Passages of this week | Seattle weather
Shinzo Abe, On Jan. 67, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, who sought to revive the country as an economic and military powerhouse to confront China’s growing influence, died on Friday after being shot dead by a gunman.
The assassination, at a campaign event for party allies in Nara, near Osaka, left Japan stunned. The killing sparked an outpouring of tributes around the world for Abe, the scion of a prominent political family whose imprint on Japan’s politics and international affairs spanned nearly a generation. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has ruled Japan for almost four years since the mid-1950s.
Abe brought some stability as prime minister from 2012 to 2020 after years of revolving door leadership that complicated Japan’s critical alliances, including its trade and defense ties with Washington. However, his long tenure yielded only partial victories on his two main ambitions: to liberate the Japanese military from decades of post-war pacifism, and to revive and reshape its economy through a program known as Abenomics.
Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 79, who presided over Angola during a brutal civil war and navigated the riptides of the Cold War to last 38 years as president, becoming one of the oldest and most rapacious tyrants in Africa, died Friday in a clinic in Barcelona. News reports said he had been traveling to Spain for several years for cancer treatment.
During his nearly four decades in power, from 1979 to 2017, dos Santos led his resource-rich nation through seemingly endless conflict and an uneasy peace marred by corruption that channeled vast wealth to his family and a privileged few while leaving most Angolans in dire poverty. Dos Santos was eventually forced into exile – to a $7.2million mansion in Barcelona – after his successor, President João Lourenço, unexpectedly launched an anti-corruption crackdown that closed in on the dos Santos family and their long-untouchable associates.
James Can, 82, a 1970s Hollywood leading man who memorably displayed his tough-guy screen presence as mafioso Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather,” but also proved, beyond of his macho exterior, a versatile performer of ironic expressiveness and unexpected vulnerability, died Wednesday. His death was announced in a message by his official Twitter account. Additional details were not immediately available.
Film critic Roger Ebert admiringly called him “the most nervous guy in cinema”, a description Caan did not dispute. He maintained his power leg and bravado off-screen, earning a black belt in karate and pursuing hobbies such as powerboat racing and steer-roping. Shortly after the box office success of “Misery” (1990), in which Caan played a novelist held captive by a deranged fan wielding a hammer, Caan joked that director Rob Reiner had indulged in a sadistic game by forcing him – “the most hyper guy in Hollywood” – to play the bed-bound role for 15 weeks of filming. His starring role was terminally ill Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo in the TV movie “Brian’s Song” (1971).
Kazuki Takahashi, 60, the creator of the manga, anime and trading card phenomenon “Yu-Gi-Oh”, was found dead on Wednesday, floating off Japan’s southern coast of Nago in snorkeling gear , according to the National Coast Guard and reported by local broadcaster NHK. In 2011, Guinness World Records recognized “Yu-Gi-Oh!” as the biggest collectible card game of all time, with more than 25 billion cards sold, according to game maker Konami. Takahashi received the Inkpot Award from San Diego Comic-Con International in 2015.
Chris Thompson, 62, who was paralyzed while playing football for West Seattle High School in 1975 and awarded $6.3 million in 1981 after filing a lawsuit against Seattle Public Schools, died of natural causes Monday in Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington and owned horses that raced locally at Longacres in Renton and Emerald Downs in Auburn.
Thompson was named Athlete of the Year at Madison as a ninth grader and was the starting halfback for West Seattle High’s football team as a sophomore. He was running towards the end zone when he collided with a pair of tackles. Thompson was unable to get up after suffering a spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic. He was hospitalized for six months and eventually regained the use of his arms.
Thompson sued the school district, saying coaches didn’t instruct him to avoid running with his head down. John Good, a friend of Thompson’s since college, said Thompson negotiated a lower settlement after the district’s insurance company threatened to appeal the $6.3 million judgment. But the decision in favor of Thompson helped pave the way for safety changes in the game.
Joe Turkel, 94, an actor best known for playing creepy bartender Lloyd on ‘The Shining’ and an android maker on ‘Blade Runner’, died Monday in Santa Monica, Calif., ending a prolific career that included more than 100 film and television roles.
On the small screen, Turkel has often been cast alongside tough guys in crime shows such as “SWAT,” “Adam-12” and “Dragnet” as well as westerns like “The Lone Ranger,” “Bonanza” and “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. IMDB says his last screen appearance was in the 1990 futuristic sci-fi film “The Dark Side of the Moon,” set in 2022.
Clifford L. Alexander Jr., 88, whose long career as a top adviser to Democratic presidents ranged from behind-the-scenes work on landmark legislation like the Voting Rights Act to high-profile roles like serving as the Army’s first black secretary, is died July 3 at his home in the New York borough of Manhattan. His daughter, poet Elizabeth Alexander, said the cause was heart failure.
“Cliff was an American original – a civil rights pioneer whose eyes were never closed to injustice but whose heart was always open,” Michelle Obama said in a statement. “He was like a father to me and an inspiration to Barack. We admired the way he fought and learned from the way he led.
Bradford Freeman, 97, the last survivor of the famed Army unit featured in the World War II oral history book and “Band of Brothers” miniseries, died July 3 in Mississippi. Freeman was an 18-year-old college student in Mississippi State when he enlisted to fight in World War II. He volunteered to become a paratrooper and became a mortar man in Company E, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, fought in Operation Market-Garden and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, later taking part in the occupations of Berchtesgaden, Germany and Austria.
Peter Brook, 97, a visionary English theater director who staged groundbreaking productions on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to demonstrate his belief that the trappings of conventional theater – the red curtain, the music, the costumes, the spotlights – were inessential to the art form, died July 2 in Paris. He was a towering figure in international theatre, widely described as the most influential director of his generation. His work ranged from the minimalist to the grandiose, from a stripped-down staging of Bizet’s opera “Carmen” to a nine-hour adaptation of the Sanskrit epic “Mahabharata,” which he originally staged in a career of limestone with an artificial lake. .
Miguel Etchecolatz, 93, a notorious police henchman under Argentina’s military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, convicted of playing a leading role in the abduction of babies as well as the kidnapping of 10 high school students – a known crime under the name “Night of pencils” – died on July 2 in a clinic in Buenos Aires.
Etchecolatz’s arc of infamy, as an enforcer of the junta and later for his unrepentant defiance after Argentina’s return to democracy, was a study in the country’s struggle for full judgment on the atrocities committed during the dictatorship. Human rights groups estimate that up to 30,000 people were killed or “disappeared” and many more were tortured at the direction of Etchecolatz.
Vladimir Zelenko, 48, a self-described “simple country doctor” from upstate New York who rose to prominence early in the COVID-19 pandemic when his controversial coronavirus treatment won House support Blanche, died June 30 in Dallas. His wife, Rinat, said he died of lung cancer in a hospital where he was receiving treatment.
He was not the first doctor to promote hydroxychloroquine. But it began to gain national attention on March 21, 2020 – two days after President Donald Trump first mentioned the drug during a press briefing – when Zelenko posted a video on YouTube and Facebook in which he claimed a 100% success rate with the treatment. He implored Trump to adopt it.
Willie Lee Morrow, 82, a son of Alabama sharecroppers who built a business empire around hair care products aimed at African-American consumers, including a comb designed to work with the natural styles that exploded in popularity in the 1960s – a tool he called the Afro Tease, but which became known as the Afro pick — died of pneumonia on June 22 in San Diego.