Lou Reed, the founder of the seminal avant-garde band The Velvet Underground who influenced a generation of rock stars, died Sunday at 71.
No official cause of death was announced, but the hard-living icon underwent a liver transplant in May.
Reed is best known for 1973 hit ‘Walk on the Wild Side,’ but his body of work over a nearly 50-year career often defied categorization.
The Brooklyn-born Reed grew up in Freeport, but New York was the canvass on which he painted much of his music. His 1989 album “New York” was one of the most admired of his career, looking back on the turbulent ’80s through a lens of wry humor and measured anger that called out the likes of Rudy Giuliani, the NRA, subway shooter Bernhard Goetz and the decades Republican presidents.
Reed was one of the few artists who meant it when he said he was unconcerned with the commercial appeal of his music.
A week ago, Saudi Arabia saw something that people in the kingdom often talk about but rarely witness — a potentially important political reform.
King Abdullah announced Jan. 11 that 30 women would join the kingdom’s Shura Council, a consultative body of 150 persons, and that women henceforth would hold 20 percent of the seats. Skeptics cautioned that it’s a symbolic move, since this is an advisory group that doesn’t actually enact any legislation. But it’s a powerful symbol, according to men and women here.
When Abdullah first signaled his plan to name women to the council, a Saudi cleric said it would be “haram,” or forbidden under Islam. The king went ahead and announced the 30 appointees, saying that he had consulted the Senior Ulema Council, the religious body whose approval is one of the pillars of the Saudi monarchy.
A Westerner here told me that, last weekend, several dozen conservative Saudis gathered near Abdullah’s palace to complain, but he wouldn’t see them.
It’s understandable why conservatives would be upset: If Saudi women are deemed worthy of joining the body that advises the king on sensitive matters, it’s harder to justify the many limits on their rights.
I met here last week with Hayat Sindi, a scientist who is one of the newly appointed Shura members. She took her doctorate in biotechnology from Cambridge in 2001, and in the years since she has been a visiting scholar at Harvard, launched two companies and helped run a third.
“I feel the solution for the Middle East is based on women and youth,” she says. Listening to her story of insistent, determined accomplishment, it’s hard to disagree.
For just over 125 years, the mystery of the Jack the Ripper serial murders has been fodder for books, movies and periodic re-openings of the unsolved cases. But after years of investigation, a retired detective is confident he has finally found the culprit behind some, if not all, of the killings attributed to the infamous “Jack.”
Past attempts to identify the man who supposedly terrorized London in the late 19th century have implicated artist Vincent Van Gogh, Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll and even relatives of Queen Victoria. But retired homicide detective Trevor Marriott says that after 11 years of investigation, he believes German merchant sailor Carl Feigenbaum committed an unknown number of the murders.
Marriott, who hails from Bedfordshire, England, told British site Express that he came to his conclusion via old-school document analysis and high-tech forensic science. He also said he found that Hollywood and myth have “distorted” many facts of the case over the years.
What does appear to be true is that between Aug. 31, 1888, and Nov. 9, 1888, five women — Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly — were stabbed to death within one-fourth of a mile from each other in the Whitechapel neighborhood of London, reports CBS News. Some accounts claim the victims were disemboweled post-mortem; most assume a number of the victims were prostitutes and were all killed by the same man.
The former policeman’s quest to uncover the truth has not always been an easy one. He took Scotland Yard to court in 2011 in a costly effort to force the agency to hand over thousands of pages of notes and tips from informants, reports The Telegraph.
By that time, Marriott had begun to zero in on Feigenbaum, a sailor whose ships often docked near the neighborhood where many of the unsolved murders occurred, according to Express.
He is rarely photographed or even quoted in Syria’s media. Wrapped in that blanket of secrecy, President Bashar al-Assad’s younger brother has been vital to the family’s survival in power.
Maher al-Assad commands the elite troops that protect the Syrian capital from rebels on its outskirts and is widely believed to have helped orchestrate the regime’s fierce campaign to put down the uprising, now well into its third year. He has also gained a reputation for brutality among opposition activists.
His role underlines the family core of the al-Assad regime, though he is a stark contrast to his brothers. His eldest brother, Basil, was the family prince, publicly groomed by their father, Hafez, to succeed him as president – until Basil died in a 1994 car crash. That vaulted Bashar, then an eye doctor in London with no military or political experience, into the role of heir, rising to the presidency after his father’s death in 2000. The two brothers – the “martyr” and the president – often appear together in posters.