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Author Topic: Obituaries  (Read 10568 times)
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Having fun in the hills!

« Reply #450 on: November 23, 2017, 02:32:42 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....


Remembering Manson's victims

3:00AM PST — Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The victims of the Manson family’s rampage in Benedict Canyon on August 9, 1969: Voytek Frykowski, left, Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger. The next night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain in their Los Feliz home. — Photographs: Associated Press.
The victims of the Manson family’s rampage in Benedict Canyon on August 9, 1969: Voytek Frykowski, left, Sharon Tate, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring
and Abigail Folger. The next night, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were slain in their Los Feliz home. — Photographs: Associated Press.

IN THE NEARLY FIVE DECADES since the notorious murders stunned Los Angeles, there has been endless fascination and revulsion surrounding Charles Manson and his cult “family”.

Manson did not fade quietly during his decades behind bars but continued to make headlines with interviews, bad conduct in prison and, more recently, health issues.

Manson's victims have sometimes gotten lost in the shadows of the mass killer's attention.

Here's who they were:

Benedict Canyon murders

August 9, 1969: The nighttime quiet of Benedict Canyon is broken by screams and gunshots. Police find a chilling scene: On the lawn lies a man's body, stabbed, bludgeoned and shot. Nearby is the body of a woman. “PIG” is written in blood on the front door. Inside are the bodies of Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress who rents the house with husband Roman Polanski, and hairstylist Jay Sebring. A fifth body is found outside.

The victims:

Sharon Tate, 26: An actress best known for her role in “Valley of the Dolls”, she was married to film director Polanski. She pleaded with the killers to spare the life of her unborn child, due in two weeks.

Jay Sebring, 35: A Hollywood hairdresser and former boyfriend of Tate's. Among his clients was David Geffen, head of Geffen Records, which recently released a Guns N' Roses album with a song written by Manson.

Voytek Frykowski, 32: A friend of Polanski's, he came from a wealthy Polish family and was staying with Polanski and Tate.

Abigail Folger, 25: The heir to the Folgers coffee fortune, she was romantically involved with Frykowski.

Steven Parent, 18: Visiting the resident of a guest house on the estate, he was just leaving as the murderers arrived and became their first victim.

Los Feliz murders

August 10, 1969: At a Los Feliz house the next night, another nauseating murder scene. Leno and Rosemary LaBianca have been stabbed. “DEATH TO PIGS” is scrawled in blood; on the refrigerator is the misspelled title of a Beatles song: “HEALTER SKELTER”. The writings eventually help police link the slayings.

The victims:

Leno LaBianca, 44, and Rosemary LaBianca, 38: Owners of a chain of L.A. grocery stores. Their house was chosen by Manson, who tied them up, then left the killing to others.

Other murders

July 31, 1969: Musician Gary Hinman is found stabbed to death in his Old Topanga Road home. The phrase “POLITICAL PIGGY” is scrawled in blood on his wall. Manson follower Bobby Beausoleil is arrested driving Hinman's Volkswagen bus.

Gary Hinman, 34: A musician who befriended the Manson group. Family members tortured him for two days at his Topanga home before killing him in a dispute over money.

August 25, 1969: Donald “Shorty” Shea, a horse wrangler at the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth, is slain. It's believed Manson's followers killed him for fear he was a police informant.

Donald “Shorty” Shea, 35: An aspiring actor and a ranch hand. His dismembered body was found eight years later.

The aftermath

October 1969: Raids on the remote Barker Ranch near Death Valley link some of the killings to a band of young, hippie-looking petty criminals.

Manson, a fledgling songwriter who knew Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, had been to the Benedict Canyon house when the group's producer lived there.

June 15, 1970 — January 25, 1971: After their arrests in 1969, Manson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel are tried for murder. All are found guilty and sentenced to death.

October 1971: Charles “Tex” Watson, tried separately, is found guilty and sentenced to death.

February 18, 1972: The death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment when the state Supreme Court abolished the death penalty. Now the convicts are eligible for parole hearings.

The killers: Where are they now?

Patricia Krenwinkel was a secretary when she met Manson at a party. She quit her job the next day and joined Manson's family.

She was found guilty of seven counts of murder in the killings, including stabbing the LaBiancas to death and writing “DEATH TO PIGS” on the wall in the victims' blood.

Krenwinkel, along with Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten, later condemned Manson and urged young people not to think of him as a hero.

After Atkins' death, Krenwinkel, now 69, became California's longest-serving female inmate. According to state prison officials, Krenwinkel is a model inmate involved in rehabilitative programs at the prison.

She is being housed at the California Institution for Women in Corona. Late last year, state parole officials postponed a decision on setting Krenwinkel free after her attorney made new claims that she had been abused by Manson or another person. The inquiry into the allegations took nearly six months. On June 22, parole commissioners again denied parole for Krenwinkel.

Leslie Van Houten: A jury found that the former homecoming princess was guilty of holding down Rosemary LaBianca in her Los Feliz home while an accomplice stabbed her. She was convicted of murder and conspiracy in 1978 at her third trial for the crimes, just months after she'd been released on bail after a hung jury verdict.

Van Houten said she was introduced to Manson by a boyfriend and came to view him as Jesus Christ, believing in his bizarre plan to commit murders and spark a race war.

She is serving her life sentence at the California Institution for Women in Corona, prison officials say, and has been disciplinary-free her entire sentence.

Van Houten, 68, told a parole board in 2002 that she was “deeply ashamed” of her role in the killings. “I take very seriously not just the murders but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson.”

A state review board recommended parole for her in April, but Governor Jerry Brown reversed that decision. She had previously been denied parole 19 times.

In September, the board again recommended parole.

Charles “Tex” Watson, Manson's self-described right-hand man was sentenced to death for his part in the killings but was later given life in prison after the death penalty was overturned.

In prison, Watson married, divorced, fathered four children and became an ordained minister.

Watson, 71, is housed at the Mule Creek Prison in Ione, California, about 40 miles outside Sacramento, where he works as a janitor and attends Bible studies and services in the prison chapel, according to the ministry's website. He has been denied parole 17 times. His most recent parole hearing was held on October 27, when a panel once again found him unsuitable for release from prison for at least five more years.

Susan Atkins, a former topless dancer who became one of Manson's closest disciples, died in prison in 2009 at age 61.

Atkins, called the “scariest of the Manson girls” by a former prosecutor, confessed to killing actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski, who was stabbed 16 times as she pleaded with the killers to spare her unborn son, and then hanged.

At Atkins' sentencing, at which was condemned to death, she taunted the court, saying, “You'd best lock your doors,” and “watch your own kids.”

Her sentence was later converted to life in prison.

In prison, Atkins embraced Christianity and apologized for her role in the crimes, and prison staff advocated unsuccessfully for her release in 2005.

She was denied parole 13 times.

Bruce Davis, 75, was convicted in 1972 for taking part in the killings of Gary Hinman, an aspiring musician, and Donald “Shorty” Shea, a stuntman and a ranch hand at the Chatsworth ranch where Manson and his followers lived.

Both murders occurred before the Tate-LaBianca killings, in which Davis did not participate.

Hinman's body was found in his home, with the words “POLITICAL PIGGY” drawn on the wall with his blood.

In January 2016, Goveror Jerry Brown rejected his parole, the third time a governor has done so, saying that Davis remains a danger to public safety. In his decision, Brown said that the “horror of the murders committed by the Manson family in 1969 and the fear they instilled in the public will never be forgotten.”

Davis has been denied parole 30 times.

The final word

“People are saying that this should be some kind of relief, but oddly enough it really isn't. While Charlie may be gone, it's the ones that are still alive that perpetrate everything, and it was up to their imaginations for what brutal things were going to be done. In an odd way, I see them as much more dangerous individuals.”

— Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, in an interview with ABC News

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« Reply #451 on: November 23, 2017, 02:50:19 pm »

from the print edition of the Los Angeles Times....

EDITORIAL: Let the Manson obsession die

The infamous cult leader became a pop culture fixture.
It is long past time for the world to move on.

By the LOS ANGELES TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD  | 4:00AM PST - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

CHARLES MANSON's bizarre plan to ignite a race war was unknown to Los Angeles in August 1969, as were his pathetic collection of young, rapt followers, his bizarre misinterpretation of Beatles lyrics, and Manson himself. What L.A. knew at the time was that seven people had been brutally murdered in two homes, apparently by invasion-style killers who left little clue as to motive. Crime was up nationwide, the turbulent 1960s were nearing their finale and the world seemed to have lost its mind. The city was terrified.

The closest modern comparison may be disco-era New York, eight years later, when a killer who called himself Son of Sam stalked the streets with a .44 caliber revolver, shot 13 people and wrote mocking notes to police.

David Berkowitz did his own killing (although he has claimed that cultists or demons were partly to blame) and Manson did none of his, instead sending his hangers-on to do his grisly work.

In both cases, though, the killers instigated urban panic, gained media notoriety before being caught and, afterward, cemented their presence in the public mind and popular culture, assisted by endless news stories, books, documentaries and dramas.

Manson and Berkowitz were rank amateurs by the murderous standards set by more recent killers, who acted in single spasms of violence — without cultish followings and with motives varying from marital spite (as in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Rancho Tehama, California, shootings) to religio-political (as in the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack) to the still-unknown (as with the Las Vegas mass shooting in October). But in the near future the names of those killers will be recalled only sporadically, perhaps with the help of a quick Google query and a check of Wikipedia. The Son of Sam nickname may linger in New Yorkers' memory, but the name David Berkowitiz is fading.

But we will remember Manson.

Why is that? After the murders and the trial, Manson did nothing but sit in prison — as befits someone who misused his odd power over others by directing them to commit multiple murders. He forfeited his freedom and died an inmate.

But the rest of us have kept him alive. While some media organizations (although not this newspaper) have made a point not to repeat the names of suspected mass killers in the belief that doing so gives them unwarranted fame, there is no such decorum with Manson. He is a fixture in the popular imagination, a point underscored in the film Natural Born Killers, itself a send-up of the intimate link between mass murder (or serial killings or spree killings or one of the other carefully categorized distinctions) and pop culture. “Yeah, it's pretty hard to beat the king,” admits Woody Harrelson's clearly envious Mickey Knox in the 1994 movie. Guns N' Roses recorded a middling song Manson wrote. Pop act Marilyn Manson named himself partially after the killer.

It's hard to argue that Manson's notoriety did him any good. Although he was sentenced to death, he was spared after a court ruling striking down California's death penalty statute. But he never got parole, despite repeated pleas for release.

Neither did any of his followers. Susan Atkins died in prison. Patricia Krenwinkel remains locked up, as does Charles “Tex” Watson. A parole board ruled in favor of Leslie Van Houten earlier this year, but it remains to be seen whether Governor Jerry Brown will reject the decision, as he did a year ago.

The place of the Manson killings in the public mind may help ensure that none of the surviving murderers is ever paroled, leaving this nagging thought: If these killings had not resonated as they did, and were just seven scattered murders, would the five have been released long ago? Is parole actually granted or withheld based on the crimes themselves and on evidence of remorse and rehabilitation, as it should be, or instead based on the publicity that can be marshaled for or against the inmates?

It is very much a live question, as California re-envigorates its parole system in response to last year's Proposition 57. For Manson himself, though, there never was much of a question at all. He was such a troublemaker in prison that he was almost certainly never going to be released. He's been effectively dead to the world for more than 40 years, except to the extent that we insisted on keeping him alive in print, on television, in pop music and film. It would be nice if now, finally, we would just let him die.

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« Reply #452 on: December 20, 2017, 10:01:51 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Cardinal Bernard Law, Boston archbishop at center of church
sex-abuse scandal, dies at 86

He resigned in 2002 amid the darkest crisis to face the Catholic Church in the modern era.

By EMILY LANGER | 1:55AM EST — Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cardinal Law speaks at a Mass of healing at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston in 2002. — Photograph: Matt Stone/Reuters.
Cardinal Law speaks at a Mass of healing at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston in 2002. — Photograph: Matt Stone/Reuters.

CARDINAL BERNARD F. LAW, the Boston archbishop who became one of the most influential Catholic leaders in the United States before resigning in 2002 amid revelations that he and other prelates had known for years of rampant child molestation by parish priests, a scandal that has been called the church's darkest crisis of the modern era, has died at 86.

The Vatican announced in a statement that Cardinal Law died “after a long illness,” without offering further details. He had been recently hospitalized in Rome.

For more than half a century, Cardinal Law dedicated himself to the church, an institution that became his home after his itinerant upbringing as the son of a commercial and military aviator. As he rose from parish priest to Boston archbishop — the steward of one of the most Catholic American cities — he promoted traditional Catholic doctrine and envisioned the church as a guarantor of social justice in the 20th century.

He began his ministry in segregated Mississippi, where he used his authority as editor of a diocesan publication to denounce racism. Later, as a bishop in Missouri, he made room at a seminary for about 200 Vietnamese men religious who had left their home after the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Law's theology transcended scripture to encompass affordable housing and literacy education. Poor countries, like poor parishes, he argued, at times deserved debt forgiveness from their creditors. Years before Pope John Paul II began his historic efforts to mend the church's scarred relationship with the Jewish community, Cardinal Law sought interreligious dialogue.

On matters of theology, he shared John Paul's doctrinal conservatism. He became one of the pope's “point men” in the United States, said David Gibson, an authority on the Catholic Church, as John Paul sought to reshape its ranks by identifying like-minded priests and installing them as bishops, archbishops and cardinals.

But controversy engulfed Cardinal Law in the early 2000s, when a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by The Boston Globe, later dramatized in the Academy Award-winning film Spotlight, led to revelations that church officials had covered up sexual abuse in the priesthood for decades by shuffling alleged offenders among parishes.

Cardinal Law was never accused of committing sexual abuse, and he denounced the offense as a “terrible evil”. But for many Catholics as well as non-Catholics, he became a symbol of the church's failure to protect the young from priests who exploited the trust that traditionally accompanies their role.

“While I would hope that it would be understood that I never intended to place a priest in a position where I felt he would be a risk to children,” Cardinal Law said in an apology in November 2002, “the fact of the matter remains that I did assign priests who had committed sexual abuse.”

In the course of legal proceedings arising from the scandal, Cardinal Law was called to give depositions in several civil cases and, in February 2003, appeared before a criminal grand jury considering potential indictments of him and other high-ranking Boston-area prelates.

Later that year, then-Massachusetts attorney general Thomas F. Reilly concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the Boston archdiocese or its leaders. But his office released a report on the matter, declaring that “the mistreatment of children was so massive and so prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable.”

Although not bearing sole responsibility for the wrongdoing, Cardinal Law, the report found, “had direct knowledge of the scope, duration and severity of the crisis experienced by children in the Archdiocese; he participated directly in crucial decisions concerning the assignment of abusive priests, decisions that typically increased the risk to children.”

Among the most notorious offenders in the Boston area was Father John J. Geoghan. Church documents unearthed as the scandal was uncovered showed that Cardinal Law had known of accusations against Geoghan and still permitted the priest to continue his pastoral work. In all, Geoghan would be accused of abusing 150 children, mainly boys, over decades and in numerous parishes.

Another priest, Peter J. Frost, was removed from active ministry in 1992 and later described himself in a letter to Cardinal Law as a “sex addict,” also revealing that one of his victims had committed suicide.

In later correspondence, Cardinal Law told Frost he hoped the priest would one day “return to an appropriate ministry, bringing with [him] the wisdom which emerges from difficult experience.” Frost was ultimately removed from the clerical state.

Cardinal Law, center, appears in Boston's Suffolk County Superior Court in 2002 for a hearing in the Geoghan case. — Photograph: George Martell/The Boston Herald.
Cardinal Law, center, appears in Boston's Suffolk County Superior Court in 2002 for a hearing in the Geoghan case.
 — Photograph: George Martell/The Boston Herald.

In a 2002 civil deposition related to the case of Paul R. Shanley, a priest who was later defrocked and then convicted in 2005 of child rape and other charges, Cardinal Law presented himself as a leader who had delegated many personnel matters to his subordinates.

He attributed the shroud of secrecy about abusive priests to concern for victims and their privacy. A victims' lawyer pressed him on the point, suggesting that “there have been other focuses, have there not, Cardinal Law?”

“There have been and there are,” he replied, according to an account in The Globe.

“One of those has been to avoid scandal in the church?” the lawyer asked.

“That's correct,” Cardinal Law said.

As reports mounted of coverups in dioceses around the world, some church leaders argued that they had been ignorant of the trauma of sexual abuse and that they had treated offending priests not as criminals, but as sinners deserving of mercy. That defense was insufficient for many victims and other critics, who charged that church officials — exemplified by Cardinal Law — had guarded their ranks at the expense of children.

“Many could read his career as a cautionary tale about the perils of power in the church,” said Gibson, a national reporter for the Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (2003). “He became a creature of and a victim of the clerical culture…. There were bishops right, left and center who did the same things that he did.”

Cardinal Law stepped down as archbishop on December 13th, 2002, and later moved to Rome, where he served, until shortly before his 80th birthday, as archpriest of a basilica. His stature, achieved after years of ecclesiastical leadership, made his downfall particularly painful for the faithful who continued to love the church while recognizing that it had grievously erred.

An itinerant childhood

Bernard Francis Law was born on November 4th, 1931, in Torreón, Mexico. His father, a pilot, was Catholic; his mother was Presbyterian before converting to her husband's faith.

As a youth, Cardinal Law made frequent moves with his parents, including to Colombia, Panama and the Virgin Islands. In St. Thomas, he was elected president of his mostly black senior class, according to a biographical sketch in the book Boston's Cardinal: Bernard Law, the Man and His Witness (2002).

He studied medieval history at Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1953. After completing his religious training at St. Joseph Seminary in Louisiana and the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, he was ordained in 1961.

His first assignment was in the Natchez-Jackson diocese in Mississippi. Amid boiling racial hatred, the young priest helped found and then led an interfaith council on human relations. A Unitarian minister who served with him was shot, according to the biographical sketch, and the home of a rabbi was bombed. Cardinal Law reportedly received death threats.

Later, in Washington, he joined the organization now known as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and led a committee on interreligious understanding. He served as bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri before succeeding Humberto Medeiros as archbishop of Boston's 2 million Catholics in 1984. The next year, he was elevated to cardinal, a prince of the church.

In Boston, Cardinal Law was credited with helping to ease race relations during the divisive court-ordered busing for public schools. He urged voters to make abortion, which the Catholic Church opposes, “the critical issue” in elections. Politically well-connected, he spoke as frequently as once a month with George H.W. Bush during his presidency, The Boston Globe reported.

In international affairs, Cardinal Law became a visible envoy for the church. He met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro eight years before John Paul's historic visit to the Communist country in 1998, traveled to Vietnam, and led humanitarian relief efforts after natural disasters in Latin America.

Cardinal Law was pursued by reporters as he arrived in Rome in April 2002. — Photograph: Associated Press.
Cardinal Law was pursued by reporters as he arrived in Rome in April 2002. — Photograph: Associated Press.

In 2002, as the sexual-abuse scandal intensified, The Washington Post interviewed Thomas H. O'Connor, a historian at Boston College who had followed Cardinal Law's career. Reflecting on his accomplishments, O'Connor paraphrased a line from Shakespeare's tragedy “Julius Caesar”.

“There's going to be a lot of good,” the historian said, “interred with his bones.”

‘Betraying the sacred trust’

Cardinal Law's public response to sexual abuse within the clergy could be traced at least to 1992, when he was confronted by claims that a former Massachusetts priest, James R. Porter, had molested dozens of children in the 1960s. Cardinal Law decried “the tragedy of a priest betraying the sacred trust of priestly service” but described abusive clergy as “the rare exception”.

In 1993, Porter was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison. Three years later, a Waltham, Massachusetts, woman filed the first in what would be a raft of lawsuits against another priest — Geoghan — whom she said had abused her three sons.

Through a lawyer, Cardinal Law admitted that, as archbishop in September 1984, he was advised of accusations that Geoghan had molested seven boys. Geoghan nonetheless was transferred to another parish, where he was permitted to lead altar boys. Reports of abuse continued.

“It is most heartening to know that things have gone well for you and that you are ready to resume your efforts with a renewed zeal and enthusiasm,” Cardinal Law wrote to Geoghan in 1989, as reported by The Boston Globe, after moving the priest to his new parish. Church records showed that Geoghan had been medically cleared for work.

In 1998, under Cardinal Law's leadership and with John Paul's approval, Geoghan was defrocked. He was strangled in 2003 by a fellow inmate at a correctional facility in Massachusetts, where he was serving a prison sentence for fondling a boy at a pool.

The Boston archdiocese reached settlements with many of Geoghan's reported victims. Such settlements, made in dioceses across the United States, were estimated to have cost the church more than $2 billion.

In January 2002, Cardinal Law issued a public apology for his reassignment of Geoghan. In the same announcement — belatedly, to many critics — he said that priests would be required to notify law enforcement authorities of alleged sexual abuse.

In the ensuing months, Cardinal Law came under growing pressure to resign. His public expressions of remorse culminated with his remarks in November 2002, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, where he said that “the forgiving love of God gives me the courage to beg forgiveness of those who have suffered because of what I did.”

He acknowledged the “devastating effects of this horrible sin” — substance abuse, depression, in some cases suicide — and sought to assuage the sense of shame many victims suffer by assuring them that the perpetrators were to blame. He urged anyone living “with the awful secret of sexual abuse by clergy or by anyone else to come forward so that you may begin to experience healing.”

“No one is helped by keeping such things secret,” he said. “The secret of sexual abuse needs to be brought out of the darkness and into the healing light of Jesus Christ.”

His resignation came the following month. Cardinal Law later was a chaplain at the Sisters of Mercy of Alma convent in Clinton, Maryland, and maintained posts on Vatican committees, including the one that nominates bishops.

He assumed his post at the papal basilica of Saint Mary Major in 2004. After John Paul's death in the next year, Cardinal Law participated in the conclave that selected Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, as the new pope.

Cardinal Law had no known immediate survivors.

In his apology at the Boston cathedral, he reflected on the priests whom he had known in his youth, and who had made an enduring impact on his life.

“They represented all that was good to me,” said Cardinal Law. “Like countless others, I placed great trust in them.”

• Emily Langer is a reporter on The Washington Post's obituaries desk. She has written about national and world leaders, celebrated figures in science and the arts, and heroes from all walks of life.

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« Reply #453 on: February 01, 2018, 12:11:22 pm »

from STUFF/Fairfax NZ....

Auckland journalist Pat Booth dies aged 88

By HARRISON CHRISTIAN | 4:18PM — Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Veteran journalist Pat Booth. — Photograph: Fiona Goodall.
Veteran journalist Pat Booth. — Photograph: Fiona Goodall.

AUCKLAND JOURNALIST Pat Booth has died aged 88.

Booth was known for his stories about the “Mr Asia” drug syndicate in the 1970s, and his coverage of the Arthur Allan Thomas case in the same decade.

He was assistant editor of the Auckland Star when he attended Thomas' retrial in 1973, and became concerned about the police case.

Thomas was wrongfully convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crew after police fabricated evidence against him; one of the first cases of major public erosion of trust in police.

Booth wrote a book, “Trial by Ambush”, campaigning for Thomas to be pardoned.

The campaign was ultimately successful, with Thomas receiving a Royal Pardon and compensation of $950,000 for his nine years in prison.

A Royal Commission report stated officers had used a rifle and ammunition taken from Thomas' farm to fabricate evidence against him.

Pat Booth talks to Allan Thomas and Ray Thomas, family members of Arthur Allan Thomas.
Pat Booth talks to Allan Thomas and Ray Thomas, family members of Arthur Allan Thomas.

It was also Booth who dubbed Kiwi drug trafficker Marty Johnstone “Mr Asia” in a series of stories for the Auckland Star in 1978.

He uncovered Johnstone's international drug syndicate and pursued it for more than a year — a crusade that led to death threats and break-ins at his family home.

Booth died in a Kumeu rest home on Wednesday.

Fairfax Media's former head of Auckland suburban newspapers, Matthew Gray, worked under Booth when he was editor-in-chief, and was mentored by him before taking on the role himself.

He said Booth was a stalwart of his community and a formidable investigative journalist.

“He was a man of superior intellect and wit, and it was a privilege to work with him and to benefit from his wisdom,” said Gray.

“He certainly led the way in New Zealand journalism and it was great to see him in action and just be a part of the whole Pat Booth world, and it's a great shame that he's passed on; there will never be another one like him.”

Pat Booth's legacy will be long remembered, former colleagues say. — Photograph: Fiona Goodall.
Pat Booth's legacy will be long remembered, former colleagues say. — Photograph: Fiona Goodall.

PJ Taylor, news director for STUFF's Eastern Courier and Papakura Courier, described Booth as a “pioneering journalism legend”.

“People often struggle to remember the names of journalists in New Zealand, but Pat Booth was one that stuck,” said Taylor.

“It was a sign of respect for his integrity and impartiality that Pat Booth was probably the only journalist in Auckland that could hold a senior journalism job and be a people's elected representative, at the same time.”

“That was during the early 2000s, when Pat was a much-admired East Auckland resident and chairman of the Howick Community Board, in the former Manukau City Council jurisdiction, while being our editor-in-chief at Suburban Newspapers Ltd.”

Outside of the general news rounds, Booth was also an avid sports fan and penned a biography about the All Black Don “The Boot” Clarke, which was a national best-seller, Taylor said.

“His passing is really the end on an era for the pioneering campaigning journalist.”

More than 60 years after he started as a rookie reporter at the Hawera Star, Booth was a columnist for Fairfax Media in his later years. He was also a member of the Waitemata District Health Board for more than a decade.

The DHB's chief executive Dr Dale Bramley said Booth's legacy would be long remembered.

“Pat always had the community at heart. He was a great New Zealander who always got to the truth of the matter and endeavoured to make things better for his fellow man.”


Related to this topic:

 • Off Pat — The world of Pat Booth

 • Waitemata DHB says goodbye to renowned journalist

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« Reply #454 on: March 14, 2018, 06:26:05 pm »

from The Washington Post....

Stephen Hawking, physicist who came to symbolize the power
of the human mind, dies at 76

Hawking overcame a devastating neurological disease to probe the greatest mysteries
of the cosmos and become one of the planet's most renowned science popularizers.

By JOEL ACHENBACH and BOYCE RENSBERGER | 12:01AM EDT — Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12th, 2016. — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.
Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12th, 2016.
 — Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters.

STEPHEN W. HAWKING, the British theoretical physicist who overcame a devastating neurological disease to probe the greatest mysteries of the cosmos and become a globally celebrated symbol of the power of the human mind, has died at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

His family announced the death but did not provide any further details.

Unable to move a muscle, speechless but for a computer-synthesized voice, Dr. Hawking had suffered since the age of 21 from a degenerative motor neuron disease similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Initially given two years to live, a diagnosis that threw him into a profound depression, he found the strength to complete his doctorate and rise to the position of Lucasian professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, the same post held by Isaac Newton 300 years earlier.

Dr. Hawking eventually became one of the planet's most renowned science popularizers, and he embraced the attention, traveling the world, meeting with presidents, visiting Antarctica and Easter Island, and flying on a special “zero-gravity” jet whose parabolic flight let Dr. Hawking float through the cabin as if he were in outer space.

“My goal is simple,” he once said. “It is complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” He spent much of his career searching for a way to reconcile Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum physics and produce a “Theory of Everything”.

He wrote an international best seller, A Brief History of Time (1988), which delved into the origin and ultimate fate of the universe. He deliberately set out to write a mass-market primer on an often incomprehensible subject.

Although the book was sometimes derided as being dense, and had a reputation for being owned more than read, it sold millions of copies, was translated into more than 20 languages, and inspired a mini-empire of similar books from Dr. Hawking, including “The Universe in a Nutshell and A Briefer History of Time.

With his daughter, Lucy, he wrote a series of children's books about a young intergalactic traveler named George. His blunt 2013 memoir, My Brief History, explored his development in science as well as his turbulent marriages. In addition, Dr. Hawking was the subject of a 1991 documentary, A Brief History of Time, directed by Errol Morris, and countless newspaper and magazine articles.

With the aid of a voice synthesizer, controlled by his fingers on a keyboard, he gave speeches around the world, from Chile to China. He played himself on such TV programs as “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “The Simpsons”, the latter featuring Dr. Hawking telling the show's lazy animated patriarch, “Your theory of a doughnut-shaped universe is interesting, Homer. I may have to steal it.”

He insisted that his reputation as the second coming of Albert Einstein had gotten out of control through “media hype”.

“I fit the part of a disabled genius,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “At least, I'm disabled — even though I'm not a genius like Einstein…. The public wants heroes. They made Einstein a hero, and now they're making me a hero, though with much less justification.”

His scientific achievements included breakthroughs in understanding the extreme conditions of black holes, objects so dense that not even light can escape their gravity.

His most famous theoretical breakthrough was to find an exception to this seemingly unforgiving law of physics: black holes are not really black, he realized, but rather can emanate thermal radiation from subatomic processes at their boundary, and can potentially evaporate. Scientists refer to such theoretical emanations as “Hawking radiation”.

This revelation impressed other scientists with the way it took Einstein's general theory of relativity, which is essential for understanding the gravity of black holes, and connected it to newer theories of quantum mechanics, which cover subatomic processes.

Plus, he threw in a dash of old-fashioned thermodynamics — achieving a kind of physics trifecta.

“Black holes ain't as black as they are painted,” Dr. Hawking once said in a lecture, characteristically describing complicated physics in ordinary language. “They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole, both to the outside, and possibly, to another universe. So, if you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up. There's a way out.”

He also hypothesized that miniature black holes, remnants of the big bang, may be strewn through space, though he noted that so far they haven't be discovered. “This is a pity, because if they had, I would have got a Nobel prize,” he joked.

Early life

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on January 8th, 1942 — the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death, he liked to point out. His father was a physician and specialist in tropical diseases; his mother was active in the Liberal Party.

Both parents were Oxford-educated, and Stephen — the eldest of four siblings — grew up surrounded by books. But he did not show particular academic promise, despite an obvious streak of brilliance that caused his friends to nickname him “Einstein”.

“I always wanted to know how everything worked,” he told Omni magazine. “I would take things apart to see how they worked, but they didn't often go back together.”

He was a bit lazy, and a bon vivant, as he later would admit. After being admitted to the University of Oxford, he skimped on his studies and enjoyed carousing with fellow members of the Oxford Boat Club, for which he was a tactically savvy coxswain. He graduated in 1962 and did just well enough on his final exam to earn admission to the University of Cambridge to pursue a doctorate.

“Physics was always the most boring subject at school because it was so easy and obvious. Chemistry was much more fun because unexpected things, such as explosions, kept happening,” Dr. Hawking wrote in his memoir. “But physics and astronomy offered the hope of understanding where we came from and why we are here. I wanted to fathom the depths of the Universe.”

Then came what he later referred to as “that terrible thing.” He'd noticed at Oxford that he'd become increasingly clumsy and would sometimes stumble and fall for no obvious reason. Tests revealed motor neuron disease; he could not expect to live more than a couple of years.

After a period of despondency in which he holed up in his room and listened to Wagner, he attended a New Year's Eve party at which he met a young student named Jane Wilde. Their courtship spurred his will to live. They married in 1965.

“We had this very strong sense at the time that our generation lived anyway under this most awful nuclear cloud — that with a four-minute warning the world itself could likely end,” Jane Hawking later told the British newspaper The Observer. “That made us feel above all that we had to do our bit, that we had to follow an idealistic course in life. That may seem naive now, but that was exactly the spirit in which Stephen and I set out in the Sixties — to make the most of whatever gifts were given us.”

They would have three children before his condition deteriorated to near-complete paralysis.

He received a doctorate in 1966 and became a post-graduate research physicist at Cambridge, where he hoped to study under the celeberated astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. Instead, he was assigned to Dennis Sciama — a disappointment, at first.

But, as he later wrote, “This turned out to be a good thing. Hoyle was abroad a lot and I wouldn't have seen much of him. Sciama on the other hand was there, and was always stimulating.”

A few years later, while on the staff of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, he formed a close collaboration with Cambridge colleague Roger Penrose. They developed a theorem that the universe has not always existed.

The two showed that if the theory of relativity is true, the universe must have sprung into existence, out of what appeared to be nothing, at a specific moment in the past and from a place where gravity became so strong that space and time are curved beyond recognition — what is known as a “singularity”.

At the remarkably young age of 32, Dr. Hawking was named a fellow of the Royal Society. He received the Albert Einstein Award, the most prestigious in theoretical physics. He joined the Cambridge faculty in 1973 as a research assistant in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics; he was promoted to professor of gravitational physics in 1977.

Early fame

While at Cambridge, Dr. Hawking began to question the big-bang theory, which by then most people had accepted.

Perhaps, he suggested, there was never a start and would be no end, but just change — a constant transition of one “universe” giving way to another through glitches in space-time. All the while, Dr. Hawking was digging into exploding black holes, string theory and the birth of black holes in our galaxy.

Dr. Hawking was known to weigh in rather playfully on grand cosmological questions. He once suggested that if the universe stopped expanding and began to contract, time would run backward. He later said that he'd changed his mind on that.

He gained headlines when he declared that humans should colonize other worlds to hedge their bets against the possible destruction of this one.

In an updated, illustrated (easier to handle) version of “A Brief History of Time”, he added a chapter on wormholes — back-alley cosmic tunnels that might conceivably let someone travel back in time. Prancing on the edge of the plausible, he nonetheless stuck to what science can tell us.

“He thought about the deep and important questions in novel ways,” said David Spergel, Princeton University's chairman of astrophysics. “Hawking's important contribution was identifying new ways to answer those questions and formulating mathematically sophisticated ways of connecting general relativity and quantum mechanics.”

Dr. Hawking had sought to come up with a so-called Theory of Everything that would essentially put an end to theoretical physics by answering all the outstanding questions. But whether such a theory can ever be found is unclear.

Dr. Hawking said our universe might not be the only one there is — that many more may be popping into existence all around us. He suggested that “cosmic wormholes” briefly link those universes to ours and that subatomic particles may travel from one universe to another through them, accounting for some of the strange behavior of particles that physicists observe.

The power of Dr. Hawking's celebrity was measured at times by the tabloid coverage he drew for his complicated personal life. His wife Jane spent hours every day bathing, washing and feeding Dr. Hawking, who required constant nursing care. He developed pneumonia in 1985 on a trip to Geneva, and Jane battled doctors who wanted to turn off his life support.

But the marriage grew strained, in part because of her Christian faith and his adamant atheism, and in part because of what she called his remote and stoic temperament. She described him as an “all-powerful emperor” who seemed blind to how demanding his illness became for her as she also took care of their young children. He refused measures that would have made life easier for her, and she felt it was “too cruel” to coerce him to see it her way.

They grew apart and, in 1990, just shy of their 25th wedding anniversary, separated when Dr. Hawking left Jane for his nurse, Elaine Mason. He married Elaine five years later after his divorce from Jane became final. Dr. Hawking called his second marriage, which also ended in divorce, “passionate and tempestuous”.

Survivors include his children, Lucy, Robert and Tim.

Dr. Hawking's offices were filled with photographs of him standing with admirers ranging from popes (he was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences) to the late Soviet physicist and human rights campaigner Andrei Sakharov.

The theoretical physicist once described his heroes as “Galileo, Einstein, Darwin and Marilyn Monroe”. The last was of particular appeal to the scientist who hung posters of her and collected Monroe-related bric a brac.

“My daughter and secretary gave me posters of her, my son gave me a Marilyn bag and my wife a Marilyn towel,” he once said. “I suppose you could say she was a model of the universe.”


• Joel Achenbach covers science and politics for the National desk at The Washington Post. He has been a staff writer for The Post since 1990.

• Boyce Rensberger is a former Washington Post science writer and editor.

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« Reply #455 on: March 15, 2018, 12:03:26 pm »

from The New York Times....

Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe
and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76

A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations
to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

By DENNIS OVERBYE | Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking became a leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes. His work led to a turning point in the history of modern physics. — Photograph: Terry Smith/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Stephen Hawking became a leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes. His work led to a turning point in the history of modern physics.
 — Photograph: Terry Smith/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

STEPHEN W. HAWKING, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died early on Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cambridge University.

“Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world,” Michio Kaku,  a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, said in an interview.

Dr. Hawking did that largely through his book A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, published in 1988. It has sold more than 10 million copies and inspired a documentary film by Errol Morris. The 2014 film about his life, “The Theory of Everything”, was nominated for several Academy Awards and Eddie Redmayne, who played Dr. Hawking, won the Oscar for best actor.

Scientifically, Dr. Hawking will be best remembered for a discovery so strange that it might be expressed in the form of a Zen koan: When is a black hole not black? When it explodes.

What is equally amazing is that he had a career at all. As a graduate student in 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was given only a few years to live.

The disease reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements but left his mental faculties untouched.

He went on to become his generation's leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes, the bottomless gravitational pits so deep and dense that not even light can escape them.

That work led to a turning point in modern physics, playing itself out in the closing months of 1973 on the walls of his brain when Dr. Hawking set out to apply quantum theory, the weird laws that govern subatomic reality, to black holes. In a long and daunting calculation, Dr. Hawking discovered to his befuddlement that black holes — those mythological avatars of cosmic doom — were not really black at all. In fact, he found, they would eventually fizzle, leaking radiation and particles, and finally explode and disappear over the eons.

Nobody, including Dr. Hawking, believed it at first — that particles could be coming out of a black hole. “I wasn't looking for them at all,” he recalled in an interview in 1978. “I merely tripped over them. I was rather annoyed.”

That calculation, in a thesis published in 1974 in the journal Nature under the title Black Hole Explosions?, is hailed by scientists as the first great landmark in the struggle to find a single theory of nature — to connect gravity and quantum mechanics, those warring descriptions of the large and the small, to explain a universe that seems stranger than anybody had thought.

The discovery of Hawking radiation, as it is known, turned black holes upside down. It transformed them from destroyers to creators — or at least to recyclers — and wrenched the dream of a final theory in a strange, new direction.

“You can ask what will happen to someone who jumps into a black hole,” Dr. Hawking said in an interview in 1978. “I certainly don't think he will survive it.

“On the other hand,” he added, “if we send someone off to jump into a black hole, neither he nor his constituent atoms will come back, but his mass energy will come back. Maybe that applies to the whole universe.”

Dr. Hawking pushed the limits in his professional and personal life. In 2007, when he was 65, he took part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727. — Photograph: Zero Gravity Corporation/Associated Press.
Dr. Hawking pushed the limits in his professional and personal life. In 2007, when he was 65, he took part in a zero-gravity flight
aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727. — Photograph: Zero Gravity Corporation/Associated Press.

Dennis W. Sciama, a cosmologist and Dr. Hawking's thesis adviser at Cambridge, called Hawking's thesis in Nature “the most beautiful paper in the history of physics.”

Edward Witten, a theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said: “Trying to understand Hawking's discovery better has been a source of much fresh thinking for almost 40 years now, and we are probably still far from fully coming to grips with it. It still feels new.”

In 2002, Dr. Hawking said he wanted the formula for Hawking radiation to be engraved on his tombstone.

He was a man who pushed the limits — in his intellectual life, to be sure, but also in his professional and personal lives. He traveled the globe to scientific meetings, visiting every continent, including Antarctica; wrote best-selling books about his work; married twice; fathered three children; and was not above appearing on The Simpsons, Star Trek: The Next Generation or The Big Bang Theory.

He celebrated his 60th birthday by going up in a hot-air balloon. The same week, he also crashed his electric-powered wheelchair while speeding around a corner in Cambridge, breaking his leg.

In April 2007, a few months after his 65th birthday, he took part in a zero-gravity flight aboard a specially equipped Boeing 727, a padded aircraft that flies a roller-coaster trajectory to produce fleeting periods of weightlessness. It was a prelude to a hoped-for trip to space with Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company aboard SpaceShipTwo.

Asked why he took such risks, Dr. Hawking said, “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit.”

His own spirit left many in awe.

“What a triumph his life has been,” said Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal of England and Dr. Hawking's longtime colleague. “His name will live in the annals of science; millions have had their cosmic horizons widened by his best-selling books; and even more, around the world, have been inspired by a unique example of achievement against all the odds — a manifestation of amazing willpower and determination.”

Studies came Easy

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on January 8, 1942 — 300 years to the day, he liked to point out, after the death of Galileo, who had begun the study of gravity. His mother, the former Isobel Walker, had gone to Oxford to avoid the bombs that fell nightly during the Blitz of London. His father, Frank Hawking, was a prominent research biologist.

The oldest of four children, Stephen was a mediocre student at St. Albans School in London, though his innate brilliance was recognized by some classmates and teachers.

Later, at University College, Oxford, he found his studies in mathematics and physics so easy that he rarely consulted a book or took notes. He got by with a thousand hours of work in three years, or one hour a day, he estimated. “Nothing seemed worth making an effort for,” he said.

The only subject he found exciting was cosmology because, he said, it dealt with “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

Dr. Hawking and his first wife, the former Jane Wilde, in 1990. The couple married in 1965. He said the marriage gave him “something to live for”. — Photograph: David Montgomery/Getty Images.
Dr. Hawking and his first wife, the former Jane Wilde, in 1990. The couple married in 1965. He said
the marriage gave him “something to live for”. — Photograph: David Montgomery/Getty Images.

Upon graduation, he moved to Cambridge. Before he could begin his research, however, he was stricken by what his research adviser, Dr. Sciama, came to call “that terrible thing.”

The young Hawking had been experiencing occasional weakness and falling spells for several years. Shortly after his 21st birthday, in 1963, doctors told him that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. They gave him less than three years to live.

His first response was severe depression. He dreamed he was going to be executed, he said. Then, against all odds, the disease appeared to stabilize. Though he was slowly losing control of his muscles, he was still able to walk short distances and perform simple tasks, though laboriously, like dressing and undressing. He felt a new sense of purpose.

“When you are faced with the possibility of an early death,” he recalled, “it makes you realize that life is worth living and that there are a lot of things you want to do.”

In 1965, he married Jane Wilde, a student of linguistics. Now, by his own account, he not only had “something to live for”; he also had to find a job, which gave him an incentive to work seriously toward his doctorate.

His illness, however, had robbed him of the ability to write down the long chains of equations that are the tools of the cosmologist's trade. Characteristically, he turned this handicap into a strength, gathering his energies for daring leaps of thought, which, in his later years, he often left for others to codify in proper mathematical language.

“People have the mistaken impression that mathematics is just equations,” Dr. Hawking said. “In fact, equations are just the boring part of mathematics.”

By necessity, he concentrated on problems that could be attacked through “pictures and diagrams,” adopting geometric techniques that had been devised in the early 1960s by the mathematician Roger Penrose and a fellow Cambridge colleague, Brandon Carter, to study general relativity, Einstein's theory of gravity.

Black holes are a natural prediction of that theory, which explains how mass and energy “curve” space, the way a sleeping person causes a mattress to sag. Light rays will bend as they traverse a gravitational field, just as a marble rolling on the sagging mattress will follow an arc around the sleeper.

Too much mass or energy in one spot could cause space to sag without end; an object that was dense enough, like a massive collapsing star, could wrap space around itself like a magician's cloak and disappear, shrinking inside to a point of infinite density called a singularity, a cosmic dead end, where the known laws of physics would break down: a black hole.

Einstein himself thought this was absurd when the possibility was pointed out to him.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and other sophisticated tools of observation and analysis, however, astronomers have identified hundreds of objects that are too massive and dark to be anything but black holes, including a super-massive one at the center of the Milky Way. According to current theory, the universe should contain billions more.

As part of his Ph.D. thesis in 1966, Dr. Hawking showed that when you ran the film of the expanding universe backward, you would find that such a singularity had to have existed sometime in cosmic history; space and time, that is, must have had a beginning. He, Dr. Penrose and a rotating cast of colleagues went on to publish a series of theorems about the behavior of black holes and the dire fate of anything caught in them.

Dr. Hawking in his office at the University of Cambridge in December 2011. His only complaint about his speech synthesizer, which was manufactured in California, was that it gave him an American accent. — Photograph: Sarah Lee/London Science Museum/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.
Dr. Hawking in his office at the University of Cambridge in December 2011. His only complaint about his speech synthesizer, which was manufactured
in California, was that it gave him an American accent. — Photograph: Sarah Lee/London Science Museum/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images.

A Calculation in His Head

Dr. Hawking's signature breakthrough resulted from a feud with the Israeli theoretical physicist Jacob Bekenstein, then a Princeton graduate student, about whether black holes could be said to have entropy, a thermodynamic measure of disorder. Dr. Bekenstein said they could, pointing out a close analogy between the laws that Dr. Hawking and his colleagues had derived for black holes and the laws of thermodynamics.

Dr. Hawking said no. To have entropy, a black hole would have to have a temperature. But warm objects, from a forehead to a star, radiate a mixture of electromagnetic radiation, depending on their exact temperatures. Nothing could escape a black hole, and so its temperature had to be zero. “I was very down on Bekenstein,” Dr. Hawking recalled.

To settle the question, Dr. Hawking decided to investigate the properties of atom-size black holes. This, however, required adding quantum mechanics, the paradoxical rules of the atomic and subatomic world, to gravity, a feat that had never been accomplished. Friends turned the pages of quantum theory textbooks as Dr. Hawking sat motionless staring at them for months. They wondered if he was finally in over his head.

When he eventually succeeded in doing the calculation in his head, it indicated to his surprise that particles and radiation were spewing out of black holes. Dr. Hawking became convinced that his calculation was correct when he realized that the outgoing radiation would have a thermal spectrum characteristic of the heat radiated by any warm body, from a star to a fevered forehead. Dr. Bekenstein had been right.

Dr. Hawking even figured out a way to explain how particles might escape a black hole. According to quantum principles, the space near a black hole would be teeming with “virtual” particles that would flash into existence in matched particle-and-anti-particle pairs — like electrons and their evil twin opposites, positrons — out of energy borrowed from the hole's intense gravitational field.

They would then meet and annihilate each other in a flash of energy, repaying the debt for their brief existence. But if one of the pair fell into the black hole, the other one would be free to wander away and become real. It would appear to be coming from the black hole and taking energy away from it.

But those, he cautioned, were just words. The truth was in the math.

“The most important thing about Hawking radiation is that it shows that the black hole is not cut off from the rest of the universe,” Dr. Hawking said.

It also meant that black holes had a temperature and had entropy. In thermodynamics, entropy is a measure of wasted heat. But it is also a measure of the amount of information — the number of bits — needed to describe what is in a black hole. Curiously, the number of bits is proportional to the black hole's surface area, not its volume, meaning that the amount of information you could stuff into a black hole is limited by its area, not, as one might naïvely think, its volume.

That result has become a litmus test for string theory and other pretenders to a theory of quantum gravity. It has also led to speculations that we live in a holographic universe, in which three-dimensional space is some kind of illusion.

Andrew Strominger, a Harvard string theorist, said of the holographic theory, “If it's really true, it's a deep and beautiful property of our universe — but not an obvious one.”

Dr. Hawking in 1979. The only subject at University College, Oxford, that he found exciting was cosmology because it dealt with what he called “the big question: Where did the universe come from?” — Photograph: Santi Visalli/Getty Images.
Dr. Hawking in 1979. The only subject at University College, Oxford, that he found exciting was cosmology because it dealt
with what he called “the big question: Where did the universe come from?” — Photograph: Santi Visalli/Getty Images.

To ‘Know the Mind of God’

The discovery of black hole radiation also led to a 30-year controversy over the fate of things that had fallen into a black hole.

Dr. Hawking initially said that detailed information about whatever had fallen in would be lost forever because the particles coming out would be completely random, erasing whatever patterns had been present when they first fell in. Paraphrasing Einstein's complaint about the randomness inherent in quantum mechanics, Dr. Hawking said, “God not only plays dice with the universe, but sometimes throws them where they can't be seen.”

Many particle physicists protested that this violated a tenet of quantum physics, which says that knowledge is always preserved and can be retrieved. Leonard Susskind, a Stanford physicist who carried on the argument for decades, said, “Stephen correctly understood that if this was true, it would lead to the downfall of much of 20th-century physics.”

On another occasion, he characterized Dr. Hawking to his face as “one of the most obstinate people in the world; no, he is the most infuriating person in the universe.” Dr. Hawking grinned.

Dr. Hawking admitted defeat in 2004. Whatever information goes into a black hole will come back out when it explodes. One consequence, he noted sadly, was that one could not use black holes to escape to another universe. “I'm sorry to disappoint science fiction fans,” he said.

Despite his concession, however, the information paradox, as it is known, has become one of the hottest and deepest topics in theoretical physics. Physicists say they still do not know how information gets in or out of black holes.

Raphael Bousso of the University of California, Berkeley, and a former student of Dr. Hawking's, said the present debate had raised “by another few notches” his estimation of the “stupendous magnitude” of Dr. Hawking's original discovery.

In 1974, Dr. Hawking was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific organization; in 1979, he was appointed to the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post once held by Isaac Newton. “They say it's Newton's chair, but obviously it's been changed,” he liked to quip.

Dr. Hawking also made yearly visits to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which became like a second home. In 2008, he joined the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, as a visiting researcher.

Having conquered black holes, Dr. Hawking set his sights on the origin of the universe and on eliminating that pesky singularity at the beginning of time from models of cosmology. If the laws of physics could break down there, they could break down everywhere.

In a meeting at the Vatican in 1982, he suggested that in the final theory there should be no place or time when the laws broke down, even at the beginning. He called the notion the “no boundary” proposal.

With James Hartle of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California, Dr. Hawking envisioned the history of the universe as a sphere like the Earth. Cosmic time corresponds to latitude, starting with zero at the North Pole and progressing southward.

Although time started there, the North Pole was nothing special; the same laws applied there as everywhere else. Asking what happened before the Big Bang, Dr. Hawking said, was like asking what was a mile north of the North Pole — it was not any place, or any time.

By then string theory, which claimed finally to explain both gravity and the other forces and particles of nature as tiny microscopically vibrating strings, like notes on a violin, was the leading candidate for a “theory of everything.”

Dr. Hawking married Elaine Mason in 1995. — Photograph: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press.
Dr. Hawking married Elaine Mason in 1995. — Photograph: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press.

In “A Brief History of Time”, Dr. Hawking concluded that “if we do discover a complete theory” of the universe, “it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists.”

He added, “Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of why it is that we and the universe exist.”

“If we find the answer to that,” he continued, “it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would know the mind of God.”

Until 1974, Dr. Hawking was still able to feed himself and to get in and out of bed. At Jane's insistence, he would drag himself, hand over hand, up the stairs to the bedroom in his Cambridge home every night, in an effort to preserve his remaining muscle tone. After 1980, care was supplemented by nurses.

Dr. Hawking retained some control over his speech up to 1985. But on a trip to Switzerland, he came down with pneumonia. The doctors asked Jane if she wanted his life support turned off, but she said no. To save his life, doctors inserted a breathing tube. He survived, but his voice was permanently silenced.

Speaking With the Eyes

It appeared for a time that he would be able to communicate only by pointing at individual letters on an alphabet board. But when a computer expert, Walter Woltosz, heard about Dr. Hawking's condition, he offered him a program he had written called Equalizer. By clicking a switch with his still-functioning fingers, Dr. Hawking was able to browse through menus that contained all the letters and more than 2,500 words.

Word by word — and when necessary, letter by letter — he could build up sentences on the computer screen and send them to a speech synthesizer that vocalized for him. The entire apparatus was fitted to his motorized wheelchair.

Even when too weak to move a finger, he communicated through the computer by way of an infrared beam, which he activated by twitching his right cheek or blinking his eye. The system was expanded to allow him to open and close the doors in his office and to use the telephone and internet without aid.

Although he averaged fewer than 15 words per minute, Dr. Hawking found he could speak through the computer better than he had before losing his voice. His only complaint, he confided, was that the speech synthesizer, manufactured in California, had given him an American accent.

His decision to write “A Brief History of Time” was prompted, he said, by a desire to share his excitement about “the discoveries that have been made about the universe” with “the public that paid for the research.” He wanted to make the ideas so accessible that the book would be sold in airports.

He also hoped to earn enough money to pay for his children's education. He did. The book's extraordinary success made him wealthy, a hero to disabled people everywhere and even more famous.

The news media followed his movements and activities over the years, from visiting the White House to meeting the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and reported his opinions on everything from national health care (socialized medicine in England had kept him alive) to communicating with extraterrestrials (maybe not a good idea, he said), as if he were a rolling Delphic Oracle.

Asked by New Scientist magazine what he thought about most, Dr. Hawking answered: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

Dr. Hawking saw space exploration as essential to the long-term survival of the human race. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war,” he said in 2007. — Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images.
Dr. Hawking saw space exploration as essential to the long-term survival of the human race. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk
of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war,” he said in 2007. — Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images.

In 1990, Dr. Hawking and his wife separated after 25 years of marriage; Jane Hawking wrote about their years together in two books, Music to Move the Stars: A Life With Stephen Hawking and Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen. The latter became the basis of the 2014 movie The Theory of Everything.

In 1995, he married Elaine Mason, a nurse who had cared for him since his bout of pneumonia. She had been married to David Mason, the engineer who had attached Dr. Hawking's speech synthesizer to his wheelchair.

In 2004, British newspapers reported that the Cambridge police were investigating allegations that Elaine had abused Dr. Hawking, but no charges were filed, and Dr. Hawking denied the accusations. They later divorced in 2006.

His survivors include his children, Robert, Lucy and Tim, and three grandchildren. His children released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love’. We will miss him forever.”

‘There Is No Heaven’

Among his many honors, Dr. Hawking was named a commander of the British Empire in 1982. In the summer of 2012, he had a star role in the opening of the Paralympics Games in London. The only thing lacking was the Nobel Prize, and his explanation for this was characteristically pithy: “The Nobel is given only for theoretical work that has been confirmed by observation. It is very, very difficult to observe the things I have worked on.”

Dr. Hawking was a strong advocate of space exploration, saying it was essential to the long-term survival of the human race. “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of,” he told an audience in Hong Kong in 2007.

Nothing raised as much furor, however, as his increasingly scathing remarks about religion. One attraction of the no-boundary proposal for Dr. Hawking was that there was no need to appeal to anything outside the universe, like God, to explain how it began.

In “A Brief History of Time” he had referred to the “mind of God,” but in “The Grand Design”, a 2011 book he wrote with Leonard Mlodinow, he was more bleak about religion. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper,” he wrote, referring to the British term for a firecracker fuse, “and set the universe going.”

He went further in an interview that year in The Guardian, saying: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Having spent the best part of his life grappling with black holes and cosmic doom, Dr. Hawking had no fear of the dark.

“They're named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up,” he once told an interviewer. “I don't have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”


Matthew Haag, Matt Stevens and Gerald Jonas contributed reporting to this obituary.

• Dennis Overbye's reporting can range from zero-gravity fashion shows and science in the movies to the status of Pluto, the death of the Earth and the fate of the universe. He joined The New York Times in 1998 as deputy science editor, resuming a newspaper career that had been disrupted in the ninth grade when he lost his job as editor of the junior high paper after being in a classroom after hours where erasers were thrown. In the meantime, he graduated from M.I.T. with a physics degree, failed to finish a novel and worked as a writer and editor at Sky and Telescope and Discover magazines. He has written two books: Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, The Scientific Search for the Secret of the Universe (HarperCollins 1991, and Little, Brown, 1999), and Einstein in Love, A Scientific Romance (Viking, 2000). As a result of the latter, there are few occasions for which he cannot rustle up a quotation — appropriate or not — from Albert Einstein. In 2001, realizing that the reporters were having more fun and got to take cooler trips than editors, he switched to being a reporter. He has been covering the universe for more than 30 years, but lately he professes to be amazed that a huge chunk of his work is devoted to two topics that did not exist only a decade or so ago: the proliferation of planets beyond our own solar system; and the mysterious dark energy that seems to be souping up the expansion of the universe and spurring metaphysical-sounding debates among astronomers and physicists. He lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Mira, in Morningside Heights. In their house, he reports, Pluto is still a planet.


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« Reply #456 on: June 18, 2018, 12:55:44 pm »

from The New York Times…

Reinhard Hardegen, Who Led U-Boats to America's Shore, Dies at 105

“We were the first to be here, and for the first time in this war
a German soldier looked upon the coast of the U.S.A.”

By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN | 3:48PM EDT — Sunday, June 17, 2018

The American passenger freighter Robert E. Lee was sunk by a German submarine in 1942 in the Gulf of Mexico. U-boats, like the one commanded by Captain Reinhard Hardegen, sank or crippled dozens of merchant vessels off the American coast as part of a German operation called Drumbeat. — Photograph: C & C Technologies, Incorporated.
The American passenger freighter Robert E. Lee was sunk by a German submarine in 1942 in the Gulf of Mexico. U-boats, like the one commanded by
Captain Reinhard Hardegen, sank or crippled dozens of merchant vessels off the American coast as part of a German operation called Drumbeat.
 — Photograph: C & C Technologies, Incorporated.

REINHARD HARDEGEN, a leading German submarine commander of World War II who brought U-boat warfare to the doorstep of New York Harbor in the winter of 1942, died on June 9. He was 105.

His death, evidently in Bremen, Germany, where he was born and raised, was confirmed in the Bremen news media on Thursday by Christian Weber, the president of the Bremen State Parliament.

Soon after the United States went to war with Japan and Germany, Admiral Karl Donitz, the commander of the German submarine service, sent six U-boats to attack oil tankers and freighters in American and Canadian waters before they could head overseas. The mission, code-named Paukenschlag (Drumbeat), was aimed at further disrupting Britain's precarious supply lifeline and demoralizing the American home front.

Captain Hardegen provided Drumbeat with some of its most stirring exploits when his U-boat sank two ships off Long Island and brought him close enough to New York City to see the glare from Manhattan's skyscrapers in the night skies.

“It was a very easy navigation for me,” he told Stephen Ames, a filmmaker, in a 1992 interview, recalling how his approach was aided by the lights along the shoreline.

Approaching the entrance to New York's Lower Bay on the evening of January 14, 1942, Captain Hardegen climbed to the bridge of U-123 and beheld an illumination that thrilled him.

“I cannot describe the feeling with words, but it was unbelievably beautiful and great,” he wrote in a war memoir published in Germany in 1943. “I would have given away a kingdom for this moment if I had one. We were the first to be here, and for the first time in this war a German soldier looked upon the coast of the U.S.A.”

By the time Captain Hardegen's two war patrols to America had concluded in May 1942, he had sunk or crippled 19 merchant vessels, according to Michael Gannon, the author of Operation Drumbeat (1990).

He did so despite suffering a severe leg injury in a crash while serving in Germany’s naval air arm in the 1930s.

Captain Hardegen's marauding and the sinkings carried out by fellow U-boat captains led the Navy to organize convoys of merchant vessels escorted by warships along the coastlines. The Army ordered lights along the East Coast to be doused or shielded to lessen the silhouetting of ships offshore that had made them easy prey for U-boats. That “dimout” put Times Square in shadow, its signature neon advertising signs gone dark.

And Captain Hardegen's exploits evidently inspired the German home front.

A photographer carried aboard U-123 to shoot propaganda pictures was unable to get any clear shots of nighttime Manhattan. But fabricated still photos and movies purporting to show New York's lights as captured from U-123 were shown in German movie theaters, according to Clay Blair's Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunters, 1939-1942 (1996).

“Although the fabrications were amateurish, German audiences accepted them as authentic,” Mr. Blair wrote.

Captain Hardegen in an undated photo. He is credited with sinking or crippling 19 merchant ships in American waters. — Photograph: Heinrich Hoffmann/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images.
Captain Hardegen in an undated photo. He is credited with sinking or crippling 19 merchant ships
in American waters. — Photograph: Heinrich Hoffmann/Ullstein Bild/Getty Images.

Reinhard Hardegen was born on March 18, 1913, in Bremen, Germany. He joined the German Navy and visited New York City in 1933 on a cadet training cruise, going up to the Empire State Building's observatory to gaze at the night skies over the city.

He transferred to the submarine branch in 1939, took command of U-123 in May 1941 and was chosen for Drumbeat after sinking several ships off West Africa, his rank of kapitänleutnant the equivalent of a lieutenant in the United States Navy.

In the early hours of January 14, 1942, he brought U-123 east of Long Island and sank the Norwegian-manned oil tanker Norness some 150 miles from New York City.

He kept his sub underwater during the daylight hours that followed. At nightfall, aided by tourist guidebooks to New York he had brought along, he surfaced and followed the southern shore of Long Island and Queens, glimpsing the lights of homes and cars in the Rockaways and the illuminated Ferris wheel at Coney Island.

After getting to the outer reaches of New York Harbor, he returned to deeper waters off Long Island, where he sank the British oil tanker Coimbra about 100 miles from New York.

The sinkings of the Norness and the Coimbra, a day apart, made for front-page headlines. Captain Hardegen then headed to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, where his submarine sank three more ships before he returned to his base at Lorient, France.

On his second war patrol to America, between March and May 1942, his toll including the American oil tanker Gulfamerica off Jacksonville, Florida. But his boat was nearly sunk off St. Augustine, Florida, by a destroyer's depth charges before he managed to get away.

After leaving the submarine service in May 1942, he held a naval training position and worked on the development of advanced submarine torpedoes. In the winter of 1945, with German forces reeling, he was transferred to land warfare and became a battalion commander.

Soon after Germany surrendered, he was arrested by the British, who mistook him for a someone with the same last name who had been a member of the Nazi SS forces. He was held for 16 months before he convinced them that he was a career Navy officer.

“I was not a Nazi,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 1999 interview. “I did my duty for my country, not for Hitler.”

Returning to Bremen after the war, he founded a marine oil company and was a long-time member of its Parliament.

In confirming Mr. Hardegen's death and remembering his service in Bremen's postwar Parliament, Mr. Weber, its president, said “he continued to be very open” about his wartime submarine service.

Mr. Hardegen and his wife, Barbara, had four children: Klaus-Reinhard, Jorg, Ingeborg and Detlev, according to the book Operation Drumbeat. A list of survivors was not immediately available.

Captain Hardegen had earned a reputation for audacity at sea that brought him the prestigious Knights Cross. His fearlessness was on full display when Hitler extended his personal congratulations over a vegetarian dinner in May 1942 after he had completed his final war patrol.

As Captain Hardegen told it, he responded to Hitler's accolades by scolding him for failing to develop a wartime naval air arm, leaving Hitler red-faced with anger. Afterward, a mortified General Alfred Jodl, who was at that gathering, sharply reprimanded Captain Hardegen for “impertinence”. He retorted: “Herr General, the Führer has the right to hear the truth, and I have the duty to speak it.”


Richard Goldstein was born in 1944 and is a former New York Times editor and obituary writer; he still writes obituaries for the newspaper although long since retired from the staff. He lives in White Plains, New York, with his wife, Nancy Lubell, a clinical psychologist, and their three dogs. His most recent book, Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War II, was published in April 2010 by Free Press.

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« Reply #457 on: July 01, 2018, 03:09:39 pm »

from The Washington Post…

Gudrun Burwitz, ever-loyal daughter of Nazi
mastermind Heinrich Himmler, dies at 88

She never renounced her father and later helped provide support for Nazi war criminals.

By MATT SCHUDEL | 6:47PM EDT — Saturday, June 30, 2018

Gudrun Himmler Burwitz in 1938 with her father, Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler. — Photograph: Associated Press.
Gudrun Himmler Burwitz in 1938 with her father, Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler. — Photograph: Associated Press.

GUDRUN BURWITZ, the true-believing daughter of Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany's highest-ranking official after Adolf Hitler, died on May 24 in or near Munich. She was 88.

Her death was first reported by the German newspaper Bild, which also confirmed that Mrs. Burwitz had worked for two years in West Germany's foreign intelligence agency. The agency's chief historian, Bodo Hechelhammer, told the newspaper that Mrs. Burwitz worked as a secretary under an assumed name in the early 1960s. The agency does not comment on current or past employees until they have died.

Mrs. Burwitz, who was sometimes called a “Nazi princess” by supporters and detractors alike, remained unrepentant and loyal to her father to the end. Although she had visited a concentration camp, she denied the existence of the Holocaust and, in later years, helped provide money and comfort to former Nazis convicted or suspected of war crimes.

At the time of her birth in 1929, her father was consolidating power as leader of the elite Nazi paramilitary corps known as the SS. Himmler also commanded the German secret police, the Gestapo, and established the system of prison and concentration camps in which more than 6 million people — primarily Jews but also Roma (or Gypsies), homosexuals and others — would perish.

The only person who outranked Himmler in the Nazi hierarchy was Hitler himself.

Gudrun, who was Himmler's oldest child and only legitimate daughter, was exceptionally devoted to her father. Himmler and his wife later adopted a son, and had two other children with his mistress.

Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, the bespectacled, undistinguished-looking Himmler enjoyed having Gudrun at his side, as a blond, blue-eyed symbol of Aryan youth. In a diary later seized by Allied authorities, she noted that she liked to see her reflection in her father's polished boots. She attended Christmas parties with Hitler, who gave her dolls and chocolates.

When she was 12, Gudrun accompanied her father to the Dachau concentration camp, which was the site of Nazi medical experiments and the execution of tens of thousands of people.

Gudrun recalled the visit in her diary: “Today we went to the SS concentration camp at Dachau. We saw everything we could. We saw the gardening work. We saw the pear trees. We saw all the pictures painted by the prisoners. Marvelous.”

“And afterward we had a lot to eat. It was very nice.”

As the Third Reich was collapsing in May 1945, 15-year-old Gudrun and her mother fled to northern Italy, where they were arrested by American troops. Himmler was seized by Russian forces on May 20, 1945, and transferred to British custody. Three days later, he killed himself by biting on a cyanide capsule he had concealed.

Gudrun and her mother were held for four years in various detention facilities in Italy, France and Germany. She refused to believe that her father's death was a suicide and maintained that he had been killed by his British captors.

She was present at some of the war-crimes trials of her father’s associates in Nuremberg, Germany.

“She did not weep, but went on hunger strikes,” Norbert and Stephan Lebert wrote in My Father's Keeper: Children of Nazi Leaders — An Intimate History of Damage and Denial, their 2002 book about the children of Nazi leaders. “She lost weight, fell sick, and stopped developing.”

After their release, mother and daughter settled in the northern German town of Bielefeld, where Gudrun trained as a dressmaker and bookbinder. She found it hard to hold a steady job with her family history.

In 1961, she joined the German intelligence service as a secretary under an assumed name at the agency's headquarters near Munich. She was dismissed in 1963, when West German authorities were reviewing the presence of former Nazis in the government.

In the late 1960s, she married Wulf-Dieter Burwitz, a writer who became an official in a right-wing political group, and settled in a Munich suburb. They had two children.

Gudrun Margarete Elfriede Emma Anna Himmler was born on August 8, 1929, in Munich. Except for a brief interview in 1959, she is not known to have spoken in public about her father or her later life.

She did, however, often wear a silver brooch given to her by her father, depicting the heads of four horses arranged in the shape of a swastika.

She was also known to be active in a group called “Stille Hilfe”, or silent help, which was formed in the 1940s to help Nazi fugitives flee Germany, particularly to South America, and to support their families.

The organization is “closely linked to a number of outlawed neo-Nazi movements and actively promotes revisionism — the notion that the Holocaust never happened and Jews caused their own downfall,” Andrea Roepke, a German authority on neo-Nazis, told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper in 1998.

Among followers of the group, Mrs. Burwitz was “a dazzling Nazi princess, a deity among these believers in the old times,” according to German author Oliver Schrom, who wrote a book about Stille Hilfe.

Mrs. Burwitz attended underground reunions of Nazi SS officers, often held in Austria, possibly as recently as 2014.

“She was surrounded all the time by dozens of high-ranking former SS men,” Roepke said, after attending one such gathering. “They were hanging on her every word … It was all rather menacing.”

Mrs. Burwitz also provided support, through Stille Hilfe, to convicted Nazi war criminals, including Klaus Barbie, an SS officer dubbed the “Butcher of Lyon”, and Anton “Beautiful Tony” Malloth, who was convicted of killing prisoners at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Malloth was sentenced to death in absentia by a court in the Czech Republic, but Mrs. Burwitz reportedly helped arrange for him to stay at a retirement facility outside Munich on land once owned by Nazi official Rudolf Hess.

“I never talk about my work,” she said in 2015 when British journalist Allan Hall confronted her at her home. “I just do what I can when I can.”

“Go away,” her husband said. “You are not welcome.”


Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004. He has degrees in English from the University of Nebraska and the University of Virginia and has never taken a course in journalism. He worked for a now-defunct book division of U.S. News & World Report and was a copy editor for The Post's Book World and Style sections before moving on to journalism jobs in Raleigh, North Carolina; New York City; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has been a feature writer, magazine writer, jazz critic and art critic and has covered a wide variety of topics, including murder cases, wild armadillos and the space program. He is the author of a photo-biography of Muhammad Ali's years in Miami and the ghostwriter of the autobiography of civil rights photographer Flip Schulke. He likes writing obituaries because there is nothing more interesting than people's lives.

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« Reply #458 on: July 29, 2018, 11:52:33 pm »

from The Washington Post…

Mary Ellis, wartime volunteer who flew Spitfires, dies at 101

She flew fighters, Wellington heavy bombers and other aircraft, usually solo, during World War II.

By PHIL DAISON | 4:15PM EDT — Saturday, July 28, 2018

British World War II pilot Mary Ellis with a Spitfire at Biggin Hill Airfield, England, in 2015. — Photograph: Gareth Fuller/Press Association/Associated Press.
British World War II pilot Mary Ellis with a Spitfire at Biggin Hill Airfield, England, in 2015. — Photograph: Gareth Fuller/Press Association/Associated Press.

AT THE height of World War II, 26-year-old Mary Wilkins, all 5  feet 2 inches of her, helmet-less and with curly blond hair, climbed down a ladder from the cockpit of a mighty twin-engine Wellington bomber at a combat-ready Royal Air Force base in England.

“Where's the pilot?” someone on the ground crew asked.

“I am the pilot!” she responded.

As a volunteer pilot for Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary, her job was to deliver warplanes — Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, the famous Wellingtons (nicknamed Wimpys), Lancaster bombers and more than 70 other types of military aircraft — from factories to scramble-ready male pilots at bases of the RAF and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. She had delivered the Wellington — solo, although built for a five-man crew — from its factory.

“Well, they didn't believe me,” she wrote in her memoir, A Spitfire Girl. “One or two of them still decided to clamber on up the ladder to check the aeroplane for the ‘missing’ pilot…. They just could not believe women could fly these aeroplanes.”

The death of Mary Ellis, nee Wilkins, on July 25 at 101 — a year older than the RAF itself — was confirmed by Graham Rose, chairman of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary Association. The organization works to ensure that the ATA's pilots, men and women — including its chairman’s own mother, Molly Rose — are remembered.

Mrs. Ellis died at her home, next to a runway at Sandown on the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of England. No specific cause was provided.

Mrs. Ellis was one of the last surviving female pilots of the ATA. Only three are thought to be alive.

The “Attagirls,” as they were nicknamed, almost always flew solo and always without compass or radio assistance, guiding themselves via maps and following rivers or railway lines. Mostly British, but including several American, Canadian and other Allied volunteers, they did not fly in combat but faced the daily danger of attack by Luftwaffe fighters and collisions with the huge barrage balloons floating around southern England as obstacles to low-flying enemy planes.

Mrs. Ellis once had to take evasive action to avoid a deadly Nazi flying bomb known as a “doodlebug” or “buzz bomb” because of its noise. With her plane unarmed, she could do nothing to stop it reaching its target in London or elsewhere.

In her 2016 memoir, co-written with journalist Melody Foreman, she recalled flying over Pershore, Worcestershire, when a Luftwaffe fighter plane with black Swastika markings flew alongside her.

“With one hand I waved at this pilot to move away and get out of my sight,” she wrote. “I can picture his grinning face now. Then he cheekily waved back again and again — and then suddenly he was gone. I wondered if it was my blonde curls that caused him to stare as I never ever wore a helmet during my whole career with the ATA. What was the point of a helmet when we couldn't speak to anyone? It didn't do much for the hairstyle either.”

She was once shot at over Bournemouth, in southern England, by “friendly fire” from the ground (“not an experience I ever wanted to repeat”) and had a near miss when landing in thick fog at the same time a combat Spitfire landed on the same runway from the opposite direction. Among her female comrades, that episode won her the nickname “the fog flyer”.

She also survived a crash landing when her Spitfire's landing gear jammed. During the war, the ATA delivered more than 309,000 aircraft using 1,152 male pilots and 168 women. It lost 159 men and 15 women in accidents, usually because of bad weather or failing to find highly camouflaged air bases.

One of those killed was Mrs. Ellis's good friend, the renowned English aviator Amy Johnson, the first female pilot to fly alone from England to Australia. Her Airspeed Oxford plane, on an ATA delivery flight, crashed into the Thames Estuary near London in 1941.

Portrait of Mary Ellis from the autobiography “Spitfire Girl”. — Photograph: Pen & Sword Books.
Portrait of Mary Ellis from the autobiography “Spitfire Girl”.
 — Photograph: Pen & Sword Books.

One thing for which the ATA has rarely been praised is being the first branch of the British armed forces to gain equal pay for women, a massive crack in what later became known as the “glass ceiling” for women.

In all, Mrs. Ellis, latterly with the ATA rank of first officer, flew more than 1,000 warplanes of 76 types — including 400 Spitfires — among more than 200 British airfields from 1942 to the end of the war in 1945.

The middle of five siblings, Mary Wilkins was born on February 2, 1917, on her family's 1,000-acre farm near the village of Leafield.

She was 8 when her father bought her a ride in a de Havilland DH-60 Moth two-seater biplane. She was hooked. As a teenager, she persuaded her father to pay for flying lessons, and she earned her pilot's license at 22 in 1939, just as war was looming.

After the Battle of Britain in 1940, when the RAF successfully repelled the Luftwaffe but at a high cost, she heard an ad on BBC radio for qualified pilots to help the war effort.

Criticism, even outrage, quickly followed. C.G. Grey, founding editor of the British magazine Aeroplane, was among the most ardent voices against women in the cockpit. “The menace is the woman who thinks that she ought to be flying in a high-speed bomber when she really has not the intelligence to scrub the floor of a hospital properly,” he wrote.

Years later, Mrs. Ellis recalled: “Girls flying aeroplanes was almost a sin at that time.”

Britain badly needed combat pilots, but there were not enough of them to deliver planes as well as fight the enemy in them. Thus was the ATA founded in 1940, to allow able-bodied but not combat-ready pilots to support the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm. The mission was to deliver planes from factory to base, or often vice versa for repairs.

When the ATA was disbanded at the end of the war, Mrs. Ellis was seconded to the RAF and became one of the first women to fly Britain's earliest jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. After her discharge, she became a rally driver; at the wheel of her black Allard sports car, she won many competitions, including the Isle of Wight Rally.

Having settled on the island in the English Channel, she went on to become air commandant — basically managing director — of the Isle of Wight's Sandown airfield in 1950.

She was thought to be the first woman to run an airport in Europe, and over the next two decades, she did everything from working the control tower to running out to shoo away sheep and wave the aircraft in toward the terminal. She even cut the grass and helped the airfield grow into a busy airport handling flights between the Isle of Wight and many mainland English cities.

She married fellow pilot Donald Ellis in 1961. He died in 2009, and she has no immediate survivors.

“Up in the air, you are on your own,” Mrs. Ellis told a British TV interviewer when she turned 100. “And you can do whatever you like. I flew 400 Spitfires…. I love the Spitfire; it's everybody's favorite. I think it's a symbol of freedom. And occasionally I would take one up and go and play with the clouds. I would like to do it all over again. There was a war on, but otherwise it was absolutely wonderful.”


• Phil Davison writes obituaries for The Washington Post.

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