This is a grievous thing to say aloud, much less think, but I wish that the suicide of Robin Williams made less sense to me than it somehow does. I say that with very little real knowledge of the man, his inner being, or the whole of his life. I encountered him only once, twenty years ago, but the memory is distinct. I found Mr. Williams good-hearted, hilarious, talented, and remarkably, indescribably sad.Joel Silberman:
Robin Williams death has really taken me back into a part of my life I have long forgotten.Dave Weigel:
My first singing partner and wife was bipolar and eventually took her own life 3 years after we were divorced. When she was on a manic high, she was a brilliant singer and comedian. On the low end, she was suicidal. Eventually the low end won. Bipolar disease/depression is horrible to witness. It leaves us powerless to help those we love because when they are down, they hide in an inescapable black hole from which they cannot emerge.
I met Robin Williams twice. The second time was when I conducted for Madeline Kahn at the very first HBO Comic Relief. Backstage that night he was the kindest, most caring host of one hell of a party. He kept us laughing on and off the stage. He seemed happy. It was a joyous, amazing evening.
But the first time we met was quite a different time.
If you've never suffered from depression, or had a public career, the suicide of a successful person makes no damn sense. It's the same reason why an artist quitting or breaking his band up makes no sense—you wanted something, and you've finally grabbed it, so why would you ever give that up? What's wrong with you?More politics and policy below the fold.
Depression is what's wrong with you.
When President Barack Obama told donors on Monday night to help Democrats because "we're going to have Supreme Court appointments" he may or may not have been talking about his own final years in office.Sabrina Siddiqui:
But he was right that several justices are statistically likely to retire in the coming years. None of them have revealed plans to step down, and if all of them stick around through the end of Obama's term, the 2016 presidential election could lead to a cataclysmic reshaping of the Supreme Court, and with it the country.
As of Election Day in 2016, three of the nine justices will be more than 80 years old. A fourth will be 78.
The average retirement age for a Supreme Court justice is 78.7, according to a 2006 study by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.
U.S. lawmakers may have moved on from the gun control debate that ensued after the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but a new poll released Tuesday found that adults still rank school violence and gun-related injuries among their top concerns for children.Reuters and Associated Press:
In the National Poll on Children's Health, an annual survey conducted by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan, adults were asked to name their biggest health concerns for children, both in their communities and nationwide. School violence and gun-related injuries each made the poll's top 10 list for the first time, with adults ranking school violence as their fourth biggest concern nationally, at 44 percent, and gun-related injuries their ninth biggest concern at a national level, at 39 percent.
Many of the biggest health concerns were mainstays, having appeared in the top 10 list for several years in a row. These included bullying, smoking, drug use and obesity, which topped the poll. But Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the poll, said it's important to "take note of the particular national concern about school violence and gun-related injuries so we can address how to improve and safeguard our children's health."
A World Health Organization panel of medical ethics experts ruled on Tuesday that it is ethical to offer unproven drugs or vaccines as potential treatments or preventions in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak.Andrew Pollack:
Liberia said on Tuesday it would treat two infected doctors with the scarce experimental Ebola drug ZMapp, the first Africans to receive the treatment.
The United Nations health agency said provision of experimental Ebola drugs required “informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.” The WHO said ZMapp's scarcity raised ethical questions of who should have priority.
WHO experts hope for improved supplies of experimental treatments and progress with a vaccine by the end of the year. That may come too late to put an end to the current epidemic, which is more likely to be stopped by standard infection control measures, but it offers hope for the next inevitable outbreak.
The doctor who had been leading Sierra Leone’s battle against the Ebola outbreak was now fighting for his own life, and his international colleagues faced a fateful decision: whether to give him a drug that had never before been tested on people.Dave Weigel:
Would the drug, known as ZMapp, help the stricken doctor? Or would it perhaps harm or even kill one of the country’s most prominent physicians, a man considered a national hero, shattering the already fragile public trust in international efforts to contain the world’s worst Ebola outbreak?
The treatment team, from Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organization, agonized through the night and ultimately decided not to try the drug. The doctor, Sheik Umar Khan, died a few days later, on July 29.
The doses of the drug that were not used were eventually sent to Liberia, where other doctors made the opposite decision — and two American aid workers became the first people in the world to receive ZMapp. Both of them survived and are now being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
If the blog traffic is a little light today, there's a perfectly cromulent reason. I'm reporting on the trial of bloggers Aaron Walker and William Hoge, reporter Robert Stacy McCain, and Republican strategist/National Bloggers Club founder Ali Akbar. All are being sued by Brett Kimberlin, who was convicted for a rash of bombings in Indiana in the 1970s, and remade himself as a political activist.Matt Pearce:
Until his multiyear battle with the conservative bloggers started, Kimberlin was best known for claiming to have sold marijuana to a young Dan Quayle, and for organizing opposition to electronic voting machines after the 2004 election. But this is his life now—this lawsuit, a larger federal RICO case against more famous critics (like Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin), and managing the personal crises that years of online defamation cases can wreak.
It's a gripping and strange courtroom scene.
Yet again, the protesters took to the sidewalks and streets, facing a row of police guarding the St. Louis County prosecutor's office. "Hands up!" they chanted, their arms aloft. "Don't shoot."
"This is how the boy died!" Kendrick Strong, 42, hollered at police officers Tuesday morning. "This is how the boy died! With his hands up in the air!"
As St. Louis' predominantly black northern quarter has teetered toward chaos the last four days after police in the suburb of Ferguson killed an unarmed black 18-year-old, the chant has been one inescapable constant amid the worry and confusion and clamor.
The hands-up — a sign of surrender and submission black men and boys here say they learn early on when dealing with police — has been transformed into a different kind of weapon.