I have read hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of mysteries, and am not generally shocked at the details of violence and death. But, this news story of a robbery and murder near the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington DC, chilled me to my core. This, in a city I lived in and still love, at the entrance to a park where two of my grandkids play so they can run free and enjoy the beauty around them.  

According to a Post blog, the shooter was a 20-year-old, repeat juvenile offender whose aunt works for the city’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

For the complete story, go here: http://wapo.st/urQ14C

Addendum: This story gets worse. This, from the Washington Examiner at http://bit.ly/rSXPKN :
...witnesses heard [the cab driver] and Slye arguing. Witnesses said Slye was angry about the fare and demanded his money back.
Slye got out of the cab, pulled out a silver handgun, ordered Ezirike to lay on the ground, and rifled through his pockets. He then struck him in the head, and pulled the trigger but it did not fire.
The cab driver pleaded with the suspect, and the suspect ordered him back into the cab.
As the Ezirike sat in the driver's seat, the suspect fired a single shot, and the cabbie fell back into this seat, according to the court documents.

...Slye had absconded from a group home in Southeast Washington late last month and the city was looking for him at the time of the murder early Saturday morning.
According to court documents, Slye called his aunt, DY RS counselor Charlene SlyeBattle, nine times during his encounter with the cab driver. Police said they found Slye's jacket and the cell phone he used to make those calls inside Battle's home, which is on the same block as the killing. The cabbie's wallet was found outside the rear of Slye-Battle's home, court documents said.

The ranks of the US poor have grown dramatically in the last four years, according to an analysis of census data reported today in the New York Times.  

Not that this should come as a shock to anyone, but now, with numbers, the awful assumption is fact. Nationwide, more than half of non-rural poor now live in suburban communities, not cities.

As many cities have flourished, suburban communities have suffered. Residents have lost jobs, lost their ability to make mortgage payments, keep their cars running and pay high school taxes. At the same time, satellite communities attracted the poor from  urban centers, as gentrification pushed them further and further away from social services.  

This dramatic population shift occurred between 2007 and 2010, during the deepest part of the recession, while states struggled to keep basic services operating and federal funding shrunk, especially when it came to programs that help the poor.

What makes this situation especially serious is the lack of public transportation found in many outlying areas, by design. Without an efficient way to deliver services,  communities struggle to help those in need.  

Here’s the whole story:


I hope the New York Times does not mind me reprinting one of today's editorials, in toto. It can be found at http://nyti.ms/nxbDus. Thank you, GlaxoSmithKline. Thank you, Bill and Melinda Gates. 

October 23, 2011
Two Cheers for the Malaria Vaccine

A vaccine to protect children against malaria has been shown moderately effective in a large clinical trial — an achievement that could save millions of lives. The vaccine, known as RTS,S and made by GlaxoSmithKline, is the first ever to be shown effective against a human disease caused by parasites. When tested in 6,000 infants ages 5 to 17 months in seven sub-Saharan nations, it reduced the risk of infection with severe malaria by 47 percent during the year after the shots, far less than the 90 percent efficacy rate typically sought for other vaccines. And there are other big hurdles still to surmount. There are hints that the protection may wane over time and results from administering a booster shot won’t be known until 2014. Side effects could pose a problem; seizures and fevers were higher among children given the vaccine.

If final results of this ongoing study, which involves more than 15,000 children in all, show that the vaccine is safe and effective, the goal is to deploy it in 2015.

Glaxo has pledged to sell the vaccine at its manufacturing cost plus 5 percent that will be spent on research on malaria and neglected diseases. The company has not set a price, and, once it does, international donors and African health systems will have to find the resources to buy and administer it at a time of global recession.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation deserves major credit. Glaxo spent $300 million over 25 years to develop the vaccine for military personnel and travelers but was unwilling to pay for pediatric trials for impoverished nations without a partner. The Gates Foundation donated $200 million to drive the research to completion, and Glaxo expects to add another $100 million of its own.

The fight against malaria has made gains thanks to effective drug treatments, insecticide-treated bed nets and programs to spray the interior walls of houses. With the vaccine, health experts are talking with renewed optimism about eradicating malaria entirely (some countries already have). But it will take vigilance and money to stay ahead of resistant mosquitoes and parasites.

The second of twelve photos I took of panels containing memorable quotes from the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, at the site of the King Memorial. 

According to Wikipedia, King responded with these words in response to an accusation that his activism was "disturbing the peace," as quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Stephen B. Oates, 1982). 

As part of our combined offspring’s effort to blanket the world with the most adorable children, we welcomed the arrival of Evan yesterday, bringing our family's grandbaby total up to an impressive 6 (all under the age of 5). At 9 pounds, 3 ounces, Evan will be flexing his muscles and driving his parents crazy in sunny California, under the loving eyes of sister Sierra, seen here holding him  shortly after his birth.   

Here is the first of 12 quotations from the writing of Martin Luther King, Jr, inscribed on granite panels forming a semi-circle behind the statue that will be unveiled this Sunday, as a memorial to the civil rights leader. This quote was taken from King's book Strength to Love, published in 1963. 

Over the next few months, I will post a photo of each panel, grouping them together as Martin Luther King quotations, accessible from the index on the right. 

For data and background on what led to OWS, go to http://read.bi/oCD2OB.

During the weekend Hurricane Irene came for a visit, we walked among the stones that make up the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial along the Tidal Basin on the National Mall in Washington DC. Hoping to attend the dedication, we joined hundreds at the newly opened site one evening as the sun set and clouds thickened, then went back early the next morning, just as the storm moved in.

Wisely, the organizers postponed the dedication in advance of Irene, moving it to Sunday, October 16. The morning program will be free and open to the public. See http://bit.ly/nQ3JPm for information.

King’s fraternity brothers in Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African-Americans, initiated the concept of his memorial, then created the foundation that ultimately paid for and built the project 25 years later. The complex of three major stones anchored by a semi-circular wall of memorable quotations, sits along a northwest section of the water facing the Jefferson Memorial. The memorial towers over cherry trees that usually bloom in early April, which happens to be the time of King’s death in 1968. This location will put the memorial in the path of millions from around the globe who visit DC to celebrate spring’s beauty. What a fitting way to commemorate King’s contribution to this nation, with beauty and respect! The memorial team says it best:

His vision of America is captured in his message of hope and possibility for a future anchored in dignity, sensitivity, and mutual respect; a message that challenges each of us to recognize that America's true strength lies in its diversity of talents … The vision of a memorial in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. is one that captures the essence of his message … freedom, democracy and opportunity for all.

Personally, I was moved by the 12 quotations etched in granite along the walkway behind the statue. I plan to post photos of each quotation on this blog, one at a time, for your contemplation.  

You can walk among the various pieces of sculpture freely. No tickets are involved, but parking and/or Metro stops are a hike away. Look at it this way: the fairly lengthy walk gives you time to think about what you’re doing and why you’re there.

When you visit, expect to see or even shed a few tears. Listen closely as grandparents explain to their young who and what this man was. Don’t be surprised if people whisper because the site’s tomb-quality tends to have that effect on visitors.  

While we were there, people of all races talked to each other, sharing pride and gratitude for the legacy King left us. They volunteered to take photos of each other, commemorating the moment. That’s the way it should be.

My only hope is that young people find a way to get close to Dr. King, in their own way. Since they won’t have the benefit we had of learning about him first- or even second-hand, I hope they read Letters from a Birmingham Jail or transcripts of King’s most important speeches. 

For those of us who shared some of the same time on earth with this man, he’s a giant, albeit a human one. There could not be a better time to find a hero to anchor one's life on, nor could there be a better anchor than Martin Luther King. 

Don’t be too shocked when you see the enormity of his statue. Although imposing, someone who related as well to garbage collectors as he did to royalty may have preferred being portrayed on a more human scale, putting him closer to eye level. Nonetheless, the statue is quite imposing, almost majestic. I’m not sure I like the expression the artist chose for his face, but it’s one of strength and determination, and that’s not a bad way to be remembered. 

Note: All photos are mine. Ask for permission to reprint. 

In our continuing series of curious signs, here are some new entries:

Notice it doesn’t say checked or monitored, but enforced! So if I go 15 miles over the speed limit, you gonna take me out? Beware of drones in the skies over Virginia, a state filled with military. Maybe they understand this sign better than I do. 

On a lighter note, somewhere near Richmond somebody blacked out the letters I, R and C, leaving a sign that reads Speed Limit Enforced by A Raft. Good luck with that! 


Bill's Honeymooners Gun Shop near Keyser, West Virginia, must be for the truly unimaginative newlyweds. Start off with a bang! Maybe some frisky honeymooners shot off the B and I in Bill's? 

Again, a Virginia sign. The kiss-and-ride concept may extend beyond the Metro system serving Washington DC, but I’ve never noticed it anywhere else. A kiss& ride is  a drop-off spot for commuters using rail in and out of the city. Nice concept and cute sign. My only question is, if I don’t have anyone to drop me off, do I still get a kiss?  

Yeah! You bet I’ll give a moose right of way! Better keep my eyes open for bony kneecaps, because that’s all I’ll see from two feet off the ground in my sub-compact car. How tall are meese? 10 feet! Geez, Louise! 

I love this sign. So quaint. Look at what these kids are doing. How many children do you see on trikes or training wheels? Those were the days! Unfortunately, I’ve never seen children playing anywhere near this sign. Do kids even play outdoors anymore?

This charming message stands in front of one of the greatest drive-ins you’ll ever find.  Wahoo's took a serious hit in the recent flooding but what’s left of it is on Route 9 in Wilmington, Vermont. 

Political nexus in western Virginia.