

Walter Dale Miller, 89. Former South Dakota governor who stepped in as the state’s leader in 1993 after a plane crash killed his predecessor. Sept. 28.

Frankie Ford, 76. Rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues singer whose 1959 hit “Sea Cruise” brought him fame when he was 19. Sept. 28.

Phil Woods, 83. Leading alto saxophonist in mainstream jazz for more than 60 years whose piercing solos could also be heard on hit records by Billy Joel and Paul Simon. Sept. 29.


Denis Healey, 98. Decorated World War II military hero, former British Treasury chief and a member of the House of Lords. Oct. 3.

Henning Mankell, 67. Renowned Swedish crime writer whose books about the gloomy, soul-searching police inspector Kurt Wallander enticed readers around the world. Oct. 5.

Arpad Goncz, 93. He survived a communist-era life sentence to become Hungary’s first democratically chosen president. Oct. 6.

Paul Prudhomme, 75. Cajun who popularized spicy Louisiana cuisine and became one of the first American restaurant chefs to achieve worldwide fame. Oct. 8.

Larry Rosen, 75. He was one of the most influential and tech-savvy modern jazz producers who co-founded GRP Records with pianist Dave Grusin. Oct. 9.

Geoffrey Howe, 88. Former British Treasury chief who was a prominent figure in Margaret Thatcher’s government but helped bring about her downfall after they parted ways over policy toward Europe. Oct. 9.

Jerry Parr, 85. Secret Service agent credited with saving President Ronald Reagan’s life on the day he was shot outside a Washington hotel. Oct. 9.

Richard Heck, 84.  American Nobel laureate for chemistry who designed a method of building complex molecules that has helped fight cancer, protect crops and make electronic devices. Oct. 10.

Sybil Bailey Stockdale, 90. Navy wife who fought to end the torture of U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. Oct. 10.

Joan Leslie, 90. Her expressive almond eyes and innocent beauty made her one of the most popular film ingΘnues of the 1930s and 40s. Oct. 12.

Ken Taylor, 81. Canada’s ambassador to Iran who sheltered Americans at his residence during the 1979 hostage crisis. Oct. 15.

Richard “Dick” Walters, 90. A leader in the effort to get the state of Vermont to pass aid-in-dying legislation and used the rules established under the law to end his own life. Oct. 16.

Gamal el-Ghitani, 70. One of Egypt’s most acclaimed novelists. Oct. 18.

Cory Wells, 74. A founding member of the popular 1970s band Three Dog Night and lead singer on such hits as “Never Been to Spain” and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come).” Oct. 20.

Maureen O’Hara, 95. Flame-haired Irish movie star who appeared in classics ranging from the grim “How Green Was My Valley” to the uplifting “Miracle on 34th Street” and bantered unforgettably with John Wayne in several films. Oct. 24.

Flip Saunders, 60. He rose from the backwaters of basketball’s minor leagues to become one of the most powerful men in the NBA as coach, team president and part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Oct. 25. Cancer.

Al Molinaro, 96. Lovable character actor with the hangdog face who was known to millions of TV viewers for playing Murray the cop on “The Odd Couple” and malt shop owner Al Delvecchio on “Happy Days.” Oct. 30.

Thomas Toivi Blatt, 88. He was among a small number of Jews to survive a mass escape from the Nazi death camp of Sobibor in 1943 and who decades later served as a prominent witness at the trial of an alleged camp guard. Oct. 31.


Guenter Schabowski, 86. Senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Nov. 1.

Fred Thompson, 73. Former U.S. senator was a folksy Tennessee lawyer whose career led him from politics to Hollywood and back again. Nov. 1.

Ahmad Chalabi, 71. Prominent Iraqi politician who helped convince the Bush administration to launch the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein by providing false evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Nov. 3. Heart attack.

Howard Coble, 84. His penchant for old-time politicking, humor and courtesy helped him become the longest-serving Republican U.S. House member in North Carolina history. Nov. 3.

George Barris, 89. Legendary custom car builder who created television’s original Batmobile and helped define California’s car culture with colorfully designed vehicles ranging from the beautiful to the outrageous. Nov. 5.

Gunnar Hansen, 68. He played the iconic villain Leatherface in the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” film. Nov. 7. Pancreatic cancer.

Helmut Schmidt, 96. Former chancellor who guided West Germany through economic turbulence and Cold War tension in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nov. 10.

Allen Toussaint, 77. Legendary New Orleans musician and composer who penned such classics as “Working in a Coal Mine” and “Lady Marmalade.” Nov. 10. Heart attack.

Henry S. Rowen, 90. American policymaker and Stanford University economist who was president of the RAND Corp. when it helped produce the Pentagon Papers. Nov. 12.

Bruce Dayton, 97. Father of Minnesota’s governor and a key figure in building his family’s company into the retail business that became Target Corp. Nov. 13.

Michael C. Gross, 70. Artist, illustrator, film producer and personal designer who created iconic pop culture images, including the “Ghostbusters” logo. Nov. 16.

Milton Pitts Crenchaw, 96. Flight instructor who trained the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-Americans to fly combat airplanes in World War II. Nov. 17.

Kim Young-sam, 87. Former South Korean president who formally ended decades of military rule in South Korea and accepted a massive international bailout during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. Nov. 22.

Adele Morales Mailer, 90. Actress and artist who studied under Lee Strasberg and Hans Hoffman, but found unwanted fame as the stabbing victim of her then-husband Norman Mailer. Nov. 22. Pneumonia.

Eldar Ryazanov, 88. Filmmaker who satirized and romanticized the life of ordinary Russians in his immensely popular comedies for almost six decades. Nov. 30.

Marcus Klingberg, 97. Israeli scientist jailed for passing information on biological warfare to the Soviet Union. Nov. 30.


Sandy Berger, 70. Former national security adviser who helped craft President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy and got in trouble over destroying classified documents. Dec. 2.

Scott Weiland, 48. The former frontman for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. Dec. 3.

Robert Loggia, 85. He was an actor known for gravelly voiced gangsters from “Scarface” to “The Sopranos” but who was most endearing as Tom Hanks’ kid-at-heart toy-company boss in “Big.” Dec. 4

Chuck Williams, 100. He founded the Williams-Sonoma empire and ushered in an era of aspirational culinary retailing. Dec. 5

Tibor Rubin, 86. A Hungarian-born concentration camp survivor who joined the U.S. Army out of gratitude for his liberators, fought heroically in Korea and received the Medal of Honor 55 years later. Dec. 5.

Bonnie Lou, 91. A pioneering country music artist and rock ‘n’ roll singer and who later became a TV host. Dec. 8.

Douglas Tompkins, 72. The U.S. co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies. Dec. 8. Severe hypothermia in a kayaking accident.

Poll: Donald Trump most likely candidate to spoil Thanksgiving

Donald Trump is the candidate most likely to spoil a Thanksgiving dinner agree 46 percent of Americans in the recent holiday-themed poll by Public Policy Polling.

His number is higher than all the other candidates combined — Democratic and Republican.

Hillary Clinton came in second at 22 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders at 7 percent, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson at 6 percent, Ted Cruz at 4 percent and Marco Rubio at 1 percent.

When asked about the candidate they’d most like to have Thanksgiving dinner with, Clinton was the favorite. About 24 percent would like to dine with Clinton. Carson was second at 18 percent, then Trump at 17 percent, Sanders at 11 percent, Cruz at 8 percent and Bush and Rubio at 6 percent.

In other questions, Republican voters are still annoyed with President Barack Obama’s decision to pardon two turkeys instead of the customary one turkey last Thanksgiving. PPP said, “That’s a pretty clear sign that if you put Obama’s name on something, GOP voters are going to oppose it pretty much no matter what.”

Democrats by a strong majority favored the double pardon.

The poll also revealed a partisan divide over Starbucks, in the news for a minimalist design — red – on seasonal coffee cups. Democrats have a positive view of the company and Republicans have a slightly negative view. Still, only 21 percent of Republicans think Starbucks has enlisted in a “War on Christmas.”

A majority of U.S. voters agreed that it is too early to hear Christmas music. Men more then women say it is too early.

PPP also found pumpkin pie wins the preferred dessert of choice at Thanksgiving dinner but with only 27 percent, followed by apple pie, sweet potato pie, chocolate pie, blueberry pie, then cherry pie.

Mashed potatoes, of course, are more popular than sweet potatoes and only 30 percent of those polled like marshmallows on sweet potatoes.

By a 17-point margin, Americans say it’s “stuffing,” not “dressing.”

Letters to the Future: The Paris Climate Project

Leaders from 190 countries convene in Paris this year for the United Nations climate talks. Many agree this global summit is humanity’s last chance to address the major crisis of our time. Will the nations of the world finalize a global treaty aimed at reducing the most dangerous impacts of global warming?

Wisconsin Gazette joined the Association of Alternative Newsmedia newspapers and the Media Consortium in a project led by the Sacramento News & Review. Letters to the Future invited people — some famous, some living around the corner — to think about future generations and predict the outcome of the Paris talks.

Some participants were optimistic about what is to come — some not so much. Find more of their visions of the future at letterstothefuture.org and www.wisconsingazette.com.

Read letters by Tom Hayden, Donnell Alexander, Michael Pollan, Jim Hightower, Rhea Suh, Bill McKibben, Geraldine Brooks and more. 

Brief opportunities 

Jane Smiley, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer 

Dear great-great-granddaughter,

Do you remember your grandmother Veronica? I am writing to you on the very day that your grandmother Veronica turned 7 months old — she is my first grandchild and she is your grandmother. That is how quickly time passes and people are born, grow up and pass on. When I was your age — now 20, I did not realize how brief our opportunities are to change the direction of the world we live in. The world you live in grew out of the world I live in, and I want to tell you a little bit about the major difficulties of my world and how they have affected your world.

Read more …

Green global new deal

Tom Hayden, political activist and author 

Dear future generations, At the time I write this, the greatest fissure in global politics is between the affluent white North and the suffering and devastated victims of floods, fires, blazing temperatures, deforestation and war from the Global South. Writ large, the global crisis between rich and poor is the background to environmental and economic injustice.

Read more

The home office

Donnell Alexander, journalist and author 

Good day, my beautiful bounty. It probably feels redundant to someone rockin’ in 2070, a year that’s gotta be wavy in ways I can’t imagine, but. …

Your great, great-grandpappy is old school.

And when my old-school ass thinks about how the backdrop to your existence changed when the Paris climate talks failed, it harkens to the late-20th century rap duo Eric B. & Rakim. Music is forever. Probably, it sounds crazy that the musical idiom best known in your time as the foundation of the worldwide cough syrup industry could ever have imparted anything enlightening. You can look it up though—before the Telecommunications Act of ’96 such transformations happened not infrequently.

Read more …

Shift the food system

Michael Pollan, teacher and author 

Dear future family, I know you will not read this note until the turn of the century, but I want to explain what things were like back in 2015, before we figured out how to roll back climate change. As a civilization, we were still locked into a zero-sum idea of our relationship with the natural world, in which we assumed that for us to get whatever we needed, whether it was food or energy or entertainment, nature had to be diminished. But that was never necessarily the case.


Political boneheads

Jim Hightower, writer and radio commentator

Hello? People of the future? Anyone there? It’s your forebears checking in with you from generations ago. We were the stewards of the Earth in 2015 — a dicey time for the planet, humankind and life itself. And … well, how’d we do? Anyone still there? Hello.

Read more …

I’m fighting for you

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council 

Dear grandchildren, I can only imagine the wonderful world you are growing up in. I think of that world — your future — almost every day. I think about how to make sure it is a place where all your hopes and dreams can come true.

A long time ago, my parents traveled across the world from Korea to the United States in search of a brighter future for me and my sisters.

Read more …

Seize the moment

Bill McKibben, author and activist 

Dear descendants, The first thing to say is, sorry. We were the last generation to know the world before full-on climate change made it a treacherous place. That we didn’t get sooner to work slowing it down is our great shame, and you live with the unavoidable consequences.

That said, I hope that we made at least some difference. There were many milestones in the fight — Rio, Kyoto, the debacle at Copenhagen. By the time the great Paris climate conference of 2015 rolled around, many of us were inclined to cynicism.

Read more …

This abundant life

Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer 

I just flushed my toilet with drinking water. I know, you don’t believe me: “Nobody could ever have been that stupid, that wasteful.” But we are. We use air conditioners all the time, even in mild climates where they aren’t a bit necessary. We cool our homes so we need to wear sweaters indoors in summer and heat them so we have to wear T-shirts in mid-winter. We let one person drive around all alone in a huge thing called an SUV. We make perfectly good things — plates, cups, knives — then we use them just once, and throw them away. They’re still there, in your time. Dig them up. They’ll still be useable.

Read more …

Good morning Earth

Logan McDermott, Conservationist, Milwaukee 


Time is relative and even though my body has already decayed, my actions are still eternal. As humans, trapped on one planet together, we constantly battle over resources and ideologies. I’m certain even you are familiar with war and greed. We rarely take the time to collectively worship Earth; this entire ball of space dirt should be our sanctuary.

Read more …

Which path?

Kerry Schumann, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters executive director, Madison 

Dear great, great-grandchildren,

As you look back on my generation, I hope you are thanking us. I hope we are remembered as having come to the brink of disaster, but turned back just in time to leave this planet in a better place for our children, for our children’s children, for you.

Read more …

I hope you can do better

Leonard Sobczak, real estate, Milwaukee 

To the children of the future: we tried.

I was heartened when President Jimmy Carter was promoting and modeling fuel conservation. I was horrified when President Ronald Reagan dispensed with that message and heralded the era of gas-guzzling SUVs and other use of fossil fuels with disregard of the consequence.

Read more …

We have hope

Staff and supporters of Clean Wisconsin, environmental advocate, Madison 

We do not know how you will look in the next 50 or 100 years … but our world leaders will have a hand in determining that in Paris next month.


The stories they will tell

Beth Esser, stay-at-home mom and activist, Monona 

As I write this, I picture my two young children at a time in their lives when they are older than I am now. They are enjoying life with their children and grandchildren (and maybe even great-grandchildren). They are preparing for the annual recognition of the historic time 85 years earlier when the world came together to turn the tide on the biggest threat to civilization that ever existed — climate change. Miles and Ila, now 91 and 88, retell the stories of our world leaders pledging to keep fossil fuels in the ground, invest in clean energy and create a truly sustainable future. 

Read more …

The world I know

Lisa Neff, Journalist, Anna Maria, Florida 

Dear future,

I wish you could know the magnificent world I know. I grew up in a place romanticized in fiction as Greentown and, as an adult, I lived on the rocky seacoast of New Hampshire, along the mighty Mississippi, in the shadow of the Continental Divide in Montana, on the great lake in Chicago and just feet from the white sandy beaches of an island paradise in Florida.

Read more …

Editor’s note: More letters will be posted. In addition, you can read and post letters at letterstothefuture.org.

Ron Kind urges House vote on rail safety bill | 3rd derailment in Midwest in 3 days

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind on Nov. 9 urged the House leadership to immediately bring his rail safety legislation to a floor for a vote.

Kind’s call comes after two train derailments in Wisconsin over the weekend and one in Des Moines on Nov. 9.

“The derailments this weekend in Alma and Watertown showed once again the negative impact increased rail traffic is having on our communities and environment. Fortunately, no injuries were reported at either derailment, but dozens of people were forced to temporarily evacuate their homes and nearly 20,000 gallons of ethanol spilled into the Mississippi River,” the Democratic congressman said in a statement to the press. “The increase in rail traffic shows no signs of stopping, which is why we must take immediate action to prevent future derailments. I am calling on House leadership to hold a vote on my legislation which will provide for stronger rail safety standards and will increase oversight.” 

On Nov. 9, crews in Wisconsin were working to clear freight cars from rail tracks and contain spilled crude oil and chemicals after derailments in the state.

A Canadian Pacific Railway train loaded with crude oil derailed in Watertown on Nov. 8. One car spilled hundreds of gallons of crude oil and caused the evacuation of a neighborhood. 

On Nov. 7, 25 BNSF train cars including tankers derailed, spilling as much as 20,000 gallons of ethanol from five tankers along the shores on the Mississippi River near Alma in western Wisconsin, according to the AP.

BNSF said railroad crews stopped the leaks from five tanker cars and placed containment booms along the shoreline.

Then, on Nov. 9, nearly two dozen cars derailed when a coal train hit a road grader.

Accidents involving shipments of hazardous fuels by rail have spiked over the past decade, corresponding with a sharp rise in the production of ethanol from the Midwest and oil from the Bakken crude region of North Dakota and Montana.

At least 26 oil trains and 11 ethanol trains have been involved in major fires, derailments or spills during the past decade in the U.S. and Canada, according to an Associated Press tally from data kept by transportation agencies and safety investigators from the two nations.

The most devastating, in July 2013, killed 47 people and destroyed much of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when an unmanned, out-of-control train hauling Bakken oil crashed and exploded in the city’s downtown.

The Crude-by-Rail Safety Act sponsored by Kind would prohibit the use of unsafe DOT-111 tank cars, such as the ones involved in the Alma derailment, according to Kind’s office.


Dear future: Answering a national call for letters on climate change

The Paris Climate Project has launched “Letters to the Future,” a national effort to encourage authors, scientists, artists, activists and citizens to write letters about climate change to six generations hence.

The letters will be presented to U.S. delegates and others attending the Paris Climate Talks in December.

“‘Letters to the Future’ invites everyone, young and old, to write their future offspring, community, friends — what was it like to be alive when this most consequential summit on climate change occurred? … What do you wish to say, from your heart or your head, to those who weren’t yet here to speak for themselves, as you are?” Welsh notes.

Letter writers to date include Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Jane Smiley and Geraldine Brooks; Penn/Faulkner award-winner T.C. Boyle; 350.org founder Bill McKibben; U.S. Sen. Harry Reid; Hugo award-winner Kim Stanley Robinson; activist-journalist Michael Pollan; former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson.

And this is just the beginning: People from all walks of life are encouraged to submit a letter and join the conversation. 

The project was envisioned and organized by Melinda Welsh, founding editor of the Sacramento News & Review. Other partners in the project include the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and many member newspapers, including the Wisconsin Gazette. The project also involves the Media Consortium, a network of leading progressive media outlets, such as Mother Jones, Grist, The Nation, Texas Observer and Democracy Now. 

Letters — 400 words in length along with author photos — can be submitted to www.letterstothefuture.org by Nov. 13 in order to be considered for publication in WiG and other newspapers and magazines, in mid-November — before the Paris Climate Talks begin. All letters will be published online. 

On the Web …

To participate in the project, go to www.letterstothefuture.org. And please, also share your letter directly with WiG.

Email Lisa Neff at

WiG will publish letters in print editions in November and online at www.wisconsingazette.com.