Fidel Castro, the former president of Cuba and leader of the Caribbean nation's Communist revolution, has died, state TV announced tonight. He was 90. His brother Raúl Castro, who is the current President of Cuba, announced Fidel's death on state television tonight.
"The historical leader of the Cuban Revolution died on the night of Friday, November 25, at 22:29 hrs., and his remains will be cremated, in accordance with his will," said the Cuban president.
Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century before handing over the powers to his brother Raul in 2008.
His supporters praised him as a man who had given Cuba back to the people. But his opponents accused him of brutally suppressing opposition.
A woman carries a portrait of Cuba's former president Fidel Castro during a May Day rally in Istanbul, Turkey, May 1, 2016. REUTERS
The funeral details for Fidel will be announced in the coming hours, said Raúl. Fidel was last seen on November 15, when President Tran Dai Quang of Vietnam visited the longtime Cuban leader's residence.
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Twenty-nine years ago I photographed people at play for a series in my portfolio. I wanted to shoot Tom Hayden, who I knew as the right fielder on a team in the men’s baseball league I played in. He agreed to pose for me at a batting cage in mid-town, and we made some good images. I gave him a print, and figured that was the end of our business. The next year I was looking for a new team, and called him to get his manager’s number. And that’s how I joined the Hollywood Stars in 1988.
Over the next two years Tom and I became friends, first through baseball, then through politics, and then just because. We had midweek work-outs and rode to games together on Sunday. We went to movies. I volunteered on some of his campaigns, and he kept me involved between elections. He debriefed me after my first date with my wife, and we attended each other’s wedding receptions. He gave our son a tour of the State Senate. Mostly, though, we had baseball.
That version of the Hollywood Stars eventually disbanded, and the bond between us weakened. It’s always that way in baseball; the ties forged on the field decay at a constant rate away from it. We last spoke about 13 years ago. We played catch in Culver City, and talked about his young son and about my teenage son. Then we parted and got on with our lives.
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Activist Tom Hayden has passed away at the age of 76.
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The British actor who played R2-D2 in the classic Star Wars films died today, age 81, after a long illness.
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Michu Meszaros, the circus performer and actor who played Alf the extraterrestrial on the 1980s sitcom, has died at age 76. Maestros also appeared in “Looks Who’s Talking, "Big Top Pee-wee," and episodes of "Dear John” and “H.R. Pufnstuf."
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Paul Kantner, founding member of Jefferson Airplane and icon of the sixties San Francisco rock explosion, died today. He was 74. Earlier this week, he suffered a heart attack, and had for years been dealing with serious health issues.
His death was confirmed by longtime publicist and friend Cynthia Bowman, who told reporters he died of multiple organ failure and septic shock.
Paul Kantner and Grace Slick and daughter China of the Jefferson Airplane, photo dated 10/08/1971
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
With Jefferson Airplane, Mr. Kantner pioneered what became known as the San Francisco sound in the mid-1960s, with such hits as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.”
The Airplane was renowned for thrilling vocal gymnastics by singers Marty Balin, Grace Slick and Mr. Kantner, the psychedelic blues-rock sound developed by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady and the LSD-spiked, ’60s-era revolutionary fervor of its lyrics.
Paul Kantner [Wikipedia]
Jefferson Airplane at Woodstock
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As she requested before her death, Elaine Fydrych of Gloucester Township, New Jersey had the following line included in her obituary: “In lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Hillary Clinton." Read the rest
Richard Kiel who played the steel-toothed Jaws in the James Bond films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979) has died; he was 74 and 7-foot-2. Read the rest
I cannot begin to explain the loss that is Molly. She was just a few weeks shy of her 13th birthday. She lived the most amazing, cared for, caring life a Cavalier King Charles could dream. My Molly had the deepest, most soulful eyes you have ever seen on any creature or finest work of art. Everyone who met her loved her. Even dog haters could not resist this dog, because Molly might actually have been love herself.
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Harry Harwood Garrison of Cincinnati, Ohio died last week at age 77. Sounds like an amazing guy; wish I'd know him! From his obituary:
Sole proprietor of the Player Piano Shop, enthusiast & restorer of all variety of automated musical instruments, life-time entertainer performing magic acts & smoke-ring blowing, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson…
Harry Harwood Garrison obituary (Cincinnati.com, thanks Gil Kaufman!) Read the rest
Raconteur, gourmand, fine-arts supporter & lover of music, particularly traditional & Dixieland jazz, boogie-woogie piano, blues, bluegrass, & opera. Historian of Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Westwood, & Colerain Township; craftsman, traveler, latter-day renaissance man, noted by many friends & colleagues for having a remarkable memory & his ability to recall detail.
Jean Stapleton, who most famously played Edith Bunker on "All in the Family," has died. She was 90 years old. (via CNN) Read the rest
The charismatic lead singer of Australian new wave band The Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett, has died of cancer and multiple sclerosis.
The editors of The Lancet (the long-running British journal of medicine) issued a correction this week for several rude statements and a rather terse obituary that it published in the 1850s
. All of these relate to John Snow, the epidemiologist famous for figuring out that cholera was spread by contaminated water. The trouble with this: Snow's evidence-based arguments stepped on the toes of a former Lancet
editor who believed strongly that such diseases were caused by bad air — and who had, as a consequence, led an initiative to ban tanners, soap makers, and other smelly professions from the city of London. Snow had testified before Parliament that bad air could not possibly cause disease. A feud ensued. Read the rest
My boyfriend Miles O'Brien lost his beloved little sister to breast cancer today. She was only 46 years old.
They both lost their mom to it a few weeks after I was diagnosed with the same disease.
There is so much to say about what a beautiful soul Aileen was, what a cruel and ugly and brutal disease breast cancer is, how torturous treatment is, how enraging it is that science and medicine have nothing better to offer us yet, how unjust the financial devastation a diagnosis brings to so many women is—and, most of all, what it means to those of us with cancer to have the kind of support in our lives that men like Miles provide, selflessly and heroically and with unconditional love.
But for now, I just want the world to see, respect, and remember this photograph Miles took of his sister this morning, shortly before her life ended. He brought her dog Jethro from her home to the hospice house so Jethro could also say goodbye.
Gone but still loved by all. RIP Aileen Crimmings O'Brien Graef - 10/30/64-8/21/2012
She is survived by two beautiful daughters, Katie and Aileen, whom she loved very much.
And, their dog Jethro.
Update: Miles and her daughters suggest that donations in honor of Aileen be sent to Visiting Nurses Association of the Treasure Coast (@vnatc), 1110 35th Lane. Vero Beach, FL 32960. This is the hospice center that cared for Aileen in her final days. Services at Strunk Funeral Home, 916 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960. Read the rest
One of the original writers of Saturday Night Live, Tom Davis, has died of cancer at age 59. He was best known for his work with Al Franken, who went on to become a U.S. Senator, representing the state of Minnesota. Not long before his death, he wrote a piece on the site Incident Report saying that he and Franken were working on something for the latter to read after he "de-animate[d]." Sadly, that happened yesterday, and the world is less one amazing comedy writer.
In his obituary, The New York Times describes a 2004 incident involving a Jeopardy question asking who Davis was -- no one had an answer. I want to be a part of making sure that never happens again. We lost a good one, so pay attention, eggheads. Read the rest
Image: Hollie Stevens, via Flickr.
The alt-adult performer known as Hollie Stevens (Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Wikipedia, MySpace) has died of breast cancer.
In addition to her work in indie pornography (including "clown porn", NSFW link), she was also a model for, and contributor to, the weirdo horror-rotica zine Girls and Corpses.
From an early account of Hollie's story by Vanessa Pinto at SF Weekly, it sounds like the lack of access to affordable health care (and health insurance) was a significant factor in the case of Hollie, a freelance creative based in San Francisco:
She was no different than a lot of us when we were young who believe we're invincible.
So when this very young healthy woman noticed a lump on her breast, she let it go at first.
"I noticed it and paid attention to it, but going to the doctor is hard when you don't have insurance," says Stevens.
The lump didn't go away.
More from Vanessa Pinto, this time writing Hollie's obituary one year later:
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The late actor James Doohan, best known for his role as "Scotty" on the original Star Trek series, left instructions in his will that he wished to be buried in space. His family worked hard to fulfill that wish, and made arrangements with Celestis, Inc., a subdivision of the Houston-based company Space Services that offers "post-cremation memorial spaceflights."
Those remains became part of the payload for a 2008 SpaceX Falcon 1 launch attempt that didn't reach orbit because of technical problems.
Each failed attempt was newly agonizing for family members, prolonging their grief and lack of closure.
But today, seven years after "Scotty's" death, SpaceX successfully launched his ashes into space. From the startrek.com website today:
Doohan’s ashes – which also were launched to space in 2008 as part of an unsuccessful mission -- were part of a secondary payload included on the second stage of the rocket, not on the Dragon itself. That payload separated from the capsule at the 9-minute, 49-second mark and is now orbiting, on its own, above the Earth. It’s expected to stay in orbit for approximately a year before descending back to Earth and disintegrating during re-entry.
Wende Doohan, James Doohan's widow, was on hand for the launch with the couple’s daughter, Sarah, now 12. Doohan posted a photo on Twitter and tweeted the following comment early today. “Sarah and I enjoyed watching a beautiful rocket launch this morning - certainly a first for her.” Also, on May 18, Doohan tweeted the attached photo of Sarah at Cape Canaveral with a caption that read “Following Daddy’s footsteps?”
In 2008, just after that last unsuccessful attempt, we shared on Boing Boing a personal account of what the process felt like for Doohan's family. Read the rest