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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.



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IPS Blog

Entries tagged "Obituary"

Saul Landau, Presente!

September 13, 2013 ·

Saul Landau, who died September 9, 2013 at age 77, toiled for years to change the national conversation on everything from the Cuban embargo to climate change. Saul also had a knack for turning newfound acquaintances into soulmates that shines through the many tributes and obituaries pooled here to share with people who either had the good fortune to know him and those who are just now discovering his legacy and want to learn more. These essays and articles serve as a testament to his brilliance, perseverance, and boundless generosity.

Saul Landau In addition to his achievements as a writer of prose and poetry, filmmaker, radio show host, connoisseur of odd food, professor, tireless traveler, devoted family man, and a master of off-color jokes, Saul was a longtime Institute for Policy Studies fellow and trustee. IPS will commemorate his life in Washington, DC, on October 12 as part of our 50th anniversary celebrationIf you can join us, please RSVP

IPS Tributes

The Institute for Policy Studies Mourns the Loss of Filmmaker and Author Saul Landau, tribute by the IPS staff. We encourage Saul's many friends and admirers to make their comments on our website.
"Saul's commitments were forged of steel," said Isabel Letelier, the widow of Orlando Letelier and a former IPS staff member. "He was an impeccable and exemplary revolutionary."

More Than a Sonnet for Saul Landau, poem posted on the IPS website by IPS Board Chair Ethelbert Miller
…So tell me
another joke. I want to laugh long into the night. I want our
friendship to wait for the stars to come down and kiss California

Mainstream Media

Saul Landau, Maker of Films with Leftist Edge, Dies at 77New York Times obituary by Douglas Martin
"You want to do what you can while you're on this earth," Mr. Landau said in 2006. "Otherwise the alternative is to go shopping."

Activist and filmmaker Saul Landau dies at 77Washington Post obituary by Matt Schudel
"Since the late 1960s, Mr. Landau's family said, his provocative films and political statements led to frequent death threats, particularly while he was investigating the murders of (Orlando) Letelier and (Ronni Karpen) Moffitt. "I'm sure he must have been terrified at times," Cavanagh said, "but he never showed it."

'Fidel' filmmaker Saul Landau dies at 77Los Angeles Times obituary by Daniel Miller
"I came out of Madison with a passion for social justice and the idea that you only get one shot at participating in the history of the world and that you have to make the most of it," Landau told Madison's Capital Times in 2006, the year he donated his papers to his alma mater.

Saul Landau - documentary filmmaker – diesSan Francisco Chronicle obituary by Sam Whiting
"He would not suffer pompous statements by politicians from either the right or the left," Rep. George Miller said. "He was a constant battler for human rights, whether they were being crushed by American involvement in Latin America or by dictators. To him that was the battle."

Documentary Filmmaker Saul Landau Dies, AP obituary by John Rogers, which appeared in the Charlotte ObserverUSA Today, the Chicago Sun-Times, and dozens of other newspapers.
"He knew he'd made a contribution and he was happy about that, he was happy, but he wanted to talk about how to make the world a better place," (IPS Director John) Cavanagh said Tuesday, recalling an hours-long discussion the two had earlier this year. "When we got into that is when he really got animated and full of life, it was fascinating to see."

American documentary filmmaker Saul Landau dead at age 77, Reuters obituary by Eric Kelsey.
Novelist Gore Vidal once quipped that the prolific Landau "is a man I love to steal ideas from."

Progressive Media

This Week in 'Nation' History: Saul Landau's Investigations of US Ties to the Pinochet Regime, The Nation essay by Katrina vanden Heuvel
"It was The Nation's honor to publish (Saul Landau's) work at such an early and definitive moment in his career, when he sought to uncover who was responsible for the brutal and untimely death of his dear and principled friend" (Orlando Letelier).

Remembering Saul Landau, a tribute by Nation intern Andrés S. Pertierra
Saul awakened my political consciousness. He called us all to thought, gave an example to emulate in his fights for justice and left his mark forever. He survives through us in the decisions we make. We'll try and not let him down.

My Socrates Wore a Guayabera, in CounterPunch, essay by Farrah Hassen
Regardless of the time of day, or time zone, he delivered his pearls of wisdom in pairs: "Don't be a victim," followed by, "Unless you believe in reincarnation, you only have one shot at life." Unrelenting wit, even at bleak moments, encapsulated his pearls: "If you ask the Rabbi, nothing's kosher." And sadly, in more recent months, "Cancer schmancer, as long as you have your health!"
Also read this shorter version, at OtherWords.org 

The Authentic Landau, in CounterPunch, by Jeffrey St. Clair
Last year, our daughter was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma. Saul, who lived across the San Francisco Bay in Alameda, said, "Tell Zen to call me. I know what it's like. I can talk her through it." And so he did. Saul helped take much of the fear out of facing the disease. He searched for doctors, advised us on how to handle the insurance companies, talked about diet after treatments and recommended an excellent acupuncturist. He called every week to ask how Zen was doing. He never forgot, even as his own health began to deteriorate. That's the kind of friendship that you can't fake…or replace.

Travels With Saul Landau, in CounterPunch, by former Senator James Abourezk 
"We traveled together to Cuba where Saul introduced me to Fidel Castro; we went to Wounded Knee together after the militant Indian takeover and where Saul made a film centered on the Indian Committee hearings I held to document the AIM takeover of Wounded Knee. In 2003, he went to Syria without me, but my Syrian wife, Sanaa, was there visiting her family at the time, so he drafted her as his guide and narrator as he filmed around Syria"

Documentary Filmmaker and Activist Saul Landau Dead at 77, Common Dreams obituary by Jon Queally
"He stood up to dictators, right-wing Cuban assassins, pompous politicians, and critics from both the left and the right," said IPS Director John Cavanagh. "When he believed in something, nobody could make him back down. Those who tried would typically find themselves on the receiving end of a withering but humorous insult."

Saul Landau, American leftist, 1936 - 2013, OpenDemocracy, tribute by Anthony Barnett
"His smile was unforgettable. It could be mistaken as cynical. It was the opposite: part skeptical, part an impish demand to make trouble if you can: an encouragement laced with practical intelligence. Many of us have been helped and supported by him often in ways we did not fully realize until later. 'Make it happen and stay cool' was his adage and he did both."

Journalist & Filmmaker Saul Landau, 77, Dies; Chronicled Cuban Revolution for Decades, Democracy Now! Obituary
"What did Cuba do to us?," Landau asks. "Well, the answer, I think, is that they were disobedient, in our hemisphere. And they did not ask permission to take away property. They took it away. They nationalized property. And the United States…has never forgiven them."

Additional reports and essays on Saul's life and death appeared around the world in the UK, Canadian, Indian, Pakistani Argentine, Costa Rican, Japanese, Cuban media.

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. Read Saul Landau's wide-ranging OtherWords op-eds.

Paul Wellstone, We Miss You

October 25, 2012 ·

Ten years ago today, the two of us were an hour into the first big coalition meeting to oppose the impending U.S. war against Iraq, surrounded by dozens of leaders of a wide array of movements: peace, civil rights, women's rights, environmentalists, labor, social justice, and many others. Then, we noticed some people walking to the back of the room and returning with tears streaking down their faces.

Pinback button created in memory of U.S. senator Paul Wellstone, killed in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Photo by Minnesota Historical Society. Someone interrupted the meeting with the tragic news. One of the great progressive leaders of our time, Senator Paul Wellstone, had just died in a plane crash campaigning in his home state of Minnesota. The room, just seconds before buzzing with ideas, fell silent. In shock, we took a few minutes to get into small groups and remember Paul, the people's Senator, the anti-war Senator.

We knew that Paul would have wanted us to get back to work quickly in this historic task, so after 15 minutes, we went back to creating what would become the broad, overarching coalition to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: United for Peace and Justice. UFPJ quickly grew to over 1,000 organizations, and we always thought of Paul as we walked into its meetings.

As we think back to that day, we are flooded with Paul memories. Paul proved that progressives without much money could win statewide elections. He visited every corner of Minnesota in a Volkswagen bus during his successful Senate campaigns. He was a stalwart internationalist and he had a poster of our IPS colleague Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated by the Chilean dictatorship, on the wall of his office.

Paul cared deeply about poverty. When he was contemplating a presidential bid in the late 1990s, he retraced the route of Bobby Kennedy's southern tour to highlight poverty and racism in this country. When IPS co-hosted Paul's report back from that tour at Howard University, he spoke with great passion about the human face of poverty and inequality in this nation. In the end, powerful back pain from his days as a wrestler precluded him from running for president in 2000.

Today, Paul would be protesting against the inhumanity and illegality of drone strikes. He would be demanding the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan now, and he'd be explaining to people the wisdom of making major cuts to the U.S. military budget. He would be leading the charge for inequality-busting measures like the Robin Hood tax. He would be joining the protests against unjust budget-cutting deals by his colleagues. And, he would be standing with people fighting expulsion from their homes by predator banks.

Our great challenge today is to shift this nation's course from our current casino and militarized Wall Street economy to a democratic, peaceful, and green Main Street economy. Paul would be leading the charge.

A Case Study for Why We Need a Stiff Estate Tax

May 25, 2011 ·

Great wealth, the philosopher Philip Slater once noted, tends to make wealthy people instinctively suspicious because they can never be quite sure whether others love or admire them for their fortunes or themselves.

"If you gain fame, power, or wealth, you won't have any trouble finding lovers," Slated added, "but they will be people who love fame, power, or wealth."

Exhibit A for Philip Slater's wisdom: the long, sad life of Huguette Clark, the copper mining heiress who died this week at the age of 104.

Over a century ago, Clark's father, the fearsome William Andrews Clark, abused mine workers and poisoned the environment on his way to one of the Gilded Age's greatest fortunes. Mark Twain called Clark "as rotten a human being as can be found anywhere under the flag," and the enormous wealth he left daughter Huguette in 1925 would define — and burden —the rest of her life.

Huguette Clark married in 1928, then divorced in 1930. She never had children and, after her mother's 1963 death, lived as a recluse in a 42-room Manhattan Park Avenue apartment. She also owned — but hadn't visited since the 1950s — a beach house in Santa Barbara.

At Clark's third home, a country home in Connecticut now worth $23 million, the guard who had spent almost his entire adult life watching over the property never even knew the name of the estate's owner until a reporter asked him about Clark the day after she died.

Clark did have some cousins, nephews, and nieces, but she refused to see them. Her closest friends, an acquaintance once told MSNBC, "have always been her dolls." She used to pay servants to iron their clothes.

Clark's father died before the stiff federal estate tax rates of the 1940s and 1950s — as high as 77 percent on estate value over $10 million — kicked in. Now estate tax rates are running back close to their 1920s-era levels, and Clark's cousins, nieces, and nephews may eventually inherit most of the $500 million fortune Clark has apparently left behind.

Will congratulations be in order?

Sam Pizzigati, the co-editor of Inequality.Org, also edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality published by the Washington, DC-based Institute for Policy Studies. Read the current issue or sign up to receive Too Much in your email inbox.

Remarks at the Len Weinglass Memorial

May 16, 2011 ·

Below are Phyllis Bennis' remarks at the Len Weinglass Memorial. Weinglass, one othe U.S. leading political defense lawyers and civil rights activists, passed away on March 23rd, at the age of 77.

What an amazing celebration of such an amazing life.  Lenny was a gift to all of us.

I’m not sure how many of you heard the news, but yesterday the U.S. government announced they are declassifying the Pentagon Papers.  It’s been 40 years – how many hundreds of thousands of copies have been published, read, translated into other languages, studied, used to build opposition to new wars.  And still parts of it remain classified, remain redacted. Forty years.

I first met Len Weinglass during the Pentagon Papers trial. I was very young – one of the scores of students and sort-of students and not-quite students working as organizers on the Indochina Peace Campaign and its parallel organization the Pentagon Papers Peace Project. From the beginning, Len was like the WAY older brother I never had. He was ‘Lenny” from the start; for reasons I never quite understood he always called me a childhood nickname no one else but my family ever used.

Leonard Weinglass

We ran into each other pretty often, although we didn’t really work directly together. Until we did, starting in the mid-1970s. Lenny was in LA, I was in South Dakota learning how to investigate jurors while working on one of the Wounded Knee trials.  I came back to LA and started doing jury selection work with Len – the Skyhorse-Mohawk case, Bill & Emily Harris’ SLA trial, a bunch of trials of Vietnamese, Iranian and Palestinian protesters. Lenny's ability in a courtroom was legendary for good reason. After one trial of Iranian students protesting at the Beverly Hills home of the Shah's sister, Lenny not only won the acquittal, but had the jurors so won over to our side that one of them, an older white Jewish wealthy Beverly Hills resident, came over to me and one of the defendants after the verdict, put her arms around both of us, and said "good luck, girls, in the struggle in your country!"

(It was after one of those trials that Len urged me to “get a license, so we can get you appointed by the court and get you some money!”  “A license as what?" I wanted to know.  A licensed investigator, of course. So I did. And he did. And I kept my private eye license for 30 years.)

Lenny was a wonderful friend. I was house-sitting for him one summer, taking care of his great dog Kefir, the sort-of great-grandfather of his beloved Lucca. I remember, because it took me most of that summer to read Edward Said’s magisterial Orientalism – the book that transformed so profoundly how academics and eventually the rest of us understood the role of the U.S. in the Middle East. Lenny and I talked about it years later.

I worked with Lenny and an extraordinary team of lawyers for 21 years defending the LA 8 – the seven Palestinians and one Kenyan facing deportation for McCarthy-worthy guilt-by-association charges. My friend and trial colleague David Cole reminded me that Lenny invented the term “terrorologist” during the cross-examination of one of the government witnesses in that case.  And when every hearing began, if the whole legal team wasn’t in town yet, in this seemingly-endless trial that involved complicated constitutional issues of freedom of speech, freedom of association, the rights of non-citizens in the U.S., the one question from the judge was always “will Mr. Weinglass be participating?”

Lenny was the most luminous star of our movement – for many of us, as long as we can remember being political beings. He wasn’t always the brightest star on the biggest stage, or in front of the most intense spotlight, because he stood back, always urging others forward. But in the smaller rooms, where he would laugh and keep all of us laughing, where he would tell us stories that brought other countries other struggles other peoples to vivid life – that’s where he was the brightest star. And in the courtroom. That’s where he shone in a whole different way than everybody else.

At an early moment in the LA 8 case, a government attorney frustrated by the obligation to protect any rights for these ostensible terrorists, whined to journalists, “we didn’t expect the Weinglasses of the world” to show up in this case.

But Lenny did show up. He always showed up, to fight for people’s rights, to fight for justice. They say that history is made by those who show up. Lenny knew that movements are also built by those who show up. So he did, for all of us, over and over again, as we worked to build movements against wars, against occupation, for justice.

Lenny taught us all. Without even trying he led teams of wanna-be Weinglasses, Weinglasses-in-training, junior Weinglasses and every one of us became better lawyers, better investigators, better organizers, better activists, better people – for being on Lenny’s team.  It was a better team than the Giants any day.

Thanks, Lenny.  For showing up.

Tribute to Letelier Case Prosecutor

December 3, 2010 ·

On September 21, 1976, my IPS colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt were killed by a car bomb in Washington, DC. The FBI later determined that Chilean secret police agents working with far right wing Cuban exiles had carried out this heinous act of terrorism.

After the Justice Department indicted five Cubans, plus four Chilean top intelligence agents, a trial took place in Washington. Lawrence Barcella, who died recently of cancer, was one of two U.S. prosecutors who won the first case. Three Cubans got convicted, two of conspiracy to assassinate a foreign dignitary; the other for aiding and abetting and perjury before a Grand Jury.

Barcella, Landau and othersAn appeal overturned the verdict and Barcella lost the second case. He was deeply upset. I recall the scene in the courthouse corridor when he shook his head in disbelief that a jury could have acquitted the three Cubans. The scene became especially dramatic for me when one of the Cubans, Guillermo Novo, threatened to get me and I maturely responded by extending a finger upwards at him.

Barcella remained emotionally attached to the case for decades. In the mid and late 1990s he worked with Spanish attorney Juan Garces (a former IPS associate fellow) and me, along with former FBI Special Agent Carter Cornick and John Dinges (who co-authored the book Assassination on Embassy Row with me) and others to get the U.S. government to release massive files on Pinochet and the Chilean government’s involvement in the Letelier-Moffitt assassination and other crimes.

He also wrote op eds and letters to keep the case alive — to get Pinochet indicted and the information about his involvement made public.

Larry Barcella was a good and courageous man. Those of us who knew him will miss him.