2006: Remembering Katrina

MULTIMEDIA PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDESHOW: NEW ORLEANS AFTER THE DISASTER

SLIDESHOW: WITH RANDY NEWMAN SINGING LOUISIANA

New Years Fireworks!!

WAITING FOR THE FIREWORKS

FIREWORKS OVER MIAMI

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN CHICAGO

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN AUSTRALIA

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN PARIS

MULTIMEDIA SLIDESHOW: NEW YORK TIMES: THE NEW YEAR

PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDESHOW: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

FULL SCREEN PANORAMA: 2006 NEW YEARS IN TIMES SQUARE

Video Coverage: Saddam Hussein’s Sentencing and Hanging

SADDAM HUSSEIN: RECEIVES THE DEATH SENTENCE


VIDEO OF SADDAM HUSSEIN’S ACTUAL DEATH BY HANGING

(Caution: Disturbing Images)

INTERACTIVE MEDIA: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SADDAM HUSSEIN

NYT INTERACTIVE FEATURE: DEATH OF THE IRAQI TYRANT

Adapted from today’s Times of London:

The knock on the door came just before 6 a.m. Saddam Hussein’s executioners were disguised with black balaclavas. He spent his last minutes yesterday in the sordid bowels of Iraqi military intelligence headquarters, once home to his own torturers and killers. Just as the dawn call to prayer was beginning over the city, he was led, shambling in leg irons, to the scaffold to pay the price for his crimes against the Iraqi people.

We took him to the gallows room and he looked like he wondered what was going on,” said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi government’s national security adviser, who saw him die. “He looked at the gallows not believing what was going to happen.” As the world reacted with mixed jubilation and condemnation to the hanging, Rubaie revealed that the deposed dictator muttered as he was taken to his death: “Do not be afraid; it is where we all go.” Rubaie was among the 15 people in the ill-lit room that was Saddam’s last sight on earth. The former Iraqi dictator showed no remorse, said Rubaie, speaking by telephone from Baghdad. “He was respected throughout before and after the execution. We followed rigorously international and Islamic standards.”

After the dramas of Friday night, when Iraqi officials said Saddam’s death was imminent but his lawyers tried to stay his execution with an appeal to a United States court, his fate was set early yesterday. Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, had signed the death warrant before going to celebrate his son’s wedding, and the presidential council had endorsed it.

The American jailers who had custody of Saddam were ordered to surrender him to the Iraqi government. They offered him tranquillisers but Saddam refused. “We received physical custody of Saddam Hussein around 5:30 a.m. from the coalition forces, and we took over and he became ours,” said Rubaie. As US troops stood guard outside, Saddam was first led to a sparse and unheated holding room in the bowels of the headquarters of Iraqi military intelligence. It would not have been lost on him that his own security forces had tortured and killed many people in the same grim building. Saddam was left for about half an hour to contemplate his fate. Iraqi law provides that a condemned man be allowed a final cigarette and a meal before his execution. “He was handcuffed and we took him and sat him down,” said Rubaie. “There was a judge, a deputy general, deputy minister of justice, deputy minister of interior, a couple of other ministers, myself and a doctor.” After formalities they took him through “a huge file” of documents detailing his trial for crimes against humanity.

The judge took him through the conviction. He was silent until he saw a video camera, and then began shouting slogans such as ‘God is great.’ He started his rhetoric: ‘Long live Islam, down with Persia,’ down with this and that. He started shouting his head off.” Rubaie made a last gesture of mercy. “His handcuffs were a little bit tight, and hurt him, and I instructed the guards to loosen them.”

The formalities over, the four masked executioners stepped forward. Short, tubby and dressed in leather jackets, they looked more like Al-Qaeda killers in an amateur terrorist video than those responsible for carrying out the sentence of death on a former head of state. Even though Saddam had shrunk in stature since the days of his pomp, he towered over them.

He had dressed for death in clothes sewn by his personal Turkish tailor: black trousers, shined black shoes, a starched white shirt, black pullover and a black wool overcoat that protected him against the deep chill of his remaining minutes in the execution suite. His hair was dyed his signature black, but he had heavy bags under his eyes.

In sight of a new hemp noose hanging from the ceiling, the executioners removed his handcuffs to tie his hands behind his back. As he stood close to the trapdoor one wrapped a black scarf around his neck to shield it from rope burns. When they went to put the black hood over his head, he mumbled: “That won’t be necessary.” The noose was slipped over his head. He stood looking almost bewildered, and an executioner awkwardly tightened the hand-coiled knot of the noose on the left side of his neck. Even on the brink of death Saddam had not forgotten the video camera. Just before he dropped through a trapdoor on a platform surrounded by red railing, he shouted the Muslim profession of faith, “God is great and Muhammad is his prophet” and “Palestine is Arab.”

He was standing with the rope round his neck,” said Rubaie. “The executioner started reading verses from the Koran, ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.’ He repeated it twice and [Saddam] went down in no time.” The hangman pulled a lever, and Saddam dropped silently about 3ft through a metal trapdoor. It was 6.10 a.m. Rubaie said he died instantly. “It was so, so quick, totally painless and there was no movement after that.”

Sami al-Askari, who represented the prime minister at the hanging, said he “heard his neck snap.”

Saddam hung from the rope for about 10 minutes, watched by the audience of about 15 people who could see him dangling under the platform. A doctor checked that his heart had stopped, then one of the executioners untied him. There was blood on the rope. The executioners put him in a white body bag and took photographs as proof for diehard loyalists that Saddam was dead. Iraqi television broadcast a still photograph of the last image of the dictator, his neck at an unnatural angle, sticking out of the white shroud.

Munir Haddad, an Iraqi appeals court judge, also witnessed the execution. He said afterwards: “One of the guards present asked Saddam Hussein whether he was afraid of dying. Saddam said, ‘Why would I? I spent my whole life fighting the infidels and the intruders.’ “Another guard asked him, ‘Why did you destroy Iraq, and destroy us? You starved us, and you allowed the Americans to occupy us.’ His reply was, ‘I destroyed the invaders and . . . I destroyed the enemies of Iraq, and I turned Iraq from poverty into wealth.’

Saddam was normal and in full control. He said, ‘This is my end. I started my life as a fighter and as a political militant. So death does not frighten me.’ “He said, ‘We’re going to heaven, and our enemies will rot in hell.’ “When he was taken to the gallows, the guards tried to put a hood on his head, but he refused. Then he recited verses from the Koran.”

Some of the guards started to taunt him.” The guards chanted the name of the Shi’ite firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. “Who is Moqtada?” — Saddam sneered. “A cleric who was present asked Saddam to recite some spiritual words,” Haddad said. “Saddam did so, but with sarcasm. These were his last words, and then the cord tightened around his neck and he dropped to his death.”

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Saddam Hussein Was Executed Tonight By Hanging

Saddam Hussein Was Executed Tonight By Hanging

The Times of London announced tonight that:

“Saddam Hussein was hanged shortly before dawn today after the Iraqi Government rushed through the formalities of his final hours.  With unexpected speed, the Iraqi Prime Minister swept aside any remaining political hurdles and signed the former dictator’s death sentence.  Iraqi and US officials met for almost three hours late last night to confirm that all legal requirements for the execution had been met.

The official witnesses to the execution gathered at the green zone in Baghdad in the early hours as final preparations were made.  A gallows had been erected in a parade ground still dominated by a triumphal arch formed of crossed swords held in hands modeled on Saddam’s own.  Judge Moneer Haddad, who was one of the official witnesses, told The Times that he read the death warrant to Saddam before asking him for his last wish and request.  Another witness, a Muslim cleric, then asked Saddam to deliver his final words.”

SADDAM HUSSEIN’S VERDICT:  SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING

VIDEO OF SADDAM HUSSEIN’S DEATH BY HANGING

(Caution: Disturbing Images)

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And A Happy New Year!

WAITING FOR THE FIREWORKS

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN CHICAGO

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN PARIS

PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDESHOW: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

James Brown: Tribute at The Apollo Theater

JAMES BROWN LIES IN REPOSE AT THE APOLLO THEATER

The occasion for obituaries is death, which is sad.  But the subject of obituaries is life itself, which is wonderful.

Today’s New York Times reported:

With pomp, circumstance, chants and song, New York City is bidding farewell to James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, today in Harlem.

The proceedings, which had a slightly festive mood, commenced shortly after noon today as a white hearse escorted by a police car pulled up in front of …The House of Justice on West 145th Street and Mr. Brown’s 24-karat-gold coffin was transferred into a white carriage drawn by two white Percheron horses with feather plumes on their heads.

A crowd that had been waiting since before 9:30 a.m. surrounded the glass-sided carriage and began the 20-block walk down Malcolm X Boulevard toward the Apollo Theater on 125th Street.

Walking behind the carriage were…Frank Copsidas, Mr. Brown’s personal manager; Charles Bobbitt, Mr. Brown’s business manager; Ollie Woodson, a member of The Temptations in the 1980’s; Fred Wesley, the trombone player; and other friends and fans.

The crowd chanted “soul power” and the procession moved quickly along.

Mr. Brown died of congestive heart failure on Monday morning at age 73.

Several hundred people cheered as the carriage stopped in front of the the Apollo’s marquee, which read, “Rest in Peace Apollo Legend, The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, 1933-2006.”  Pallbearers then carried Mr. Brown’s coffin into the theater, where it was placed on the stage and opened for mourners to view the body.”

VIDEO:   JAMES BROWN: IN REPOSE AT THE APOLLO THEATER

NEW YORK TIMES MULTIMEIA SLIDESHOW:   A REMEMBRANCE OF JAMES BROWN

In Memoriam: The Legendary James Brown (1933-2006)

 

THE LEGENDARY JAMES BROWN (1933-2006)

VIEW MULTIMEDIA SLIDESHOW: REMEMBERING JAMES BROWN

The occasion for obituaries is death, which is sad.  But the subject of obituaries is life itself, which is wonderful.”  J. Y. Smith.

JAMES BROWN:  THE GODFATHER OF SOUL

James Brown, the singer, songwriter, bandleader and dancer, who indelibly transformed contemporary popular music, died early Christmas morning at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta.  Mr. Brown was born in Barnwell, South Carolina, grew up in Augusta, Georgia, and made his home on Beech Island in South Carolina.  He had been admitted to the Atlanta hospital on Saturday, suffering with pneumonia.

Over a career that lasted more than 50 years, Mr. Brown’s music was sweaty and complex, disciplined and wild, lusty and socially conscious.  Beyond his dozens of hits, Mr. Brown forged an entire musical idiom that became a foundation for pop music worldwide.  thoroughly American.  Songs like “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Cold Sweat,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “Hot Pants” daringly explored the percussive side of every instrument and interlaced sharply syncopated patterns into kinetic multi-rhythmic sounds that drove people onto the dance floor.

Mr. Brown’s innovations echoed throughout the soul and rhythm-and-blues musical movements of the 1970′s, as well as the hip-hop music of the next three decades.  Music critics have claimed that the beat of his 1970 instrumental, “Funky Drummer,” is probably the best example of the rhythm that is present as the core or basic cornerstone of today’s hip-hop music.  Mr. Brown’s stage moves, his spins, quick shuffles, knee-drops and splits, were imitated by many other performers who tried to match his stamina, including musicians such as Mick Jagger, Prince, David Bowie and Michael Jackson.  He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

During the 1960′s, Mr. Brown and his music emerged as a political force.  His blockbuster 1968 hit song, “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” forever changed America’s racial vocabulary.  The funky 1968 anthem preached economic self-reliance and taught generations of hard-working blacks it was time to “get our share.”  “We’d rather die on our feet than be livin’ on our knees,” he sang.

He was often in close contact with presidents and elected officials of all political stripes, and he worked to keep the city of Boston from being burned by rioters in the days following the assassination of Martin Luther King.  A few months before Brown’s 1968 ground-breaking recording, King was assassinated and cities all across America were engulfed by riots.  It has been said that Brown may have almost singlehandedly saved Boston from burning.  A day after King’s April 4th murder, he was scheduled to play a concert there.  Worried city officials nervously proposed canceling the show until wiser voices pointed out that angry ticket buyers would definitely cause mayhem.

Brown arranged with the local public television station to broadcast the concert live, and he went on the radio to urge his fans to stay at home and watch the concert for free.  The city’s African-American neighborhoods were eerily quiet that night as a teary-eyed James Brown took to the stage of the Boston Garden and punctuated his soul tunes with remembrances of Martin Luther King and appeals for calm.  The day following the Boston show, Brown flew to Washington, D. C., which already had been badly hit by riots.  Once again, he took to the radio airwaves, appealing for restraint and declaring that education and ownership were better ways to seek justice.

James Brown performed before audiences all around the world, but Georgia was always on his mind.  Peace.

JAMES BROWN: GEORGIA ON MY MIND

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