Written by Rob Rogers on .

When Halliburton isn't reconstructing war-torn Iraq, building secret prisons or destroying evidence from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, they are messing things up right here Pennsylvania! 

022414 Halliburton

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"The Lady in Number 6" dies week before Oscars

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


Anyone who has watched the Oscar-nominated documentary shorts will know this woman, who sadly won't be around for the Academy Awards. 

 She is the focus of "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life" by Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed. They are expected to win in their category.

Here is the story from the Associated Press about the woman with a resilient spirit who embraced music, optimism and life for 110 years:
Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Alice Herz-Sommer, believed to be the oldest Holocaust survivor, died at age 110 on Sunday, a family member said. The accomplished pianist’s death came just a week before her extraordinary story of surviving two years in a Nazi prison camp through devotion to music and her son is up for an Oscar.
Herz-Sommer died in a hospital after being admitted Friday with health problems, daughter-in-law Genevieve Sommer said.
“We all came to believe that she would just never die,” said Frederic Bohbot, a producer of the documentary “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.” “There was no question in my mind, ‘would she ever see the Oscars.’” 
The film, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Malcolm Clarke, has been nominated for best short documentary at the Academy Awards next Sunday.
Another producer on the film, Nick Reed, said telling her story was a “life-changing experience.”
“Even as her energy slowly diminished, her bright spirit never faltered,” she said. “Her life force was so strong we could never imagine her not being around.”
Herz-Sommer, her husband and her son were sent from Prague in 1943 to a concentration camp in the Czech city of Terezin — Theresienstadt in German — where inmates were allowed to stage concerts in which she frequently starred. 
An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent to Terezin and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were moved on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most of them were killed. Herz-Sommer and her son, Stephan, were among fewer than 20,000 who were freed when the notorious camp was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.
Yet she remembered herself as “always laughing” during her time in Terezin, where the joy of making music kept them going.
“These concerts, the people are sitting there, old people, desolated and ill, and they came to the concerts and this music was for them our food. Music was our food. Through making music we were kept alive,” she once recalled.
“When we can play it cannot be so terrible.”
Though she never learned where her mother died after being rounded up, and her husband died of typhus at Dachau, in her old age she expressed little bitterness.
“We are all the same,” she said. “Good, and bad.”
Caroline Stoessinger, a New York concert pianist who wrote a book about Herz-Sommer, said she interviewed numerous people who were at the concerts who said “for that hour they were transported back to their homes and they could have hope.”
“Many people espouse certain credos, but they don’t live them. She did,” said Stoessinger, author of “A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World’s Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor.” 
“She understood truly that music is a language and she understood how to communicate through this language of music.” 
Herz-Sommer was born on Nov. 26, 1903, in Prague, and started learning the piano from her sister at age 5.
As a girl, she met the author Franz Kafka, a friend of her brother-in-law, and delighted in the stories that he told.
She also remembered Kafka saying, “In this world to bring up children: in this world?” 
Alice married Leopold Sommer in 1931. Their son was born in 1937, two years before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia.
“This was especially for Jews a very, very hard time. I didn’t mind, because I enjoyed to be a mother and I was full of enthusiasm about being a mother, so I didn’t mind so much,” she said.
Jews were allowed to shop for only half an hour in the afternoon, by which time the shops were empty. Most Jewish families were forced to leave their family apartments and were crammed into one apartment with other families, but her family was allowed to keep its home.
“We were poor, and we knew that they will send us away, and we knew already in this time that it was our end,” she said.
In 1942, her 73-year-old mother was transported to Terezin, then a few months later to Treblinka, an extermination camp.
“And I went with her of course till the last moment. This was the lowest point in my life. She was sent away. Till now I don’t know where she was, till now I don’t know when she died, nothing.
“When I went home from bringing her to this place I remember I had to stop in the middle of the street and I listened to a voice, an inner voice: ‘Now, nobody can help you, not your husband, not your little child, not the doctor.’”
From then on, she took refuge in the 24 Etudes of Frederic Chopin, a dauntingly difficult monument of the repertoire. She labored at them for up to eight hours a day.
She recalled an awkward conversation on the night before her departure to the concentration camp with a Nazi who lived upstairs and called to say that he would miss her playing.
She remembered him saying: “‘I hope you will come back. What I want to tell you is that I admire you, your playing, hours and hours, the patience and the beauty of the music.’”
Other neighbors, she said, stopped by only to take whatever the family wasn’t able to bring to the camp.
“So the Nazi was a human, the only human. The Nazi, he thanked me,” she said.
The camp’s artistic side was a blessing; young Stephan, then 6, was recruited to play a sparrow in an opera.
“My boy was full of enthusiasm,” she recalled. “I was so happy because I knew my little boy was happy there.”
The opera was “Brundibar,” a 40-minute piece for children composed by Hans Krasa, a Czech who was also imprisoned in the camp. It was first performed in Prague but got only one other performance before he was interned. 
“Brundibar” became a showpiece for the camp, performed at least 55 times including once when Terezin, which had been extensively spruced up for the occasion, was inspected by a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.
The opera featured in a 1944 propaganda film which shows more than 40 young performers filling the small stage during the finale.
In 1949, she left Czechoslovakia to join her twin sister Mizzi in Jerusalem. She taught at the Jerusalem Conservatory until 1986, when she moved to London.
Her son, who changed his first name to Raphael after the war, made a career as a concert cellist. He died in 2001.
Anita Lasker-Wallfish, a friend and fellow concentration camp survivor, said Herz-Sommer was still lively during a visit last week.
“She was a real optimist,” she said, adding that the pair used to play Scrabble together frequently until Herz-Sommer’s eyes failed her. “She was feeling very unwell and she went to the hospital last Friday. I think she had enough.”
She added that Herz-Sommer lived a modest life, and would probably balk at the media attention directed at her death.
“She didn’t think of herself as anybody very special,” she said. “She would hate any fuss to be made.”
AP writers Lawrence Neumeister in New York and Jessica Herndon in Los Angeles contributed to this story.


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Someone gets "Malik-ed" ...... other basketball notes

Written by Mike White on .

Looking back at the WPIAL quarterfinals and City League championship, and looking ahead to the semifinals, I'm Just Sayin ...

After watching New Castle's Malik Hooker in a number of games over the past few years, he will do one or two things in some games that show off his marvelous athletic ability and just make you go "What? Did you see that?"

He's one of the few athletes around here who pull off that eye-opening play that makes your jaw drop. You don't always see it on the football field from this Ohio State football recruit. You see it more in basketball. Now, it isn't necessarily a dunk or a basket. It might be a steal. But yesterday against Bethel Park, Hooker had one of those plays.

It's when someone gets "MALIK-ED." It was a dunk against Bethel Park. Check it out. He is almost outside the lane when he starts the dunk.

Next up for Hooker and New Castle is Kiski Area in the semifinals.

I know basketball isn't as strong in this area as it was in the 1950s, 60s or 70s. But still, I don't think people really fully appreciate the run New Castle is on. To be going for a third consecutive championship with an undefeated record is hard to believe. The Red Hurricanes might not win a state title and they aren't as good as some of those great teams in the 60s or 70s, but their record the past three seasons makes them a one-of-a-kind team - at least on paper.

A Cavalier attitude

Kiski Area is undoubtedly the surprise team of the WPIAL playoffs. The Cavaliers were the No. 12 seed for the Class AAAA bracket. Now the Cavaliers are in the semifinals and they have done it under first-year coach Joe Tutchstone.

Tutchstone has done a marvelous job, but look for the joy ride to end against New Castle. Facing Plum and Gateway and facing New Castle are totally different things.

More New Castle

New Castle senior guard Anthony Richards (pictured) set the school single-season record for 3-pointers with his 87th in yesterday's game against Bethel Park. He was already the career leader at New Castle. He's the last of three Richards brothers at New Castle and his father, Dave, is an assistant coach. I wonder if Anthony also leads the WPIAL in floor burns? He is the "Charlie Hustle" of WPIAL basketball.

By the way, an interesting read in the New Castle News from Larry Kelly about some inner workings of the New Castle basketball team.

Quips storm

Was there anything more impressive in the quarterfinals yesterday than Aliquippa's comeback and fourth-quarter run? Aliquippa trailed Avonworth at one point, 31-10, but won, 82-71. Aliquippa scored outscored Avonworth, 37-18, in the fourth quarter.

Section 3 supremacy

After having four teams make the semifinals last year, three Section 3 teams made the semifinals this year. What North Allegheny did to Section 1 champ Hempfield (82-59 win) makes you wonder how some top teams in other sections would have fared in Section 3. 

But Section 3 won't be nearly as strong next year with Hampton and New Castle moving down to AAA. Neither New Castle or Hampton will be as good as this year's teams, either. Overall, I don't see Class AAAA being particularly strong next year. Sure, there will be some good teams, but it will lack the depth of strong teams.

NA's numbers

Colleague Paul Zeise points out some interesting statistics about North Allegheny. North Allegheny is 43-8 the past two years, but 41-0 against all teams other than New Castle and Hampton. North Allegheny is 2-8 against those teams - 0-5 against New Castle and 2-3 against Hampton.

North Allegheny plays Hampton in Wednesday's semifinals.

Fabulous 5 stuff?

The Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 doesn't come out until after the state playoffs, but it's never too early to debate who should be on the Fab 5? To me, there are three locks and I won't name them. After that, nothing is clear.

Is it the shoes?

Allderdice winning the City League championship will hit coach Buddy Valinsky in the wallet.

"It's going to cost me," Valinsky said. "I told them if we win and make the state playoffs, I would buy them all new shoes. So I guess I have to get them."

Valinsky has been great for Allderdice, who beat Obama, 55-54, in the title game yesterday. (Pictured are Allderdice players showing emotion after the game). Valinsky has done an excellent job with the Dragons and they are a young team with a bright future.

Valinsky used a junk defense on Obama's D.J. Porter and Porter scored only 11. The defense was a cross between a diamond-and-one and a 3-1 chaser. It had some history with Valinsky.

"I played it against the James Hairston kid in the state playoffs in 2003 and we beat Connellsville, so I thought I'd use it again," Valinsky said. "It's different than a box-and-one most people play. We have three people up front and a guy down low."


Allderdice will have to wait two weeks to play in the PIAA playoffs and the Dragons will have an interesting first-round game. They will play the WPIAL runner-up.

It was a tough loss for Obama. The Eagles hadn't lost all year. Not only did they drop the City League title game, they also did not qualify for the PIAA playoffs.

Two for the semis

For four schools, the semifinals will bring double the fun. North Allegheny, Seton-LaSalle, Greensburg Central Catholic and Vincentian all have their boys and girls teams in the semifinals.


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No surprise, Legos still awesome with moviegoers

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

“The Lego Movie” topped the box office once again, adding another $31,450,000 to its growing gross and inching closer to $200 million in North America in just three weeks. It has brought in an estimated $183,160,096 since release. 
Here are the early numbers, courtesy of Rentrak: 
1. “The Lego Movie” — $31,450,000, for $183,160,096 so far. 
2. “3 Days to Kill” — $12,300,000.
3. “Pompeii” — $10,000,000.
4. “RoboCop” — $9,400,000, bringing its gross to $43,600,106 since release. 
5. “The Monuments Men” — $8,100,000, or $58,044,684 to date. 
6. “About Last Night” — $7,400,000, for $38,146,290 since release.
7. “Ride Along” — $4,667,110, or $123,172,910 so far. 
8. “Frozen” — $4,357,000, bumping its phenomenal gross to $384,061,335 since Thanksgiving. 
9. “Endless Love” — $4,300,560, for $20,141,815 so far.
10. “Winter’s Tale” — $2,130,000, or $11,223,901 since last week’s release. 

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Crosby, Kunitz capture gold as Canada beat Sweden - 02-23-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Another Olympics. Another gold medal for Canada.

Penguins forward Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz helped Canada defeat Sweden, 3-0, in the gold medal game of the men's Olympic tournament in Sochi.

It was Canada's second consecutive gold medal and third since the NHL began participating in the Olympics in 1998. Overall, it was Canada's eighth gold medal in men's hockey.

Individual awards were:


Best players as selected by the tournament directorate
Best Goalkeeper: Carey Price, Canada
Best Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Best Forward: Phil Kessel, United States

Most Valuable Player as selected by the media
Teemu Selanne, Finland

All-Star Team as selected by the media
Goalkeeper: Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden
Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Defenseman: Drew Doughty, Canada
Forward: Teemu Selanne, Finland
Forward: Phil Kessel, United States
Forward: Mikael Granlund, Finland


(Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

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