Despite reports yesterday ("The body of an American contractor who was found dead in Baghdad was flown back to the U.S. on Tuesday after a two-week bureaucratic debate over whether the Iraqi government would perform an autopsy on his remains."), Michael David Copeland's body was not flown to the US. The body of the Iraq War veteran who died June 9th, shortly after retutning to Iraq as a worker for DynaCorp, was in Kuwait as of Tuesday night according to his family. His father Mike Copeland tells Jamie Oberg (News9 -- link is text and video) that, "We are very pleased to know that the long struggle as far as that goes is over, he's not home yet of course he's got a long ways to go and we still don't know what the cause of his death was." Victoria Maranan (KXII -- link is text and video) adds, "He died 17 days ago while working for a contractor in Iraq. His family has been fighting to have his body brought home to Oklahoma ever since. Mike Copeland said they were notified yesterday by DynCorp that arrangements had been made to send Michael David's body back to the U.S. He said the Iraqi government did not perform the autopsy, but instead it will be performed by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner when Michael's body arrives in Delaware." Bryan Dean (News OK) quotes Michael David Copeland's cousing Brent Barry stating, "He will be flown to Dover, Del., arriving on Thursday."
Staying on the topics of deaths . . .
Nora Ephron has passed away. The director of films such as Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, Michael, Julie & Julia, This Is My Life and Bewitched was 71-years-old. Nora got her start in journalism at the New York Post. Later she would write essays for Esquire and she would become a strong media critic for that publication. How strong? Esquire was often uncomfortable with her critiques. We have called out 'brave' Daniel Schorr here and at Third Estate Sunday Review. The first time we did, the e-mails were shocking both because people don't really know the story (yes, the left tells fairy tales as well) and because they weren't aware of Nora's critique.
If Nora was grappling with, for example, her feminist beliefs and bad books by women claiming to be part of the movement, Esquire was thrilled. But, as she reminded me in 2005 when I told her how few people seemed to know the real truth about Daniel Schorr, Esquire refused to run her article. She had to publish it in a now defunct media journal (More). How much has really changed?
Nora told the truth about Daniel Schorr and that's probably her finest moment as a journalist. The piece itself is well written. Schorr got a copy of the Pike Report -- Congressional Committee. It became CBS News property. CBS News was weighing to run or not to run it -- the Committee had since decided not to release the report publicly. Schorr turned a copy of it over to The Village Voice which ran it. Thus far, the fairy tale and reality match. What liars leave out is that CBS News launched an internal investigation and Schorr started saying Lesley Stahl must have leaked it and, proof!, her boyfriend (now husband) Aaron Latham worked at The Village Voice!!!!! That didn't jibe with the 'historic' and 'noble' portrait so many were eager to paint onto Schorr and Esquire refused the piece.
For various reasons, including moments like that, Nora grew disenchanted with journalism and became a screenwriter. Her earliest success was co-writing the script for Mike Nichols' Silkwood. After that, she'd write the best selling novel Heartburn. The moment everything changed for her was when Rob Reiner's When Harry Met Sally . . . was released. Nora wrote the script to the box office smash and it was such a huge hit that everyone connected to the film was going to get a shot at something. For Nora, that was directing. This Is My Life was her debut as a director. It's a small studio film about a woman balancing motherhood and the pursuit of her dreams of being a stand up comic (and it features an outstanding soundrack by Carly Simon). It's a strong film and an amazing debut. She followed that up with Sleepless in Seattle, her first blockbuster as a director.
Last night, those posting in the community (and PBS' NewsHour) noted Nora's passing:
A director. Betty's "Director Nora Ephron has died" is exactly right. It is sexism not to call Nora what she was. If George H.W. Bush dies tomorrow, are the headlines going to read "Former Vice President Dies"? I don't think so. She was director of eight films. That's her highest credit, that's how you remember her if you remember her in one word: director.
If you're looking for one interview with Nora to listen to, click here and stream The Bat Segundo Show. It's an intelligent interview that captures her humor, her interests and her awareness. We noted it in real time. Of all the non-film things she did in the last years, I'll remember a 2007 column where she (The Huffington Post) rightly noted of the Democrats who had control of the Senate (and of the House): "What a bunch of losers, hiding behind the fact that it takes 60 votes to shut down debate and 67 votes to override a presidential veto. So what? So pass a law and make Bush veto it. Make him veto something every single day. Drive the guy crazy. What have you got to lose? And meanwhile what have you done? You've voted for the surge, you've voted to authorize a war against Iran, and you're about to vote in favor an attorney general-designate who refuses to call waterboarding torture."
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