Thursday, May 27, 2010

Phil HARTMAN Memoriam (Sept 24, 1948 – May 28, 1998)

Phil HARTMAN was another of the comics who rose to stardom through his appearances on popular TV comedy show SNL in the 1990's.  He was also Canadian born in Brantford ON but moved to the U.S with his family when he was 10 years old. (It is unknown if he eventually adopted American citizenship like so many other Hollywood stars.)

He was a victim of Domestic Violence - although it is unlikely that would ever be reported that way.

Phil Hartman was shot 3 times (twice to the head, once on the right side of his body) with a .38 by his wife of 10 years Brynn on May 28, 1998.  Although twice divorced before he finally met and married Brynn Omdahl in 1987 they had 2 children together (son Sean, dob=1989 and daughter Birgen, dob=1992). But they apparently had an troubled marriage (according to the account from People) that was fractured by Brynn's battle with drug addiction.  The evening before their deaths they had supposedly argued about ending their marriage - with Phil threatening to end it over her drug relapse.  According to the People magazine article:
In the last few months, Brynn had been in and out of rehab; earlier this year she checked into an Arizona clinic, where she stayed for only four or five days before leaving. Several days before the homicide, Brynn—who had been taking an antidepressant that can cause violent outbursts if mixed with alcohol or drugs—began drinking and using cocaine again, according to her close friends. Brynn's erratic behavior from drug use, says a TV producer who knew the Hartmans, led their housekeeper to quit 10 days before the shootings. And Jeannie Petersen, a childhood friend of Brynn's who stayed in touch with her, says Brynn wanted out of the marriage. "Sometimes she'd call me and she'd be real hurt," Petersen says. "He wouldn't give her a divorce. For two years she was trying to get it." Others say it was Hartman who wanted out. "This," says the TV producer, "was not a happy household." 
Interestingly Phil continued to be friends with Lisa Strain - his second wife, and she was aware of the tension in his marriage to the less secure Brynn.
"He told me she'd create scenes and throw fits," says his second wife, Strain, who sent Hartman a letter congratulating him on the birth of his son in 1988. "Brynn wrote me back four pages of the most hideous vitriol you could imagine," says Strain. "I called Phil and said, 'Do you have any idea who you are married to?' And he said, 'You should've seen the letter she wanted to send.'" Strain says Hartman "wanted to do whatever he could to make this marriage work." And yet he couldn't stop his habit of drifting away from the woman who needed him most. "It was a pleasure to see how Phil interacted with people," says his pal Small. "And yet I have a feeling that Brynn got none of that."
After the murder, Brynn went a longtime friend Ron Douglas' home and confessed - but he did not believe her, yet after she called another acquaintance to confess - he finally drove her back to the Hartman home.  Once there - shocked - he called 911, and as the police arrived and accompanied the children and Douglas out they heard the gunshot of Brynn's suicide.  Brynn's married sister Katherine Kay Wright, who lives in Eau Claire, WI took in the two orphaned children.

[Update May 29, 2014 - Autopsy Report of Phil Hartman]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Federal Justice Issues

There have been a couple of new key Justice positions that seem to be nailed onto the Conservatives Justice Plank recently and I can't help but think they could have been coordinated to diffuse opposition or criticism.

The immediate trigger to this change has been the news that former junior Hockey Coach Graham James who was charged in 2001 has been out of prison and pardoned since 2007. It was also revealed that the notorious Karla Homolka - co-accused wife of suspected serial killer Paul Bernardo - is also soon (July 5) to be considered for her pardon. (Of the plea-bargain of the Crown in the Bernardo/Homolka case caused a huge public uproar at the time it became known - and a large part of that was a "soft-on-female" sentencing discount due to feminist-friendly infiltration of NDP Justice Minister Marion Boyd.)

1) Tightening the Rules for Pardons of sex offenders in the wake of revelations that Jr Hockey Coach Graham James who molested a number of boys received a full pardon in 2007.  The new law would render ineligible for a pardon any person convicted of a sexual offence involving a minor, or of more than three serious indictable offences. Other offenders would have to wait five to 10 years after serving a sentence before applying. Applicants would also have to demonstrate how receiving a pardon would help in their rehabilitation. In fact, under the new law, technically no one will get a pardon. The bill would replace the term "pardon" with the phrase "record suspension."

The reason? According to Mr. Toews, forgiveness "is not the business of government." He added that the new language would also better reflect the actual effect of a pardon and society's view of the long-lasting harm to victims. "The current system of pardons implies that what the person did is somehow okay, or is forgiven, or that the harm done has somehow disappeared."

2) Reintroduce the crime of Rape back into the Criminal Code (dropped in 1983 and "dumbed down" to Sexual Assault). The current term - despite being revised a few time - is too broad to specifically discern between the spectrum of offenses like inappropriate touching to brutal rapes. As the Government is also
tightening the rules on pardons - especially Child Sexual Abuse - it needs to be more specific on the classifications of crimes against a person.

Toews told a Senate hearing a that Rape was dropped from the Criminal Code in 1983 after lobbying efforts by women's groups on the basis that that calling it sexual assault would bring more complainants forward and would ease the stigma of the word for women in the court system, making it easier to convict perpetrators under the broader umbrella. Until 1983, the crime of rape was defined as sexual penetration of a woman. The replacement legislation split sex assault into three levels, to include acts ranging from unwanted touching to
violent physical harm.

However, he also said that collapsing rape, attempted rape and indecent assault into the offence of sexual assault was "perhaps the biggest mistake in criminal law that the Parliament of Canada has ever made." But the Government already has an ambitious Justice Agenda and changing the Criminal Code would fall under the auspices of the Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, rather than Mr. Toews.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Lusitania Sinks - May 7, 1915

95 Years ago today the Lusitania sank after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine at 1410h.  The ship sank with breathtaking speed -  it took just 18 minutes - only 8 miles off the coast of Ireland near Kinsdale.  Of the 1,959 people onboard (passengers and crew) 1,198 people perished.   It was considered the 2nd worst marine disaster after the sinking of the Titanic three years before (April 14, 1912).  This Act of War by the Germans was instrumental in bringing the United States into the war.

Here is an article that recounts some new research done suggests the speed of the sinking contributed to a sense of panic that prevented an orderly evacuation from the ship and that - as a result - orderly British passengers and crew perished in greater numbers than younger, American passengers.  This was an unfortunate contrast to the experience on the Titanic