Monday, December 28, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: December 28


1860 Harriet Tubman arrived in Auburn, New York, on her last mission to free slaves. She had evaded capture for eight years on the Underground Railroad.

1915 The British Cabinet moved to institute compulsory military service, with single men to be conscripted before married ones.

1918 Constance Markievicz became the first woman to be elected MP to the British House of Commons. At the time, she was detained in Holloway prison for her part in anti-conscription activities.

1921 The Rand Rebellion started in Southern Africa. It began as a strike by white mineworkers and became an open armed rebellion against the state.

1941 Operation Anthropoid, the plot to assassinate high-ranking Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich, commenced.

1943 Soviet authorities began the deportation of more than 93,000 people of Kalmyk nationality, and non-Kalmyk women with Kalmyk husbands, to Siberia and Central Asia. Many died en route.

1973 U.S. President Richard Nixon signed into law the United States Endangered Species Act.

1937 The Irish Free State became the Republic of Ireland when a new constitution established the country as a sovereign state under the name of Eire.

1970 Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen) adopted its constitution

1971 The Dutch Opium Law (Opiumwet) now included hashish.

1972 German investigators concluded the skeletal remains found by Berlin construction workers on December 7 were those of Martin Bormann, Hitler's deputy. DNA tests in 2011 confirmed the identification.

1973 The Chamber of Commerce of Akron, Ohio, terminated its association with the All-American Soap Box Derby, stating that the race had become "a victim of cheating and fraud." Derby officials stripped the 1973 winner of his title when he was caught using an electromagnetic system to gain an advantage.

1974 At a clandestine congress, the Senegalese radical Marxist group Reenu-Rew founded the political movement And-Jëf/African Party for Democracy and Socialism.

1975 Audience member David Gelfer, 25, pointed a .44 magnum at rocker Ted Nugent at a concert in Spokane, Washington, before being brought down to the ground by members of the audience and security guards. Police charged Gelfer with "intimidating with a weapon."

1982 A police officer mortally wounded Nevell Johnson Jr., a Black man, in a Miami video arcade, setting off three days of race-related disturbances that left another man dead.

1987 Authorities in Arkansas found the bodies of 14 relatives of R. Gene Simmons at his home near Dover. Simmons had gone on a shooting spree in Russellville that claimed two other lives and wounded four, then calmly surrendered to police.

1991 Nine people were crushed to death at the “Heavy D. and Puff Daddy Celebrity Charity Basketball Game” at City College of New York after several hundred people failed to gain admission to the game. Sponsors Heavy D, Sean "Puffy" Combs, and the CCNY Student Council, as well as the city and state of New York and the security company overseeing the event, faced wrongful death lawsuits.

2005 A U.S. immigration judge ordered John Demjanjuk deported to Ukraine for crimes against humanity committed during World War II.

1995 Pressure from German prosecutors investigating pornography forced online service provider CompuServe to set a precedent by blocking access to sex-oriented newsgroups on the Internet for its customers.

1998 Singer Usher sued the Tommy Hilfigger company for alleged infringement of publicity rights and false endorsement.

2000 U.S. District Court Judge Matsch held a hearing to ensure that confessed Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh understood that he was dropping his appeals. McVeigh said that he wanted an execution date set but wanted to reserve the right to seek presidential clemency.

2001 A Michigan district court judge reduced a fourth-degree criminal sexual misconduct charge against Marilyn Manson to disorderly conduct. A second charge, a misdemeanor count of assault and battery, remained unchanged. The incident stemmed from a concert in 2001 when Manson allegedly assaulted a security guard.

2005 Former top Enron Corp. accountant Richard Causey pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to help pursue convictions against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

10 Christmas Short Stories You Will Enjoy


Here are ten holiday-themed short stories I always enjoy reading at Christmas, and I thought you would enjoy them, too:

"The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton" and "To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt" by Charles Dickens

"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

"The Dead" by James Joyce

"The Adventure of the Dauphin's Doll" by Ellery Queen

"Death on Christmas Eve" by Stanley Ellin

"Christmas Party" by Rex Stout

"The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding" by Agatha Christie

"Maigret's Christmas" by Georges Simenon

 ** Do you have a favorite Christmas short story?**

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: December 21


1837 The U.S. House of Representatives renewed a "gag rule" prohibiting any discussion of abolition issues. Vermont representative William Slade's anti-slavery speech the previous day prompted Congress to resolve “that all petitions, memorials, and papers, touching the abolition of slavery, or the buying, selling, or transferring of slaves, in any State, District, or Territory, of the United States, be laid on the table, without being debated, printed, read, or referred, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon." Congress reinstated the rule every year until 1844.

1866 In Wyoming, a confederation of Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes killed 80 U.S. Army soldiers under the command of Captain William Fetterman in the worst military disaster on the Great Plains up to that time. The Fort Phil Kearny soldiers were assigned to protect settlers on the Bozeman Trail to the Montana gold fields; the Native Americans, including Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, attacked in retaliation for trespassing on treaty lands.

1906 British Parliament passed the Trades Disputes Bill, an act which declared unions could not be sued for damages incurred during a strike, and the Workingmen's Compensation Act, legislation which broadened employers' liability for accidents.

1907 The Chilean Army opened fire with machine guns on striking miners occupying the Santa María school in Iquique, Chile, killing at least 2,000 Chilean, Bolivian, Peruvian, and Argentine miners and their wives and children. The miners were demanding better working conditions; Chile did not start implementing minimum labor standards until 1920.

1919 America’s Bureau of Investigation deported anarchist/feminist Emma Goldman and 248 other radical "aliens" to the Soviet Union on the USS Buford. The Immigration Act of 1918 allowed for the expulsion of any foreign nationals found to be an anarchist, although most of the deportees were U.S. citizens.

1942 In Williams v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme ruled that a divorce obtained in Nevada must be recognized by other states.

1956 The day after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order for Montgomery, Alabama, to integrate its buses, the city’s Black citizens resumed riding the now-integrated buses after a boycott of more than a year. Local Black leaders Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rev. Glenn Smiley were among the first passengers.

1959 Citizens of Deerfield, Illinois, successfully blocked a proposed integrated housing project. After the developer built two model luxury homes on the site, the village board learned 20 percent of the homes were to be set aside for African Americans and set up a referendum. Deerfield residents voted overwhelmingly to condemn the property and turn it over to the Parks Department.

1961 Profaci crime family mobster Joe Gallo—kingpin of the New York rackets—was sentenced to 7 to 14 years in prison for conspiracy and extortion. He'd tried to extort payments from a cafe owner, who immediately went to the police.

1963 "Bloody Christmas" began in Cyprus when Greek Cypriot “special constables” shot dead two Turkish Cypriots who refused to show their identity cards. The next day, after the funerals, shooting broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, ultimately resulting in the displacement of 25,000–30,000 Turkish Cypriots and the destruction of more than 100 villages. On December 30, Greece, Great Britain, and Turkey signed an agreement on the division of the area into Turkish and Greek enclaves.

1970 In Oregon v. Mitchell, the U. S. Supreme court ruled that the federal government could set a voting age for federal elections, ban literacy tests, and allow non-state residents to vote in federal elections, but left the voting age for state and local elections to the discretion of individual states.

1970 Elvis Presley met U.S. President Nixon in the Oval Office to discuss the war on drugs. The “King of Rock and Roll” presented Nixon with a chrome-plated Colt .45 and the president gave Presley a Narcotics Bureau badge. A photo of their meeting is the most requested picture in the National Archives.

1971 Belfast bar owner John Lavery, 60, was killed when he picked up and attempted to remove a bomb the IRA planted in his pub on the Lisburn Road. Lavery was a Catholic.

1978 Police in Des Plaines, Ill., already suspicious of John W. Gacy Jr. in the disappearances of several young men, arrested the friendly contractor on a marijuana charge. The “Killer Clown” confessed to killing more than two dozen boys and young men and burying their bodies in his crawlspace. An Illinois jury convicted him of 33 counts of murder and sentenced him to death.

1988 A terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pan Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. The bombing remains to date the deadliest air disaster to occur on British soil.

1994 A bomb exploded on the #4 subway car packed with holiday shoppers as it pulled into the Fulton Street station in New York City, injuring 43 people. Police found Edward Leary of Scotch Plains, N.J., badly burned and wandering around a Brooklyn subway station shortly after the blast and suspected he was holding the bomb in his lap when it exploded prematurely. The unemployed computer analyst planned to extort the NYC Transit Authority with his homemade bomb. He was sentenced to 94 years in prison.

1996 After two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted he violated House ethics rules when he disregarded federal tax law and lied to the ethics panel investigating the case. The House ethics committee recommended a reprimand and an unprecedented $300,000 financial penalty. A censure would have stripped Gingrich of his Speaker’s job.

1998 A Chinese court sentenced high-profile dissidents Xu Wenli and Wang Youcai to lengthy prison terms on subversion charges after they attempted to officially register the China Democracy Party (CDP), the country's first opposition party under communist rule. A third veteran dissident, Qin Yongmin, was sentenced to 12 years in prison the next day. All defendants were effectively denied legal representation and forced to present their own defense.

1999 The Spanish Civil Guard intercepted a van loaded with 950 kg of explosives driven by members of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), a Basque separatist terrorist organization. The next day, the Guard found another van loaded with 750 kg of explosives in the same area. After 9/11, ETA confirmed it intended to blow up Madrid’s Torre Picasso, the tallest building in Spain at the time. (ETA consistently targets Spain's tourist attractions.) The incident is sometimes called la caravana de la muerte—the caravan of death.

2002 Larry Mayes became the 100th person in the U.S. to be released from prison after DNA tests exonerated him. Mayes spent 21 years in prison for a 1980 rape and robbery that he maintained that he never committed.

2005 Singer Elton John and David Furnish registered their civil partnership at Windsor Town Hall, on the first day the Civil Partnership Act came into effect in England and Wales.

2012 Clashes over access to grazing, farmland, and water between the Orma and Pokomo peoples of Kenya's Tana River District resulted in the deaths of 39 people when 150 Pokomo raiders attacked the Ormo village of Kipao, setting fire to houses and cutting down residents with spears and machetes. The deadly incident was the latest in a series of flareups in the coastal region that began in August between the Orma, who are a mostly cattle-herding nomadic people, and the Pokomo, who are mainly farmers. President Mwai Kibaki set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the attacks.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: December 14

835 Chinese Emperor Wenzong of the Tang dynasty conspired with chancellor Li Xun and general Zheng Zhu to kill the powerful eunuchs of the imperial court undermining his rule. The eunuchs learned of the plot, however, counterattacked with their own soldiers, and slaughtered more than 1,000 soldiers and officials involved in the conspiracy.

1650 Authorities in Oxfordshire, England, hanged scullery maid Anne Greene for committing infanticide. Greene had tried to hide the remains of her stillborn baby, and the "Concealment of Birth of Bastards" Act of 1624 presumed that a woman who concealed the death of an illegitimate baby had killed it. The next day, she revived in the dissection room and, "being saved by the hand of God," received a pardon.

1918 Left-wing activist José Júlio da Costa penetrated a double police cordon and fatally shot Portuguese President Sidónio Pais as he entered the Lisboa-Rossio Railway Station in Lisbon. Presidential bodyguards killed four bystanders in the confusion as da Costa waited to be apprehended. He was imprisoned and tortured by the government but never stood trial and died forgotten in a psychiatric hospital 28 years later.

1964 In Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress can use the Constitution's Commerce Clause to fight discrimination. The Heart of Atlanta Motel lost its argument that it had the right to refuse to rent rooms to African-Americans.

1971 Anticipating Bangladesh would win independence, at the end of the Bangladesh Liberation War the Pakistan Army and their local collaborators executed more than 200 intellectuals of what was then East Pakistan to cripple the new nation intellectually. The massacre brought the total of teachers, journalists, attorneys, doctors, engineers, poets, and writers killed over the nine-month period of the war to more than 1,000. Two days later, the Pakistan Army surrendered to the joint forces of the Indian army and Mukti bahini.

1975 Six terrorists from the Indonesian province of South Maluku surrendered to Dutch police after killing three people and holding 23 others hostage for 12 days on a train near the Dutch town of Beilen. The terrorists were demanding the Dutch government recognize the Republic of South Maluku as an independent state.

1981 In a move seen by critics as a declaration of annexation, Israel's Knesset ratified the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli law to the occupied Golan Heights. Because the Golan Heights is officially Syrian territory occupied by the Israeli military, the law was not recognized internationally—the United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 declared it “null and void and without international legal effect.”

1993 The Colorado District Court found unconstitutional the state's voter-approved Amendment Two prohibiting state and local governments from giving protected status for sexual orientation and imposed a permanent injunction.

1995 The White House released classified documents that revealed the FBI had spied on John Lennon and his anti-war activities during the early '70s. President Nixon ordered the information-gathering in an attempt to deport the influential Beatle.

1999 U.S. and German negotiators agreed to establish a $5.2 billion fund to compensate Nazi-era slave and forced laborers.

2000 Russian authorities announced American businessman and retired naval intelligence officer Edmond Pope would be released for humanitarian reasons. Pope had been sentenced to 20 years in prison after his conviction on espionage charges when newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned him.

2003 In the third close call during his four-year rule, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a powerful bomb blew up a bridge seconds after his highly guarded convoy crossed it in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital of Islamabad. Militants angry at Musharraf's support for the U.S. in its fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban set the bomb.

2008 Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at U. S. President George W. Bush during an Iraqi press conference at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s palace in Baghdad. Palace guards grabbed the attacker, kicked him, and rushed him from the room. President Bush was not harmed. The Central Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced al-Zaidi to three years in prison for assaulting a foreign head of state during an official visit.

2012 Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother in their Newtown, Connecticut home, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School, forced his way in, and killed 26 people with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. The victims included 20 children between the ages of six and seven. Lanza shot himself in the head with a Glock 20SF handgun while still inside the school.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

TODAY IN CRIME: December 7


Fulvia With the Head of Cicero by Pavel Svedomsky

43 BC Two soldiers acting for the Second Triumvirate assassinated Roman orator and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero, the last defender of the Roman Republic, before he could flee to Macedonia. Mark Antony ordered his enemy’s severed head and hands nailed on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum—but first Antony’s wife Fulvia spat on Cicero’s severed head, pulled out his tongue, and stabbed it with her golden hairpins as a final act of revenge against the power of his oratory.

1941 353 Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, killing more than 2,300 Americans. Because the attack happened without a declaration of war and without explicit warning, judges at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials ruled the strike illegal—a war crime under the 1907 Hague Convention.

1972 Geodetic engineer Carlito Dimahilig attempted to assassinate Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos, on live television. Wielding a bolo—a long, heavy, single-edged knife—Dimahilig repeatedly stabbed Marcos, inflicting wounds that required 75 stitches, before the First Lady’s bodyguards shot and killed him. The attacker’s motive is unknown.

1974 President Makarios returned to Cyprus after five months in exile. He fled to London after a coup d’etat.

1982 At Ellis Unit near Huntsville, Texas, convicted murderer Charlie Brooks Jr. became the first prisoner in the U.S. to be executed by lethal injection.

1984 Michael Jackson testified in Chicago, IL, that he wrote the song "The Girl is Mine," not Illinois songwriter Fred Sanford. Sanford alleged the King of Pop copied his song "Please Love Me Now" and sued CBS Records for $5 million for copyright infringement. Jackson described his song-writing process to the jury and CBS won the case.

1987 Ticket agent David Burke, a disgruntled former employee of USAir, followed his ex-boss onto a Pacific Southwest Airlines British Aerospace 146-200A flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco and hijacked the plane. Burke, who had recently been terminated, used his credentials to bypass security and boarded with a .44-caliber Magnum pistol. He shot his ex-boss, the two pilots, and two others before the plane crashed, killing the remaining 38 people on board.

1992 The U. S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that required women to receive counseling and wait 24 hours before having an abortion.

1993 U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders suggested that the U.S. government study the impact of drug legalization as a possible antidote to urban violence. About a week later, Arkansas police arrested her son Kevin for selling cocaine.

1993 Gunman Colin Ferguson opened fire with a Ruger P-89 9mm on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train, killing six people and wounding 19 before three passengers tackled him to the floor. After a bizarre trial where Ferguson insisted on representing himself and questioned his own victims on the stand, the killer was convicted of six counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 315 years in prison.

1996 A thief stole Jerry Lewis's white and red pinstriped devil suit from his dressing room at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, New York. Lewis needed the $9,000 costume to play the role of Satan in the musical Damn Yankees.

1998 The Immigration and Naturalization Service granted jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval U.S. citizenship after a two-year legal battle. Sandoval, who defected from Cuba in 1990, had been denied citizenship because he once belonged to Cuba's Communist Party.

1998 U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno reported she would not seek an independent counsel investigation of President Clinton over 1996 campaign financing.

1999 A U.S. federal grand jury indicted former convict David Roland Waters in the 1995 disappearance of atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Waters, an employee of American Atheists, along with two accomplices, killed and dismembered O-Hair, her son, and granddaughter, then disposed of their mutilated corpses.

2002 In Amsterdam, Netherlands, two men stole two van Gogh paintings—“ View of the Sea at Scheveningen" and "Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen"—valued at 100 million dollars from the Van Gogh Museum. Professional art thief Octave Durham and accomplice Henk B used a ladder and broke in through a second story window, setting off the alarm system, but disappeared before police arrived. Forensic analysis lead police to the pair and they subsequently served time but the paintings were not recovered until 2016.

2011 U.S. District Judge James Zagel fined ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich $20,000 and sentenced him to 14 years in prison for public corruption— he attempted to trade President Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat in exchange for money or favors. The second former Illinois governor in a row to be sent to prison, Blagojevich served almost 8 years before President Trump commuted his sentence in 2020.