Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Women Left to Die: What Happened to Betsy Gotbaum's Daughter-in-Law?

What happened to Betsy Gotbaum’s daughter-in-law?

I was never satisfied with the explanation given in the New York papers about the deadly fate of Carol Anne Gotbaum:

She was arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after getting into a confrontation with gate crews who refused to allow her to board a plane to Tucson, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a Phoenix police spokesman.

A US Airways spokesman said the plane was already preparing to depart when Carol Anne Gotbaum, who was traveling alone, arrived at the gate. She was rebooked on the next flight, but "she became extremely irate, apparently running up and down the gate area," airline spokesman Derek Hanna said yesterday.

Officers handcuffed Gotbaum and took her to the holding cell at the airport, where she kept screaming, authorities said.

Hill said officers in a room next to the cell checked on her about 10 minutes later when she stopped screaming and found her unresponsive.

Hill said it appears Gotbaum may have tried to get out of her handcuffs.
"[She] had possibly tried to manipulate the handcuffs from behind her to the front, got tangled up in the process and they ended up around her neck," he said.

The explanation for her asphyxiation never made much sense, particularly for an intelligent woman with an MBA and 3 small children to care for. It does make sense in terms of how society deals with women who don't fit the traditional mold.

Her father-in-law was Victor Gotbaum, a retired leader who served for 22 years as president of AFSCME District Council 37, New York’s largest public employee union.

I remember Betsy Gotbaum herself very well when she served as public advocate for New York City from 2001-2005. She was a fine civic leader, very concerned with education issues and the fact that a teacher could not make up for the ills visited upon the poorest of the city, which include too little to eat, poor health care, perhaps not a nuclear family with the amenities of the top 1% of the city’s residents. Thank goodness the wealthy are giving back. Without their knowledgeable input about educational policy, where would we be?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Fast Five is an ocean of motion and it never lets up. It was the first movie I saw in the IMAX format and it washed over me like a tsunami.

It sizzles from the beginning, as Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), his consigliere Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and others are stealing impounded lux cars from train packed with DEA agents while it’s still operating. The cars are for Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida, always a gem), the crime boss of Rio de Janeiro.

Great set piece: A big ole truck rides alongside to act as midwife to the cars as they roll from boxcar to the ground at high rates of speed. O’Conner’s fighting with Reyes’ henchman whose operating the industrial truck. He knocks him off and is hanging on for dear life as Toretto drives up trying to catch him before he smashes against a bridge pillar. Shot to shot to shot, he jumps, truck explodes in blaze of glory, and he and Diesel do a slo-mo dive into a raging river way down below, all three of them, Walker, Diesel and the car.

The cars should have top billing. Especially the cars at the end when Roman (Tyrese Gibson) pulls up with hot babe in tow and his bud Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), a hard working day job man, slyly has his hot babe drive up in the same car.

What’s the movie about? Hot fast shiny cars, keep the motor running, sexy people (“We’re a family!”), $100 million in untraceable bills and two identical bank vaults. Tyrese and Ludacris bantering like old friends. But never forget the 3 monuments to Mother Nature, Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and Rio de Janeiro. Rio should have gotten top billing as a person in its own right. The beach at Ipanema. The hills covered with colorful houses in stadium seating.

Diesel’s less combustible than he’s been before. He’s the natural leader but picks his words carefully and all his crew lean in for every word.

Kudos to director Justin Lin for keeping things rotating like planets running on Diesel fuel. Shooting the final sequence must have been as hair-raising as it was to watch. Kudos to everyone, especially the stuntmen and women.

If you like very cool cars, sexy people, lots of action, gorgeous Rio de Janeiro, an implausibly irresistible heist and tawdry touches of Mission Impossible and Ocean’s Eleven, you’ll like Fast Five.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Will the Right become Osama Death Deniers?

Cross-posted on dailykos

Will right-wing (Tea Party base) propaganda seek to deny the death of Bin Laden to further vilify President Obama?

Despite DNA evidence proving Bin Laden was killed in a firefight in Pakistan as attested to by disinterested third parties, I fear that President Obama’s victory as Commander in Chief helping orchestrate the demise of the man who murdered so many on September 11, 2001 will be nullified by those who take any opportunity to grasp for power.

As a prime example of a hired gun, read Ann Coulter’s desecration of the anguish of the 9/11 widows from a few years back:

9/11 "Jersey Girls"

In Godless, Coulter criticized the four 9/11 widows known as the "Jersey Girls", writing:

These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. These self-obsessed women seemed genuinely unaware that 9/11 was an attack on our nation and acted as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them. ... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much ... the Democrat ratpack gals endorsed John Kerry for president ... cutting campaign commercials... how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy.

It’s the cold beautiful logic of mathematics. How can the right accept that the man they hate and fear so much, the one they mock as a monkey with cries of “Lynch ‘Em” be able to deliver (as George W. Bush said) Osama not merely “Dead or Alive” but his head on a platter.

The Internet & Personal Privacy Do Not Co-Exist

Recently there were two stunning breaches of the supposed firewall protecting user’s personal information and the shiny toys they love so much. According to Bloomberg, there were privacy breaches into storage units of data for Apple and Sony Playstation.

It seems that the iPhone and the iPad “track[s], stor[es] and shar[es] data about the location of users.” Also:

A report by O’Reilly Radar, a website owned by Sebastopol, California-based publisher O’Reilly Media has said Apple devices log latitutde-longitude coordinates along with the tie of visits to locations across the globe.”

Apple denies that it’s tracking your location and says it only saves WiFi information to inform you where the nearest cell tower is. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, in Sony Playstation Network land, 77 million users have been hacked and may have had their personal data stolen. New reality show: You’ve Been Hacked! And sad/funny/touching stories thereof.

It’s time for all you knuckleheads to wake up and recognize that the concept of privacy on the Internet is an oxymoron. That means it’s a contradiction in terms. The coin of the realm on the Net is personal information. That’s the money making gold standard, selling your personal information.

On the underground side, there are thriving businesses in selling stolen credit card and social security numbers. Can anyone say, “Identity theft”? And guess what! You’re not well protected in the law against identity theft. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you’re not liable for expenses after you report your loss. But identity theft is an entirely different matter. You are considered guilty until you prove your innocence.

Just because something, a technological advance, let’s say, hasn’t been regulated and is not technically illegal doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be made so and fast. As fast as shooting a Terminator on your Playstation at arm’s length.