Wisconsin girl missing since parents’ October deaths found
By TODD RICHMOND
Friday, January 11
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin teenager missing for nearly three months after her parents were killed in the family home was found alive barely an hour’s drive away, by a woman who stumbled across the 13-year-old girl and pounded on a nearby home’s door shouting: “This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!”
Jayme was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK when she was discovered Thursday afternoon near the small town of Gordon, the neighbors said.
“I honestly still think I’m dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost,” Peter Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “My jaw just went to the floor.”
Authorities said a suspect was in custody, but otherwise didn’t give any additional details ahead of a planned Friday news conference in Barron, in northwestern Wisconsin.
Jayme went missing on Oct. 15 after police discovered someone had broken into the family’s home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found, with the Barron County Sheriff’s Department describing her as likely abducted.
Detectives pursued thousands of tips, watched dozens of surveillance videos and conducted numerous searches in the effort to find Jayme. Some tips led officials to recruit 2,000 volunteers for a massive ground search on Oct. 23, but it yielded no clues.
Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said in November that he kept similar cases in the back of his mind as he worked to find Jayme, including the abduction of Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was rescued nine months later with the help of two witnesses who recognized her abductors from an “America’s Most Wanted” episode.
“I have a gut feeling she’s (Jayme’s) still alive,” Fitzgerald said at the time.
He was right.
The Star Tribune reported that Town of Gordon resident Kristin Kasinskas heard a knock on her door Thursday afternoon. It was her neighbor, who had been out walking her dog when Jayme approached her asking for help. The woman, who declined to be identified, said she was pretty sure who the girl was, but any doubt was erased when Jayme gave her name.
During the 20 minutes Jayme was in their home, Kasinskas and her husband, Peter, tried to make her feel more comfortable, they said. They offered her water and food, but she declined both. Jayme was quiet, her emotions “pretty flat,” Peter Kasinskas said.
Jayme told the couple she didn’t know where she was or anything about Gordon. From what she told them, they believed she was there for most of her disappearance.
Gordon is about 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) south of Lake Superior and about 65 miles (104.6 kilometers) north of Barron, Jayme’s hometown. Gordon is home to about 645 people in a heavily forested region where logging is the top industry.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on its website that Jayme was found in the town at 4:43 p.m. Thursday, and that a suspect was taken into custody 11 minutes later. The Associated Press couldn’t confirm the Kasinskases’ account; the sheriff’s office’s non-emergency line rang unanswered Thursday night, and Sheriff Thomas Dalbec didn’t respond to an email.
Sue Allard, Jayme’s aunt, told the Star Tribune that she could barely express her joy after learning the news Thursday night.
“Praise the Lord,” Allard said between sobs. “It’s the news we’ve been waiting on for three months. I can’t wait to get my arms around her. I just can’t wait.”
Barron Mayor Ron Fladten said Thursday night he was overjoyed at learning Jayme was alive.
“There was a lot of discouragement because this took quite a while to play out,” Fladten said. “A lot of people have been praying daily, as I have. It’s just a great result we got tonight. It’s unbelievable. It’s like taking a big black cloud in the sky and getting rid of it and the sun comes out again.”
He acknowledged that Jayme may not be the same person she was before she disappeared.
“I hope that she’s in good shape,” the mayor said. “She’s no doubt been through just a terrible ordeal. I think everybody wishes her a good recovery and a happy life going into the future.”
The notification that Jayme had been found came just four hours after Fitzgerald had taken to Twitter to debunk a report that she had been found alive near Walworth County. Douglas County, where Jayme was found, is hundreds of miles northwest of Walworth County.
Associated Press writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
Thai police: Canada, Australia willing to accept Saudi woman
Friday, January 11
BANGKOK (AP) — Several countries including Canada and Australia are in talks with the U.N. refugee agency on accepting a Saudi asylum seeker who fled alleged abuse by her family, Thai police said Friday.
Thailand’s immigration police chief, Surachate Hakparn, told reporters the U.N. was accelerating the case, though he gave no indication of when the process would be complete.
Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was stopped at a Bangkok airport last Saturday by Thai immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport.
While barricading herself in an airport hotel room, the 18-year-old launched a social media campaign via her Twitter account that drew global attention to her case. It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of U.N. officials.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees granted her refugee status on Wednesday.
Alqunun’s case has highlighted the cause of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Several female Saudis fleeing abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum abroad in recent years and returned home. Human rights activists say many similar cases have gone unreported.
By Friday, Alqunun had closed down her Twitter account. Sophie McNeill, a reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who got in contact with Alqunun while she was stuck in the airport hotel room and has kept in touch with her, said Friday in a Twitter posting that Alqunun “is safe and fine.”
“She’s just been receiving a lot of death threats,” McNeill wrote, adding that Alqunun would be back on Twitter after a “short break.”
Alqunun had previously said on Twitter that she wishes to seek refuge in Australia.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok on Thursday. She later told reporters that Australia is assessing Alqunun’s request for resettlement but there was no specific timeframe.
Payne said she also raised Australia’s concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain’s national soccer team who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.
He was arrested while on holiday in Thailand last November due to an Interpol notice in which Bahrain sought his custody after he was sentenced in absentia in 2014 to 10 years in prison for allegedly vandalizing a police station — a charge he denies. Bahrain is seeking his extradition.
Al-Araibi’s case is being considered by Thailand’s justice system, she said.
The forgotten legacy of gay photographer George Platt Lynes
January 11, 2019
Author: Rebecca Fasman, Manager of Traveling Exhibitions at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University
Disclosure statement: “Sensual/Sexual/Social: The Photography of George Platt Lynes” is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields and the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. The exhibition was curated by Rebecca Fasman, Manager of Traveling Exhibitions at the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Robin Lawrence, Manager of Curatorial Affairs, and Anne Young, Manager of Rights and Reproductions at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
Partners: Indiana University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
From the late 1920s until his death in 1955, George Platt Lynes was one of the world’s most successful commercial and fine art photographers.
His work was included in one of the first exhibitions to showcase photography at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932, and he showed at the extremely popular Julien Levy Gallery in New York City. His photographs for Vogue and Bazaar, his shots of dancers at the School of American Ballet and his portraits of some of the most important creative figures of his era were lauded for their innovative use of lighting, props and posing.
But in his view, his most important works were his nude photographs of men. Yet during Lynes’ life, few even knew of their existence.
Because of prevailing attitudes toward homosexuality, which included criminalization and strict obscenity laws, Lynes – himself a gay man – had to keep this incredibly influential and important body of work hidden away.
These nuanced photographs of the male form ended up sparking a friendship between Lynes and Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, the founder of the Institute for Sex Research, later renamed the Kinsey Institute, at Indiana University. Upon his death, Lynes gifted over 2,300 negatives and 600 photographs to the Institute for Sex Research.
The dynamic between Lynes’ commercial and fine art photographs, along with the relationship between Lynes and Kinsey, is the subject of a new exhibition I recently co-curated at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields titled “Sensual/Sexual/Social: The Photography of George Platt Lynes.”
On view through Feb. 24, 2019, the exhibition features many pieces that have never been displayed before. They fill a gap in art history and serve as a window into a time in American culture when gay men like Lynes faced obstacles to unfettered self-expression.
George Platt Lynes was born in New Jersey in 1907 and attended the Berkshire School in Massachusetts, graduating in 1925.
As a young adult, Lynes had a passing interest in photography, but his dream was to be a writer: he published a literary journal called The As Stable Publications and opened up a bookstore in New Jersey. Neither endeavor proved fruitful, so when he happened to inherit a studio’s worth of photographic equipment from a friend, he decided to focus on photography as a career.
One of Lynes’ friends from his Berkshire School days was Lincoln Kirstein, who had recently co-founded the School of American Ballet with choreographer George Balanchine. Lynes and Kirstein became reacquainted and Lynes became the primary photographer for the school, later to be called the New York City Ballet, for 20 years.
Beginning with his ballet photography, Lynes would follow an impulse to upend established norms.
Whereas most photographers would take photos of dancers during their performances, Lynes would take photos of the dancers off-stage, often bringing them to his studio. He wanted to encourage the viewer to focus on the interplay of light, shadows and the body. These images are considered to be some of the finest ballet photographs ever taken.
“I consider that George Lynes synthesized better than anyone else the atmosphere of some of my ballets,” Balanchine wrote after Lynes passed away. “[His] pictures will contain, as far as I am concerned, all that will be remembered of my repertory in a hundred years.”
Lynes’ fashion photographs were no less groundbreaking. He started photographing for fashion magazines in 1933 to supplement his income. But through his innovative use of props and lighting, he soon found himself one of the most sought-after photographers in the industry.
Inspired by Surrealists, Lynes would juxtapose seemingly disparate ideas and objects to create something new. He posed models in odd, sometimes humorous settings. In one image, included in the exhibition at Newfields, Lynes has placed a basket full of hay and birds atop the head of a model who wears a glittering, beautifully tailored dress, and displays her perfectly manicured nails.
Lynes often shot fashion spreads in his apartment in Manhattan, which was lavishly decorated and provided a more personalized atmosphere than photographs shot in a studio. Lynes was also a master darkroom manipulator, working with his negatives and prints to achieve the look he wanted.
Portraiture was another of Lynes’ specialties. Lynes had an active social life, and was known for throwing lavish parties that were attended by the stars of the avant-garde.
He was able to capture in his photographs some of the most influential creative people of his time, including writer Tennessee Williams, artist Marc Chagall and composer Igor Stravinsky. He did so with great attention to detail, using props and creating individualized sets for his subjects.
Lynes’ true passion
Yet all along, Lynes had been taking photographs of the male nude.
The naked male form has long been represented in fine art, mostly appearing in religious, athletic or classical contexts. Lynes’ interest in Greek classical representation of the male body – especially his focus on musculature – grounded his male nude photos in an accepted aesthetic tradition. But Lynes’ photographs also present the male form as beautiful and desirable, adding a completely new element of homoeroticism.
Lynes’ models included his friends, lovers and studio assistants. Some were professional paid models, including a young Yul Brynner, who posed for photographers and drawing classes in New York to make ends meet.
Lynes took considerable risk in photographing the male nude and his models also faced a number of potential repercussions.
After World War II, there was an increase in policing and crackdowns on LGBTQ communities. If he publicly exhibited these works, he might compromise his ability to get commercial work and could face criminal penalties.
But he also identified this body of work as his favorite. “I’ve done my best work when I’ve worked only for pleasure, when I’ve not been paid, when I have a completely free hand, when I’ve had a model who has excited me in one way or another,” he wrote to his partner, Monroe Wheeler, in 1948.
A friendship forms
In the late 1940s, Dr. Alfred Kinsey had just published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and was busy building his collection of material culture related to human sexuality.
Kinsey first learned of Lynes’ work through writer Glenway Westcott. Westcott, Monroe Wheeler and Lynes had been in a ménage à trois relationship for many years, and Westcott thought that Lynes’ images of male nudes might be of interest to Kinsey.
Kinsey began corresponding with Lynes about acquiring his photos, and over the years the two men developed a friendship. Lynes was grateful for Kinsey’s work to normalize the diversity of human sexuality. He was thrilled to play a small part: “The big interest of the moment is Kinsey – in all our lives,” he wrote to his mother in 1949. “I had a three hour interview with him last Sunday … discussing artists, the erotic in art, and suchlike. … It’s an extraordinary job he is doing.”
The Comstock Act, which criminalized the sending of “obscene” materials through the United States Postal Service, was still in effect. So sometimes Kinsey would travel to New York, where Lynes was living, to transport the materials by hand. Other times, they would use private, expensive shipping companies to ship the materials.
When Lynes was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1955, he thought about his legacy and destroyed some of the negatives and prints from his commercial work. He wanted the work that he would be best known for to be the work that was also the most meaningful to him, which were his male nudes.
Kinsey offered the Institute for Sex Research as a possible repository for his work. Lynes was adamant about keeping his models’ identities confidential so they wouldn’t suffer any repercussions for posing nude, and Kinsey agreed. Today, the Kinsey Institute holds the largest collection of Lynes’ work outside of the Lynes estate.
Lynes had a unique command of formal aspects of photography – especially lighting – that made him an innovative technical artist. His choice of subject matter was pivotal to his aesthetic, which remains evocative and timeless. Presenting all of his subjects with dignity, grace and compassion is one of the most enduring aspects of his legacy.
Subsequent generations of photographers acknowledge how important Lynes is to the history of photography. But because of the times in which he lived – and the way he hid the work that he was the most proud of – his name became less familiar to the general public.
Through the preservation of his work by the Kinsey Institute, and the exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, Lynes’ photographs will be seen and understood as the important and influential body of work that it is.
Andy Murray ensconced as British sporting icon
By STEVE DOUGLAS
AP Sports Writer
Friday, January 11
The outpouring of sadness and respect in Britain over the news of Andy Murray’s imminent retirement makes it easy to forget the emotional barrier that existed for so long between the tennis great and sports fans in his own country.
Grumpy, sulky, petulant, cold. That was the initial view toward Murray, who will end his career — sometime this year, it seems — as one of Britain’s greatest ever sportspeople as well as a champion of equality, a role model and a shining example of how to maximize talent.
It was a tearful Murray who said Friday his battle with a long-standing hip injury was making his day-to-day life a “struggle.” And it was a tearful performance on Wimbledon’s Centre Court years ago which finally persuaded the British public to take Murray to their hearts.
In July 2012 — before he won any of his three Grand Slam titles, his two Olympic medals, or led Britain to its first Davis Cup in 79 years — an emotional Murray broke down in an on-court interview following his four-set loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.
“I felt like I was playing for the nation,” Murray said, his bottom lip quivering, “and I couldn’t quite do it.”
Inadvertently, it might have boosted his public standing more than winning the title.
In an instant, Murray was humanized. His emotions laid bare, it felt like he was finally accepted by the whole country, not just tennis fans who had long appreciated his undoubted talent since turning pro in 2005.
Murray’s popularity soared and perhaps it was no coincidence that, from that turning point, he became something of a sporting phenomenon in Britain. He won Olympic gold a month later — fittingly on the same Wimbledon lawns — and his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open soon after.
The following year, he became the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. In 2015, he inspired Britain to the Davis Cup title. By the time he had won Wimbledon and the Olympic singles title again in 2016, he was firmly in the conversation about Britain’s greatest sports star and the public was enamored.
He was honored with a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, the same year he rose to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time.
It was no surprise, therefore, that Murray led the news bulletins Friday morning as Brits woke up to the news about his likely retirement, while social media was awash with praise and discussion about his impact on tennis and sports in general.
“Whatever happens next, you’ve done more than you know,” read a tweet from Wimbledon’s official account, above a picture of Murray clutching his face the moment he won the singles title at the All England Club for the first time.
While Murray was widely hailed as the epitome of hard work and determination, his work in championing equality in tennis was also highlighted.
“Your greatest impact on the world may be yet to come,” tennis great Billie Jean King wrote on Twitter. “Your voice for equality will inspire future generations.”
Murray, who was helped on his journey by tennis-coach mother Judy, was the first leading male player to employ a female coach in Amelie Mauresmo and often spoke of wanting equal pay in tennis. In a news conference after a loss to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2017, Murray intervened to correct a journalist who said during his question that Querrey was the “first U.S. player to reach a major semifinal since 2009.”
“Male player,” Murray said, in a nod to multiple Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
“That’s my boy,” his mother quickly tweeted.
That short interjection cemented Murray’s status as a role model for equality.
“I know all of us girls in the locker room are in awe & so grateful for how you always fight in our corner!” Heather Watson, Britain’s No. 2 female player, said Friday. “You inspire me in so many ways and I don’t want you to go!!”
If his hip can hold up, there was a general desire to see Murray make it to one last Wimbledon tournament before bowing out.
Expect the tears to flow then, too.
“He’s too important to Great Britain and Wimbledon history to not have it,” former American player Andy Roddick said.
More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80