September 10, 2010

Actress Mariette Hartley: “There must be no shame” for suicide survivors

Posted: 12:54 PM ET

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Each day, approximately 3,000 people end their own lives and leave countless others struggling with the consequences of those actions, wondering what they could have done to help – and often dealing silently with shame, confusion or anger.

Emmy award-winning actress Mariette Hartley formed The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention after her own family’s tragedy.  Her bestselling autobiography, “Breaking the Silence,” was recently reissued in paperback.  Below, she shares her experience with Larry King Live blog so that others know they are not alone.

By Mariette Hartley

My family was charismatic, talented and beautiful.  My father looked like Clark Gable and my mother like Myrna Loy.  Our home felt like the hub of Westin Connecticut – a community frighteningly like the series, “Mad Men."  Dad was a fine artist but was “forced” into advertising to support his family.  There was a great deal of alcohol abuse at home.  What I didn’t know was that the alcohol was used to help deal with devastating mood swings, created by manic depression or what we now call bi polar disorder.  He eventually went out of control. 

In 1963 (I had just finished my first movie, Peckinpah’s “Ride the High Country”), my father had swung into a deep, deep depression.  My mother and I begged him to get help but it was too late.  On July 2, he shot himself in the bedroom of the apartment we all shared.  It happened to be on the corner of Barrington and Sunset – even then I couldn’t help think of the irony: Sunset Blvd… ‘the boulevard of broken dreams.'

My mother felt an enormous amount of shame.  I had mentioned the suicide in a TV Guide article and she pleaded with me not to talk about it.  In those days we didn’t reveal family secrets and I was a good daughter.  So, I didn’t talk about it… for 35 years.  I began having terrible nightmares.  I heard gunshots whenever I turned my head to the right.  I was doing a lot of westerns in those days and I found myself in a fetal position on a sound stage, more than once.  I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I had completely lost control and no one knew about post traumatic stress syndrome.  I struggled in isolation for many years.

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September 9, 2010

EXCLUSIVE – Taking a Stand: Muhammad in the Age of Jihad

Posted: 01:27 PM ET


by Deepak Chopra

When I set out to write a fictional biography of Muhammad, I knew I wasn't covering an ordinary life, even by the standards of great prophets and founders of world religions.  In the age of jihad, Muslim extremists have surrounded the Prophet with toxicity. Yet in the midst of our anxiety and anger - leading up to the outrageous extremist act, this time from a Christian, of Bur-a-Quran Day - someone must take a stand. On all sides we hear that moderate Muslims should stand up for their faith's values of peace and toleration. From the liberal wing of American politics we hear the same call to Americans, with reminders to our conscience that we are a nation founded on religious freedom.

Yet the real stand, as far as writing this book was concerned, is different. I wanted to take a stand against pure ignorance. Who really knows Muhammad? Muslims do, but the latest poll shows that over 60% of Americans know little or nothing. So I set out to give everyone a page turner about Muhammad that captures every facet of a life that has endless facets.  In the book there are over twenty narrators, both men and women, old and young, devout and secular, devotees and enemies. I didn't want to smooth over any of the parts that bother modern Westerners, such as polygamy and the fact that one of the Prophet's wives was a child of six. Nor did I want to satisfy religious Muslims that only their most cherished portrait of Muhammad would be presented.

The gulf between religions will always be there. But with Islam simmering suspicion or a feeling of superiority - the perennial attitudes that the West has taken to the Arab world - has boiled over into violence. Before you can speak well or ill of anyone, you need to know something about them. Hopefully, you will be willing to see life from their viewpoint.

Yes, I gulped a few times, and still do, when I hear the word fatwa.  But I wrote out of respect and an open mind. I think denial and a closed mind are worse than any imagined threat. I hope every reader of Muhammad will agree. We can all take a stand simply by learning the truth.

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What’s at stake near Ground Zero?

Posted: 12:06 PM ET

By Father Edward Beck

Last night I was sitting in the green room at CNN headquarters in New York waiting to go on Larry King Live to join the discussion with Imam Rauf about the proposed Islamic Cultural Center to be built two blocks from Ground Zero.  The more the man spoke, the more apparent it became that I and the other guests would not be needed after all.  The Imam had a lot to say.  And I was content to sit and listen.  

His frustration about the controversy surrounding the Cordoba House (Park 51) project is understandable.  As he noted, when he first announced the project in December there was no outcry, not a blip on anyone's radar.  Then, when some politicians decided to use the issue for their own selfish ends, all hell broke loose. 

Let's be clear: The controversy surrounding Cordoba House is laden with discrimination, xenophobia and irrationalism.  To say that the fundamentalist murderers who flew planes into the Word Trade Center represent Muslims is like saying Hitler's Christianity is representative of all Christianity.  Or it's like saying when a radical fundamentalist Christian kills an abortion doctor out of misguided religious fervor, that he or she represents all Christians.  Should Christians be denied the opportunity to build a church two blocks from an abortion clinic because of the actions of one of its errant followers?  

What's at stake here is religious freedom and tolerance, a bedrock of our United States democracy.   The motto on our national seal says: "E Pluribus Unum"- Out of Many, One.  We need to uphold and live by that motto.  We are a culturally and religiously diverse society that claims the rights of our citizens are protected.  We cannot waver in that protection because radicals on both sides are intent on having a shouting match based more in emotion than facts.

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August 27, 2010

Exclusive – Branford Marsalis: New Orleans remains in crisis

Posted: 03:37 PM ET

Editor's Note: Be sure to watch Harry Connick Jr. on LKL tonight from Musicians Village in New Orleans.  Also, check out the Marsallis Family's new album, "Music Redeems."  It benefits the Ellis Marsallis Center for Music.

By Branford Marsalis

Five years after Hurricane Katrina struck and decimated my hometown, I am certainly buoyed by the rebuilding successes of a city reinforced with an invincible spirit, and proud of the strides we have made through our partnership with New Orleans Habitat and through the contributions of individuals from around the world. I am fiercely disappointed, though, by the inconsistency of the attention paid to this disaster between these anniversaries and the lack of a sustained, long-term approach to the rebuilding our city.

New Orleans remains in crisis.

Even as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival continues to present that unique musical experience that is so quintessential; even as scientists and engineers have stopped the spillage and contained further devastation of the oil; even as citizens, friends and neighbors have rallied together to build and rebuild, we still suffer and there is still much to be done. Ours is not the world of merely a year or two, but that of decades if we are to restore her to her former glory, we must embrace a long-term commitment.

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August 23, 2010

Exclusive: Dolphins Don’t Just Die in “The Cove”

Posted: 03:39 PM ET

Editor's note: Ric O'Barry will be a
guest on Larry King Live tonight!

by Richard O’Barry
Marine Mammal Specialist
Earth Island Institute

I am in my 50th year of learning about and working with dolphins around the world.  There is no other animal, on sea or land, like the dolphin.  We have spent decades and millions of dollars trying to communicate with them, but they are always trying to communicate directly with us.  They are the only wild animal I know who have saved human lives — not a few times, but repeatedly through history.  They are superbly adapted to the ocean, and make even the best human swimmer look clumsy.

But we have repaid them by killing them, again and again.  Or by keeping them confined in small inadequate cages to do dumb tricks for us.  Isn’t it time we stopped and just let them alone in their ocean world?  Is that really too much to ask in this day and age?  When Kathy, the dolphin that played Flipper in the TV series, died in my arms, I vowed to free every dolphin I could.  I hope the public will join me in this monumental effort for the dolphins.

I’m pleased to announce that a new mini-series, “Blood Dolphins”, will start on August 27th on Animal Planet. My son Lincoln is the director of this compelling show documenting our efforts to protect dolphins around the world.

The first show airs on Animal Planet on Friday, August 27th at 11 PM ET/PT, following the season finale of Paul Watson’s “Whale Wars.”
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August 16, 2010

Katrina's Forgotten Victims Rising From The Rubble

Posted: 03:37 PM ET

Kathleen Koch is a former CNN correspondent and author of this week's pick, "Rising From Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All And Found What Mattered," published by Blair.  Part of the proceeds will go to charities still helping Katrina victims on the Gulf Coast.  Many of you may recall Kathleen's excellent reporting from the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.  Those of us who had the pleasure of working with her at CNN are thrilled to be able to share this LKL Web Exclusive from Kathleen.

Anniversaries are a time for remembering, taking account. But that doesn’t apply to the Mississippi Gulf Coast on the fifth anniversary of Katrina. Because there’s no remembering something most Americans never knew – that the brunt of the monster hurricane decimated the entire length of the eighty-mile-long Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The collapse of the levees to the west in New Orleans was a compelling, ongoing drama. It impacted more people since some 1.3 million lived in the Crescent City and the surrounding eight parishes compared to the 366,472 residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And then Hurricane Rita blew in, inundating New Orleans again.

In Mississippi, the roaring 125-mph winds and crushing thirty-plus-foot storm surge shredded the beachfront home where I’d grown up, most of my hometown of Bay St. Louis, and reduced nearly every structure in the first half mile along the water to a slab. There are no levees on our Gulf Coast. In fact, at thirty feet in elevation downtown Bay St. Louis is the highest point in the United States on the Gulf of Mexico. But it offered no protection from Katrina. The winds and storm surge swept in and out in a day, leaving little behind untouched.

From day one when the nation’s attention focused on New Orleans, people climbing out of the rubble of the Mississippi Gulf Coast wondered why no one was paying attention, why no one seemed to care. To its credit, CNN had several reporters including me there, and Anderson Cooper anchored many of his shows that first week from Mississippi. In the year following the hurricane, I did two documentaries tracking my hometown’s recovery. I was back reporting on the second and third anniversaries.

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August 11, 2010

Ride through Haiti with Wyclef Jean

Posted: 11:54 AM ET
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August 10, 2010

Roseanne Cash: Songs have always been a compass for me

Posted: 02:36 PM ET

I didn't intend to write a memoir. I started writing essays for various publications - the New York Times, the Oxford-American, Rolling Stone, even Martha Stewart Living magazine.  At one point my friend and former editor of my book of short stories, 'Bodies of Water', said 'I think you have a memoir in you'.  I said, 'I'm not old enough!'  He laughed and told me to think about writing more than one volume.

That was more than a decade ago. Perhaps I AM old enough now.  My memoir, 'Composed' is finished and on bookshelves.  I was never interested in 'settling scores' or dishing dirt, or airing private grievances.  There is something undignified and truly appalling about that kind of memoir, at least in my mind. My book is about my upbringing, my coming of age, and my life as a songwriter. I wrote about my life by writing about songs, and the journeys I took to find those songs, write them, sing them, and perform them.  The songs have always been a compass for me. And more is to come. More is always to come.

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August 6, 2010

Prison dogs on the hunt for drugs and cell phones

Posted: 04:58 PM ET

This is a LKL Web Exclusive  by Richard Subia, Deputy Director, Division of Adult Institutions at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Richard is a guest TONIGHT on Larry King Live.

The opinions expressed below are his own and we welcome your comments.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has been using dogs to find narcotics for several years.
But  with the ban on tobacco products and the growing problem of contraband cell phones, I wanted to see if dogs could be used to find tobacco and cell phones. I contacted Sgt. Wayne Conrad and asked for his help. Sgt. Conrad handles CDCR's dog training program.  Once he was able to determine that cell phones did indeed have a unique odor, he developed a training plan.

The biggest obstacle to starting the K-9 p program was money. With California's budget problems, there was none.  Sgt. Conrad knew he wanted to use the  Belgian Malinois breed because of their excellent focus and personalities, so he contacted the Belgian Malinois Rescue group. They put him in touch with Debbie Skinner, a nationally known breeder and part of the rescue group.  In February 2009, she suggested 5-year-old Caesar to Wayne.  For just a small pet adoption fee of $300, Caesar became the first dog in the contraband detection program.

In August 2009, Drako was added to the program based on Caesar's success.  Drako was donated to the program by Debbie at no cost.  His training began in September 2009. He has been in service for nearly a year.

Training for these dogs is managed by Sgt. Conrad at the Richard A. McGee Training Center in Galt, California. The center conducts the basic correctional officer and parole agent training academies.  Each dog much successfully pass the department's 160-hour detection training. The dogs are trained to detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, tobacco and cell phones.

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July 22, 2010

'Families United' hosting second annual Weekend of Remembrance

Posted: 09:22 AM ET

This is a LKL Web Exclusive by Brian Wise, Executive Director of Families United. The opinions expressed below are his own, and we welcome your comments.

As the Executive Director of Families United, I have seen first-hand the impact Gold Star programs have on America’s military families.  Having experienced the loss of close friends myself, I know there is nothing more vital than a supportive and understanding network of individuals to stand by your side as you honor your Hero. The Weekend of Remembrance is a time for Gold Star Families to come together and share their stories. It’s a time to meet other families who understand the heroic loss of a loved one, it’s a time for reflection as well as celebration – for the lives they lived and the story of their dedicated service to our country.

The 2010 Weekend of Remembrance will be the nation’s largest gathering of Gold Star families, with 1,300 expected to attend from across the country. One of the most common things I hear from families is their need to find a network of others who understand their loss. Our goal at Families United is to create just that – a system of support for the families that have made the ultimate sacrifice.

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