Tag Archives: tragedy

‘America is weeping’: Taking stock after tragedies

Can this really be America in 2016?

Tumultuous days have brought echoes of decades past and made clear a public that elected a black president hasn’t reconciled its fractured history with race, that a country that lived through unrest and assassinations in the 1960s and 1970s still bubbles with resentment and rage, and that bloody images of violent tragedy aren’t going away.

“America is weeping,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, reflecting an entire nation’s mounting anger, tension and despair.

It started Tuesday, with a familiar scene: A black man, on the ground, shot by police, with the incident captured on cellphone video. That killing, of a 37-year-old named Alton Sterling, who police say was armed and selling CDs outside a Louisiana convenience store, ignited public outrage, and added Baton Rouge to a long list of places where the death of a black male at the hands of police has come under a cloud of suspicion.

It might have remained just that, with Sterling’s name added to a sorrowful litany alongside Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Freddie Gray.

Then came Wednesday.

In Falcon Heights, Minnesota, another black man was shot dead by an officer, this time after a traffic stop. As 32-year-old Philando Castile sat bloodied and dying, his girlfriend made a live broadcast on Facebook that gave an eerie look into the aftermath. As the video freezes and the woman loses composure and lets out a scream, the sweet voice of her 4-year-old daughter chimes in to comfort: “It’s OK, I’m right here with you.”

And then, like clockwork in a new deranged norm, came another evening, another night of tragedy.

As demonstrators amassed in Dallas on Thursday to mark what had transpired in the two preceding days, five police officers there to help keep the peace were shot and killed and seven other officers and two civilians were wounded. Authorities said it was the work of a sniper. The suspect, who was killed by police, had said he was upset by the recent shootings and wanted to kill whites, particularly white officers.

It was a devastating climax to three horrific days that Americans are struggling to understand.

At the Justice Department, Attorney General Loretta Lynch called it “a week of profound grief and heartbreaking loss.” In Chicago, Archbishop Blase Cupich said, “Every corner of our land is in the grip of terror.” On Capitol Hill, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis of Georgia said, “We feel the pain. We feel the hurt.”

Kevin Boyle, an American history professor at Northwestern University, thought of the late 1960s and the 1992 Los Angeles riots, seeing “terrifying parallels” and “echoes for me of other really incredibly tense points.” The presence of video documentation of the incidents calls attention to strife that had previously existed only in agonizing private memories.

“It’s not that the incidents are new,” he said, “it’s our ability to see them.”

At the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., Kim Hernandez welled with tears Friday as she took stock of the week. “There’s just a really scary sense of humanity right now,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know how we can fix it, but it doesn’t seem like talking is working.”

At Bible Way Temple in Raleigh, North Carolina, Darnell Dixon Sr., the chief pastor, wondered why more positive change hasn’t come. He presided over the funeral of another black man who was shot by a white officer earlier this year, and was part of a dialogue with police that followed and brought him a sense of healing.

“I started feeling better,” he said. “But yesterday set me back. It bewildered me.”

As rancor grew, a handful of violent incidents against police arose across the country, including the shooting of an officer in Valdosta, Georgia. Authorities said a man called 911 to report a break-in, then ambushed the responding officer.

Some lashed out at the movement that was born of police shootings of blacks and even at President Barack Obama, accusing him of fueling divisions among people of color and whites. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called Black Lives Matter a “terrorist movement,” while U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican from Texas, said the “spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president, have contributed to the modern day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve.”

Black Lives Matter organizers condemned the violence in Dallas, and police haven’t given any indication that the shooter had anything to do with the group.

If the gravity of it all seems clear, the road from here does not.

Does the assemblage of killings by police around the country and the resulting Black Lives Matter movement lead to more than candlelight vigils and calls for change? Does the anger that seemingly fueled the shootings in Dallas precipitate and lead to similar attacks on police akin to Black Panther-style violence of long ago? Is this a turning point or simply a continuation?

Jeanine Bell, an Indiana University professor who authored “Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime,” said the week will not go down as a pivotal point unless it leads to substantive change by police that goes beyond simply diversifying forces and introducing anti-bias training.

“Until there is a call for reorganization of policing practices, not just small changes, then it’s very hard to call this a turning point,” she said.

Pew Research Center, in a survey released last month, found more than 4 in 10 blacks doubt the nation will ever make changes necessary for racial equality with whites and that nearly two-thirds of black adults believe blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the workplace.

This week’s killings come in the midst of a divisive presidential election, amid fears of terrorism and on the heels of the latest mass shooting that claimed 49 innocent lives. The killings in Dallas happened just blocks from the book depository where another sniper took aim at President John F. Kennedy. It ended his life and a period of American history that became regarded as “Camelot,” and became a presage to the strife, unrest and other assassinations that followed.

Two blocks from the shooting site, in Dallas’ historic West End district, Joe Groves owns Ellen’s Southern Kitchen & Bar, where dinner was underway when the gunfire sounded. Many of the officers who were assigned to Thursday night’s demonstration are friends of his, and as the violence erupted, he tapped out three words to two of his uniformed friends: “Love you man.”

Though Groves is white, most of his 72 workers are black and Latino; his clientele is diverse as well. The tension that came to a head in the shootings wasn’t something he’d experienced personally, until now.

On Friday, his restaurant was open again, but the atmosphere was noticeably different. He said people are speaking more quietly, and the enormity of it all seemed to weigh. He sees some good coming of it all, a connectedness between strangers that is rarely there, a willingness to make eye contact. And even though he thinks race relations may have reached their rock bottom, he sees a reason for hope there, too.

“The good news about rock bottom,” he said, “is the only way out is up.”

Bronzeville Arts Ensemble grapples with loss in ‘The Mojo and the Sayso’

An African-American family mourns the death of their 10-year-old son at the hands of a police officer, searching for a talisman of faith and the inner strength of family ties to keep them from being torn apart by the grief.

What sounds like another tragedy ripped from today’s headlines is in fact the plot of The Mojo and the Sayso, a play by Aishah Rahman being produced jointly by Milwaukee’s Bronzeville Arts Ensemble and Madison’s Theatre LILA. The production will have a limited run in late January at the Milwaukee Rep, where BAE is a new company-in-residence, and then again in February in The Playhouse at Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts.

While the play’s themes are still relevant today, Rahman actually wrote the play back in 1987. The Mojo and the Sayso, set on the third anniversary of the child’s death, finds the Benjamin family struggling to understand and cope with loss. WiG asked BAE’s artistic director Malkia Stampley and Theatre LILA’s co-artistic director Jessica Lanius, who also is directing the show, to tell us more about the production.

What is the plot of The Mojo and the Sayso?

Malkia Stampley: The Benjamin family has to find the strength and courage to pick up the pieces and move forward together. With some humor, magic and a creative exploration of language, we go on this journey with the family. “Mojo” is that power, that magic and missing ingredient needed to get through.

The topic is very contemporary, yet playwright Aishah Rahman comes from a much earlier era. Do her perceptions and experiences bring greater depth to the narrative?

MS: Mojo is such a relevant piece and I love that so many people are shocked when they discover it was written almost 30 years ago. This piece is a strong reminder that these issues are not trends, not just hashtags and nothing new. The setting is meant to be timeless, which helps bring depth to this story. Her artistic freedom was bold at the time and was the beginning of a form of theater that is now very common to most theatergoers, exploring language and themes in abstract ways.

Jessica Lanius: (Rahman) is such a vivid and poetic writer. The layering of imagery alongside this particular story brings the characters and the circumstance to life in such a rich and complex way. Every day in rehearsal I feel like we uncover layers of the language that I hadn’t seen before. 

Does the play offer some interpretation of the issues with which it deals, or is it merely a reflection of America’s racial issues? 

MS: This piece highlights the families who are left behind after a publicly known tragedy. We have become so accustomed to the sensationalism of black youths being killed by the police, immediately forming opinions and picking our platforms. I don’t believe this play focuses on race, but rather brings greater humanity to the 30-second news story or front-page picture. I think psychologists would have a field day exploring the different ways each of the characters in this play processes trauma.

JL: Black lives matter, and this is what that looks like: A life, and the lives that one life touches, have been taken. The effects on a personal, familial level also reflect the effect it has on his community as a whole. If we can get our audience to feel this and make it personal for them, perhaps the issue becomes more important, more immediate, and the demand for change and justice becomes more obvious.

The play is described as a comedy/drama, yet it deals with a very serious issue. How does the playwright make this work?

JL: I think right now we are discovering that in great pain comes absurdity and that necessary levity. 

MS: Aishah Rahman’s language will make you laugh and cry in the same line. As with most of us, we desperately need find ways to see the humor in any situation, and this play is no different.

ON STAGE

The Mojo and the Sayso is being presented by Milwaukee’s Bronzeville Arts Ensemble and Madison’s Theatre LILA. Milwaukee productions of the work will run Jan. 28 to Jan. 31 at the Milwaukee Rep, 108 E. Wells St. For tickets, call 414-224-9490 or visit milwaukeerep.com. Madison productions will run Feb. 19 to Feb. 24 at Overture Center, 201 State St. For tickets call 608-258-4141 or visit overturecenter.org.

Finding Bronzeville

The name Bronzeville was used in many early- and mid-20th-century U.S. cities to refer to African-American neighborhoods. These neighborhoods often comprised the black business, cultural and artistic centers of those cities.

Opinions vary on the exact borders of Milwaukee’s historic Bronzeville, but the area was considered to have been roughly bounded by North Avenue and State Street on the north and south and Third and 12th streets on the east and west. The neighborhood was largely destroyed and properties appropriated for the construction of the I-43 freeway in the 1960s. In the last decade, a redevelopment project re-applied the name to the core of the Harambee neighborhood.

The Bronzeville Arts Ensemble is named as a tribute to what those neighborhoods meant to their community, according to artistic director Malkia Stampley.

“Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district at its peak was a center point for jazz, theater, art, music, community and culture,” Stampley says. “My hope is that the Bronzeville Arts Ensemble pays homage to Milwaukee’s Bronzeville, as well as the essence of the name ‘Bronzeville’ in communities throughout the country.”

— Michael Muckian

‘45 Years’ a devastating time bomb

How many great movies could be written across the enigmatic, profound face of Charlotte Rampling? Hundreds? Thousands? At any rate, Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years” is one of them.

In it, Rampling stars as half of a childless couple — Kate and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) Mercer — preparing to celebrate their 45th anniversary. In minutes, we can already feel jealousy welling in us from snapshots of their peaceful, harmonious lives in rural England: dog walks, drinking tea and taking leisurely trips into town.

That such appearances of elderly tranquility are not what they seem is one of the notions upended by “45 Years.” A letter arrives for Geoff with startling news that the frozen body of the woman he dated before meeting Kate has been found in a Swiss glacier where she died in an accident while traveling with Geoff more than 50 years ago. “Like something in the freezer,” mumbles an astonished Geoff.

“She’d look like what she did in 1962,” he says. “And I look like this.”

The news unsettles Geoff, transporting him back to his mid-20s self, unmooring an iceberg of the past. Confessions follow, revealing a deeper history than Kate was before aware. She watches with increasing alarm as her husband begins smoking again and rummaging around the attic late at night for pictures of his old flame. Their previously rock-solid relationship is suddenly beset with fissures and tremors erupted by a history that isn’t so ancient, after all.

Haigh, who is 42, has made the HBO series “Looking” and the excellent independent film “Weekend.” That movie dealt with two gay men whose one-night stand is extended across a weekend, during which a remarkable intimacy accumulates as they examine their night together and contemplate their connection.

For Haigh, relationships are forged in a moment, crystalized in the circumstances of their beginnings. Kate and Geoff may be in their 70s, but their marriage is still built upon — and haunted by — whatever brought them together in their 20s. Old age has done far less to change them than most would think.

The devastating power of “45 Years,” which Haigh adapted from David Constantine’s short story “In Another Country,” lies in the director’s sensitive understanding of relationships: of the conversations that take place over pillows and the quiet contemplation of fates abandoned in marriage.

But it’s Haigh’s tremendous lead actors that make the movie. They’re a convincing couple: Courtenay is absent-minded and untidy; Rampling is cool and controlled. As Kate sees a new rival to her husband rise from the dead, the anxieties and confusions flicker across Rampling’s face. Turmoil stirs beneath her chilly stillness.

If going to see “45 Years” (and you should), choose your date wisely. After the film’s haunting final shot, you’re likely to be exiting the theater wondering just how well you really know the companion next to you. 

 

Black Lives Matter coalition: cancerous racism allowed to flourish

Charleston’s Emanuel AME church, which is steeped in the incredible history of resistance to slavery, will now be known as the site of an unspeakable and tragic act.

Our hearts go out to the families of those killed. We also keep in our thoughts a congregation that lost its pastor and a community mourning the loss of its neighbors.

We are reminded today that while our attention has focused on increasing state and police violence against Black people, racist vigilante attacks are a large part of this country’s legacy. We must face the hard truth that our collective work goes much further than the implementation of body cameras and police reform initiatives if we cannot even be safe worshipping at church.

Whether it’s the murder of four schoolgirls at a Birmingham church in 1963, the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police officers or the suicide of Kalief Browder after years of being unjustly imprisoned and tortured as a teenager at Rikers Island jail — our communities continue to suffer the many strains of a cancerous racism allowed to flourish in this country.

While the arrest of this shooter must come as a small comfort to the families of those killed, we know we cannot arrest our way out of this country’s history or its present.

Therefore, as a movement, we must say what our president cannot or will not say. This was an undeniable act of terrorism intended to strike fear into the hearts of Black communities at a time when we have bravely stood together declaring that #BlackLivesMatter everywhere.

We continue to fight for a world that values Black life in the names of all those we have lost, including and especially those who were killed last night on a date we will surely never forget.

The Movement for Black Lives Team, including:

Signed: Ferguson Action, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100), Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, ColorOfChange.org, Project South, Ohio Students Association, Baltimore United for Change, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Concerned Citizens for Justice

Endorsed: Center for Media Justice, CREDO, Democracy for America, Media Action Grassroots Network, Dignity and Power Now, Media Mobilizing Project, Voices for Racial Justice, Global Action Project, Media Literacy Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice



Defense secretary says climate change creates challenges for military

Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change will pose major challenges for America’s military, including more and worse natural disasters and the threat that food and water shortages could fuel disputes and instability around the world, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this week.

Addressing a conference of military leaders as the Pentagon released a new report on the issue, Hagel said, “Our militaries’ readiness could be tested, and our capabilities could be stressed.”

U.S. military officials have long warned that changes in climate patterns, resulting in increased severe weather events and coastal flooding, will have a broad and costly impact on the Defense Department’s ability to protect the nation and respond to natural and humanitarian disasters in the United States and around the globe.

The new report — described as a Pentagon roadmap — identifies four things that it says will affect the U.S. military: rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, more extreme weather and rising sea levels. It calls on the department and the military services to identify more specific concerns, including possible effects on the more than 7,000 bases and facilities, and to start putting plans in place to deal with them.

“Climate change is a `threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today — from infectious disease to armed insurgencies — and to produce new challenges in the future,” Hagel said. He spoke during the opening session of the conference, which was attended by defense ministers and military chiefs of more than 30 countries from the Americas, Spain and Portugal.

Changing climate trends could spur more natural disasters, demanding more military support, he said. “Our coastal installations could be vulnerable to rising shorelines and flooding, and extreme weather could impair our training ranges, supply chains and critical equipment.”

More broadly, the report warns that as temperatures rise and severe weather increases, food, water and electricity shortages could create instability in many countries, spreading disease, causing mass migration and opening the door for extremists to take advantage of fractures in already-unstable countries.

The report comes amid an ongoing debate within the administration and Congress over the actual extent and existence of global warming and climate change. But Hagel, who is on a six-day, three-country trip to South America, seemed to have little question about the impending changes.

“The loss of glaciers will strain water supplies in several areas of our hemisphere. Destruction and devastation from hurricanes can sow the seeds for instability. Droughts and crop failures can leave millions of people without any lifeline, and trigger waves of mass migration,” he told the ministers at this mountain resort in the Andes near the southern tip of Peru.

“We have already seen these events unfold in other regions of the world, and there are worrying signs that climate change will create serious risks to stability in our own hemisphere,” he said.

For the U.S., rising sea levels could eventually put vast stretches of Navy docks and other military installations under water, in places like Norfolk, Virginia, Honolulu and other coastal locations worldwide.

The Pentagon has been working for years to reduce the military’s heavy footprint on the earth by using alternative fuels and conducting maintenance aimed at managing water use and encroachment on natural resources.

But, according to a federal greenhouse gas inventory, the department was responsible for 71 percent of the federal government’s carbon footprint in 2010, producing 95.4 million tons of carbon dioxide. That put the military’s footprint at about the same size as that of the entire country of Chile.

The greenhouse gas report said that more than 60 percent of the Pentagon’s carbon footprint cannot be reduced easily.

In its new report, the Pentagon said it has to better define how climate change could affect military operations, training, testing and readiness.

The issue is a deep concern to many South and Central American nations that have long stretches of coastline. Gen. John Kelly, the top U.S. military commander in South America, was with Hagel at the conference.

Caribbean island countries in particular worry about rising sea levels and more violent hurricanes, he said, adding that “the fact that they’re all here talking about how important this is will make a difference.”

One key national security issue is the Arctic, where melting ice caps are opening up sea lanes, spurring competition for the lucrative oil and gas deposits and increasing the use of the icy waters for military exercises and transit.

“We see an Arctic that is melting, meaning that most likely a new sea lane will emerge,” Hagel said during his stop in Chile. “We know that there are significant minerals and natural deposits of oil and natural gas there. That means that nations will compete for those natural resources.”

Last November, at a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Hagel said the U.S. would assert its sovereignty in the Arctic, even as Russia, China and other countries stake their own claims in the largely untapped region. Increased use of the Arctic will require the U.S. to fill gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand frigid waters.

In addition to those costs, the U.S. will have to address other changes in its military installations. Officials don’t yet have cost estimates.

To be or not to be: pondering suicide

Suicide freaks us out.

It does so because most of us know someone who has attempted suicide or succumbed to it. Many of us have experienced depression or have loved ones who struggle with it. 

It especially freaks us out to see someone as apparently happy and successful as Robin Williams take his life. It’s sad and shocking. It hurts, and comfort is hard to find. 

My father committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning when he was 48 and I was 14. My brother, who dragged my dad from the garage that day, shot himself in the head at age 33. Three close friends have died by their own hands, losses that weigh heavily because they occurred more recently.

There are many things to clean up in the aftermath of a suicide, from the physical premises to the emotional mess. Days of shock give way to questions, introspection, guilt, sometimes shame or blame. We’ve seen it played out in the American media in the past few weeks.

My mother felt guilty for our family’s collapse, yet she had struggled to keep a sick husband and three children afloat with little income. There was mental illness in the family tree and both my father and brother suffered for a long time from a host of burdens, all exacerbated by substance abuse. There were several “interventions” with them that didn’t work.

As a girl, I had no idea what to do about my father, who suffered a rapid mental and physical deterioration from alcoholism. Telling him I loved him didn’t help. As a young woman, I steered clear of my brother because his drug use (booze and cocaine) scared the hell out of me. I was always worried he would hurt someone. It turns out he only hurt himself.

I’ve had decades to ponder these events and what I have learned is neither new nor comforting: Despair can be overwhelming and you can’t always help people. You should certainly try, but sometimes people can’t be helped. There are so many things in our lives that screw us up and drag us down, and some of us just don’t make it. 

For more helpful advice, I think An Unquiet Mind and Night Falls Fast by Kay Redfield Jamison are the smartest, most compassionate books about suicide. Jamison is a professor of psychiatry who lives with bipolar disorder and has attempted suicide. As such, her writing is informed by professional expertise and personal experience. She is someone who has been there and really understands the pain and all the issues around suicide.

Thinking about Robin Williams, I remembered a wonderful passage in a biography of Virginia Woolf. One of the most important writers of the 20th century, Woolf was dogged by mental illness her whole life and killed herself at age 59.

In most writing about her, Woolf is depicted as a tragic figure, often defined by her suicide. Author James King said the fact that Woolf achieved the literary success and philosophical influence she did while struggling with mental and emotional illness for 59 years “constitutes another kind of greatness.”

I love that he recognized her survival as an achievement in itself, and I think we should celebrate Williams in the same way. What fortitude he had to sustain those hilarious comedy routines and to remain active and creative as long as he did! How blessed we were by his presence.

Utah governor asked to apologize for gay marriage comments

A gay rights organization is calling on Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to apologize for suggesting homosexuality is a choice and for calling decisions by other state leaders to not defend same-sex marriage bans the “next step to anarchy.”

John Netto of the Utah Pride Center says the governor’s comments during his monthly televised news conference Thursday were hurtful.

He told The Salt Lake Tribune (HTTP://BIT.LY/1MJGSGH ) that to equate same-sex marriage with anarchy is “hate speech,” and Herbert needs to be educated about the latest science regarding human sexuality.

Herbert’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Herbert called decisions by Oregon and Pennsylvania leaders to not defend same-sex marriage bans a “tragedy” and the “next step to anarchy.”

He also said same-sex marriage isn’t the same as interracial marriage and sexual activity involves choices.

Katrina drama is Paul Walker’s finest hour

An ingeniously simple setup is cunningly exploited for maximum suspense in “Hours,” a slow-building, consistently engrossing drama set during and immediately after the devastation wrought on New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

Making a most impressive debut as feature helmer, scripter Eric Heisserer graduates from savvy genre fare (“Final Destination 5”) to more mainstream moviemaking with this intense tale of a father’s desperate efforts to keep his prematurely born daughter alive in a hospital abandoned after power is knocked out by flooding.

The late Paul Walker (“Fast & Furious”) capably and compellingly rises to the demands of the role of Nolan Hayes, a loving husband who races his pregnant wife Abigail to a New Orleans hospital when she goes into labor unexpectedly. Onscreen titles announce the extent of the couple’s wrong-place/wrong-time hospital arrival: the early hours of Aug. 29, 2005, just as gale-force winds caused by Katrina relentlessly pummel the Crescent City.

Abigail dies during childbirth, but the stunned Nolan has little time to mourn. His newborn child is placed in a ventilator, where, a doctor explains, she must remain for at least 48 hours. Unfortunately, when the city’s levee system fails, floodwaters force the evacuation of the hospital. Worse still, the ventilator cannot be moved, so Nolan must remain behind with his daughter until help arrives.

It’s a long wait.

Through effective use of actual newscasts from the period, “Hours” underscores a brutal irony — Katrina actually missed New Orleans, but the levee breaks caused flooding in 80 percent of the city — while establishing the full measure of the threat facing Nolan and his newborn. When the power cuts off and backup generators fail, he must repeatedly crank a backup battery that works, at best, for three minutes between crankings, while scavenging for food and supplies throughout the hospital.

At one point, his spirits are lifted by the seemingly miraculous appearance of a rescue dog. But then other, far less welcome visitors arrive.

A few supporting players (including Kerry Cahill as a sympathetic nurse) are used fleetingly but effectively, and Genesis Rodriguez makes a strong impression with limited screen time in flashbacks. For the most part, though, “Hours” is practically a one-man show, with Walker alone on-camera for lengthy stretches as Nolan passes time talking to his baby, or himself, and dashing hither and yon between battery-cranks while on beat-the-clock explorations and supply runs.

The new father pushes himself to the point of exhaustion and beyond in ways that will ring true, and perhaps profoundly unsettle, simpatico parents watching the pic.

Walker gracefully balances the drama on his shoulders. His character’s situation seems all the more dire as Heisserer shrewdly amps up the tension with Benjamin Wallfisch’s propulsive musical score, Jaron Presant’s nimble lensing and Sam Bauer’s sharp editing.

It’s worth noting that “Hours” was filmed almost entirely inside a former New Orleans hospital that actually had to be closed after suffering massive flood damage in the wake of Katrina. That might help explain the pic’s overall air of verisimilitude, which only serves to enhance its impact.

“Hours,” a Film Arcade release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “thematic elements, violence and drug material.” Running time: 97 minutes.

Police: Husband of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris dead of apparent suicide

Police in Sarasota, Fla., reported early today (Nov. 19) that the husband of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was found dead of an apparent suicide in the couple’s home.

Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge said Harris’ husband, Anders Ebbeson, committed suicide.

Officers were called to the home after 7:30 a.m.

A news conference followed at the police station. The Rev. William Hild of Sarasota First Baptist Church also said that Ebbeson had taken his own life.

Ebbeson was a Swedish businessman. Hild, the family’s pastor, said Ebbeson suffered from health issues in recent years.

Harris served in the U.S. House and also as Florida’s Secretary of State. She became a national household name for her controversial role in recounting the 2000 presidential vote in Florida, which delivered the White House to George W. Bush. Harris was a major supporter of the Republican president.

Harris retired from politics after losing a U.S. Senate race to Democrat Bill Nelson in 2006.

Memorial set for man killed on anti-bullying walk

A memorial service has been scheduled for an Oregon man who was killed last week while walking across the country to raise awareness about bullying.

The service to honor 48-year-old Joseph Bell of La Grande, Ore., will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Gilbert Event Center on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande.

Bell died after being struck along a two-lane highway in a rural area of eastern Colorado. Investigators believe the driver fell asleep.

Bell’s 15-year-old son, Jadin, died in February after hanging himself in a schoolyard. He had reported being bullied over his sexual orientation. Bell planned to walk across the nation and tell his son’s story to as many people as possible.

Jadin Bell, 15, hung himself from school playground equipment after enduring what his friends described as relentless in-person and online bullying. He had complained about the bullying to a school counselor at La Grande High School in le Grande, where he was a sophomore.

Bell began his walk in April and planned to finish in New York City.

A family friend, Bud Hill, tells the Oregonian the service is open to the public.