Posts Tagged ‘Iran-Contra Affair

16
Mar
09

On This Day, March 16: US Troops into Honduras

March 16, 1988

Reagan orders troops into Honduras

As part of his continuing effort to put pressure on the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, President Ronald Reagan orders over 3,000 U.S. troops to Honduras, claiming that Nicaraguan soldiers had crossed its borders. As with so many of the other actions taken against Nicaragua during the Reagan years, the result was only more confusion and criticism.

Since taking office in 1981, the Reagan administration had used an assortment of means to try to remove the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. President Reagan charged that the Sandinistas were pawns of the Soviet Union and were establishing a communist beachhead in the Western Hemisphere, though there was little evidence to support such an accusation. Nonetheless, Reagan’s administration used economic and diplomatic pressure attempting to destabilize the Sandinista regime. Reagan poured millions of dollars of U.S. military and economic aid into the so-called “Contras,” anti-Sandinista rebels operating out of Honduras and Costa Rica. By 1988, however, the Contra program was coming under severe criticism from both the American people and Congress. Many Americans came to see the Contras as nothing more than terrorist mercenaries, and Congress had acted several times to limit the amount of U.S. aid to the Contras.

In an effort to circumvent Congressional control, the Reagan administration engaged in what came to be known as the Iran-Contra Affair, in which arms were illegally and covertly sold to Iran in order to fund the Contras. This scheme had come to light in late 1987. Indeed, on the very day that Reagan sent U.S. troops to Honduras, his former national security advisor John Poindexter and former National Security staffer Lt. Col. Oliver North were indicted by the U.S. government for fraud and theft related to Iran-Contra.

The New York Times reported that Washington, not Honduras, had initiated the call for the U.S. troops. In fact, the Honduran government could not even confirm whether Sandinista troops had actually crossed its borders, and Nicaragua steadfastly denied that it had entered Honduran territory. Whatever the truth of the matter, the troops stayed for a brief time and were withdrawn. The Sandinista government remained unfazed.

“Reagan orders troops into Honduras.” 2009. The History Channel website. 16 Mar 2009, 10:14 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2608.

On This Day

1190 – The Crusaders began the massacre of Jews in York, England.

1521 – Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines. He was killed the next month by natives.

1802 – The U.S. Congress established the West Point Military Academy in New York.

1836 – The Republic of Texas approved a constitution.

1882 – The U.S. Senate approved a treaty allowing the United States to join the Red Cross.

1926 – Physicist Robert H. Goddard launched the first liquid-fuel rocket.

1935 – Adolf Hitler ordered a German rearmament and violated the Versailles Treaty.

1939 – Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

1945 – Iwo Jima was declared secure by the Allies. However, small pockets of Japanese resistance still existed.

1968 – U.S. troops in Vietnam destroyed a village consisting mostly of women and children. The event is known as the My-Lai massacre.

1998 – Rwanda began mass trials for 1994 genocide with 125,000 suspects for 500,000 murders.

March 16, 1865

Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina

The mighty army of Union General William T. Sherman encounters its most significant resistance as it tears through the Carolinas on its way to join General Ulysses Grant’s army at Petersburg, Virginia. Confederate General William Hardee tried to block one wing of Sherman’s force, commanded by Henry Slocum, but the motley Rebel force was swept aside at Averasboro, North Carolina.

Sherman’s army left Savannah, Georgia, in late January and began to drive through the Carolinas with the intention of inflicting the same damage on those states as it famously had on Georgia two months prior. The Confederates could offer little opposition, and Sherman rolled northward while engaging in only a few small skirmishes. Now, however, the Rebels had gathered more troops and dug in their heels as the Confederacy entered its final days.

Hardee placed his troops across the main roads leading away from Fayetteville in an effort to determine Sherman’s objective. Union cavalry under General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick contacted some of Hardee’s men along the old Plank Road northeast of Fayetteville on March 15. Kilpatrick could not punch through, so he regrouped and waited until March 16 to renew the attack. When they tried again, the Yankees still could not break the Confederate lines until two divisions of Slocum’s infantry arrived. In danger of being outflanked and possibly surrounded, Hardee withdrew his troops and headed toward a rendezvous with Joseph Johnston’s gathering army at Bentonville, North Carolina.

The Yankees lost 95 men killed, 533 wounded, and 54 missing, while Hardee lost about 865 total. The battle did little to slow the march of Sherman’s army.

“Battle of Averasboro, North Carolina.” 2009. The History Channel website. 16 Mar 2009, 10:28 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2137.

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04
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-4-2008: Black Panther Party

December 4, 1969

Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party

Black Panthers Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22, are gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in their Chicago, Illinois, apartment. About a hundred bullets had been fired in what police described as a fierce gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party. However, ballistics experts later determined that only one of those bullets came from the Panthers’ side. In addition, the “bullet holes” in the front door of the apartment, which police pointed to as evidence that the Panthers had been shooting from within the apartment, were actually nail holes created by police in an attempt to cover up the attack. Four other Black Panthers were wounded in the raid, as well as two police officers.

Despite the evidence provided by ballistics experts showing that police had fired 99 percent of the bullets and had falsified the report on the incident, the first federal grand jury did not indict anyone involved in the raid. Furthermore, even though a subsequent grand jury did indict all the police officers involved, the charges were dismissed.

Survivors of the attack and relatives of Hampton and Clark filed a lawsuit against Hampton and other officials, which was finally settled in 1983.

“Police kill two members of the Black Panther Party.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1209.

On This Day

1783 – Gen. George Washington said farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York.

1875 – William Marcy Tweed, the “Boss” of New York City’s Tammany Hall political organization, escaped from jail and fled from the U.S.

1918 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for France to attend the Versailles Peace Conference. Wilson became the first chief executive to travel to Europe while in office.

1942 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the dismantling of the Works Progress Administration. The program had been created in order to provide jobs during the Great Depression.

1942 – U.S. bombers attacked the Italian mainland for the first time during World War II.

1945 – The U.S. Senate approved American participation in the United Nations.

1965 – The U.S. launched Gemini 7 with Air Force Lt. Col. Frank Borman and Navy Comdr. James A. Lovell on board.

1973 – Pioneer 10 reached Jupiter.

1978 – Dianne Feinstein became San Francisco’s first woman mayor when she was named to replace George Moscone, who had been murdered.

1986 – Both U.S. houses of Congress moved to establish special committees to conduct their own investigations of the Iran-Contra affair.

1991 – Associated Press correspondent Terry Anderson was released after nearly seven years in captivity in Lebanon.

1991 – Pan American World Airways ceased operations.

1992 – U.S. President Bush ordered American troops to lead a mercy mission to Somalia.

1993 – The Angolan government and its UNITA guerrilla foes formally adopted terms for a truce. The conflict was killing an estimated 1,000 people per day.

1997 – The play revival “The Diary of Anne Frank” opened.

December 4, 1942

Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews

On this day in Warsaw, a group of Polish Christians put their own lives at risk when they set up the Council for the Assistance of the Jews. The group was led by two women, Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz.

Since the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Jewish population had been either thrust into ghettos, transported to concentration and labor camps, or murdered. Jewish homes and shops were confiscated and synagogues were burned to the ground. Word about the Jews’ fate finally leaked out in June of 1942, when a Warsaw underground newspaper, the Liberty Brigade, made public the news that tens of thousands of Jews were being gassed at Chelmno, a death camp in Poland-almost seven months after the extermination of prisoners began.

Despite the growing public knowledge of the “Final Solution,” the mass extermination of European Jewry and the growing network of extermination camps in Poland, little was done to stop it. Outside Poland, there were only angry speeches from politicians and promises of postwar reprisals. Within Poland, non-Jewish Poles were themselves often the objects of persecution and forced labor at the hands of their Nazi occupiers; being Slavs, they too were considered “inferior” to the Aryan Germans.

But this did not stop Zofia Kossak and Wanda Filipowicz, two Polish Christians who were determined to do what they could to protect their Jewish neighbors. The fates of Kossak and Filipowicz are unclear so it is uncertain whether their mission was successful, but the very fact that they established the Council is evidence that some brave souls were willing to risk everything to help persecuted Jews. Kossak and Filipowicz were not alone in their struggle to help; in fact, only two days after the Council was established, the SS, Hitler’s “political” terror police force, rounded up 23 men, women, and children, and locked some in a cottage and some in a barn-then burned them alive. Their crime: suspicion of harboring Jews.

Despite the bravery of some Polish Christians, and Jewish resistance fighters within the Warsaw ghetto, who rebelled in 1943 (some of whom found refuge among their Christian neighbors as they attempted to elude the SS), the Nazi death machine proved overwhelming. Poland became the killing ground for not only Poland’s Jewish citizens, but much of Europe’s: Approximately 4.5 million Jews were killed in Poland’s death and labor camps by war’s end.

“Polish Christians come to the aid of Polish Jews.” 2008. The History Channel website. 4 Dec 2008, 11:30 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6400.

On This Day in Wisconsin: December 4

1842 – Waukesha Civil War Hero Born
On this date William B. Cushing of Waukesha was born. In October, 1864 Cushing led a small group of soldiers in the sinking of the Confederate ironclad ram, the Albermarle. The crew exploded a torpedo beneath the ship and then attempted to escape. The Albermarle imposed a blockade near Plymouth, North Carolina and sunk or removed many Union vessels while on the watch. Cushing’s plan was a success, although his ship sank and most of the crew either surrendered or drowned. Cushing and one other man swam to shore and hid in the swamps to evade Confederate capture. Cushing received a “vote of thanks” from the U.S. Congress and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He died in 1874 of ill health and is buried in the Naval Cemetary at Annapolis, Maryland. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes, p.274-285]

25
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-25-2008: Kennedy Laid to Rest

November 25, 1973

Nixon calls for Sunday ban on gasoline Sales

On this day, in response to the 1973 oil crisis, President Richard M. Nixon called for a Sunday ban on the sale of gasoline to consumers. The proposal was part of a larger plan announced by Nixon earlier in the month to achieve energy self-sufficiency in the United States by 1980. The 1973 oil crisis began in mid-October, when 11 Arab oil producers increased oil prices and cut back production in response to the support of the United States and other nations for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Almost overnight, gasoline prices quadrupled, and the U.S. economy, especially its automakers, suffered greatly as a result. The Sunday gasoline ban lasted until the crisis was resolved in March of the next year, but other government legislation, such as the imposing of a national speed limit of 55mph, was extended indefinitely. Experts maintained that the reduction of speed on America’s highways would prevent an estimated 9,000 traffic fatalities per year. Although many motorists resented the new legislation, one long-lasting benefit for impatient travelers was the ability to make right turns at a red light, a change that the authorities estimated would conserve a significant amount of gasoline. In 1995, the national 55mph speed limit was repealed, and legislation relating to highway speeds now rests in state hands.

“Nixon calls for Sunday ban on gasoline Sales.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Nov 2008, 11:15 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=7814.

 

On This Day

1758 – During the French and Indian War, the British captured Fort Duquesne at what is now known as Pittsburgh.

1783 – During the Revolutionary War, the British evacuated New York. New York was their last military position in the U.S.

1850 – Texas relinquished one-third of its territory in exchange for $10 million from the U.S. to pay its public debts and settle border disputes.

1867 – Alfred Nobel patented dynamite.

1936 – The Anti-Comintern Pact, an agreement between Japan and Germany, was signed.

1947 – Movie studio executives meeting in New York agreed to blacklist the “Hollywood 10,” who were cited a day earlier and jailed for contempt of Congress when they failed to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1955 – In the U.S., the Interstate Commerce Commission banned racial segregation on interstate trains and buses.

1957 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a stroke.

1976 – O.J. Simpson (Buffalo Bills) ran for 273 yards against the Detroit Lions.

1985 – Ronald W. Pelton was arrested on espionage charges. Pelton was a former employee of the National Security Agency. He was later convicted of ‘selling secrets’ to Soviet agents.

1986 – U.S. President Reagan and Attorney Gen. Edwin Meese revealed that profits from secret arms sales to Iran had been diverted to rebels in Nicaragua.

1998 – President Jiang Zemin arrived in Tokyo for the first visit to Japan by a Chinese head of state since World War II.

November 25, 1963

Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated three days earlier, is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It was his son’s third birthday.

Kennedy’s coffin had lain in state in the rotunda of the Capitol building the previous day. Approximately 250,000 people streamed by the closed flag-draped coffin in a massive outpouring of respect. The next day, television and movie cameras rolled while Kennedy’s wife Jackie, his brothers Robert and Ted, political leaders and foreign dignitaries formed a solemn funeral procession behind Kennedy’s coffin as it was transferred atop a horse-drawn caisson to St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Observers noted the only sounds that could be heard were the cadence of drum beats and horses’ hooves and muffled sobs from the approximately 1 million people who lined the route between the Capitol and the cathedral. At one point, Kennedy’s son, John Jr., who turned three that day, was filmed saluting his father’s coffin.

After the state funeral at St. Matthew’s–the family had held a private mass at the White House on November 23–the mourners proceeded to Arlington National Cemetery by car where Kennedy, a decorated World War II hero, was buried with military honors. Kennedy was the second president to be buried at Arlington; President William Howard Taft had been interred there in 1930.

Although Kennedy had not specified where he wanted to be buried, most assumed his gravesite would be in his home state of Massachusetts. In March 1963, though, President Kennedy had made an unscheduled tour of Arlington and had reportedly remarked to a friend on the view of the Potomac River from the cemetery’s Custis-Lee Mansion, saying it was “so magnificent I could stay forever.” After the assassination, Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, suggested Arlington be Kennedy’s final resting place. Jackie toured the site on November 24 and made the final decision, saying “he belongs to the people.”

“Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington .” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Nov 2008, 11:18 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52019.

18
Nov
08

On This Day, 11-18-2008: Abraham Lincoln

November 18, 1863

Lincoln travels to Gettysburg

President Lincoln boards a train for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to deliver a short speech at the dedication for the cemetery of soldiers killed during the battle there on July 1 to 3, 1863. The address he gave became perhaps the most famous speech in American history.

Lincoln had given much thought to what he wanted to say at Gettysburg, but he nearly missed his chance to say it. On November 18, Lincoln’s son, Tad, became ill with a fever. Abraham and Mary Lincoln were, sadly, no strangers to juvenile illness: they had already lost two sons. Prone to fits of hysteria, Mary Lincoln panicked when the president prepared to leave for Pennsylvania. Lincoln felt that the opportunity to speak at Gettysburg and present his defense of the war was too important to miss, though. He boarded a train at noon and headed for Gettysburg.

Despite his son’s illness, Lincoln was in good spirits on the journey. He was accompanied by an entourage that included Secretary of State William Seward, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, Interior Secretary John Usher, Lincoln’s personal secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay, several members of the diplomat corps, some foreign visitors, a Marine band, and a military escort. During one stop, a young girl lifted a bouquet of flowers to his window. Lincoln kissed her and said, “You’re a sweet little rose-bud yourself. I hope your life will open into perpetual beauty and goodness.”

When Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg, he was handed a telegram that lifted his spirits: Tad was feeling much better. Lincoln enjoyed an evening dinner and a serenade by Fifth New York Artillery Band before he retired to finalize his famous Gettysburg Address.

“Lincoln travels to Gettysburg.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Nov 2008, 10:09 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2391.

 On This Day

1865 – Samuel L. Clemens published “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” under the pen name “Mark Twain” in the New York “Saturday Press.”

1883 – The U.S. and Canada adopted a system of standard time zones.

1903 – The U.S. and Panama signed a treaty that granted the U.S. rights to build the Panama Canal.

1916 – Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, calls off the Battle of the Somme in France. The offensive began on July 1, 1916.

1936 – Germany and Italy recognized the Spanish government of Francisco Franco.

1951 – Chuck Connors (Los Angeles Angels) became the first player to oppose the major league draft. Connors later became the star of the television show “The Rifleman.”

1966 – U.S. Roman Catholic bishops did away with the rule against eating meat on Fridays.

1987 – The U.S. Congress issued the Iran-Contra Affair report. The report said that President Ronald Reagan bore “ultimate responsibility” for wrongdoing by his aides.

1988 – U.S. President Reagan signed major legislation provided the death penalty for drug traffickers who kill.

1993 – The U.S. House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate in approving legislation aimed at protecting abortion facilities, staff and patients.

 

November 18, 1940

Hitler furious over Italy’s debacle in Greece

On this day in 1940, Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano over Mussolini’s disastrous invasion of Greece.

Mussolini surprised everyone with a move against Greece; his ally, Hitler, was caught off guard, especially since the Duce had led Hitler to believe he had no such intention. Even Mussolini’s own chief of army staff found out about the invasion only after the fact!

Despite being warned off an invasion of Greece by his own generals, despite the lack of preparedness on the part of his military, despite that it would mean getting bogged down in a mountainous country during the rainy season against an army willing to fight tooth and nail to defend its autonomy, Mussolini moved ahead out of sheer hubris, convinced he could defeat the inferior Greeks in a matter of days. He also knew a secret, that millions of lire had been put aside to bribe Greek politicians and generals not to resist the Italian invasion. Whether the money ever made it past the Italian fascist agents delegated with the responsibility is unclear; if it did, it clearly made no difference whatsoever-the Greeks succeeded in pushing the Italian invaders back into Albania after just one week. The Axis power spent the next three months fighting for its life in a defensive battle. To make matters worse, virtually half the Italian fleet at Taranto had been crippled by a British carrier-based attack.

At their meeting in Obersalzberg, Hitler excoriated Ciano for opening an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the Brits within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relied upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler would have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to Greece in order to bail Mussolini out. Hitler considered leaving the Italians to fight their own way out of this debacle-possibly even making peace with the Greeks as a way of forestalling an Allied intervention. But Germany would eventually invade, in April 1941, adding Greece to its list of conquests.

“Hitler furious over Italy’s debacle in Greece.” 2008. The History Channel website. 18 Nov 2008, 10:23 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6384.




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