Archive for August, 2008

30
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-30-2008: Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice

On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

From a young age, Marshall seemed destined for a place in the American justice system. His parents instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution, a feeling that was reinforced by his schoolteachers, who forced him to read the document as punishment for his misbehavior. After graduating from Lincoln University in 1930, Marshall sought admission to the University of Maryland School of Law, but was turned away because of the school’s segregation policy, which effectively forbade blacks from studying with whites. Instead, Marshall attended Howard University Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1933. (Marshall later successfully sued Maryland School of Law for their unfair admissions policy.)

Setting up a private practice in his home state of Maryland, Marshall quickly established a reputation as a lawyer for the “little man.” In a year’s time, he began working with the Baltimore NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and went on to become the organization’s chief counsel by the time he was 32, in 1940. Over the next two decades, Marshall distinguished himself as one of the country’s leading advocates for individual rights, winning 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court, all of which challenged in some way the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that had been established by the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The high-water mark of Marshall’s career as a litigator came in 1954 with his victory in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In that case, Marshall argued that the ‘separate but equal’ principle was unconstitutional, and designed to keep blacks “as near [slavery] as possible.”

In 1961, Marshall was appointed by then-President John F. Kennedy to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a position he held until 1965, when Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, named him solicitor general. Following the retirement of Justice Tom Clark in 1967, President Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court, a decision confirmed by the Senate with a 69-11 vote. Over the next 24 years, Justice Marshall came out in favor of abortion rights and against the death penalty, as he continued his tireless commitment to ensuring equitable treatment of individuals–particularly minorities–by state and federal governments.

“Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:49 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52777.

On This Day

30 B.C. – Cleopatra, the seventh queen of Egypt, committed suicide.

1146 – European leaders outlawed the crossbow.

1780 – General Benedict Arnold secretly promised to surrender the West Point fort to the British army.

1862 – The Confederates defeated Union forces at the second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, VA.

1960 – A partial blockade was imposed on West Berlin by East Germany.

1963 – The “Hotline” between Moscow and Washington, DC, went into operation.

1991 – The Soviet republic of Azerbaijan declared its independence.

1994 – Rosa Parks was robbed and beaten by Joseph Skipper. Parks was known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in 1955, which sparked the civil rights movement.

Vladimir Lenin shot

After speaking at a factory in Moscow, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin is shot twice by Fanya Kaplan, a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Lenin was seriously wounded but survived the attack. The assassination attempt set off a wave of reprisals by the Bolsheviks against the Social Revolutionaries and other political opponents. Thousands were executed as Russia fell deeper into civil war.

“Vladimir Lenin shot.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:41 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5303.

First African American in space

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger lifts off on its third mission. It was the first night launch of a space shuttle, and many people stayed up late to watch the spacecraft roar up from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2:32 a.m.

“First African American in space.” 2008. The History Channel website. 30 Aug 2008, 02:50 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5304.

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30
Aug
08

Cops and Robbers

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Dumbest Crooks

29
Aug
08

SR-71 Blackbird

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The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on Dec. 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in January 1966. The U.S. Air Force retired its fleet of SR-71s on Jan. 26, 1990, because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation. 

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=395

29
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-29-2008: Katrina

Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast

Hurricane Katrina makes landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane on this day in 2005. Despite being only the third most powerful storm of the 2005 hurricane season, Katrina was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. After briefly coming ashore in southern Florida on August 25 as a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina gained strength before slamming into the Gulf Coast on August 29. In addition to bringing devastation to the New Orleans area, the hurricane caused damage along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, as well as other parts of Louisiana.

“Hurricane Katrina slams into Gulf Coast.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Aug 2008, 03:29 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=5302.

On This Day

1533 – Atahualpa, the last Incan King of Peru, was murdered on orders from Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro. The Inca Empire died with him.

1842 – The Treaty of Nanking was signed by the British and the Chinese. The treaty ended the first Opium War and gave the island of Honk Kong to Britain.

1907 – The Quebec Bridge collapsed killing 75 workers. The bridge was being built across the St. Lawrence River above Quebec City.

1944 – During the continuing celebration of the liberation of France from the Nazis, 15,000 American troops marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris.

1949 – At the University of Illinois, a nuclear device was used for the first time to treat cancer patients.

1965 – Gemini 5, carrying astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles (“Pete”) Conrad, splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean after eight days in space.

1973 – U.S. President Nixon was ordered by Judge John Sirica to turn over the Watergate tapes. Nixon refused and appealed the order.

2004 – India test-launched a nuclear-capable missle able to carry a one-ton warhead. The weapon had a range of 1,560 miles.

State Department official discusses “captive populations”

Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Edward W. Barrett declares that most of the “captive populations” in Soviet satellite nations oppose the Russians. Barrett called for an accelerated program of U.S. propaganda designed to capitalize on this weakness in the communist bloc.

Speaking before a luncheon for the Overseas Writers Organization, Barrett said, “Stalin has completely failed to win over the satellite populations even though he has them under his complete control.” The citizens of these “satellites”–the nations of Eastern Europe occupied by Soviet forces after World War II–hated their Russian masters. “Despite four years of intensive Soviet propaganda, any informed visitor will tell you that between 60 and 90 percent of the captive populations are today anti-Soviet.” Barrett reassured his audience that despite the recent massive Soviet propaganda efforts around the world, the United States was winning the war of words. It was “high time for Americans to stop being defeatist about the so-called propaganda war. We have not lost it; we are not losing it. We can win it.” Despite the fact that the Soviets seemed to be scoring some propaganda successes (such as attacks against America’s racism and treatment of its African-American population), Barrett believed that the Russians “have increasingly proved that they are blunderers in this field.” Most notably, the Soviets had wasted “hundreds of millions of dollars” trying to unsuccessfully portray the United States as the aggressor in the Korean War.

Barrett’s comments indicated that the United States was prepared to engage more actively and aggressively in the propaganda war with Russia. In the years that followed Barrett’s speech, the Department of State committed more and more resources to the “war of words” with the Soviet Union. Accordingly, the United States Information Agency was established in 1953 to serve as America’s worldwide publicist. In the Cold War, the battle for the “hearts and minds” of people was often as important as the military confrontations.

“State Department official discusses “captive populations”.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Aug 2008, 03:25 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2774.

Soviets explode atomic bomb

At a remote test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, the USSR successfully detonates its first atomic bomb, code name “First Lightning.” In order to measure the effects of the blast, the Soviet scientists constructed buildings, bridges, and other civilian structures in the vicinity of the bomb. They also placed animals in cages nearby so that they could test the effects of nuclear radiation on human-like mammals. The atomic explosion, which at 20 kilotons was roughly equal to “Trinity,” the first U.S. atomic explosion, destroyed those structures and incinerated the animals.

According to legend, the Soviet physicists who worked on the bomb were honored for the achievement based on the penalties they would have suffered had the test failed. Those who would have been executed by the Soviet government if the bomb had failed to detonate were honored as “Heroes of Socialist Labor,” and those who would have been merely imprisoned were given “The Order of Lenin,” a slightly less prestigious award.

On September 3, a U.S. spy plane flying off the coast of Siberia picked up the first evidence of radioactivity from the explosion. Later that month, President Harry S. Truman announced to the American people that the Soviets too had the bomb. Three months later, Klaus Fuchs, a German-born physicist who had helped the United States build its first atomic bombs, was arrested for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviets. While stationed at U.S. atomic development headquarters during World War II, Fuchs had given the Soviets precise information about the U.S. atomic program, including a blueprint of the “Fat Man” atomic bomb later dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, and everything the Los Alamos scientists knew about the hypothesized hydrogen bomb. The revelations of Fuchs’ espionage, coupled with the loss of U.S. atomic supremacy, led President Truman to order development of the hydrogen bomb, a weapon theorized to be hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

On November 1, 1952, the United States successfully detonated “Mike,” the world’s first hydrogen bomb, on the Elugelab Atoll in the Pacific Marshall Islands. The 10.4-megaton thermonuclear device instantly vaporized an entire island and left behind a crater more than a mile wide. Three years later, on November 22, 1955, the Soviet Union detonated its first hydrogen bomb on the same principle of radiation implosion. Both superpowers were now in possession of the so-called “superbomb,” and the world lived under the threat of thermonuclear war for the first time in history.

“Soviets explode atomic bomb.” 2008. The History Channel website. 29 Aug 2008, 03:21 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5299.

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Developed in 1949, the Mark VI Aerial Bomb was basically an improved version of the “Fat Man” bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945. An implosion bomb (involving implosion-triggered plutonium fission), it had a higher yield, was lighter and had improved ballistic (flying) characteristics. It could be carried internally on B-29, B-36, B-47, B-50 and B-52 aircraft, and the bombardier could set the height above ground of the explosion while the aircraft was in flight. The Mark VI underwent seven modifications — Mod 0 to Mod 6 — between 1951 and 1955. It was the first mass produced nuclear weapon. The last Mark VI was retired in 1962.

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1038

28
Aug
08

Sunset Lake Kegonsa State Park

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28
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-28-2008: Emmet Till

The death of Emmett Till

While visiting family in Money, Mississippi, 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African American from Chicago, is brutally murdered for flirting with a white woman four days earlier. His assailants–the white woman’s husband and her brother–made Emmett carry a 75-pound cotton-gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head, and then threw his body, tied to the cotton-gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.

Till grew up in a working-class neighborhood on the south side of Chicago, and though he had attended a segregated elementary school, he was not prepared for the level of segregation he encountered in Mississippi. His mother warned him to take care because of his race, but Emmett enjoyed pulling pranks. On August 24, while standing with his cousins and some friends outside a country store in Money, Emmett bragged that his girlfriend back home was white. Emmett’s African American companions, disbelieving him, dared Emmett to ask the white woman sitting behind the store counter for a date. He went in, bought some candy, and on the way out was heard saying, “Bye, baby” to the woman. There were no witnesses in the store, but Carolyn Bryant–the woman behind the counter–claimed that he grabbed her, made lewd advances, and then wolf-whistled at her as he sauntered out.

Roy Bryant, the proprietor of the store and the woman’s husband, returned from a business trip a few days later and found out how Emmett had spoken to his wife. Enraged, he went to the home of Till’s great uncle, Mose Wright, with his brother-in-law J.W. Milam in the early morning hours of August 28. The pair demanded to see the boy. Despite pleas from Wright, they forced Emmett into their car. After driving around in the Memphis night, and perhaps beating Till in a toolhouse behind Milam’s residence, they drove him down to the Tallahatchie River.

Three days later, his corpse was recovered but was so disfigured that Mose Wright could only identify it by an initialed ring. Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, requested it be sent back to Chicago. After seeing the mutilated remains, she decided to have an open-casket funeral so that all the world could see what racist murderers had done to her only son. Jet, an African American weekly magazine, published a photo of Emmett’s corpse, and soon the mainstream media picked up on the story.

Less than two weeks after Emmett’s body was buried, Milam and Bryant went on trial in a segregated courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. There were few witnesses besides Mose Wright, who positively identified the defendants as Emmett’s killers. On September 23, the all-white jury deliberated for less than an hour before issuing a verdict of “not guilty,” explaining that they believed the state had failed to prove the identity of the body. Many people around the country were outraged by the decision and also by the state’s decision not to indict Milam and Bryant on the separate charge of kidnapping.

The Emmett Till murder trial brought to light the brutality of Jim Crow segregation in the South and was an early impetus of the African American civil rights movement.

“The death of Emmett Till.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Aug 2008, 05:02 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5297.

On This Day

1619 – Ferdinand II was elected Holy Roman Emperor. His policy of “One church, one king” was his way of trying to outlaw Protestantism.

1833 – Slavery was banned by the British Parliament throughout the British Empire.

1907 – “American Messenger Company” was started by two teenagers, Jim Casey and Claude Ryan. The companies name was later changed to “United Parcel Service.”

1916 – Italy’s declaration of war against Germany took effect during World War I.

1917 – Ten suffragists were arrested as they picketed the White House.

1939 – The first successful flight of a jet-propelled airplane took place. The plane was a German Heinkel He 178.

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at a civil rights rally in Washington, DC. More than 200,000 people attended.

1988 – At an air show in Ramstein, West Germany, an Italian Air Force jet collided with 2 other jets and then plunged into a crowd. 70 people were killed.

1990 – Iraq declared Kuwait to be its 19th province and renamed Kuwait City al-Kadhima.

1995 – A mortar shell killed 38 people in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The act triggered NATO airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs.

1996 – A divorce decree was issued for Britain’s Charles and Princess Diana. This was the official end to the 15-year marriage.

Mass slaughter in Ukraine

On this day in 1941, more than 23,000 Hungarian Jews are murdered by the Gestapo in occupied Ukraine.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union had advanced to the point of mass air raids on Moscow and the occupation of parts of Ukraine. On August 26, Hitler displayed the joys of conquest by inviting Benito Mussolini to Brest-Litovsk, where the Germans had destroyed the city’s citadel. The grand irony is that Ukrainians had originally viewed the Germans as liberators from their Soviet oppressors and an ally in the struggle for independence. But as early as July, the Germans were arresting Ukrainians agitating and organizing for a provisional state government with an eye toward autonomy and throwing them into concentration camps. The Germans also began carving the nation up, dispensing parts to Poland (already occupied by Germany) and Romania.

But true horrors were reserved for Jews in the territory. Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews had been expelled from that country and migrated to Ukraine. The German authorities tried sending them back, but Hungary would not take them. SS General Franz Jaeckeln vowed to deal with the influx of refugees by the “complete liquidation of those Jews by September 1.” He worked even faster than promised. On August 28, he marched more than 23,000 Hungarian Jews to bomb craters at Kamenets Podolsk, ordered them to undress, and riddled them with machine-gun fire. Those who didn’t die from the spray of bullets were buried alive under the weight of corpses that piled atop them.

All told, more than 600,000 Jews had been murdered in Ukraine by war’s end.

“Mass slaughter in Ukraine.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Aug 2008, 04:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6566.

Riots in Chicago fracture the Cold War consensus

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.

“Riots in Chicago fracture the Cold War consensus.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Aug 2008, 05:14 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2773.

27
Aug
08

American Fighters: F-15 Strike Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon

F-15 Eagle

The F-15 Strike Eagle first entered service in January 1976 and is the primary United States Air Force (USAF) air-superiority fighter.  The F-15 mission is “an all-weather, extremely maneuverable, tactical fighter designed to permit the Air Force to gain and maintain air supremacy over the battlefield.”  The USAF has 522 of these fighters in it’s arsenal at a cost of 29.9 million each.  Aerodynamically sound the air craft has flown with one wing completely blown off, delivering pilot and plane safely back to base. http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=101

 

This is why “Heavy Metal” on The History Channel is one of my favorite shows.

F-16 Thunderbird

The F-16 Fighting Falcon pictured here painted with Thunderbird colors “is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.”  Entering service in January 1979 the USAF maintains 1280 F-16s in its arsenal.http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=103




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