Sunday, May 24, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: May 25

photo credit: ozy.com

1521 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V declared Martin Luther an outlaw and ordered his writings burned because he refused to recant his heretical Ninety-Five Theses.

1895 English Judge Sir Alfred Wills convicted playwright Oscar Wilde of “committing acts of gross indecency with certain male persons” and sentenced him to two years' penal servitude with hard labor. After his release Wilde left the UK forever and spent his last three years in poverty.

1925 A Tennessee grand jury indicted teacher John Scopes for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The Butler Act prevented public schoolteachers from denying the story of Divine creation as taught in the Bible. After a sensational trial, Scopes was found guilty and fined $100; the verdict was overturned because of a legal technicality.

1926 Sholom Schwartzbard assassinated Symon Petliura, the head of the government of the Ukrainian People's Republic headquartered in Paris during exile. Schwartzbard held Petliura personally responsible for the deaths of 15 family members in the 1919 pograms and freely admitted shooting Petliura. A sympathetic jury acquitted him.

1977 The Chinese government lifted a decade-old ban on William Shakespeare's work, effectively ending the Cultural Revolution started in 1966.

1978 The first bomb of a series of bombings orchestrated by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski detonated at Northwestern University. Campus police officer Terry Marker received minor cuts and burns when a suspicious package exploded as he opened it.

1979 In the worst air disaster in U.S. history (excluding the Sept. 11 attacks), a DC-10 crashed at Chicago's O'Hare airport, killing over 270 people. The American Airlines maintenance crew was found to be at fault and the airline fined $500,000. One of the mechanics responsible killed himself.

1979 The state of Florida executed convicted murderer John Spenkelink in the electric chair. He was the first person to be executed in Florida after capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

1992 Three men shot and killed Khalil Rountree, tour manager for the Grammy Award-winning R&B group Boyz II Men, in a confrontation in an elevator at the Guest Quarters Suite Hotel in Chicago. Rountree’s assistant was also wounded in the assault. Only one of the suspects went to trial and served time.

2006 A Texas jury found Enron chief executives Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling guilty of fraud and conspiracy. The executives took part in a major accounting scandal that led to the largest bankruptcy in history up to that time. Lay died before he could be sentenced. Skilling was sentenced to more than 24 years.

2011 An Arizona judge ruled that Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of wounding U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and killing six in a shooting rampage, was incompetent to stand trial.

2013 A gas cylinder exploded on a school bus in the Pakistani city of Gujrat, killing 17 children and a teacher and injuring 7 others. The fire started when the driver of the dual-fuel van converted from CNG fuel intake to petrol fuel intake. He fled the van and left it to burn with 25 people inside and was later arrested in a nearby town. The government awarded approximately $7,000 for those killed and $1,000 to those injured.

2018 Two-thirds of the people of Ireland voted to repeal the Eight Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland that prohibited abortion except when the mother’s life was threatened.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: May 18


1302 In Bruges, weaver Pieter de Coninck led an insurrection of local, untrained Flemish militia against the occupying forces of French King Philip IV. 2,000 people died, mostly French troops.

1593 British authorities issued an arrest warrant for Elizabethan poet and dramatist Christopher Marlowe on charges of heresy. Thomas Kyd, the playwright's former roommate, had been arrested but under torture claimed the "vile heretical conceits denying the eternal deity of Jesus Christ" found in his room belonged to Marlowe.

1619 The States General of Netherlands sentenced Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius to life in prison for his role in the intra-Calvinist dispute of the Dutch Republic. Grotius supported religious tolerance vs. the Calvinist hard-liners. He escaped in a trunk “full of books” two years later.

1631 In violation of the colony’s charter with England, officers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony granted voting rights only to church-going Puritan males.

1643 Anne of Austria, widow of French King Louis XIII, convinced the Parlement of Paris to annul her husband's will and make her sole and absolute regent until her son became of age. Louis XIV began his rule in 1661.

1652 The colony of Rhode Island passed the first anti-slavery legislation in North America.

1852 Massachusetts ruled all children 8-14 must attend school for at least three months out of the year. Violators faced a maximum fine of $20 and prosecution by local authorities.

1896 The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed racial segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson as "separate but equal." The precedent was overturned in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.

1904 Moroccan tribal leader Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli and his bandits kidnapped Greek-American playboy Ion H. Perdicaris and his stepson in Morocco. Raisuli demanded a ransom of $70,000, the release of political prisoners, control of more districts, and other political stipulations. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt sent warships to the Mediterranean, with armed support from England, France, and Spain. Sultan Abdelaziz of Morocco acceded to most of Raisuli's demands and the hostages returned home June 24.

1926 Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished from a beach in Santa Monica, California. She reappeared a month later claiming she had been kidnapped.

1927 In the worst school massacre in history, 55-year-old Michigan farmer and school board member Andrew Kehoe killed his wife and firebombed his house and outbuildings before proceeding to the Bath Consolidated School building, where he set off a series of explosions that killed 45 people, mostly children, and injured 58 more. He had been planting explosives in the basement of the elementary school for more than a year. As rescuers arrived, Kehoe detonated dynamite inside his shrapnel-filled truck, killing himself and four others. Rescuers searching for survivors in the debris found 500 pounds of dynamite in the south wing of the school that failed to detonate. Kehoe was angered by higher school taxes and his defeat for the office of Bath Township Clerk and faced eviction from his farm.


1944 The Soviet government deported 200,000 Crimean Tatars en masse to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accused them of collaborating with the Germans during World War II. Nearly half of those deported, mostly women and children, perished between 1944 and 1947 in the harsh exile conditions.


1971 Police in Calgary discovered the last victim of vampire rapist Wayne Boden. An orthodontist matched impressions of the bite marks on Elizabeth Anne Porteou to suspect Boden, who admitted to killing four women during rough sex. He would reach a frenzy while strangling his victims and feel compelled to feast on their breasts. An Alberta jury sentenced him to life in prison, making Boden the first murderer convicted in North America on odontological evidence. He received additional life sentences for the three murders committed earlier in Montreal.

1980 In Kwangju South Korea, government troops beat 600 students at Chonnam University gathered to protest the suppression of academic freedom. Civilians opposed to military rule soon joined them, with nearly a quarter of a million people participating in the uprising nationwide over the next three days. By May 27, troops had completely crushed the rebellion, killing as many as 2,000 civilians.

1983 The U.S. Senate passed a revision of immigration laws that would give millions of illegal aliens legal status under an amnesty program.

1992 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled states cannot force mentally unstable criminal defendants to take anti-psychotic drugs.

1993 Italian police arrested fugitive Mafia boss Benedetto "Nitto" Santapaola in a farmhouse in Sicily. "All things have to end," he reportedly told the arresting officers. Italy’s “Most Wanted Man” had been on the run for 11 years.

1998 The U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general of twenty states filed a sweeping antitrust case against Microsoft Corp., claiming Microsoft made it difficult for consumers to install competing software on computers operated by Windows and was therefore a monopoly. The software giant appealed a federal judge’s order to split into two entities and won, but agreed to share computing interfaces with other companies.

1998 U.S. Treasury and Justice Department officials arrested 142 people and seized $35 million in what is believed to be the largest money laundering case in history. U.S. Customs-led undercover agents of “Operation Casablanca” investigated the money laundering operations of a dozen Mexican banks linked to Colombian and Mexican drug-smuggling cartels.

2003 President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia declared martial law and sent 30,000 troops into Aceh, Sumatra, to suppress a separatist rebellion. The movement finally collapsed in 2005 after the crackdown by the Indonesian military and the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami.

2009 The 25-year civil war in Sri Lanka ended. The government announced it had gained control of the last bit of territory held by the Tamil Tigers separatist group and killed its leader.

2010 John Langley, co-owner of the Red and Black Café, in Portland, Oregon, asked police officer James Crooker to leave his store, claiming Crooker's uniformed presence made the customers of his vegan coffeeshop uncomfortable.

2011 Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the International Monetary Fund after his arrest May 15 on charges that he sexually assaulted a housekeeper in a midtown New York hotel room. The state eventually dropped the charges of attempted rape, sex abuse, forcible touching, and unlawful imprisonment, although the one-time candidate for the French presidency later settled a civil case for a confidential amount purported to be $6 million.

2018 Armed with a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun, a Rossi .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, and explosives, 17-year-old student Dimitrios Pagourtzis opened fire at the Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas near Houston, fatally shooting eight students and two teachers and wounding 13 others. Police officers stationed at the school returned fire and wounded Pagourtzis, who then surrendered.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: May 11

photo credit: Hulton archives

1310 King Philip IV of France ordered 54 members of the Knights Templar burned at the stake on charges of heresy.

1625 Lutheran peasants besieged the Frankenburg estate in Upper-Austria, in resistance to Catholic rule. The Bavarian assizes sentenced to death the 36 men who had led the revolt but allowed half of them to go free: two men would step forward and one would hang, determined by a roll of the dice.

1812 Disgruntled businessman John Bellingham shot and killed British PM Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons. He blamed the prime minister for not coming to his aid when he was imprisoned in Russia on debt charges. Bellingham was tried, found guilty, and hanged within a week.

1857 Indian troops (sepoys) employed by the East India Company seized Delhi from the British in an attempt to topple British rule. The mutiny spread throughout northern India, but Britain eventually quashed the rebellion.

1880 Seven people were killed in a gun battle near Hanford, California, in a dispute over land titles between settlers and the Southern Pacific Railroad. The “Muscle Slough Tragedy” became a rallying point for anti-railroad sentiment.

1889 U.S. Army Paymaster Major Joseph Washington Wham and a contingent of Buffalo Soldiers were stopping at various forts in the Arizona territory with a payroll of $28,000 in gold and silver coins when 12 men attacked the entourage. A shootout ensued: eight soldiers were wounded but, amazingly, no one was killed. 11 suspects were caught, 7 stood trial, and all were found not guilty. Unsurprisingly, with all suspects freed, the payroll was never found.

1891 While on a state visit to Japan, Prince Nicholas (later Tsar Nicholas II) of Russia survived an assassination attempt by one of his police escorts. Tsuda Sanzō jumped onto the prince’s rickshaw and swung his sabre at the prince’s head, but Nicholas turned, receiving a glancing blow that left a 3 ½-inch scar. He was spared further injury when his cousin, the crown Prince George of Greece and Denmark, whacked the assailant with his stick. Sanzō was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison but died of self-imposed starvation within months. He thought the Tsesarevich was a Russian spy.

1894 Workers at the Pullman Palace Car Co. in Illinois started a strike when company owner George Pullman refused to listen to employee grievances. Pullman created a town for his employees, but when company profits dipped, he reduced wages and refused to lower rent and other charges. Rail service was crippled nationwide as the strike spread.

1944 The National Organization for Help to People in Hiding, one of the most successful underground resistance organizations in Europe, freed co-founder Frits Slomp, a Dutch Reformed pastor and prominent anti-Nazi activist, during an armed raid at Dome Prison in Arnhem, Netherlands. A group of 8-10 men, two disguised as Dutch policemen, led a handcuffed "prisoner" into the facility and abducted Slomp and fellow resistance fighter Henk Kruithof.

1960 Israeli agents captured Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. The SS leader was in charge of the logistics of sending millions of Jews to extermination camps in WWII. The Mossad agents smuggled him back to Israel, where he was found guilty after an eight-month trial and hanged.

1963 The day after city leaders and the non-violent Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights campaign announced the "Birmingham Truce Agreement” in Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb exploded at the home of the Rev. A.D. King, brother of civil rights activist Martin Luther King. King and his wife and children escaped unharmed. About an hour later, assailants bombed the Gaston Motel, where MLK often stayed. When thousands of blacks rioted over the next two days, President Kennedy sent in federal troops.

1970 In Oxford, North Carolina, three white men shot and killed Henry Marrow, an unarmed black man, in a racially-motivated assault. An all-white jury found the three not guilty of all charges, incensing the black community, which organized a boycott of white businesses. After 18 months, the town agreed to end the segregation of public facilities.

1972 John Lennon announced on the The Dick Cavett Show that the FBI put a tap on his phone.

1973 Citing government misconduct, a California District Court judge dismissed charges of espionage, theft, and conspiracy against Daniel Ellsberg for his role in the Pentagon Papers case. He released the report about the Viet Nam War to The New York Times.

1985 The Bradford City stadium fire during a football match in west Yorkshire killed 56 and injured at least 265. The dilapidated stadium was officially condemned and due to be replaced after what would have been the final match of the season. The Bradford City Association Football Club was deemed responsible and ordered to pay as much as £20 million to the 154 claimants, with the payouts covered by insurance.

1987 The trial of Klaus Barbie for war crimes during WWII began in Lyon. 730 witnesses attested to his guilt: the murder of 4,000 people and the exportation of another 7,000 Jews, most to certain death at Auschwitz. The “Butcher of Lyon” was sentenced to life in prison.

1989 Kenya announced a worldwide ban on ivory to preserve its elephant herds.

1996 A ValuJet DC-9 caught fire shortly after takeoff from Miami and crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing all 110 people on board, when improperly stored chemical oxygen generators in the cargo hold ignited. A federal grand jury fined SabreTech, the airline’s maintenance contractor, $2 million and ordered it to pay $9 million in restitution for its handling of hazardous materials. Two workmen in charge of the oxygen canisters were acquitted of charges and one who failed to appear is still a fugitive. The FAA grounded ValuJet for three months.

1998 In violation of a global ban on nuclear testing, India conducted three underground nuclear tests, its first in 24 years. The United Nations unanimously condemned the tests and demanded that both India and Pakistan halt their nuclear programs.

2001 Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh received a 30-day stay of execution. The FBI had failed to disclose thousands of documents to his defense team.

2009 Upset at being forced into treatment at the counseling center at Camp Liberty in Bagdhad, Iraq, Army Sergeant John M. Russell assaulted his escort on the way back to his unit, seized the escort's M-16 rifle, and drove back to the clinic where he opened fire on unarmed personnel. He killed five and wounded three U.S. soldiers. Russell plead guilty and received a life sentence.

2013 Egypt conducted a retrial of its former President Hosni Mubarak on charges of complicity in the deaths of protestors during the 2011 Egyptian revolution. He was ultimately acquitted.

2018 In the worst shooting incident in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre of 1996, a grandfather in Margaret River, Australia, shot six members of his family and himself. Peter Miles first shot his daughter and her four children, then his wife, alerted police to the shootings, then killed himself. Miles’s daughter and son-in-law were engaged in a costly and lengthy custody dispute; the children lived with their mother at her parent’s property, “Forever Dreaming Farm.” Aaron Cockman, the estranged son-in-law, speculated Miles wanted to end his own suffering and did not want his family to grieve his death.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: May 4


1436 Swedish aristocrat Måns Bengtsson assassinated petty nobleman Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, leader of a national movement against despot Erik of Pomerania, king of the Kalmar Union (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), in a private dispute. Engelbrektsson's martyrdom fueled growing discontent and the Swedes overthrew King Erik.

1535 The English state executed three Carthusian monastics, a Bridgettine monk, and a priest for refusing to acknowledge Henry VIII as Supreme Head of the Church of England. The martyrs were hanged, disemboweled while still alive, beheaded, and quartered, then their parts stuck on pikes and displayed in public places.

1886 A labor demonstration for an eight-hour workday at Haymarket Square in Chicago turned into a riot when a bomb exploded. Eight people died in the violence that day.

1897 A fire at a charity bazaar in Paris killed 126 people, mostly women. The operators of the malfunctioning cinematograph lit a match to fix the lamp and set fire to the ether in it. The draped canvas serving as a suspended ceiling then spread the fire; some exit doors did not open outwards. The Court of the Correctional Tribunal found the President of the Charity Bazaar Committee, the Baron of Mackau, guilty of negligence and imprudence and fined the prominent Conservative Party member 500 francs. The cinematograph operators received prison sentences in addition to fines.

1916 British authorities at Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, executed four Irish republicans for their part in the Easter Rising, an armed rebellion against British rule in Ireland. Fourteen men were executed by firing squad between May 3 and May 12. The executions were intended to stop the move toward nationalism but only increased it.

1919 Beijing students demonstrated in Tiananmen Square, protesting the Treaty of Versailles which transferred a Chinese territory to Japan. After weeks of nationwide protests, the government reluctantly agreed to dismiss pro-Japanese officials, accept the resignations of the cabinet members, and reject the peace treaty with Germany.

1932 Mobster Al Capone, Public Enemy Number One, started his prison sentence for tax evasion at Atlanta Correctional.

1946 In San Francisco Bay, U.S. Marines from the nearby Treasure Island Naval Base stopped a two-day riot at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Five people were killed in the riot.

1948 The Hague Court of Justice convicted Nazi SS officer Hanns Rauter of Crimes against Humanity. He was executed by firing squad in 1949. Rauters was the leading SS leader in the occupied Netherlands and reported directly to Himmler.

1961 South African police arrested African National Congress leader John Nkadimeng for entering a prohibited zone without a permit. He was detained until 1 July, convicted, and fined £25.

1961 Thirteen civil rights activists, called "Freedom Riders," left Washington, D.C., for New Orleans to challenge racial segregation on interstate buses and in bus terminals.

1968 Dancer's Image won the 94th Kentucky Derby almost two lengths ahead of the nearest horse, but officials announced May 7 they had found traces of phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory drug, in his urine after the race and declared Forward Pass the winner. The Kentucky Racing Commission legalized phenylbutazone in 1974.

1970 Ohio National Guardsmen shot down four Kent State University students and injured nine others during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration.

1978 The South African Defence Force attacked a South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) base at Cassinga in southern Angola, killing about 600 people. Debate continues as to whether it was a massacre of civilians in a refugee camp or a highly successful military operation against insurgents.

1989 Federal prosecutors won a partial victory in their case against former White House aide Oliver North, a central figure of the Iran-Contra affair: he was convicted of three felonies but acquitted of nine other charges. The convictions were later vacated and reversed.

1992 Dudu Mntowaziwayo Ndlovu (Dudu Zulu), a band member of Johnny Clegg & Savuka, died of a gunshot wound in Zululand, South Africa, as he walked to his home from a neighbor’s. Police determined the popular percussionist and vocalist was probably an unintended victim of feuding taxi drivers.

1994 Singer Courtney Love was cleared of drug charges. L.A. police arrested her April 7—the day before her husband was found dead—on suspicion of narcotics possession after she became ill at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Actually, she had suffered an allergic reaction to prescription medication and requested hospitalization herself. Doctors found no evidence of narcotics in her system and police found no illegal drugs in her room.

1998 A federal judge in Sacramento, Calif. sentenced Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski to four life terms plus 30 years under a plea agreement that spared him the death penalty. His series of bombings killed three and injured 23.

2006 A federal judge sentenced Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison for his role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The day before, the jury decided against the death penalty. Moussaoui’s attorneys had argued he should face life in prison, rather than achieve martyrdom through execution.

2007 A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge sentenced Paris Hilton to 45 days in jail for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

2012 Authorities discovered 9 people hanging from the Colosio Bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and a few hours later found 14 decapitated bodies in garbage bags stashed in a van. The four men and five women dangling from the bridge were handcuffed, blindfolded, and showed signs of torture. The heads of the 14 corpses were found stuffed into three ice chests dumped near the town hall. All the victims were suspected members of the warring Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.

2014 Three people were killed and 62 injured when homemade bombs exploded on two buses packed with commuters in Nairobi, Kenya. The Kenyan government blamed Al-Shabaab for the incidents. The al-qaeda-linked group vowed to avenge the presence of Kenyan troops helping neighboring Somalia fight Islamic extremists.

2019 At the 145th Kentucky Derby, stewards disqualified winner Maximum Security for interference and declared Country House, a longshot, the victor. Stewards determined that Maximum Security cost two other horses better positions when he swerved into their paths and forced them to check their strides. It was the first DQ of the champion for an on-track infraction in race history.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: April 27

photo credit: Ancient Origins

1521 Philippine natives led by chief Lapu-Lapu killed explorer Ferdinand Magellan on Mactan Island. Magellan was demanding the islanders bow to the king of Spain, pay tribute, and convert to Christianity.

1595 Turkish Ottoman Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha publicly incinerated the relics of Saint Sava in Belgrade in a symbolic gesture to quell the cleric-led Serbian uprising. Instead, it provoked the Serbs and empowered them to continue their fight for liberation.

1773 British Parliament passed the Tea Act, giving the East India Company huge tax breaks and a monopoly on the American tea trade.

1857 Lower Austria prohibited the establishment of Jewish communities.

1861 American President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus that protects the public against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.

1865 The steamboat SS Sultana exploded in the Mississippi River, killing up to 1,800 of the 2,427 passengers. Most were paroled Union POWs on their way home. The boat was grossly overcrowded, the boilers leaky and mismanaged, and the captain notoriously corrupt and incompetent, but no one was ever held accountable for the greatest maritime disaster in U.S. history.

1940 Reichsführer-SS Himmler ordered the establishment of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Between 1.2 and 1.6 million people lost their lives there.

1945 Italian partisans captured fleeing dictator Benito Mussolini and his mistress as they attempted to slip into Switzerland. The two and their entourage were shot the next day.

1950 The apartheid government of South Africa passed the Group Areas Act No. 41. Creating different residential areas for each race, it forced physical separation and segregation between races to maintain dominance by the white minority. It was not repealed until 1990. This day in 1994 marked the second day of voting in the first post-apartheid general election in South Africa, when everyone over 18 was allowed to vote regardless of race.

1978 Members of the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan began the takeover of the city of Kabul, attacking government buildings and media outlets. Around midnight revolutionists assassinated self-proclaimed Afghan president Daoud and his family. The Saur Revolution established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and began a continuous series of armed conflicts there.

1978 Safford Federal Correctional Prison in Arizona released Domestic Affairs Adviser to President Nixon John D. Ehrlichman after he served 18 months of a 2- to 8- year sentence for Watergate-related crimes. He became a successful novelist after his release.

1982 John W. Hinckley Jr. went on trial in Washington, D.C., on attempted murder charges in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan. (He was charged with 13 offenses and found not guilty by reason of insanity.)

1986 An operations engineer at the Central Florida Teleport uplink station in Ocala, Florida jammed the Home Box Office satellite signal for almost five minutes to protest HBO's rates for satellite dish owners. The FCC tracked down John R. MacDougall (aka "Captain Midnight") and he received a $5,000 fine, one-year supervised probation, and a one-year suspension of his amateur radio license.

1987 The U.S. Justice Department barred Austrian president Kurt Waldheim from entering the United States. He was accused of aiding in the execution of thousands of Jews in World War II as a German army officer.

1989 In the largest instance of defying the state since 1949 and with widespread public support, as many as 200,000 students from Beijing universities marched on Tiananmen Square to protest an editorial published the previous day accusing the student movement of destabilizing the party and the country. Protests demanding reforms broke out in other Chinese cities as well. The demonstrations did trigger a dialogue between government and student leaders, but premier Li Peng soon forcibly suppressed all protests, declared martial law, and backed the military action that led to the massacre on June 4.

1993 A plane carrying the Zambian national team crashed into the sea off Gabon as the team headed to Senegal for a 1994 World Cup qualifier, killing all 25 passengers and five crew members. After a lengthy court battle, in 2002 the government of Zambia was ordered to pay the families of the victims $4 million. The official investigation, not concluded until 2003, found that the overworked pilot had shut down the wrong engine following an engine fire and his instrument panel was faulty.

2012 Four home-made bombs hidden in concrete waste bins exploded in different locations in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, injuring at least 27 people. The attacks were blamed on random acts of violence, feuding oligarchs from Ukraine's criminal underworld, al-Qa'eda, and the Russian secret services in an attempt to foment panic, fear, and confusion.

2018 Mass protests occurred in Spain after a court cleared five men of gang rape charges stemming from an attack on a teenage girl that occurred during the running of the bulls in Pamplona in 2016. The men in the "Wolf Pack" case were sentenced to nine years for sexual abuse.

2019 Armed with an AR-15 style rifle, John Timothy Earnest burst into the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California, and opened fire. Lori Lynn Gilbert-Kaye was killed protecting her rabbi and three others, including the rabbi, were injured. Earnest fled the scene when his gun jammed and called 9-1-1 to report the shooting. He was charged with one count of murder, three counts of attempted murder, one count of arson (for setting an earlier mosque fire), and 108 federal hate crime and civil rights violation charges.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: April 20

photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia

1769: An unnamed Peoria warrior stabbed Ottawa chief Pontiac to death near Cahokia, Illinois, in retaliation for Pontiac killing the assassin’s uncle, Peoria chief Black Dog. Pontiac’s avengers nearly wiped out the Illinois group in return.

1818: The case of Ashford v Thornton ended. After Abraham Thornton was acquitted of the murder of Mary Ashford in Warwickshire, Ashford’s brother William launched a private appeal against Thornton and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, and the court upheld his demand. When Ashford refused to fight, Thornton was freed. Parliament abolished “trial by battle” the next year.

1871: U.S. President Grant signed the Enforcement Act of 1871, a civil rights act designed to protect African Americans from violent attacks by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. It empowered the president to suspend habeas corpus and declare martial law in rebellious areas.

1914: Colorado National Guard troops, accompanied by a private force from the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, fired machine guns into a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families in Ludlow, Colorado, killing 21 men, women, and children. No shooter was ever charged with any crime.

1945: With Allied forces approaching, the SS killed 20 Jewish children used in medical experiments at Neuengamme in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school.

1948: An unknown assailant wounded Walter Reuther, head of the United Auto Workers Union, with a shotgun blast through the kitchen window of his Detroit home as he prepared a late-night snack. The shooter was never caught.

1971: The U.S Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold the use of busing to achieve racial desegregation.

1973: “Co-ed Killer” Ed Kemper claimed his ninth victim: his mother. He bludgeoned her to death with a claw hammer, slit her throat and decapitated her, violated her head before using it as a dartboard, and tried to destroy her tongue and vocal cords in the garbage disposal. He then lured her best friend to the house and killed her and stole her car, but soon after called police and made a full confession. A jury found him sane and guilty of eight counts of murder, and he received eight concurrent life sentences. (He’d already spent 5 years at Atascadero for killing his grandparents at age 15.)

1977: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New Hampshire motorists may cover up "Live Free or Die" on their license plates.

1980: The Algerian military arrested hundreds of Berber political activists, students, and doctors seeking political and cultural rights. The arrests triggered a series of violent confrontations between youth and police and sparked a general strike.

1987: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Karl Linnas to stop his deportation to the Soviet Union. Linnas, a concentration camp commandant in WWII who was convicted in absentia and sentenced to capital punishment during the Holocaust trials, lied about his Nazi status to gain entry to the U.S. and become a U.S. citizen. He died in a Russian prison before he could be executed.

1990: Former Cincinnati Red star and manager Pete Rose pled guilty to failing to report $354,968 in income to the IRS. He was sentenced to five months in prison and three months in a halfway house, fined $50,000, told to serve 1,000 hours of community service, and ordered to pay back taxes and interest. He could have received a three-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine.

1994: A Florida judge sentenced Danny Harold Rolling to death for killing five Gainesville students in 1990. He was executed in 2006.

1999: In the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. at that time, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured 24 others before committing suicide at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. Homemade bombs in the cafeteria and in their cars failed to detonate or hundreds more would have been killed.

2007: William Phillips, a NASA contractor with 25 years of service, entered NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas with a handgun and barricaded himself in before killing a man he believed was going to give him a poor performance review. A woman he duct taped to a chair freed herself and escaped. Phillips killed himself after a stand-off.

2010: In the largest oil spill to ever occur in U.S. waters, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 and causing the rig to sink, causing a massive oil discharge into the Gulf of Mexico and an environmental disaster. Transocean, British Petroleum, and Halliburton paid billions of dollars in environmental fines and victim’s compensations.

2012: One hundred fifty-two people were killed when Bhoja Air Flight 213 crashed in a residential area near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport near Islamabad, Pakistan. An investigation found Bhoja committed a series of violations: the company did not possess “requisite infrastructure” (and is now defunct), the plane did not have an Airworthiness Certificate, it was not supposed carry passengers, the crew was not trained to handle emergencies such as rough weather, nor was the pilot sufficiently trained or experienced to fly a commercial carrier. Bhoja is required by law to compensate each victim’s family $65,300.

2015: Al-Shabaab militants detonated a bomb lodged under the seat of a UNICEF van carrying food supplies to a U.N. compound in Garowe, Somalia, killing seven and injuring eight. Puntland police apprehended more than a dozen men in connection with the attack.

2018: New York police arrested actress Allison Mack on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor in relation to the sex cult NXIVM. She pleaded guilty to two racketeering charges a year later and faces as much as 20 years per count.

2018: A Mexican court barred the sale of the controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll in Mexico, citing improper use of brand. Members of the Kahlo family dispute the claim that the Frida Kahlo Corporation owns the rights to her image.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

WRITING TIPS from Eudora Welty, born April 13, 1909 (d. 2001)


photo credit: The Paris Review

To write like this:
When they turned off, it was still early in the pink and green fields. The fumes of morning, sweet and bitter, sprang up where they walked. The insects ticked softly, their strength in reserve; butterflies chopped the air, going to the east, and the birds flew carelessly and sang by fits and starts, not the way they did in the evening in sustained and drowsy songs.

Here are some tips:
  • To write honestly and with all our powers is the least we can do, and the most.
  • The first act of insight is throw away the labels.
  • If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.
  • One place understood helps us understand all places better.
  • Greater than scene is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.
  • No art ever came out of not risking your neck.
  • My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other's presence, each other's wonder, each other's human plight.
  • It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time getting there; the point is to have a destination.
  • All serious daring starts from within.