December 22, 2009
Posted: 01:23 PM ET
The year seems to have been filled with an inordinate amount of high-profile deaths - some even on the same day.
Among those who passed: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Natasha Richardson, Bea Arthur, Dom DeLuise, Karl Malden, David Carradine, Patrick Swayze, John Hughes, Ed McMahon, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt.
Authors John Updike, Frank McCourt and Dominick Dunne died, as did blues legend Koko Taylor, Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle, Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary, guitar innovator Les Paul and Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein.
In sports, NFL players Steve McNair and Chris Henry died as did veteran basketball coach Chuck Daly.The politcal world mourned the loss of Sen. Edward Kennedy, and former U.S. Housing Secretary Jack Kemp.
Even celebrity pitch personalities weren't immune as 2009 also saw the passing of Oxiclean pitchman Billy Mays and Gidget, the chihuahua best known for hawking Taco Bell.
But was 2009 any more notable for celebrity deaths than other years? Or, in our hyper-caffeinated, overly Twittered culture, is there simply more awareness?
November 23, 2009
Posted: 08:27 AM ET
Rhode Island's top Roman Catholic leader has asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to stop taking Communion over his support for abortion rights, the diocese said Sunday.
In a statement issued Sunday, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" for him to continue receiving the fundamental Catholic sacrament, "and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."
Kennedy, a Democrat, is the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and a scion of the most prominent Catholic family in modern U.S. politics.
In an interview published Sunday, Patrick Kennedy told the Providence Journal that Tobin had barred him from receiving communion and instructed priests in the diocese not to administer the sacrament "because of the positions that I've taken as a public official."
Tobin, in a statement issued in response to the Kennedy interview, said his advice to the congressman was "pastoral and confidential," and he was surprised that Kennedy chose to discuss it publicly. "I am disappointed that the congressman would make public my request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being," he said.
September 14, 2009
Posted: 05:40 PM ET
TONIGHT! A special hour to honor the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. His two sons - Ted Jr. and Patrick - talk to Larry about how their father dealt with the deaths of his famous older brothers, what inspired him to get into politics, and how he overcame some of the darker episodes in his life.
The Kennedy brothers also talked about the so-called "curse" on their family. Check it out:
And we want to hear from you:
Will there be another Kennedy in the Senate?
September 7, 2009
Posted: 03:30 PM ET
In a statement just posted to his company's website (www.citizensenergy.com), Former U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy II says he will not be seeking the Senate seat vacated by the death of his uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy.
Here's the statement from Joe Kennedy:
"I want to thank the millions of Americans who have expressed their love and admiration for Senator Kennedy over the last few weeks. It was very moving to see so many people come out to pay their respects to a man who fought so hard to make this world a better place, especially for those struggling for life's basic needs – a decent home, a living wage, a safe neighborhood, their daily bread, a good education, and access to health care.
Given all that my uncle accomplished, it was only natural to consider getting back involved in public office, and I appreciate all the calls of support and friendship that have poured in.
My father called politics an honorable profession, and I have profound respect for those who choose to advance the causes of social and economic justice in elective office. After much consideration, I have decided that the best way for me to contribute to those causes is by continuing my work at Citizens Energy Corporation.
Our efforts cover a broad array of the challenges facing this country – to heat the homes of the poor, install energy-savings technologies to cut costs for homeowners and businesses, build wind farms throughout the United States and Canada to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and construct transmission lines to carry new sources of renewable energy.
Over 30 years after starting the company, there is much yet to be accomplished at Citizens Energy, and I continue to be committed to our mission of making life's basic needs more affordable."
Posted: 12:18 PM ET
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy was a frequent guest on Larry King Live. Tune in tonight for the best of his interviews spanning three decades and covering a range of topics, including: health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Kennedy family legacy. It's an hour you'll only see on Larry King Live.
August 26, 2009
Posted: 12:31 PM ET
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy urged Massachusetts lawmakers last week to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name his successor. But with reactions to Kennedy’s proposal mixed – and with the legislature not due back until after Labor Day – it appears for now that Massachusetts will be without a second senator until a special election can be held early next year.
While many states allow a governor to fill a vacant Senate state, Massachusetts Democrats changed their state’s law in 2004 to prevent then Gov. Mitt Romney – a Republican – from naming a replacement for Sen. John Kerry if he had defeated George W. Bush in the presidential race.
Under the 2004 law, the governor must set a special election to fill a vacant Senate seat between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy occurs – meaning, in this case, that a special election would be held in the second half of January 2010.
Filed under: Kennedy
Posted: 12:18 PM ET
During two key elections in his political career, Sen. Edward Kennedy turned to his wife for help. In two cases 30 years apart, his first wife and then his second wife — opposites in personality and strengths — both rallied to his cause.In 1964, when Kennedy spent months in the hospital recovering from a broken back, it was his first wife, Joan, then 28, who hit the campaign trail to push his re-election to the Senate. Kennedy had won the Massachusetts seat, once held by his older brother John, two years before in a special election.
In 1994, when Ted Kennedy's political career had crested short of the White House and his reputation was tarnished by years of hard living, another woman stood by him. Vicki Kennedy campaigned for the senator in a tough re-election fight against businessman Mitt Romney, in a strong anti-incumbent year.
To Vicki, politics has come so naturally that she has been spoken of as a possible successor to her husband. To Joan, political life came less easily — and at great personal cost.
Filed under: Kennedy
Posted: 12:15 PM ET
Sooner or later, every political dynasty faces this question: Who are we now?
With the death of its patriarch, that moment has arrived for the Kennedy family. And so a clan that, no less than the Adamses, the Roosevelts, and the Bushes, has been defined by the public offices it held must set a future course without the compass and standard-bearer for its political tradition, Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
It would be premature to declare an end to that tradition – speculation is rampant that the senator’s nephew, former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy 2d, or widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, would run for his seat – but some observers predict a quiet transformation in the family’s identity now that its charismatic leader is gone.
“I have a feeling that many of them are going to opt for making contributions in fields other than politics,’’ said Philip W. Johnston, chairman of the board of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and former head of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. “They believe that there are many ways to make a contribution, and one doesn’t need to be in elective office to make a difference in the world.’’
To a large extent, that path is already being trodden by many of Kennedy’s two-dozen-plus nieces and nephews, who – with their uncle’s encouragement – have fanned out across the nonprofit, charitable, or private sectors.
Filed under: Kennedy
Posted: 12:04 PM ET
WASHINGTON – Senator Edward M. Kennedy – ailing from cancer but beaming at his success in passing a national service law – stood behind the curtain at a Washington, D.C., elementary school in March, an aide ready to help him on stage for a ceremony heralding the new law.
President Obama, a backstage observer recalled, practically pushed a Kennedy staffer aside, grasping the senator’s briefing book and gently guiding the 77-year-old senator up the small set of stairs to the stage. And as former President Clinton stood to the side, Obama lauded Kennedy for his work on the national service bill that carried Kennedy’s name.
“It is fitting that this legislation is named after Ted Kennedy, a person who has never stopped asking what he could do for his country,’’ Obama said.
The clear deference shown by Obama reflected the Massachusetts senator’s unusual importance in the presidencies that have spanned his 47-year tenure in the Senate. Whether as a crucial ally or formidable opponent, Kennedy – who tried and failed to win the presidency himself – helped shape the histories of all who served in the White House during his Senate years.
He was the younger brother to the first president of his Senate career, and even long after John F. Kennedy’s death in 1963, Ted Kennedy referred to him in interviews as “President Kennedy,’’ and not “Jack’’ or “my brother.’’ The hand-written note John F. Kennedy wrote to his mother in 1932, asking whether he could be Ted’s godfather, hung in Kennedy’s inner office for many years.
As a young lawmaker and determined liberal, Kennedy was a frequent irritant to President Nixon, who was so suspicious of the senator that he contemplated a scheme to plant Secret Service agents to collect information about Kennedy as they protected him.
Filed under: Kennedy
August 20, 2009
Posted: 12:16 PM ET
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.
In a personal, sometimes wistful letter sent Tuesday to Governor Deval L. Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Kennedy asks that Patrick be given authority to appoint someone to the seat temporarily before voters choose a new senator in a special election.
Although Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, does not specifically mention his illness or the health care debate raging in Washington, the implication of his letter is clear: He is trying to make sure that the leading cause in his life, better health coverage for all, advances in the event of his death.
In his letter, which was obtained by the Globe, Kennedy said that he backs the current succession law, enacted in 2004, which gives voters the power to fill a US Senate vacancy. But he said the state and country need two Massachusetts senators.
“I strongly support that law and the principle that the people should elect their senator,’’ Kennedy wrote. “I also believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election.’’
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