Hawaii Sports

UCF routs UConn to extend win streak


The Associated Press

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — No. 21 UCF has a new coaching staff — and an offense that looks very similar to the one that helped the Knights go undefeated season a year ago.

McKenzie Milton threw for 346 yards and tied a career high with five touchdowns as the self-proclaimed defending national champions routed UConn 56-17 on Thursday to extend the longest winning streak in the nation to 14 games.

Milton, a graduate of Mililani High School, completed 24 of 32 passes and ran for another 50 yards on seven carries. Sophomore receiver Tre Nixon, a transfer from Mississippi, caught five passes for 101 yards and scored on plays of 34 and 11 yards.

Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. came on in the fourth quarter and broke a 70-yard touchdown run down the left sideline, making him the team’s leading rusher.

It was the first game for coach Josh Heupel, who took the reins after Scott Frost left for Nebraska.

“I don’t know if we’re going to miss a beat,” Milton said. “The schematics are a little different, but we’re going to score a lot of points no matter what.”

UConn quarterback David Pindell was a bright spot for the Huskies, throwing for 266 yards and a touchdown and running for another 157 yards and a score.

But the Huskies had 30 freshmen and sophomores on their two-deep, and more than a dozen players saw their first live-game action.

“I thought we had some young men who played a bit tentative for their first time and just didn’t let it go,” coach Randy Edsall said. “Now they understand how hard it is.”

Heupel’s fast-paced offense is as advertised, putting up 652 yards and scoring eight touchdowns on 11 drives, with each scoring drive taking less than 3 minutes off the clock.

“I’m a big fan of coach Huep’s system,” Milton said. “I think it exposes defenses and I think it’s going to be very good for UCF.”

The Huskies seem to have found their quarterback in Pindell. In addition to completing 27- of-41 passes and running 22 times, he had another 50-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty. The Huskies put up 486 yards of offense.

“We made some big plays on offense and we pushed the ball a lot,” Pindell said. “We just have to execute in the red zone and the tight red. That’s the biggest thing.”

College Football

Thursday’s Results


UCF 56, UConn 17

Rhode Island 21, Delaware 19

Maine 35, New Hampshire 7


Georgia St. 24, Kennesaw St. 20

Louisiana-Monroe 34, SE Louisiana 31

UAB 52, Savannah St. 0

Chattanooga 34, Tennessee Tech 10

Wake Forest 23, Tulane 17, OT

S. Illinois 49, Murray St. 10


Ball St. 42, CCSU 6

Minnesota 48, New Mexico St. 10

Northwestern 31, Purdue 27

Indiana St. 49, Quincy 0


Oklahoma St. 58, Missouri St. 17

Texas A&M 59, Northwestern St. 7


Montana St. 26, W. Illinois 23

Utah 41, Weber St. 10

UC Davis 44, San Jose St. 38

Hawaii Headlines

Prosecutors appeal ruling barring 3rd trial of agent

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii prosecutors are appealing a judge’s ruling saying a federal agent can’t be tried a third time for fatally shooting a man in a Waikiki fast-food restaurant.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro appealed Wednesday to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A U.S. judge in Honolulu ruled earlier this month that prosecutors may not proceed with a retrial against U.S. State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy.

Deedy was in Honolulu for a 2011 international summit when he shot Kollin Elderts during an altercation in a McDonald’s.

A 2013 murder trial ended in a hung jury. A second jury in 2014 acquitted him of murder but deadlocked on manslaughter.

Deedy’s defense attorneys argued a third trial on manslaughter would violate the double jeopardy clause of the constitution.

International Headlines

Australian arrested at Cambodian rally convicted of spying

By SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — An Australian filmmaker arrested after flying a drone to photograph a Cambodian opposition party rally last year was convicted of spying and sentenced to six years in prison Friday.
James Ricketson had faced up to 10 years in prison. Almost two dozen jailed critics or opponents of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government had been freed in recent weeks following a sweeping ruling party election victory, which had raised hopes of leniency in Ricketson’s case.
Ricketson has been detained without bail since his arrest in June last year.
Prosecutors have indicated he was suspected of working with the opposition party or had worked directly for a foreign power, though that country was never specified in court. The charge against him, endangering national security, was tantamount in legal terms to espionage.
As the prison van left after the panel of judges delivered the verdict, Ricketson shouted to reporters the same question he often raised throughout his trial: “Who am I spying for?’
Before hearing the verdict, he told The Associated Press that based on the evidence and facts in the case, he should be set free.
His lawyer, Kong Sam Onn, said he would consult with his client on what to do next. He said there were two options: to file an appeal, or accept the verdict and ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to convey a request for a pardon to King Norodom Sihamoni. Ricketson’s health was not good, he added.
Ricketson, 69, repeatedly insisted he had no political agenda and his work making documentary films was journalistic in nature. Character witnesses testified to his filmmaking work and financial generosity to several poor Cambodians.
The evidence presented against Ricketson appeared thin, but Cambodia’s courts are considered highly politicized and their rulings often tightly align with the ruling party’s agenda. A handful of personal emails seized from Ricketson suggested he was sympathetic to the country’s political opposition and critical of Hun Sen’s government, but revealed no sensitive or secret information. Several of his photos and videos showed security forces on duty, but only in publicly viewable situations.
New York-based group Human Rights Watch blasted the court’s decision.
“This trial exposed everything that’s wrong with the Cambodian judicial system: ridiculously excessive charges, prosecutors with little or no evidence, and judges carrying out political orders from the government rather than ruling based on what happens in court.”
He also criticized Australia for failing to publicly and consistently challenge Cambodia in the case, saying Canberra’s soft and quiet diplomacy with Southeast Asian dictators “is not just morally bankrupt – it’s also totally ineffective.”
Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on a visit to Indonesia, told reporters that Ricketson “can expect to get all the consular and other support from the Australian government you would expect in these circumstances.”
“As usual in these types of events it is best to deal with these things calmly and directly and in a way which best assists a citizen,” he said.
Members of Ricketson’s family at a news conference in Sydney said they were counting on their government’s assistance.
“We are really looking for a lot more support moving forward from the new Australian government,” said Bim Ricketson, James Ricketson’s nephew. “We know that they are, they have their attention on this and we know that they are working on it, but now really is the time for a lot of support to be shown and as much pressure as possible to be brought to it, to find some kind of way out of this.”
In addition to accusing Ricketson of spying, Cambodian prosecutors had indicated he also was suspected of working with the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, which for a time had enough popularity among Cambodians to be a viable challenger to Hun Sen’s rule. The party’s dissolution by a court ruling last year assured Hun Sen’s party of its sweeping victory in the July general elections, which returned Hun Sen to office for five more years.
The leniency shown to opponents and critics following the election followed a pattern of Hun Sen’s long rule, with a harsh crackdown on opponents and critics preceding the vote and clemency and conciliatory moves after a resounding victory.
Ricketson testified in his defense that he made contacts with the opposition party strictly for journalistic purposes while making a documentary film. He recounted a filmmaking career dating to the 1970s, and presented acclaimed Australian movie director Peter Weir to attest to his professionalism in the field.
Ricketson’s other character witnesses were several Cambodians, including his informally adopted daughter, who described how he had provided financial assistance to them and other poor members of Cambodian society.
Ricketson’s son, Jesse, who attended his father’s trial, expressed hope future developments may see his father’s release.
“We just need a bit of time to absorb what’s just happened and figure out the next step,” he said. “As always, we’re hoping and praying for generosity, and leniency, and compassion to be shown to my father in this situation, so hopefully we’ll see something good happening in the future.”

International Headlines

Dutch police shoot suspect after stabbing at train station

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Police in the Dutch capital shot and wounded a suspect Friday after he stabbed two people at Amsterdam’s busy central railway station.
Hours after the incident, police said they were still investigating a possible motive for the attack and weren’t excluding any possible scenarios.
Police spokesman Rob van der Veen said the violence happened shortly after noon (1000 GMT; 6 a.m. EDT) at the busy Central Station in downtown Amsterdam when a man walked into a group of people.
“Something happened, we don’t know yet what, but during that two people were stabbed and one person with a knife in his hand walked away and he was shot by police,” Van der Veen said.
All three people were taken to a hospital. Police didn’t release details about their conditions.
Van der Veen said forensics experts were still combing the scene hours after the attack and detectives were investigating the man’s motive.
Two platforms were temporarily closed to train traffic, but the station wasn’t evacuated. Trams to and from the square in front of the station were stopped as police and emergency services converged on the area. Red and white police tape kept members of the public away from the scene.
Central Station is a busy entry and exit point for visitors to the Dutch capital, with regular trains linking it to the city’s Schiphol Airport. Friday is one of the busiest days of the week, with many tourists arriving for the weekend.
Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.

International Headlines

US Navy seizes 1,000 smuggled rifles off war-torn Yemen

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. military said early Friday it seized over 1,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles being smuggled by small ships in the Gulf of Aden amid the ongoing war in nearby Yemen.
The seizure by the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham may mark the first such interdiction of weapons at sea bound for Yemen in years for American forces patrolling the region.
However, the military did not say whom they suspected of smuggling the weapons.
A short video released by the U.S. Navy it said was taken Monday appeared to show a skiff and a dhow, a traditional ship that commonly sails the waters of the Persian Gulf region. As the vessels bob in the high waves, people on the dhow toss large boxes into the skiff.
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said sailors boarded the boats Tuesday, uncovering the arms cache. Photos released by the Navy showed what appeared to be new Kalashnikov rifles wrapped in plastic.
It said those aboard the vessels were handed over to Yemeni forces loyal to its exiled government in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. military did not offer a location for the seizure in the Gulf of Aden, which has Yemen to its north and Somalia to its south. Smuggling of drugs, weapons and charcoal into and out of Somalia by criminal gangs and militant groups remains common.
The 5th Fleet repeatedly has accused Iran of smuggling arms via the sea to Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels, who have held Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, since September 2014. It points to seizures over a four-week period in early 2016, when coalition warships stopped three dhows in the Arabian Sea. The dhows carried thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles as well as sniper rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-tank missiles and other weapons.
Iran denies arming the Houthis.
One dhow carried 2,000 new assault rifles with serial numbers in sequential order, suggesting they came from a national stockpile, a report by the group Conflict Armament Research said. The rocket-propelled grenade launchers also bore hallmarks of being manufactured in Iran, the group said.
The U.S. has supported a Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis since March 2015.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at . His work can be found at .

International Headlines

El Salvador: 3 kids separated in US were abused at shelters

By MARCOS ALEMAN, Associated Press
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Three minors from El Salvador separated from their parents after crossing the U.S. border were sexually abused in shelters in Arizona, Salvadoran officials said Thursday.
Liduvina Magarin, deputy foreign relations minister for Salvadorans overseas, said authorities had received reports of the abuse of the children ages 12 to 17 by workers at unnamed shelters.
“They are sexual violations, sexual abuses, that is what this is about,” Magarin told journalists.
She added that the Salvadoran government is making lawyers available to the families, and it will be up to them to decide how to proceed.
The revelations come as the Trump administration has been facing heavy criticism over its slow pace in reuniting separated families. Most have been reunited, but hundreds remain apart.
Magarin said her government is pressuring the United States to begin reunification of the children with their families. “May they leave the shelters as soon as possible, because it is there that they are the most vulnerable.”
Magarin said the three minors were in good health but “the psychological and emotional impact is forever, and we are attending to that situation.”
Once back with their families, they will be offered psychological assistance.
Magarin urged U.S. authorities to respect due process and said “they have acted in accordance with the law.”
In late July, the news website ProPublica reported that police had received at least 125 reports since 2014 of sex offenses at shelters that mostly house migrant children.
Last month police in Arizona said a former youth care worker at a nonprofit that houses immigrant children separated from their parents was arrested on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a Phoenix facility. At the time the organization declined to say whether the girl had been separated from family, but the employee was fired.
According to data provided by the United States, she said, 191 Salvadoran children were separated from their parents at the border in recent months, and 18 remain in shelters awaiting reunification.
According to Magarin, Salvadoran government data show a 48 percent drop in migration from the country to the United States so far this year compared with 2017.
An estimated 2.5 million Salvadorans live in the United States.

International Headlines

New Zealand allows Chelsea Manning entry for speaking tour

By NICK PERRY, Associated Press
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand authorities said on Friday that convicted secrets leaker Chelsea Manning can enter the country for a speaking tour, a day after tour organizers said she couldn’t enter Australia.
Manning was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking U.S. government secrets and would not normally qualify for entry into New Zealand under its good-character provisions.
But Immigration New Zealand General Manager Steve Stuart said Manning had been granted a “special direction,” allowing her to apply for a working visa for planned speaking events in Auckland and Wellington next month.
Stuart said the agency noted that Manning’s sentence had been commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017, that she had not reoffended since being released, and that the chances of her offending while in New Zealand were low.
New Zealand’s conservative opposition National Party had urged the government to ban Manning, saying her appearance would not enhance New Zealand’s relationship with the U.S.
Australia has similar good-character rules to New Zealand. Manning’s tour was due to start in Sydney on Sunday, but on Thursday event organizer Think Inc. said it had received a notice of intention from the Australian government to deny Manning entry.
The group was calling on her supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow her into Australia. While Manning can appeal, past precedent suggests the decision has already been made.
Think Inc. said it had given the government letters of support from individuals and organizations who support Manning’s entry to Australia.
“Ms. Manning offers formidable ideas and an insightful perspective which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue,” Think Inc. Director Suzi Jamil said in a statement.
Manning, 30, acknowledged leaking more than 700,000 military and State Department documents to anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks in 2010. Known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest, she came out as transgender after her 2013 court-martial. She recently lost a Democratic primary in a long-shot bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland.
Under its good-character rules, New Zealand typically denies entry to people who have been sentenced to five years or more in prison at any time in their lives, or who have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison at some point during the last 10 years.
Associated Press reporter Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.

International Headlines

AP sources: Lawyer was told Russia had ‘Trump over a barrel’

By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Justice Department lawyer says a former British spy told him at a breakfast meeting two years ago that Russian intelligence believed it had Donald Trump “over a barrel,” according to multiple people familiar with the encounter.
The lawyer, Bruce Ohr, also says he learned that a Trump campaign aide had met with higher-level Russian officials than the aide had acknowledged, the people said.
The previously unreported details of the July 30, 2016, breakfast with Christopher Steele, which Ohr described to lawmakers this week in a private interview, reveal an exchange of potentially explosive information about Trump between two men the president has relentlessly sought to discredit.
They add to the public understanding of those pivotal summer months as the FBI and intelligence community scrambled to untangle possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they reflect the concern of Steele, a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier, that the Republican presidential candidate was possibly compromised and his urgent efforts to convey that anxiety to contacts at the FBI and Justice Department.
The people who discussed Ohr’s interview were not authorized to publicly discuss details of the closed session and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Among the things Ohr said he learned from Steele during the breakfast was that an unnamed former Russian intelligence official had said that Russian intelligence believed “they had Trump over a barrel,” according to people familiar with the meeting. It was not clear from Ohr’s interview whether Steele had been directly told that or had picked that up through his contacts, but the broader sentiment is echoed in Steele’s research dossier.
Steele and Ohr, at the time of the election a senior official in the deputy attorney general’s office, had first met a decade earlier and bonded over a shared interest in international organized crime. They met several times during the presidential campaign, a relationship that exposed both men and federal law enforcement more generally to partisan criticism, including from Trump.
Republicans contend the FBI relied excessively on the dossier during its investigation and to obtain a secret wiretap application on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. They also say Ohr went outside his job description and chain of command by meeting with Steele, including after his termination as a FBI source, and then relaying information to the FBI.
Trump this month proposed stripping Ohr, who until this year had been largely anonymous during his decades-long Justice Department career, of his security clearance and has asked “how the hell” he remains employed.
Trump has called the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and has denied any collusion between his campaign and Moscow.
Trump and some of his supporters in Congress have also accused the FBI of launching the entire Russia counterintelligence investigation based on the dossier. But memos authored by Republicans and Democrats and declassified this year show the probe was triggered by information the U.S. government received earlier about the Russian contacts of then-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The FBI’s investigation was already under way by the time it received Steele’s dossier, and Ohr was not the original source of information from it.
One of the meetings described to House lawmakers Tuesday was a Washington breakfast attended by Steele, an associate of his and Ohr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, who worked for the political research firm, Fusion GPS, that hired Steele, attended at least part of the breakfast.
Ohr also told Congress that Steele told him that Page, a Trump campaign aide who traveled to Moscow that same month and whose ties to Russia attracted FBI scrutiny, had met with more senior Russian officials than he had acknowledged meeting with.
That breakfast took place amid ongoing FBI concerns about Russian election interference and possible communication with Trump associates. By that point, Russian hackers had penetrated Democratic email accounts, including that of the Clinton campaign chairman, and Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign associate, was said to have revealed that Russians had “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton in the form of emails, according to court papers. That revelation prompted the FBI to open the counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 2016, one day after the breakfast but based on entirely different information.
Ohr told lawmakers he could not vouch for the accuracy of Steele’s information but has said he considered him a reliable FBI informant who delivered credible and actionable intelligence, including his investigation into corruption at FIFA, soccer’s global governing body.
In the interview, Ohr acknowledged that he had not told superiors in his office, including Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, about his meetings with Steele because he considered the information inflammatory raw source material.
He also provided new details about the department’s move to reassign him once his Steele ties were brought to light.
Ohr said he met in late December 2017 with two senior Justice Department officials, Scott Schools and James Crowell, who told him they were unhappy he had not proactively disclosed his meetings with Steele. They said he was being stripped of his associate deputy attorney post as part of a planned internal reorganization, people familiar with Ohr’s account say.
He met again soon after with one of the officials, who told him Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not believe he could continue in his current position as director of a drug grant-distribution program — known as the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.
Sessions and Rosenstein, Ohr was told, did not want him in the post because it entailed White House meetings and interactions, the people said.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment.

National News

His way: Washington says goodbye to John McCain

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s Washington’s turn to say goodbye to John McCain. His way.
The six-term Republican senator, who lived and worked in the nation’s capital over four decades, is lying in state under the U.S. Capitol rotunda for a ceremony and public visitation.
McCain’s casket arrived at the Capitol Friday as his family watched from the steps. Family, friends, lawmakers and guests gathered in the vast Rotunda for a memorial service. Congressional leaders were to deliver remarks.
It’s the first of two days of services in Washington honoring the Arizona senator, who served in Congress for 35 years.
On Saturday, McCain’s procession will pause by the Vietnam Memorial and head for Washington National Cathedral for a formal funeral service. At McCain’s request, two former presidents — Democrat Barack Obama and Republican George W. Bush — will speak.
President Donald Trump, who has mocked McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War, was asked to stay away, people close to the White House and the McCain family said.
McCain’s funeral puts him back in the spotlight a few miles from Trump’s doorstep, in the city where the senator, who died last Saturday at 81, worked and collected friends and enemies, some in both camps at different times. The procession was highlighting what McCain found important, some of which contrast with Trump’s style and priorities.
Vice President Mike Pence was speaking at the Capitol ceremony Friday, and other officials will represent the administration in Trump’s hard-to-miss absence. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greeted the McCain family Thursday night when the senator’s casket was flown into Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
McCain chose a Russian dissident as a pallbearer, though Trump has professed repeatedly his affinity and admiration for Russian President, Vladimir Putin — praise that came amid special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The procession’s pause at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where McCain’s widow, Cindy, is expected to lay a wreath, will highlight McCain’s military service and his more than five years as a prisoner of war.
Trump obtained deferments during the Vietnam War for his college education and then for bone spurs in his heels. Trump on Friday was expected to leave Washington in early afternoon, to head to North Carolina for an event on retirement security about the same time the public will start filing past McCain’s casket.
The McCain farewell began Wednesday and Thursday in Arizona, where he and Cindy McCain raised their family. Former Vice President Joe Biden and others provided a preview of the tributes to come.
None of the speakers at the North Phoenix Baptist Church on Thursday uttered Trump’s name. But Biden, who is considering challenging Trump in 2020, made what some saw as a veiled reference to the president. He talked about McCain’s character and how he parted company with those who “lacked the basic values of decency and respect, knowing this project is bigger than yourself.”
Biden said McCain “could not stand the abuse of power wherever he saw it, in whatever form, in whatever country.”
Longtime McCain friend Tommy Espinoza told the 3,500 mourners that “We all make America great,” a similar phrase to Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
The church’s senior pastor, Noe Garcia, pronounced McCain “a true American hero.”
Much of the proceedings were lighthearted, noting McCain’s penchant for battle.
Biden advised McCain’s friends and family to remember snapshots of him, such as a glance or a touch. “Or when you saw the pure joy the moment he was about to take the stage on the Senate floor and start a fight. God, he loved it.”
McCain’s longtime chief of staff, Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, drew laughs with a eulogy in which he talked about McCain’s “terribly bad driving” and his sense of humor, which included calling the Leisure World retirement community “Seizure World.” When McCain and Woods arrived at the community to apologize, Woods said, they saw a resident near the entrance making an obscene gesture at them.
The service brought to a close two days of mourning for the U.S. senator and 2008 GOP presidential nominee in his home state.
At the end of the nearly 90-minute ceremony, McCain’s casket was wheeled out of the church to “My Way,” in tribute to a politician known for following his own path.
Trump and his wife, Melania, danced to the same song at the new president’s inauguration in 2017.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly in Washington and Anita Snow, Jacques Billeaud and Terry Tang in Phoenix contributed to this report.
Follow Kellman on Twitter at

National News

AP Essay: Aretha Franklin, John McCain and the 1960s

By TED ANTHONY, AP National Writer
“Hope I die before I get old,” the Who sang at Woodstock as the 1960s hurtled to their end. Indeed, the decade and its echoes made premature legends of so many — Kennedy to King, Hendrix to Joplin to Morrison. They became emblems of an era, and the packaging of their virtues and vices has never really stopped.
But then there were those who didn’t die, who did get old and emerged from that crucible and carried themselves through the arc of a life unabbreviated. They moved across decades and changes and navigated a culture that their younger selves would not have recognized.
That’s the crossroads where both Aretha Franklin and John McCain stood — shaped by the decade that reshaped so much of American life but propelled into the 1970s and all the way to 2018, carrying some of the fundamental storylines of the 1960s as they progressed forward.
Think of the most dominant, most kinetic narratives of the 60s, the fiery combustion engines that drove the decade: From race, gender and music (Franklin) to war and politics (McCain), they are contained in the two figures to whom we bid farewell this week.
They exit the stage together in an American moment not unlike the period when each emerged. Fifty years after the cataclysmic year of 1968, today we are in a similar period of upheaval and polarization — a time when American society’s foundational pillars are being questioned and people of all political persuasions are deeply angry and uncertain about the nation’s path.
At a juncture like this, faced with this pair of memorials of a man and woman so very different and yet so uniquely representative of the American experience, what better time to stop and think about such figures, about what they meant and mean?
Sure, we’re doing that. But are we doing it effectively?
In the past few days, the American packaging machine has pulled these two lives into slick renditions of who they actually were. Video montages, photo slide shows, memories and even the pleasingly compact monikers we throw around — the “Queen of Soul” and the “Maverick” — are sweet and nostalgic, yes. But they tend to reduce whole lifetimes to their clichéd sharpest edges: the most popular hit songs, the most pointed quotes, the most outsized moments.
The United States is often accused of being an ahistorical nation, and these fragmentary, Twitter-feed-like glimpses of entire lives make that assertion easier to prove. Sort of like we’ve come to view the 1960s themselves through the prism of reductive, Halloween-party buzzwords like “flower children,” ”sit-in” and “Summer of Love.”
“If there were ever a moment for us to talk and sit down and reflect about who we are, where we came from and where we’re going, this weekend should give us that moment,” says Ron Pitcock, an assistant dean at Texas Christian University who teaches about American cultural memory.
“We need to not compartmentalize these two people into these convenient narratives,” he says. “We have two giants who waded through these muddy waters for us. If we settle for just making them an icon or giving them celebrity, then we’ve completely failed in this moment of reflection.”
The places where those muddy waters flowed were sometimes even muddier. Since the 1960s, the country has only gotten more complicated and, many believe, even more fraught.
Trust in government sits near historic lows after beginning to plummet around the time that Franklin’s voice started becoming a household sound and McCain was enduring his years in North Vietnamese custody. Music, delivered on vinyl discs for Franklin’s first recordings, is now more typically served up in bits and bytes. And the stories of race and gender in America remain raw, ragged and aggressively unresolved.
What’s illuminating about McCain and Franklin, in the context of the formative eras and experiences that produced them, is this: Each navigated historical currents — rode them, you might even argue — and each figured out how to remain relevant and impactful on their communities. Lives of high drama, yes, but staying power, too.
“Years matter. The people from the ’60s who end up shaping America were often the ones that lasted. Ted Kennedy shaped America much more than John F. Kennedy,” says John Baick, a historian at Western New England University.
“So many figures from the ’60s are caricatures of themselves,” he says. “Aretha Franklin and John McCain didn’t talk about the good old days. They wanted to bring the past into the present. They were living reminders.”
The very youngest Baby Boomers are in their mid-50s now — despite the exhortation to never trust anyone over 30 — and more than half of today’s Americans have no living memory of the 1960s. When personal experience ebbs, myth fills in the mortar between the bricks.
But those who were shaped by the decade continue to influence it, both alive and dead. Sales of Franklin’s music on the day after her death increased by more than 1,500 percent, Billboard Magazine reported.
“Music changes, and I’m gonna change right along with it,” Franklin once said — or, at least, is widely quoted as saying. The 1960s were a time of great and lurching change. Those who made it through often had to change again and again — continuously, even. She did. He did.
That might be the ultimate echo of that long-ago decade that Aretha Franklin and John McCain leave us with this week. Looking past all else, the main story of the 1960s was change — causing it, managing it, figuring out how to live with it.
We’re still not anywhere near where we need to be with that, as American politics today so clearly demonstrate. In that respect, the lives of these two — and similar figures who survive them — hold clues still to be uncovered. Discuss.
Ted Anthony, director of digital innovation for The Associated Press, writes frequently about American culture. Follow him on Twitter at @anthonyted.