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The curtain has been pulled back and the BRCA gene is out of the closet as are quite a few women who are now revealing they’ve also had the same life-saving double mastectomy as Angelina Jolie.
I now join the sisterhood she created with her bold editorial in the NY Times; I had my double mastectomy just four weeks ago.
Disclosure of something as personal as having had both breasts removed is quite a daunting decision for many reasons, least of which is fear of being seen as “less of a woman,” as even a world-class sex siren felt obligated to note. Read the rest of this entry »
Louis J. Rosner was my friend, my mentor, my teacher, and occasionally my doctor. And for 20 years, I was privileged to be his co-author.
I always viewed him as the Albert Schweitzer of Southern California, a great medical missionary pioneering a new land populated with Jaguars and Ferraris instead of elephants and giraffes.
Like Schweitzer, he believed the purpose of human life is to show compassion and the will to help others, and I quote, “each one of us can do a little to bring some portion of misery to an end.”
Louis Rosner did a lot.
Although he rarely spoke about his own challenges, a diagnosis of polio at age 21 forced Louis Rosner to trade his dream of a baseball career for a time out in an iron lung. He would never again walk without the aid of leg braces. While those braces could easily identify him, they would never define him. Read the rest of this entry »
PATERNO ISN’T THE ONLY ONE WHO FAILED TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN
UPDATE July 24, 2012: The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s $60 million penalty for Penn State’s football program has underscored the severity of the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky, the assistant coach found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse of minors.
In addition, the NCAA officially stripped legendary coach Joe Paterno of his victories over the past decade, denouncing his role in a system-wide cover-up of the sex crimes which including including a rape of one boy in the team shower that was reported directly to him by an eyewitness.
I’m with NCAA executive chairman and Oregon State President Ed Ray who said yesterday, “The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.”
Joe Paterno isn’t the only one who failed to protect the children, so let’s not stop our public repudiation with the one guy who’s already dead. Yes the president of Penn State was pressured to resign as was the chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, but it shouldn’t stop there.
It is now time to hold accountable Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett who was attorney general during at least six of the 15 years Sandusky was molesting children and, as governor, was automatically given a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees.
BRINGING NEW MEANING TO “AT-RISK YOUTH”
Public records show that Tom Corbett, during his campaigns for attorney general and governor, received $647,481.21 in political donations from present and former board members of The Second Mile, the non-profit charity for at-risk youth founded and run by Jerry Sandusky.
What’s more, despite personal knowledge of the Sandusky child molestation investigations, Gov. Corbett approved a $3 million state grant to The Second Mile. The grant has been put on hold, but Gov. Corbett should now address possible conflicts of interest, influence peddling and, at best, his failure to lead.
Eulogy Delivered June 20, 2012, Golders Green Memorial Park, London, U.K.*note from the author: I have never before posted a public blog on my personal family; I hope you agree the inspirational story of the life and death of my brother-in-law, Ray, is a worthy exception.
To be born a Simone (nee Garcia) is a rare privilege. The rest of us, we all quickly learn, do not simply befriend or even marry someone in this family. Rather, one gets inducted into this clan who, like modern Musketeers, are all for one and one for all.
I learned that right away during my introduction to Dinah, the family’s legendary matriarch. She ended our first ever conversation about David with: “Just wait ‘til you meet my other son, Ray-mond.”
Well, Dinah, no one can ever say you didn’t prepare me. And right through to his last days at the North London Hospice, my sweet, sweet brother–in-law continued what I’ve been calling Ray Simone’s Great Adventure.
Somehow, defying the doctors’ timetable, Ray fought his way out of the fog of the war, the one he’d been waging against end stage liver disease. From what might have been his final sleep, he suddenly sat up and asked for a roast beef sandwich, an ice-cold beer and a cell phone.
Then for hours, which turned into days, Ray entertained us with stories, Monty Python impressions and his wry humor, some of it at my expense I’m extremely proud to say. I believe Ray mustered his strength not just to tell, but to show the ones he loved it will be okay; we are supposed to laugh again.
Dinah was right. Ray was amazing in so many ways, not the least his courage and humanity and grace. I will confirm that in the 22 years Ray has been my brother-in-law, I never once heard him feel sorry for himself or ever limit himself because of the obstacles he faced… like being legally blind. In fact, I routinely forgot he was blind and I bet a lot of people did as well. Now just think about that for a moment: you fall, you get up and you have detached retinas; you are going blind and you’re only four years old. Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2055, Broadway: the Belasco Theater in New York and it is opening night for the previews of “I Will Always Love You,” the story of the last days in the life of Whitney Houston which takes place, almost in its entirety in the Hilton Hotel suite where she was found dead just hours before her anticipated performance at a pre-Grammy party…
Whoops, it is March 19, 2012 and the Belasco Theater in New York is debuting the preview of End of the Rainbow, the story of last brilliant weeks in the life of Judy Garland. It takes place almost in its entirety in a hotel suite in London where, with fits and starts, she delivers what will tragically be her final comeback tour.
If you are still the slightest bit curious how our fragile artists finally break, you don’t have to wait another 44 years. You will find many of the answers in the gut-wrenching performance of Tracie Bennett who stars as Judy Garland. (As I overheard between my own muffled sobs, “Leading actresses across New York are going to be killing themselves after seeing this.”) Read the rest of this entry »
When I heard the first reports of Whitney Houston’s death at age 48, just hours before she was set to perform at the legendary Clive Davis Grammy Eve party, I was neither shocked, nor stunned nor saddened in contrast to the mounting numbers of television reporters and fans gathering at the Hilton Hotel where her lifeless body was found in her fourth-floor bathtub. I had already grieved the loss of Whitney Houston for more than a decade.
I have now spent what remains of “Grammy weekend” wondering if all the people around Whitney Houston throughout the second half of her life were enablers, unwitting or not. Or did they help extend her life throughout these final turbulent years. Read the rest of this entry »
UPDATE: Now that Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse of minors, it’s time to examine how he got away with hurting so many children for so long: who knew what and when did they know it? To that end, I begin with reposting my November blog on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett who was that state’s attorney general during at least six of the 15 years Sandusky was molesting children. To date, Corbett has refused to address why the Sandusky case stalled under his watch citing “grand jury restrictions.” Will he now step forward to explain how and why this investigation got derailed on his watch, then help assure the people of his state that future serial child molesters will be stopped much earlier than Jerry Sandusky?
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has launched one of the most effective cover-your-ass campaigns in memory, in public everywhere weighing in as a moral compass on everything from the firing of Joe Paterno (“It was the right thing to do”) to the question of whether or not to fire the graduate assistant coach who reported seeing Jerry Sandusky rape a 10-year-old but did nothing to intervene (he failed “to meet the higher moral obligation.”)
Sadly, it appears the man who became Pennsylvania’s governor in 2011 failed to meet a higher moral obligation as well. For at least six of the 15 years Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have molested children, Tom Corbett was Pennsylvania’s attorney general, the top law enforcer in the state. The case began, then stalled on his watch.
Corbett’s priorities towards the end of his AG tenure now seem more curious: he used the grand jury not to finally close in on Sandusky, but to launch a criminal investigation against two anonymous political critics and to subpoena Twitter to reveal their identities.
Gov. Corbett has spent much of his time since the Penn State scandal erupted dodging personal questions by saying he isn’t allowed to talk about the case because of grand jury restrictions.
Although various Sandusky molestation reports had been kicking around for years, the case officially landed on Corbett’s desk in 2009. According to the New York Times, officials at Clinton County high school had reported charges to the local district attorney that Mr. Sandusky had molested a boy there, but, citing a conflict of interest, the prosecutor passed it on to the attorney general’s office to investigate.
Corbett did convene a grand jury back in 2009 which begs the question: why didn’t he bring an indictment?
It’s hard to say. No one has pressed him for an answer.
Instead, reporters have accepted surrogate impressions. The New York Times, for one, quoted Kevin Harley who worked with Corbett during his years as Attorney General is now the Governor’s press secretary: ”He knew what witnesses were going to the grand jury even though he was running for governor. So then he became governor, and he knew at some point that this day would be coming. He just didn’t know when it would be.”
Was running for governor too much of a distraction to bring even the most difficult of grand jury cases forward after more than a year?
David Gregory began his interview with Gov. Corbett with this extraordinary puppy pass:
MR. DAVID GREGORY: Governor Corbett, welcome to MEET THE PRESS.
GOV. TOM CORBETT (R-PA): Thank you, David.
MR. GREGORY: I know you’re limited, because you were attorney general, in speaking about the criminal investigation, but I have to ask you more broadly, are there more victims that we don’t know about?
GOV. CORBETT: I don’t know the answer to that, David. When you conduct investigations like this–and in my career, I have conducted investigations like this–the more that you can get public about what has happened, the more that you can demonstrate that law enforcement and authorities are going to assist the victims of these types of crimes, it is not uncommon to see more victims come forward.
Gregory did begin to probe how Jerry Sandusky slipped through the cracks for so many years, but bizarrely asked a nine-part complex question:
MR. GREGORY: I just have to ask you as a trustee, as the governor of the state, as the former attorney general of the state, how did this happen? I mean, was this, was this a culture of indifference? A culture of cover-up? Did it extend throughout the university? Go beyond the university to the police, to the D.A.? Where?
Gregory’s failure to as a direct question regarding Corbett’s tenure as attorney general allowed the Governor to dodge the issue completely.
GOV. CORBETT: I always wait for the results of an investigation before I issue any opinions.
Why did so many reporters give the governor such softballs when there are so many pointed questions that would have skirted any legal restrictions in the case. Here are just a few:
- What percentage of the resources of your office did you dedicate to the Sandusky investigation?
- When did the grand jury looking into Sandusky begin, end?
- How many grand juries did you convene in your last two years as attorney general?
- How many resulted in criminal indictments?
- What was your pedophile prosecution record during your tenure as AG?
- When did you first read the 100-page investigation of Jerry Sandusky produced by university police?
- What actions did you instruct your office to take based on that report?
- Once you began your campaign for governor, how often did you meet with your prosecutors to discuss the road to an indictment of Jerry Sandusky?
- Did your criminal investigation that involved the Twitter subpoena result in an indictment?
- When was your last official conversation about the Sandusky case and what was discussed?
- Had you decided not to bring an indictment against Jerry Sandusky?
- What, if any, was your “pass down” advice (on the Sandusky case) to the attorney general who succeeded you.
As attorney general, Tom Corbett did create a team to go after pedophiles and other assorted child abusers, although he has more often spoken publicly about a disturbing case he successfully prosecuted as a young district attorney where a pedophile used a Christian charity to recruit his victims.
Maybe Corbett did more or tried harder than it appears. In the scheme of things, he’s probably not any more of the devil than those who did “just barely enough” under legal obligations. He’s also not any less of an ostrich — or a coward in his failure to now say what he could have done, what he should have done and what laws must be changed tomorrow.
After we ask the right questions of our elected officials, perhaps we can find out what Dottie Sandusky knew and when she knew it.