Wednesday, January 14, 2015

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls: Strong Denunciation of Anti-Semitism

Following is a translation of the remarks on antisemitism delivered by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to the National Assembly on January 13, 2015:
…The first question that has to be clearly dealt with is the struggle against antisemitism. History has taught us that the awakening of antisemitism is the symptom of a crisis for democracy and of a crisis for the Republic. That is why we must respond with force. Since Ilan Halimi in 2006, after the crimes of Toulouse, antisemitic acts in France have grown to an intolerable degree. The words, the insults, the gestures, the shameful attacks, as we saw in Creteil a few weeks ago, which I mentioned here in the Chamber, and which did not not produce the national outrage that our Jewish compatriots expected. 

There is a huge level of concern, that fear which we felt at the HyperCacher at Porte de Vincennes and in the synagogue de la Victoire on Sunday night. How can we accept that in France, where the Jews were emancipated two centuries ago, but which was also where they were martyred 70 years ago, how can we accept that cries of  “death to the Jews” can be heard on the streets?  How can we accept these acts that I have just mentioned? How can we accept that French people can be murdered for being Jews? How can we accept that compatriots, or a Tunisian citizen whose father sent him to France so that he would be safe, is killed when he goes out to buy his bread for Shabbat  because he is Jewish? This is not acceptable and I say to the people in general who perhaps have not reacted sufficiently up to now, and to our Jewish compatriots, that this time it cannot be accepted, that we must stand up and say what’s really going on.

There is a historical antisemitism that goes back centuries, but there is also a new antsemitism that is born in our neighborhoods, coming through the internet, satellite dishes, against the backdrop of the loathing of the State of Israel, and which advocates hatred of the Jews and all the Jews. It has to be spelled out, the right words must be used to fight this unacceptable antisemitism.( …)

Without its Jews France would not be France, this is the message we have to communicate loud and clear. We haven’t done so. We haven’t shown enough outrage. How can we accept that in certain schools and colleges the Holocaust can’t be taught? How can we accept that when a child is asked  “Who is your enemy” the response is “the Jew?” When the Jews of France are attacked France is attacked, the conscience of humanity is attacked. Let us never forget it.

And to how to accept the indignity of a serial hater having a full house on Saturday night, when the country was mourning for what happened in Porte de Vincennes? Let us never pass over these matters in silence, and let justice be implacable with those who preach hate. And I say that emphatically here at the National Assembly.

And to finish my remarks, Ladies and Gentleman, when someone, a young man or woman, a citizen, has doubts and approaches me or the Minister of Education with the question: “But I don’t understand, how come you want to silence this comedian, and you put the Charlie Hebdo journalists up on a pedestal?” There is a fundamental difference – and this is the battle that we have to win, educating our young people – there is a fundamental difference between the freedom to be insolent – blasphemy is not a crime and never will be – there is a fundamental difference between that liberty and anti-Semitism, racism, excusing terrorism and Holocaust denial, which are crimes that the courts must punish with ever greater severity.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Book Review - Called Out but Safe: A Baseball Umpire's Journey

Called Out but Safe: A Baseball Umpire's Journey by Al Clark with Dan Schlossberg
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (May 1, 2014)

Al Clark worked as an umpire in more than 3,000 games for thirty years.  He was lucky enough to work two All-Star Games, seven playoff series, and two World Series.

Clark was the umpire behind the plate during a game in 1991 when there were three Jews all wishing each other a happy new year when Shawn Green stepped up to the plate and Jesse Levis was the catcher.  How many times has that happened in baseball history?

Al Clark provides an entertaining memoir.  He shares his stories of managers Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, and Dick Williams.  Some of these folks were not friendly to the umpires.  Clark tells of how he tore his hamstring while ejecting a player or manager (I meant to put this review up a while ago after I read the book).  Heck, he even ejected his own father, a sportswriter who made his way into the dressing room.

It was Clark who was there for Nolan Ryan's 300th win, Cal Ripken's 2131st game, and the "earthquake" World Series of 1989.  He shares stories from all these games and many more.

Clark opens up about the scandal he was embroiled in.  This is what led to his retirement from baseball.  Had he realized what he was doing was wrong, he would have never done it.

Outspoken and hilarious, Clark's book provides the rare opportunity at what life is like for an umpire.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Book Review - The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter

The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O'Connor
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 3, 2012)

The Captain is the definitive biography of future Hall of Fame member Derek Jeter.

This book is not an authorized biography in the sense that O'Connor sat down for hours at a time with the shortstop.  Instead, as one who covered the Yankees, O'Connor drew upon his prior interviews with Derek.  It's because of O'Connor's covering of the Yankees that he was able to draw on that unique access to The Captain.

With over 200 interviews, O'Connor is able to tell us how the biracial baseball player from Michigan started on his journey to become the shortstop of the New York Yankees.  The interesting thing?  Jeter was always telling people how he would be the future Yankees shortstop.  A funny thing happened on the way to the Bronx...

We go behind the scenes to when Jeter was struggling in the minors.  Despite being homesick and making an abundance of errors in the playing field, Jeter willed his way.  He had coaches and managers who served as mentors while he played in the minors.

It wouldn't be a Jeter book without discussing the whole rivalry with Alex Rodriguez.  Jeter has a one strike and you're out policy...of which Rodriguez broke the cardinal rule by talking bad about Jeter.

It may have looked easy for Jeter but it never was.  He worked hard to become the player he became.  He struggled along the way.

The paperback version of the book includes a new chapter on the chase for his 3,000th career hit--the first Yankees player ever to accomplish the milestone with the Yankees.  True, there have been other members of the 3,000 hit club that played for the Yankees like Wade Boggs and Dave Winfield but they didn't join the exclusive club with the Yankees.

When people talk about the definitive biography of Derek Jeter, they will be talking about Ian O'Connor's book for years to come.  It's an incisive, exhilarating, and revealing look at one of the best players in the game.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 Solzy Awards

I started tweeting these the other day but here are the 2014 Solzy Awards.

Best Comedy Album: 2776: A Levinson Bros. and Rob Kutner Presentation

Best Musical Album: Jukebox the Ghost

Best Motion Picture Soundtrack (Tie): Begin Again: Music From and Inspired by the Original Motion PictureGuardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix, Vol. 1

Best New Television Comedy (tie):
Broadcast: Marry Me
Cable: Sirens, Playing House

Best New Television Drama: The Flash

Best Breakout Star on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Jordan Klepper

Best Basketball Book: Players' First: Coaching from the Inside Out by John Calipari, Wildcat Memories: Inside Stories from Kentucky Basketball Greats by Doug Brunk, Fightin' Words: Kentucky vs. Louisville by Joe Cox and Ryan Clark

Best Sportswriting Memoir:  Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan

Best Comedic Memoir (Tie): Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian by Bob Saget, Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Best Biography: Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History by Joseph Telushkin

Best Fiction Novel: Veronica Mars: An Original Mystery by Rob Thomas: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Most Anticipated Book of 2015 (Tie): The President's Shadow by Brad Meltzer; Lincoln and the Jews by Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell

Best Kentucky Sportswriter: Larry Vaught

Best National Basketball Writer: Mike DeCourcy

Best Baseball Writer (Tie): Derrick Goold, Rick Hummel

Best Group of Sports Bloggers: United Cardinal Bloggers

Best Kentucky Broadcaster (Tie): Tom Leach, Bob Valvano

Most Annoying Person on Television...Period: Skip Bayless (ESPN)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book Review - Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan

Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 7, 2014)

You can't call yourself a sports fan and not know who Bob Ryan is.  I've had the pleasure of emailing back and forth with the Hall of Fame sportswriter for quite a few years now.  He's one of the best in the business.

For 46 years, Ryan worked as a beloved Boston Globe sportswriter and columnist and later made regular appearances on both Around the Horn and Sports Reporters on ESPN.  Long before he was placed on the Boston Celtics bear in 1968, Ryan picked up the nickname "Scribe" from his high school football coach as he put so many hours into the school newspaper.  Suffice it to say, the Hall of Fame writer has lived up to the nickname.

Ryan writes of growing up in Trenton, New Jersey and his path to becoming a Boston mainstay.  To say that Ryan is a sports institution would be an understatement.  A sports fan first and foremost, Ryan has a passion and enthusiasm for the game, no matter what sport or where its taking place.  Without such passion or enthusiasm, it's hard to tell if he would be the writer we know that he is today.

For over four decades, Ryan regularly covered baseball, basketball, golf, boxing, and eleven Olympic games.  He retired as a regular columnist following the 2012 Summer Olympics in London but he has written an engaging memoir infused with the same insight and journalistic prowess that he used when writing his columns.

We get the behind-the-scenes stories with personal anecdotes, unbelievable encounters, and photos of his priceless memorabilia.

If you call yourself a sports fan, do yourself a favor and read this book.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Searching for the Hirschfeld Family

My 3rd great-grandmother, Liba/Libby Schindler, had a brother named Nisan Hirschfeld.  In the 1897 All-Russia census, they were listed as living in Talsen, Latvia.  Libby and Nisan's father was named Isaac/Itzik.

According to the census, Nisan was living with his wife, Zira, and stepson, Mendel Lewensohn.

Ages in 1896-97:
Nisan, 56
Zira, 46
Mendel, 25

I don't know if Nisan and Zira had other children.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Jerry Abramson resigns, Crit Luallen to become new Lt. Governor

Kentucky Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson has resigned to take the position of Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the White House.

The announcement was made today by Governor Steve Beshear.  Former state Auditor Crit Luallen has been named as Abramson's replacement.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me and for our administration. Jerry and I have been friends for more than 30 years, and I chose him as my Lieutenant Governor because I knew that his extensive experience as longtime mayor of Louisville, his contagious enthusiasm and his knack for building momentum around new ideas would make him a great partner in leading our state.  But the White House noticed all those skills, too, and realized that he will take those same gifts and put them to work on our nation’s domestic agenda. He will be an outstanding addition to the President’s administration, and we will miss him terribly.”
“The challenges that face America’s local communities – such as workforce training, education, infrastructure investment, shrinking budgets, affordable housing, public transportation, and emergency response – are the issues that I’ve worked on for more than 30 years in local and state government. I’m honored to be in a position to help this country’s mayors, county executives, governors and other local officials tackle these issues and work to find innovative solutions.  “I’m grateful to Gov. Beshear for bringing me on board three years ago, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to bring jobs to our state and to strengthen Kentucky families.  My experience in the Kentucky Capitol will be vital as I step into my new role.”

Beshear on appointing Crit Luallen:
“Crit is a well-known and beloved public servant, respected by members of both parties for her resolute pursuit of clean, ethical government,” said Gov. Beshear. “She was my first and only choice to serve as the new Lieutenant Governor, and I know Kentuckians will be confident that she is more than up to the task.  I’m glad she agreed to return to state government, and I’m certain she will bring that same tenacity and grit to the Lt. Governor’s office.”

Crit Luallen:
“It is a high honor to stand here today in partnership with this Governor.  Serving as Lieutenant Governor gives me an opportunity to continue to serve Kentucky and offer my experience and perspective to Gov. Beshear and the fine team he has assembled. It will be my personal goal to help the Governor end his term in office with the state in as strong a position as possible to face the challenges the future holds.”
 The resignation and transfer of power will take place on November 13.