View Full Version : This Day in History

Zen Curmudgeon
04-16-2005, 10:00 AM
A psychedelic anniversary, this is the day Albert Hoffman accidentally discovered LSD. From his diary:

"Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away."

Dream On -


Zen Curmudgeon
04-24-2005, 07:52 AM
We seem to repeat ourselves, sometimes.

April 24

1967 Westmoreland makes controversial remarks

At a news conference in Washington, Gen. William Westmoreland, senior U.S. commander in South Vietnam, causes controversy by saying that the enemy had "gained support in the United States that gives him hope that he can win politically that which he cannot win militarily." Though he said that, "Ninety-five percent of the people were behind the United States effort in Vietnam," he asserted that the American soldiers in Vietnam were "dismayed, and so am I, by recent unpatriotic acts at home." This criticism of the antiwar movement was not received well by many in and out of the antiwar movement, who believed it was both their right and responsibility to speak out against the war.


Take Care -


Zen Curmudgeon
04-25-2005, 03:13 PM
"Ginger Rogers did the same things as Fred Astaire, just backwards and wearing high heels."


Take Care -


04-25-2005, 03:21 PM
Actually, often, She got to spin more also . . and how many times when rehearsing did she get dropped doing one of those "Lifts"?

Zen Curmudgeon
05-05-2005, 05:22 AM

1862 Cinco de Mayo

During the French-Mexican War, a poorly supplied and outnumbered Mexican army under General Ignacio Zaragoza defeats a French army attempting to capture Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. Victory at the Battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for the Mexican government, symbolizing the country's ability to defend its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation.

In 1861, the liberal Mexican Benito Juarez became president of a country in financial ruin, and he was forced to default on his debts to European governments. In response, France, Britain, and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juarez and his government into retreat.

Certain that French victory would come swiftly in Mexico, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles. From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of loyal men and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Zaragoza, the 2,000 Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On the fifth of May, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well-provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and began their assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Although not a major strategic victory in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza's victory at Puebla tightened Mexican resistance, and six years later France withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juarez' forces. Puebla de Los Angeles, the site of Zaragoza's historic victory, was renamed Puebla de Zaragoza in honor of the general. Today, Mexicans celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla as Cinco de Mayo, a national holiday in Mexico.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-09-2005, 05:39 AM
May 9

1977 Saving Social Security

Just a few months after taking the oath of office, President Jimmy Carter set about healing America's various ills. One of the areas in dire need of attention was Social Security, America's program for paying out retirement benefits, which was increasingly threatened by the slumping economy and the ever-swelling unemployment rolls. And so, on this day in 1977, Carter proposed a tax hike aimed at bolstering Social Security's "fiscal integrity." Along with bumping the tax rate up from 7 percent to 7.5 percent, the president's proposal also called for federal funds to be shifted to Social Security if unemployment ever left the retirement program impotent. The latter point aroused considerable debate and prompted legislators to perform a heady round of revisions to the tax bill. In the winter of 1977, Congress gave the green light to the overhauled version of the president's legislation.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-17-2005, 04:56 PM
1973 Televised Watergate hearings begin

In Washington, D.C., the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, begins televised hearings on the escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor.

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. One of the suspects, James W. McCord Jr., was revealed to be the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon's reelection committee. Two other men with White House ties were later implicated in the break-in: E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, and G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President. Journalists and the Select Committee discovered a higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude erupted.

In May 1973, the special Senate committee began televised proceedings on the Watergate affair. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes--official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff--was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-18-2005, 05:15 AM
May 18

1926 Popular evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson disappears

Aimee Semple McPherson, a nationally known evangelist, disappears from Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California. Police dispatched planes and ships in an effort to find her, but she was nowhere to be found. Authorities later discovered that radio announcer Kenneth Ormiston, a friend of McPherson, had also vanished.

McPherson was the Billy Graham of her time. In 1923, she opened Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, where she consistently amassed overflowing crowds. McPherson claimed to have faith-healing abilities and put on wonderfully entertaining shows for the public. Because of her religious nature, McPherson's relationship with Ormiston created something of a scandal in 1925, and their disappearance in 1926 made headlines across the country.

A month later, McPherson turned up in Aqua Prieta, New Mexico, with a wild tale of being kidnapped, but reporters quickly uncovered information to prove that she had been with Ormiston the entire time. Although obstruction of justice charges were filed against her, they were later dropped, allegedly because McPherson came up with $30,000 to appease law enforcement officials.

McPherson attempted a comeback evangelism tour after the scandal had died down, but it flopped and she slowly faded from the public's memory. Even still, she remains the answer to a good trivia question: Who baptized Marilyn Monroe?

Zen Curmudgeon
05-19-2005, 05:29 AM
May 19

1960 Alan Freed arrested

Disc jockey and TV personality Alan Freed, who coined the term "rock 'n' roll," is arrested along with seven other people on suspicion of commercial bribery. Freed had refused to sign an affidavit in 1959 denying he had accepted payola, which was not against the law at that time. He was charged with 26 counts of commercial bribery but got off with a fine.

In January, the National Association of Broadcasters had decreed that disc jockeys accepting payment from record labels for broadcasting particular songs would be charged a $500 fine and spend a year in prison. The practice, called payola, had provoked an extensive investigation by the NAB.

Payola was far from a new concept: The term had been coined by Variety magazine in 1938. The practice skyrocketed in the mid-1950s, however, when the advent of television led to the decline of radio dramas, freeing up hundreds of hours of radio time for music each week. Radio became a showcase for record companies, who desperately wanted their songs to be in the Top 40. Big-city DJs earned about $35,000 a year and had always been wooed with free meals and money--some equated this to the tip a headwaiter would receive for giving a patron a good table, but some record producers said disc jockeys refused to play certain records without a cash bribe.

The payola scandal became public in 1959. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission launched investigations that year, and the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the group that distributes royalties from use of artists' music, went on strike against broadcasters. The end result was approval of an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 outlawing pay-for-play. Among others, radio DJ Dick Clark was called to testify during the investigation. Clark had promoted songs from record labels he invested in on his popular program, American Bandstand. In a press statement, he admitted the link, but pointed out he was following industry ground rules that were acceptable at the time

Zen Curmudgeon
05-20-2005, 09:07 AM
May 20

Acting at the behest of a Reno, Nevada, tailor who had invented the idea, Levi Strauss secures the necessary patents for canvas pants with copper rivets to reinforce the stress points.

Born in Buttenheim, Bavaria, in 1829, the young Levi Strauss emigrated to the United States in 1847. Strauss initially went into business selling dry goods along the East Coast, but in 1852, his brother-in-law encouraged him to relocate to the booming city of San Francisco. He arrived in San Francisco in 1853 with a load of merchandise that he hoped to sell in the California mining camps. Unable to sell a large supply of canvas, Strauss hit on the idea of using the durable material to make work pants for miners. Strauss' canvas pants were an immediate success among hardworking miners who had long complained that conventional pants wore out too quickly.

In 1872, Strauss received a letter from Jacob Davis, a customer and tailor who worked in the mining town of Reno, Nevada. Davis reported that he had discovered canvas pants could be improved if the pocket seams and other weak points that tended to tear were strengthened by copper rivets. Davis' riveted pants had proven popular in Reno, but he needed a patent to protect his invention. Intrigued by the copper-riveted pants, Strauss and his partners agreed to undertake the necessary legal work for the patent and begin large-scale production of the pants. Davis' invention was patented on this day in 1873. In exchange for his idea, Strauss made the Reno tailor his production manager. Eventually, Strauss switched from using canvas to heavyweight blue denim, and the modern "blue jeans" were born.

Since then, Levi Strauss & Company has sold more than 200 million pairs of copper-riveted jeans. By the turn of the century, people outside of the mining and ranching communities had discovered that "Levi's" were both comfortable and durable. Eventually, the jeans lost most of their association with the West and came to be simply a standard element of the casual American wardrobe

Zen Curmudgeon
05-26-2005, 05:03 AM
May 26

John Wayne, an actor who came to epitomize the American West, is born in Winterset, Iowa.

Born Marion Michael Morrison, Wayne's family moved to Glendale, California, when he was six years old. As a teen, he rose at four in the morning to deliver newspapers, and after school he played football and made deliveries for local stores. When he graduated from high school, he hoped to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. However, after the school rejected him, he accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In the summer of 1926, Wayne's football coach found him a job as an assistant prop man on the set of a movie directed by John Ford. Ford started to use Wayne as an extra, and he eventually began to trust him with some larger roles. In 1930, Ford recommended Wayne for Fox's epic Western The Big Trail. Wayne won the part, but the movie did poorly, and Fox let his contract lapse.

During the next decade, Wayne worked tirelessly in countless low-budget western films, sharpening his talents and developing a distinct persona for his cowboy characters. Finally, his old mentor John Ford gave Wayne his big break, casting him in his brilliant 1939 western, Stagecoach. Wayne played the role of Ringo Kid, and he imbued the character with the essential traits that would inform nearly all of his subsequent screen roles: a tough and clear-eyed honesty, unquestioning valor, and a laconic, almost plodding manner.

After Stagecoach, Wayne's career took off. Among the dozens of Westerns he appeared in-many of them directed by Ford-were memorable classics like Tall in the Saddle (1944), Red River (1948), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). In all these films, The Duke, as he was known, embodied the simple, and perhaps simplistic, cowboy values of decency, honesty, and integrity.

Besides Westerns, Wayne also acted in war films. It was a small leap from the valorous cowboy or cavalry soldier to the brave WWII fighters of films like Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and Flying Leathernecks (1951). Deeply conservative in his politics, Wayne also used his 1968 film, The Green Berets, to express his support of the American government's war in Vietnam.

By the late 1960s, some Americans had tired of Wayne and his simplistically masculine and patriotic characters. Increasingly, western movies were rejecting the simple black-and-white moral codes championed by Wayne and replacing them with a more complex and tragic view of the American West. However, Wayne proved more adaptable than many expected. In his Oscar-winning role in True Grit (1969), he began to escape the narrow confines of his own good-guy image. His final film, The Shootist (1976), won over even his most severe critics. Wayne--who was himself battling lung cancer--played a dying gunfighter whose moral codes and principles no longer fit in a changing world.

Three years later, Wayne died of cancer. To this day, public polls identify him as one of the most popular actors of all time.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-30-2005, 08:08 AM
By proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, the first major Memorial Day observance is held to honor those who died "in defense of their country during the late rebellion." Known to some as "Decoration Day," mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

The 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances that had taken place in various locations in the three years since the end of the Civil War. In fact, several cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Mississippi; Macon, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; and Carbondale, Illinois. In 1966, the federal government, under the direction of President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo--which had first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866--because the town had made Memorial Day an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

By the late 19th century, many communities across the country had begun to celebrate Memorial Day, and after World War I, observers began to honor the dead of all of America's wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. It is customary for the president or vice president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. More than 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Several Southern states continue to set aside a special day for honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-06-2005, 07:16 AM
June 6, 1944 D-Day

On this day in 1944, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the go-ahead for largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, code named D-Day, the Allied invasion of northern France.

By daybreak, 18,000 British and American parachutists were already on the ground. At 6:30 a.m., American troops came ashore at Utah and Omaha beaches. At Omaha, the U.S. First Division battled high seas, mist, mines, burning vehicles-and German coastal batteries, including an elite infantry division, which spewed heavy fire. Many wounded Americans ultimately drowned in the high tide. British divisions, which landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, and Canadian troops also met with heavy German fire, but by the end of the day they were able to push inland.

Despite the German resistance, Allied casualties overall were relatively light. The United States and Britain each lost about 1,000 men, and Canada 355. Before the day was over, 155,000 Allied troops would be in Normandy. However, the United States managed to get only half of the 14,000 vehicles and a quarter of the 14,500 tons of supplies they intended on shore.

Three factors were decisive in the success of the Allied invasion. First, German counterattacks were firm but sparse, enabling the Allies to create a broad bridgehead, or advanced position, from which they were able to build up enormous troop strength. Second, Allied air cover, which destroyed bridges over the Seine, forced the Germans to suffer long detours, and naval gunfire proved decisive in protecting the invasion troops. And third, division and confusion within the German ranks as to where the invasion would start and how best to defend their position helped the Allies. (Hitler, convinced another invasion was coming the next day east of the Seine River, refused to allow reserves to be pulled from that area.)

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of Britain's Twenty-first Army Group (but under the overall command of General Eisenhower, for whom Montgomery, and his ego, proved a perennial thorn in the side), often claimed later that the invasion had come off exactly as planned. That was a boast, as evidenced by the failure to take Caen on the first day, as scheduled. While the operation was a decided success, considering the number of troops put ashore and light casualties, improvisation by courageous and quick-witted commanders also played an enormous role.

The D-Day invasion has been the basis for several movies, from The Longest Day (1962), which boasted an all-star cast that included Richard Burton, Sean Connery, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum-and Fabian, to Saving Private Ryan (1998), which includes some of the most grippingly realistic war scenes ever filmed, captured in the style of the famous Robert Capa still photos of the actual invasion.

06-06-2005, 04:58 PM
June 6, 1944 D-Day

Despite the German resistance, Allied casualties overall were relatively light. The United States and Britain each lost about 1,000 men, and Canada 355.

That's "relatively light"? If those are light casualties from ONE DAY, why are we making a big deal about a similer number that took us over a year to reach in Iraq and calling it too high a number?

06-07-2005, 09:34 AM
Y'know, D-day is one of the most glorified undertakings of any war in history, and in it's way it can be considered one of the greatest . . . however, it can also be called (in it's own way) a massive blunder by the Brass. Them, assuming that the killed and wounded were just so much cannon fodder. The GI's, for the most part, were no more than statistics with M-1s when the plan for Overlord was dreamed up, and these men were trained for more than two years to mount that particular landing.

Today, we marvel and make heroes of each of those men, and wonder what made them do what they did on that day and the days following. I hear and see whining from people who claim to have served as I have, but even in 'Nam, there weren't days and weeks like those GI's had in Europe, especially in the hedgerows and during the Battle of the Bulge . . . In 'Nam, you could live through a firefight at 0830, and have a "cot and a hot" by 1800, same day . . . yeah, anytime you get shot at at all ain't even good, but those guys did things that even the Brass couldn't comprehend!

And when you talk to any of them . . "They were just doing a job" . . . . . . Pretty amazing . . .

If given the chance, any of you who would like to see a snippet of history about those guys and their "Job", watch the whole series "Band of brothers" in it's correct sequence, especially the part where the real guys are talking about their time there . . .you'll cry, and if you don't, you have no soul! . . nor will you understand what any WWII Vet did!

Zen Curmudgeon
06-08-2005, 04:53 AM
Hollywood figures, including film stars Frederic March, John Garfield, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson, are named in a FBI report as Communist Party members. Such reports helped to fuel the anticommunist hysteria in the United States during the late-1940s and 1950s.

The FBI report relied largely on accusations made by "confidential informants," supplemented with some highly dubious analysis. It began by arguing that the Communist Party in the United States claimed to have "been successful in using well-known Hollywood personalities to further Communist Party aims." The report particularly pointed to the actions of the Academy Award-winning actor Frederic March. Suspicions about March were raised by his activities in a group that was critical of America's growing nuclear arsenal (the group included other well-known radicals such as Helen Keller and Danny Kaye). March had also campaigned for efforts to provide relief to war-devastated Russia. The report went on to name several others who shared March's political leanings: Edward G. Robinson, the African-American singer; actor and activist Paul Robeson; the writer Dorothy Parker; and a host of Hollywood actors, writers, and directors.

The FBI report was part of a continuing campaign by the U.S. government to suggest that Hollywood was rife with communist activists who were using the medium of motion pictures to spread the Soviet party line. Congressional investigations into Hollywood began as early as 1946. In 1947, Congress cited 10 Hollywood writers and directors for contempt because they refused to divulge their political leanings or name others who might be communists. The "Hollywood Ten," as they came to be known, were later convicted and sent to prison for varying terms. In response to this particular round of allegations from the FBI, movie tough-guy Edward G. Robinson declared, "These rantings, ravings, accusations, smearing, and character assassinations can only emanate from sick, diseased minds of people who rush to the press with indictments of good American citizens. I have played many parts in my life, but no part have I played better or been more proud of than that of being an American citizen."

06-08-2005, 06:17 PM
Gee, I wonder what those people who accused Hollywood then would think of Michael Moore, Jane Fonda, etc...

Zen Curmudgeon
06-09-2005, 05:14 AM
In a dramatic confrontation, Joseph Welch, special counsel for the U.S. Army, lashes out at Senator Joseph McCarthy during hearings on whether communism has infiltrated the U.S. armed forces. Welch's verbal assault marked the end of McCarthy's power during the anticommunist hysteria of the Red Scare in America.

Senator McCarthy (R-Wisconsin) experienced a meteoric rise to fame and power in the U.S. Senate when he charged in February 1950 that "hundreds" of "known communists" were in the Department of State. In the years that followed, McCarthy became the acknowledged leader of the so-called Red Scare, a time when millions of Americans became convinced that communists had infiltrated every aspect of American life. Behind closed-door hearings, McCarthy bullied, lied, and smeared his way to power, destroying many careers and lives in the process. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated his antics because his attacks were directed against the Democratic administration of Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy's recklessness and increasingly erratic behavior became unacceptable and the senator saw his clout slowly ebbing away. In a last-ditch effort to revitalize his anticommunist crusade, McCarthy made a crucial mistake. He charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was "soft" on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, McCarthy opened hearings into the Army.

Joseph N. Welch, a soft-spoken lawyer with an incisive wit and intelligence, represented the Army. During the course of weeks of hearings, Welch blunted every one of McCarthy's charges. The senator, in turn, became increasingly enraged, bellowing "point of order, point of order," screaming at witnesses, and declaring that one highly decorated general was a "disgrace" to his uniform. On June 9, 1954, McCarthy again became agitated at Welch's steady destruction of each of his arguments and witnesses. In response, McCarthy charged that Frederick G. Fisher, a young associate in Welch's law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a "legal arm of the Communist Party." Welch was stunned. As he struggled to maintain his composure, he looked at McCarthy and declared, "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." It was then McCarthy's turn to be stunned into silence, as Welch asked, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" The audience of citizens and newspaper and television reporters burst into wild applause. Just a week later, the hearings into the Army came to a close. McCarthy, exposed as a reckless bully, was officially condemned by the U.S. Senate for contempt against his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years McCarthy spiraled into alcoholism. Still in office, he died in 1957.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-24-2005, 06:33 AM
Colorado Governor John Evans warns that all peaceful Indians in the region must report to the Sand Creek reservation or risk being attacked, creating the conditions that will lead to the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.

Evans' offer of sanctuary was at best halfhearted. His primary goal in 1864 was to eliminate all Native American activity in eastern Colorado Territory, an accomplishment he hoped would increase his popularity and eventually win him a U.S. Senate seat. Immediately after ordering the peaceful Indians to the reservation, Evans issued a second proclamation that invited white settlers to indiscriminately "kill and destroy all...hostile Indians." At the same time, Evans began creating a temporary 100-day militia force to wage war on the Indians. He placed the new regiment under the command of Colonel John Chivington, another ambitious man who hoped to gain high political office by fighting Indians.

The Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe Indians of eastern Colorado were unaware of these duplicitous political maneuverings. Although some bands had violently resisted white settlers in years past, by the autumn of 1864 many Indians were becoming more receptive to Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle's argument that they must make peace. Black Kettle had recently returned from a visit to Washington, D.C., where President Abraham Lincoln had given him a huge American flag of which Black Kettle was very proud. He had seen the vast numbers of the white people and their powerful machines. The Indians, Black Kettle argued, must make peace or be crushed.

When word of Governor Evans' June 24 offer of sanctuary reached the Indians, however, most of the Indians remained distrustful and were unwilling to give up the fight. Only Black Kettle and a few lesser chiefs took Evans up on his offer of amnesty. In truth, Evans and Chivington were reluctant to see hostilities further abate before they had won a glorious victory, but they grudgingly promised Black Kettle his people would be safe if they came to Fort Lyon in eastern Colorado. In November 1864, the Indians reported to the fort as requested. Major Edward Wynkoop, the commanding federal officer, told Black Kettle to settle his band about 40 miles away on Sand Creek, where he promised they would be safe.

Wynkoop, however, could not control John Chivington. By November, the 100-day enlistment of the soldiers in his Colorado militia was nearly up, and Chivington had seen no action. His political stock was rapidly falling, and he seems to have become almost insane in his desire to kill Indians. "I long to be wading in gore!" he is said to have proclaimed at a dinner party. In this demented state, Chivington apparently concluded that it did not matter whether he killed peaceful or hostile Indians. In his mind, Black Kettle's village on Sand Creek became a legitimate and easy target.

At daybreak on November 29, 1864, Chivington led 700 men, many of them drunk, in a savage assault on Black Kettle's peaceful village. Most of the Cheyenne warriors were away hunting. In the awful hours that followed, Chivington and his men brutally slaughtered 105 women and children and killed 28 men. The soldiers scalped and mutilated the corpses, carrying body parts back to display in Denver as trophies. Amazingly, Black Kettle and a number of other Cheyenne managed to escape.

In the following months, the nation learned of Chivington's treachery at Sand Creek, and many Americans reacted with horror and disgust. By then, Chivington and his soldiers had left the military and were beyond reach of a court-martial. Chivington's political ambitions, however, were ruined, and he spent the rest of his inconsequential life wandering the West. The scandal over Sand Creek also forced Evans to resign and dashed his hopes of holding political office. Evans did, however, go on to a successful and lucrative career building and operating Colorado railroads.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-25-2005, 09:09 AM
Congress passes the Mann Act, also known as the White Slave Traffic Act, in one of the strangest attempts to criminally enforce morality in U.S. history. The law actually had little to do with slavery; it was aimed at stopping the supposed problem of innocent girls being lured into prostitution.

The outrage over "white slavery" began with a commission appointed in 1907 to investigate the problem of immigrant prostitutes. Allegedly, women were brought to America for the purpose of being forced into sexual slavery; their presence was corrupting the nation and bringing about its "moral degradation."

The Congressional committees that debated the Mann Act apparently found it impossible to believe that a girl would ever choose to be a prostitute unless she was drugged and held hostage. The law made it illegal to "transport any woman or girl" across state lines "for any immoral purpose." This last clause may not have seemed important to the drafters believing that they were striking at prostitution. However, "for any immoral purpose" began to take on a much greater meaning.

In 1917, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of two California men, Drew Caminetti and Maury Diggs, who had gone on a romantic weekend getaway with their girlfriends to Reno, Nevada. Following this decision, the Mann Act was used in all types of cases: someone was charged with violating the Mann Act for bringing a woman from one state to another in order to work as a chorus girl in a theater; wives began using the Mann Act against girls who ran off with their husbands. The law was also used for nefarious purposes: Jack Johnson, heavyweight champion of the world in boxing, was prosecuted simply because he was black and his girlfriend was white.

The most famous prosecutions under the law were those of Charlie Chaplin in 1944 and Chuck Berry in 1962, who took unmarried women across state lines for "immoral purposes." Chaplin was acquitted, but left the country under FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's threats. Berry was convicted and spent two years in the prime of his musical career in jail. After Berry's conviction, the Mann Act was enforced only sparingly, and was finally removed from the books in 1986.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-27-2005, 05:29 AM
Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Mormon religion, is murdered along with his brother Hyrum when an anti-Mormon mob breaks into a jail where they are being held in Carthage, Illinois.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ--later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy. In 1844, the threat of mob violence prompted Smith to call out a militia in the Mormon town of Nauvoo, Illinois. He was charged with treason by Illinois authorities and imprisoned with his brother Hyrum in the Carthage city jail. On June 27, 1844, an anti-Mormon mob with blackened faces stormed in and murdered the brothers.

Two years later, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah's Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, "This is the place," and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them to settle there.

Zen Curmudgeon
07-04-2005, 09:07 AM
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration
of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of
America from Great Britain and its king. The declaration came 442 days after the
first volleys of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in
Massachusetts and marked an ideological expansion of the conflict that would
eventually encourage France's intervention on behalf of the Patriots.The first
major American opposition to British policy came in 1765 after Parliament passed
the Stamp Act, a taxation measure to raise revenues for a standing British army
in America. Under the banner of "no taxation without representation," colonists
convened the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765 to vocalize their opposition to
the tax. With its enactment in November, most colonists called for a boycott of
British goods, and some organized attacks on the customhouses and homes of tax
collectors. After months of protest in the colonies, Parliament voted to repeal
the Stamp Act in March 1766.Most colonists continued to quietly accept British
rule until Parliament's enactment of the Tea Act in 1773, a bill designed to
save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and
granting it a monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East
India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and
many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny. In
response, militant Patriots in Massachusetts organized the "Boston Tea Party,"
which saw British tea valued at some ý18,000 dumped into Boston
harbor.Parliament, outraged by the Boston Tea Party and other blatant acts of
destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the
Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping,
established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British
officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to
quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental
Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.With the other
colonies watching intently, Massachusetts led the resistance to the British,
forming a shadow revolutionary government and establishing militias to resist
the increasing British military presence across the colony. In April 1775,
Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, ordered British troops to
march to Concord, Massachusetts, where a Patriot arsenal was known to be
located. On April 19, 1775, the British regulars encountered a group of American
militiamen at Lexington, and the first shots of the American Revolution were
fired.Initially, both the Americans and the British saw the conflict as a kind
of civil war within the British Empire: To King George III it was a colonial
rebellion, and to the Americans it was a struggle for their rights as British
citizens. However, Parliament remained unwilling to negotiate with the American
rebels and instead purchased German mercenaries to help the British army crush
the rebellion. In response to Britain's continued opposition to reform, the
Continental Congress began to pass measures abolishing British authority in the
colonies.In January 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, an influential
political pamphlet that convincingly argued for American independence and sold
more than 500,000 copies in a few months. In the spring of 1776, support for
independence swept the colonies, the Continental Congress called for states to
form their own governments, and a five-man committee was assigned to draft a
declaration.The Declaration of Independence was largely the work of Virginian
Thomas Jefferson. In justifying American independence, Jefferson drew generously
from the political philosophy of John Locke, an advocate of natural rights, and
from the work of other English theorists. The first section features the famous
lines, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The second part
presents a long list of grievances that provided the rationale for rebellion.On
July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted to approve a Virginia motion
calling for separation from Britain. The dramatic words of this resolution were
added to the closing of the Declaration of Independence. Two days later, on July
4, the declaration was formally adopted by 12 colonies after minor revision. New
York approved it on July 19. On August 2, the declaration was signed.The
American War for Independence would last for five more years. Yet to come were
the Patriot triumphs at Saratoga, the bitter winter at Valley Forge, the
intervention of the French, and the final victory at Yorktown in 1781. In 1783,
with the signing of the Treaty of Paris with Britain, the United States formally
became a free and independent nation.

Zen Curmudgeon
07-10-2005, 07:01 AM
In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called "Monkey Trial" begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to "teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city's main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day's proceeding with prayer.

Outside, Dayton took on a carnival-like atmosphere as an exhibit featuring two chimpanzees and a supposed "missing link" opened in town, and vendors sold Bibles, toy monkeys, hot dogs, and lemonade. The missing link was in fact Jo Viens of Burlington, Vermont, a 51-year-old man who was of short stature and possessed a receding forehead and a protruding jaw. One of the chimpanzees--named Joe Mendi--wore a plaid suit, a brown fedora, and white spats, and entertained Dayton's citizens by monkeying around on the courthouse lawn.

In the courtroom, Judge Raulston destroyed the defense's strategy by ruling that expert scientific testimony on evolution was inadmissible--on the grounds that it was Scopes who was on trial, not the law he had violated. The next day, Raulston ordered the trial moved to the courthouse lawn, fearing that the weight of the crowd inside was in danger of collapsing the floor.

In front of several thousand spectators in the open air, Darrow changed his tactics and as his sole witness called Bryan in an attempt to discredit his literal interpretation of the Bible. In a searching examination, Bryan was subjected to severe ridicule and forced to make ignorant and contradictory statements to the amusement of the crowd. On July 21, in his closing speech, Darrow asked the jury to return a verdict of guilty in order that the case might be appealed. Under Tennessee law, Bryan was thereby denied the opportunity to deliver the closing speech he had been preparing for weeks. After eight minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a guilty verdict, and Raulston ordered Scopes to pay a fine of $100, the minimum the law allowed. Although Bryan had won the case, he had been publicly humiliated and his fundamentalist beliefs had been disgraced. Five days later, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday afternoon nap and never woke up.

In 1927, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the Monkey Trial verdict on a technicality but left the constitutional issues unresolved until 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar Arkansas law on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment.

Zen Curmudgeon
07-27-2005, 05:24 AM
On this day in 1940, Bugs Bunny first appears on the silver screen in "A Wild Hare." The wisecracking rabbit had evolved through several earlier short films. As in many future installments of Bugs Bunny cartoons, "A Wild Hare" featured Bugs as the would-be dinner for frustrated hunter Elmer Fudd.

Cartoon animation first appeared in 1908 in France, followed quickly by American cartoons. In 1909, a newspaper cartoon artist named Winsor McCay created Gertie the Dinosaur, the first animated character to appear regularly on the screen. In 1918, McCay produced The Sinking of the Lusitania, the first feature-length cartoon. A variety of recurring cartoons developed by the late teens and early '20s, and these characters became more popular after the development of sound pictures in the late 1920s. Walt Disney introduced the Silly Symphonies cartoons and created Mickey Mouse and his gang. By the mid-1930s, Disney was making feature-length musical cartoons like "Sleeping Beauty."

Under the direction of animation director Tex Avery, Warner Bros. developed its own set of cartoon stars, including Bugs, Elmer, Tweety, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and many others. Bugs was animated by Chuck Jones, and his famous accent came from legendary voice man Mel Blanc. Blanc started with Warner Bros. in 1937, creating the voices (or sounds) for Bugs, Road Runner, Sylvester, and Tweety Bird, among other characters.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-02-2005, 05:22 AM
Twenty-two Mexican men are arrested in Los Angeles, California, for conspiring to kill Jose Diaz, whose body had been found the previous night at the Sleepy Lagoon reservoir. Despite a lack of evidence, 24 Mexicans were eventually prosecuted for beating Diaz to death. The trial and subsequent convictions characterized a period of racial prejudice and injustice in Los Angeles during World War II.

Media coverage surrounding the trial was particularly racist. The Los Angeles Examiner referred to young Mexican Americans as "juvenile delinquents." A captain from the Los Angeles Sheriff's office told a grand jury that Mexicans had a "biological tendency" to be violent since they were descendants of Indian tribes who practiced human sacrifice. He went on to say that they had a "total disregard for human life" and an inbred "desire to use a knife or some lethal weapon. In other words, [a Mexican's] desire is to kill, or at least, let blood. "

Despite the concerted efforts of a defense committee that had been put together by liberal activists and Hollywood actors, 12 of the accused were convicted and sent to San Quentin prison.

Over the course of the following year, hostility between Caucasians and Hispanics became so inflamed by the press, police, and city officials that the so-called "zoot suit riots" broke out the next summer. Allegedly, 11 sailors had been attacked by a group of Mexicans wearing zoot suits-long coats with exaggerated shoulder pads and loose pleated pants. On June 4, 1943, 200 Navy sailors responded to the assault by combing the streets in cabs, stopping to beat anyone wearing the popular Hispanic outfit. These unprovoked attacks continued for several days. On June 7, The Los Angeles Examiner reported that Mexicans would be out to retaliate, causing a civilian panic. The following day, the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance that made wearing a zoot suit a misdemeanor.

Finally, on June 9, U.S. military commanders restricted military personnel to their bases in Los Angeles, and the turmoil ended. A court of appeals eventually overturned the convictions of all 12 of the defendants in the Sleepy Lagoon case, and they were released after two years in prison.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-04-2005, 05:24 AM
George Washington, a young Virginia planter, becomes a Master Mason, the highest basic rank in the secret fraternity of Freemasonry. The ceremony was held at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington was 21 years old and would soon command his first military operation as a major in the Virginia colonial militia.

Freemasonry evolved from the practices and rituals of the stonemasons' guilds in the Middle Ages. With the decline of European cathedral building, "lodges" decided to admit non-stonemasons to maintain membership, and the secret fraternal order grew in popularity in Europe. In 1717, the first Grand Lodge, an association of lodges, was founded in England, and Freemasonry was soon disseminated throughout the British Empire. The first American Mason lodge was established in Philadelphia in 1730, and future revolutionary leader Benjamin Franklin was a founding member.

There is no central Masonic authority, and Freemasons are governed locally by the order's many customs and rites. Members trace the origins of Masonry back to the erecting of King Solomon's Temple in biblical times and are expected to believe in the "Supreme Being," follow specific religious rites, and maintain a vow of secrecy concerning the order's ceremonies. The Masons of the 18th century adhered to liberal democratic principles that included religious toleration, loyalty to local government, and the importance of charity. From its inception, Freemasonry encountered considerable opposition from organized religion, especially from the Roman Catholic Church.

For George Washington, joining the Masons was a rite of passage and an expression of his civic responsibility. After becoming a Master Mason, Washington had the option of passing through a series of additional rites that would take him to higher "degrees." In 1788, shortly before becoming the first president of the United States, Washington was elected the first Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22.

Many other leaders of the American Revolution, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Boston Tea Party saboteurs, were also Freemasons, and Masonic rites were witnessed at such events as Washington's presidential inauguration and the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.--a city supposedly designed with Masonic symbols in mind. Masonic symbols, approved by Washington in the design of the Great Seal of the United States, can be seen on the one-dollar bill. The All-Seeing Eye above an unfinished pyramid is unmistakably Masonic, and the scroll beneath, which proclaims the advent of a "New Secular Order" in Latin, is one of Freemasonry's long-standing goals. The Great Seal appeared on the dollar bill during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, also a Mason.

Freemasonry has continued to be important in U.S. politics, and at least 15 presidents, five Supreme Court chief justices, and numerous members of Congress have been Masons. Presidents known to be Masons include Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford. Today there are an estimated two million Masons in the United States, but the exact membership figure is one of the society's many secrets.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-08-2005, 05:33 AM
In an evening televised address, President Richard M. Nixon announces his
intention to become the first president in American history to resign. With
impeachment proceedings underway against him for his involvement in the
Watergate affair, Nixon was finally bowing to pressure from the public and
Congress to leave the White House. "By taking this action," he said in a solemn
address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the
process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."Just before noon
the next day, Nixon officially ended his term as the 37th president of the
United States. Before departing with his family in a helicopter from the White
House lawn, he smiled farewell and enigmatically raised his arms in a victory or
peace salute. The helicopter door was then closed, and the Nixon family began
their journey home to San Clemente, California. Minutes later, Vice President
Gerald R. Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States in the
East Room of the White House. After taking the oath of office, President Ford
spoke to the nation in a television address, declaring, "My fellow Americans,
our long national nightmare is over." He later pardoned Nixon for any crimes he
may have committed while in office, explaining that he wanted to end the
national divisions created by the Watergate scandal.On June 17, 1972, five men,
including a salaried security coordinator for President Nixon's reelection
committee, were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the
Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Washington, D.C., Watergate
complex. Soon after, two other former White House aides were implicated in the
break-in, but the Nixon administration denied any involvement. Later that year,
reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of The Washington Post discovered a
higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of
unprecedented magnitude erupted.In May 1973, the Senate Select Committee on
Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina,
began televised proceedings on the rapidly escalating Watergate affair. One week
later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate
prosecutor. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John
Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney
General John Mitchell with the knowledge of White House advisers John Ehrlichman
and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up.
Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread
evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal
wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to
the Republican Party in return for political favors.In July, the existence of
what were to be called the Watergate tapes--official recordings of White House
conversations between Nixon and his staff--was revealed during the Senate
hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President
Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries,
and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled
indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including
Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.Public confidence in the president
rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had
adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of
justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process.
On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the
Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released,
including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to
order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Three days later, Nixon
announced his resignation.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-11-2005, 04:53 AM
The first Chevy Camaro drove out of the manufacturing plant in Norwood, Ohio, on this day in 1966. The 1967 Camaro coupe was named just weeks before production; General Manager Elliot Estes, when publicly announcing the name, quipped, "I went into a closet, shut the door and came out with the name." Camaro is actually French for "comrade, pal, or chum." The Camaro was a hit with the public, sporting a base price of only $2,466 for a six-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-16-2005, 04:58 AM
Elvis Presley is found dead at Graceland, his mansion in Memphis. While congestive heart failure was cited as the official cause of death, drug abuse was suspected as a contributing factor.

Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee, as a teenager. He worked as a movie theater usher and a truck driver while learning the guitar.

In 1954, he paid $4 to record two songs at a recording studio for his mother's birthday. The office assistant was so impressed that she brought a copy of the recording to studio executive Sam Phillips, who asked Presley to audition for him. Presley started the audition with country-and-western standards, but when he felt Phillips' interest wane, he belted out a rhythm-and-blues song called "That's All Right." Impressed, Phillips recorded the song, and a week later it became No. 4 on the country-and-western charts in Memphis.

That summer, Phillips brought Presley together with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, both country-and-western artists, and one of their songs was played on a Memphis radio station. The audience went wild, and Presley gave his first radio interview. He made his one and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on September 25 and soon began appearing regularly on the radio. He made his television debut on a Memphis show in March 1955 and that September scored his first No. 1 country record: a rendition of Junior Parker's "Mystery Train."

RCA purchased Presley's contract from Sun Records for an unprecedented $35,000, plus a $5,000 advance for Presley, which he used to buy a pink Cadillac for his mother. He made his first records in Nashville in 1956, including "I Got a Woman," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "I Was the One."

On January 28, 1956, television audiences met Presley on the Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show. He performed on several variety shows before he began filming his first movie, Love Me Tender, which took just three days to earn back the $1 million it cost to make. All his singles released that year went gold. Parents, preachers, and other performers denounced the seductive hip gyrations that made teen girls swoon; on his last appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, cameras showed him only from the waist up.

In 1967, Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu, who had moved into Presley's family home, Graceland, as a teenager six years earlier. The couple divorced in 1973. As his popularity continued to skyrocket, the King of Rock and Roll turned to drugs. He gave his final live performance on June 25, 1977. Six weeks later, on August 16, 1977, his girlfriend found him dead in a bathroom at Graceland. He was buried at Graceland and his estate was passed on to his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Nine years after his death, he was one of the first 10 people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He had earned 94 gold singles and more than 40 gold LPs.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-19-2005, 06:34 AM
The Iranian military, with the support and financial assistance of the United States government, overthrows the government of Premier Mohammed Mosaddeq and reinstates the Shah of Iran. Iran remained a solid Cold War ally of the United States until a revolution ended the Shah's rule in 1979.

Mosaddeq came to prominence in Iran in 1951 when he was appointed premier. A fierce nationalist, Mosaddeq immediately began attacks on British oil companies operating in his country, calling for expropriation and nationalization of the oil fields. His actions brought him into conflict with the pro-Western elites of Iran and the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. Indeed, the Shah dismissed Mossadeq in mid-1952, but massive public riots condemning the action forced the Shah to reinstate Mossadeq a short time later. U.S. officials watched events in Iran with growing suspicion. British intelligence sources, working with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), came to the conclusion that Mossadeq had communist leanings and would move Iran into the Soviet orbit if allowed to stay in power. Working with Shah, the CIA and British intelligence began to engineer a plot to overthrow Mossadeq. The Iranian premier, however, got wind of the plan and called his supporters to take to the streets in protest. At this point, the Shah left the country for "medical reasons." While British intelligence backed away from the debacle, the CIA continued its covert operations in Iran. Working with pro-Shah forces and, most importantly, the Iranian military, the CIA cajoled, threatened, and bribed its way into influence and helped to organize another coup attempt against Mossadeq. On August 19, 1953, the military, backed by street protests organized and financed by the CIA, overthrew Mossadeq. The Shah quickly returned to take power and, as thanks for the American help, signed over 40 percent of Iran's oil fields to U.S. companies.

Mossadeq was arrested, served three years in prison, and died under house arrest in 1967. The Shah became one of America's most trusted Cold War allies, and U.S. economic and military aid poured into Iran during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In 1978, however, anti-Shah and anti-American protests broke out in Iran and the Shah was toppled from power in 1979. Angry militants seized the U.S. embassy and held the American staff hostage until January 1981. Nationalism, not communism, proved to be the most serious threat to U.S. power in Iran.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-22-2005, 03:27 PM
Kennedy administration officials quoted in The New York Times estimate that there are 20,000 guerrilla troops in South Vietnam. Despite hundreds of engagements during the preceding two months and encouraging victories for South Vietnamese forces, the Viet Cong had grown in numbers, and U.S. officials felt that the war had reached a point of stalemate.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-24-2005, 04:57 AM
Congress passes the Communist Control Act in response to the growing anticommunist hysteria in the United States. Though full of ominous language, many found the purpose of the act unclear.

In 1954, the Red Scare still raged in the United States. Although Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most famous of the "red hunters" in America, had been disgraced earlier in the summer of 1954 when he tried to prove that communists were in the U.S. Army, most Americans still believed that communists were at work in their country. Responding to this fear, Congress passed the Communist Control Act in August 1954. The act declared that, "The Communist Party of the United States, though purportedly a political party, is in fact an instrumentality of a conspiracy to overthrow the Government of the United States." The act went on to charge that the party's "role as the agency of a hostile foreign power renders its existence a clear and continuing danger to the security of the United States." The conclusion seemed inescapable: "The Communist Party should be outlawed." Indeed, that is what many people at the time believed the Communist Control Act accomplished.

A careful reading of the act, however, indicates that the reality was a bit fuzzier. In 1950, Congress passed the Internal Security Act. In many respects, it was merely a version of the Communist Control Act passed four years later. It used the same language to condemn communism and the Communist Party of the United States, and established penalties for anyone belonging to a group calling for the violent overthrow of the American government. However, it very specifically noted that mere membership in the Communist Party, or affiliated organizations, was not in and of itself sufficient cause for arrest or penalty. The 1954 act went one step further by removing the "rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies created under the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States" from the Communist Party. The Communist Control Act made it clear that "nothing in this section shall be construed as amending the Internal Security Act of 1950." Thus, while the Communist Control Act may have declared that the Communist Party should be outlawed, the act itself did not take this decisive step.

In the years to come, the Communist Party of the United States continued to exist, although the U.S. government used legislation such as the Communist Control Act to harass Communist Party members. More ominously, the government also used such acts to investigate and harass numerous other organizations that were deemed to have communist "leanings." These included the American Civil Liberties Union, labor unions, and the NAACP. By the mid-to-late 1960s, however, the Red Scare had run its course and a more liberal Supreme Court began to chip away at the immense tangle of anticommunist legislation that had been passed during the 1940s and 1950s. Today, the Communist Party of the United States continues to exist and regularly runs candidates for local, state, and national elections.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-26-2005, 05:23 AM
The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is formally adopted
into the U.S. Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge
Colby. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by
woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: "The right of citizens of the
United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by
any State on account of sex" and "Congress shall have power to enforce this
article by appropriate legislation."America's woman suffrage movement was
founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active
through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848,
200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott,
met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women's rights. After approving
measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment
opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared "it is the duty of the
women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective
franchise." For proclaiming a women's right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention
was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women's rights withdrew
their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman
suffrage movement in America.The first national woman's rights convention was
held in 1850 and then repeated annually, providing an important focus for the
growing woman suffrage movement. In the Reconstruction era, the 15th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, granting African American men the right to
vote, but Congress declined to expand enfranchisement into the sphere of gender.
In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony
and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to push for a woman suffrage amendment to the U.S.
Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led
by Lucy Stone, was formed in the same year to work through the state
legislatures. In 1890, these two groups were united as the National American
Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant
women the right to vote.By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women
in American society was changing drastically: Women were working more, receiving
a better education, bearing fewer children, and three more states (Colorado,
Utah, and Idaho) had yielded to the demand for female enfranchisement. In 1916,
the National Woman's Party (formed in 1913 at the Congressional Union for Woman
Suffrage) decided to adopt a more radical approach to woman suffrage. Instead of
questionnaires and lobbying, its members picketed the White House, marched, and
staged acts of civil disobedience.In 1917, America entered World War I, and
women aided the war effort in various capacities that helped break down most of
the remaining opposition to woman suffrage. By 1918, women had acquired equal
suffrage with men in 15 states, and both the Democratic and Republican parties
openly endorsed female enfranchisement.In January 1918, the woman suffrage
amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds
majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the
states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country
to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state
to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification
necessary to make it the law of the land.The package containing the certified
record of the action of the Tennessee legislature was sent by train to the
nation's capital, arriving in the early hours of August 26. At 8 a.m. that
morning, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed it without ceremony at his
residence in Washington. None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were
present when the proclamation was signed, and no photographers or film cameras
recorded the event. That afternoon, Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National
American Suffrage Association, was received at the White House by President
Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson, the first lady.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-26-2005, 05:25 AM
As the Democratic National Convention gets underway in Chicago, thousands of antiwar demonstrators take to Chicago's streets to protest the Vietnam War and its support by the top Democratic presidential candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. During the four-day convention, the most violent in U.S. history, police and National Guardsmen clashed with protesters outside the International Amphitheater, and hundreds of people, including innocent bystanders, were beaten by the Chicago police. The violence even spilled into the convention hall, as guards roughed up delegates and members of the press, including CBS News correspondent Mike Wallace, who was punched in the face. On August 29, Humphrey secured the nomination and the convention ended.

In the convention's aftermath, a federal commission investigating the convention described one of the confrontations as a "police riot" and blamed Chicago Mayor Richard Daley for inciting his police to violence. Nevertheless, eight political radicals--the so-called "Chicago Eight"--were arrested on charges of conspiring to incite the violence, and in 1969 their trial began in Chicago, sparking new waves of protests in the city.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-28-2005, 08:07 AM
At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, tens of thousands of protesters against the Vietnam War battle police in the streets while the Democratic Party tears itself to shreds concerning a platform statement on Vietnam. In one day and night, the Cold War consensus that had dominated American thinking since the late 1940s was shattered.

Since World War II ended and tensions with the Soviet Union began to intensify, a Cold War consensus about foreign policy had grown to dominate American thinking. In this mindset, communism was the ultimate enemy that had to be fought everywhere in the world. Uprisings in any nation, particularly in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, or Latin America, were perceived through a Cold War lens and were usually deemed to be communist-inspired. In Chicago in August 1968, that Cold War consensus began to crack and crumble. The Democratic Party held its national convention in Chicago that year. Problems immediately arose both inside and outside the convention. Inside, the delegates were split on the party's stance concerning the ongoing Vietnam War. Many wanted a plank in the party's platform demanding a U.S. withdrawal from the bloody and frustrating conflict. Most of these delegates supported Eugene McCarthy, a committed antiwar candidate, for president. A majority, however, believed that America must not give up the fight against communism. They largely supported Vice President Hubert Humphrey. As the debate intensified, fights broke out on the convention floor, and delegates and reporters were kicked, punched, and knocked to the ground. Eventually, the Humphrey forces were victorious, but the events of the convention left the Democratic Party demoralized and drained.

On the streets of Chicago, antiwar protesters massed in the downtown area, determined to force the Democrats to nominate McCarthy. Mayor Richard Daley responded by unleashing the Chicago police force. Thousands of policemen stormed into the crowd, swinging their clubs and firing tear gas. Stunned Americans watched on TV as the police battered and beat protesters, reporters, and anyone else in the way. The protesters began to chant, "The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching."

The world--and the American nation--was indeed watching that night. What they were witnessing was a serious fracture beginning to develop in America's previously solid Cold War consensus. For the first time, many Americans were demanding that their nation withdraw from part of its war against communism. North Vietnam, instead of being portrayed as the villain and pawn of its Soviet masters, was seen by some as a beleaguered nation fighting for independence and freedom against the vast war machine of the United States. The convention events marked an important turning point: no longer would the government have unrestrained power to pursue its Cold War policies. When future international crises arose--in Central America, the Middle East, or Africa--the cry of "No more Vietnams" was a reminder that the government's Cold War rhetoric would be closely scrutinized and often criticized.

Zen Curmudgeon
08-29-2005, 04:52 AM
1885 First Motorcycle

The world's first motorcycle, made by Gottlieb Daimler, was patented on this day. The two-wheeled vehicle gained immense popularity after 1910, when it was used heavily by all branches of the armed forces during World War I. The motorcycle's popularity lagged during the Great Depression, but came back with a vengeance after World War II and remains popular today. Often associated with a rebellious image, the vehicle is often used for high-speed touring and sport competitions.

1876 Electric Starter Inventor Born

Charles F. Kettering, inventor of the electric starter, was born on this day in Detroit. Kettering, along with Edward A. Deeds, founded Delco (Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company). He and his company invented countless improvements for the automobile, including lighting and ignition systems, lacquer finishes, antilock fuels, and leaded gasoline. The Cadillac was the first car to use the electric starter, and Delco would later become a subsidiary of General Motors. Incidentally, Kettering also invented the first electric cash register before he started working on cars.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-07-2005, 05:05 AM
Rock pioneer Buddy Holly is born on this day in Lubbock, Texas. Holly popularized the standard rock band format of two guitars, a bass and drums. Legendary artists Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney were among the many musicians who have named Holly as a major influence.

As a child, Holly played piano, guitar, and fiddle. In high school, he formed a country group, Western and Bop Band, with friends. The band got some local radio play and recorded demo tapes, some of which were later released after Holly's death. Holly and two other musicians signed a contract with Decca under the name Holly and the Two Tunes, but the company chose not to release at least one of their recordings: "That'll Be the Day." Later, as lead singer for the Crickets, he recorded the song, which became a hit.

Holly and drummer Jerry Allison opened for a variety of well-known stars, including Elvis Presley, inspiring Holly to switch from country to rock and roll-a move that catapulted him to stardom. Holly and the Crickets had a regular radio show in the mid 1950s and toured the world. His blockbuster hits included "Peggy Sue," "Oh, Boy!," "Maybe Baby," and "Early in the Morning." His short life came to a tragic end on February 3, 1959. Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, fellow performers in the Winter Dance Party Tour, had chartered a plane to avoid driving from Iowa to Minnesota in bad weather. The Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft crashed a few minutes after takeoff, killing everyone onboard. Holly was 22.

Several posthumous collections feature Holly's old demos and incomplete recordings. His life was the basis for the feature film The Buddy Holly Story and the stage musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, and a new generation was introduced to him through the 1987 popular movie La Bamba, based on Valens' life. Holly was also memorialized by Don McLean in the 1972 No. 1 hit "American Pie."

Zen Curmudgeon
09-08-2005, 05:04 AM
On this day in 1966, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise takes off on its mission to "boldly go where no man has gone before," with the premiere of Star Trek.

Although Star Trek ran for only three years (starting in 1966) and never placed better than No. 52 in the ratings, Gene Roddenberry's series became a cult classic and spawned four television series and nine movies.

The first Star Trek spin-off was a Saturday morning cartoon, The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, which ran from 1973 to 1975 (original cast members supplied the voices). The TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired in 1987 and was set in the 24th century, starring the crew of the new, larger U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D, captained by Jean-Luc Picard (played by Patrick Stewart). This series became the highest-rated syndicated drama on television and ran until 1994.

Another spin-off, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, premiered in 1992, featuring a 24th-century crew that lived in a space station rather than a starship. Star Trek: Voyager, which debuted in 1995 and ran until 2001, was the first to feature a female captain, Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew). In this series, the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager is stranded more than 70,000 light years from Federation space and is trying to find its way home.

Meanwhile, the cast of the original Star Trek voyaged onto the big screen, starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. The first film yielded disappointing returns at the box office, but its sequel, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in 1982 was more successful and ensured more movies in the franchise. Subsequent films included Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek: Generations; Star Trek: First Contact; and Star Trek: Insurrection. The Star Trek books have been translated into more than 15 languages, and Star Trek conventions are held all over the United States.

In 1992, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., opened an exhibit honoring the original Star Trek television series. The exhibit featured more than 80 costumes, props, and models from the show, including Mr. Spock's pointy ears and a replica of the deck of the starship Enterprise.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-15-2005, 05:02 AM
The famous picture of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, is shot on this day during the filming of The Seven Year Itch. The scene infuriated her husband, Joe DiMaggio, who felt it was exhibitionist. The couple divorced shortly after.

Monroe, born Norma Jean Mortensen and also known as Norma Jean Baker, had a tragic childhood. Her mother, a negative cutter at several film studios, was mentally unstable and institutionalized when Norma Jean was five. Afterward, the little girl lived in a series of foster homes, where she suffered from neglect and abuse, and later lived in an orphanage. At age 16, she quit high school and married a 21-year-old aircraft plant worker named Joe Dougherty.

In 1944, her husband was sent overseas with the military, and Monroe worked as a paint sprayer in a defense plant. A photographer spotted her there, and she soon became a popular pin-up girl. She began working as a model and divorced her husband two years later. In 1946, 20th Century Fox signed her for $125 a week but dropped her after one film, from which her scenes were cut. Columbia signed her but also dropped her after one film. Unemployed, she posed nude for a calendar for $50; the calendar sold a million copies and made $750,000.

Monroe played a series of small film roles until 1950, when Fox signed her again. This time, they touted her as a star and began giving her feature roles in the early 1950s. In 1953, she starred with Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, playing fortune hunter Lorelei Lee. Her tremendous sex appeal and little-girl mannerisms made her enormously popular.

After her divorce from baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, Monroe searched for more serious roles and announced she would found her own studio. She began studying acting with the famous Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York. She gave an impressive comic performance in Bus Stop in 1955. The following year, she married intellectual playwright Arthur Miller. She appeared in the hit Some Like It Hot in 1959.

She made her last picture in 1969, The Misfits, which Miller wrote especially for her. She divorced him a week before the film opened. She attempted one more film, Something's Got to Give, but was fired for her frequent illnesses and absences from the set, which many believed to be related to drug addiction. In August 1962, she died from an overdose of sleeping pills. Her death was ruled a possible suicide. Since her death, her popularity and mystique have endured, with numerous biographies published after her death. Her ex-husband Joe DiMaggio continued to send flowers to her grave every day for the rest of his life.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-18-2005, 09:40 AM
Guitarist Jimi Hendrix dies at the age of 28, following a drug overdose in London.

Hendrix was born in Seattle in 1942. He grew up playing guitar, imitating blues greats like Muddy Waters as well as early rockers. He joined the army in 1959 and became a paratrooper but was honorably discharged in 1961 after an injury that exempted him from duty in Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Hendrix backed such musicians as Little Richard, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, and Sam Cooke. He moved to New York in 1964, where he played in coffeehouses.

It was at one of these coffeehouse gigs that British bassist Bryan Chandler of the Animals first heard Hendrix play. Chandler arranged to manage Hendrix and brought him to London in 1966, where they created the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The band's first single, "Hey Joe," hit No. 6 on the British pop charts, and the band became an instant sensation.

In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first U.S. appearance, at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix made a splash by burning his guitar. In the next two years, the band released classic songs like "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," and "The Wind Cries Mary." The band's albums included Are You Experienced? (1967), Bold as Love (1969), and Electric Ladyland (1969).

After the band dissolved in 1969 over creative tensions, Hendrix made his famous appearance at Woodstock, playing a masterful, intricate version of "The Star Spangled Banner." Later that year, he put together a new group called the Band of Gypsies, which debuted on New Year's Eve, 1969. The band released only one album, Band of Gypsies (1969). (A second album, Band of Gypsies II, was released in 1986.) Hendrix then recorded another album, without the band, called The Cry of Love, which was released in 1971. Jimi Hendrix played his last concert in August 1970, at the Isle of Wight Festival in Britain.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-21-2005, 05:09 AM
Without warning, a powerful Category 3 hurricane slams into Long Island and
southern New England, causing 600 deaths and devastating coastal cities and
towns. Also called the Long Island Express, the Great New England Hurricane of
1938 was the most destructive storm to strike the region in the 20th century.The
officially unnamed hurricane was born out a tropical cyclone that developed in
the eastern Atlantic on September 10, 1938, near the Cape Verde Islands. Six
days later, the captain of a Brazilian freighter sighted the storm northeast of
Puerto Rico and radioed a warning to the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National
Weather Service). It was expected that the storm would make landfall in south
Florida, and hurricane-experienced coastal citizens stocked up on supplies and
boarded up their homes. On September 19, however, the storm suddenly changed
direction and began moving north, parallel to the eastern seaboard.Charlie
Pierce, a junior forecaster in the U.S. Weather Bureau, was sure that the
hurricane was heading for the Northeast, but the chief forecaster overruled him.
It had been well over a century since New England had been hit by a substantial
hurricane, and few believed it could happen again. Hurricanes rarely persist
after encountering the cold waters of the North Atlantic. However, this
hurricane was moving north at an unusually rapid pace--more than 60 mph--and was
following a track over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.With Europe on the
brink of war over the worsening Sudetenland crisis, little media attention was
given to the powerful hurricane at sea. There was no advanced meteorological
technology, such as radar, radio buoys, or satellite imagery, to warn of the
hurricane's approach. By the time the U.S. Weather Bureau learned that the
Category 3 storm was on a collision course with Long Island on the afternoon of
September 21, it was too late for a warning.Along the south shore of Long
Island, the sky began to darken and the wind picked up. Fishermen and boaters
were at sea, and summer residents enjoying the end of the season were in their
beachfront homes. Around 2:30 p.m., the full force of the hurricane made
landfall, unfortunately around high tide. Surges of ocean water and waves 40
feet tall swallowed up coastal homes. At Westhampton, which lay directly in the
path of the storm, 150 beach homes were destroyed, about a third of which were
pulled into the swelling ocean. Winds exceeded 100 mph. Inland, people were
drowned in flooding, killed by uprooted trees and falling debris, and
electrocuted by downed electrical lines.At 4 p.m., the center of the hurricane
crossed the Long Island Sound and reached Connecticut. Rivers swollen by a week
of steady rain spilled over and washed away roadways. In New London, a short
circuit in a flooded building started a fire that was fanned by the 100 mph
winds into an inferno. Much of the business district was consumed.The hurricane
gained intensity as it passed into Rhode Island. Winds in excess of 120 mph
caused a storm surge of 12 to 15 feet in Narragansett Bay, destroying coastal
homes and entire fleets of boats at yacht clubs and marinas. The waters of the
bay surged into Providence harbor around 5 p.m., rapidly submerging the downtown
area of Rhode Island's capital under more than 13 feet of water. Many people
were swept away.The hurricane then raced northward across Massachusetts, gaining
speed again and causing great flooding. In Milton, south of Boston, the Blue
Hill Observatory recorded one of the highest wind gusts in history, an
astounding 186 mph. Boston was hit hard, and "Old Ironsides"--the historic ship
U.S. Constitution--was torn from its moorings in Boston Navy Yard and suffered
slight damage. Hundreds of other ships were not so lucky.The hurricane lost
intensity as it passed over northern New England, but by the time the storm
reached Canada around 11 p.m. it was still powerful enough to cause widespread
damage. The Great New England Hurricane finally dissipated over Canada that
night.All told, 700 people were killed by the hurricane, 600 of them in Long
Island and southern New England. Some 700 people were injured. Nearly 9,000
homes and buildings were destroyed, and 15,000 damaged. Nearly 3,000 ships were
sunk or wrecked. Power lines were downed across the region, causing widespread
blackouts. Innumerable trees were felled, and 12 new inlets were created on Long
Island. Railroads were destroyed and farms were obliterated. Total damages were
$306 million, which equals $18 billion in today's dollars, making the Great New
England Hurricane the sixth costliest hurricane in U.S. history.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-22-2005, 05:04 AM
Jack Dempsey, the "Manassa Mauler," misses an opportunity to regain the
heavyweight boxing title when he fails to return to a neutral corner after
knocking down champ Gene Tunney in a title match in Chicago. Dempsey waited five
precious seconds before heading to the neutral corner, at which point the
referee began the 10-count as the rules dictated. As the referee reached nine
seconds, Tunney got back up to his feet. He had actually been down for what
amounted to 14 seconds. Tunney went on to win the bout in a decision after 10
rounds.Jack Dempsey, one of the most formidable and popular boxers of all time,
was born in Manassa, Colorado, in 1895. One of 11 children, he left home at age
16 and traveled around Colorado's mining towns, earning a living boxing under
the name of "Kid Blackie." In 1916, he abandoned saloon-floor matches in favor
of professional bouts and earned a reputation as a quick and lethal fighter who
generally knocked out his opponents at some point in the first round.By 1919,
Dempsey earned a fight with heavyweight champion Jess Willard. They met at an
outdoor arena in Toledo, Ohio, on July 4. The 37-year-old champ was no match for
the young brawler, and Dempsey attacked fast and furiously, knocking the giant
to the canvas seven times in the first round. At the end of the third round,
Willard had a broken jaw, a closed eye, two broken ribs, and a partial loss of
hearing. He chose not to come out of his corner for the fourth round, and
Dempsey was proclaimed the heavyweight champion of the world.Dempsey, nicknamed
the Manassa Mauler, was one of the great sports stars of the 1920s. He
successfully defended his title five times in four years to the refrain of
record-breaking ticket sales. He employed a brutally aggressive style that has
been appropriated by many champions since. Bobbing and weaving, he remained on
the offensive almost continuously, swinging rights and lefts out of his
crouching stance with amazing speed and power. After a memorable match against
Luis Angel Firpo--the "Wild Bull of the Pampas"--in 1923, Dempsey's promoter
decided it was in the champ's best interest to fight as infrequently as
possible, thereby ensuring that excitement and profit would be high when he did.
In 1924 and 1925, Dempsey was out of the ring.Meanwhile, Gene Tunney, a
scholarly former U.S. Marine with a refined boxing style, was steadily
accumulating victories. The "Fighting Marine" lost sometimes, which may be why
Dempsey agreed to meet Tunney for his first match in three years. On September
23, 1926, at Sesquicentennial Stadium in Philadelphia, Tunney dethroned a rusty
Dempsey before 120,000 fans. Tunney never knocked Dempsey down, but he
systematically accumulated enough points to win the heavyweight title in a
decision after 10 rounds.Dempsey briefly considered retiring, but in July 1927
he returned to the ring to defeat Jack Sarkey, which earned him a rematch with
Tunney. On September 22, 1927, the Manassa Mauler came to Soldier Field in
Chicago to regain his title. More than 100,000 spectators turned up, and there
was talk that gangster Al Capone had tried to fix the fight. To avoid any
possible charges of a fix, the referee was replaced at the last minute. Dave
Barry, the new referee, took the boxers aside just before the match began and
reminded them of a new rule that required a fighter scoring a knockdown to
retreat to a neutral corner. He could not begin his count, he warned them, until
the fighter on his feet started backing off to a far corner.As the match got
underway, Tunney took charge of the fight, racking up points and keeping Dempsey
at bay. In the seventh round, however, the old Dempsey returned, knocking Tunney
against the ropes and then felling him with three strong punches. Tunney went
down, and Dempsey took a step back to the nearest corner--not a neutral corner.
Barry rushed over to Dempsey and yelled, "Go to a neutral corner, Jack!" but
Dempsey just stood there, glassy-eyed. Finally, Barry grabbed him and shoved him
on his way. Dempsey shuffled across the ring, finally remembering the new rule
that had been twice told to him before the match. Barry then began the 10-count,
and Tunney got up at nine.Tunney's total of 14 seconds on the ground allowed him
precious time to recuperate from Dempsey's assault. He ran from his opponent for
the rest of the round and then came back to dominate the eighth, even knocking
Dempsey down briefly. Tunney won another decision.Dempsey continued to box in
exhibition matches until 1940, but he was never a serious contender again. He
became a successful restaurateur in New York City and remained a popular figure
until his death in 1983. Gene Tunney retired in 1928 after successfully
defending his title against Tom Heeney. He became a wealthy business executive,
and his son, John V. Tunney, was a U.S. senator.

Zen Curmudgeon
09-28-2005, 04:53 AM
September 28

1968 "Hey Jude" breaks records

The Beatles' single "Hey Jude" hits the top of the charts. The song had debuted two weeks earlier at No. 10, the highest spot ever achieved by a new release up to that time. Over seven minutes long, it was the longest song ever to hit No. 1, a record it holds to this day.

Paul McCartney wrote the song about the same time that John Lennon was divorcing his wife Cynthia. McCartney once claimed the song started out as "Hey, Jules," and was meant to console John and Cynthia's son, Julian. Some listeners hear the song as a prophetic lament for the approaching end of the Beatles themselves, who split up in early 1970.

Lennon and McCartney began playing music together in 1956 and by 1960 had formed the Beatles with George Harrison. The band toured German beerhouses in 1961 and debuted later that year at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they gave more than 300 performances during the next two years. Drummer Ringo Starr joined the group in 1962. They scored several U.K. hits in 1963, launching the Beatlemania frenzy that hit the United States in 1964. In a little more than 10 years, the group transformed rock and roll, scoring 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard pop charts, more than any group in history. The group's records spent a total of 59 weeks topping the charts between 1964 and 1970.

Lennon divorced his first wife and married artist Yoko Ono in 1969. With Ono, he released the album Two Virgins in 1968. He became more involved in progressive political causes and in pursuing projects with Ono and decided to leave the Beatles. In 1970, McCartney announced that the Beatles had broken up. Lennon released his first solo album, Imagine, in 1971, and the album rose to No. 1 on the charts. Harrison, Starr, and McCartney all later released their own solo albums. McCartney's next band, Wings, released numerous successful albums in the 1970s.

In 1980, Lennon was murdered in New York City by a deranged fan. He was 40 years old. George Harrison died of lung cancer, at the age of 58, in 2001.

1991 Miles Davis dies

Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis dies in Santa Monica, California, at age 65. The son of a St. Louis dentist, Davis began playing trumpet at age 13 and was playing with local jazz bands by his late teens. He moved to New York to study at Julliard and became roommates with saxophone great Charlie Parker. Davis struggled with heroin addiction but kicked the habit by 1954, the year he began releasing successful singles, including "Blue 'n' Boogie" and "Walkin'." He assembled a jazz group called the Miles Davis Quintet, which became enormously popular, releasing classic albums like Round Midnight (1956). In the 1960s, Davis became interested in rock and began fusing jazz and rock to create an innovative sound. His 1968 album Bitches Brew was a major hit. Davis continued to produce popular recordings until his 60s. He died of pneumonia and other ailments.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-03-2005, 07:27 AM
With the admission of Iraq into the League of Nations, Britain terminates its mandate over the Arab nation, making Iraq independent after 17 years of British rule and centuries of Ottoman rule.

Britain seized Iraq from Ottoman Turkey during World War I and was granted a mandate by the League of Nations to govern the nation in 1920. A Hashemite monarchy was organized under British protection in 1921, and on October 3, 1932, the kingdom of Iraq was granted independence. The Iraqi government maintained close economic and military ties with Britain, leading to several anti-British revolts. A pro-Axis revolt in 1941 led to a British military intervention, and the Iraqi government agreed to support the Allied war effort. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown, and for the next two decades Iraq was ruled by a series of military and civilian governments. In 1979, General Saddam Hussein became Iraqi dictator and was removed from power after the beginning of Iraq War in 2003.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-04-2005, 04:57 AM
The Soviet Union inaugurates the "Space Age" with its launch of Sputnik, the
world's first artificial satellite. The spacecraft, named Sputnik after the
Russian word for "satellite," was launched at 10:29 p.m. Moscow time from the
Tyuratam launch base in the Kazakh Republic. Sputnik had a diameter of 22 inches
and weighed 184 pounds and circled Earth once every hour and 36 minutes.
Traveling at 18,000 miles an hour, its elliptical orbit had an apogee (farthest
point from Earth) of 584 miles and a perigee (nearest point) of 143 miles.
Visible with binoculars before sunrise or after sunset, Sputnik transmitted
radio signals back to Earth strong enough to be picked up by amateur radio
operators. Those in the United States with access to such equipment tuned in and
listened in awe as the beeping Soviet spacecraft passed over America several
times a day. In January 1958, Sputnik's orbit deteriorated, as expected, and the
spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere.Officially, Sputnik was launched to
correspond with the International Geophysical Year, a solar period that the
International Council of Scientific Unions declared would be ideal for the
launching of artificial satellites to study Earth and the solar system. However,
many Americans feared more sinister uses of the Soviets' new rocket and
satellite technology, which was apparently strides ahead of the U.S. space
effort. Sputnik was some 10 times the size of the first planned U.S. satellite,
which was not scheduled to be launched until the next year. The U.S. government,
military, and scientific community were caught off guard by the Soviet
technological achievement, and their united efforts to catch up with the Soviets
heralded the beginning of the "space race."The first U.S. satellite, Explorer,
was launched on January 31, 1958. By then, the Soviets had already achieved
another ideological victory when they launched a dog into orbit aboard Sputnik
2. The Soviet space program went on to achieve a series of other space firsts in
the late 1950s and early 1960s: first man in space, first woman, first three
men, first space walk, first spacecraft to impact the moon, first to orbit the
moon, first to impact Venus, and first craft to soft-land on the moon. However,
the United States took a giant leap ahead in the space race in the late '60s
with the Apollo lunar-landing program, which successfully landed two Apollo 11
astronauts on the surface of the moon in July 1969.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-05-2005, 05:09 AM
On this day in 1892, the famous Dalton Gang attempts the daring daylight robbery of two Coffeyville, Kansas, banks at the same time. But if the gang members believed the sheer audacity of their plan would bring them success, they were sadly mistaken. Instead, they were nearly all killed by quick-acting townspeople.

For a year and a half, the Dalton Gang had terrorized the state of Oklahoma, mostly concentrating on train holdups. Though the gang had more murders than loot to their credit, they had managed to successfully evade the best efforts of Oklahoma law officers to bring them to justice. Perhaps success bred overconfidence, but whatever their reasons, the gang members decided to try their hand at robbing not just one bank, but at robbing the First National and Condon Banks in their old hometown of Coffeyville at the same time.

After riding quietly into town, the men tied their horses to a fence in an alley near the two banks and split up. Two of the Dalton brothers-Bob and Emmett-headed for the First National, while Grat Dalton led Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers in to the Condon Bank. Unfortunately for the Daltons, someone recognized one of the gang members and began quietly spreading the word that the town banks were being robbed. Thus, while Bob and Emmett were stuffing money into a grain sack, the townspeople ran for their guns and quickly surrounded the two banks. When the Dalton brothers walked out of the bank, a hail of bullets forced them back into the building. Regrouping, they tried to flee out the back door of the bank, but the townspeople were waiting for them there as well.

Meanwhile, in the Condon Bank a brave cashier had managed to delay Grat Dalton, Powers, and Broadwell with the classic claim that the vault was on a time lock and couldn't be opened. That gave the townspeople enough time to gather force, and suddenly a bullet smashed through the bank window and hit Broadwell in the arm. Quickly scooping up $1,500 in loose cash, the three men bolted out the door and fled down a back alley. But like their friends next door, they were immediately shot and killed, this time by a local livery stable owner and a barber.

When the gun battle was over, the people of Coffeyville had destroyed the Dalton Gang, killing every member except for Emmett Dalton. But their victory was not without a price: the Dalton's took four townspeople to their graves with them. After recovering from serious wounds, Emmett was tried and sentenced to life in prison. After 14 years he won parole, and he eventually leveraged his cachet as a former Wild West bandit into a position as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Several years after moving to California, he died at the age of 66 in 1937.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-07-2005, 06:07 AM
At his departure from Saigon following a four-day inspection of South Vietnam, General Earle Wheeler, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reports that "progress in Vietnamization is being steadily and realistically achieved," but that U.S. forces will have to assist the South Vietnamese "for some time to come."

President Nixon had announced his intention to "Vietnamize" the war at the Midway Conference in June, saying that it was time that the South Vietnamese assumed more responsibility for the war. Accordingly, he announced that as the South Vietnamese improved in combat capability, U.S. forces would be withdrawn and returned to the United States. Supposedly, these withdrawals would be predicated on the rate of improvement in the South Vietnamese armed forces and the level of combat on the battlefield. However, once the U.S. troop withdrawals began in the fall of 1969, the schedule achieved a life of its own and the subsequent increments were withdrawn with very little consideration of the original criteria. By January 1972, less than 75,000 U.S. troops remained in South Vietnam.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-09-2005, 12:59 PM
John Lennon is born in Liverpool, England. As part of the Beatles and as a solo artist, Lennon became one of the most influential musicians in rock history.

As a boy, Lennon lived with his aunt after his father left the family. Lennon attended Quarry Bank High School, from which he derived the name for his first band, the Quarrymen, formed in 1955. In 1956, he met Paul McCartney, who joined the band, and the two began writing songs together. George Harrison joined the band in 1957, and the three played together under several different names, and with several different members, until 1960, when they adopted the name the Beatles.

The band toured German beerhouses in 1961 and debuted later that year at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they gave more than 300 performances during the next two years. Drummer Ringo Starr joined the group in 1962. The group scored several U.K. hits in 1963, launching the Beatlemania tidal wave that hit the United States in 1964. In a little more than 10 years, the group transformed rock and roll, scoring 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard pop charts, more than any group in history. The group's records spent a total of 59 weeks topping the charts between 1964 and 1970.

Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, the mother of his son Julian, and married artist Yoko Ono in 1969. With Ono, he released the album Two Virgins in 1968. He became more involved in liberal political causes and in pursuing projects with Ono and decided to leave the Beatles. In 1970, McCartney announced that the Beatles had broken up. Lennon released his first solo album, Imagine, in 1971, and it rose to No. 1 on the charts. During the next few years, he released projects with Ono as well as his own solo albums, including the chart-topper Walls and Bridges (1974). He gave his last public performance in 1974 and released his last solo album, Rock 'n' Roll, the following year. In 1975, Lennon and Ono had a son, Sean, and in 1980 the couple released their album Double Fantasy, which topped the charts and included the No. 1 single "(Just Like) Staring Over." On December 8, 1980, Lennon was killed by a crazed fan in front of his New York City apartment.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-10-2005, 05:09 AM
Less than a year before Richard M. Nixon's resignation as president of the United States, Spiro Agnew becomes the first U.S. vice president to resign in disgrace. The same day, he pleaded no contest to a charge of federal income tax evasion in exchange for the dropping of charges of political corruption. He was subsequently fined $10,000, sentenced to three years probation, and disbarred by the Maryland court of appeals.

Agnew, a Republican, was elected chief executive of Baltimore County in 1961. In 1967, he became governor of Maryland, an office he held until his nomination as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 1968. During Nixon's successful campaign, Agnew ran on a tough law-and-order platform, and as vice president he frequently attacked opponents of the Vietnam War and liberals as being disloyal and un-American. Reelected with Nixon in 1972, Agnew resigned on October 10, 1973, after the U.S. Justice Department uncovered widespread evidence of his political corruption, including allegations that his practice of accepting bribes had continued into his tenure as U.S. vice president. He died at the age of 77 on September 17, 1996.

Under the process decreed by the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, President Nixon was instructed to the fill vacant office of vice president by nominating a candidate who then had to be approved by both houses of Congress. Nixon's appointment of Representative Gerald Ford of Michigan was approved by Congress and, on December 6, Ford was sworn in. He became the 38th president of the United States on August 9, 1974, after the escalating Watergate affair caused Nixon to resign.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-12-2005, 04:22 PM
Private First Class Desmond T. Doss of Lynchburg, Virginia, is presented the Congressional Medal of Honor for outstanding bravery as a medical corpsman, the first conscientious objector in American history to receive the nation's highest military award.

When called on by his country to fight in World War II, Doss, a dedicated pacifist, registered as a conscientious objector. Eventually sent to the Pacific theater of war as a medical corpsman, Doss voluntarily put his life in the utmost peril during the bloody battle for Okinawa, saving dozens of lives well beyond the call of duty.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-14-2005, 03:36 PM
U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager becomes the first person to fly faster than
the speed of sound.Yeager, born in Myra, West Virginia, in 1923, was a combat
fighter during World War II and flew 64 missions over Europe. He shot down 13
German planes and was himself shot down over France, but he escaped capture with
the assistance of the French Underground. After the war, he was among several
volunteers chosen to test-fly the experimental X-1 rocket plane, built by the
Bell Aircraft Company to explore the possibility of supersonic flight.For years,
many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of
sound, theorizing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. All
that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the X-1 over Rogers Dry Lake
in Southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a
B-29 aircraft and then released through the bomb bay, rocketing to 40,000 feet
and exceeding 662 miles per hour (the sound barrier at that altitude). The
rocket plane, nicknamed "Glamorous Glennis," was designed with thin, unswept
wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet.Because of
the secrecy of the project, Bell and Yeager's achievement was not announced
until June 1948. Yeager continued to serve as a test pilot, and in 1953 he flew
1,650 miles per hour in an X-1A rocket plane. He retired from the U.S. Air Force
in 1975 with the rank of brigadier general.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-16-2005, 08:48 AM
Abolitionist John Brown leads a small group on a raid against an arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in an attempt to incite an insurrection and destroy the institution of slavery.

Born in Connecticut in 1800 and raised in Ohio, Brown came from a staunchly Calvinist and antislavery family. He spent much of his life failing at a variety of businesses--he declared bankruptcy at age 42 and had more than 20 lawsuits filed against him. In 1837, his life changed irrevocably when he attended an abolition meeting in Cleveland, during which he was so moved that he publicly announced his dedication to destroying the institution of slavery. As early as 1848 he was formulating a plan to incite an insurrection, and he shared the idea with Frederick Douglass.

In the 1850s, Brown traveled to Kansas with five of his sons to fight against the proslavery forces in the contest over that territory. On May 21, 1856, proslavery men raided the abolitionist town of Lawrence, and Brown personally sought revenge. On May 25, Brown and his sons attacked three cabins along Pottawatomie Creek. They killed five men with broad swords and triggered a summer of guerilla warfare in the troubled territory. One of Brown's sons was killed in the fighting.

By 1857, Brown returned to the East and began raising money to carry out his vision of a mass uprising of slaves. He secured the backing of six prominent abolitionists, known as the "Secret Six," and he assembled an invasion force. His "army" grew to include 22 men, including five black men and three of Brown's sons. The group rented a Maryland farm near Harpers Ferry and prepared for the assault.

Although Brown spent years dreaming of the raid, he apparently put little thought into the specifics of its execution. He made no attempt to notify the slaves that he hoped would join him, and he had little idea what to do with the armory he planned to capture. On the night of October 16, Brown and his band overran the arsenal. Some of his men rounded up a handful of hostages, including a few slaves. Word of the raid spread, and by morning Brown and his men were surrounded. A company of U.S. marines arrived on October 17, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart. On the morning of October 19, the soldiers overran Brown and his survivors. Ten of his men were killed, including two of his sons.

The wounded Brown was tried by the state of Virginia for treason and murder, and he was found guilty on November 2. He went to the gallows on December 2, 1859. Before his execution, he handed his guard a slip of paper that read, "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." It was a prophetic statement. Although the raid failed, it inflamed sectional tensions and raised the stakes for the 1860 presidential election. Brown's raid helped make any further accommodation between North and South nearly impossible and thus became an important impetus of the Civil War.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-17-2005, 05:12 AM
The Arab-dominated Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
announces a decision to cut oil exports to the United States and other nations
that provided military aid to Israel in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973.
According to OPEC, exports were to be reduced by 5 percent every month until
Israel evacuated the territories occupied in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. In
December, a full oil embargo was imposed against the United States and several
other countries, prompting a serious energy crisis in the United States and
other nations dependent on foreign oil.OPEC was founded in 1960 by Saudi Arabia,
Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, and Venezuela with the principle objective of raising the
price of oil. Other Arab nations and Third World oil producers joined in the
1960s and early 1970s. For the first decade of its existence, OPEC had little
impact on the price of oil, but by the early 1970s an increase in demand and the
decline of U.S. oil production gave it more clout.In October 1973, OPEC
ministers were meeting in Vienna when Egypt and Syria (non-OPEC nations)
launched a joint attack on Israel. After initial losses in the so-called Yom
Kippur War, Israel began beating back the Arab gains with the help of a U.S.
airlift of arms and other military assistance from the Netherlands and Denmark.
By October 17, the tide had turned decisively against Egypt and Syria, and OPEC
decided to use oil price increases as a political weapon against Israel and its
allies. Israel, as expected, refused to withdraw from the occupied territories,
and the price of oil increased by 70 percent. At OPEC's Tehran conference in
December, oil prices were raised another 130 percent, and a total oil embargo
was imposed on the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Eventually, the
price of oil quadrupled, causing a major energy crisis in the United States and
Europe that included price gouging, gas shortages, and rationing.In March 1974,
the embargo against the United States was lifted after U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger succeeded in negotiating a military disengagement agreement
between Syria and Israel. Oil prices, however, remained considerably higher than
their mid-1973 level. OPEC cut production several more times in the 1970s, and
by 1980 the price of crude oil was 10 times what it had been in 1973. By the
early 1980s, however, the influence of OPEC on world oil prices began to
decline; Western nations were successfully exploiting alternate sources of
energy such as coal and nuclear power, and large, new oil fields had been tapped
in the United States and other non-OPEC oil-producing nations.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-19-2005, 04:32 AM
Hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis
surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force,
effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.Lord Cornwallis was one
of the most capable British generals of the American Revolution. In 1776, he
drove General George Washington's Patriots forces out of New Jersey, and in 1780
he won a stunning victory over General Horatio Gates' Patriot army at Camden,
South Carolina. Cornwallis' subsequent invasion of North Carolina was less
successful, however, and in April 1781 he led his weary and battered troops
toward the Virginia coast, where he could maintain seaborne lines of
communication with the large British army of General Henry Clinton in New York
City. After conducting a series of raids against towns and plantations in
Virginia, Cornwallis settled in the tidewater town of Yorktown in August. The
British immediately began fortifying the town and the adjacent promontory of
Gloucester Point across the York River.General George Washington instructed the
Marquis de Lafayette, who was in Virginia with an American army of around 5,000
men, to block Cornwallis' escape from Yorktown by land. In the meantime,
Washington's 2,500 troops in New York were joined by a French army of 4,000 men
under the Count de Rochambeau. Washington and Rochambeau made plans to attack
Cornwallis with the assistance of a large French fleet under the Count de
Grasse, and on August 21 they crossed the Hudson River to march south to
Yorktown. Covering 200 miles in 15 days, the allied force reached the head of
Chesapeake Bay in early September.Meanwhile, a British fleet under Admiral
Thomas Graves failed to break French naval superiority at the Battle of Virginia
Capes on September 5, denying Cornwallis his expected reinforcements. Beginning
September 14, de Grasse transported Washington and Rochambeau's men down the
Chesapeake to Virginia, where they joined Lafayette and completed the
encirclement of Yorktown on September 28. De Grasse landed another 3,000 French
troops carried by his fleet. During the first two weeks of October, the 14,000
Franco-American troops gradually overcame the fortified British positions with
the aid of de Grasse's warships. A large British fleet carrying 7,000 men set
out to rescue Cornwallis, but it was too late.On October 19, General Cornwallis
surrendered 7,087 officers and men, 900 seamen, 144 cannons, 15 galleys, a
frigate, and 30 transport ships. Pleading illness, he did not attend the
surrender ceremony, but his second-in-command, General Charles O'Hara, carried
Cornwallis' sword to the American and French commanders. As the British and
Hessian troops marched out to surrender, the British bands played the song "The
World Turned Upside Down."Although the war persisted on the high seas and in
other theaters, the Patriot victory at Yorktown effectively ended fighting in
the American colonies. Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on September 3,
1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally recognizing the United States as
a free and independent nation after eight years of war.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-21-2005, 05:29 AM
Jailhouse Rock, starring Elvis Presley, opens. The title song hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and became Presley's eighth chart topper.

Elvis had been recording since 1954, when a song he recorded for his mother's birthday caught the attention of studio executive Sam Phillips, who asked Presley to audition for him. Presley started the audition with country-western standards, but when he felt Phillips' interest wane he belted out a rhythm-and-blues song called "That's All Right." Impressed, Phillips recorded the song, and a week later it became No. 4 on the country-western charts in Memphis.

That summer, Phillips brought Presley together with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, both country-western artists, and one of the songs the trio recorded was played on a Memphis radio station. The song was a hit with listeners and led to Presley's first radio interview. He made his one and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on September 25 and soon began appearing regularly on the radio. He made his television debut on a Memphis show in March 1955, and that September scored his first No. 1 country record, a rendition of Junior Parker's "Mystery Train."

RCA purchased Presley's contract from Sun Records for an unprecedented $35,000, plus a $5,000 advance for Presley, which he used to buy a pink Cadillac for his mother. He made his first records in Nashville in 1956, including "I Got a Woman," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "I Was the One."

On January 28, 1956, television audiences saw Presley on the Dorsey Brothers' Stage Show. He performed on several variety shows before he began filming his first movie, Love Me Tender (1956), which took just three days to earn back the $1 million it cost. All his singles released that year went gold.

In 1967, Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu, who had moved into Presley's mansion, Graceland, as a teenager six years earlier. The couple divorced in 1973. The "King of Rock and Roll" gave his final live performance on June 25, 1977. Six weeks later, on August 16, 1977, his girlfriend found him dead in a bathroom at Graceland. Congestive heart failure was initially cited as the cause of death, but drug abuse was suspected as a contributing factor. He was buried at Graceland beside his parents, and his estate was passed on to his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. Nine years after his death, he was one of the first 10 people inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He had earned 94 gold singles and more than 40 gold LPs.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-22-2005, 06:10 AM
Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd is shot by FBI agents in a cornfield in East Liverpool, Ohio. Famed agent Melvin Purvis asked the dying man, "Are you Pretty Boy Floyd?" to which he replied, "I am Charles Arthur Floyd. You got me this time." Floyd, who had been a hotly pursued fugitive for four years, used his last breath to deny his involvement in the infamous Kansas City Massacre, in which four officers were shot to death at a train station. He died shortly thereafter.

Charles Floyd grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. When it became impossible to operate a small farm in the drought conditions of the late 1920s, Floyd tried his hand at bank robbery. He soon found himself in a Missouri prison for robbing a St. Louis payroll delivery. After being paroled in 1929, he learned that Jim Mills had shot his father to death. Since Mills, who had been acquitted of the charges, was never heard from or seen again, Floyd was believed to have killed him.

Moving on to Kansas City, Floyd got mixed up with the city's burgeoning criminal community. A local prostitute gave Floyd the nickname "Pretty Boy," which he hated. Along with a couple of friends he had met in prison, he robbed several banks in Missouri and Ohio, but was eventually caught in Ohio and sentenced to 15 years. On the way to prison, Floyd kicked out a window and jumped from the speeding train. He made it to Toledo, where he hooked up with Bill "The Killer" Miller.

The two went on a crime spree across several states until Miller was killed in a spectacular firefight in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 1931. Once he was back in Kansas City, Floyd killed a federal agent during a raid and became a nationally known criminal figure. This time he escaped to the backwoods of Oklahoma. The locals there, reeling from the Depression, were not about to turn in an Oklahoma native for robbing banks. Floyd became a Robin Hood-type figure, staying one step ahead of the law. Even the Joads, characters in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, spoke well of Floyd.

However, not everyone was so enamored with "Pretty Boy." Oklahoma's governor put out a $6,000 bounty on his head. On June 17, 1933, when law enforcement officials were ambushed by a machine-gun attack in a Kansas City train station while transporting criminal Frank Nash to prison, Floyd's notoriety grew even more. Although it was not clear whether or not Floyd was responsible, both the FBI and the nation's press pegged the crime on him nevertheless. Subsequently, pressure was stepped up to capture the illustrious fugitive, and the FBI finally got their man in October 1934.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-23-2005, 03:04 PM
Marcus Junius Brutus, a leading conspirator in the assassination of Julius Caesar, commits suicide after his defeat at the second battle of Philippi.

Two years before, Brutus had joined Gaius Cassius Longinus in the plot against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, believing he was striking a blow for the restoration of the Roman Republic. However, the result of Caesar's assassination was to plunge the Roman world into a new round of civil wars, with the Republican forces of Brutus and Cassius vying for supremacy against Octavian and Mark Antony. After being defeated by Antony at a battle in Philippi, Greece, in October 42 B.C., Cassius killed himself. On October 23, Brutus' army was crushed by Octavian and Antony at a second encounter at Philippi, and Brutus took his own life.

Antony and Octavian soon turned against each other, and in 27 B.C. the Roman Republic was lost forever with the ascendance of Octavian as Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome.

Zen Curmudgeon
10-25-2005, 05:21 AM
After eighteen months of examining the dirty details of the government's oil contracts, Montana senator Thomas J. Walsh unveiled his findings on this day. Walsh's investigation charged Secretary of the Interior Albert F. Fall with improperly leasing the oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming. According to Walsh's findings, Fall had set up a cozy backroom deal with oil tycoon Ed Doheny and Henry Sinclair, the Mammoth Oil magnate. In return for bypassing the normal competitive bid process and selling the reserves directly to Doheny and Sinclair, the oil kingpins handed $85,000 and some cattle over to Fall. Sinclair also transferred $233,000 of Mammoth Oil's money over to the secretary's son-in-law. This wasn't an isolated incident for Fall, who was also charged with illegally brokering a deal for reserves in Elk Hill, California. With a damning stack of evidence against him, Fall was slapped with a $100,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence, making him the first cabinet member to serve time.

[NOTE: In an amazing legal gymnastic, Mr. Doheny was acquitted of offering the bribe Secretary Fall was convicted of receiving. ZC]

Zen Curmudgeon
10-26-2005, 05:10 AM
After years of feuding and mounting tensions, on this day in 1881, the “law and order” Earps and the “cowboy” Clanton-McLaurys engage in their world-famous shoot-out near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, leaving three men dead and three more wounded.

Both sides in the conflict were ostensibly looking for revenge for what they perceived as malicious attacks and insults, but on a larger level the conflict revolved around which side would control the fate of Tombstone and Cochise County. That hot Arizona day, the Earp brothers—Wyatt; Virgil, the town marshal; and Morgan—along with their friend Doc Holliday, spotted a group of cattle rustlers—Ike and Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury, and Billy Claiborne, at the other end of Fremont Street, standing in a vacant lot behind the OK Corral. Standing nearby was Cochise County Sheriff John Behan, who rushed up the street to tell the Earps that the Clantons and McLaurys were mostly unarmed and just wanted to leave town peacefully. But the Earps ignored the sheriff and moved ahead to confront their enemies. “You sons of bitches,” Wyatt Earp reportedly said, “you’re looking for a fight and now you can have it.”

The question of which side actually drew their guns first is still debated today, but it’s believed that Virgil Earp pulled out his revolver and shot Billy Clanton in the chest at point-blank range, while Doc Holliday killed Tom McLaury with a blast from his double-barreled shotgun. Wyatt Earp shot Frank McLaury in the stomach, and the wounded man staggered out into the street but managed to pull his gun and return fire. Meanwhile, Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran for their lives. The wounded Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton both managed to get off several shots before collapsing, and Virgil, Morgan, and Doc were all hit. But when the 30-second gunfight was over, there was no doubt which side had triumphed: the Earps were bloodied but alive, while Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury were dead or dying. Sheriff Behan, who witnessed the entire shoot-out, charged the Earps and Holliday with murder. However, a month later the Tombstone justice of the peace found the men not guilty, ruling “the defendants were fully justified in committing these homicides.”

Zen Curmudgeon
10-30-2005, 10:15 AM
Orson Welles causes a nationwide panic with his broadcast of "War of the
Worlds"--a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth.Orson
Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update
H.G. Wells' 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national
radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably
as the voice of "The Shadow" in the hit mystery program of the same name. "War
of the Worlds" was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of
the havoc it would cause.The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice
announced: "The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present
Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in 'War of the Worlds' by H.G.
Wells."Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and
millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans
were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy "Charlie McCarthy" on
NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a
little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well
underway.Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed
by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the
storyline, the announcer took listeners to "the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park
Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon
Raquello and his orchestra." Putrid dance music played for some time, and then
the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that "Professor Farrell of the
Mount Jenning Observatory" had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the
dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners
were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer's field in Grovers
Mills, New Jersey.Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian
emerging from a large metallic cylinder. "Good heavens," he declared,
"something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here's another
and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me ... I can see
the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather.
But that face, it ...it ... ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can
hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it's so awful. The eyes are black and
gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from
its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate."The Martians mounted walking
war machines and fired "heat-ray" weapons at the puny humans gathered around the
crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after
being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas
into the air. Soon "Martian cylinders" landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The
radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound
effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers
and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out
in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee.
In fact, that was not far from the truth.Perhaps as many as a million radio
listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out
across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking
to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them
from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that
the Martians wouldn't see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis
church where evening services were being held and yelled, "New York has been
destroyed! It's the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!"When news of
the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as
himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumors that the
show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed.The Federal Communications
Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did
agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles
feared that the controversy generated by "War of the Worlds" would ruin his
career. In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood
studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane--a
movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-01-2005, 05:54 AM
On this day, William Tilghman is murdered by a corrupt prohibition agent who resented Tilghman's refusal to ignore local bootlegging operations. Tilghman, one of the famous marshals who brought law and order to the Wild West, was 71 years old.

Known to both friends and enemies as "Uncle Billy," Tilghman was one of the most honest and effective lawmen of his day. Born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1854, Tilghman moved west when he was only 16 years old. Once there, he flirted with a life of crime after falling in with a crowd of disreputable young men who stole horses from Indians. After several narrow escapes with angry Indians, Tilghman decided that rustling was too dangerous and settled in Dodge City, Kansas, where he briefly served as a deputy marshal before opening a saloon. He was arrested twice for alleged train robbery and rustling, but the charges did not stick.

Despite this shaky start, Tilghman gradually built a reputation as an honest and respectable young man in Dodge City. He became the deputy sheriff of Ford County, Kansas, and later, the marshal of Dodge City. Tilghman was one of the first men into the territory when Oklahoma opened to settlement in 1889, and he became a deputy U.S. marshal for the region in 1891. In the late 19th century, lawlessness still plagued Oklahoma, and Tilghman helped restore order by capturing some of the most notorious bandits of the day.

Over the years, Tilghman earned a well-deserved reputation for treating even the worst criminals fairly and protecting the rights of the unjustly accused. Any man in Tilghman's custody knew he was safe from angry vigilante mobs, because Tilghman had little tolerance for those who took the law into their own hands. In 1898, a wild mob lynched two young Indians who were falsely accused of raping and murdering a white woman. Tilghman arrested and secured prison terms for eight of the mob leaders and captured the real rapist-murderer.

In 1924, after serving a term as an Oklahoma state legislator, making a movie about his frontier days, and serving as the police chief of Oklahoma City, Tilghman might well have been expected to quietly retire. However, the old lawman was unable to hang up his gun, and he accepted a job as city marshal in Cromwell, Oklahoma. Tilghman was shot and killed while trying to arrest a drunken Prohibition agent.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-03-2005, 05:19 AM
The Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa reports that the United States has been
secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven
American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. The revelation,
confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources on November 6, came as a shock to
officials outside President Ronald Reagan's inner circle and went against the
stated policy of the administration. In addition to violating the U.S. arms
embargo against Iran, the arms sales contradicted President Reagan's vow never
to negotiate with terrorists.On November 25, controversy over the
administration's secret dealings with Iran deepened dramatically when Attorney
General Edwin Meese revealed that proceeds from the arms sales were diverted to
fund Nicaraguan rebels--the Contras--who were fighting a guerrilla war against
the elected leftist government of Nicaragua. The Contra connection caused
outrage in Congress, which in 1982 had passed the Boland Amendment prohibiting
the use of federal money "for the purpose of overthrowing the government of
Nicaragua." The same day that the Iran-Contra connection was disclosed,
President Reagan accepted the resignation of his national security adviser, Vice
Admiral John Poindexter, and fired Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a Poindexter
aide. Both men had played key roles in the Iran-Contra operation. Reagan
accepted responsibility for the arms-for-hostages deal but denied any knowledge
of the diversion of funds to the Contras.In December 1986, Lawrence Walsh was
named special prosecutor to investigate the matter, and in the summer of 1987
Congress held televised hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal. Both investigations
revealed that North and other administration officials had attempted to
illegally cover up their illicit dealings with the Contras and Iran. In the
course of Walsh's investigation, eleven White House, State Department, and
intelligence officials were found guilty on charges ranging from perjury to
withholding information from Congress to conspiracy to defraud the United
States. In his final report, Walsh concluded that neither Reagan nor Vice
President George Bush violated any laws in connection with the affair, but that
Reagan had set the stage for the illegal activities of others by ordering
continued support of the Contras after Congress prohibited it. The report also
found that Reagan and Bush engaged in conduct that contributed to a "concerted
effort to deceive Congress and the public" about the Iran-Contra affair.On
Christmas Eve, 1992, shortly after being defeated in his reelection bid by Bill
Clinton, President George Bush pardoned six major figures in the Iran-Contra
affair. Two of the men, former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger and former
chief of CIA operations Duane Clarridge, had trials for perjury pending.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-04-2005, 07:55 AM
British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

When Carter first arrived in Egypt in 1891, most of the ancient Egyptian tombs had been discovered, though the little-known King Tutankhamen, who had died when he was 18, was still unaccounted for. After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for "King Tut's Tomb," finally finding steps to the burial room hidden in the debris near the entrance of the nearby tomb of King Ramses VI in the Valley of the Kings. On November 26, 1922, Carter and fellow archaeologist Lord Carnarvon entered the interior chambers of the tomb, finding them miraculously intact.

Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. The most splendid architectural find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, which was made out of solid gold, was the mummy of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for more than 3,000 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-05-2005, 10:34 AM
Leonard Slye, later known as Roy Rogers, is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Rogers first came to Hollywood in the 1920s as a migrant fruit picker. In the early 1930s, he joined a singing group called Uncle Tom Murray's Hollywood Hillbillies, which first sang on the radio in 1931. Rogers went on to sing with other similar groups, including the Sons of the Pioneers, which recorded hits like "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." The Sons of the Pioneers group was recruited for low-budget western films, and Rogers was soon playing bit parts for Republic Pictures, the same studio where cowboy star Gene Autry worked. When Autry quit over a dispute with the studio in 1937, Rogers gained more exposure. Starring with his trick horse, Trigger, and his frequent co-star Dale Evans, Rogers soon became one of the Top 10 moneymakers in Hollywood.

Rogers also followed Autry into the radio medium, launching The Roy Rogers Show in 1944. The show, a mix of music and drama, always closed with the song "Happy Trails," which became known as Rogers' theme song.

After Rogers' wife died in 1946, he married co-star Dale Evans. His radio program ran until 1955. In 1951, a TV version of the program debuted and ran until 1957. Rogers became one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood by diversifying his money: His empire included a TV production studio, real estate, cattle, horses, a rodeo show, and a restaurant chain. Roy Rogers died in 1998

11-06-2005, 12:39 AM
Zen -

Thank you for your continued effort in the "This Day in History" thread. I've learned a lot of news tidbits I probably would not have, were it not for your posts.


Zen Curmudgeon
11-06-2005, 09:46 PM
Charles Henry Dow, the journalist and economist who helped wed media to the stock markets, was born on this day in Connecticut in 1851. Dow moved to New York in 1880 to work as a stringer for a financial news wire. In 1882, he joined forces with Edward D. Jones to produce news reports for Wall Street brokerage firms. The newly formed Dow Jones & Company would churn out these bulletins, then known as "flimsies," or "slips," and send them over to Wall Street via messenger. Dow and his team would cap the day with a summary report of the market action that, by 1889, had evolved into the Wall Street Journal. Dow was the first editor of the Journal, using the paper as a vehicle to postulate his economic beliefs, including the aptly named "Dow theory." Along the way, Dow developed a statistical method for measuring the markets that has since become the Dow Jones average.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-07-2005, 06:04 AM
Richard Nixon defeats Senator George McGovern (D-South Dakota) and is re-elected President of the United States.

With only 55 percent of the electorate voting, the lowest turnout since 1948, Nixon carried all states but Massachusetts, taking 97 percent of the electoral votes. During the campaign, Nixon pledged to secure "peace with honor" in Vietnam. Aided by the potential for a peace agreement in the ongoing Paris negotiations and the upswing in the American economy, Nixon easily defeated McGovern, an outspoken peacenik whose party was divided over several issues, not the least of which was McGovern's extreme views on the war. McGovern had said during the campaign, "If I were President, it would take me twenty-four hours and the stroke of a pen to terminate all military operations in Southeast Asia." He said he would withdraw all American troops within 90 days of taking office, whether or not U.S. prisoners of war were released. To many Americans, including many Democrats, McGovern's position was tantamount to total capitulation in Southeast Asia. Given this radical alternative, Nixon seemed a better choice to most voters.

In other races, the Democrats widened their majority in Congress, picking up two Senate seats. Almost unnoticed during the presidential campaign was the arrest of five men connected with Nixon's re-election committee who had broken into the Democratic Party's national headquarters in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C. The Watergate scandal ultimately proved to be Nixon's undoing, and he resigned the presidency as a result of it in August 1974.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-08-2005, 06:14 AM
For the first time in 40 years, the Republican Party wins control of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in midterm congressional elections. Led by Representative Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who subsequently replaced Democrat Tom Foley of Washington as speaker of the House, the empowered GOP united under the "Contract with America," a 10-point legislative plan to reduce federal taxes, balance the budget, and dismantle social welfare programs established during six decades of mostly Democratic rule in Congress.

Gingrich's House of Representatives, home to the majority of the Republican freshmen, led the "Republican Revolution" by passing every bill incorporated in the Contract with America--with the exception of a term-limits constitutional amendment--within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-09-2005, 06:17 AM
Record store manager Brian Epstein goes to a Liverpool nightclub called the Cavern to hear the Beatles. Two months later, he became their manager and helped them land their first record deal, in 1962. The "Fab Four"-Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison--recorded "Love Me Do," the group's first Top 20 hit in the United Kingdom, in September 1962.

Epstein gave the group their clean-cut suit-and-tie image; previously, the band had played in blue jeans and leather jackets. He also helped manage their rise to fame. By the time they went on their first U.S. tour, in 1964, Beatlemania was in full swing, and the band was mobbed when they landed at Kennedy Airport in New York. Their debut album in the United States, Meet the Beatles, became the fastest-selling album in U.S. history to that time. The Beatles went on to score more No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts than any other group in history, with 20 chart toppers. They received the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965 at Buckingham Palace.

The band became more experimental with time, moving from upbeat harmonies to concept albums like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Epstein, however, did not live to see the band's later years; he died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills in August 1967.

After Epstein's death, the band stayed together until 1970. Later, each member pursued a solo career or formed a new group. Although there was frequent speculation about the possibility of a reunion, Lennon's tragic murder by a deranged fan in 1980 brought that to an end.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-10-2005, 05:59 AM
November 10, 1775

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.

Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Province Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.

In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.

Today, there are more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve Marines, divided into three divisions stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Okinawa, Japan. Each division has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks' notice. Marines expeditionary units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks, artillery, and air forces. The motto of the service is Semper Fidelis, meaning "Always Faithful" in Latin.
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On this day in 1973, newspapers report the burning of 36 copies of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Vonnegut's book was a combination of real events and science fiction. His hero, Billy Pilgrim, was a World War II soldier who witnessed the firebombing of Dresden, as had Vonnegut himself. Pilgrim becomes "unstuck in time" and thereafter lives a double existence-one life on an alien planet where a resigned acceptance of inevitable doom expresses itself philosophically in the hopeless locution "And so it goes." In his life on Earth, Pilgrim preaches the same philosophy. Some found the book's pessimistic outlook and black humor unsuitable for school children.

Vonnegut was born on November 11, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Cornell and joined the Air Force during World War II. He was captured by Germans and held in Dresden, where he was forced to dig out dead and charred bodies in the aftermath of the city's bombing. After the war, he studied anthropology at the University of Chicago and later wrote journalism and public relations material.

Vonnegut's other novels, including Cat's Cradle (1963), Breakfast of Champions (1973), Galapagos (1985), and others, did not generate as much controversy as Slaughterhouse-Five. His experimental writing style, combining the real, the absurd, the satiric, and the fanciful, attracted attention and made his books popular. Vonnegut is also a gifted graphic artist whose satirical sketches appear in some of his later novels, including Breakfast of Champions.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-11-2005, 05:55 AM
It hasn't always been Veteran's Day

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

On June 28, 1914, in an event that is widely regarded as sparking the outbreak of World War I, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was shot to death with his wife by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Ferdinand had been inspecting his uncle's imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite the threat of Serbian nationalists who wanted these Austro-Hungarian possessions to join newly independent Serbia. Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbian government for the attack and hoped to use the incident as justification for settling the problem of Slavic nationalism once and for all. However, as Russia supported Serbia, an Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was delayed until its leaders received assurances from German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II that Germany would support their cause in the event of a Russian intervention.

On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the tenuous peace between Europe's great powers collapsed. On July 29, Austro-Hungarian forces began to shell the Serbian capital, Belgrade, and Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered a troop mobilization against Austria-Hungary. France, allied with Russia, began to mobilize on August 1. France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3. After crossing through neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3-4, prompting Great Britain, Belgium's ally, to declare war against Germany.

For the most part, the people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation. Most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months. Of the initial belligerents, Germany was most prepared for the outbreak of hostilities, and its military leaders had formatted a sophisticated military strategy known as the "Schlieffen Plan," which envisioned the conquest of France through a great arcing offensive through Belgium and into northern France. Russia, slow to mobilize, was to be kept occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces while Germany attacked France.

The Schlieffen Plan was nearly successful, but in early September the French rallied and halted the German advance at the bloody Battle of the Marne near Paris. By the end of 1914, well over a million soldiers of various nationalities had been killed on the battlefields of Europe, and neither for the Allies nor the Central Powers was a final victory in sight. On the western front--the battle line that stretched across northern France and Belgium--the combatants settled down in the trenches for a terrible war of attrition.

In 1915, the Allies attempted to break the stalemate with an amphibious invasion of Turkey, which had joined the Central Powers in October 1914, but after heavy bloodshed the Allies were forced to retreat in early 1916. The year 1916 saw great offensives by Germany and Britain along the western front, but neither side accomplished a decisive victory. In the east, Germany was more successful, and the disorganized Russian army suffered terrible losses, spurring the outbreak of the Russian Revolution in 1917. By the end of 1917, the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia and immediately set about negotiating peace with Germany. In 1918, the infusion of American troops and resources into the western front finally tipped the scale in the Allies' favor. Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies on November 11, 1918.

World War I was known as the "war to end all wars" because of the great slaughter and destruction it caused. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict--the Treaty of Versailles of 1919--forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

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November 11, 1942 Draft age is lowered to 18

On this day in 1942, Congress approves lowering the draft age to 18 and raising the upper limit to age 37.

In September 1940, Congress, by wide margins in both houses, passed the Burke-Wadsworth Act, and the first peacetime draft was imposed in the history of the United States. The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began exactly one month later. There were some 20 million eligible young men-50 percent were rejected the very first year, either for health reasons or because 20 percent of those who registered were illiterate.

But by November 1942, with the United States now a participant in the war, and not merely a neutral bystander, the draft ages had to be expanded; men 18 to 37 were now eligible. Blacks were passed over for the draft because of racist assumptions about their abilities and the viability of a mixed-race military. But this changed in 1943, when a "quota" was imposed, meant to limit the numbers of blacks drafted to reflect their numbers in the overall population, roughly 10.6 percent of the whole. Initially, blacks were restricted to "labor units," but this too ended as the war progressed, when they were finally used in combat.

By war's end, approximately 34 million men had registered; 10 million had been inducted into the military.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-12-2005, 09:09 AM
More than three years after its launch, the U.S. planetary probe Voyager 1 edges within 77,000 miles of Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system. The photos, beamed 950 million miles back to California, stunned scientists. The high-resolution images showed a world that seemed to confound all known laws of physics. Saturn had not six, but hundreds of rings. The rings appeared to dance, buckle, and interlock in ways never thought possible. Two rings were intertwined, or "braided," and pictures showed dark radial "spokes" moving inside the rings in the direction of rotation. Voyager 2, a sister spacecraft, arrived at Saturn in August 1981. The Voyagers also discovered three new moons around Saturn and a substantial atmosphere around Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

Voyager 1 was preceded to Saturn by Pioneer 11, a smaller and less sophisticated U.S. spacecraft that flew by the gas giant in September 1979. The Voyager spacecrafts were equipped with high-resolution television cameras that sent back more than 30,000 images of Saturn, its rings, and satellite. Voyager 1 was actually launched 16 days after Voyager 2, but its trajectory followed a quicker path to the outer planets.

Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter in March 1979, followed by Voyager 2 four months later. Both spacecraft then continued on to Saturn, with Voyager 1 arriving in November 1980 and Voyager 2 in August 1981. Voyager 2 was then diverted to the remaining gas giants, arriving at Uranus in January 1986 and Neptune in August 1989. Voyager 1, meanwhile, studied interplanetary space and continued on to the edge of the solar system.

In February 1998, Voyager 1 became the most distant man-made object from the sun, surpassing the distance of Pioneer 10. Voyager 2 is also traveling out of the solar system but at a slower pace. Both Voyager spacecrafts contain a gold-plated copper disk that has on it recorded sounds and images of Earth. Along with 115 analog images, the disk features sound selections that include greetings in 55 languages, 35 natural and man-made sounds, and portions of 27 musical pieces. The Voyagers are expected to remain operable until about the year 2020, periodically sending back data on the edge of the solar system.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-13-2005, 10:26 AM
In 1939, the U.S. Army asked America's automobile manufacturers to submit designs for a simple and versatile military vehicle. It would be two full years before the official U.S. declaration of war, but military officials, who knew this declaration to be inevitable, recognized the need for an innovative troop-transport vehicle for the global battlefields of World War II. The American Bantam Car Company, a small car manufacturer, submitted the first design approved by the army, but the production contract was ultimately given to Willys-Overland, a company that had a larger production capability and offered a lower bid. The Willys Jeep, as it would become known during the war, was similar to the Bantam design, and featured four-wheel drive, an open-air cab, and a rifle rack mounted under the windshield. On this day, the first Willys-Overland Jeep prototype was completed, and submitted to the U.S. Army for approval. One year later, with the U.S. declaration of war, mass production of the Willys-Overland Jeep began. By the war's end in 1945, some 600,000 Jeeps had rolled off the assembly lines and onto the battlefields of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The efficient and sturdy four-wheel drive Jeep became a symbol of the American war effort--no obstacle could stop its advance. Somewhere along the line the vehicle acquired the name "Jeep," likely evolving from the initials G.P. for "general purchase" vehicle, and the nickname stuck. In 1945, Willys-Overland introduced the first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A--the forefather of today's sport utility vehicles.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-14-2005, 06:09 AM
Lech Walesa, leader of communist Poland's outlawed Solidarity movement, returns
to his apartment in Gdansk after 11 months of internment in a remote hunting
lodge near the Soviet border. Two days before, hundreds of supporters had begun
a vigil outside his home upon learning that the founder of Poland's trade union
movement was being released. When Walesa finally did return home, on November
14, he was lifted above the jubilant crowd and carried to the door of his
apartment, where he greeted his wife and then addressed his supporters from a
second-story window. Walesa, born in 1943, was an electrician at the Lenin
Shipyard in Gdansk when he was fired for union agitation in 1976. When protests
broke out in the Gdansk shipyard over an increase in food prices in August 1980,
Walesa climbed the shipyard fence and joined the thousands of workers inside. He
was elected leader of the strike committee, and three days later the strikers'
demands were met. Walesa then helped coordinate other strikes in Gdansk and
demanded that the Polish government allow the free formation of trade unions and
the right to strike. On August 30, the government conceded to the strikers'
demands, legalizing trade unionism and granting greater freedom of religious and
political expression. Millions of Polish workers and farmers came together to
form unions, and Solidarity was formed as a national federation of unions, with
Walesa as its chairman. Under Walesa's charismatic leadership, the organization
grew in size and political influence, soon becoming a major threat to the
authority of the Polish government. On December 13, 1981, martial law was
declared in Poland, Solidarity was outlawed, and Walesa and other labor leaders
were arrested.In November 1982, overwhelming public outcry forced Walesa's
release, but Solidarity remained illegal. In 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize. Fearing involuntary exile, he declined to travel to Norway to
accept the award. Walesa continued as leader of the now-underground Solidarity
movement, and he was subjected to continual monitoring and harassment by the
communist authorities.In 1988, deteriorating economic conditions led to a new
wave of labor strikes across Poland, and the government was forced to negotiate
with Walesa. In April 1989, Solidarity was again legalized, and its members were
allowed to enter a limited number of candidates in upcoming elections. By
September, a Solidarity-led government coalition was in place, with Walesa's
colleague Tadeusz Mazowiecki as premier. In 1990, Poland's first direct
presidential election was held, and Walesa won by a landslide.President Walesa
successfully implemented free-market reforms, but unfortunately he was a more
effective labor leader than president. In 1995, he was narrowly defeated in his
reelection by former communist Aleksander Kwasniewski, head of the Democratic
Left Alliance.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-15-2005, 06:07 AM
Approaching the Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains during his second exploratory expedition, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike spots a distant mountain peak that looks "like a small blue cloud." The mountain was later named Pike's Peak in his honor.

Pike's explorations of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory of the United States began before the nation's first western explorers, Lewis and Clark, had returned from their own expedition up the Missouri River. Pike was more of a professional military man than either Lewis or Clark, and he was a smart man who had taught himself Spanish, French, mathematics, and elementary science. When the governor of Louisiana Territory requested a military expedition to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi, General James Wilkinson picked Pike to lead it.

Although Pike's first western expedition was only moderately successful, Wilkinson picked him to lead a second mission in July 1806 to explore the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers. This route took Pike across present-day Kansas and into the high plains region that would later become the state of Colorado. When Pike first saw the peak that would later bear his name, he grossly underestimated its height and its distance, never having seen mountains the size of the Rockies. He told his men they should be able to walk to the peak, climb it, and return before dinner. Pike and his men struggled through snow and sub-zero temperatures before finally taking shelter in a cave for the night, without even having reached the base of the towering mountain. Pike later pronounced the peak impossible to scale.

The remainder of Pike's expedition was equally trying. After attempting for several months to locate the Red River, Pike and his men became hopelessly lost. A troop of Spanish soldiers saved the mission when they arrested Pike and his men. The soldiers escorted them to Santa Fe, thus providing Pike with an invaluable tour of that strategically important region, courtesy of the Spanish military.

After returning to the United States, Pike wrote a poorly organized account of his expedition that won him some fame, but little money. Still, in recognition of his bravery and leadership during the western expeditions, the army appointed him a brigadier general during the War of 1812. He was killed in an explosion during the April 1813 assault on Toronto

Zen Curmudgeon
11-16-2005, 06:19 AM
Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory collectively enter the United States as
Oklahoma, the 46th state.Oklahoma, with a name derived from the Choctaw Indian
words okla, meaning "people," and humma, meaning "red," has a history of human
occupation dating back 15,000 years.

The first Europeans to visit the region were Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and in the 18th century the Spanish
and French struggled for control of the territory. The United States acquired
Oklahoma from France in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.After the War of
1812, the U.S. government decided to remove Indian tribes from the settled
eastern lands of the United States and move them west to the unsettled lands of
Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. In 1828, Congress reserved Oklahoma for Indians
and in 1834 formally ceded it to five southeastern tribes as Indian Territory.
Many Cherokees refused to abandon their homes east of the Mississippi, and so
the U.S. Army moved them west in a forced march known as the "Trail of Tears."
The uprooted tribes joined Plains Indians that had long occupied the area, and
Indian nations with fixed boundaries and separate governments were established
in the region.

During the American Civil War, most tribes in Indian Territory
supported the South. With the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865, the territory
was placed under U.S. military rule. White cattlemen and settlers began to covet
the virgin ranges of Oklahoma, and after the arrival of the railroad in the
1870s, illegal white incursion into Indian Territory flourished. Most of these
"Boomers" were expelled, but pressure continued until the federal government
agreed in 1889 to open two million acres in central Oklahoma for white
settlement. At noon on April 22, 1889, a pistol shot signaled the opening of the
new land, and tens of thousands of people rushed to stake claims. Those who had
already made illegal entry to beat the starting gun were called "Sooners," hence
Oklahoma's state nickname. The following year, the region was divided into
Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory.

In 1907, Congress decided to admit
Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory into the Union as a single state, with
all Indians in the state becoming U.S. citizens. Representatives of the two
territories drafted a constitution, and on September 17, 1907, it was approved
by voters of the two territories. On November 16, Oklahoma was welcomed into the
United States by President Theodore Roosevelt.Oklahoma initially prospered as an
agricultural state, but the drought years of the 1930s made the state part of
the Dust Bowl. During the Depression, poor tenant farmers known as "Okies" were
forced to travel west seeking better opportunities. In the 1940s, prosperity
returned to Oklahoma, and oil production brought a major economic boom in the

Zen Curmudgeon
11-18-2005, 06:25 AM
People's Temple leader Jim Jones leads hundreds of his followers in a mass murder-suicide at their agricultural commune in remote northwestern Guyana. The few cult members who refused to take the cyanide-laced fruit-flavored concoction were either forced to do so at gunpoint or shot as they fled. The final death toll was 913, including 276 children.

Jim Jones was a charismatic churchman who founded the People's Temple, a Christian sect, in Indianapolis in the 1950s. He preached against racism, and his integrated congregation attracted mostly African Americans. In 1965, he moved the group to northern California, settling in Ukiah and after 1971 in San Francisco. In the 1970s, his church was accused by the press of financial fraud, physical abuse of its members, and mistreatment of children. In response to the mounting criticism, Jones led several hundred of his followers to South America in 1977 and set up a utopian agricultural settlement called Jonestown in the jungle of Guyana.

A year later, a group of ex-members convinced U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, a Democrat of California, to travel to Jonestown and investigate the commune. On November 17, 1978, Ryan arrived in Jonestown with a group of journalists and other observers. At first the visit went well, but the next day, as Ryan's group was about to leave, several People's Church members approached members of the group and asked them for passage out of Guyana. Jones became distressed at the defection of his members, and one of Jones' lieutenants attacked Ryan with a knife. Ryan escaped from the incident unharmed, but Jones then ordered Ryan and his companions ambushed and killed at the airstrip as they attempted to leave. The congressman and four others were murdered as they attempted to board their charter planes.

Back in Jonestown, Jones directed his followers in a mass suicide in a clearing in the town. With Jones exhorting the "beauty of dying" over a loudspeaker, hundreds drank a lethal cyanide and Kool-Aid drink. Those who tried to escape were chased down and shot by Jones' lieutenants. Jones died of a gunshot wound in the head, probably self-inflicted. Guyanese troops, alerted by a cult member who escaped, reached Jonestown the next day. Only a dozen or so followers survived, hidden in the jungle. Most of the 913 dead were lying side by side in the clearing where Jones had preached to them for the last time.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-19-2005, 10:04 AM
For action this date, Chaplain (Major) Charles Watters of the 173rd Airborne Brigade is awarded the Medal of Honor. Chaplain Watters was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry when it conducted an attack against North Vietnamese forces entrenched on Hill 875 during the Battle of Dak To. The Catholic priest from New Jersey moved among the paratroopers during the intense fighting, giving encouragement and first aid to the wounded. At least six times he left the defensive perimeter with total disregard regard for his own personal safety to retrieve casualties and take them for medical attention. Once he was satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he busied himself helping the medics, applying bandages, and providing spiritual strength and support. According to reports filed by survivors of the battle, Father Watters was on his knees giving last rites to a dying soldier when an American bomber accidentally dropped a 500-pound bomb onto the group of paratroopers. Father Watters was killed instantly. He was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor on November 4, 1969, in a ceremony at the White House.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-20-2005, 09:53 AM
Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis go on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for atrocities committed during World War II.

The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. It was the first trial of its kind in history, and the defendants faced charges ranging from crimes against peace, to crimes of war, to crimes against humanity. Lord Justice Geoffrey Lawrence, the British member, presided over the proceedings, which lasted 10 months and consisted of 216 court sessions.

On October 1, 1946, 12 architects of Nazi policy were sentenced to death. Seven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life, and three were acquitted. Of the original 24 defendants, one, Robert Ley, committed suicide while in prison, and another, Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, was deemed mentally and physically incompetent to stand trial. Among those condemned to death by hanging were Joachim von Ribbentrop, Nazi minister of foreign affairs; Hermann Goering, leader of the Gestapo and the Luftwaffe; Alfred Jodl, head of the German armed forces staff; and Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior.

On October 16, 10 of the architects of Nazi policy were hanged. Goering, who at sentencing was called the "leading war aggressor and creator of the oppressive program against the Jews," committed suicide by poison on the eve of his scheduled execution. Nazi Party leader Martin Bormann was condemned to death in absentia (but is now believed to have died in May 1945). Trials of lesser German and Axis war criminals continued in Germany into the 1950s and resulted in the conviction of 5,025 other defendants and the execution of 806.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-21-2005, 06:16 AM
National Security Council member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, begin shredding documents that would have exposed their participation in a range of illegal activities regarding the sale of arms to Iran and the diversion of the proceeds to a rebel Nicaraguan group. On November 25, North was fired but Hall continued to sneak documents to him by stuffing them in her skirt and boots. The Iran-Contra scandal, as it came to be known, became an embarrassment and a sticky legal problem for the Reagan administration.

Only six years earlier, Iran had become an enemy of the United States after taking hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. At the time, President Reagan had repeatedly insisted that the United States would never deal with terrorists. When the revelation surfaced that his top officials at the National Security Council had begun selling arms to Iran, it was a public relations disaster.

During the televised Iran-Contra hearings, the public learned that the money received for the arms was sent to support the Contras in Nicaragua, despite Congress' Boland Amendment, which expressly prohibited U.S. assistance to the Contras. Though the communist Sandinistas had been legitimately elected in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration sought to oust them by supporting the Contras, an anti-Communist group.

During the Iran-Contra hearings, North claimed that the entire Reagan administration had known about the illegal plan. After admitting that he had lied to Congress, he was convicted of shredding documents, obstruction of justice, and illegally receiving a security fence for his own residence. He received a light sentence of a fine and probation.
A year later in July 1990, an appellate court voted 2-1 to overturn his conviction based on the possibility that some of the evidence may have come from testimony that Congress had immunized in their own hearings on the matter. President Reagan and Vice President George Bush maintained that they had no knowledge of the scheme. In fact, when Reagan was deposed, he claimed to have little memory of anything that happened in the White House in the mid-1980s.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-22-2005, 05:53 AM
President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed as his motorcade drives through Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy's suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was believed to have used a mail-order rifle in order to shoot the president from the sixth story window of the Texas Book Depository.

Oswald was a former Marine with a record of bizarre behavior. In 1959, he defected to Russia after years of obsessive interest in communism. He spent three years there before becoming disaffected and returning to the United States in 1962. Upon his return, he became involved with several political fringe groups and developed an intense interest in Cuba and Fidel Castro.

On November 22, several people claimed to have seen Oswald carrying a long, brown-paper-wrapped object into the Texas Book Depository, where he was employed. From the sixth floor window, atop cartons of books assembled to make a sniper's perch, Oswald purportedly fired three shots, the last of which killed Kennedy as his motorcade passed by the building. A gun that was later located in the Depository had a palm print that matched Oswald's.

Forty-five minutes after the assassination, Oswald was seen hurrying through the Dallas streets by police officer J.D. Tippit, who identified him as matching the description of Kennedy's killer. When Tippit attempted to apprehend him, Oswald shot him to death with a revolver and fled.

In the early afternoon, police converged on the Texas Theater, where Oswald had been spotted. Inside, Oswald punched an approaching officer and withdrew a pistol. The gun misfired and other police officers grabbed him. "I am not resisting arrest," Oswald cried as he was dragged out in front of an angry crowd of onlookers. "Don't hit me anymore! I want a lawyer!" In fact, Oswald would never require the services of an attorney because he was shot and killed by Dallas restaurant owner Jack Ruby as he was being transferred from jail to the sheriff's office two days later.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-23-2005, 05:51 AM
Determined to crush the union of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), Colorado Governor James Peabody sends the state militia into the mining town of Cripple Creek.

The strike in the gold mines of Cripple Creek began that summer. William "Big Bill" Haywood's Western Federation of Miners called for a sympathy strike among the underground miners to support a smelter workers' strike for an eight-hour day. The WFM, which was founded in 1893 in Montana, had already been involved in several violent strikes in Colorado and Idaho. By the end of October, the call for action at Cripple Creek had worked, and a majority of mine and smelter workers were idle; Cripple Creek operations ground to a halt. Eager to resume mining and break the union, the mine owners turned to Governor Peabody, who agreed to provide state militia protection for replacement workers.

Outraged, the miners barricaded roads and railways, but by the end of September more than a thousand armed men were in Cripple Creek to undermine the strike. Soldiers began to round up union members and their sympathizers-including the entire staff of a pro-union newspaper-and imprison them without any charges or evidence of wrongdoing. When miners complained that the imprisonment was a violation of their constitutional rights, one anti-union judge replied, "To hell with the Constitution; we're not following the Constitution!"

Such tyrannical tactics swung control of the strike to the more radical elements in the WFM, and in June 1904, Harry Orchard, a professional terrorist employed by the union, blew up a railroad station, which killed 13 strikebreakers. This recourse to terrorism proved a serious tactical mistake. The bombing turned public opinion against the union, and the mine owners were able to freely arrest and deport the majority of the WFM leaders. By midsummer, the strike was over and the WFM never again regained the power it had previously enjoyed in the Colorado mining districts.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-24-2005, 05:51 AM
On this day, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which immediately sold out its initial print run. By 1872, the book had run through six editions, and it became one of the most influential books of modern times.

Darwin, the privileged and well-connected son of a successful English doctor, had been interested in botany and natural sciences since his boyhood, despite the discouragement of his early teachers. At Cambridge, he found professors and scientists with similar interests and with their help began participating in scientific voyages. He traveled around South America for five years as an unpaid botanist on the HMS Beagle. By the time Darwin returned, he had developed an outstanding reputation as a field researcher and scientific writer, based on his many papers and letters dispatched from South America and the Galapagos Islands, which were read at meetings of prominent scientific societies in London.

Darwin began publishing studies of zoology and geology as soon as he returned from his voyage. Fearing the fate of other scientists, like Copernicus and Galileo, who had published radical scientific theories, Darwin held off publishing his theory of natural selection for years. He secretly developed his theory during two decades of surreptitious research following his trip on the Beagle.

Meanwhile, he married and had seven children. He finally published Origin of Species after another scientist began publishing papers with similar ideas. His book laid the groundwork for modern botany, cellular biology, and genetics. He died in 1882

Zen Curmudgeon
11-25-2005, 07:45 AM
U.S. troops under the leadership of General Ranald Mackenzie destroy the village of Cheyenne living with Chief Dull Knife on the headwaters of the Powder River. The attack was in retaliation against some of the Indians who had participated in the massacre of Custer and his men at Little Bighorn.

Although the Sioux and Cheyenne won one of their greatest victories at Little Bighorn, the battle actually marked the beginning of the end of their ability to resist the U.S. government. News of the massacre of Custer and his men reached the East Coast in the midst of nationwide centennial celebrations on July 4, 1876. Outraged at the killing of one of their most popular Civil War heroes, many Americans demanded an intensified military campaign against the offending Indians.

The government responded by sending one of its most successful Indian fighters to the region, General Ranald Mackenzie, who had previously been the scourge of Commanche and Kiowa Indians in Texas. Mackenzie led an expeditionary force up the Powder River in central Wyoming, where he located a village of Cheyenne living with Chief Dull Knife. Although Dull Knife himself does not appear to have been involved in the battle at Little Bighorn, there is no question that many of his people were, including one of his sons.

At dawn, Mackenzie and over 1,000 soldiers and 400 Indian scouts opened fire on the sleeping village, killing many Indians within the first few minutes. Some of the Cheyenne, though, managed to run into the surrounding hills. They watched as the soldiers burned more than 200 lodges-containing all their winter food and clothing-and then cut the throats of their ponies. When the soldiers found souvenirs taken by the Cheyenne from soldiers they had killed at Little Bighorn, the assailants felt justified in their attack.

The surviving Cheyenne, many of them half-naked, began an 11-day walk north to the Tongue River where Crazy Horse's camp of Oglalas took them in. However, many of the small children and old people did not survive the frigid journey. Devastated by his losses, the next spring Dull Knife convinced the remaining Cheyenne to surrender. The army sent them South to Indian Territory, where other defeated survivors of the final years of the Plains Indian wars soon joined them.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-26-2005, 09:48 AM
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

The tradition of celebrating the holiday on Thursday dates back to the early history of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, when post-harvest holidays were celebrated on the weekday regularly set aside as "Lecture Day," a midweek church meeting where topical sermons were presented. A famous Thanksgiving observance occurred in the autumn of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited local Indians to join the Pilgrims in a three-day festival held in gratitude for the bounty of the season.

Thanksgiving became an annual custom throughout New England in the 17th century, and in 1777 the Continental Congress declared the first national American Thanksgiving following the Patriot victory at Saratoga. In 1789, President George Washington became the first president to proclaim a Thanksgiving holiday, when, at the request of Congress, he proclaimed November 26, a Tuesday, as a day of national thanksgiving for the U.S. Constitution. However, it was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln's precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president--until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt's declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the last Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-27-2005, 10:56 AM
Without bothering to identify the village or do any reconnaissance, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer leads an early morning attack on a band of peaceful Cheyenne living with Chief Black Kettle.

Convicted of desertion and mistreatment of soldiers earlier that year in a military court, the government had suspended Custer from rank and command for one year. Ten months into his punishment, in September 1868, General Philip Sheridan reinstated Custer to lead a campaign against Cheyenne Indians who had been making raids in Kansas and Oklahoma that summer. Sheridan was frustrated by the inability of his other officers to find and engage the enemy, and despite his poor record and unpopularity with the men of the 7th Cavalry, Custer was a good fighter.

Sheridan determined that a campaign in winter might prove more effective, since the Indians could be caught off guard while in their permanent camps. On November 26, Custer located a large village of Cheyenne encamped near the Washita River, just outside of present-day Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Custer did not attempt to identify which group of Cheyenne was in the village, or to make even a cursory reconnaissance of the situation. Had he done so, Custer would have discovered that they were peaceful people and the village was on reservation soil, where the commander of Fort Cobb had guaranteed them safety. There was even a white flag flying from one of the main dwellings, indicating that the tribe was actively avoiding conflict.

Having surrounded the village the night before, at dawn Custer called for the regimental band to play "Garry Owen," which signaled for four columns of soldiers to charge into the sleeping village. Outnumbered and caught unaware, scores of Cheyenne were killed in the first 15 minutes of the "battle," though a small number of the warriors managed to escape to the trees and return fire. Within a few hours, the village was destroyed--the soldiers had killed 103 Cheyenne, including the peaceful Black Kettle and many women and children.

Hailed as the first substantial American victory in the Indian wars, the Battle of the Washita helped to restore Custer's reputation and succeeded in persuading many Cheyenne to move to the reservation. However, Custer's habit of boldly charging Indian encampments of unknown strength would eventually lead him to his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-27-2005, 10:58 AM
Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix is born in Seattle. Hendrix grew up playing guitar, imitating blues greats like Muddy Waters as well as early rockers. He joined the army in 1959 and became a paratrooper but was honorably discharged in 1961 after an injury that exempted him from duty in Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Hendrix worked as a pickup guitarist, backing musicians including Little Richard, B.B. King, Ike and Tina Turner, and Sam Cooke. In 1964, he moved to New York and played in coffeehouses, where bassist Bryan Chandler of the British group the Animals heard him. Chandler arranged to manage Hendrix and brought him to London in 1966, where they created the Jimi Hendrix Experience with bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell. The band's first single, "Hey Joe," hit No. 6 on the British pop charts, and the band became an instant sensation.

In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first U.S. appearance, at the Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix made a splash by burning his guitar and was quickly established as a rock superstar. In the next two years, before the band broke up in 1969, it had released such classic songs as "Purple Haze," "Foxy Lady," and "The Wind Cries Mary." The band's albums included Are You Experienced? (1967), Bold as Love (1969), and Electric Ladyland (1969).

After the band dissolved because of creative tensions, Hendrix made his famous appearance at Woodstock, playing a masterful, intricate version of "The Star Spangled Banner." Later that year, he put together a new group called the Band of Gypsies, which debuted on New Year's Eve in 1969. The band put out only one album, Band of Gypsies (1969). (A second album, Band of Gypsies II, was released in 1986.) Hendrix then recorded another album, without the band, called The Cry of Love, which was released in 1971.

Hendrix, one of the most innovative guitar players of the rock era, established an advanced recording studio in New York called the Electric Lady, boasting 46-track recording technology. The studio opened in August 1970, shortly before Hendrix died in London in September 1970, following a drug overdose. He was 28.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-28-2005, 05:37 AM
The Grand Ole Opry, one of the longest-lived and most popular showcases for western music, begins broadcasting live from Nashville, Tennessee. The showcase was originally named the Barn Dance, after a Chicago radio program called the National Barn Dance that had begun broadcasting the previous year.

Impressed by the popularity of the Chicago-based National Barn Dance, producers at WSM radio in Nashville decided to create their own version of the show to cater to southern audiences who could not receive the Chicago signal. Both the Grand Ole Opry and the National Barn Dance aired on Saturday nights and featured folk music, fiddling, and the relatively new genre of country-western music. Both shows created a growing audience for a uniquely American style of music and were launching grounds for many of America's most-loved musicians--the singing cowboy Gene Autry got his first big break on the National Barn Dance. The WSM producers recognized that Americans were growing nostalgic for the rural past, so all live performers at the Grand Ole Opry were required to dress in hillbilly costumes and adopt old-time names.

The four-and-a-half-hour Grand Ole Opry program became one of the most popular broadcasts in the South, and like its Chicago cousin, helped make country-western an enduring part of the popular American musical landscape.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-29-2005, 06:12 AM
Peaceful Southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians are massacred by a band of Colonel John Chivington's Colorado volunteers at Sand Creek, Colorado.

The causes of Sand Creek massacre were rooted in the decades-long conflict for control of the Great Plains of eastern Colorado. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 guaranteed ownership of the area north of the Arkansas River to the Nebraska border to the Cheyenne and Arapahoe. By the end of the decade, however, waves of Euro-American miners flooded across the region in search of gold in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. That placed extreme pressure on the resources of the arid plains, and by 1861 tensions between new settlers and Native Americans were rising. On February 8 that year, a Cheyenne delegation, led by Black Kettle, along with some Arapahoe leaders accepted a new settlement with the Federal government; it ceded most of their land but secured a 600-square mile reservation and annuity payments. The delegation reasoned that continued hostilities would jeopardize their bargaining power. In the decentralized political world of the tribes, Black Kettle and his fellow delegates represented only part of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes. Many did not accept this new agreement, called the Treaty of Fort Wise.

The new reservation and federal payments proved unable to sustain the tribes. During the Civil War, tensions again rose and sporadic violence broke out between Anglos and Indians. In June 1864, Territorial Governor John Evans attempted to isolate recalcitrant Native Americans by inviting "friendly Indians" to camp near military forts and receive provisions and protection. He also called for volunteers to fill the military void left when most of the regular army troops in Colorado were sent to other areas during the Civil War. In August 1864, Evans met with Black Kettle and several other chiefs to forge a new peace, and all parties left satisfied. Black Kettle moved his band to Fort Lyon, Colorado, where the commanding officer encouraged him to hunt near Sand Creek. In what can only be considered a wicked act of treachery, Chivington moved his troops to the plains, and on November 29, they attacked the unsuspecting tribe, scattering men, women, and children and hunting them down. The casualties reflect the one-sided nature of the fight. Nine of Chivington's men were killed; 148 of Black Kettle's followers were slaughtered, more than half of them women and children. The Colorado volunteers returned and killed the wounded, mutilated the bodies, and set fire to the village.

The atrocities committed by the soldiers were initially praised, but then condemned as the circumstances of the massacre emerged. Chivington resigned from the military and aborted his budding political career. Black Kettle survived and continued his peace efforts. In 1865, his tribe accepted a new reservation in Indian Territory.

Zen Curmudgeon
11-30-2005, 06:09 AM
Samuel Clemens, later known as Mark Twin, is born in Florida, Missouri, on this day in 1835.

Clemens was apprenticed to a printer at age 13 and later worked for his older brother, who established the Hannibal Journal. In 1857, the Keokuk Daily Post commissioned him to write a series of comic travel letters, but after writing five he decided to become a steamboat captain instead. He signed on as a pilot's apprentice in 1857 and received his pilot's license in 1859, when he was 23.

Clemens piloted boats for two years, until the Civil War halted steamboat traffic. During his time as a pilot, he picked up the term "Mark Twain," a boatman's call noting that the river was only two fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation. When Clemens returned to writing in 1861, working for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, he wrote a humorous travel letter signed by "Mark Twain" and continued to use the pseudonym for nearly 50 years.

In 1864, he moved to San Francisco to work as a reporter. There, he wrote the story that made him famous: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

In 1866, he traveled to Hawaii as a correspondent for the Sacramento Union. Next, he traveled the world writing accounts for papers in California and New York, which he later published the popular book The Innocents Abroad (1869). In 1870, Clemens married the daughter of a wealthy New York coal merchant and settled in Hartford, Connecticut, where he continued to write travel accounts and lecture. In 1875, his novel Tom Sawyer was published, followed by Life on the Mississippi (1883) and his masterpiece Huckleberry Finn (1885). Bad investments left Clemens bankrupt after the publication of Huckleberry Finn, but he won back his financial standing with his next three books--Pudd'Nhead Wilson (1894), Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1895), and Following the Equator (18977). In 1903, he and his family moved to Italy, where his wife died. Her death left him sad and bitter, and his work, while still humorous, grew distinctly darker. He died in 1910.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-01-2005, 09:15 AM
Elfego Baca, legendary defender of southwestern Hispanos, manages to hold off a gang of 80 cowboys who are determined to kill him.

The trouble began the previous day, when Baca arrested Charles McCarthy, a cowboy who fired five shots at him in a Frisco (now Reserve), New Mexico, saloon. For months, a vicious band of Texan cowboys had terrorized the Hispanos of Frisco, brutally castrating one young Mexican man and using another for target practice. Outraged by these abuses, Baca gained a commission as deputy sheriff to try to end the terror. His arrest of McCarthy served notice to other Anglo cowboys that further abuses of the Hispanos would not be tolerated.

The Texans, however, were not easily intimidated. The morning after McCarthy's arrest, a group of about 80 cowboys rode into town to free McCarthy and make an example of Baca for all Mexicans. Baca gathered the women and children of the town in a church for their safety and prepared to make a stand. When he saw how outnumbered he was, Baca retreated to an adobe house, where he killed one attacker and wounded several others. The irate cowboys peppered Baca's tiny hideout with bullets, firing about 400 rounds into the flimsy structure. As night fell, they assumed they had killed the defiant deputy sheriff, but the next morning they awoke to the smell of beef stew and tortillas--Baca was fixing his breakfast.

A short while later, two lawmen and several of Baca's friends came to his aid, and the cowboys retreated. Baca turned himself over to the officers, and he was charged with the murder of one of the cowboys. In his trial in Albuquerque, the jury found Baca not guilty because he had acted in self-defense, and he was released to a hero's welcome among the Hispanos of New Mexico. Baca was adored because he had taken a stand against the abusive and racist Anglo newcomers. Hugely popular, Baca later enjoyed a successful career as a lawyer, private detective, and politician in Albuquerque.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-02-2005, 06:31 AM
On this day, Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born Nobel Prize-winning physicist, directs and controls the first nuclear chain reaction in his laboratory beneath the bleachers of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, ushering in the nuclear age. Upon succesful completion of the experiment, a coded message was transmitted to President Roosevelt: "The Italian navigator has landed in the new world."

Following on England's Sir James Chadwick's discovery of the neutron and the Curies' production of artificial radioactivity, Fermi, a full-time professor of physics at the University of Florence, focused his work on producing radioactivity by manipulating the speed of neutrons derived from radioactive beryllium. Further similar experimentation with other elements, including uranium 92, produced new radioactive substances; Fermi's colleagues believed he had created a new "transuranic" element with an atomic number of 93, the result of uranium 92 capturing a neuron while under bombardment, thus increasing its atomic weight. Fermi remained skeptical about his discovery, despite the enthusiasm of his fellow physicists. He became a believer in 1938, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for "his identification of new radioactive elements." Although travel was restricted for men whose work was deemed vital to national security, Fermi was given permission to leave Italy and go to Sweden to receive his prize. He and his wife, Laura, who was Jewish, never returned; both feared and despised Mussolini's fascist regime.

Fermi immigrated to New York City--Columbia University, specifically, where he recreated many of his experiments with Niels Bohr, the Danish-born physicist, who suggested the possibility of a nuclear chain reaction. Fermi and others saw the possible military applications of such an explosive power, and quickly composed a letter warning President Roosevelt of the perils of a German atomic bomb. The letter was signed and delivered to the president by Albert Einstein on October 11, 1939. The Manhattan Project, the American program to create its own atomic bomb, was the result.

It fell to Fermi to produce the first nuclear chain reaction, without which such a bomb was impossible. He created a jury-rigged laboratory with the necessary equipment, which he called an "atomic pile," in a squash court in the basement of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. With colleagues and other physicists looking on, Fermi produced the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction and the "new world" of nuclear power was born.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-04-2005, 08:55 AM
The manslaughter trial for actor and director Fatty Arbuckle ends in a hung jury.

Born Roscoe Arbuckle in 1887 in Kansas, Arbuckle worked as a plumber's assistant before launching his performing career. After appearing on the vaudeville circuit, Arbuckle--nicknamed "Fatty" for his generous physique--began appearing in short comedies. He signed with production company Keystone in 1913 and appeared regularly as a Keystone Kop-the bumbling, slapstick police force that appeared in many Keystone movies between 1914 and the early 1920s. Arbuckle made various other silent comedies with prominent co-stars, including Charlie Chaplin. In 1916, he began writing and directing his own movies, and in 1917 he discovered comedian Buster Keaton, who became one of the most sought after film comedians of the 1920s and '30s.

In 1921, Arbuckle was accused of manslaughter after the death of starlet Virginia Rappe. Rappe died of a ruptured bladder several days after an alleged sexual assault by the 350-pound Arbuckle at a wild drinking party in San Francisco. After two hung juries, Arbuckle was acquitted in 1922, but his films were banned and his career seemed finished. However, in 1925 he began directing under the pseudonym William Goodrich, and worked with such stars as Marion Davies and Eddie Cantor. An attempt to rehabilitate his acting career in 1932 with a live European tour failed. He died the following year at the age of 46.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-06-2005, 06:10 AM
Financial disaster hit Orange County on December 6, 1994, as a dalliance with high-risk investing forced the affluent California community to file for bankruptcy. The move, which marked the single biggest bankruptcy filing by a municipality, capped off a disastrous run for Orange County and its multi-billion-dollar investment fund. Though top-heavy with low-risk bonds, the fund was a ticking time bomb. Indeed, Orange County officials had built up their holdings through reverse repurchase agreements, a potentially perilous strategy in which investors borrow money to buy securities. In return for the loan, investors put up the securities as collateral; brokers also require additional collateral when "adverse" market events occur. Orange County's fund had been struggling for well over a year, forcing the brokers, which included a number of Wall Street firms, to seek more collateral. Heavily leveraged and heading for trouble, the fund's losses wandered into the neighborhood of $2 billion before county officials decided it was time to raise the white flag and file for Chapter 9.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-07-2005, 06:14 AM
The first execution by lethal injection takes place at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Charles Brooks, Jr., convicted of murdering an auto mechanic, received an intravenous injection of sodium pentathol, the barbiturate that is known as a "truth serum" when administered in lesser doses.

Texas, the national leader in executions, adopted the lethal injection procedure as a more humane method of carrying out its death sentences, as opposed to the standard techniques of death by gas, electrocution, or hanging. During the next decade, 32 states, the federal government, and the U.S. military all took up the lethal injection method.

After several years of practical development, execution authorities adopted a lethal injection procedure in which three separate drugs are injected successively into the convict's bloodstream. The first drug, sodium thiopental, a barbiturate, renders the prisoner unconscious, the next, pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, paralyses the diaphragm and lungs, and the third, potassium chloride, causes cardiac arrest and ensures the prisoner's death.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-08-2005, 05:59 AM
John Lennon, one of rock's most influential musicians, is murdered by a deranged fan in front of Lennon's New York apartment building.

Lennon was born in 1940 in Liverpool, England. As a boy, Lennon lived with his aunt after his father left the family. Lennon attended Quarry Bank High School, from which he derived the name for his first band, the Quarrymen, formed in 1955. In 1956, he met Paul McCartney, who joined the band, and the two began writing songs together. George Harrison joined the band in 1957, and the three played together under several different names and with varying members until 1960, when they adopted the name the Beatles.

The band toured German beerhouses in 1961 and debuted later that year at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they gave more than 300 performances during the next two years. Drummer Ringo Starr joined the group in 1962. The group scored several U.K. hits in 1963, launching the "Beatlemania" tidal wave that hit the United States in 1964. In a little more than 10 years, the group transformed rock and roll, scoring 20 No. 1 hits on the Billboard pop charts, more than any group in history. The group's records spent a total of 59 weeks topping the charts between 1964 and 1970.

Lennon divorced his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, the mother of his son Julian, and married artist Yoko Ono in 1969. With Ono, he released the album Two Virgins in 1968. He became more involved in liberal political causes and pursued projects with Ono. In 1970, McCartney announced that the Beatles had broken up. Lennon released his first solo album, Imagine, in 1971, and it rose to No. 1 on the charts. During the next few years, he released projects with Ono as well as his own solo albums, including chart-topper Walls and Bridges (1974). He gave his last public performance in 1974 and released his last solo album, Rock 'n' Roll, the following year. In 1975, Lennon and Ono had a son, Sean, and in 1980 the couple released their album Double Fantasy, which topped the charts and included the No. 1 single "(Just Like) Starting Over."

Zen Curmudgeon
12-09-2005, 06:27 AM
In the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip, the first riots of the Palestinian intifada, or "shaking off" in Arabic, begin one day after an Israeli truck crashed into a station wagon carrying Palestinian workers in the Jabalya refugee district of Gaza, killing four and wounding 10. Gaza Palestinians saw the incident as a deliberate act of retaliation against the killing of a Jew in Gaza several days before, and on December 9 they took to the streets in protest, burning tires and throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police and troops. At Jabalya, an Israeli army patrol car fired on Palestinian attackers, killing a 17-year-old and wounding 16 others. The next day, crack Israeli paratroopers were sent into Gaza to quell the violence, and riots spread to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

December 9 marked the formal beginning of the intifada, but demonstrations, small-scale riots, and violence directed against Israelis had been steadily escalating for months. The year 1987 marked the 20-year anniversary of the Israeli conquest of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the formerly Egyptian- and Jordanian-controlled lands that the Palestinians called home. After the Six Day War of 1967, Israel set up military administrations in the occupied territories and permanently annexed East Jerusalem in the West Bank. With the support of the Israeli government, Israeli settlers moved into the occupied territories, seizing Arab land. By December 1987, 2,200 armed Jewish settlers occupied 40 percent of the Gaza Strip, while 650,000 impoverished Palestinians were crowded into the other 60 percent, making the Palestinian portion of the tiny Gaza Strip one of the most densely populated areas on earth.

In December 1987, despair by the Palestinians over their plight exploded in the intifada. The grassroots uprising soon came under the control of Palestinian leaders who formed the Unified National Command of the Uprising, which had ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Although images of young refugee-camp Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli troops dominated television reports of the intifada, the movement was widespread across Palestinian society. Affluent Palestinians and women's groups joined militant groups in strikes, boycotts, and other sophisticated tactics in their effort to win Palestinian self-rule.

In July 1988, Jordan's King Hussein renounced all administrative responsibility for the West Bank, thereby strengthening the Palestinian influence there. In November 1988, the PLO voted to proclaim the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Meanwhile, the intifada raged on, and by its first anniversary more than 300 Palestinians had been killed, more than 11,000 had been wounded, and many more were arrested.

In the final weeks of 1988, PLO leader Yasser Arafat surprised the world by denouncing terrorism, recognizing the State of Israel's right to exist, and authorizing the beginning of "land-for-peace" negotiations with Israel. In 1992, Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin became Israeli prime minister and vowed to move quickly on the peace process. He froze new Israeli settlements in the occupied territory, and the intifada was called off after five years.

In 1993, secret Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Oslo, Norway, resulted in the signing of the historic Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements in Washington, D.C., on September 13. The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho and the establishment of a Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West Bank.

Despite attempts by extremists on both sides to sabotage the peace process with violence, the Israelis completed their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho in May 1994. In July, Arafat entered Jericho amid much Palestinian jubilation and set up his government--the Palestinian Authority. In 1994, Arafat, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts at reconciliation.

In 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist at a peace rally in Tel Aviv, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process stalled under his successors: Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak. In September 2000, the worst violence since the end of the intifada erupted between Israelis and Palestinians after rightist Likud Party leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, a religious site in Jerusalem of great importance to both Jews and Muslims, the latter of whom control it. Seeking a strong leader to suppress the bloodshed, Israelis elected Sharon prime minister in February 2001. A permanent cease-fire and return to the peace process remain elusive.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-10-2005, 10:53 AM
The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be "annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in Stockholm in 1833, and four years later his family moved to Russia. His father ran a successful St. Petersburg factory that built explosive mines and other military equipment. Educated in Russia, Paris, and the United States, Alfred Nobel proved a brilliant chemist. When his father's business faltered after the end of the Crimean War, Nobel returned to Sweden and set up a laboratory to experiment with explosives. In 1863, he invented a way to control the detonation of nitroglycerin, a highly volatile liquid that had been recently discovered but was previously regarded as too dangerous for use. Two years later, Nobel invented the blasting cap, an improved detonator that inaugurated the modern use of high explosives. Previously, the most dependable explosive was black powder, a form of gunpowder.

Nitroglycerin remained dangerous, however, and in 1864 Nobel's nitroglycerin factory blew up, killing his younger brother and several other people. Searching for a safer explosive, Nobel discovered in 1867 that the combination of nitroglycerin and a porous substance called kieselguhr produced a highly explosive mixture that was much safer to handle and use. Nobel christened his invention "dynamite," for the Greek word dynamis, meaning "power." Securing patents on dynamite, Nobel acquired a fortune as humanity put his invention to use in construction and warfare.

In 1875, Nobel created a more powerful form of dynamite, blasting gelatin, and in 1887 introduced ballistite, a smokeless nitroglycerin powder. Around that time, one of Nobel's brothers died in France, and French newspapers printed obituaries in which they mistook him for Alfred. One headline read, "The merchant of death is dead." Alfred Nobel in fact had pacifist tendencies and in his later years apparently developed strong misgivings about the impact of his inventions on the world. After he died in San Remo, Italy, on December 10, 1896, the majority of his estate went toward the creation of prizes to be given annually in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The portion of his will establishing the Nobel Peace Prize read, "[one award shall be given] to the person who has done the most or best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." Exactly five years after his death, the first Nobel awards were presented.

Today, the Nobel Prizes are regarded as the most prestigious awards in the world in their various fields. Notable winners have included Marie Curie, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Nelson Mandela. Multiple leaders and organizations sometimes receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and multiple researchers often share the scientific awards for their joint discoveries. In 1968, a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was established by the Swedish national bank, Sveriges Riksbank, and first awarded in 1969.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decides the prizes in physics, chemistry, and economic science; the Swedish Royal Caroline Medico-Surgical Institute determines the physiology or medicine award; the Swedish Academy chooses literature; and a committee elected by the Norwegian parliament awards the peace prize. The Nobel Prizes are still presented annually on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death. In 2000, each Nobel Prize carried a cash prize of $940,000 and recipients also received a gold medal, as is the tradition.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-11-2005, 10:09 AM
The movie industry's tight restriction of language and subject matter, known as the Hays Code or the Production Code, is eased slightly for the first time since its adoption in 1930. The easing of the code meant that actors could now mention abortion, drugs, kidnapping, and prostitution.

The Production Code was introduced in 1930 by the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), an industry association created to avoid government censorship and to satisfy public demand for morally acceptable movies. After creating the association, the heads of the major Hollywood studios hired William H. Hays, the former U.S. postmaster general under President Harding and past chairman of the Republican National Committee, to head the new group. Hays wielded such power that the MPPDA came to be called the "Hays Office," and the Production Code adopted in 1930 was commonly referred to as the "Hays Code."

The Code required that no film should "lower the standards of those who see it. Hence, the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil, or sin." The Code specifically prohibited the portrayal of illegal drug trafficking, "sex perversion," and profanity. It also prohibited the portrayal of clergy members as comic characters or villains, and the portrayal of interracial relationships.

The Code deeply influenced the kinds of films that were made. However, as social changes made society more liberal, the Code began to thaw, starting with the changes in 1956. A decade later, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf became the first movie to use profanity on screen. At the same time, the production code placed heavier restrictions on violence. In 1968, the Code was replaced by the movie ratings system, which greatly expanded the range of permissible subjects for film. The first ratings system included categories G (for general audience), MGP (all ages admitted but parental guidance suggested), and R (no one under 16 admitted). In 1970, MGP was replaced by PG (parental guidance suggested) and R movies (no one under 17 admitted without a parent or guardian). In 1984, the PG-13 rating was added, and the X rating was phased out in 1990 in favor of NC-17.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-12-2005, 06:03 AM
Singer and actor Frank Sinatra is born in Hoboken, New Jersey. The son of an Italian fireman, Sinatra formed a singing quartet in his teens. The group won a popular radio talent show in 1935 and began touring small nightclubs. In 1940, Sinatra joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and began topping the charts.

Sinatra soon became a popular screen actor, but after his vocal chords suffered damage in 1952 his career took a drastic downturn. His talent agency dropped him, and he had to plead for roles. For the paltry sum of $8,000, he agreed to play a supporting role in From Here to Eternity (1953)-for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He went on to receive an Oscar nomination for The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), for his portrayal of a drug addict. His career gained steam as he aged--his voice recovered and his songs became more popular than ever. His first marriage, to Nancy Barbato, produced three children, Nancy, Christina, and Frank Sinatra, Jr. He was later married to Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, and Barbara Marx, widow of one of the Marx brothers. Sinatra died in 1998.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-13-2005, 05:46 AM
Leona Helmsley, nicknamed the "Queen of Mean" by the press, receives a four-year prison sentence, 750 hours of community service, and a $7.1 million tax fraud fine in New York. For many, Helmsley became the object of loathing and disgust when she quipped that "only the little people pay taxes."

Leona's husband, Harry, was one of the world's wealthiest real estate moguls, with an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion in property holdings. The couple lived in a dazzling penthouse overlooking Central Park and also maintained an impressive mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Leona, who operated the Helmsley Palace on Madison Avenue, was severely disliked by her employees.

Though they lavishly furnished their homes and hotel, the Helmsleys were curiously diligent about evading the required payments and taxes for their purchases. Much of their personal furniture was written off as a business expense, and there were claims that the Helmsleys extorted free furnishings from their suppliers. Contractors were hardly ever paid on time-if at all-and many filed lawsuits to recover even just a portion of what they were owed. Leona reportedly also purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry in New York City but insisted that empty boxes be sent to Connecticut so that she could avoid the sales tax.

Given her offensive personality, many were quite pleased by Leona's legal troubles. Even celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz could not win her immunity from the law. Following her conviction, Federal Judge John Walker publicly reprimanded her, saying, "Your conduct was the product of naked greed [and] the arrogant belief that you were above the law." Leona Helmsley was sent to jail in 1992 and was released in 1994.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-14-2005, 05:59 AM
President Lincoln announces a grant of amnesty for Mrs. Emilie Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln's half sister and the widow of a Confederate general. The pardon was one of the first under Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he had announced less than a week before. The plan was the president's blueprint for the reintegration of the South into the Union. Part of the plan allowed for former Confederates to be granted amnesty if they took an oath to the United States. The option was open to all but the highest officials of the Confederacy.

Emilie Todd Helm was the wife of Benjamin Helm, who, like the Lincolns, was a Kentucky native. Lincoln was said to be a great admirer of Helm, a West Point and Harvard graduate. Lincoln had offered Helm a position in the U.S. Army, but Helm opted to join the Confederates instead. Helm led a group of Kentuckians known as the "Orphan Brigade," since they could not return to their Union-held native state during the war. Helm was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.

After her husband's death, Helm made her way through Union lines to Washington. She stayed in the White House and the Lincolns tried to keep her visit a secret. General Daniel Sickles, who had been wounded at Gettysburg five months prior, told Lincoln that he should not have a rebel in his house. Lincoln replied, "General Sickles, my wife and I are in the habit of choosing our own guests. We do not need from our friends either advice or assistance in the matter." After Lincoln granted her pardon, Emilie Helm returned to Kentucky.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-15-2005, 04:52 AM
Following ratification by the state of Virginia, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, become the law of the land.

In September 1789, the first Congress of the United States approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sent them to the states for ratification. The amendments were designed to protect the basic rights of U.S. citizens, guaranteeing the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and exercise of religion; the right to fair legal procedure and to bear arms; and that powers not delegated to the federal government would be reserved for the states and the people.

Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia's Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately.

On December 15, 1791, Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of the 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it legal. Of the two amendments not ratified, the first concerned the population system of representation, while the second prohibited laws varying the payment of congressional members from taking effect until an election intervened. The first of these two amendments was never ratified, while the second was finally ratified more than 200 years later, in 1992.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-17-2005, 07:41 AM
During World War II, U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issues Public Proclamation No. 21, declaring that, effective January 2, 1945, Japanese American "evacuees" from the West Coast could return to their homes.

On February 19, 1942, 10 weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas "as deemed necessary or desirable." The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards.

During the course of World War II, 10 Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, but not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to recompense each surviving internee with a tax-free check for $20,000 and an apology from the U.S. government.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-18-2005, 09:48 AM
Following the breakdown of peace talks with North Vietnam just a few days earlier, President Richard Nixon announces the beginning of a massive bombing campaign to break the stalemate. For nearly two weeks, American bombers pounded North Vietnam.

On December 13, peace talks between the United States and North Vietnam collapsed. The North Vietnamese and American negotiators traded charges and countercharges as to who was to blame. Infuriated, President Nixon ordered plans drawn up for retaliatory bombings of North Vietnam. Linebacker II was the result. Beginning on December 18, American B-52s and fighter-bombers dropped over 20,000 tons of bombs on the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong. The United States lost 15 of its giant B-52s and 11 other aircraft during the attacks. North Vietnam claimed that over 1,600 civilians were killed.

The bombings continued until December 29, at which time the North Vietnamese agreed to resume the talks. A few weeks later, the final Paris Peace Treaty was signed and the Vietnam War came to a close, ending the U.S. role in a conflict that seriously damaged the domestic Cold War consensus among the American public. The impact of the so-called "Christmas Bombings" on the final agreement was difficult to assess. Some historians have argued that the bombings forced the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. Others have suggested that the attacks had little impact, beyond the additional death and destruction they caused. Even the chief U.S. negotiator, Henry Kissinger, was reported to have said, "We bombed the North Vietnamese into accepting our concessions." The chief impact may have been in convincing America's South Vietnamese allies, who were highly suspicious of the draft treaty worked out in October 1972, that the United States would not desert them. In any event, the final treaty did not include any important changes from the October draft.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-19-2005, 05:05 AM
After nearly 14 hours of debate, the House of Representatives approves two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Clinton, the second president in American history to be impeached, vowed to finish his term.

In November 1995, Clinton began an affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old unpaid intern. Over the course of a year and a half, the president and Lewinsky had nearly a dozen sexual encounters in the White House. In April 1996, Lewinsky was transferred to the Pentagon. That summer, she first confided in Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp about her sexual relationship with the president. In 1997, with the relationship over, Tripp began secretly to record conversations with Lewinsky, in which Lewinsky gave Tripp details about the affair.

In December, lawyers for Paula Jones, who was suing the president on sexual harassment charges, subpoenaed Lewinsky. In January 1998, allegedly under the recommendation of the president, Lewinsky filed an affidavit in which she denied ever having had a sexual relationship with him. Five days later, Tripp contacted the office of Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, to talk about Lewinsky and the tapes she made of their conversations. Tripp, wired by FBI agents working with Starr, met with Lewinsky again, and on January 16, Lewinsky was taken by FBI agents and U.S. attorneys to a hotel room where she was questioned and offered immunity if she cooperated with the prosecution. A few days later, the story broke, and Clinton publicly denied the allegations, saying, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

In late July, lawyers for Lewinsky and Starr worked out a full-immunity agreement covering both Lewinsky and her parents, all of whom Starr had threatened with prosecution. On August 6, Lewinsky appeared before the grand jury to begin her testimony, and on August 17 President Clinton testified. Contrary to his testimony in the Paula Jones sexual-harassment case, President Clinton acknowledged to prosecutors from the office of the independent counsel that he had had an extramarital affair with Ms. Lewinsky.

In four hours of closed-door testimony, conducted in the Map Room of the White House, Clinton spoke live via closed-circuit television to a grand jury in a nearby federal courthouse. He was the first sitting president ever to testify before a grand jury investigating his conduct. That evening, President Clinton also gave a four-minute televised address to the nation in which he admitted he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. In the brief speech, which was wrought with legalisms, the word "sex" was never spoken, and the word "regret" was used only in reference to his admission that he misled the public and his family.

Less than a month later, on September 9, Kenneth Starr submitted his report and 18 boxes of supporting documents to the House of Representatives. Released to the public two days later, the Starr Report outlined a case for impeaching Clinton on 11 grounds, including perjury, obstruction of justice, witness-tampering, and abuse of power, and also provided explicit details of the sexual relationship between the president and Ms. Lewinsky. On October 8, the House authorized a wide-ranging impeachment inquiry, and on December 11, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment. On December 19, the House impeached Clinton.

On January 7, 1999, in a congressional procedure not seen since the 1868 impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, the trial of President Clinton got underway in the Senate. As instructed in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (William Rehnquist at this time) was sworn in to preside, and the senators were sworn in as jurors.

Five weeks later, on February 12, the Senate voted on whether to remove Clinton from office. The president was acquitted on both articles of impeachment. The prosecution needed a two-thirds majority to convict but failed to achieve even a bare majority. Rejecting the first charge of perjury, 45 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted "not guilty," and on the charge of obstruction of justice the Senate was split 50-50. After the trial concluded, President Clinton said he was "profoundly sorry" for the burden his behavior imposed on Congress and the American people.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-22-2005, 05:51 AM
Comedian Lenny Bruce is sentenced to four months in a New York jail for violating obscenity laws during his nightclub act. After the longest and costliest obscenity trial in history, Bruce was convicted for his "anthology of filth," as the prosecutor termed it. Bruce never served any time, however, because he died of a drug overdose in August 1966 while the case was on appeal.

On March 31, 1964, Bruce performed a typical routine at a Greenwich Village theater, where his audience atypically included officers from the New York Police Department. As usual, his show was inflammatory, featuring his signature attacks on organized religion and a caustic piece about recently widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. A few days later, Bruce and the owner of the theater were arrested for criminal obscenity.

Bruce, who had already been charged in Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco on either narcotics or obscenity charges, began his trial in New York in June. The evidence against him was based on notes that an officer took during Bruce's show. When the officer read tidbits from Bruce's act aloud during the trial, he got laughs from the jurors and audience-but in typical fashion, Bruce complained about the officer's delivery. Despite the encouraging giggles, Bruce was convicted of the crime.

In his attempts to appeal the decision and clear his name, Bruce was left with little time to perform. He became financially destitute and fell victim to a serious heroin addiction, while spending much of his time reading legal briefs and trying to develop new strategies to beat the charges against him.

On August 3, 1966, Bruce died of a drug overdose at his home in Los Angeles. It was never determined whether his death was accidental or intentional. Perhaps Bruce's struggle was not in vain though: Criminal prosecution for obscenity became increasingly rare in the years after Bruce's legal drama, as authorities began to recognize the important link between freedom of expression and art

Zen Curmudgeon
12-23-2005, 08:49 AM
The crew and captain of the U.S. intelligence gathering ship Pueblo are released after 11 months imprisonment by the government of North Korea. The ship, and its 83-man crew, was seized by North Korean warships on January 23 and charged with intruding into North Korean waters.

The seizure infuriated U.S. President Lyndon Johnson. Later, he claimed that he strongly suspected (although it could not be proven) that the incident with the Pueblo, coming just a few days before the communist Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, was a coordinated diversion. At the time, however, Johnson did little. The Tet Offensive, which began just a week after the ship was taken by North Korea, exploded on the front pages and televisions of America and seemed to paralyze the Johnson administration. To deal with the Pueblo incident, the United States urged the U.N.'s Security Council to condemn the action and pressured the Soviet Union to negotiate with the North Koreans for the ship's release.

It was 11 long months before the Pueblo's men were freed. Both captain and crew were horribly treated and later recounted their torture at the hands of the North Koreans. With no help in sight, Captain Lloyd Bucher reluctantly signed a document confessing that the ship was spying on North Korea. With this propaganda victory in hand, the North Koreans released the prisoners and also returned the body of one crewman who died in captivity. Some Americans criticized Johnson for not taking decisive retaliatory action against North Korea; others argued that he should have used every diplomatic means at his disposal to secure a quick release for the crew. In any case, the event was another blow to Johnson and America's Cold War foreign policy

12-23-2005, 01:49 PM
It has been written and as far as circumstantual evidence, proven that the "Pueblo" was sent into "Harm's way" for the principal reason of cracking the Russian Military Code by the NSA . . There were two "Crypto" machines aboard, one, non functioning, so to speak . . the "M" didn't work. when the Boat was captured by the North Koreans, the functioning Crypto machine was destroyed with the Thermite grenade that was built in for just that purpose. The non functional one's grenade didn't work either . . enabling the North Korans to "capture" a US Navy cryptography tyeletype . . within three weeks after the Pueblo's capture the NSA was intercepting and reading Russian Military Code messages to North Vietnam . . . dunno exactly how it was done, but apparently the "Crypto" machine had something to do with it . .

They stonewalled the Navy prisoners so that the Ruskies would'nt figure out the deal . . a Diplomatic release arranged by the Russians could've been implemented anytime after the capture . . . The USA didn't want it to appear that they did anything wrong . . the Pueblo WAS NOT IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS WHEN IT WAS FIRST ACCOSTED BY THE NORTH KOREANS . . Bucher himself has said that . . . And the only Two men aboard the boat that could've been NSA both died shortly after release, of unexplained causes . .

The NSA makes the CIA look like an advertising agency when it comes to clandestine ops . .

Zen Curmudgeon
12-25-2005, 10:06 AM
Although most Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ, few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. The oldest existing record of a Christmas celebration is found in a Roman almanac that tells of a Christ's Nativity festival led by the church of Rome in 336 A.D. The precise reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains obscure, but most researchers believe that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.

To early Christians (and to many Christians today), the most important holiday on the Christian calendar was Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, as Christianity began to take hold in the Roman world, in the early fourth century, church leaders had to contend with a popular Roman pagan holiday commemorating the "birthday of the unconquered sun" (natalis solis invicti)--the Roman name for the winter solstice.

Every winter, Romans honored the pagan god Saturn, the god of agriculture, with a festival that began on December 17 and usually ended on or around December 25 with a winter-solstice celebration in honor of the beginning of the new solar cycle. This festival was a time of merrymaking, and families and friends would exchange gifts. At the same time, Mithraism--worship of the ancient Persian god of light--was popular in the Roman army, and the cult held some of its most important rituals on the winter solstice.

After the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 and sanctioned Christianity, church leaders made efforts to appropriate the winter-solstice holidays and thereby achieve a more seamless conversion to Christianity for the emperor's subjects. In rationalizing the celebration of Jesus' birthday in late December, church leaders may have argued that since the world was allegedly created on the spring equinox (late March), so too would Jesus have been conceived by God on that date. The Virgin Mary, pregnant with the son of God, would hence have given birth to Jesus nine months later on the winter solstice.

From Rome, the Christ's Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ's birth on December 25. To the Roman celebration was later added other winter-solstice rituals observed by various pagan groups, such as the lighting of the Yule log and decorations with evergreens by Germanic tribes. The word Christmas entered the English language originally as Christes maesse, meaning "Christ's mass" or "festival of Christ" in Old English. A popular medieval feast was that of St. Nicholas of Myra, a saint said to visit children with gifts and admonitions just before Christmas. This story evolved into the modern practice of leaving gifts for children said to be brought by "Santa Claus," a derivative of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas--Sinterklaas.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-26-2005, 06:08 AM
Jack Johnson becomes the first African American to win the world heavyweight title when he knocks out Canadian Tommy Burns in the 14th round in a championship bout near Sydney, Australia. Johnson, who held the heavyweight title until 1915, was reviled by whites for his defiance of the "Jim Crow" racial conventions of early 20th-century America.

The boxer that is still remembered as the greatest defensive boxer in heavyweight history was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878. Johnson dropped out of school after fifth grade and worked the docks of Galveston before taking up professional boxing. He proved himself a powerful fighter, but the rarity of champion white boxers agreeing to meet black challengers limited his opportunities and purses. In 1903, Johnson won the "Colored Heavyweight Championship of the World" and the next year issued a challenge to Jim Jeffries, the white American who held the world title at the time. Jeffries refused to meet him, and it was not until 1908 that Tommy Burns agreed to give Johnson a shot at the more prestigious white heavyweight title.

The boxers met at Rushcutter's Bay on the outskirts of Sydney on December 26, 1908. Few of the 20,000 spectators gathered there cheered Johnson as he dominated Burns and became the heavyweight champion of the world. Johnson's reception upon returning to the United States was equally lukewarm, and racists were appalled by his marriage to a white woman. Johnson refused to keep a low profile in the face of criticism of his color and character, and instead took on an excessively flamboyant lifestyle. He drove flashy sports cars, flaunted gold teeth that went with his gold-handled walking stick, and engaged in numerous, overlapping romances with women--all of them white. Reporters began calling for a "Great White Hope" to put the heavyweight title back in a white man's hands.

Johnson defeated several U.S. challengers, and in 1910 Jim Jeffries agreed to come out of retirement to try to beat the black boxer. In a fight held at Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910, Johnson became the first boxer to knock down Jeffries, and in the 15th round Jeffries' corner threw in the towel. The outcome of the match prompted racial violence and rioting across the United States.

In 1912, Johnson was convicted of transporting an unmarried woman across state lines for "immoral purposes," a law that was drafted primarily to prevent prostitution and the white slavery trade--not to prevent a black boxer and nightclub owner from having an affair with his white secretary. Johnson was sentenced to a year in prison and released on bond pending an appeal. He took the opportunity to flee the United States disguised as a member of a black baseball team.

Johnson lived in exile for the next seven years and continued to defend his title in bouts in Europe and elsewhere. On April 5, 1915, he lost the heavyweight title when he was knocked out by white American Jess Willard in the 20th round of a fight in Havana, Cuba. There were rumors that Johnson threw the championship in order to have the charges against him dropped. The charges were not dropped, however, and when Johnson returned to the United States in 1920 he was arrested by U.S. marshals. He was sent to a federal prison in Kansas to serve his year sentence.

After his release, Johnson boxed occasionally but never regained his former stature. His fortunes steadily diminished, and near the end of his life he worked as a vaudeville and carnival performer. He died in a car accident in 1946.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-27-2005, 06:06 AM
The rag-tag army of volunteers known as Doniphan's Thousand, led by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, wins a major victory in the war with Mexico with the occupation of El Paso.

Born in Kentucky in 1808, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830 to practice law. But the tall redheaded man was not satisfied with fighting only courtroom battles, and he volunteered as a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. When war between Mexico and the U.S. erupted in 1846, the men of the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers elected Doniphan their colonel, and marched south to join General Stephen Kearny's army in New Mexico.

Since they were not professional military men, Doniphan's troops cared little for the traditional spit-and-polish of the regular troops, and reportedly looked more like tramps than soldiers. Likewise, Doniphan was a casual officer who led more by example than by strict discipline. Nonetheless, Doniphan's Thousand proved to be a surprisingly effective force in the war with Mexico.

In December, Doniphan led 500 of his men and a large wagon train of supplies south to join General John E. Wool in his planned invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Before he had a chance to meet up with Wool's larger force near the city of Chihuahua, Doniphan encountered an army of 1,200 Mexican soldiers about 30 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Although his opponents had twice the number of soldiers, Doniphan led his men to victory, and with the path to El Paso now largely undefended was able to occupy the city two days later.

When nearing the Mexican border, Doniphan learned that General Wool's forces had broken off their invasion of Chihuahua because the army's wheeled vehicles had proved unworkable in the desert landscape. But rather than turn back, Doniphan reassembled his army to its full force of about 1,000 men and was allowed to proceed with the invasion unassisted. Once again grossly outnumbered-the Mexican army was four times the size of Doniphan's-the Missouri troops were still able to quickly break through the defensive lines and occupy Chihuahua City. By mid-summer 1847, Doniphan's victorious army reached the Gulf Coast, where they were picked up by ships and taken to New Orleans for discharge. By then, the focus of the battle had shifted to General Winfield Scott's campaign to take Mexico City. In September of that year, Scott's troops ended the war by successfully occupying Mexico City, and for the first time in U.S. history an American flag flew over a foreign capital. The Tre!

aty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed early in 1848, gave the U.S. the vast western territory stretching from Texas to the Pacific and north to Oregon.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-28-2005, 05:59 AM
Convinced that her righteous campaign against alcohol justified her aggressive tactics, Carry Nation attacks a saloon in Wichita, Kansas, shattering a large mirror behind the bar and throwing rocks at a titillating painting of Cleopatra bathing.

Carry Nation's lifelong battle against alcohol reflected a larger reformist spirit that swept through the nation in the early 20th century and led to laws against everything from child labor to impure food and drugs. But Nation's hatred of alcohol was also a deeply personal struggle--in 1867, she married an Ohio physician who had a serious alcohol problem. Despite Nation's efforts to reform him, her husband's drinking problem eventually destroyed their marriage and he died shortly after they split.

Nation remarried, this time to a Texas minister. She and her new husband moved in 1889 to Medicine Lodge, Kansas, at a time when much of the state was emerging from its wild frontier days. Convinced that drinking was the root cause of all social evil, Nation decided to close down the saloons in Medicine Lodge and other Kansas cities by traveling throughout the state and preaching her temperance message. Nation soon found that her inspiring speeches against "demon rum" had little effect on the wilder citizens of Kansas, though, so she decided to take more aggressive action. Claiming she was inspired by powerful "visions," in 1900 she began a series of well-publicized attacks on Kansas saloons using her favorite weapon of moral righteousness--her trusty hatchet.

At six feet tall and 175 pounds, the hatchet-wielding Nation was an intimidating sight. She relished chopping up barrels of whiskey, destroying expensive bar fixtures, and berating the stunned bar owners and patrons for their evil habits. The sale of alcohol was already illegal in Kansas but the law was largely ignored, so Nation reasoned that it was the responsibility of law-abiding citizens to destroy not only the alcohol but also the saloons that sold it. Local law enforcement, however, did not usually agree, and Nation was frequently jailed for her disturbances.

Although Nation's campaign of saloon vandalism won her national fame, the immediate results were disappointing. She managed to pressure Kansas into enforcing its prohibition laws more aggressively, but when she died in 1911, most of the country still sanctioned the sale of alcohol. Ironically, by the time the U.S. adopted prohibition in 1920, Nation was largely forgotten--but the hatchet-wielding Kansas reformer unquestionably helped lay the foundation for America's "noble experiment."

Zen Curmudgeon
12-29-2005, 06:06 AM
In the tragic final chapter of America's long war against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Tensions had been running high on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for months because of the growing popularity of a new Indian spiritual movement known as the Ghost Dance. Many of the Sioux at Pine Ridge had only recently been confined to reservations after long years of resistance, and they were deeply disheartened by the poor living conditions and deadening tedium of reservation life. The Ghost Dance movement taught that the Indians were defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional ways. If they practiced the Ghost Dance ritual and rejected white ways, many Sioux believed the gods would create the world anew, destroy the unbelievers, and bring back murdered Indians and the giant herds of bison.

By late 1890, Pine Ridge Indian agent James McLaughlin was alarmed by the movement's increasing influence and its prediction that all non-believers--presumably including whites--would be wiped out. McLaughlin telegraphed a warning to Washington, D.C. that: "Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy. We need protection now." While waiting for the cavalry to arrive, McLaughlin attempted to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who he mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dance supporter. U.S. authorities killed Sitting Bull during the arrest, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge rather than defusing them.

On December 29, the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. Big Foot and his followers had no intentions of attacking anyone, but they were distrustful of the army and feared they would be attacked if they relinquished their guns. Nonetheless, the Sioux agreed to surrender and began turning over their guns. As that was happening, a scuffle broke out between an Indian and a soldier, and a shot was fired. Though no one is certain which side fired it, the ensuing melee was quick and brutal. Without arms and outnumbered, the Sioux were reduced to hand-to-hand fighting with knives, and they were cut down in a withering rain of bullets, many coming from the army's rapid-fire repeating Hotchkiss guns. By the time the soldiers withdrew, 146 Indians were dead (including 44 women and 18 children) and 51 wounded. The 7th Cavalry had 25 dead and 39 wounded.

Although sometimes referred to as a battle, the conflict at Wounded Knee is best seen as a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it is highly unlikely that Big Foot's band would have deliberately sought a confrontation. Some historians speculate that the soldiers of Custer's old 7th Cavalry were deliberately taking revenge for the regiment's defeat at Little Bighorn in 1876. Whatever the motives, the army's massacre ended the Ghost Dance movement and was the final major confrontation in America's deadly war against the Plains Indians.

Zen Curmudgeon
12-30-2005, 06:15 AM
James Gadsden, the U.S. minister to Mexico, and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the president of Mexico, sign the Gadsden Purchase in Mexico City. The treaty settled the dispute over the location of the Mexican border west of El Paso, Texas, and established the final boundaries of the southern United States. For the price of $15 million, later reduced to $10 million, the United States acquired approximately 30,000 square miles of land in what is now southern New Mexico and Arizona.

Jefferson Davis, the U.S. secretary of war under President Franklin Pierce, had sent Gadsden to negotiate with Santa Anna for the land, which was deemed by a group of political and industrial leaders to be a highly strategic location for the construction of the southern transcontinental railroad. In 1861, the "big four" leaders of western railroad construction--Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker--established the Southern Pacific branch of the Central Pacific Railroad.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-01-2006, 08:19 AM
In 45 B.C., New Year's Day is celebrated on January 1 for the first time in history as the Julian calendar takes effect.

Soon after becoming Roman dictator, Julius Caesar decided that the traditional Roman calendar was in dire need of reform. Introduced around the seventh century B.C., the Roman calendar attempted to follow the lunar cycle but frequently fell out of phase with the seasons and had to be corrected. In addition, the pontifices, the Roman body charged with overseeing the calendar, often abused its authority by adding days to extend political terms or interfere with elections.

In designing his new calendar, Caesar enlisted the aid of Sosigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer, who advised him to do away with the lunar cycle entirely and follow the solar year, as did the Egyptians. The year was calculated to be 365 and 1/4 days, and Caesar added 67 days to 45 B.C., making 46 B.C. begin on January 1, rather than in March. He also decreed that every four years a day be added to February, thus theoretically keeping his calendar from falling out of step. Shortly before his assassination in 44 B.C., he changed the name of the month Quintilis to Julius (July) after himself. Later, the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) after his successor.

Celebration of New Year's Day in January fell out of practice during the Middle Ages, and even those who strictly adhered to the Julian calendar did not observe the New Year exactly on January 1. The reason for the latter was that Caesar and Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value for the solar year as 365.242199 days, not 365.25 days. Thus, a 11-minute-a-year error added seven days by the year 1000, and 10 days by the mid-15th century.

The Roman church became aware of this problem, and in the 1570s Pope Gregory XIII commissioned Jesuit astronomer Christopher Clavius to come up with a new calendar. In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was implemented, omitting 10 days for that year and establishing the new rule that only one of every four centennial years should be a leap year. Since then, people around the world have gathered en masse on January 1 to celebrate the precise arrival of the New Year.

01-01-2006, 02:19 PM
I note with saddnes the lack of even a mention of the deaths (notable deaths in Pueblo in 2005) of the elderly aviators whose dissapearance while doing what they loved caused a bare ripple (anyone who flies in the Rocky Mountains without a flight plan is commiting suicide) in your self centered, puffed up image of a Pueblo resident!

01-02-2006, 08:50 AM
I believe that Bill Duffy's passing was noted in yesterday's Chieftain . .

Noting your sour disposition and comment on my quote, obviously you neither have flown a small plane or at least never flown one in our mountains . . if you expect someone to find you after you've found a "rock in a cloud", you'd have best left some idea of where you were intending to go.

Tenative flight plans are a "Must' when flying over (or among, in the case of a small single engine plane) the Rockies. You don't file one, don't expect to be found!

Have you gotten the idea now? Or must I be redundant one more time?

Zen Curmudgeon
01-03-2006, 06:02 AM
On January 3, 1967, Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, dies of cancer in a Dallas hospital. The Texas Court of Appeals had recently overturned his death sentence for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and was scheduled to grant him a new trial.

On November 24, 1963, two days after Kennedy's assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was brought to the basement of the Dallas police headquarters on his way to a more secure county jail. A crowd of police and press with live television cameras rolling gathered to witness his departure. As Oswald came into the room, Jack Ruby emerged from the crowd and fatally wounded him with a single shot from a concealed .38 revolver. Ruby, who was immediately detained, claimed he was distraught over the president's assassination. Some called him a hero, but he was nonetheless charged with first-degree murder.

Jack Ruby, originally known as Jacob Rubenstein, operated strip joints and dance halls in Dallas and had minor connections to organized crime. He also had a relationship with a number of Dallas policemen, which amounted to various favors in exchange for leniency in their monitoring of his establishments. He features prominently in Kennedy assassination theories, and many believe he killed Oswald to keep him from revealing a larger conspiracy. In his trial, Ruby denied the charge, maintaining that he was acting out of patriotism. In March 1964, he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

The official Warren Commission report of 1964 concluded that neither Oswald nor Ruby were part of a larger conspiracy, either domestic or international, to assassinate President Kennedy. Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event, and in 1978 the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was "probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy" that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee's findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to be widely disputed.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-05-2006, 06:01 AM
In the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony's founder, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two children, for another woman, with whom he had another two children. He also stated his refusal to return to his original wife, thus giving the Puritan court no option but to punish Clarke and grant a divorce to his wife, Anne. The Quarter Court's final decision read: "Anne Clarke, beeing deserted by Denis Clarke hir husband, and hee refusing to accompany with hir, she is graunted to bee divorced."

Zen Curmudgeon
01-06-2006, 06:34 AM
Jedediah Strong Smith, one of America's greatest trapper-explorers, is born in Bainbridge, New York.

Smith explored a stunningly large area of the Far West during his short life. He began his western voyages in 1822, when he joined the pioneering fur trader William Ashley on a trip up the Missouri River. Unlike earlier fur traders, who depended on Native Americans to actually trap or hunt the furs, Ashley eliminated the Indians as middlemen and instead sent out independent Anglo trappers like Smith to do the job.

To escape dependence on Indians, though, Ashley needed to find his own sources of beaver and otter in the West, and Smith became one of his best explorers. A year after his first trip up the Missouri, Smith set out with a small band of mountain men to explore the Black Hills region of the Dakotas at Ashley's behest. Despite being mauled by a grizzly bear in the Black Hills, Smith continued westward to the site of modern-day Dubois, Wyoming, where he and his men camped for the winter.

During his long forced halt at Dubois, Smith learned from friendly Crow Indians of an easy pass through the Rocky Mountains. The following spring, Smith and his men followed the route outlined by the Crow and discovered that they could cross the mighty Rockies almost effortlessly. Later named the "South P****" Smith's new route was a high plain that gradually rose like a shallow ramp to provide an easy crossing of the Continental Divide. Smith's discovery of South Pass was actually a "rediscovery," since employees of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company crossed the pass in 1812 when returning to St. Louis from the Pacific. The Astorian discovery, though, remained unknown, so Smith is credited for alerting the nation to the existence of this easy route across the Rockies.

Smith's discovery of South Pass was monumentally important. Not only did his fellow fur trappers prefer South Pass to the far more difficult and dangerous Missouri River route blazed by Lewis and Clark in 1804, but the South Pass became an early 19th century "super-highway" for settlers bound for Oregon and California. Ideally suited for heavy wagon traffic, South Pass greatly facilitated the mass emigration of Americans to the Far West.

The blazing of the South Pass route alone would have secured Smith's claim as one of the great explorers of the American West, but during the following decade, Smith also explored the Great Salt Lake, the Colorado Plateau, and led the first expedition to cross the Southwest to California-all before he was 30 years old. Having lived through dozens of narrow escapes on his intrepid journeys, Smith decided to retire from his dangerous trade in 1830 and enter the mercantile business. Ironically, being a trader proved more deadly than exploring: while leading a trading caravan along the Santa Fe Trail in 1831, Smith was killed by Commanche Indians near the Cimarron River. He was 32 years old.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-07-2006, 09:58 AM
The confessed Colorado cannibal Alfred Packer is released from prison on parole after serving 18 years.

One of the ragged legions of gold and silver prospectors who combed the Rocky Mountains searching for fortune in the 1860s, Alfred Packer also supplemented his meager income from mining by serving as a guide in the Utah and Colorado wilderness. In early November 1873, Packer left Bingham Canyon, Utah, to lead a party of 21 men bound for the gold fields near Breckenridge, Colorado. The winter of 1873-74 was unusually harsh. After three months of difficult travel, the party staggered into the camp of the Ute Indian Chief Ouray, near present-day Montrose, Colorado. The Utes graciously provided the hungry and exhausted men with food and shelter. Chief Ouray advised the men to stay in the camp until a break came in the severe winter weather, but with their strength rekindled by food and rest, Packer and five other men decided to continue the journey.

Two months later, Packer arrived alone at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, looking surprisingly fit for a man who had just completed an arduous winter trek through the Rockies. Packer first claimed he had become separated from his five companions during a blizzard and survived on rabbits and rosebuds. Suspicions grew, though, when it was discovered that Packer had an unusual amount of money and many items belonging to the missing men. Under questioning, Packer confessed that the real story was far more gruesome: four of the men, he claimed, had died naturally from the extreme winter conditions and the starving survivors ate them. When only Packer and one other man, Shannon Bell, remained alive, Bell went insane and threatened to kill Packer. Packer said he shot Bell in self-defense and eventually ate his corpse.

Though shocking, Packer's grisly story would probably have been accepted as an unfortunate tragedy had not searchers later found the remains of the five men at a single campsite-not strung out along the trail as Packer had claimed. Packer was arrested and charged with murder, but he escaped from jail and remained at large for nine years. Recaptured in 1883 near Fort Fetterman, Wyoming, Packer once again changed his story. He claimed that all six men had made camp alive, but lost and starving, they were too weak to go on. One day Packer went in search of the trail. Upon returning several hours later, he discovered to his horror that Bell had gone mad, killed the other four with a hatchet, and was boiling the flesh of one of them for his meal. When Bell spotted Packer, he charged with his hatchet raised, and Packer shot him twice in the belly. Lost and trapped alone in a camp of dead men, Packer said he only resorted to cannibalism after several more days, when it was his only means of survival.

Having twice changed his story, Packer's credibility was undermined, and a jury convicted him of manslaughter. He remained imprisoned in the Canon City penitentiary until 1901 when the Denver Post published a series of articles and editorials questioning his guilt. Eventually, the state was freed Packer on parole. Packer went to work as a guard for the Post and lived quietly in and around Littleton, Colorado, maintaining his innocence until the day he died in 1907.

Though we will never know exactly what happened on the so-called "Cannibal Plateau" near present-day Lake City, Colorado, recent forensic studies of the remains of the men who died have tended to support the details of Packer's second confession.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-08-2006, 09:32 AM
Outnumbered, low on ammunition, and forced to use outdated weapons to defend themselves, Crazy Horse and his warriors fight their final losing battle against the U.S. Cavalry in Montana.

Six months earlier, Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) and his ally, Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake), led their combined forces of Sioux and Cheyenne to a stunning victory over Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and his men near the Little Bighorn River of Montana. Outraged by the killing of the flamboyant Custer and more than 200 soldiers, the American people demanded speedy revenge. The U.S. Army responded by commanding General Nelson Miles to mount a winter campaign in 1876-77 against the remaining hostile Indians on the Northern Plains.

Combining military force with diplomatic overtures, Nelson succeeded in convincing many Indians to surrender and return to their reservations. Much to Nelson's frustration, though, Sitting Bull refused to give in and fled across the border to Canada, where he and his people remained for four years before finally returning to the U.S. to surrender in 1881. Meanwhile, Crazy Horse and his band also refused to surrender, though they were suffering badly from sickness and starvation. His followers later reported that Crazy Horse, who had always been slightly odd, began to grow even stranger during this difficult time, disappearing for days into the wilderness by himself and walking about the camp with his eyes to the ground.

On January 8, 1877, General Miles found Crazy Horse's camp along Montana's Tongue River. The soldiers opened fire with their big wagon-mounted guns, driving the Indians from their warm tents out into a raging blizzard. Crazy Horse and his warriors managed to regroup on a ridge and return fire, but most of their ammunition was gone, and they were reduced to fighting with bows and arrows. They managed to hold off the soldiers long enough for the women and children to escape under cover of the blinding blizzard before they turned to follow them.

Though he had escaped decisive defeat, Crazy Horse realized that Miles and his well-equipped cavalry troops would eventually hunt down and destroy his cold and hungry people. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led 1,100 Indians to the Red Cloud reservation near Fort Robinson. The mighty warrior surrendered in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Five months later, a guard fatally stabbed him after he allegedly resisted imprisonment by Indian policemen.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-09-2006, 06:06 AM
On this day, Englishman Philip Astley stages the first modern circus in London.

Trick riders, acrobats, clowns, trained animals, and other familiar components of the circus have existed throughout recorded history, but it was not until the late 18th century that the modern spectacle of the circus was born. Astley, a former cavalry sergeant major, found that if he galloped in a tight circle, centrifugal force allowed him to perform seemingly impossible feats on a horse's back. He drew up a ring and on January 9, 1768, invited the public to see him wave his sword in the air while he rode with one foot on the saddle and one on the horse's head.

Astley's trick riding received such a favorable response that he soon hired other equestrians, a clown, and musicians and in 1770 built a roof over his ring and called the structure Astley's Amphitheatre. In 1772, Astley went to Versailles to perform his "daring feats of horsemanship" before King Louis XV, and he found France ripe for a permanent show of its own, which he founded in 1782. Also in 1782, a competitor in London set up shop just down the road from Astley's Amphitheatre, calling his show the "Royal Circus," after the Roman name for the circular theaters where chariot races were held. In the 19th century, the term "circus" was adopted as a generic name for this new form of entertainment. Astley, who lived till 1814, eventually established 18 other circuses in cities across Europe.

In 1792, English equestrian John Bill Ricketts opened the first American circus in Philadelphia and later opened others in New York City and Boston. President George Washington reportedly attended a Ricketts circus and sold the company a horse. Smaller traveling circuses arose in Europe in the early 19th century, visiting towns and cities that lacked elaborate permanent shows. Larger traveling tent shows evolved in the 1820s. In 1859, the Cirque Napoleon in Paris offered the first "flying trapeze" act, which remains a popular component of the modern circus.

In 1871, William Cameron Coup and showman P.T. Barnum opened an enormous circus in Brooklyn that they dubbed "The Greatest Show on Earth." Ten years later, Barnum went into business with James Anthony Bailey; the "Barnum and Bailey" circuses were so large they required simultaneous performances in three rings.

In 1884, the five Ringling brothers staged their first circus, and they soon were buying out other circus companies, including Barnum and Bailey, which they purchased in 1907. During the next three decades, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows grew into the largest touring organization in the world, with hundreds of tents and an army of workers and performers. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey downsized after World War II but continues to tour today. Canada's Cirque du Soleil, which gave an artistic sensibility to its acrobatic acts while shunning the use of animals, was an innovative circus development of the late 20th century.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-10-2006, 07:28 AM
On January 10, 1920, the League of Nations formally comes into being when the Covenant of the League of Nations, ratified by 42 nations in 1919, takes effect.

In 1914, a political assassination in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the most costly war ever fought to that date. As more and more young men were sent down into the trenches, influential voices in the United States and Britain began calling for the establishment of a permanent international body to maintain peace in the postwar world. President Woodrow Wilson became a vocal advocate of this concept, and in 1918 he included a sketch of the international body in his 14-point proposal to end the war.

In November 1918, the Central Powers agreed to an armistice to halt the killing in World War I. Two months later, the Allies met with conquered Germany and Austria-Hungary at Versailles to hammer out formal peace terms. President Wilson urged a just and lasting peace, but England and France disagreed, forcing harsh war reparations on their former enemies. The League of Nations was approved, however, and in the summer of 1919 Wilson presented the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Wilson suffered a severe stroke soon in the fall of that year, which prevented him from reaching a compromise with those in Congress who thought the treaties reduced U.S. authority. In November, the Senate declined to ratify both. The League of Nations proceeded without the United States, holding its first meeting in Geneva on November 15, 1920.

During the 1920s, the League, with its headquarters at Geneva, incorporated new members and successfully mediated minor international disputes but was often disregarded by the major powers. The League's authority, however, was not seriously challenged until the early 1930s, when a series of events exposed it as ineffectual. Japan simply quit the organization after its invasion of China was condemned, and the League was likewise powerless to prevent the rearmament of Germany and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The declaration of World War II was not even referred to by the then-virtually defunct League.

In 1946, the League of Nations was officially dissolved with the establishment of the United Nations. The United Nations was modeled after the former but with increased international support and extensive machinery to help the new body avoid repeating the League's failures.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-12-2006, 06:18 AM
On this day, an international panel overseeing the restoration of the Great Pyramids in Egypt overcomes years of frustration when it abandons modern construction techniques in favor of the method employed by the ancient Egyptians.

Located at Giza outside Cairo, some of the oldest manmade structures on earth were showing severe signs of decay by the early 1980s. Successful repair work began on the 4,600-year-old Sphinx in 1981, but restoration of the pyramids proved destructive when water in modern cement caused adjacent limestone stones to split. On January 12, 1984, restorers stopped using mortar and adopted the system of interlocking blocks practiced by the original pyramid builders. From thereon, the project proceeded smoothly.

The ancient Egyptians built nearly 100 pyramids over a millennium to serve as burial chambers for their royalty. They believed that the pyramids eased the monarchs' passage into the afterlife, and the sites served as centers of religious activity. During the Old Kingdom, a period of Egyptian history that lasted from the late 26th century B.C. to the mid-22nd century B.C., the Egyptians built their largest and most ambitious pyramids.

The three enormous pyramids situated at Giza outside of Cairo were built by King Khufu, his son, and his grandson in the Fourth Dynasty. The largest, known as the Great Pyramid, was built by Khufu and is the only one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" from antiquity that still survives. The largest single building ever erected on the planet, the Great Pyramid was built of approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone and stood nearly 50 stories high upon completion. Its base forms a nearly perfect and level square, with sides aligned to the four cardinal points of the compass.

The Great Pyramid is composed primarily of yellowish limestone blocks and was originally covered in an outer casing of smooth light-colored limestone. This finer limestone eroded and was carried away in later centuries, but the material can still be found in the inner passages. The interior burial chamber was built of huge blocks of granite. It is believed that construction of the pyramid took 20 years and involved over 20,000 workers, bakers, carpenters, and water carriers. The exact method in which this architectural masterpiece was built is not definitively known, but the leading theory is that the Egyptians employed an encircling embankment of sand, brick, and earth that was increased in height as the pyramid rose.

In addition to Khufu's mummy, interior rooms of the pyramid held objects for the deceased to use in the afterlife. Many of these items were valuable, and tomb robbers had long ago robbed the pyramids of their treasures before modern archeologists began studying the structures in the 17th century.

King Khafre, the grandson of Khufu, built the Great Sphinx, which was carved from a single block of limestone left over in a quarry used to build the Pyramids. The Sphinx has the body of a recumbent lion and a human face meant to represent Khafre. There are no known inner chambers in the structure.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-13-2006, 08:45 AM
Nearly 50 years after the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Wyatt Earp dies quietly in Los Angeles at the age of 80.

The Earp brothers had long been competing with the Clanton-McClaury ranching families for political and economic control of Tombstone, Arizona, and the surrounding region. On October 26, 1881, the simmering tensions finally boiled over into violence, and Wyatt, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and his close friend, Doc Holliday, killed three men from the Clanton and McLaury clans in a 30-second shoot-out on a Tombstone street near the O.K. Corral. A subsequent hearing found that the Earps and Holliday had been acting in their capacity as law officers and deputies, and they were acquitted of any wrongdoing. However, not everyone was satisfied with the verdict, and the Earps found their popularity among the townspeople was on the wane. Worse, far from bringing an end the long-standing feud between the Earps and Clanton-McLaurys, the shoot-out sparked a series of vengeful attacks and counterattacks.

In late December 1881, the Clantons and McLaurys launched their vendetta with a shotgun ambush of Virgil Earp; he survived, but lost the use of his left arm. Three months later, Wyatt and Morgan were playing billiards when two shots were fired from an unknown source. Morgan was fatally wounded.

As a U.S. deputy marshal, Wyatt had a legal right and obligation to bring Morgan's killers to justice, but he quickly proved to be more interested in avenging his brother's death than in enforcing the law. Three days after Morgan's murder, Frank Stillwell, one of the suspects in the murder, was found dead in a Tucson, Arizona, rail yard. Wyatt and his close friend Doc Holliday were accused-accurately, as later accounts revealed-of murdering Stillwell. Wyatt refused to submit to arrest, and instead fled Arizona with Holliday and several other allies, pausing long enough to stop and kill a Mexican named Florentino Cruz, who he believed also had been involved in Morgan's death.

In the years to come, Wyatt wandered throughout the West, speculating in gold mines in Idaho, running a saloon in San Francisco, and raising thoroughbred horses in San Diego. At the turn of the century, the footloose gunslinger joined the Alaskan gold rush, and he ran a saloon in Nome until 1901. After participating in the last of the great gold rushes in Nevada, Wyatt finally settled in Los Angeles, where he tried unsuccessfully to find someone to publicize his many western adventures. Wyatt's famous role in the shootout at the O.K. Corral did attract the admiring attention of the city's thriving new film industry. For several years, Wyatt became an unpaid technical consultant on Hollywood Westerns, drawing on his colorful past to tell flamboyant matinee idols like William Hart and Tom Mix how it had really been. When Wyatt died in 1929, Mix reportedly wept openly at his funeral.

Ironically, the wider fame that eluded Wyatt in life came soon after he died. A young journalist named Stuart Lake published Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall, a wildly fanciful biography that portrayed the gunman as a brave and virtuous instrument of frontier justice. Dozens of similarly laudatory books and movies followed, ensuring Wyatt Earp an enduring place in the popular American mythology of the Wild West.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-14-2006, 09:33 AM
Carlo Ponzi immigrates to America from Italy on this day. The small-time con man would later stumble into one of the largest scams of all time and have an entire type of crime named after him: the "Ponzi scheme."

For 20 years, Ponzi bounced from job to job, always dreaming up a way to make millions but never coming close. But in 1919, he came up with a new plan. Ponzi told friends and potential investors that they would get a 50 percent return on their money within three months if they invested with him. The hapless investors were never told much about what Ponzi planned on doing with their money, but, when pressed, he told them that it had to do with international postal exchange coupons, an obscure field that virtually no one knew much about.

Ponzi told his marks that they could cash out at the end of three months or roll over their investments. Ponzi promptly paid off his initial investors and soon the investment dollars were pouring in. Thousands of people came to his offices, where money was stuffed in every desk drawer and filing cabinet. Ponzi was taking in an estimated $200,000 a day at the frenzy's peak. When a local writer questioned Ponzi's financial record, he threatened to sue and scared off further inquiry.

Ponzi went on a personal spending spree in 1920, buying 100 suits and 100 pairs of shoes. He also took $3 million in cash to the Hanover Trust Company and bought a controlling interest in the reputable firm. However, when state investigators finally began examining his books and interviewing his workers they found that there was no real investment going on. Of course, only the very early investors actually got any money back, and these funds came from later investors.

Such a scam, known as a pyramid scheme, inevitably explodes, as it did on August 13, 1920, when thousands of investors demanded their money back. Ponzi, anticipating the collapse, had already taken $2 million to the Saratoga casinos in a vain attempt to make up the lost money. Ponzi went to jail and was deported to Italy in 1934. He told reporters, "I hope the world forgives me."

Perhaps taken in by his apparent contrition, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini gave Ponzi a high position in the government's financial sector. However, human nature is very difficult to change, and Ponzi eventually embezzled funds from the country's treasury and escaped to Brazil, where he died in 1949.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-15-2006, 09:34 AM
Comedian Stan Laurel first starts work with the Hal Roach movie studio on this day in 1918.

English-born Laurel had appeared in his first film in 1917, after years of performing in British music halls and American vaudeville shows, including a stint as the understudy for Charlie Chaplin, whose work he would imitate during his early years in comedy. In late 1926, director Leo McCarey at Hal Roach Studios suggested that the skinny Laurel team up with rotund comic Oliver Hardy, who had dropped out of law school to open a movie theater.

Their first show together was the short film Duck Soup. The slapstick team became one of the most successful film comedy duos in history, and the unlikely pair had an unmatched on-screen chemistry. Inevitably, the duo, in their trademark derby hats, turned any situation into chaos. The naýve, sweet-tempered, and often confused Laurel (the thin one) would weep hysterically or scratch his head in bewilderment when the pair got into trouble.

Despite his goofy on-screen persona, Laurel was known in Hollywood as an exceptionally creative mind who had mastered the art of comedy. Hardy, whose character was always the butt of jokes, played the arrogant man who would let his temper boil over in every show, and he inevitably ended up with his head in a bucket of paint or a freshly baked cake. Hardy made popular the phrase, "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." Their characters were likened to a tired marriage, as they lived together and took care of each other but constantly annoyed each other.

Their first full-length film together was Pardon Us, and during the next three decades the pair appeared in more than 100 short and feature-length films, many of which Laurel helped direct. They won an Academy Award in 1933 for The Music Box, the story of two incompetent moving-company owners hired to move a piano up a towering flight of stairs. MGM, which held their contract, also occasionally used them as comic relief in musical movies, including Babes in Toyland. The pair severed their connection with MGM and Hal Roach in 1940 and created their own production company. However, they stopped making movies in 1945. A comeback attempt flopped in 1950, but the two were planning to try again in 1954 when Hardy was debilitated by a stroke. He died three years later. Laurel, inconsolable, vowed never to perform again. He died in 1965.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-16-2006, 06:02 AM
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes," achieves the necessary two-thirds majority of state ratification, and thus becomes the law of the land.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

Prohibition took effect in January 1919. Nine months later, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-17-2006, 06:07 AM
The Goldbergs debuts on this day in 1949 as television's first situation comedy. The show ran until 1954.

The show, which evolved from a nearly 20-year-old popular radio program of the same name, followed the adventures of a middle-class Jewish family in the Bronx. Gertrude Berg played gossipy housewife Molly Goldberg, and Philip Loeb played her husband, Jake, who worked in the clothing business. They had two teenagers, Sammy and Rosalie.

In each episode, the family would face another typical middle-class problem--and Molly enjoyed trying to help the neighbors in her apartment complex solve their problems, too. Later, when the fictitious family moved from the Bronx to suburban Haverville, the cast was joined by philosophical Uncle David, Sammy's fiancee (who later became his wife), her mother, and new neighbors. In 1952, Loeb was blacklisted for alleged Communist sympathies.

The show's sponsor, General Foods, dropped the series, and the show moved to NBC-without Loeb, though Berg had fought to keep him aboard. Loeb declared under oath he had never been a member of the Communist Party, and the charges were never proved, but his career was destroyed. He died in 1955 after taking a fatal overdose of sleeping pills in a hotel room.

Situation comedies have proved to be the most enduring genre of programming and today make up the majority of prime-time television shows. Like The Goldbergs, many early television sitcoms got their start on radio, including I Love Lucy (1951-1957), starring Lucille Ball, which was adapted from her radio show, My Favorite Husband. I Love Lucy finished first in the national ratings for three consecutive seasons.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-18-2006, 06:02 AM
On January 18, 1778, the English explorer Captain James Cook becomes the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands when he sails past the island of Oahu. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one his patrons.

In 1768, Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was commissioned a lieutenant in command of the H.M.S. Endeavor and led an expedition that took scientists to Tahiti to chart the course of the planet Venus. In 1771, he returned to England, having explored the coast of New Zealand and Australia and circumnavigated the globe. Beginning in 1772, he commanded a major mission to the South Pacific and during the next three years explored the Antarctic region, charted the New Hebrides, and discovered New Caledonia. In 1776, he sailed from England again as commander of the H.M.S. Resolution and Discovery and in 1778 made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islands.

Cook and his crew were welcomed by the Hawaiians, who were fascinated by the Europeans' ships and their use of iron. Cook provisioned his ships by trading the metal, and his sailors traded iron nails for sex. The ships then made a brief stop at Ni'ihau and headed north to look for the western end of a northwest passage from the North Atlantic to the Pacific. Almost one year later, Cook's two ships returned to the Hawaiian Islands and found a safe harbor in Hawaii's Kealakekua Bay.

It is suspected that the Hawaiians attached religious significance to the first stay of the Europeans on their islands. In Cook's second visit, there was no question of this phenomenon. Kealakekua Bay was considered the sacred harbor of Lono, the fertility god of the Hawaiians, and at the time of Cook's arrival the locals were engaged in a festival dedicated to Lono. Cook and his compatriots were welcomed as gods and for the next month exploited the Hawaiians' good will. After one of the crewmembers died, exposing the Europeans as mere mortals, relations became strained. On February 4, 1779, the British ships sailed from Kealakekua Bay, but rough seas damaged the foremast of the Resolution, and after only a week at sea the expedition was forced to return to Hawaii.

The Hawaiians greeted Cook and his men by hurling rocks; they then stole a small cutter vessel from the Discovery. Negotiations with King Kalaniopuu for the return of the cutter collapsed after a lesser Hawaiian chief was shot to death and a mob of Hawaiians descended on Cook's party. The captain and his men fired on the angry Hawaiians, but they were soon overwhelmed, and only a few managed to escape to the safety of the Resolution. Captain Cook himself was killed by the mob. A few days later, the Englishmen retaliated by firing their cannons and muskets at the shore, killing some 30 Hawaiians. The Resolution and Discovery eventually returned to England.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-19-2006, 05:56 AM
Angered by the abusive behavior of American soldiers occupying the city, Mexicans in Taos strike back by murdering the American-born New Mexican governor Charles Bent.

The eldest of four brothers who all became prominent frontiersmen, Charles Bent began his involvement with the Wild West in 1822, when he left Virginia at the age of 23 to become a trader for the Missouri Fur Company. When that company was destroyed by cutthroat competition from John Jacob Astor's powerful American Fur Company, Bent became a trader on the Santa Fe Trail. Building outlets in the Mexican cities of Santa Fe and New Mexico, and an Indian trading post on the Arkansas River called Bent's Fort (in modern-day Colorado), Bent and his business partners eventually created the largest mercantile firm in the Southwest.

Bent's financial, political, and personal interests increasingly began to center on Taos, New Mexico. In the 1830s, he moved there and married Maria Ignacia Jaramillo, a wealthy widow from a prominent Mexican family. Bent's new wife and his considerable wealth helped him win acceptance among the Mexican political elites, and he became a close associate of the New Mexican governor, Manuel Armijo. However, when war between Mexico and the U.S. broke out in 1846, Bent revealed his true colors by welcoming General Stephen Kearney's largely bloodless conquest of New Mexico with open arms. Kearney awarded Bent by appointing him to the governorship.

Kearney and most of his soldiers then moved on to take California, leaving the new governor to fend for himself, and Bent soon discovered that his behavior had earned him many enemies in Taos. Many of the Mexican families naturally resented the American conquest of their home, and the Taos Indians had long disliked Bent because of his trade relations with their northern enemies. The small force of American soldiers left behind to maintain order exacerbated the bad feelings by treating the Mexicans with undisguised contempt.

On January 19, 1847, the people of Taos struck back. A violent mob attacked a Taos home that Bent was visiting, murdered his guards, and then killed and scalped Bent. Dragging Bent's mangled body through the streets of Taos, the mob called for a full-scale rebellion against the American occupation, and by the end of the evening, 15 other Americans had been killed. Those who survived fled to Santa Fe to sound the alarm. Within two weeks, the American Colonel Sterling Price had quelled the rebellion and executed the supposed ringleaders. With the end of the Mexican War in 1848, New Mexico and all the rest of Mexico's old northern frontier became the American Southwest.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-21-2006, 09:58 AM
On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardons all Vietnam War draft dodgers.

During his presidential campaign, Carter had announced his intention to pardon those who had failed to register for the draft or left the country to avoid service. In a televised debate with incumbent President Gerald Ford, Carter proposed to implement a blanket pardon, in contrast to Ford’s more selective clemency plan. Carter interpreted pardon as meaning “that what you did, whether it's right or wrong, you're forgiven for it. And I do advocate a pardon for draft evaders….to bring about an end to the divisiveness that has occurred in our country as a result of the Vietnam War.” On his second day in office, January 21, 1977, he followed through on his promise.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Carter served on battleships and submarines for eight years, although he did not see combat. His pardon of draft dodgers enraged veterans and was cheered by amnesty groups. Critics argued that not only would the pardon encourage future draftees to defy the law, it was an affront to the men who served and died during the war.

Carter’s pardon stated that only civilians who were convicted of “[violating] the Military Selective Service Act by draft-evasion acts or omissions committed between August 4, 1964 and March 28, 1973” were eligible. The pardon was unconditional and wiped criminal records clean, but it only applied to civilians, not the estimated 500,000 to 1 million active-duty personnel who went AWOL (absent without leave) or deserted during the war. Many supporters of Carter’s decision thought they too should be “forgiven” by the government in an effort to heal national wounds.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-22-2006, 10:39 AM
On this day in 1968, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In makes its debut. This classic TV comedy-variety show was an instant smash that ran for five years on NBC.

The show had aired as a one-time special in September 1967, but its huge popularity led to a series several months later. A stable of about 40 wacky (and previously unknown) cast members, including Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, and Eileen Brennan, played regular roles during the show's five-year run and went on to enjoy successful careers in Hollywood.

The show, a fast-paced blend of unstructured comedy sketches, jokes, one-liners, and sight gags, was the most-watched show in America from 1968 to 1971. It poked fun at politics, social issues, and people in general. Each week, Gary Owens introduced cast members and special guests before Dan Rowan and Dick Martin came out to do their brief comic monologue. Then it was off to "The Cocktail Party," where cast members danced and told jokes. Other skits followed the party. Regular sketches included "Letters to Laugh-In," "Laugh-In Looks at the News," and the "Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award." At the end of each show, cast members proceeded to the "Joke Wall" and took turns poking their heads out of windows to tell a quick joke or to toss a bucket of water at someone while the credits rolled. At the end of the show, the only sound was a single person applauding slowly.

Many jokes were politically or sexually oriented, but they managed to get past the censors. Classic catchphrases included "You bet your bippy," "Sock it to me," "Verrrry interesting," "Here come da judge," and "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls." A variety of celebrities and politicians, including Richard Nixon, appeared as surprise guests on Laugh-In. The show ended in 1973, as many of the most popular cast members had left to pursue careers launched by Laugh-In. The program was revived with a cast of lesser-known comics in the 1977-78 season, but the show fell flat. However, one of the then-unknown comics to star in Laugh-In's reincarnation went on to star in a wildly popular comedy hit in 1978-Robin Williams catapulted to fame in Mork and Mindy, a Happy Days spin-off about an alien from the planet Ork who is sent to Boulder, Colorado, in an oversized eggshell to study earthlings

Zen Curmudgeon
01-23-2006, 06:03 AM
On January 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo a Navy intelligence vessel, is engaged in a routine surveillance of the North Korean coast when it is intercepted by North Korean patrol boats. According to U.S. reports, the Pueblo was in international waters almost 16 miles from shore, but the North Koreans turned their guns on the lightly armed vessel and demanded its surrender. The Americans attempted to escape, and the North Koreans opened fire, wounding the commander, Lloyd Bucher, and two others. With capture inevitable, the Americans stalled for time, destroying the classified information aboard while taking further fire. Several more crew members were wounded, including Duane Hodges, who later died from his injuries.

Finally, the Pueblo was boarded and taken to Wonson. There, the 83-man crew was bound and blindfolded and transported to Pyongyang, where they were charged with spying within North Korea's 12-mile territorial limit and imprisoned. It was the biggest crisis in two years of increased tension and minor skirmishes between the United States and North Korea.

The United States maintained that the Pueblo had been in international waters and demanded the release of the captive sailors. With the Tet Offensive raging 2,000 miles to the south in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson ordered no direct retaliation, but the United States began a military buildup in the area. North Korean authorities, meanwhile, coerced a confession and apology out of Pueblo commander Bucher, in which he stated, "I will never again be a party to any disgraceful act of aggression of this type." The rest of the crew also signed a confession under threat of torture.

The prisoners were then taken to a second compound in the countryside near Pyongyang, where they were forced to study propaganda materials and beaten for straying from the compound's strict rules. In August, the North Koreans staged a phony news conference in which the prisoners were to praise their humane treatment, but the Americans thwarted the Koreans by inserting innuendoes and sarcastic language into their statements. Some prisoners also rebelled in photo shoots by casually sticking out their middle finger; a gesture that their captors didn't understand. Later, the North Koreans caught on and beat the Americans for a week.

On December 23, 1968, exactly 11 months after the Pueblo's capture, U.S. and North Korean negotiators reached a settlement to resolve the crisis. Under the settlement's terms, the United States admitted the ship's intrusion into North Korean territory, apologized for the action, and pledged to cease any future such action. That day, the surviving 82 crewmen walked one by one across the "Bridge of No Return" at Panmunjon to freedom in South Korea. They were hailed as heroes and returned home to the United States in time for Christmas.

Incidents between North Korea and the United States continued in 1969, and in April 1969 a North Korean MiG fighter shot down a U.S. Navy intelligence aircraft, killing all 31 men aboard. In 1970, quiet returned to the demilitarized zone.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-24-2006, 06:06 AM
A millwright named James Marshall discovers gold along the banks of Sutter's Creek in California, forever changing the course of history in the American West.

A tributary to the South Fork of the American River in the Sacramento Valley east of San Francisco, Sutter's Creek was named for a Swiss immigrant who came to Mexican California in 1839. John Augustus Sutter became a citizen of Mexico and won a grant of nearly 50,000 acres in the lush Sacramento Valley, where he hoped to create a thriving colony. He built a sturdy fort that became the center of his first town, New Helvetia, and purchased farming implements, livestock, and a cannon to defend his tiny empire. Copying the methods of the Spanish missions, Sutter induced the local Indians to do all the work on his farms and ranches, often treating them as little more than slaves. Workers who dared leave his empire without permission were often brought back by armed posses to face brutal whippings or even execution.

In the 1840s, Sutter's Fort became the first stopping-off point for overland Anglo-American emigrants coming to California to build farms and ranches. Though sworn to protect the Mexican province from falling under the control of the growing number of Americans, Sutter recognized that his future wealth and influence lay with these Anglo settlers. With the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, he threw his support to the Americans, who emerged victorious in the fall of 1847.

With the war over and California securely in the hands of the United States, Sutter hired the millwright James Marshall to build a sawmill along the South Fork of the American River in January 1848. In order to redirect the flow of water to the mill's waterwheel, Marshall supervised the excavation of a shallow millrace. On the morning of January 24, 1848, Marshall was looking over the freshly cut millrace when a sparkle of light in the dark earth caught his eye. Looking more closely, Marshall found that much of the millrace was speckled with what appeared to be small flakes of gold, and he rushed to tell Sutter. After an assayer confirmed that the flakes were indeed gold, Sutter quietly set about gathering up as much of the gold as he could, hoping to keep the discovery a secret. However, word soon leaked out and, within months, the largest gold rush in the world had begun.

Ironically, the California gold rush was a disaster for Sutter. Though it brought thousands of men to California, the prospectors had no interest in joining Sutter's despotic agricultural community. Instead, they overran Sutter's property, slaughtered his herds for food, and trampled his fields. By 1852, New Helvetia was ruined, and Sutter was nearly wiped out. Until his death in 1880, he spent his time unsuccessfully petitioning the government to compensate him for the losses he suffered as a result of the gold rush he unintentionally ignited.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-25-2006, 06:01 AM
On this day in 1960, the National Association of Broadcasters proposes that disc jockeys accepting payment from record labels for broadcasting particular songs would be charged a $500 fine and spend a year in prison. The practice, known as payola, had provoked an extensive investigation by the NAB.

In May, disc jockey and TV personality Alan Freed, who coined the term "rock 'n' roll," was arrested along with seven other people on suspicion of commercial bribery. Freed had refused to sign an affidavit in 1959 denying he'd accepted payola, which was not against the law at that time. He said he would accept a gift if he had helped someone, but he would not take a bribe to play a record. He was charged with 26 counts of commercial bribery but got off with a fine.

Payola certainly wasn't a new concept; in the 18th century, composers in England sold their songs outright and didn't receive royalties. They relied on bribes to get their songs performed so they could sell new ones. The term "payola" was coined by Variety magazine in 1938. A variation on this theme was "videola," in which producers copyrighted the drum rolls or musical fanfare that accompanied the introduction of contestants on game shows. The American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) paid $6 million in 1953 for theme songs and background music using this practice.

Payola skyrocketed in the mid-1950s, when the advent of television led to the decline of radio dramas, freeing up hundreds of hours of radio time each week. Radio became a showcase for record companies: Everyone wanted to be in the "Top 40." Big-city DJs earned about $35,000 a year and had always been wooed with free meals and money. Some equated this to the tip a headwaiter would receive for giving a patron a good table. But some record producers said disc jockeys wouldn't play a record without a cash bribe. The payola scandal became public in 1959. The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission launched investigations that year, and the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, the group that distributes royalties from use of artists' music, went on strike against broadcasters. The end result was approval of an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 outlawing pay-for-play.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-26-2006, 07:41 AM
Mistakenly believing Frank and Jesse James are hiding out at their family home, a gang of men--likely led by Pinkerton detectives--mount a raid that leaves the outlaws' mother permanently maimed and their nine-year-old half-brother dead.

The Chicago-based Pinkerton Detective Agency had been pursuing the James brothers and their gang since 1874, when several big railroad companies first hired the Pinkertons to stop the outlaws. Responsible for a string of bank and train robberies, the James brothers were already famous for their daring style, and some even viewed the men as modern-day Robin Hoods. The Pinkertons, though, had no such romantic illusions about the outlaws. One of their best operatives working on the case, John W. Witcher, had been found dead from a bullet wound to the stomach, with his head, shoulder, and face eaten away by wild hogs. The Pinkertons were convinced Jesse James and another gang member had murdered Witcher, and they were determined to stop the outlaws.

In late 1874, the Pinkertons learned that Jesse and Frank James periodically returned to their old family farm in Clay County, Missouri, to visit with their mother and other family. On the night of January 26, 1875, a gang of men surrounded the James farm in the mistaken belief that the James brothers were inside. In an attempt to flush the outlaws out of the house, the gang threw several flares through the windows. Unexpectedly, one of the flares exploded instantly, killing Frank and Jesse's young half-brother and blowing away their mother's arm. Though the identity of the gang members has never been determined with absolute certainty, contemporary admirers of the James Brothers and modern-day historians agree that the Pinkertons were probably responsible. Regardless, the incident gave credence to the popular view that the men were innocent victims of the powerful railroads that had hired the Pinkertons to wipe them out.

After the attack on the James farm, the Pinkertons appear to have backed off from their more aggressive tactics. One of his own gang members, not a Pinkerton operative, killed Jesse James for a bounty in 1882. Frank James surrendered shortly thereafter, but no jury would convict him, and he remained a free and law-abiding citizen until his death in 1915. The grave of Jesse, who was buried in the front yard of his mother's farm, became a popular tourist attraction. For many years, tourists could pay Mrs. James 25ýF to visit the grave and listen to her tearful and melodramatic account of how venal Pinkertons and evil railroad barons had so unjustly persecuted her good and utterly innocent sons.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-27-2006, 05:59 AM
A bipartisan Senate investigation of activities by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is launched by a special congressional committee headed by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. On November 20, the committee released its report, charging both U.S. government agencies with illegal activities. The committee reported that the FBI and the CIA had conducted illegal surveillance of several hundred thousand U.S. citizens. The CIA was also charged with illegally plotting to assassinate foreign leaders, such as Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile. In 1973, Allende was killed in a coup that the CIA secretly helped organize. The Senate committee also reported that the CIA had maintained a secret stockpile of poisons despite a specific presidential order to destroy the substances.

Zen Curmudgeon
01-29-2006, 11:04 AM
Stanley Kubrick's black comic masterpiece, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb opens in theaters to both critical and popular acclaim. The movie's popularity was evidence of changing attitudes toward atomic weapons and the concept of nuclear deterrence.

The movie focused on the actions of a rogue U.S. officer who believes that communists are threatening the "precious bodily fluids" of Americans. Without authorization, he issues orders to U.S. bombers to launch atomic attacks against the Soviet Union. When it becomes evident that some of the bombers may actually drop their atomic payloads, American President Merkin Muffley frantically calls his Soviet counterpart. The Russian leader informs Muffley that an atomic attack on the Soviet Union will automatically unleash the terrible "doomsday machine," which will snuff out all life on the planet. Muffley's chief foreign policy advisor, Dr. Strangelove, reassures the president and chief officials that all is not lost: they can, he posits, survive even the doomsday machine by retreating to deep mineshafts.

Close scrutiny of the Dr. Strangelove character indicated that he was probably a composite of three people: Henry Kissinger, a political scientist who had written about nuclear deterrence strategy; Edward Teller, a key scientist in the development of the hydrogen bomb; and Wernher von Braun, the German scientist who was a leading figure in missile technology.

Little scrutiny was needed, however, to grasp Kubrick's satirical attacks on the American and Russian policies of nuclear stockpiling and massive retaliation. The film's jabs at some of the sacred core beliefs of America's defense strategy struck a chord with the American people. Particularly after the frightening Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962--when nuclear annihilation seemed a very real possibility--the American public was increasingly willing to question the nation's reliance on nuclear weapons.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-01-2006, 05:44 AM
John Taylor, the president of the Mormon Church, goes "underground" to avoid arrest and continue resisting federal demands for reforms within the community of Latter-day Saints.

A former Methodist minister, Taylor converted to Mormonism in 1836, not long after Joseph Smith founded the religion in New York. Taylor quickly became one of Smith's closest confidants and supporters, and he remained loyal to the controversial prophet and his church through years of persecution. When Smith was assassinated in Illinois in 1844 by an angry mob, Taylor was by his side and suffered several wounds during the attack. He escaped serious injury because a heavy pocket watch stopped a potentially fatal bullet.

After Smith's death, Taylor became an equally loyal follower of the new church president, Brigham Young. Taylor led one group of Mormon emigrants westward to Salt Lake City where Young was building a thriving theocratic empire. In Utah, he continued to ascend in the church hierarchy, and when Young died in 1877, Taylor took over leadership of the church.

Taylor's tenure as the leader of the Latter-day Saints was marked by growing tensions between the church and the federal government. The Mormon practice of polygamy became a lightning rod for federal criticism, yet this issue reflected a larger struggle regarding the church's power over its members and the future state of Utah. Although the Mormons treasured the freedom to develop their new society free from outside interference, they also sought the benefits of being a part of the United States. Inevitably, these two goals conflicted. In 1851, the Mormons won territorial status for Utah, but the government remained suspicious of Taylor's theocratic society. To the federal government, the Mormon political and economic domination of the region violated the separation of church and state. By attacking polygamy, federal authorities hoped they could also undermine the secular power of the church.

Taylor strongly opposed the federal attempts to undermine the Mormon theocracy. He believed the practice of polygamy was divinely ordained and state or federal anti-polygamy laws should not be allowed to prevail. Determined to assert the primacy of national secular law over the Mormon theocracy, U.S. marshals began arresting Mormons for practicing polygamy. Vulnerable to arrest themselves, Taylor and his leading administrators went underground on February 1, 1885. For the next two-and-a-half years, Taylor conducted church business from a series of secret hideouts in Salt Lake City.

Taylor's underground administration managed to avoid arrest, but the federal actions were steadily undermining church power and influence. Grudgingly, in 1887, Taylor assented to one concession: making polygamy illegal in a proposed Utah state constitution. Congress found Taylor's proposed compromise inadequate and rejected the petition for statehood. Taylor died that same year, still an exile in his own home. For several more years, the Mormon leadership continued the fight, but federal pressure eventually became so great that in 1890 Taylor's successor publicly rejected polygamy. The theocratic government of the Latter-day Saints had been tamed, and Utah achieved statehood in 1896.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-02-2006, 06:13 AM
On this day in 1979, Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious dies of a heroin overdose in New York. His death came just one day after he was released from prison on bail after his arrest on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend.

The Sex Pistols were formed in 1975 by Malcolm McLaren, owner of a counterculture boutique in London who wanted to create a band that would challenge norms of acceptable behavior. Accordingly, the Sex Pistols' live performances were fraught with foul language and a rebellious energy that drew a large following even before they released their first single, "Anarchy in the U.K.," in 1977.

Vicious had been one of the Sex Pistols' most devoted fans when he was invited to replace the band's bassist, Glen Matlock, in March 1977. Later that year, the group released its only album Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols, which laid the foundation of punk music. But an earlier single, "God Save the Queen," mocking Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, had been banned from airplay in the United Kingdom. No concert hall in England would book the group, so the Sex Pistols began touring in the United States, producing concerts that often turned violent. Vicious himself was renowned for vomiting on stage. Members of the group cursed on national television during a promotional campaign and were dumped by more than one record company for their irreverence. Nevertheless, the group amassed a variety of hits in the United States and England, including "Pretty Vacant," "Something Else/Friggin' in the Riggin'," and "C'mon Everybody."

In January 1978, the band announced its breakup. Vicious began performing solo, but heroin abuse doomed his musical career. In October 1978, Vicious was arrested for stabbing his girlfriend, 20-year-old go-go dancer Nancy Spungeon, to death in their Chelsea Hotel room. Though he initially denied killing her, the district attorney's office later released an alleged confession. On February 2, 1979, the day after Vicious was freed from jail on bail, he attended a party at his new girlfriend's house, injected a lethal dose of heroin, and died. In 1986, a critically acclaimed film, Sid and Nancy, starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb, portrayed the couple's tumultuous relationship onscreen.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-03-2006, 05:49 AM
Rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff on a flight from Mason City to Moorehead, Minnesota.

Holly had chartered the plane for his band to fly between tour dates during the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had a cold, talked Holly's band member Waylon Jennings out of his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane. Holly had just scored a No. 1 hit, "That'll Be the Day," with his band, the Crickets.

Holly, just 22, had started singing country music with high school friends but switched to rock and roll after opening for various rock singers, including Elvis Presley. By the mid-1950s, Holly and his band had a regular radio show and had toured internationally, playing hits like "Peggy Sue," "Oh, Boy!," "Maybe Baby," and "Early in the Morning." Holly wrote all his own songs, and much of his work was released after his death, influencing such artists as Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

Another crash victim, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, had started out as a disk jockey but began writing songs during his two years in the army. He wrote songs for other artists, including "Running Bear," a chart-climbing song recorded by singer Johnny Preston. The most famous work performed by Richardson himself was the rockabilly "Chantilly Lace," which made the Top 10. He developed a stage show based on his radio persona, "The Big Bopper."

The third crash victim was Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela, who was only 17 when the plane went down but had already scored a No. 2 hit with the ballad "Donna." He had also hit No. 22 with "La Bamba," an upbeat number based on a traditional Mexican wedding song. In 1987, Valens' life was portrayed in the movie La Bamba, and the title song, performed by Los Lobos, became a No. 1 hit. Singer Don McLean memorialized Holly, Valens, and Richardson in the 1972 No. 1 hit "American Pie," which was rerecorded by Madonna in 2000.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-05-2006, 09:18 AM
Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island and an important American religious leader, arrives in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from England. Williams, a Puritan, worked as a teacher before serving briefly as a colorful pastor at Plymouth and then at Salem. Within a few years of his arrival, he alarmed the Puritan oligarchy of Massachusetts by speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land. In October 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the General Court.

After leaving Massachusetts, Williams, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in present-day Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters, and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community "Providence."

Among those who found a haven in the religious and political refuge of the Rhode Island Colony were Anne Hutchinson--like Williams, exiled from Massachusetts for religious reasons--some of the first Jews to settle in North America, and the Quakers. In Providence, Roger Williams also founded the first Baptist church in America and edited the first dictionary of Native American languages.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-06-2006, 05:58 AM
The members of the Dalton Gang stage an unsuccessful train robbery near Alila, California--an inauspicious beginning to their careers as serious criminals.

Bob, Emmett, and Grat Dalton were only three of Lewis and Adeleine Dalton's 10 sons. The brothers grew up on a succession of Oklahoma and Kansas homesteads during the post-Civil War period, when the region was awash in violence lingering from the war and notorious outlaw bands like the James-Younger Gang. Still, the majority of the Dalton boys became law-abiding citizens, and one of the older brothers, Frank, served as a deputy U.S. marshal.

Ironically, Frank's position in law enforcement brought his younger brothers into lives of crime. When Oklahoma whiskey runners murdered Frank in 1887, Grat took Frank's place as a deputy marshal and recruited Emmett and Bob as assistants. Disillusioned by the fate of their older law-abiding brother, the three Dalton boys showed little respect for the law and began rustling cattle and horses to supplement their income. The brothers soon began to use their official law enforcement powers for their own ends, and in 1888, they killed a man for pursuing Bob's girlfriend.

Such gross abuses of authority did not escape attention for long. By 1890, all three men were discredited as lawmen, though they managed to escape imprisonment. Taking up with some of the same hardcore criminals they had previously sworn to bring to justice, the Daltons decided to expand their criminal operations. Bob and Grat headed to California, leaving Emmett behind in Oklahoma because they felt he was still too young for a life of serious crime. In California, they planned to link up with their brother Bill and become bank and train robbers.

The Dalton Gang's first attempt at train robbery was a fiasco. On February 6, 1891, Bob, Grat, and Bill tried to rob a Southern Pacific train near Alila, California. While Bill kept any passengers from interfering by shooting over their heads, Bob and Grat forced the engineer to show them the location of the cash-carrying express car. When the engineer tried to slip away, one of the brothers shot him in the stomach. Finding the express car on their own, Bob and Grat demanded that the guard inside open the heavy door. The guard refused and began firing down on them from a small spy hole. Thwarted, the brothers finally gave up and rode away.

The Daltons would have done well to heed the ominous signs of that first failed robbery and seek safer pursuits. Instead, they returned to Oklahoma, reunited with young Emmett, and began robbing in earnest. A year later, the gang botched another robbery, boldly attempting to hit two Coffeyville, Kansas, banks at the same time. Townspeople caught them in the act and killed Bob, Grat, and two of their gang members. Emmett was seriously wounded and served 14 years in prison.

Of all the criminal Dalton brothers, only Emmett lived into old age. Freed from prison in 1907, he married and settled in Los Angeles, where he built a successful career in real estate and contracting.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-07-2006, 05:52 AM
The Beatles are mobbed by adoring fans after landing at Kennedy Airport to start their first U.S. tour. Later in the day, the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan's TV show, becoming the first British rock group to perform on U.S. television. The group played "I Want to Hold Your Hand," from their album Meet the Beatles, which became the fastest-selling album in U.S. history to date.

Perhaps the most influential musical group of all time, the Beatles led the rock-music revolution called the "British Invasion" and scored more No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts than any other group in history, with 20 chart toppers.

The band's roots traced back to the late 1950s, when John Lennon's group, the Quarreymen, played at a church picnic near Liverpool. There, Lennon met Paul McCartney, and the two soon began writing songs together, and McCartney joined the group. The group changed their name to Johnny and the Moondogs and recruited McCartney's friend George Harrison. After bassist Stu Sutcliffe joined, they changed the name again, to the Silver Beetles, eventually modified to the Beatles. Tommy Moore joined the band as drummer and was replaced by Pete Best in 1960.

Sutcliffe left in 1961 to become a painter (he died of a brain hemorrhage less than a year later), and the band returned to Liverpool. Label after label rejected them, but in 1962 Best left the band, Ringo Starr joined up, and they recorded "Love Me Do," their first Top 20 hit in the United Kingdom. Two years later, they were introduced to a wide American audience.

As the band evolved, it experimented with musical styles, ranging from the simple ("I Want to Hold Your Hand") to the innovative ("Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which used electronic music and a sitar). The shaggy-haired stars were among the first rock bands to write most of their own material. They received the Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965 at Buckingham Palace, and their immense popularity prompted Lennon to tell a newspaper reporter, "We're more popular than Jesus Christ right now."

The band broke up in 1970, and each member went on to pursue a solo career or form a new group. Although there was frequent speculation about the possibility of a reunion, Lennon's tragic murder by a deranged fan in 1980 ended that possibility forever.

Eight years later, the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a retrospective anthology was released in 1995. It included the previously unrecorded "Free as a Bird," written by Lennon and recorded by surviving band members in 1994 and 1995. It became one of the fastest-selling albums in history.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-08-2006, 05:52 AM
On February 8, 1915, D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, a landmark film in the
history of cinema, premieres at Clune's Auditorium in Los Angeles. The silent
film was America's first feature-length motion picture and a box-office smash,
and during its unprecedented three hours Griffith popularized countless
filmmaking techniques that remain central to the art today. However, because of
its explicit racism, Birth of a Nation is also regarded as one of the most
offensive films ever made. Actually titled The Clansman for its first month of
release, the film provides a highly subjective history of the Civil War,
Reconstruction, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Studied today as a masterpiece
of political propaganda, Birth of a Nation caused riots in several cities and
was banned in others but was seen by millions.David Wark Griffith was born in La
Grange, Kentucky, in 1875, the son of an ex-Confederate colonel. His father died
when he was seven, and he later dropped out of high school to help support his
family. After holding various jobs, he began a successful career as a theater
actor. He wrote several plays and, on the advice of a colleague, sent some
scenarios for one-reel films to the Edison Film Company and the Biograph
Company. In 1908, he was hired as an actor and writer for the Biograph studio
and soon was promoted to a position as director.Between 1908 and 1913, Griffith
made more than 400 short films for Biograph. With the assistance of his talented
cinematographer, G W. "Billy" Bitzer, he invented or refined such important
cinematic techniques as the close-up, the scenic long shot, the moving-camera
shot, and the fade-in and fade-out. His contributions to the art of editing
during this period include the flashback and parallel editing, in which two or
more separate scenes are intermixed to give the impression that the separate
actions are happening simultaneously. He also raised the standard on movie
acting, initiating scene rehearsals before shooting and assembling a stock
company of film professionals. Many of these actors, including Lillian and
Dorothy Gish, Mary Pickford, Mae Marsh, and Lionel Barrymore, went on to become
some of Hollywood's first movie stars.Taking his cue from the longer spectacle
films produced in Italy, in 1913 Griffith produced Judith of Bethulia, a
biblical adaptation that, at four reels, was close to an hour long. It was his
last Biograph film. Two years later, he released his epic 10-reel masterpiece,
Birth of a Nation, for Mutual Films.Birth of a Nation, based on Thomas Dixon's
novel The Clansman, tells the turbulent story of American history in the 1860s,
as it followed the fictional lives of two families from the North and the South.
Throughout its three hours, African Americans are portrayed as brutish, lazy,
morally degenerate, and dangerous. In the film's climax, the Ku Klux Klan rises
up to save the South from the Reconstruction Era-prominence of African Americans
in Southern public life.Riots and protests broke out at screenings of Birth of a
Nation in a number of Northern cities, and the recently formed National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) embarked on a major
campaign to have the film banned. It eventually was censored in several cities,
and Griffith agreed to change or cut out some of the film's especially offensive
scenes.Nevertheless, millions of people happily paid to witness the spectacle of
Birth of a Nation, which featured a cast of more 10,000 people and a dramatic
story line far more sophisticated than anything released to that date. For all
the gross historical inaccuracies, certain scenes, such as meetings of Congress,
Civil War battles, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, were meticulously
recreated, lending the film an air of legitimacy that made it so effective as
propaganda.The Ku Klux Klan, suppressed by the federal government in the 1870s,
was refounded in Georgia in December 1915 by William J. Simmons. In addition to
being anti-black, the new Klan was anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, and
anti-immigrant, and by the early 1920s it had spread throughout the North as
well as the South. At the peak of its strength in 1924, membership in the KKK is
estimated to have been as high as three million. There is no doubt that Birth of
a Nation played no small part in winning wide public acceptance for an
organization that was originally founded as an anti-black and anti-federal
terrorist group.Of Griffith's later films, Intolerance (1916) is the most
important. Hailed by many as the finest achievement of the silent-film era, it
pursues four story lines simultaneously, which cumulatively act to prove
humanity's propensity for persecution. Some regard it as an effort at atonement
by Griffith for Birth of a Nation, while others believe he meant it as an answer
to those who persecuted him for his political views. Intolerance was a
commercial failure but had a significant influence on the development of film
art.Griffith went on to make 27 more films. In 1919, he founded United Artists
with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin.Before D. W.
Griffith's time, motion pictures were short, uninspiring, and poorly produced,
acted, and edited. Under his guidance, filmmaking became an art form. Despite
the harm his Birth of a Nation inflicted on African Americans, he will forever
be regarded as the father of cinema.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-09-2006, 05:43 AM
Adolph Coors disappears while driving to work from his Morrison, Colorado, home. The grandson of the Coors' founder and chairman of the Golden, Colorado, brewery was kidnapped and held for ransom before being shot to death. Surrounding evidence launched one of the FBI's largest manhunts: the search for Joe Corbett.

Corbett, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oregon, was headed to medical school when, in 1951, he got into an altercation with an Air Force sergeant. During the fight, he shot the man and ended up pleading guilty to second-degree murder. He was sent to San Quentin Prison for several years before being transferred to a minimum-security facility, where he easily escaped and began living under an alias, Walter Osborne.

Eight days after Coors was kidnapped, a car was found on fire in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The gasoline-fueled fire had been deliberately set, but it couldn't destroy the serial number imprinted on the engine. The car was traced back to Corbett, whose yellow Mercury had been spotted by many witnesses in the area of the crime in the days leading up to the abduction. Dirt from the car was ultimately traced back to the area where Coors was grabbed and taken hostage.

Seven months after the abduction of Adolph Coors in 1960, the millionaire's clothes were found in a dump near Sedalia, Colorado. This evidence led to the discovery of Coors' remains nearby. A ransom letter was traced back to Joe Corbett's typewriter. He had also ordered handcuffs, leg irons, and a gun through the mail in the months preceding the kidnapping. The FBI distributed 1.5 million posters with Corbett's picture and then tracked him all the way across Canada, from Toronto to Vancouver, where he was finally apprehended.

Corbett never testified at his trial and never made any statement, but the evidence was enough to convince the jury who convicted him in 1961. He was eventually released in 1980.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-11-2006, 08:27 AM
In southern France, Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, a 14-year-old French peasant girl, first claims to have seen the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and a central figure in the Roman Catholic religion. The apparitions, which totaled 18 before the end of the year, occurred in a grotto of a rock promontory near Lourdes, France. Marie explained that the Virgin Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, asked that a chapel be built on the site of the vision, and told the girl to drink from a fountain in the grotto, which Marie subsequently discovered by digging into the earth.

The concept of the Immaculate Conception, in which the Virgin Mary is regarded free from original sin from the moment of her conception, had been accepted just four years previous by Pope Pius IX. Marie's claims garnered widespread attention, but skeptical church authorities subjected her to severe examinations and refused to accept her visions. After years of mistreatment at the hands of the authorities and the curious public, she was finally allowed to enter the convent of Notre-Dame de Nevers, where she spent her remaining years in prayer and seclusion. She died of ill heath at the age of 35.

The sight of her manifestations subsequently became the most famous modern shrine of the Virgin Mary, and in 1933 Marie-Bernarde Soubirous was canonized as St. Bernadette by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, millions travel to Lourdes every year to visit St. Bernadette's grotto, whose waters supposedly have curative powers.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-14-2006, 07:51 AM
In Chicago, gunmen in the suspected employment of organized-crime boss Al Capone murder seven members of the George "Bugs" Moran North Siders gang in a garage on North Clark Street. The so-called St. Valentine's Day Massacre stirred a media storm centered on Capone and his illegal Prohibition-era activities and motivated federal authorities to redouble their efforts to find evidence incriminating enough to take him off the streets.

Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899, the son of Italian immigrants from Naples. The fourth of nine children, he quit school after the sixth grade and joined a street gang. He became acquainted with Johnny Torrio, a crime boss who operated in Chicago and New York, and at the age of 18 Capone was employed at a Coney Island club owned by gangster Frankie Yale. It was while working there that his face was slashed in a brawl, earning him the nickname "Scarface."

In 1917, his girlfriend became pregnant and they married, and the couple moved with their son to Baltimore, where Capone attempted a respectable life working as a bookkeeper. In 1921, however, his old friend Johnny Torrio lured him to Chicago, where Torrio had built up an impressive crime syndicate and was beginning to make a fortune on the illicit commerce of alcohol, which was banned in 1919 by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.

Capone demonstrated considerable business acumen and was appointed manager of a Torrio speakeasy. Later, Torrio put him charge of the suburb of Cicero. Unlike his boss, who was always discreet, Capone achieved notoriety as he fought for control of Cicero and was even tried (unsuccessfully) for murder.

In 1925, Torrio was shot four times by Bugs Moran and Hymie Weiss, who were associates of a gangster slain by Torrio's men. Torrio lived, but four weeks later he appeared in court and was sentenced to nine months stemming from a police raid of a brewery he owned. About a month later, he called Capone from jail to tell him that he was retiring and handing the business over to him.

Capone moved his headquarters to the luxurious Metropole Hotel, where he became a visible figure in Chicago public life as his crime empire steadily expanded. After a prosecutor was killed by some of Capone's henchmen, the Chicago police moved aggressively against his criminal operations, but they couldn't make any charges stick. Capone bought a luxurious estate in Miami as a retreat from all this unwanted attention.

Capone was in Florida in February 1929 when he gave the go-ahead for the assassination of Bugs Moran. On February 13, a bootlegger called Moran and offered to sell him a truckload of high quality whiskey at a low price. Moran took the bait and the next morning pulled up to the delivery location where he was to meet several associates and purchase the whisky. He was running a little late, and just as he was pulling up to the garage he saw what looked like two policemen and two detectives get out of an unmarked car and head to the door. Thinking he had nearly avoided being caught in a police raid, Moran drove off. The four men, however, were Capone's assassins, and they were only entering the building before Moran's arrival because they had mistaken one of the seven men inside for the boss himself.

Wearing their stolen police uniforms and heavily armed, Capone's henchmen surprised Moran's men, who agreed to line up against the wall. Thinking they had fallen prey to a routine police raid, they allowed themselves to be disarmed. A moment later, they were gunned down in a hail of shotgun and submachine-gun fire. Six were killed instantly, and the seventh survived for less than an hour.

Americans were shocked and outraged by the cold-blooded Valentine's Day killings, and many questioned whether the sin of intemperance outweighed the evil of Prohibition-era gangsters like Capone. Although, as usual, he had an air-tight alibi, few doubted his role in the massacre. The authorities, particularly affronted by the hit men's use of police uniforms, vowed to bring him to justice.

With a mandate from Herbert Hoover, the new president, the Treasury Department led the assault against Capone, hoping to uncover enough evidence of Prohibition offenses and federal income tax evasion to bring him to justice. In May 1929, Capone was convicted for carrying a concealed weapon and sent to prison for 10 months. Meanwhile, Treasury agents, like Eliot Ness, continued to gather evidence.

In June 1931, Capone was indicted for income tax evasion. On October 17, primarily on the basis of testimony by two former bookkeepers, he was found guilty on several counts. One week later, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison and $80,000 in fines and court costs. He entered Atlanta penitentiary in 1932 and in 1934 was transferred to the new Alcatraz Island prison in San Francisco Bay. By that time, Prohibition had been repealed, and Capone's empire had collapsed.

At Alcatraz, the syphilis Capone had contracted in his youth entered a late stage, and he spent his last year in prison in the hospital ward. In 1939, he was released after only six and a half years in jail as the result of good behavior and work credits. He was treated in a Baltimore hospital and in 1940 retired to his Miami estate, where he lived until his death in 1947. He was outlived by his rival Bugs Moran, who later died of lung cancer while serving a 10-year sentence in Kansas for bank robbery.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-15-2006, 07:20 AM
As the jury continues to deliberate in the trial of the Chicago Eight, defense attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass and three of the defendants are sentenced to prison for contempt of court.

The trial for eight antiwar activists charged with the responsibility for the violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention took place in Chicago. The defendants included David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee (NMC); Rennie Davis and Thomas Hayden of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, founders of the Youth International Party ("Yippies"); Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers; and two lesser known activists, Lee Weiner and John Froines.

They were charged with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to incite a riot. Attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass represented all but Seale. The trial, presided over by Judge Julius Hoffman, turned into a circus as the defendants and their attorneys used the court as a platform to attack Nixon, the war, racism, and oppression. Their tactics were so disruptive that at one point, Judge Hoffman ordered Seale gagged and strapped to his chair--Seale's disruptive behavior eventually caused the judge to try him separately.

By the time the trial ended in February 1970, Judge Hoffman had found all the defendants and their attorneys guilty of 175 counts of contempt of court and sentenced them to terms between two to four years. Although declaring the defendants not guilty of conspiracy, the jury found all but Froines and Weiner guilty of intent to riot. The others were each sentenced to five years and fined $5,000. None served time because a 1972 Court of Appeals decision overturned the criminal convictions; eventually, most of the contempt charges were also dropped.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-17-2006, 06:26 AM
On this day in 1801, Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States. The election constitutes the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another in the United States.

By 1800, when he decided to run for president, Thomas Jefferson possessed impressive political credentials and was well-suited to the presidency. In addition to drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had served in two Continental Congresses, as minister to France, as secretary of state under George Washington and as John Adams’ vice president.

Vicious partisan warfare characterized the campaign of 1800 between Democratic-Republicans Jefferson and Aaron Burr and Federalists John Adams, Charles C. Pinckney and John Jay. The election highlighted the ongoing battle between Democratic-Republican supporters of the French, who were embroiled in their own bloody revolution, and the pro-British Federalists who wanted to implement English-style policies in American government. The Federalists abhorred the French revolutionaries’ overzealous use of the guillotine and as a result were less forgiving in their foreign policy toward the French. They advocated a strong centralized government, a standing military and financial support of emerging industries. In contrast, Jefferson’s Republicans preferred limited government, unadulterated states’ rights and a primarily agrarian economy. They feared that Federalists would abandon revolutionary ideals and revert to the English monarchical tradition. As secretary of state under Washington, Jefferson opposed Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton’s proposal to increase military expenditures and resigned when Washington supported the leading Federalist’s plan for a national bank.

After a bloodless but ugly campaign in which candidates and influential supporters on both sides used the press, often anonymously, as a forum to fire slanderous volleys at each other, the then-laborious and confusing process of voting began in April 1800. Individual states scheduled elections at different times and although Jefferson and Burr ran on the same ticket, as president and vice president respectively, the Constitution still demanded votes for each individual to be counted separately. As a result, by the end of January 1801, Jefferson and Burr emerged tied at 73 electoral votes apiece. Adams came in third at 65 votes.

This unintended result sent the final vote to the House of Representatives. Sticklers in the Federalist-controlled House of Representatives insisted on following the Constitution’s flawed rules and refused to elect Jefferson and Burr together on the same ticket. The highly influential Federalist Alexander Hamilton, who mistrusted Jefferson but hated Burr more, persuaded the House to vote against Burr, whom he called “the most unfit man…for the office of president.” (This accusation and others led Burr to challenge Hamilton to a duel in 1804 that resulted in Hamilton’s death.) Two weeks before the scheduled inauguration, Jefferson emerged victorious and Burr was confirmed as his vice president.

A contingent of sword-bearing soldiers escorted the new president to his inauguration on March 4, 1801, illustrating the contentious nature of the election and the victors’ fear of reprisal. In his inaugural address, Jefferson sought to heal political differences by graciously declaring “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

As president, Jefferson made some concessions to his opponents, including taking Hamilton’s advice to strengthen the American Navy. In 1801, Jefferson sent naval squadrons and Marines to suppress Barbary piracy against American shipping. He reduced the national debt by one-third, acquired the Louisiana Territory, and his sponsorship of the Lewis and Clark expedition opened the west to exploration and settlement. Jefferson’s first term ended in relative stability and prosperity, and in 1804 he was overwhelmingly elected to a second term.

The flawed voting system that was so problematic in the election of 1800 was later improved by the 12th Amendment, which was ratified in 1804.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-18-2006, 08:43 AM
Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, is born this day in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio.

Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford to a welder father and homemaker mother. She graduated from Howard University in 1953, then took a master's in literature at Cornell. She married architect Howard Morrison and had two sons.

After she and her husband divorced, Morrison taught English and worked as one of the very few black editors at Random House. She published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1969, followed by Sula in 1973. She first came to national attention in 1978, however, when she won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon.

After the publication of her breakthrough novel, she published Tar Baby (1981). Her 1987 novel, Beloved, the story of a 19th-century slave who escapes bondage but is forced to kill her own baby, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

Morrison won the Nobel Prize in 1993, becoming the first African-American to win the award, as well as the first American woman in general to win in more than 50 years. The same year, a fire destroyed her Nyack, New York, home-fortunately, she'd left the manuscript of her next novel, Paradise, in her office at Princeton University, where she was teaching creative writing. The book, published in 1998, explored the dynamics of an all-black town in the late 1960s.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-20-2006, 06:09 AM
In the American colonies, a posse of New Hampshire volunteers comes across a band of encamped Native Americans and takes 10 "scalps" in the first significant appropriation of this Native American practice by European colonists. The posse received a bounty of 100 pounds per scalp from the colonial authorities in Boston.

Although the custom of "scalping" was once practiced in Europe and Asia, it is generally associated with North American native groups. In scalping, the skin around the crown of the head was cut and removed from the enemy's skull, usually causing death. In addition to its value as a war trophy, a scalp was often believed to bestow the possessor with the powers of the scalped enemy. In their early wars with Native Americans, European colonists of North America retaliated against hostile native groups by adopting their practice of scalp taking. Bounties were offered for them by colonial authorities, which in turn led to an escalation of intertribal warfare and scalping in North America.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-21-2006, 06:01 AM
On February 21, 1848, The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, is published in London by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League. The political pamphlet--arguably the most influential in history--proclaimed that "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working cl**** would put an end to class society forever. Originally published in German as Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei ("Manifesto of the Communist Party"), the work had little immediate impact. Its ideas, however, reverberated with increasing force into the 20th century, and by 1950 nearly half the world's population lived under Marxist governments.

Karl Marx was born in Trier, Prussia, in 1818--the son of a Jewish lawyer who converted to Lutheranism. He studied law and philosophy at the universities of Berlin and Jena and initially was a follower of G.W.F. Hegel, the 19th-century German philosopher who sought a dialectical and all-embracing system of philosophy. In 1842, Marx became editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, a liberal democratic newspaper in Cologne. The newspaper grew considerably under his guidance, but in 1843 the Prussian authorities shut it down for being too outspoken. That year, Marx moved to Paris to co-edit a new political review.

Paris was at the time a center for socialist thought, and Marx adopted the more extreme form of socialism known as communism, which called for a revolution by the working class that would tear down the capitalist world. In Paris, Marx befriended Friedrich Engels, a fellow Prussian who shared his views and was to become a lifelong collaborator. In 1845, Marx was expelled from France and settled in Brussels, where he renounced his Prussian nationality and was joined by Engels.

During the next two years, Marx and Engels developed their philosophy of communism and became the intellectual leaders of the working-class movement. In 1847, the League of the Just, a secret society made up of revolutionary German workers living in London, asked Marx to join their organization. Marx obliged and with Engels renamed the group the Communist League and planned to unite it with other German worker committees across Europe. The pair were commissioned to draw up a manifesto summarizing the doctrines of the League.

Back in Brussels, Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto in January 1848, using as a model a tract Engels wrote for the League in 1847. In early February, Marx sent the work to London, and the League immediately adopted it as their manifesto. Many of the ideas in The Communist Manifesto were not new, but Marx had achieved a powerful synthesis of disparate ideas through his materialistic conception of history. The Manifesto opens with the dramatic words, "A spectre is haunting Europe--the spectre of communism," and ends by declaring: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!"

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx predicted imminent revolution in Europe. The pamphlet had hardly cooled after coming off the presses in London when revolution broke out in France on February 22 over the banning of political meetings held by socialists and other opposition groups. Isolated riots led to popular revolt, and on February 24 King Louis-Philippe was forced to abdicate. The revolution spread like brushfire across continental Europe. Marx was in Paris on the invitation of the provincial government when the Belgian government, fearful that the revolutionary tide would soon engulf Belgium, banished him. Later that year, he went to the Rhineland, where he agitated for armed revolt.

The bourgeoisie of Europe soon crushed the Revolution of 1848, and Marx would have to wait longer for his revolution. He went to London to live and continued to write with Engels as they further organized the international communist movement. In 1864, Marx helped found the International Workingmen's Association--known as the First International--and in 1867 published the first volume of his monumental Das Kapital--the foundation work of communist theory. By his death in 1884, communism had become a movement to be reckoned with in Europe. Twenty-three years later, in 1917, Vladimir Lenin, a Marxist, led the world's first successful communist revolution in Russia.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-24-2006, 07:24 AM
The U.S. Supreme Court votes 8-0 to overturn the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler, a pornographic magazine.

In 1983, Hustler ran a piece parodying Falwell's first sexual experience as a drunken, incestuous, childhood encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell, an important religious conservative and founder of the Moral Majority political advocacy group, sued Hustler and its publisher, Larry Flynt, for libel. Falwell won the case, but Flynt appealed, leading to the Supreme Court's hearing the case because of its constitutional implications. In February 1988, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower court's decision, ruling that, although in poor taste, Hustler's parody fell within the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech and the press.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-25-2006, 09:21 AM
The Sixteenth Amendment, which effectively paved the path for the United States' adoption of an income tax, was ratified on this day in 1913, although its roots can be traced back to 1895. That year saw the Supreme Court weigh in with a decision in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co, a case that revolved around the constitutionality of income tax legislation. Though the nation had briefly adopted a like-minded tax during the Civil War, the Court ruled in the Pollock case that the income tax was unconstitutional. The Court deemed a property-based tax on incomes a "direct tax," which violated the Constitution's holding that taxes could only be levied if they raised revenues that were commensurate with each state's population. However, the intervening years saw the Court gradually move away from its consideration of an income tax as a "direct tax" and instead came to view it as an excise tax "measured by income." By the time it handed down its ruling on the Sixteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court experienced a full-blown change of heart and judged income taxes as being "inherently" indirect. Although it "conferred no new power of taxation," the amendment greatly increased the chances that future income tax legislation would make its way into the nation's law books. Irate legislators attempted to kill the amendment; when the Supreme Court rendered its judgement in 1916, it upheld the legislation and paved the path for the Federal income tax.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-26-2006, 10:18 AM
In a controversial move that inspires charges of eastern domination of the West, the Congress establishes Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Home to some of the most stunning alpine scenery in the United States, the territory in and around Grand Teton National Park also has a colorful human history. The first Anglo-American to see the saw-edged Teton peaks is believed to be John Colter. After traveling with Lewis and Clark to the Pacific, Colter left the expedition during its return trip down the Missouri in 1807 to join two fur trappers headed back into the wilderness. He spent the next three years wandering through the northern Rocky Mountains, eventually finding his way into the valley at the base of the Tetons, which would later be called Jackson Hole.

Other adventurers followed in Colter's footsteps, including the French-Canadian trappers who gave the mountain range the bawdy name of "Grand Tetons," meaning "big breasts" in French. For decades trappers, outlaws, traders, and Indians passed through Jackson Hole, but it was not until 1887 that settlers established the first permanent habitation. The high northern valley with its short growing season was ill suited to farming, but the early settlers found it ideal for grazing cattle.

Tourists started coming to Jackson Hole not long after the first cattle ranches. Some of the ranchers supplemented their income by catering to "dudes," eastern tenderfoots yearning to experience a little slice of the Old West in the shadow of the stunning Tetons. The tourists began to raise the first concerns about preserving the natural beauty of the region. The vast acres of Yellowstone Park, America's first national park founded in 1872, were just north of Jackson Hole. Surely, they asked, the spectacular Grand Tetons deserved similar protection.

In 1916, Horace M. Albright, the director of the National Park Service, was the first to seriously suggest that the region be incorporated into Yellowstone. The ranchers and businesses catering to tourists, however, strongly resisted the suggestion that they be pushed off their lands to make a "museum" of the Old West for eastern tourists.

Finally, after more than a decade of political maneuvering, Grand Teton National Park was created in 1929. As a concession to the ranchers and tourist operators, the park only encompassed the mountains and a narrow strip at their base. Jackson Hole itself was excluded from the park and designated merely as a scenic preserve. Albright, though, had persuaded the wealthy John D. Rockefeller to begin buying up land in the Jackson Hole area for possible future incorporation into the park. This semisecret, private means of enlarging the park inspired further resentment among the residents, and some complained that it was a typical example of how "eastern money interests" were dictating the future of the West.

By the late 1940s, however, local opposition to the inclusion of the Rockefeller lands in the park had diminished, in part because of the growing economic importance of tourism. In 1949, Rockefeller donated his land holdings in Jackson Hole to the federal government that then incorporated them into the national park. Today, Grand Teton National Park encompasses 309,993 acres. Working ranches still exist in Jackson Hole, but the local economy is increasingly dependent on services provided to tourists and the wealthy owners of vacation homes.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-27-2006, 06:27 AM
In Washington, D.C., the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing for female suffrage, is unanimously declared constitutional by the eight members of the U.S. Supreme Court. The 19th Amendment, which stated that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex," was the product of over seven decades of meetings, petitions, and protests by women suffragists and their supporters.

In 1916, the Democratic and Republican parties endorsed female enfranchisement, and on June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the required three-fourths majority of state ratification, and on August 26 the 19th Amendment officially took effect.

Zen Curmudgeon
02-28-2006, 06:03 AM
With the region's population booming because of the Pike's Peak gold rush, Congress creates the new Territory of Colorado.

When the United States acquired it after the Mexican War ended in 1848, the land that would one day become Colorado was nearly unpopulated by Anglo settlers. Ute, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and other Indians had occupied the land for centuries, but the Europeans who had made sporadic appearances there since the 17th century never stayed for long. It was not until 1851 that the first permanent non-Indian settlement was established, in the San Luis Valley.

As with many other western regions, though, the lure of gold launched the first major Anglo invasion. In July 1858, a band of prospectors working streambeds near modern-day Denver found tiny flecks of gold in their pans. Since the gold-bearing streams were located in the foothills not far from the massive mountain named for the explorer Zebulon Pike, the subsequent influx of hopeful miners was termed the Pike's Peak gold rush. By the spring of 1859, an estimated 50,000 gold seekers had reached this latest of a long series of American El Dorados.

As the first gold-bearing streams to be discovered played out, prospectors moved westward into the rugged slopes of the Rocky Mountains in search of new finds. Wherever sizeable deposits were discovered, ramshackle mining camps like Central City, Nevadaville, and Black Hawk appeared, sometimes almost overnight. Meanwhile, out on the flat plains at the edge of the mountains, Denver became the central supply town for the miners.

Although few miners came to Colorado planning to stay long, they were eager to establish some semblance of "law and order" in the region in order to protect their property rights and gold dust. Far from the seats of eastern government, the miners and townspeople cobbled together their own simple governments, usually revolving around a miners' court that regulated claims. Technically lacking in any genuine legal foundation, the miners' courts did maintain the minimal order needed for the mineral exploitation of the territory to continue.

The unreliable mining operations soon gave way to larger, highly capitalized and relatively permanent lode mining operations. The pioneers recognized that the vast mineral resources of the Rockies could form the foundation of a thriving new state, but the people settling there needed a more formal system of laws and government. The Congressional designation of new western states and territories had been bogged down for several years as southern and northern politicians fought over whether slavery would be permitted in the new western regions. By 1861, the South had seceded, clearing the way for the northern politicians to begin creating free-labor states. On this day in 1861, Congress combined pieces of Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and New Mexico to make a large rectangle of land it designated Colorado Territory.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-01-2006, 09:44 AM
In Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, an Indian slave from Barbados, are charged with the illegal practice of witchcraft. Later that day, Tituba, possibly under coercion, confessed to the crime, encouraging the authorities to seek out more Salem witches.

Trouble in the small Puritan community began the month before, when nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece, respectively, of the Reverend Samuel Parris, began experiencing fits and other mysterious maladies. A doctor concluded that the children were suffering from the effects of witchcraft, and the young girls corroborated the doctor's diagnosis. With encouragement from a number of adults in the community, the girls, who were soon joined by other "afflicted" Salem residents, accused a widening circle of local residents of witchcraft, mostly middle-aged women but also several men and even one four-year-old child. During the next few months, the afflicted area residents incriminated more than 150 women and men from Salem Village and the surrounding areas of Satanic practices.

In June 1692, the special Court of Oyer, "to hear," and Terminer, "to decide," convened in Salem under Chief Justice William Stoughton to judge the accused. The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem, who was found guilty and executed by hanging on June 10. Thirteen more women and four men from all stations of life followed her to the gallows, and one man, Giles Corey, was executed by crushing. Most of those tried were condemned on the basis of the witnesses' behavior during the actual proceedings, characterized by fits and hallucinations that were argued to be caused by the defendants on trial.

In October 1692, Governor William Phipps of Massachusetts ordered the Court of Oyer and Terminer dissolved and replaced with the Superior Court of Judicature, which forbade the type of sensational testimony allowed in the earlier trials. Executions ceased, and the Superior Court eventually released all those awaiting trial and pardoned those sentenced to death. The Salem witch trials, which resulted in the executions of 19 innocent women and men, had effectively ended.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-03-2006, 07:31 AM
In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a New York state law that prohibits communists from teaching in public schools. Coming at the height of the Red Scare in the United States, the Supreme Court decision was additional evidence that many Americans were concerned about possible subversive communist activity in their country.

The New York state statute-called the Feinberg Law-banned from the teaching profession anyone who called for the overthrow of the government; the law was specifically aimed at communists. Several other states adopted similar measures. In New York, a group of teachers and parents challenged the law, and eventually the case went to the Supreme Court. The majority decision upholding the Feinberg Law, declared the New York Times, supported the belief that "the state had a constitutional right to protect the immature minds of children in its public schools from subversive propaganda, subtle or otherwise, disseminated by those 'to whom they look for guidance, authority and leadership.'" The dissenting opinion from justices William O. Douglas, Hugo Black, and Felix Frankfurter charged that the New York statute "turns the school system into a spying project." In New York, the Teachers Union vowed to continue fighting the law. Eight teachers had already been dismissed under the provisions of the law and as many others were facing hearings.

The Supreme Court decision was a barometer of the national temper. In the years preceding the case, former State Department official Alger Hiss had been convicted of perjury in connection with his testimony concerning his involvement with the Communist Party; Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had been convicted and sentenced to death for passing atomic secrets to the Soviets; and Senator Joseph McCarthy had made a career out of searching for communists in the U.S. government. By 1952, many Americans were convinced that communist agents and supporters were actively at work within the United States, and that their forces permeated every aspect of American life. The Feinberg Law remained in force until another Supreme Court decision in 1967 declared most of its provisions unconstitutional.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-05-2006, 08:48 AM
The Dade County Sheriff's Office issues an arrest warrant for Doors' lead singer Jim Morrison. He is charged with a single felony count and three misdemeanors for his stage antics at a Miami concert a few days earlier.

When Morrison first got word of the charges for lewd and lascivious behavior, indecent exposure, profanity, and drunkenness, he thought it was a practical joke. But he soon learned that Miami authorities were entirely serious. In fact, they later added an additional charge, simulated oral copulation on guitarist Robbie Krieger during the concert.

The trial did not begin until August 1970, when the prosecution trotted out witnesses who claimed to be shocked at the scene they had witnessed at the Doors concert. However, virtually every witness was somehow connected to the police or the district attorney's office. There was some question as to whether the popular singer had ever actually exposed himself on stage. But there was little doubt that he was so drunk that he had been able to do little more than mumble during the show. Morrison turned down a plea bargain arrangement where the band would play a free concert in Miami.

This turned out to be a mistake as he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine. Morrison died in Paris before he could serve the sentence. Twenty years later, Dade County, Florida once again placed itself in the middle of rock concert controversy when they prosecuted 2 Live Crew for alleged obscenity on stage.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-06-2006, 06:24 AM
Michelangelo Buonarroti, the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists, is born in the small village of Caprese on March 6, 1475. The son of a government administrator, he grew up in Florence, a center of the early Renaissance movement, and became an artist's apprentice at age 13. Demonstrating obvious talent, he was taken under the wing of Lorenzo de' Medici, the ruler of the Florentine republic and a great patron of the arts. For two years beginning in 1490, he lived in the Medici palace, where he was a student of the sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni and studied the Medici art collection, which included ancient Roman statuary.

With the expulsion of the Medici family from Florence in 1494, Michelangelo traveled to Bologna and Rome, where he was commissioned to do several works. His most important early work was the Pietý (1498), a sculpture based on a traditional type of devotional image that showed the body of Christ in the lap of the Virgin Mary. Demonstrating masterful technical skill, he extracted the two perfectly balanced figures of the Pietý from a single block of marble.

With the success of the Pietý, the artist was commissioned to sculpt a monumental statue of the biblical character David for the Florence cathedral. The 17-foot statue, produced in the classical style, demonstrates the artist's exhaustive knowledge of human anatomy and form. In the work, David is shown watching the approach of his foe Goliath, with every muscle tensed and a pose suggesting impending movement. Upon the completion of David in 1504, Michelangelo's reputation was firmly established.

That year, he agreed to paint a mural for the Florence city hall to rest alongside one being painted by Leonardo da Vinci, another leading Renaissance artist and an influence on Michelangelo. These murals, which depicted military scenes, have not survived. In 1505, he began work on a planned group of 12 marble apostles for the Florence cathedral but abandoned the project when he was commissioned to design and sculpt a massive tomb for Pope Julius II in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. There were to have been 40 sculptures made for the tomb, but the pope soon ran out of funds for the project, and Michelangelo left Rome.

In 1508, he was called back to Rome to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--the chief consecrated space in the Vatican. Michelangelo's epic ceiling frescoes, which took several years to complete, are among his most memorable works. Central in a complex system of decoration featuring numerous figures are nine panels devoted to biblical world history. The most famous of these is The Creation of Adam, a painting in which the arms of God and Adam are outstretched toward each other.

In 1512, Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel ceiling and returned to his work on Pope Julius II's tomb. He eventually completed a total of just three statues for the tomb, which was eventually placed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli. The most notable of the three is Moses (1513-15), a majestic statue made from a block of marble regarded as unmalleable by other sculptors. In Moses, as in David, Michelangelo infused the stone with a powerful sense of tension and movement.

Having revolutionized European sculpture and painting, Michelangelo turned to architecture in the latter half of his life. His first major architectural achievement was the Medici chapel in the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence, built to house the tombs of the two young Medici family heirs who had recently died. The chapel, which he worked on until 1534, featured many innovative architectural forms based on classical models. The Laurentian Library, which he built as an annex to the same church, is notable for its stair-hall, known as the ricetto, which is regarded as the first instance of mannerism as an architectural style. Mannerism, a successor to the Renaissance artistic movement, subverted harmonious classical forms in favor of expressiveness.

In 1534, Michelangelo left Florence for the last time and traveled to Rome, where he would work and live for the rest of his life. That year saw his painting of the The Last Judgment on a wall above the altar in the Sistine Chapel for Pope Paul III. The massive painting depicts Christ's damnation of sinners and blessing of the virtuous, and is regarded as a masterpiece of early mannerism. During the last three decades of his life, Michelangelo lent his talents to the design of numerous monuments and buildings for Rome, which the pope and city leaders were determined to restore to the grandeur of its ancient past. The Capitoline Square and the dome of St. Peter's, designed by Michelangelo but not completed in his lifetime, remain two of Rome's most famous visual landmarks.

Michelangelo worked until his death in 1564 at the age of 88. In addition to his major artistic works, he produced numerous other sculptures, frescoes, architectural designs, and drawings, many of which are unfinished and some of which are lost. He was also an accomplished poet, and some 300 of his poems are preserved. In his lifetime, he was celebrated as Europe's greatest living artist, and today he is held up as one of the greatest artists of all time, as exalted in the visual arts as William Shakespeare is in literature or Ludwig van Beethoven is in music.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-07-2006, 05:47 AM
On March 7, 1999, American filmmaker Stanley Kubrick dies in Hertfordshire, England, at the age of 70. One of the most acclaimed film directors of the 20th century, Kubrick's 13 feature films explored the dark side of human nature.

Born in New York City in 1928, Kubrick took up photography in high school and became a staff photographer for Look magazine at age 17. A photo assignment on boxing inspired him to make The Day of the Fight, a short documentary film about boxing, in 1951. The short was bought by a news service, and he made two more documentaries before making a short feature-length film, Fear and Desire (1953), which dealt with war. The movie, produced independently, received little attention outside New York, where critics praised Kubrick's directorial talents.

Kubrick's next two feature films, Killer's Kiss (1955) and The Killing (1956), brought him to the attention of Hollywood, and in 1957 he directed actor Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory, a story of military injustice in the French army during World War I. Douglas later enlisted Kubrick to take over production of Spartacus (1960), a historical epic about the slave rebellion led by the Roman slave Spartacus in 73 B.C. The film was a box office smash and won four Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography, which was attributed to Russell Metty but was largely Kubrick's work. Behind the scenes, the director's characteristic obsession with detail created some tension with the cast and crew.

After Spartacus, he moved permanently to England, where he directed Lolita (1962), based on the controversial novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Two years later, Kubrick scored another major critical and commercial hit with Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Starring Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, Dr. Strangelove was a dark comedy about the nuclear arms race that earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor (Peter Sellers).

Kubrick spent four years working on his next film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), co-written with English writer Arthur C. Clarke. Now widely regarded as the greatest science fiction film ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey won Kubrick a well-deserved Best Visual Effects Academy Award. Kubrick followed up 2001 with A Clockwork Orange (1971), a controversial social commentary set in the near future. It was given an X rating in the United States for its extreme violence and banned in the United Kingdom, but nonetheless received four Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

Barry Lyndon (1975) was a picturesque movie based on the 19th-century novel by William Thackeray. Kubrick, who had become famous for his perfectionist tendencies, took a record 300 days just to shoot the film. The Shining (1980), starring Jack Nicholson as the caretaker of a mountain resort who goes insane, was hailed as a masterpiece of the horror genre. Full Metal Jacket (1987) addressed the Vietnam War and was another critical and commercial success. In 1997, after a 10-year absence from filmmaking, Kubrick began work on Eyes Wide Shut (1999), an enigmatic thriller starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The director died soon after turning in his final cut of the film.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-08-2006, 06:02 AM
By 1985, the fiscal policies of President Ronald Reagan, much maligned at the beginning of his tenure in the White House, were beginning to pay handsome rewards to some Americans. Indeed, certain people were piling up unprecedented levels of wealth. A report released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on this day in 1985 provided striking evidence of this trend: according to the IRS, the number of millionaires in the nation had doubled since 1980, as a whopping 407,700 Americans reported earnings that stretched past the seven-figure mark. But, the wealth was not necessarily distributed evenly; to a large degree, the rich prospered, while the poor suffered. From 1977 to 1990 the wealthiest fifth of the population saw their incomes swell by one third; the wealthiest 1 percent fared even better, as their incomes doubled. During the same period, the combined income of the bottom 60 percent of Americans declined, while people living below the poverty line experienced the highest drop-off in income. Economists Barry Blueston and Bennett Harrison described this fiscal shift as the "Great U-Turn" and declared that the gulf between the "rich and the poor...is higher today than at any point in the lifetimes of all but our most senior citizens, the veterans of the Great Depression."

Zen Curmudgeon
03-09-2006, 06:06 AM
On this day in 1954, President Eisenhower writes a letter to his friend, Paul Helms, in which he privately criticizes Senator Joseph McCarthy’s approach to rooting out communists in the federal government. Two days earlier, former presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson had declared that the president’s silence on McCarthy’s actions was tantamount to approval. Eisenhower, who viewed political mud-slinging as beneath the office of the president, declined to comment publicly on Stevenson’s remark or McCarthy’s tactics.

Eisenhower was not the only respected American to criticize McCarthy on March 9. Earlier in the day, in a congressional session, Senator Ralph Flanders had publicly censured McCarthy for his vicious persecution of innocent Americans whom he suspected of communist sympathies. That evening, journalist Edward R. Murrow warned in a newscast that McCarthy was “treading a fine line between investigation and persecution” in pursuing suspected communist infiltration of the federal government.

Although Eisenhower had yet to criticize McCarthy in public, according to an aide’s memoirs, he did not hesitate to criticize McCarthy in private. On March 9, he referred to McCarthy as “a pimple on the path of progress” in a telephone call to Republican National Committee Chairman Leonard Hall. Later that evening, Eisenhower let off more steam about McCarthy in his letter to Helms. Ike worried that the country’s obsession with the bombastic McCarthy, whether pro or con, drew attention away from equally important matters facing the nation. He complained to his friend that public policy and ideals “have a tough time competing for headlines with demagogues [like McCarthy]…It is a sad commentary on our government when such a manifestly useless and spurious thing can divert our attention from all the constructive work in which we could and should be engaged.” Ike also defended himself from Stevenson’s criticism in the letter, writing, “[I have not] acquiesced in, or by any means approve, the methods that McCarthy uses in his investigatory process. I despise them…”

Two days later, Helms wrote back in support of the president’s decision not to lambaste McCarthy in public. He agreed with Eisenhower’s opinion that the president should avoid public confrontations that might damage the “proper prestige” of the presidency. Many Americans at the time—and since—disagreed with Helms, believing that the president should have spoken out against McCarthy’s tactics.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-10-2006, 06:45 AM
Less than two weeks after their victorious recapture of the strategically placed city of Kut-al-Amara on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia, British troops under the regional command of Sir Frederick Stanley Maude bear down on Baghdad, causing their Turkish opponents to begin a full-scale evacuation of the city on the evening of March 10, 1917.

Shortly after receiving control of regional operations in Mesopotamia in the summer of 1916, Maude began to reorganize and re-supply his troops in preparation for a renewed offensive. The central target of the operation would be the city of Kut, which had been captured by the Turks in April 1916 along with 10,000 British and Indian soldiers under the command of Sir Charles Townshend, a devastating defeat for Allied operations in the region. In January 1917, Maude’s 150,000 troops set out from the regional command headquarters at Basra, located south of Kut near the junction of the Tigris with the Euphrates River, launching the offensive that would culminate in the recapture of Kut on February 24.

In the wake of their success at Kut, Maude’s forces paused briefly while waiting for confirmation from headquarters in London to continue their offensive. Operations were not renewed until March 5—a pause that gave Turkish commander in chief Khalil Pasha some time to consider his options for mounting a defense of Baghdad, the capital of the Ottoman Empire’s southern region. In the end, Pasha was indecisive—after first beginning preparations for an offensively minded forward assault on approaching Allied forces, he decided instead to fall back and concentrate his troops near Baghdad itself. He therefore stationed the Turkish Sixth Army some 35 miles to the south of the city, near the junction of the Tigris with the Diyala River.

In the absence of significant reserves, the Turks were vastly outnumbered, with only 9,500 soldiers facing 45,000 British and Indian troops. Maude’s troops reached the Diyala on March 8, mounting their first assault on the Turkish positions the next morning, which Pasha and his men successfully repelled. After struggling to cross the fast-moving Diyala, Maude decided to shift his troops and cross the river at a more northern point. Alerted to enemy movements by German reconnaissance aircraft, Pasha mirrored his movements, sending the bulk of his forces to meet the Allied soldiers. He left a single regiment to hold the original defensive position at the Diyala, which was quickly and decisively crushed by British and Indian forces with a sudden attack on March 10. Stunned, Pasha ordered his troops to retreat. By the end of the day, the evacuation of Baghdad was underway.

After marching more than 100 miles in 15 days, Maude’s troops entered Baghdad on March 11 without a struggle, taking 9,000 prisoners from the retreating Ottoman army amid cheers from the city’s 140,000 occupants. The Allied victory in Baghdad marked only the beginning of the struggle over who would control the oil-rich region of Mesopotamia (the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, now Iraq and eastern Syria). The British government had earlier promised a number of Arab leaders that their people would receive their independence if they rebelled against Turkish rule; a subsequent uprising in June 1916 was led by Faisal Husein and partially engineered by the British, including Colonel T.E. Lawrence (later known as “Lawrence of Arabia”).

After World War I ended in November 1918, however, the Treaty of Versailles and the newly created League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to govern in Mesopotamia, and the British and French governments issued a joint declaration stating their intention to work towards establishing independent Arab governments in the former Ottoman states. This was not enough, however, for the Arabs in Mesopotamia, who began an armed uprising in 1920 against British occupation forces in Baghdad and other areas. After subduing the revolt at great expense—£40 million—the British government decided to give up its mandate, drawing up a provisional government for Iraq that included a council of Arab ministers under the supervision of a British high commissioner. In August 1921, Faisal Husein won 96 percent of the votes and was elected king of the new Iraqi nation.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-11-2006, 07:55 AM
Just before breakfast on the morning of March 11, Private Albert Gitchell of the U.S. Army reports to the hospital at Fort Riley, Kansas, complaining of the cold-like symptoms of sore throat, fever and headache. By noon, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had reported similar symptoms, marking what are believed to be the first cases in the historic influenza epidemic of 1918. The flu would eventually kill 675,000 Americans and more than 20 million people (some believe the total may be closer to 40 million) around the world, proving to be a far deadlier force than even the First World War.

The initial outbreak of the disease, reported at Fort Riley in March, was followed by similar outbreaks in army camps and prisons in various regions of the country. The disease soon traveled to Europe with the American soldiers heading to aid the Allies on the battlefields of France. (In March 1918 alone, 84,000 American soldiers headed across the Atlantic; another 118,000 followed them the next month.) Once it arrived on a second continent, the flu showed no signs of abating: 31,000 cases were reported in June in Great Britain. The disease was soon dubbed the “Spanish flu” due to the shockingly high number of deaths in Spain (some 8 million, it was reported) after the initial outbreak there in May 1918.

The flu showed no mercy for combatants on either side of the trenches. Over the summer, the first wave of the epidemic hit German forces on the Western Front, where they were waging a final, no-holds-barred offensive that would determine the outcome of the war. It had a significant effect on the already weakening morale of the troops--as German army commander Crown Prince Rupprecht wrote on August 3: “poor provisions, heavy losses, and the deepening influenza have deeply depressed the spirits of men in the III Infantry Division.” Meanwhile, the flu was spreading fast beyond the borders of Western Europe, due to its exceptionally high rate of virulence and the massive transport of men on land and aboard ship due to the war effort. By the end of the summer, numerous cases had been reported in Russia, North Africa and India; China, Japan, the Philippines and even New Zealand would eventually fall victim as well.

The Great War ended on November 11, but influenza continued to wreak international havoc, flaring again in the U.S. in an even more vicious wave with the return of soldiers from the war and eventually killing an estimated 28 percent of the country’s population before it finally petered out. In its December 28, 1918, issue, the American Medical Association acknowledged the end of one momentous conflict and urged the acceptance of a new challenge, stating that “Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all—infectious disease.”

Zen Curmudgeon
03-12-2006, 09:13 AM
Jack Kerouac is born in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac was the son of French-Canadian parents and learned English as a second language. In high school, Kerouac was a star football player and won a scholarship to Columbia University.

In World War II, he served in the Navy but was expelled for severe personality problems that may have been symptoms of mental illness. He became a merchant seaman. In the late 1940s, he wandered the U.S. and Mexico and wrote his first novel, The Town and the City. It was not until 1957, when he published On the Road, an autobiographical tale of his wanderings, that he became famous as a seminal figure of the Beat Generation. His tale of a subculture of poets, folk singers, and eccentrics who smoked marijuana and rejected conformist society was written in just three weeks. The book is filled with other Beat figures, including Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.

Kerouac wrote five more books before his death in 1967 in St. Petersburg, Florida. However, none gained the mythic status of On the Road.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-13-2006, 06:11 PM
On this day in 1868, the U.S. Senate continues to hear impeachment charges against President Andrew Johnson. The trial, convened by the Senate on March 5, focused on issues surrounding Johnson’s post-Civil War reconstruction policy and, more specifically, his firing of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Johnson became the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives when, in February 1868, the Republican-controlled House charged the Democrat Johnson with 11 articles of impeachment for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” (By comparison, in 1998, President Bill Clinton was charged with two articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice during an investigation into financial dealings and a sex scandal. In 1974, Nixon faced three charges for his alleged involvement in the Watergate burglary cover-up.)

Johnson had earned the ire of Congress for his staunch resistance to implementing its Civil War reconstruction policies. At that time, the War Department was the federal agency responsible for carrying out reconstruction programs in the war-ravaged southern states and when Johnson fired Stanton, the agency’s head, the House retaliated with calls for his impeachment.

The 11 counts of impeachment included illegally removing the secretary of war from office and violating several Congressional reconstruction acts. The House also accused the president of engaging in libelous "inflammatory and scandalous harangues" against Congressional members whom he called “traitors.” On February 24, the House passed all 11 articles of impeachment, which moved the process to its next phase in the Senate.

The Senate trial lasted until May 26, 1868. Johnson did not attend any of the proceedings and was not required to do so. As aides reported to him on the progress of the trial, he learned that one swing vote was needed to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to impeach him. Kansas Senator Edmund Ross, a Republican, remained silent during the trial and refused to indicate how he would vote. Finally, on May 26, Ross cast the deciding vote to acquit Johnson. Johnson finished out his term, returning to politics to serve in the Senate briefly in 1875, before dying of a stroke later that year.

Presidents Johnson and Clinton are the only presidents for whom the impeachment process went as far as a Senate trial; Nixon resigned in 1974 before the House could vote on impeachment. Like Johnson, Clinton was acquitted in 1999.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-14-2006, 06:48 AM
On March 14, 1879, Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein's theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man's view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb.

After a childhood in Germany and Italy, Einstein studied physics and mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic Academy in Zýrich, Switzerland. He became a Swiss citizen and in 1905 was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Zýrich while working at the Swiss patent office in Bern. That year, which historians of Einstein's career call the annus mirabilis--the "miracle year"--he published five theoretical papers that were to have a profound effect on the development of modern physics.

In the first of these, titled "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light," Einstein theorized that light is made up of individual quanta (photons) that demonstrate particle-like properties while collectively behaving like a wave. The hypothesis, an important step in the development of quantum theory, was arrived at through Einstein's examination of the photoelectric effect, a phenomenon in which some solids emit electrically charged particles when struck by light. This work would later earn him the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In the second paper, he devised a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms and molecules in a given space, and in the third he offered a mathematical explanation for the constant erratic movement of particles suspended in a fluid, known as Brownian motion. These two papers provided indisputable evidence of the existence of atoms, which at the time was still disputed by a few scientists.

Einstein's fourth groundbreaking scientific work of 1905 addressed what he termed his special theory of relativity. In special relativity, time and space are not absolute, but relative to the motion of the observer. Thus, two observers traveling at great speeds in regard to each other would not necessarily observe simultaneous events in time at the same moment, nor necessarily agree in their measurements of space. In Einstein's theory, the speed of light, which is the limiting speed of any body having mass is constant in all frames of reference. In the fifth paper that year, an exploration of the mathematics of special relativity, Einstein announced that mass and energy were equivalent and could be calculated with an equation, E=mc2.

Although the public was not quick to embrace his revolutionary science, Einstein was welcomed into the circle of Europe's most eminent physicists and given professorships in Zýrich, Prague, and Berlin. In 1916, he published "The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity," which proposed that gravity, as well as motion, can affect the intervals of time and of space. According to Einstein, gravitation is not a force, as Isaac Newton had argued, but a curved field in the space-time continuum, created by the presence of mass. An object of very large gravitational m**** such as the sun, would therefore appear to warp space and time around it, which could be demonstrated by observing starlight as it skirted the sun on its way to earth. In 1919, astronomers studying a solar eclipse verified predictions Einstein made in the general theory of relativity, and he became an overnight celebrity. Later, other predictions of general relativity, such as a shift in the orbit of the planet Mercury and the probable existence of black holes, were confirmed by scientists.

During the next decade, Einstein made continued contributions to quantum theory and began work on a unified field theory, which he hoped would encompass quantum mechanics and his own relativity theory as a grand explanation of the workings of the universe. As a world-renowned public figure, he became increasingly political, taking up the cause of Zionism and speaking out against militarism and rearmament. In his native Germany, this made him an unpopular figure, and after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933 Einstein renounced his German citizenship and left the country.

He later settled in the United States, where he accepted a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He would remain there for the rest of his life, working on his unified field theory and relaxing by sailing on a local lake or playing his violin. He became an American citizen in 1940.

In 1939, despite his lifelong pacifist beliefs, he agreed to write to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of a group of scientists who were concerned with American inaction in the field of atomic-weapons research. Like the other scientists, he feared sole German possession of such a weapon. He played no role, however, in the subsequent Manhattan Project and later deplored the use of atomic bombs against Japan. After the war, he called for the establishment of a world government that would control nuclear technology and prevent future armed conflict.

In 1950, he published his unified field theory, which was quietly criticized as a failure. A unified explanation of gravitation, subatomic phenomena, and electromagnetism remains elusive today. Albert Einstein, one of the most creative minds in human history, died in Princeton in 1955.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-15-2006, 06:11 AM
"Beware the Ides of March," the soothsayer urges Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's Tragedy of Julius Caesar (act I, scene ii). Despite the forewarning, Caesar is stabbed in the back by his friend Marcus Brutus. Caesar falls and utters his famous last words, "Et tu, Brute?" (And you, Brutus?)

Shakespeare's source for the play was Thomas North's Lives of the Nobel Grecians and Romans, which detailed the murder of Caesar in 44 B.C. Caesar's friends and associates feared his growing power and his recent self-comparison to Alexander the Great and felt he must die for the good of Rome. North's work translated a French version of Plutarch, which itself had been translated from Latin. Shakespeare's version was written about 1599 and performed at the newly built Globe Theater.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-16-2006, 09:16 AM
Roy Bean, the self-proclaimed "law west of the Pecos," dies in Langtry, Texas.

A saloonkeeper and adventurer, Bean's claim to fame rested on the often humorous and sometimes-bizarre rulings he meted out as a justice of the peace in western Texas during the late 19th century. By then, Bean was in his 50s and had already lived a life full of rough adventures.

Born in Kentucky some time during the 1820s, Bean began getting into trouble at an early age. He left home in 1847 with his brother Sam and lived a rogue's life in Mexico until he shot a man in a barroom fight and had to flee. He next turned up in San Diego, where he enjoyed playing the dashing caballero. Again he shot a man during a quarrel and was forced to leave town quickly. He fell into the same old habits in Los Angeles, eventually killing a Mexican officer in a duel over a woman. Angry friends of the officer hanged Bean in revenge, but luckily, the rope stretched and Bean managed to stay alive until the woman he had fought for arrived to cut him down. Bearing rope scars on his neck that remained throughout his life, Bean left California to take up a less risky life in New Mexico and Texas.

For about 16 years, Bean lived a prosperous and relatively legitimate life as a San Antonio businessman. In 1882, he moved to southwest Texas, where he built his famous saloon, the Jersey Lilly, and founded the hamlet of Langtry. Saloon and town alike were named for the famous English actress, Lillie Langtry. Bean had never met Langtry, but he had developed an abiding affection for the beautiful actress after seeing a drawing of her in an illustrated magazine. For the rest of his life, he avidly followed Langtry's career in theatre magazines.

Before founding Langtry, Bean had also secured an appointment as a justice of the peace and notary public. He knew little about the law or proper court procedures, but residents appreciated and largely accepted his common sense verdicts in the sparsely populated country of West Texas.

Bean was often deliberately humorous or bizarre in his rulings, once fining a dead man $40 for carrying a concealed weapon. He threatened one lawyer with hanging for using profane language when the hapless man referred to the "habeas corpus" of his client. Less amusing was Bean's decision to free a man accused of killing a Chinese rail worker on the grounds that Bean knew of no law making it a crime "to kill a Chinaman."

By the 1890s, reports of Bean's curmudgeonly rulings had made him nationally famous. Travelers on the train passing through Langtry often made a point of stopping to visit the ramshackle saloon, where a sign proudly proclaimed Bean to be the "Law West of the Pecos."

Bean fell ill during a visit to San Antonio. He returned to Langtry, where he died on March 16, 1903. Lillie Langtry, the object of Bean's devoted adoration, visited the village named in her honor only 10 months after Bean died.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-17-2006, 06:45 AM
In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church's second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 460, the island was almost entirely Christian.

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick's feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick's Day parades and engaging in general revelr

Zen Curmudgeon
03-19-2006, 09:07 AM
On this day in 2003, President George W. Bush addresses the nation via live television and announces that Operation Iraqi Freedom has begun. Bush authorized the mission to rid Iraq of tyrannical dictator Saddam Hussein and eliminate Hussein’s ability to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Operation Iraqi Freedom illustrated the Bush administration’s pledge to use unilateral, pre-emptive strikes if necessary against nations believed dangerous to American national security.

On September 11, 2001, militant Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. Immediately, U.S. intelligence agencies stepped up investigations into Iraq’s possible connection to the terrorist organization al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the attacks. In a January 2002 speech, Bush identified Iraq as one of several “rogue nations” that financed or trained terrorists. In addition, the Bush administration pointed to now-disputed intelligence that seemed to indicate that Iraq was negotiating with Niger to purchase vast quantities of uranium yellowcake (a product associated with the productionof uranium ore) with the intent of creating WMD.

Between 2002 and early 2003, United Nations weapons inspectors tried to ascertain if Hussein had violated U.N. resolutions against manufacturing biological and chemical weapons; Hussein stalled in complying with the inspections. After unsuccessful attempts to enlist the support of key U.N. security-council nations including France and Germany, Bush then announced that the U.S. was prepared to launch military action against Iraq alone; at first, only Britain agreed to join in the attack. On March 15, Bush gave Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war, an order they defied. The U.N. inspectors evacuated Iraq on March 17 with incomplete reports on Iraq’s WMD capabilities. After gathering the support of a small contingent of international supporters, including Belgium and Spain, Bush gave the green light to launch Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19.

In his speech to the nation that evening, Bush told Americans that Iraq was the next target in an ongoing worldwide battle against terrorism that had begun with America’s attack on Afghanistan’s Taliban government in September 2001. The president warned that “helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment” and appeared to acknowledge the substantial domestic opposition to the war by stating he “reluctantly” authorized military force, but reaffirmed his adminstration’s refusal to “live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

Bush received harsh criticism for the war. Critics claimed his administration primarily sought control of Iraq’s vast oil resources, or that the war was in retaliation for an attempt on former President George H.W. Bush’s life, ordered by Hussein, in 1990. Revelations that intelligence regarding the Iraq/Niger yellowcake deal was faulty bolstered anti-war sentiment. Bush denied accusations that his administration manipulated intelligence to justify a war and insisted the paramount goal of the war was to rid Iraq of Hussein, stabilize the Middle East and bring democracy to Iraq. U.S. forces successfully captured Hussein, who had gone into hiding shortly after the start of war, on December 15, 2003.

Although Bush announced “mission accomplished” and the end of combat operations on May 1, 2003, Iraq continued to experience ongoing deadly attacks by insurgents while U.S. and coalition troops and civilian contractors attempted to establish an Iraqi army and police force and establish a freely elected government. In the first two years of the war, American casualities stood at 2,223 with approximately 16,150 wounded, while independent tallies of the number of Iraqi casualties numbered from 28,000 to 30,000.

03-19-2006, 10:11 AM
If the current political structure of the USA existed in 1939, the Nazis would currently be in charge of the world.

One would think that the Vietnam war would have taught that a "Politically Limited" war cannot be successful, if nothing else.

To successfully "Win" a war, a force must totally defeat the force they committed to fight. Only then, after "Total Capitulation", can new government be put in place and become a success. How many years of "Occupation" did both Germany and Japan undergo before they were allowed to become self governing and stable? Hmmm?

The average American, today, has no idea of what a "War" really is. They have an idea that it should be "Humane" to everyone who does not have a weapon. They fail to realize that a large percentage of the people in the country in question either supported the regime being deposed or at least tolerated and was less than indifferent about the style of Government.

Had we, The U.S., done to Baghdad what the combined air forces of The US and Britain did to Dresden in WWII, first, the rest of Iraq probably would have "Knuckled Under" . . However the American public would've been appalled. The same may be said of Falluja. Had we leveled it, and paved it over, as a "Hard Lesson", quite like the bombing of Hiroshima, the effect it would have had on the citizens of Iraq and the Insurgents would definitely been positive. But the American media and public would've had a fit!

You see, "War" is like "Pregnancy", there isn't any room for a "Little Bit" in the description. Even with all the "smart" weapons we have at our disposal, little good is gained if we use them with a Politician doing the aiming. You cannot "Blow hell out of their buldings", but "not hurt anybody" . . and you have to "WIN" before you can, with any authority, tell them how to build a new government "Your Way" . . .

We haven't WON yet! AND as long as G.W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are acting as the Field Generals, we'll see the same thing we saw when we allowed LBJ and Richard Nixon run the Vietnam War. we won't win this one either!

Let the Generals call the shots, if need be run the press off, and if a couple of atrocities are called for . . well, the terrorists wrote the rules, let's fight them on THEIR terms!

Zen Curmudgeon
03-22-2006, 05:11 AM
On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. This law levies a federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to raise revenue for the federal government and gives individual states the option to further regulate the sale and distribution of beer and wine.

With the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act in 1919, temperance advocates in the U.S. finally achieved their long sought-after goal of prohibiting the sale of alcohol or “spirits.” Together, the new laws prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of liquor and ushered in the era known as “Prohibition, defining an alcoholic beverage as anything containing over 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. President Woodrow Wilson had unsuccessfully tried to veto the Volstead Act, which set harsh punishments for violating the 18th Amendment and endowed the Internal Revenue Service with unprecedented regulatory and enforcement powers. In the end, Prohibition proved difficult and expensive to enforce and actually increased illegal trafficking without cutting down on consumption. In one of his first addresses to Congress as president, FDR announced his intention to modify the Volstead Act with the Beer and Wine Revenue Act.

No fan of temperance himself, FDR had developed a taste for alcohol when he attended New York cocktail parties as a budding politician. (While president, FDR refused to fire his favorite personal valet for repeated drunkenness on the job.) FDR considered the new law “of the highest importance” for its potential to generate much-needed federal funds and included it in a sweeping set of New Deal policies designed to vault the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression.

The Beer and Wine Revenue act was followed, in December 1933, by the passage of the 20th Amendment, which officially ended Prohibition.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-24-2006, 08:26 AM
The debut of radio program Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour launches a national craze among amateur performers hoping to hit the big time. The show, conceived by theater owner and variety-show producer Major Edward Bowes, featured amateur performers competing against each other.

Bowes was born in 1874. A businessman, he worked in real estate and managed New York radio station WHN. In 1934, two producers at the station hit on the idea of a program pitting amateur talent performers against each other. When the show Amateur Hour became a huge success, Bowes took it over, shopped it to a sponsor, and signed for a spot on NBC.

The show became instantly popular, drawing enormous listening audiences and attracting would-be stars from around the country. Families sold their homes, and youngsters ran away to audition in New York, hoping to hit it big and pull themselves out of Depression-era poverty--but of some 10,000 performers a week who applied, only 20 were chosen for each broadcast. Many who arrived penniless were turned away and forced to seek assistance: In one month in 1935, some 1,200 people rejected by the show applied for emergency food and shelter in New York, according to Newsweek. Meanwhile, Bowes reaped enormous profits from his hit show.

The show drew criticism for exploiting performers and rigging contests, charges exacerbated by a reporter from Radio Guide who auditioned undercover and appeared on the show. Despite criticism, the show stayed on the air until 1945 and was revived from 1948 to 1952.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-25-2006, 07:53 AM
The U.S. Customs Department confiscates 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene.

City Lights, a publishing company and bookstore in San Francisco owned by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, proceeded to publish the book in the fall of 1956. The publication led to Ferlinghetti's arrest on obscenity charges. Ferlinghetti was bailed out by the American Civil Liberties Union, which led the legal defense. Nine literary experts testified at the trial that the poem was not obscene, and Ferlinghetti was found not guilty.

Howl, which created a literary earthquake among the literary community when Ginsberg first read the poem in 1955, still stands as an important monument to the countercultural fervor of the late 1950s and '60s. Ginsberg stayed at the forefront of numerous liberal movements throughout his life and became a well-loved lecturer at universities around the country. He continued to write and read poetry until his death from liver cancer in 1997.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-26-2006, 08:48 AM
On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952--an epidemic year for polio--there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as "infant paralysis" because it mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time.

Polio, a disease that has affected humanity throughout recorded history, attacks the nervous system and can cause varying degrees of paralysis. Since the virus is easily transmitted, epidemics were commonplace in the first decades of the 20th century. The first major polio epidemic in the United States occurred in Vermont in the summer of 1894, and by the 20th century thousands were affected every year. In the first decades of the 20th century, treatments were limited to quarantines and the infamous "iron lung," a metal coffin-like contraption that aided respiration. Although children, and especially infants, were among the worst affected, adults were also often afflicted, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1921 was stricken with polio at the age of 39 and was left partially paralyzed. Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims and was instrumental in raising funds for polio-related research and the treatment of polio patients.

Salk, born in New York City in 1914, first conducted research on viruses in the 1930s when he was a medical student at New York University, and during World War II helped develop flu vaccines. In 1947, he became head of a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh and in 1948 was awarded a grant to study the polio virus and develop a possible vaccine. By 1950, he had an early version of his polio vaccine.

Salk's procedure, first attempted unsuccessfully by American Maurice Brodie in the 1930s, was to kill several strains of the virus and then inject the benign viruses into a healthy person's bloodstream. The person's immune system would then create antibodies designed to resist future exposure to poliomyelitis. Salk conducted the first human trials on former polio patients and on himself and his family, and by 1953 was ready to announce his findings. This occurred on the CBS national radio network on the evening of March 25 and two days later in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Salk became an immediate celebrity.

In 1954, clinical trials using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on nearly two million American schoolchildren. In April 1955, it was announced that the vaccine was effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began. New polio cases dropped to under 6,000 in 1957, the first year after the vaccine was widely available. In 1962, an oral vaccine developed by Polish-American researcher Albert Sabin became available, greatly facilitating distribution of the polio vaccine. Today, there are just a handful of polio cases in the United States every year, and most of these are "imported" by Americans from developing nations where polio is still a problem. Among other honors, Jonas Salk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He died in La Jolla, California, in 1995.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-27-2006, 06:10 AM
The neighbors of Thomas and Ann Farrow, shopkeepers in South London, discover their badly bludgeoned bodies in their home. Thomas was already dead, but Ann was still breathing. She died four days later without ever having regained consciousness. The brutal crime was solved using the newly developed fingerprinting technique. Only three years earlier, the first English court had admitted fingerprint evidence in a petty theft case. The Farrow case was the first time that the cutting-edge technology was used in a high-profile murder case.

Since the cash box in which the Farrow's stored their cash receipts was empty, it was clear to Scotland Yard investigators that robbery was the motive for the crime. One print on the box did not match the victims or any of the still-tiny file of criminal prints that Scotland Yard possessed. Fortunately, a local milkman reported seeing two young men in the vicinity of the Farrow house on the day of the murders. Soon identified as brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton, the police began interviewing their friends.

Alfred's girlfriend told police that he had given away his coat the day and changed the color of his shoes the day after the murders. A week later, authorities finally caught up with the Stratton brothers and fingerprinted them. Alfred's right thumb was a perfect match for the print on the Farrow's cash box.

The fingerprint evidence became the prosecution's only solid evidence when the milkman was unable to positively identify the Strattons. The defense put up expert Dr. John Garson to attack the reliability of the fingerprint evidence. But the prosecution countered with evidence that Garson had written to both the defense and prosecution on the same day offering his services to both.

The Stratton brothers, obviously not helped by the discrediting of Garson, were convicted and hanged on May 23, 1905. Since then, fingerprint evidence has become commonplace in criminal trials and the lack of it is even used by defense attorneys.

Zen Curmudgeon
03-28-2006, 04:24 PM
At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S.
nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at
Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation,
drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to
dangerously overheat.The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant was built in 1974
on a sandbar on Pennsylvania's Susquehanna River, just 10 miles downstream from
the state capitol in Harrisburg. In 1978, a second state-of-the-art reactor
began operating on Three Mile Island, which was lauded for generating affordable
and reliable energy in a time of energy crises.After the cooling water began to
drain out of the broken pressure valve on the morning of March 28, 1979,
emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these
safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However,
human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings
and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but
residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early
morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of
meltdown. In the meltdown scenario, the core melts, and deadly radiation drifts
across the countryside, fatally sickening a potentially great number of
people.As the plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, the
contaminated water was releasing radioactive gases throughout the plant. The
radiation levels, though not immediately life-threatening, were dangerous, and
the core cooked further as the contaminated water was contained and precautions
were taken to protect the operators. Shortly after 8 a.m., word of the accident
leaked to the outside world. The plant's parent company, Metropolitan Edison,
downplayed the crisis and claimed that no radiation had been detected off plant
grounds, but the same day inspectors detected slightly increased levels of
radiation nearby as a result of the contaminated water leak. Pennsylvania
Governor Dick Thornburgh considered calling an evacuation.Finally, at about 8
p.m., plant operators realized they needed to get water moving through the core
again and restarted the pumps. The temperature began to drop, and pressure in
the reactor was reduced. The reactor had come within less than an hour of a
complete meltdown. More than half the core was destroyed or molten, but it had
not broken its protective shell, and no radiation was escaping. The crisis was
apparently over.Two days later, however, on March 30, a bubble of highly
flammable hydrogen gas was discovered within the reactor building. The bubble of
gas was created two days before when exposed core materials reacted with
super-heated steam. On March 28, some of this gas had exploded, releasing a
small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. At that time, plant operators had
not registered the explosion, which sounded like a ventilation door closing.
After the radiation leak was discovered on March 30, residents were advised to
stay indoors. Experts were uncertain if the hydrogen bubble would create further
meltdown or possibly a giant explosion, and as a precaution Governor Thornburgh
advised "pregnant women and pre-school age children to leave the area within a
five-mile radius of the Three Mile Island facility until further notice." This
led to the panic the governor had hoped to avoid; within days, more than 100,000
people had fled surrounding towns.On April 1, President Jimmy Carter arrived at
Three Mile Island to inspect the plant. Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, had
helped dismantle a damaged Canadian nuclear reactor while serving in the U.S.
Navy. His visit achieved its aim of calming local residents and the nation. That
afternoon, experts agreed that the hydrogen bubble was not in danger of
exploding. Slowly, the hydrogen was bled from the system as the reactor
cooled.At the height of the crisis, plant workers were exposed to unhealthy
levels of radiation, but no one outside Three Mile Island had their health
adversely affected by the accident. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded the
public's faith in nuclear power. The unharmed Unit-1 reactor at Three Mile
Island, which was shut down during the crisis, did not resume operation until
1985. Cleanup continued on Unit-2 until 1990, but it was too damaged to be
rendered usable again. In the more than two decades since the accident at Three
Mile Island, not a single new nuclear power plant has been ordered in the United

Zen Curmudgeon
04-04-2006, 05:52 AM
The most popular show on TV, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, is cancelled by CBS because the brothers failed to submit an episode to network executives before its broadcast. The show was well known for its irreverent political satire, and the brothers had already engaged in several censorship skirmishes with the network.

Among other controversial content in the show, the network executives objected to the brothers' selection of outspoken, left wing, and antiwar guests, including Pete Seeger, who sang a Vietnam protest song on the air.

Tom and Dick Smothers were popular comedians and singers known for offbeat recordings. Tom played an airhead, Dick his sensible foil, and the pair spoofed everything from religion to apple pie on the show. Regular guests included Steve Martin, Sally Struthers, and Nelson Riddle. The cancellation of the show provoked outrage among free-speech advocates and devoted fans alike.

After the cancellation, the brothers made a brief, unsuccessful tour of the other networks. In the summer of 1970, The Smothers Summer Show aired on ABC but lasted only a few months. That fall, Tom briefly starred in his own half-hour comedy show, Tom Smothers' Organic Prime Time Space Ride, but the series flopped. In 1975, NBC revived the original show, now called The Smothers Brothers Show, but the brothers' humor had lost its edge, and audience interest waned after the first few episodes. The show lasted only one season.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-05-2006, 05:09 AM
Naturalist Charles Darwin sends his publishers the first three chapters of Origin of Species, which will become one of the most influential books ever published.

Knowing the fates of scientists who had published radical theories and been ostracized or worse, Darwin held off publishing his theory of natural selection for years. He secretly developed his theory during two decades of surreptitious research following his return from a five-year voyage to South America on the HMS Beagle as the ship's unpaid botanist.

Darwin, the privileged and well-connected son of a successful English doctor, had been interested in botany and natural sciences since his boyhood, despite the discouragement of his early teachers. At Cambridge, he found professors and scientists with similar interests and with their help began participating in scientific voyages, including the HMS Beagle's trip. By the time Darwin returned, he had developed an outstanding reputation as a field researcher and scientific writer, based on his many papers and letters dispatched from South America and the Galapagos Islands, which were read at meetings of prominent scientific societies in London.

Darwin began publishing studies of zoology and geology as soon as he returned from his voyage, while secretly working on his radical theory of evolution. Meanwhile, he married and had seven children. He finally published The Origin of Species after another scientist began publishing papers with similar ideas. When the book appeared in November 1859, it sold out immediately. By 1872, six editions had been published. It laid the groundwork for modern botany, cellular biology, and genetics. Darwin died in 1882.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-06-2006, 05:37 AM
In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ--later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois.

Two years later, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah's Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, "This is the place," and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them and settle there.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-08-2006, 08:55 AM
On this day, Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, thought to have lived in India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. Actually, the Buddhist tradition that celebrates his birthday on April 8 originally placed his birth in the 11th century B.C., and it was not until the modern era that scholars determined that he was more likely born in the sixth century B.C., and possibly in May rather than April.

According to the Tripitaka, which is recognized by scholars as the earliest existing record of the Buddha's life and discourses, Gautama Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha, the son of the king of the Sakya people. The kingdom of the Sakyas was situated on the borders of present-day Nepal and India. Siddhartha's family was of the Gautama clan. His mother, Queen Mahamaya, gave birth to him in the park of Lumbini, in what is now southern Nepal. A pillar placed there in commemoration of the event by an Indian emperor in the third century B.C. still stands.

At his birth, it was predicted that the prince would either become a great world monarch or a Buddha--a supremely enlightened teacher. The Brahmans told his father, King Suddhodana, that Siddhartha would become a ruler if he were kept isolated from the outside world. The king took pains to shelter his son from misery and anything else that might influence him toward the religious life. Siddhartha was brought up in great luxury, and he married and fathered a son. At age 29, he decided to see more of the world and began excursions off the palace grounds in his chariot. In successive trips, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse, and since he had been protected from the miseries of aging, sickness, and death, his charioteer had to explain what they were. Finally, Siddhartha saw a monk, and, impressed with the man's peaceful demeanor, he decided to go into the world to discover how the man could be so serene in the midst of such suffering.

Siddhartha secretly left the palace and became a wandering ascetic. He traveled south, where the centers of learning were, and studied meditation under the teachers Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra. He soon mastered their systems, reaching high states of mystical realization, but was unsatisfied and went out again in search of nirvana, the highest level of enlightenment. For nearly six years, he undertook fasting and other austerities, but these techniques proved ineffectual and he abandoned them. After regaining his strength, he seated himself under a pipal tree at what is now Bodh Gaya in west-central India and promised not to rise until he had attained the supreme enlightenment. After fighting off Mara, an evil spirit who tempted him with worldly comforts and desires, Siddhartha reached enlightenment, becoming a Buddha at the age of 35.

The Gautama Buddha then traveled to the deer park near Benares, India, where he gave his first sermon and outlined the basic doctrines of Buddhism. According to Buddhism, there are "four noble truths": (1) existence is suffering; (2) this suffering is caused by human craving; (3) there is a cessation of the suffering, which is nirvana; and (4) nirvana can be achieved, in this or future lives, though the "eightfold path" of right views, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

For the rest of his life, the Buddha taught and gathered disciples to his sangha, or community of monks. He died at age 80, telling his monks to continue working for their spiritual liberation by following his teachings. Buddhism eventually spread from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and, in the 20th century, to the West. Today, there are an estimated 350 million people in 100 nations who adhere to Buddhist beliefs and practices.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-08-2006, 08:59 AM
Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the rock band Nirvana, is found dead three days after committing suicide in his Seattle home. His death launched a world-wide outpouring of grief among millions of Nirvana fans. Cobain's "grunge" band transformed rock music in the early 1990s and, although he did not accept the title, Cobain himself was considered the spokesperson for "Generation X."

Cobain grew up in the small logging town of Aberdeen, WA. His life was thrown into turmoil after his parents divorced as Cobain lived with different family members over the next few years. He learned guitar as a teenager and developed a love of the Beatles. Angry and alienated in high school, Cobain found a love of local hardcore punk bands around the Seattle area. He dropped out of high school a few weeks before his graduation and worked as a janitor by day, playing music at night. He formed Nirvana in 1987 with his childhood friend Krist Novoselic and it provided Cobain an outlet for his anger and cynicism.

The band, heavily influenced by late-1970s punk, helped develop Seattle's "grunge" sound. Nirvana became an underground hit with its debut album, Bleach, in 1989, which they spent $606.17 recording. The album sold 35,000 copies. After a bidding war, the band signed with DGC for a $287,000 advance and released Nevermind, in 1991. The first single Smells Like Teen Spirit became the anthem for a generation. Nevermind, an album which most people hoped would sell 150,000 copies, eventually sold more then 10 million worldwide.

Cobain never seemed to be comfortable with his newfound fame as Nirvana became the one the biggest and most sought after bands in the world. Despite getting married and having a child in 1992, Cobain never seemed to be comfortable in his own skin.

Suffering from stomach problems since childhood, Cobain tried to easy the pain with drugs. In 1993, Cobain overdosed on heroin twice and, while in Rome in early 1994, attempted suicide by overdosing on the tranquilizer Rohypnol.
After a brief attempt at rehab, Cobain killed himself with a single gunshot to the head on April 5, 1994. His body wasn't discovered for three days. Cobain joined other rock legends who died at the age of 27, including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

Three posthumously released Nirvana albums, MTV Unplugged in New York, From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah and the self-titled Nirvana have all topped the Billboard charts. Rolling Stone Magazine listed Nevermind at No. 17 on the list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl went on to front another multi-platinum band, the Foo Fighters.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-12-2006, 06:36 AM
The inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei for holding the heretical belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun begins. The chief inquisitor was Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, who was appointed by Pope Urban VIII. Galileo was forced to turn himself in to the Holy Office because standard practice demanded that the accused be imprisoned and secluded during the trial.

This was the second time that Galileo was in the hot seat for refusing to accept Church orthodoxy that the Earth was the immovable center of the universe: In 1616, he had been forbidden from holding or defending his beliefs. In the 1633 interrogation, Galileo denied that he "held" belief in the Copernican view but continued to write about the issue and evidence as a means of "discussion" rather than belief. The Church had decided the idea that the Sun moved around the Earth was an absolute fact of scripture that could not be disputed, despite the fact that scientists had known for centuries that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

This time, Galileo's technical argument didn't win the day. On June 22, 1633, the Church handed down the following order: "We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare, that thou, the said Galileo, by the things deduced during this trial, and by thee confessed as above, hast rendered thyself vehemently suspected of heresy by this Holy Office, that is, of having believed and held a doctrine which is false, and contrary to the Holy Scriptures, to wit: that the Sun is the centre of the universe, and that it does not move from east to west, and that the Earth moves and is not the centre of the universe."

Along with the order came the following penalty: "We order that by a public edict the book of Dialogues of Galileo Galilei be prohibited, and We condemn thee to the prison of this Holy Office during Our will and pleasure; and as a salutary penance We enjoin on thee that for the space of three years thou shalt recite once a week the Seven Penitential Psalms."

Galileo agreed not to teach the heresy anymore and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-13-2006, 03:48 AM
Butch Cassidy, the last of the great western train-robbers, is born on this day in Beaver, Utah Territory.

Born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the son of Mormon parents who had answered Brigham Young's call for young couples to help build communities of Latter Day Saints on the Utah frontier. Cassidy was the first of 13 children born to Max and Annie Parker.

When Cassidy was 13 years old, the family moved to a ranch near the small Mormon community of Circleville. He became an admirer of a local ruffian named Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot and gave him a gun and saddle. With Cassidy's encouragement, the young man apparently began rustling, eventually forcing him to leave home during his mid-teens under a cloud of suspicion.

For several years, he drifted around the West using the name Roy Parker. Finally, on June 24, 1889, he committed his first serious crime, robbing a bank in Telluride, Colorado, for more than $20,000. As a fugitive, he took to calling himself George Cassidy, a nod to his first partner in crime back in Utah. Wishing to lay low, for a time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming, butcher shop, earning the nickname that would complete one of the most famous criminal aliases in history, "Butch" Cassidy.

In 1894, Butch Cassidy was arrested for horse theft in Wyoming. After serving two years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison at Laramie, Cassidy was pardoned. He immediately returned to a life of crime, this time gathering around him a local band of carousing outlaws that became known as the Wild Bunch. Cassidy's most famous partner was Harry Longbaugh, better known as the "Sundance Kid." Other members included the quick-to-kill Harvey Logan ("Kid Curry"), Ben Kilpatrick ("Tall Texan"), Harry Tracy, Deaf Charley Hanks, and Tom Ketchum ("BlackJack").

By 1897, Cassidy was solidly in control of a sophisticated criminal operation that was active in states and territories from South Dakota to New Mexico. The Wild Bunch specialized in holding up railroad express cars, and the gang was sometimes called the Train Robbers' Syndicate. Between robberies, Cassidy rendezvoused with various lovers around the West and took his gang on unruly vacations to Denver, San Antonio, and Fort Worth.

By the turn of the century, however, the wild days of the West were rapidly fading. Once deserted lands were being tamed and settled, and western states and territories were creating an increasingly effective law-enforcement network. Tired of his robberies, railroad executives hired detectives to catch Cassidy and began placing mounted guards in railcars to pursue the Wild Bunch. In 1901, Cassidy fled the U.S. for Argentina accompanied by his lover, Etta Place, and the Sundance Kid.

The trio homesteaded a ranch at Cholila, though Place returned to the United States after several years. In 1904, Cassidy and Sundance learned that detectives had tracked them to South America. They abandoned the Cholila ranch and resumed a life of robbery in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-14-2006, 04:53 AM
Loretta Lynn, a singer who greatly expanded the opportunities for women in the male-dominated world of country-western music, is born in Butcher's Hollow, Kentucky.

Unlike some country-western stars that sang about a rural working class life but lived an urban middle class existence, Loretta Lynn's country roots were unquestionably authentic. Born Loretta Webb in a log cabin nestled in the backwoods hills of Kentucky, she was the daughter of a coal miner who worked long hours to keep his family fed and clothed. She met her future husband, Mooney Lynn, when she was only 13. They married a year later, and she gave birth to her first child when she was 14 years old. Lynn had three more children before she was 21 and was a grandmother at 29.

Lynn seemed destined for a hard life raising her growing family in a three-room house with no running water or indoor plumbing. However, while listening to her sing to the children, Mooney became convinced that Loretta sang as well as anyone on the radio. For her 26th birthday, Mooney bought Loretta a $17 guitar and encouraged her to learn to play. She eventually began to play and sing with local bands and in 1960 released her first recorded single, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." Mooney had a knack for public relations, and he shrewdly mailed copies of the song to radio stations before the couple went on tour. "Honky Tonk Girl" became Lynn's first hit.

By the mid-1960s, Lynn was one of the most successful female performers in country-western music. In previous decades, male performers and masculine themes had dominated country-western music. The themes reflected the supposedly virile nature of the American West and rural working-class life. Women performers largely conformed to these standards, usually portraying themselves as docile helpmates to a male star: the quintessential duo was Dale Evans' partnership with the singing cowboy Roy Rogers.

After World War II, a handful of female country-western artists began to challenge their subordinate status. Surprisingly, given her traditional rural background, Lynn became one of their leaders. Many of her songs expressed feminine strength and determination and a sense that women would no longer simply "stand by their man," as some other singers liked to suggest they should. Her perceptive business sense and talent for self-promotion also demonstrated that women could thrive in the competitive music industry. In 1967, the Country Music Association recognized the new importance of women singers by giving Lynn its first-ever award for Female Vocalist of the Year.

Lynn continued to enjoy great success in the 1970s, and the film account of her life, Coal Miner's Daughter (1980), won her a new generation of fans. After an interlude during the 1990s, Lynn returned to the recording studio and released a new recording in 2000. She continues to bring a compelling female perspective to the world of country-western music.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-16-2006, 06:13 AM
On the streets of Dodge City, famous western lawman and gunfighter Bat Masterson fights the last gun battle of his life.

Bartholomew "Bat" Masterson had made a living with his gun from a young age. In his early 20s, Masterson worked as a buffalo hunter, operating out of the wild Kansas cattle town of Dodge City. For several years, he also found employment as an army scout in the Plains Indian Wars. Masterson had his first shootout in 1876 in the town of Sweetwater (later Mobeetie), Texas. When an argument with a soldier over the affections of a dance hall girl named Molly Brennan heated up, Masterson and his opponent resorted to their pistols. When the shooting stopped, both Brennan and the soldier were dead, and Masterson was badly wounded.

Found to have been acting in self-defense, Masterson avoided prison. Once he had recovered from his wounds, he apparently decided to abandon his rough ways and become an officer of the law. For the next five years, Masterson alternated between work as Dodge City sheriff and running saloons and gambling houses, gaining a reputation as a tough and reliable lawman. However, Masterson's critics claimed that he spent too much as sheriff, and he lost a bid for reelection in 1879.

For several years, Masterson drifted around the West. Early in 1881, news that his younger brother, Jim, was in trouble back in Dodge City reached Masterson in Tombstone, Arizona. Jim's dispute with a business partner and an employee, A.J. Peacock and Al Updegraff respectively, had led to an exchange of gunfire. Though no one had yet been hurt, Jim feared for his life. Masterson immediately took a train to Dodge City.

When his train pulled into Dodge City on this morning in 1881, Masterson wasted no time. He quickly spotted Peacock and Updegraff and aggressively shouldered his way through the crowded street to confront them. "I have come over a thousand miles to settle this," Masterson reportedly shouted. "I know you are heeled [armed]-now fight!" All three men immediately drew their guns. Masterson took cover behind the railway bed, while Peacock and Updegraff darted around the corner of the city jail. Several other men joined in the gunplay. One bullet meant for Masterson ricocheted and wounded a bystander. Updegraff took a bullet in his right lung.

The mayor and sheriff arrived with shotguns to stop the battle when a brief lull settled over the scene. Updegraff and the wounded bystander were taken to the doctor and both eventually recovered. In fact, no one was mortally injured in the melee, and since the shootout had been fought fairly by the Dodge City standards of the day, no serious charges were imposed against Masterson. He paid an $8 fine and took the train out of Dodge City that evening.

Masterson never again fought a gun battle in his life, but the story of the Dodge City shootout and his other exploits ensured Masterson's lasting fame as an icon of the Old West. He spent the next four decades of his life working as sheriff, operating saloons, and eventually trying his hand as a newspaperman in New York City. The old gunfighter finally died of a heart attack in October 1921 at his desk in New York City.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-18-2006, 07:24 AM
Martin Luther, the chief catalyst of Protestantism, defies the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V by refusing to recant his writings. He had been called to Worms, Germany, to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire and answer charges of heresy.

Martin Luther was a professor of biblical interpretation at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In 1517, he drew up his 95 theses condemning the Catholic Church for its corrupt practice of selling "indulgences," or forgiveness of sins. Luther followed up the revolutionary work with equally controversial and groundbreaking theological works, and his fiery words set off religious reformers across Europe. In 1521, the pope excommunicated him, and he was called to appear before the emperor at the Diet of Worms to defend his beliefs. Refusing to recant or rescind his positions, Luther was declared an outlaw and a heretic. Powerful German princes protected him, however, and by his death in 1546 his ideas had significantly altered the course of Western thought.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-19-2006, 07:41 AM
The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, presents its first showing of Casablanca (1943) on this day in 1957, introducing a new generation of film viewers to Humphrey Bogart, who had died in January 1957. The showing marked the beginning of a Bogart revival that would boost the star to cult-like status in the 1960s and later.

Born in 1899 in New York, Bogart planned to become a doctor like his surgeon father, but his academic career ended when he was expelled from prep school for bad behavior. He joined the navy during World War I and was wounded in an attack on his ship, the Leviathan. His upper lip was scarred and partially paralyzed, giving him the tough-guy poker face and slight lisp that characterized his acting.

When he returned from the war, a family friend gave Bogart a job as an office boy at a theater. Eventually, Bogart became both a tour and stage manager for the company, and became interested in acting in the early 1920s. Sadly, the reviews of an early play in which he appeared described his acting as "what is usually and mercifully called inadequate."

Bogart kept at it. In 1935, he co-starred with Leslie Howard in a Broadway production called The Petrified Forest. When Warner Bros. bought the film rights, they wanted to keep Howard but recast Bogart's role; Howard said he wouldn't do the film unless Bogart was cast as well. The film, released in 1936, was a hit, and Bogart began landing more movie roles. He appeared in mediocre parts until 1941, when he played a gangster in High Sierra, written by John Huston. Huston, impressed with Bogart's abilities, cast the actor as detective Sam Spade in the noir classic The Maltese Falcon (1941), the first of many hard-boiled roles Bogart would play.

Bogart's most famous features followed: Casablanca in 1943, The Big Sleep in 1946, and Key Largo in 1948. Bogart had already been married three times when he starred in To Have and Have Not (1944) with 21-year-old actress Lauren Bacall. The two fell in love and married. In 1947, Bogart formed his own company, which produced hits like Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), The African Queen (1951), and Sabrina (1954). He won his only Oscar for The African Queen. Bogart died of cancer in 1957.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-20-2006, 07:35 AM
With passage of the Third Force Act, popularly known as the Ku Klux Act, Congress authorizes President Ulysses S. Grant to declare martial law, impose heavy penalties against terrorist organizations, and use military force to suppress the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

Founded in 1865 by a group of Confederate veterans, the KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government's progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African-American population. The name of the Ku Klux Klan was derived from the Greek word kyklos, meaning "circle," and the Scottish-Gaelic word "clan," which was probably chosen for the sake of alliteration. Under a platform of philosophized white racial superiority, the group employed violence as a means of pushing back Reconstruction and its enfranchisement of African-Americans. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK's first grand wizard and in 1869 unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan's excessive violence.

Most prominent in counties where the races were relatively balanced, the KKK engaged in terrorist raids against African-Americans and white Republicans at night, employing intimidation, destruction of property, assault, and murder to achieve its aims and influence upcoming elections. In a few Southern states, Republicans organized militia units to break up the Klan. In 1871, passage of the Ku Klux Act led to nine South Carolina counties being placed under martial law and thousands of arrests. In 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Ku Klux Act unconstitutional, but by that time Reconstruction had ended, and the KKK had faded away.

The 20th century would see two revivals of the KKK: one in response to immigration in the 1910s and '20s, and another in response to the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-22-2006, 09:15 AM
Ohio passes a statute that makes seduction unlawful. Covering all men over the age of 21 who worked as teachers or instructors of women, this law even prohibited men from having consensual sex with women (of any age) whom they were instructing. The penalty for disobeying this law ranged from two to 10 years in prison.

Ohio's seduction law was not the first of its kind. An 1848 New York law made it illegal for a man to have an "illicit connexion (sic) with any unmarried female of previous chaste character" if the man did so by promising to marry the girl. Georgia's version of the seduction statute made it unlawful for men to "seduce a virtuous unmarried female and induce her to yield to his lustful embraces, and allow him to have carnal knowledge of her."

These laws were only sporadically enforced, but a few men were actually prosecuted and convicted. In Michigan, a man was convicted of three counts of seduction, but the appeals court did everything in its power to overturn the decision. It threw out two charges because the defense reasoned that the woman was no longer virtuous after the couple's first encounter. The other charge was overturned after the defense claimed that the woman's testimony-that they had had sex in a buggy-was medically impossible.

On many occasions, women used these laws in order to coerce men into marriage. A New York man in the middle of an 1867 trial that was headed toward conviction proposed to the alleged victim. The local minister was summoned, and the trial instantly became a marriage ceremony.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-25-2006, 07:33 AM
The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope, a long-term space-based observatory, into a low orbit around Earth.

The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an unparalleled view of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. Initially, Hubble's operators suffered a setback when a lens aberration was discovered, but a repair mission by space-walking astronauts in December 1993 successfully fixed the problem, and Hubble began sending back its first breathtaking images of the universe.

Free of atmospheric distortions, Hubble has a resolution 10 times that of ground-based observatories. About the size of a bus, the telescope is solar-powered and orbits Earth once every 97 minutes. Among its many astronomical achievements, Hubble has been used to record a comet's collision with Jupiter, provide a direct look at the surface of Pluto, view distant galaxies, gas clouds, and black holes, and see billions of years into the universe's past.

For upgraded views of some famous Hubble images, go here: http://elfurl.com/vvufi

Zen Curmudgeon
04-26-2006, 07:25 AM
On April 26, 1986, the world's worst nuclear power plant accident occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union. Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.

The Chernobyl station was situated at the settlement of Pripyat, about 65 miles north of Kiev in the Ukraine. Built in the late 1970s on the banks of the Pripyat River, Chernobyl had four reactors, each capable of producing 1,000 megawatts of electric power. On the evening of April 25, 1986, a group of engineers began an electrical-engineering experiment on the Number 4 reactor. The engineers, who had little knowledge of reactor physics, wanted to see if the reactor's turbine could run emergency water pumps on inertial power.

As part of their poorly designed experiment, the engineers disconnected the reactor's emergency safety systems and its power-regulating system. Next, they compounded this recklessness with a series of mistakes: They ran the reactor at a power level so low that the reaction became unstable, and then removed too many of the reactor's control rods in an attempt to power it up again. The reactor's output rose to more than 200 megawatts but was proving increasingly difficult to control. Nevertheless, at 1:23 a.m. on April 26, the engineers continued with their experiment and shut down the turbine engine to see if its inertial spinning would power the reactor's water pumps. In fact, it did not adequately power the water pumps, and without cooling water the power level in the reactor surged.

To prevent meltdown, the operators reinserted all the 200-some control rods into the reactor at once. The control rods were meant to reduce the reaction but had a design flaw: graphite tips. So, before the control rod's five meters of absorbent material could penetrate the core, 200 graphite tips simultaneously entered, thus facilitating the reaction and causing an explosion that blew off the heavy steel and concrete lid of the reactor. It was not a nuclear explosion, as nuclear power plants are incapable of producing such a reaction, but was chemical, driven by the ignition of gases and steam that were generated by the runaway reaction. In the explosion and ensuing fire, more than 50 tons of radioactive material were released into the atmosphere, where it was carried by air currents.

On April 27, Soviet authorities began an evacuation of the 30,000 inhabitants of Pripyat. A cover-up was attempted, but on April 28 Swedish radiation monitoring stations, more than 800 miles to the northwest of Chernobyl, reported radiation levels 40 percent higher than normal. Later that day, the Soviet news agency acknowledged that a major nuclear accident had occurred at Chernobyl.

In the opening days of the crisis, 32 people died at Chernobyl and dozens more suffered radiation burns. The radiation that escaped into the atmosphere, which was several times that produced by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was spread by the wind over Northern and Eastern Europe, contaminating millions of acres of forest and farmland. An estimated 5,000 Soviet citizens eventually died from cancer and other radiation-induced illnesses caused by their exposure to the Chernobyl radiation, and millions more had their health adversely affected. In 2000, the last working reactors at Chernobyl were shut down and the plant was officially closed.

Zen Curmudgeon
04-30-2006, 09:10 AM
On April 30, 1803, representatives of the United States and Napoleonic France conclude negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, a massive land sale that doubles the size of the young American republic. What was known as Louisiana Territory comprised most of modern-day United States between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains, with the exceptions of Texas, parts of New Mexico, and other pockets of land already controlled by the United States. A formal treaty for the Louisiana Purchase, antedated to April 30, was signed two days later.

Beginning in the 17th century, France explored the Mississippi River valley and established scattered settlements in the region. By the middle of the 18th century, France controlled more of the modern United States than any other European power: from New Orleans northeast to the Great Lakes and northwest to modern-day Montana. In 1762, during the French and Indian War, France ceded its America territory west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred nearly all of its remaining North American holdings to Great Britain. Spain, no longer a dominant European power, did little to develop Louisiana Territory during the next three decades. In 1796, Spain allied itself with France, leading Britain to use its powerful navy to cut off Spain from America.

In 1801, Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France. Reports of the retrocession caused considerable uneasiness in the United States. Since the late 1780s, Americans had been moving westward into the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, and these settlers were highly dependent on free access to the Mississippi River and the strategic port of New Orleans. U.S. officials feared that France, resurgent under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, would soon seek to dominate the Mississippi River and access to the Gulf of Mexico. In a letter to Robert Livingston, the U.S. minister to France, President Thomas Jefferson stated, "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans...we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." Livingston was ordered to negotiate with French minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand for the purchase of New Orleans.

France was slow in taking control of Louisiana, but in 1802 Spanish authorities, apparently acting under French orders, revoked a U.S.-Spanish treaty that granted Americans the right to store goods in New Orleans. In response, President Jefferson sent future president James Monroe to Paris to aid Livingston in the New Orleans purchase talks. On April 11, 1803, the day before Monroe's arrival, Talleyrand asked a surprised Livingston what the United States would give for all of Louisiana Territory. It is believed that the failure of France to put down a slave revolution in Haiti, the impending war with Great Britain and probable Royal Navy blockade of France, and financial difficulties may all have prompted Napoleon to offer Louisiana for sale to the United States.

Negotiations moved swiftly, and at the end of April the U.S. envoys agreed to pay $11,250,000 and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000. In exchange, the United States acquired the vast domain of Louisiana Territory, some 828,000 square miles of land. In October, Congress ratified the purchase, and in December 1803 France formally transferred authority over the region to the United States. The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory for the bargain price of less than three cents an acre was Thomas Jefferson's most notable achievement as president. American expansion westward into the new lands began immediately, and in 1804 a territorial government was established. On April 30, 1812, exactly nine years after the Louisiana Purchase agreement was made, the first of 13 states to be carved from the territory--Louisiana--was admitted into the Union as the 18th U.S. state.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-01-2006, 06:51 AM
Gloria Carpenter is found dead in her Modesto, California, home. Her body was submerged in the bathtub, initially leading authorities to believe that the 59-year-old woman had died of natural causes. However, a closer examination of the body revealed that Carpenter had been strangled to death and possibly raped.

Investigators found that Carpenter had been out drinking with Jimmy Wayne Glenn earlier in the night. Despite their suspicions, police had no evidence connecting Glenn to the murder. Hoping for a clue, they asked Glenn to take a lie detection test with the newly invented Psychological Stress Evaluator.

The Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE) is a device that uses the recording of a person's voice to allegedly detect prevarication through ordinarily imperceptible vibrations. Unlike the standard polygraph machine, the PSE does not need to be hooked up to the person. However, as with the polygraph, there are serious doubts as to whether it actually works. In 1988, Congress passed the Employee Polygraph Protection Act after scientific studies showed that the tests were inaccurate. The law bars employers' use of lie detectors and other devices that purportedly gauge whether an individual is lying. Lie detection tests are also inadmissible in criminal courts.

The most effective use of lie detection devices seems to be that suspects often confess to crimes if they believe that their lies will be discovered by the machine. Although this wasn't the case with Jimmy Wayne Glenn, the PSE examiner was convinced he was lying. The police continued to focus their investigation on Glenn, eventually finding physical evidence that linked him to the crime. Glenn was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-04-2006, 07:00 AM
At Kent State University, 100 National Guardsmen fire their rifles into a group of students, killing four and wounding 11. This incident occurred in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon's April 30 announcement that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had been ordered to execute an "incursion" into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese bases there. In protest, a wave of demonstrations and disturbances erupted on college campuses across the country.

At Kent State University in Ohio, student protesters torched the ROTC building on campus and Ohio Governor James Rhodes responded by calling on the National Guard to restore order. Under harassment from the demonstrators, the Guardsmen fired into the crowd, killing four and wounding 11. The Guardsmen were later brought to trial for the shootings, but found not guilty.

President Nixon issued a statement deploring the Kent State deaths, but said that the incident should serve as a reminder that, "When dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." The shooting sparked hundreds of protests and college shutdowns, as well as a march on Washington, D.C., by 100,000 people. The National Student Association and former Vietnam Moratorium Committee leaders called for a national university strike of indefinite duration, beginning immediately, to protest the war. At least 100 colleges and universities pledged to strike. The presidents of 37 universities signed a letter urging President Nixon to show more clearly his determination to end the war.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-05-2006, 09:01 AM
Jesse Tafero is executed in Florida after his electric chair malfunctions three times, causing flames to leap from his head. Tafero's death sparked a new debate on humane methods of execution. Several states ceased use of the electric chair and adopted lethal injection as their means of capital punishment.

As the 20th century came to an end, some states were having difficulty finding experienced executioners while others were unable to find technicians who could repair electric chairs. The move toward lethal injection was also problematic since there were few qualified people who knew how to construct a proper system. If done incorrectly, an injection containing a combination of a paralytic drug and a lethal dose of potassium chloride can paralyze an inmate and result in a painful death.

Tafero's botched execution was far from an anomaly. In Alabama, Horace F. Dunkins' execution was prolonged 19 long minutes while sitting in a broken electric chair. In July 1998, Florida inmate Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis, who weighed 344 pounds, screamed in pain during his electrocution while blood poured down his shirt. Authorities later claimed that the blood was a result of a bloody nose.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-06-2006, 09:14 AM
George Maledon, the man who executed at least 60 men for "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker, dies from natural causes in Tennessee.

Few men actively seek out the job of hangman and Maledon was no exception. Raised by German immigrants in Detroit, Michigan, Maledon moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, in his late teens and joined the city police force. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War, and he then returned to Fort Smith where he was appointed a U.S. deputy marshal. The town also had occasional need of an executioner, and Maledon agreed to take on the grisly task in addition to his regular duties as a marshal.

Maledon wound up with more business than he expected. In 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed a young prosecuting attorney named Isaac Parker to be the federal judge of the Western District of Arkansas. Headquartered at Fort Smith, the Western District was one of the most notoriously corrupt in the country, and it included the crime-ridden Indian Territory to the west (in present-day Oklahoma). Indian Territory had become a refuge for rustlers, murderers, thieves, and fugitives, and Parker's predecessor often accepted bribes to look the other way. Assigned an unprecedented force of 200 U.S. marshals to restore order, Parker began a massive dragnet that led to the arrest of many criminals. A friend of the Indians and more sympathetic to the victims of crimes than the criminals, Parker doled out swift justice in his court. In his first months in session he tried 91 defendants and sentenced eight of them to hang.

It was Maledon's job to carry out Judge Parker's death sentences. Paid $100 for each hanging, Maledon willingly accepted the work. He tried to be a conscientious hangman who minimized suffering with a quick death. Maledon said he considered the job "honorable and respectable work and I mean to do it well."

In all, Maledon is believed to have hanged about 60 men and to have shot five more who tried to escape. Subsequent sensational accounts of the Fort Smith "Hanging Judge" unfairly painted Parker as a cruel sadist with Maledon as his willing henchman. Yet, it is well to keep in mind that 65 marshals were also killed in the line of duty attempting to bring law and order to Indian Territory during Parker's term.

After Parker died from diabetes in 1896, Maledon met a publicity-seeking attorney named J. Warren Reed, who had written a lurid account of the Fort Smith court entitled Hell on the Border. Attracted by the promise of fame and money, Maledon joined Reed in a promotional tour for the book. He willingly played the role of the ghoulish hangman, displaying ropes he had preserved and telling which were used to execute various outlaws.

After a year of touring, Maledon tired of the limelight and used his earnings to purchase a farm. A small man with a weak constitution, he did not have the strength to work the farm profitably, and soon after entered a soldier's home at Johnson City, Tennessee, where he remained until his death in 1911.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-09-2006, 06:38 AM
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee opens impeachment hearings against President Richard Nixon, voting to impeach him on three counts on July 30.

The impeachment was the result of the scandal involving the bungled burglary of the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 1972. Eventually, it was learned that there was a criminal cover-up that went all the way to the White House. Nixon, facing the impeachment proceedings, resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974. His resignation had a major impact on the situation in Vietnam. Nixon had convinced South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to consent to the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords by personally promising (on more than 30 occasions) that the United States would re-enter the conflict if the North Vietnamese violated the peace agreement. However, when Nixon resigned, his successor, Gerald R. Ford, was not able to keep Nixon's promises. Ford could not, despite Thieu's desperate pleas for help, get Congress to appropriate significant funds to help the South Vietnamese. Having lost its sole source of aid and support, South Vietnam fell to the North Vietnamese in April 1975.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-13-2006, 08:18 AM
Bob Wills, one of the most influential musicians in the history of country-western music, is born on a small farm near Kosse, Texas.

Born James Robert Wills in 1905, he was trained to be a musician from an early age. His father was a champion fiddle player, and he began giving Wills lessons as soon as the boy could hold the instrument. By the time he was 10, Wills was a skilled fiddler and a competent guitar and mandolin player.

Wills left home at 16 and worked various jobs, like picking cotton and preaching. He eventually joined a traveling medicine show, where he played fiddle and met Herman Arnspiger, a Texas farm boy who had learned to play guitar from a Sears catalog guitar book. The pair began playing at dances and parties around Fort Worth, and after adding a singer, won a regular radio gig performing as the Light Crust Doughboys.

In 1933, the group separated and Wills formed the band that would make him famous: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. With the Playboys, Wills perfected his hard-driving country-western sound, which drew heavily on the rhythms of the popular jazz-swing bands of the era. Wills' fiddle playing sounded nothing like the traditional folk music he had heard as a child. By using strong beats and syncopation, he produced a sound that seemed to cry out for dancing.

Wills eventually added drums, br**** and woodwinds to the Texas Playboys, making himself into a country-western bandleader in the style of Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Several of his bands were as large as 22 pieces, and Wills worked with more than 600 musicians in his long career. In 1940, Wills took some of the Playboys to Hollywood, where the band appeared in a number of western movies that won them a nationwide following. Among their many hits were highly danceable tunes like, "Take Me Back to Tulsa," "Bubbles in My Beer," and the ever popular "San Antonio Rose." All told, Wills has sold more than 20 million records to date

Many critics have argued Wills and the Texas Playboys had a greater influence on the sounds of country-western music than any other performer or group. In recognition of his achievements, Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. He believed his chances of winning were so slim he was backstage chatting with friends when the award was announced. When he was finally tracked down and brought on stage, he said, "I don't usually take my hat off to nobody. But I sure do to you folks."

Stricken by a series of severe strokes, he died seven years later at the age of 70.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-15-2006, 06:33 AM
More than eight years after they intervened in Afghanistan to support the procommunist government, Soviet troops begin their withdrawal. The event marked the beginning of the end to a long, bloody, and fruitless Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

In December 1979, Soviet troops first entered Afghanistan in an attempt to bolster the communist, pro-Soviet government threatened by internal rebellion. In a short period of time, thousands of Russian troops and support materials poured into Afghanistan. Thus began a frustrating military conflict with Afghan Muslim rebels, who despised their own nation's communist government and the Soviet troops supporting it. During the next eight years, the two sides battled for control in Afghanistan, with neither the Soviets nor the rebels ever able to gain a decisive victory.

For the Soviet Union, the intervention proved extraordinarily costly in a number of ways. While the Soviets never released official casualty figures for the war in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence sources estimated that as many as 15,000 Russian troops died in Afghanistan, and the economic cost to the already struggling Soviet economy ran into billions of dollars. The intervention also strained relations between the Soviet Union and the United States nearly to the breaking point. President Jimmy Carter harshly criticized the Russian action, stalled talks on arms limitations, issued economic sanctions, and even ordered a boycott of the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow.

By 1988, the Soviets decided to extricate itself from the situation. Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev saw the Afghan intervention as an increasing drain on the Soviet economy, and the Russian people were tired of a war that many Westerners referred to as "Russia's Vietnam." For Afghanistan, the Soviet withdrawal did not mean an end to the fighting, however. The Muslim rebels eventually succeeded in establishing control over Afghanistan in 1992.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-16-2006, 06:14 AM
On May 16, 1918, the United States Congress passes the Sedition Act, a piece of legislation designed to protect America’s participation in World War I.

Along with the Espionage Act of the previous year, the Sedition Act was orchestrated largely by A. Mitchell Palmer, the United States attorney general under President Woodrow Wilson. The Espionage Act, passed shortly after the U.S. entrance into the war in early April 1917, made it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. armed forces’ prosecution of the war effort or to promote the success of the country’s enemies.

Aimed at socialists, pacifists and other anti-war activists, the Sedition Act imposed harsh penalties on anyone found guilty of making false statements that interfered with the prosecution of the war; insulting or abusing the U.S. government, the flag, the Constitution or the military; agitating against the production of necessary war materials; or advocating, teaching or defending any of these acts. Those who were found guilty of such actions, the act stated, “shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.” This was the same penalty that had been imposed for acts of espionage in the earlier legislation.

Though Wilson and Congress regarded the Sedition Act as crucial in order to stifle the spread of dissent within the country in that time of war, modern legal scholars consider the act as contrary to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution, namely to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. One of the most famous prosecutions under the Sedition Act during World War I was that of Eugene V. Debs, a pacifist labor organizer and founder of the International Workers of the World (IWW) who had run for president in 1900 as a Social Democrat and in 1904, 1908 and 1912 on the Socialist Party of America ticket.

After delivering an anti-war speech in June 1918 in Canton, Ohio, Debs was arrested, tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison under the Sedition Act. Debs appealed the decision, and the case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, where the court ruled Debs had acted with the intention of obstructing the war effort and upheld his conviction. In the decision, Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to the earlier landmark case of Schenck v. United States (1919), when Charles Schenck, also a Socialist, had been found guilty under the Espionage Act after distributing a flyer urging recently drafted men to oppose the U.S. conscription policy. In this decision, Holmes maintained that freedom of speech and press could be constrained in certain instances, and that “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Debs’ sentence was commuted in 1921 when the Sedition Act was repealed by Congress. Major portions of the Espionage Act remain part of United States law to the present day, although the crime of sedition was largely eliminated by the famous libel case Sullivan v. New York Times (1964), which determined that the press’s criticism of public officials—unless a plaintiff could prove that the statements were made maliciously or with “reckless disregard” for the truth—was protected speech under the First Amendment.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-17-2006, 06:56 AM
In Washington, D.C., the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, begins televised hearings on the escalating Watergate affair. One week later, Harvard law professor Archibald Cox was sworn in as special Watergate prosecutor.

On June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into and illegally wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. One of the suspects, James W. McCord Jr., was revealed to be the salaried security coordinator for President Richard Nixon's reelection committee. Two other men with White House ties were later implicated in the break-in: E. Howard Hunt, Jr., a former White House aide, and G. Gordon Liddy, finance counsel for the Committee for the Re-election of the President. Journalists and the Select Committee discovered a higher-echelon conspiracy surrounding the incident, and a political scandal of unprecedented magnitude erupted.

In May 1973, the special Senate committee began televised proceedings on the Watergate affair. During the Senate hearings, former White House legal counsel John Dean testified that the Watergate break-in had been approved by former Attorney General John Mitchell with the knowledge of chief White House advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, and that President Nixon had been aware of the cover-up. Meanwhile, Watergate prosecutor Cox and his staff began to uncover widespread evidence of political espionage by the Nixon reelection committee, illegal wiretapping of thousands of citizens by the administration, and contributions to the Republican Party in return for political favors.

In July, the existence of what were to be called the Watergate tapes--official recordings of White House conversations between Nixon and his staff--was revealed during the Senate hearings. Cox subpoenaed these tapes, and after three months of delay President Nixon agreed to send summaries of the recordings. Cox rejected the summaries, and Nixon fired him. His successor as special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, leveled indictments against several high-ranking administration officials, including Mitchell and Dean, who were duly convicted.

Public confidence in the president rapidly waned, and by the end of July 1974 the House Judiciary Committee had adopted three articles of impeachment against President Nixon: obstruction of justice, abuse of presidential powers, and hindrance of the impeachment process. On July 30, under coercion from the Supreme Court, Nixon finally released the Watergate tapes. On August 5, transcripts of the recordings were released, including a segment in which the president was heard instructing Haldeman to order the FBI to halt the Watergate investigation. Four days later, Nixon became the first president in U.S. history to resign. On September 8, his successor, President Gerald Ford, pardoned him from any criminal charges.

Zen Curmudgeon
05-23-2006, 02:41 PM
On May 23, 1960, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announces to the world
that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been captured and will stand trial in
Israel. Eichmann, the Nazi SS officer who organized Adolf Hitler's "final
solution of the Jewish question," was seized by Israeli agents in Argentina on
May 11 and smuggled to Israel nine days later.

Eichmann was born in Solingen, Germany, in 1906. In November 1932, he joined the Nazi's elite SS
(Schutzstaffel) organization, whose members came to have broad responsibilities
in Nazi Germany, including policing, intelligence, and the enforcement of Adolf
Hitler's anti-Semitic policies. Eichmann steadily rose in the SS hierarchy, and
with the German annexation of Austria in 1938, he was sent to Vienna with the
mission of ridding the city of Jews. He set up an efficient Jewish deportment
center and in 1939 was sent to Prague on a similar mission. That year, Eichmann
was appointed to the Jewish section of the SS central security office in

In January 1942, Eichmann met with top Nazi officials at the Wannsee
Conference near Berlin for the purpose of planning a "final solution of the
Jewish question," as Nazi leader Hermann Goring put it. The Nazis decided to
exterminate Europe's Jewish population. Eichmann was appointed to coordinate the
identification, assembly, and transportation of millions of Jews from occupied
Europe to the Nazi death camps, where Jews were gassed or worked to death. He
carried this duty out with horrifying efficiency, and between three to four
million Jews perished in the extermination camps before the end of World War II.
Close to 2 million were executed elsewhere.Following the war, Eichmann was
captured by U.S. troops, but he escaped the prison camp in 1946 before having to
face the Nuremberg International War Crimes Tribunal. Eichmann traveled under an
assumed identity between Europe and the Middle East and in 1950 arrived in
Argentina, which maintained lax immigration policies and was a safe haven for
many Nazi war criminals.

In 1957, a German prosecutor secretly informed Israel
that Eichmann was living in Argentina. Agents from Israel's intelligence
service, the Mossad, were deployed to Argentina, and in early 1960 they finally
located Eichmann. He was living in the San Fernando section of Buenos Aires,
under the name Ricardo Klement.In May 1960, Argentina was celebrating the 150th
anniversary of its revolution against Spain, and many tourists were traveling to
Argentina from abroad to attend the festivities. The Mossad used the opportunity
to smuggle more agents into the country. Israel, knowing that Argentina might
never extradite Eichmann for trial, had decided to abduct him and take him to
Israel illegally. On May 11, Mossad operatives descended on Garibaldi Street in
San Fernando and snatched Eichmann away as he was walking from the bus to his
home. His family called local hospitals but not the police, and Argentina knew
nothing of the operation.

On May 20, a drugged Eichmann was flown out of
Argentina disguised as an Israeli airline worker who had suffered head trauma in
an accident. Three days later, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion announced that Eichmann
was in Israeli custody.Argentina demanded Eichmann's return, but Israel argued
that his status as an international war criminal gave it the right to proceed
with a trial. On April 11, 1961, Eichmann's trial began in Jerusalem. It was the
first trial to be televised in history. Eichmann faced 15 charges, including
crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes. He
claimed he was just following orders, but the judges disagreed, finding him
guilty on all counts on December 15 and sentencing him to die. On May 31, 1962,
he was hanged near Tel Aviv. His body was subsequently cremated and his ashes
thrown into the sea.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-02-2006, 05:55 AM
Torrential rains slam Pueblo County in Colorado, causing a flash flood that leaves more than 100 people dead and millions of dollars in property damaged. This was the worst flood in state history to that time.

The Arkansas River runs through the plains of southeastern Colorado. The people of the area built many levees along the river to prevent floods. However, these earth levees proved no match for the extremely heavy rains that pounded the region in June 1921. A series of collapses sent a deluge of water through the streets. It was reported that the water rose to the second story of buildings.

People were caught completely unaware and 120 people lost their lives in the raging waters. Further, a massive mudflow caused by the floods knocked over homes and caused $25 million in damages, more than $230 million in today’s money. The flood waters took nearly a week to recede.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-07-2006, 07:44 AM
On this day in 1954, the Ford Motor Company formed a styling team to take on the project of designing an entirely new car that would later be named the Edsel. The decision came as Ford enjoyed its greatest historical success in the 1950s. The 1955 Thunderbird had outsold its Chevy counterpart, the Corvette, and the consumer demand for automobiles, in all price brackets, was steadily increasing.In exuberant Ford plants, signs that had once read "Beat Chevrolet" were changed to a more ambitious tune, "Beat GM (General Motors)." The Ford Motor Company consisted of four brand names: Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, and Continental, listed from lowest to highest in price range. Ford executives believed that there was a gap in the marketplace between the Mercury and the Lincoln, where a new car would compete against GM's Oldsmobile and Buick lines.

In the mid-1950s, Americans seemed to have an insatiable hunger for high horse-powered, heavily styled cars, with lots of chrome and many accessories. So Ford planned to fill the public's appetite with a suitable answer. The company spared no expense in the development of its new car, even going so far as to employ famous American poet Marianne Moore to supply possibilities for its name. After an extensive name search and no satisfactory result, somebody suggested that the car be named after Henry Ford II's father, Edsel. Ford balked at the suggestion initially and later relented, on the grounds that his father deserved a tribute; he urged the car's designers to live up to his father's name. Edsel had always had a knack for design, even if his business sense hadn't always lived up to his father's expectations. The Edsel project was launched with great fanfare and vigorous advertising. During the years between the car's conception and its production, the American economy took a downturn.

By the time the Edsel was released in 1957, the high end of the car market had once again contracted. Public reaction to the car's exaggerated styling was tepid at best, with particular objections aimed at the Edsel's awkward-looking "horse collar" grill. Sales for the car started slowly and foundered. Newly appointed company Vice President Robert McNamara was charged with the task of salvaging the operation. Had McNamara held the position years earlier, historians point out, the Edsel project may never have been taken on, as McNamara strongly believed Ford should concentrate on the economy car market. McNamara attempted to improve the car's construction and appearance, but when the attempt failed, he was forced to halt production of the car at a disastrous loss of $250 million.

To this day, the Edsel remains the biggest failure in American car history, "a monumental disaster created for tomorrow's markets created by yesterday's statistical inputs." History has treated the Edsel more kindly, as its looks are now considered to be an attractive example of 1950s flair. Like its namesake, Edsel Ford, the Edsel has come to be known as an unfair victim of circumstance.

Zen Curmudgeon
06-10-2006, 08:37 AM
In New York City, two recovering alcoholics, one a New York broker and the other an Ohio physician, found Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), a 12-step rehabilitation program that eventually helps countless people cope with alcoholism.

Based on psychological techniques that have long been used in suppressing dangerous personality traits, members of the strictly anonymous organization control their addictions through guided group discussion and confession, reliance on a "higher power," and a gradual return to sobriety. The organization functions through local groups that have no formal rules besides anonymity, no officers, and no dues. Anyone with a drinking problem qualifies for membership. Today, there are more than 80,000 local groups in the United States, with an estimated membership of almost two million people. Other addiction support groups patterned on A.A. include Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.