Sunday, July 26, 2020


1245 A council at Lyons deposed Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II after it found him guilty of sacrilege.

1794 The National Convention overthrew French revolutionary and “Reign of Terror” leader Maximilien Robespierre and placed him under arrest; he was executed the following day.

1919 The Chicago Race Riot erupted after a racial incident occurred on a South Side beach. Over the next five days 15 blacks and 23 whites were killed, and 537 injured.

1929 Fifty-three nations signed the Geneva Convention of 1929, dealing with the treatment of prisoners-of-war.

1932 An Assize Court in Paris sentenced to death Paul Gorgulov, who assassinated French president Paul Doumer on May 6. Gorgulov approached Doumer at a book fair at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild in Paris and opened fire. Gorgulov, a Russian émigré, believed that France had failed to support the White Movement in Russia against Bolshevism.

1962 Police in Albany, Georgia, put Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in jail for violating a state circuit court injunction against protests. After two weeks in jail he agreed to stop demonstrations there.

1974 The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.

1975 Masked men of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam shot dead the mayor of Jaffna and former MP Alfred Duraiappah on his way to temple. Tamil militants considered him a traitor and government collaborator and already attempted to assassinate him by throwing a hand grenade on his car in 1971.

1976 Japanese authorities arrested former Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka on suspicion of violating foreign exchange and foreign trade laws in connection with the Lockheed bribery scandals.

1976 Bruce Springsteen sued his manager Mike Appel in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court for fraud and breach of contract. The suit was eventually settled out of court.

1983 At the Welikada high security prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sinhalese inmates overpowered the guards, armed themselves with axes and firewood, and attacked and massacred fifteen Tamil political prisoners. It was the second such massacre in two days. The assailants claimed the guards forced them to attack. To this day no one has been punished for these crimes or any victims’ families compensated.

1989 While attempting to land at Tripoli International Airport in Libya, Korean Air Flight 803 crashed just short of the runway. Seventy-five of the 199 passengers and crew and four people on the ground were killed. A Libyan court determined it was crew error; it found the captain and first officer guilty of neglect and sentenced them to two years and eighteen months respectively, with the first officer's sentence eventually suspended.

1990 Zsa Zsa Gabor began a 3-day jail sentence for slapping a police officer in Beverly Hills.

1996 A homemade pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996 Summer Olympics, killing one person and injuring 111 others. Police originally suspected security guard Richard Jewell but ultimately arrested Eric Rudolph, an anti-abortion and anti-gay activist. Rudolph confessed to the bombings of Olympic Park, two abortion clinics, and a gay nightclub and was sentenced to multiple terms of life in prison.

2002 A Sukhoi Su-27 fighter crashed during an air show at Lviv, Ukraine, killing 77 and injuring more than 100 others, making it the deadliest air show disaster in history. The president of the Ukraine blamed the military and fired the head of the air force. A military court found Pilot Volodymyr Toponar and co-pilot Yuriy Yegorov and three other military officials guilty of failing to follow orders, negligence, and violating flight rules. The pilot and co-pilot, who had not received adequate training or briefing, received 14 and 8 years in prison, respectively.

2005 A U.S. federal court sentenced Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who'd plotted to bomb LAX airport on the eve of the millennium, to 22 years in prison. An appellate court found this sentence too lenient, and he was re-sentenced to 37 years in 2012.

2015 The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined Fiat Chrysler a record $105 million for mishandling safety recalls on millions of vehicles.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


AD 70 In Jerusalem, the Zealots waged a street fight against the Roman army when Titus, son of Roman emperor Vespasian, stormed the Fortress of Antonia north of the Temple Mount.

1881 Sioux Indian leader Sitting Bull, a fugitive since the Battle of the Little Big Horn, surrendered to federal troops.

1934 “Bloody Friday”: During the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934, police in Minneapolis fired upon striking truck drivers, killing two and wounding sixty-seven. Under pressure from President Roosevelt’s administration, local industrialists finally agreed to a plan that established uniform pay rates for trucking workers and called for strikers to be rehired, and the strike ended on August 22.

1938 The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit in New York City against the motion picture industry, charging that studio ownership of theaters and film distribution violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. The case was eventually settled with a consent decree but the studios did not fully comply. The United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. Supreme Court ruling in 1948 forced the studios to divest themselves of their theater chains. Separating the production of films from their exhibition, along with the advent of television, put an end to the old Hollywood system.

1944 Adolf Hitler was only slightly wounded when a bomb planted by would-be assassins exploded at the Fuhrer’s field headquarters near Rastenburg. The Gestapo arrested 7,000 people who had the remotest connection to the plot and executed nearly 5,000.

1950 Laboratory chemist Harry Gold pled guilty to spying for the Soviet Union by passing secrets from atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment but was paroled in 1965.

1951 Palestinian nationalist Mustafa Shukri Ashu assassinated King Abdullah I of Jordan as he attended Friday prayers in Jerusalem.

1954 Otto John, head of West Germany's secret service, turned up in East Germany after disappearing for three days. In December 1955 he defected back to West Germany, claiming he’d been abducted by KGB agents. The West Germans did not believe him and charged him with treason.

1974 Forces from Turkey invaded Cyprus after a coup d'état, organized by the dictator of Greece, against president Makarios.

1990 A federal appeals court set aside Oliver North's convictions in the Iran-Contra scandal.

1993 U.S. Park Police found Clinton White House deputy counsel Vince Foster shot to death in Fort Marcy park outside Washington, D.C., in an apparent suicide.

1999 The Chinese Communist Party began a persecution campaign against the religious movement Falun Gong, arresting thousands nationwide.

2005 The Civil Marriage Act legalized same-sex marriage in Canada.

2012 Gunman James Holmes opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 70 others.

2017 A Nevada parole board granted O. J. Simpson parole to be released from prison after serving nine years of a 33-year sentence. He was convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas in 2008.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


1793 Royalist sympathizer Charlotte Corday stabbed to death French revolutionary Jean Paul Marat in his bath. She was executed four days later.

1863 The Draft Riots protesting unfair conscription into the Union Army to fight the Civil War erupted in New York City. About 1,000 people died over three days.

1942 The SS and Ukrainian police liquidated the remaining 5,000 Jews living in the Rovno ghetto in western Ukraine. They herded them into freight cars, transported them to the forest near Kostopol, and shot them to death. Einsatzgruppe C and their Ukrainian collaborators massacred 21,000 Jews the previous November. Reichskommissar Eric Koch declared the ghetto judenrein ("clean of Jews") at the end of July.

1955 The last execution of a woman in Britain took place when nightclub owner Ruth Ellis was hanged at HM Prison Holloway in London. On Easter Sunday, 1955, she shot and killed her abusive lover, David Blakely, in what many considered a crime passionel.

1976 The court martial began in the USSR for Valery Sablin, captain of the Soviet destroyer Storozhevoy, who led a failed mutiny in the hope of replacing the Stalinist bureaucracy with a Leninist soviet democracy. He and 26 others were shot for treason. The case inspired Tom Clancy’s thriller The Hunt for Red October.

1977 A 25-hour blackout hit New York City after lightning struck upstate power lines. Widespread rioting and looting followed.

1978 A Soviet court sentenced political dissidents Alexander Ginzburg, Viktoras Piatkus, and Sjtsjaranki to work camps. Ginzburg received an eight-year sentence, but the next year U.S. President Carter negotiated an exchange of two Soviet spies for five Soviet political dissidents and Ginzburg came to America.

1983 The Transvaal Attorney General announced that Eugène Terre'Blanche, leader of the far-right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), and three associates would face terrorism charges in South Africa for attempting or planning to overthrow the South African government by violent means. Terre’Blanche and Petrus Johannes Rudolph were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1999.

1994 An Oregon judge sentenced Jeff Gillooly to two years in prison for his attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, the rival of his ex-wife Tanya Harding. He was released after six months and changed his name.

2000 South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. worker Russell Eubanks accused soul singer James Brown of assault and kidnapping. Eubanks was responding to a report of a power outage at Brown's home July 3 when the "Godfather of Soul" allegedly attacked him with a steak knife and held him against his will. Police did not have enough evidence to file charges.

2000 In Japan, Yoko Ono filed a lawsuit against Teito Rapid Transit Authority for copyright infringement, claiming the TRTA had no authority to use the likeness of John Lennon on a ticket.

2013 A Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

2018 A Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $4.7 billion in damages to more than 20 women in the baby powder cancer case. The company was aware for years that its talc contained cancer-causing asbestos. J&J still faced almost 20,000 lawsuits filed by other victims.

2018 The U.S. Department of Justice charged twelve Russian intelligence officers with cyber-attacks against Democratic officials during the 2016 U.S. election. The hackers were accused of using spear phishing emails and malicious software; they also stole data on half a million voters from a state election board website. The Kremlin denied all accusations against the GRU agents.

Sunday, July 5, 2020


photo credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

1415 The Catholic Church burned Czech theologian and church reformer Jan Hus at the stake as a heretic. He sang Psalms as the flames engulfed him.

1535 Sir Thomas More was beheaded for treason—he refused to join Henry VIII's Church of England.

1699 Colonial authorities captured pirate Captain William Kidd in Boston, MA, and deported him back to England.

1892 Three thousand eight hundred striking steelworkers fought a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents hired by Carnegie Steel during the Homestead Strike in Homestead, Pennsylvania. About 700 members of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, the nation’s strongest trade union, objected to production demands not in their contract and the remaining workers joined them. State militia troops helped Carnegie restore order. Nine strikers and seven Pinkertons were killed and dozens were left wounded during the confrontation. The strike lost momentum over the next few months and the union lost power, allowing Carnegie to institute longer hours and lower wages.

1905 Officials in Europe and the U.S. exchanged fingerprints for the first time, in the case of John Walker.

1918 Members of Cheka, a Soviet secret police organization, assassinated German ambassador Wilhelm von Mirbach in Moscow, sparking the Left Socialist Revolutionaries uprising in Russia.

1944 Future baseball legend Jackie Robinson, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, refused to move to the back of a bus in Camp Hood, Texas, leading to a general court-martial on charges of insubordination and disrespect under the Articles of War. He was fully acquitted.

1944 A carelessly tossed cigarette started a blaze in the big top tent of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, Conn. 167 people died trying to escape. The circus paid out almost $5,000,000 to 600 victims and families over the next 10 years.

1981 An Argentine federal court freed former President of Argentina Isabel Peron after five years of house arrest.

1983 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled (Arizona Governing Comm. v. Norris) that retirement plans could not pay women smaller monthly payments solely because of their gender.

1988 In one of the worst offshore oil disasters, an explosion and resulting gas and oil fires destroyed Piper Alpha, an oil platform in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. 167 men were killed; 61 escaped and survived. The insured loss came to almost two billion dollars, making it one of the costliest man-made catastrophes in history. A Public Inquiry in Scotland found Occidental Petroleum, Piper Alpha's operator, guilty of sustaining inadequate maintenance and safety procedures, but no criminal charges were ever brought against the company.

1989 Abd al-Hadi Rafa Ghanim of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad seized the steering wheel of commuter bus 405 en route from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and drove it over a cliff, killing 16 passengers. (Yehuda Meshi Zahav, one of the students from a nearby yeshiva who ran to help, later founded ZAKA, an Israeli volunteer rescue service organization.) Ghanim survived and received sixteen life sentences for murder, hijacking, and terrorism.

1997 In Cambodia, co-premier Hun Sen ousted co-premier Norodom Ranariddh. Hun Sen is still prime minister as of 2020.

2000 A Missouri jury awarded former NHL player Tony Twist $24 million for the unauthorized use of his name in the comic book Spawn and the HBO cartoon series. Co-defendant HBO settled with Twist out of court for an undisclosed amount.

2005 A federal judge jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller after she refused to testify before a grand jury investigating the leak of an undercover CIA operative's name (Valerie Plame).

2010 A California court sentenced actor Lindsay Lohan to 90 days in jail for violating her probation and 90 days in a residential substance-abuse. She served 14 days behind bars.

2013 Boko Harem gunmen attacked a government-run boarding school in Yobe State, Nigeria, killing at least 42 people, mostly students. Yobe governor Ibrahim Geidam closed all secondary schools for the rest of the year and claimed the attack could have been prevented if there had not been a cell phone outage that kept citizens from reporting suspicious persons.

2013 An unattended 74-car freight train loaded with crude oil running at 65 mph derailed near the downtown area of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Multiple tank cars erupted in flames. 47 people were killed and the center of town half-destroyed. Most victims had to be identified from DNA samples and dental records.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada found 18 factors that contributed to the disaster, including unresolved mechanical problems, negligent brakemen, insufficient training of employees, a lax safety culture within the train company, and inadequate oversight by Transport Canada.

Jurors acquitted the locomotive engineer, rail traffic controller, and operations manager, each charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death.

2013 A Boeing 777 operating as Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Korea crashed on its descent to San Francisco International Airport, killing three and injuring 181 of the 307 people on board. An investigation by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the flight crew mismanaged the airplane's final approach. Seventy-two passengers reached an undisclosed settlement with Asiana Airlines and Boeing in 2015 but as many as 100 more lawsuits filed in China, South Korea, and the U.S. remain unsettled.