Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2008

Heath Ledger Dead at 28 (Updated)

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 2:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I give you election news (Thompson is out) and what do you talk about? Heath Ledger’s untimely death:

“The actor Heath Ledger was found dead this afternoon in an apartment in Manhattan inhabited by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, according to the New York City police. Signs pointed to a suicide or an accidental overdose, police sources said. Mr. Ledger was 28.

At 3:31 p.m., a masseuse arrived the fourth-floor apartment of the building, at 421 Broome Street in SoHo, for an appointment with Mr. Ledger, the police said. The masseuse was let in to the home by a housekeeper, who then knocked on the door of the bedroom Mr. Ledger was in. When no one answered, the housekeeper and the masseuse opened the bedroom and found Mr. Ledger naked and unconscious on a bed, with pills scattered around his body. They moved his body to the floor and attempted to revive him, but he did not respond. They immediately called the authorities.

The police said they did not suspect foul play. Officials said they believed Ms. Olsen, 21, was in California and that Mr. Ledger had been living in her apartment.”

UPDATE: The NY Times’ article has been updated regarding the ownership of the apartment:

“Police officials initially said that the apartment was owned by the actress Mary-Kate Olsen. They said they believed Ms. Olsen, 21, was in California and that Mr. Ledger had been living in her apartment. *** A representative of Ms. Olsen said this afternoon that the apartment did not belong to the actress. “It is not her apartment,” said Annette Wolf, a publicist for Ms. Olsen. “She does not own the apartment. She has never owned the apartment. She and her sister have an apartment in New York City but they are not in this building.”

Ledger is survived by his wife, actress Michelle Williams (from whom he is separated), and 2-year-old daughter Matilda Rose.

What a tragedy.

– DRJ

Fred Thompson Exits Stage Right

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 1:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Fred Thompson has dropped out of the Presidential race:

“Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people.”

Fred & Family

– DRJ

Steve Lopez: Maybe I Should Have Gotten the Other Side of the Story After All

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:55 am

Back in 2004, Steve Lopez wrote the following about the incident in which LAPD officer John Hatfield hit a car theft suspect with a flashlight:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and investigate, but I saw what I saw.

. . . .

Although this thing looked bad, Bratton said from 3,000 miles away, “There should be no rush to judgment before the investigations are completed.”

Guess what, Chief. My investigation is complete.

Any cop who’d whack a captured suspect 11 times, on live TV no less, is too dumb to keep past lunch.

I quoted this passage in a post that criticized Lopez for rushing to judgment. I noted that even a local civil rights leader had said we need to get all the facts.

Although Lopez proudly declared in 2004 he didn’t need to get Hatfield’s side of the story, on Sunday he did exactly that: he sat down with Hatfield himself and watched the video as Hatfield talked him through it. The result is a remarkable column titled Good cop makes bad decision.

Hatfield says his flashlight blows were aimed at weakening the left arm. As we watch the video, he convinces me I was probably wrong when I wrote that he was waling on a man “who was already restrained.”

Miller was down, yes, and certainly wasn’t going anywhere at that point, with three cops on him and more arriving. But it appears that he might still be resisting by not surrendering his left arm.

. . . .

[T]he case is more nuanced than I acknowledged at the time, and for that, I apologize to Hatfield.

Of course, there was an easy way for Lopez to have learned about these nuances at the time: he could have done what journalists are supposed to do, and try to get both sides of the story. Instead, he did what most journalists do: he made up his mind going in, and belittled the side he didn’t like. Having finally looked into the other side now, four years later, Lopez learns something that surprises him. While he still thinks Hatfield’s actions were excessive, it turns out that Hatfield actually isn’t a bad guy:

Miller, sentenced to three years in prison for evading arrest, got a $450,000 settlement from the city despite having only minor abrasions. And Hatfield, who had no other substantial complaints against him in eight years of mostly commendable service, lost everything for 30 seconds worth of decision-making.

“What hurts the most is the suggestion that I was a racist,” says Hatfield, whose wife is Iranian, whose mother is of Mexican descent and whose best man at his first wedding was African American.

Lopez speaks to civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who did what Lopez never bothered to do in 2004: check out Hatfield’s background.

“I sat through Hatfield’s Board of Rights hearing,” she said when we met. “I said to Chief Bratton at the time that I would not have fired Hatfield.”

Why not?

“He was one of the good ones,” she said.

Rice said she checked with sources in the LAPD and in South L.A. right after the incident. Among other things, she learned that Hatfield occasionally shot baskets with neighborhood kids. He also helped raise money for a scholarship program for low-income kids.

I’m pleased to see Lopez revisiting this. He didn’t have to do this. He could do what journalists usually do: let their slanders and sloppiness live on, standing as the “first draft of history” regardless of their lack of accuracy and fairness. Lopez didn’t do that, and I respect him for that. I also respect him for reminding readers of his 2004 opinions, embarrassing as they might be now. (He specifically quotes part of the first quote above, repeating his line: “Any cop who’d whack a captured suspect 11 times, on live TV no less, is too dumb to keep past lunch.”)

But I’m not letting Lopez off the hook entirely. He wrote at least three entire columns on this topic at the time. He never bothered to get Hatfield’s side for any of them. This was sheer laziness and journalistic malpractice. What else does this guy have to do besides write his three columns a week?

(By the way, Lopez’s old columns are no longer available on the L.A. Times web site. I pulled the links from my own 2004 post. But they should be available, and they should all be linked next to Lopez’s column. I have seen the paper include links to old stories that are otherwise behind the pay wall when they are relevant to the current story. The paper should have followed that procedure with Lopez’s column.)

Ultimately, the question I have is whether Lopez has learned anything from this experience. Does he now see the value in getting the other side of the story — even when he thinks the video was clear? Or does he consider this to be the only time that his shoot-from-the-hip style of snarky commentary has missed significant nuances on the other side of the issue?

If the latter, then he’s learned nothing.

Oscar’s Biggest Loser Gets One More Shot

Filed under: Movies — Justin Levine @ 6:50 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Congrats to sound mixer Kevin O’Connell who was just nominated for an Academy Award for in the category of Best Sound Mixing for “Transformers”.

This would make it O’Connell’s 20th Oscar nomination. Not a typo folks…Twenty times…and he’s never won. There were two years where he was even nominated twice for different films (thus effectively competing against himself and splitting his vote).

He has (by far) the longest losing streak in Oscar history.  

O’Connell’s complete list of nominations over the years is as follows -

(more…)


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