December 13, 2007: The Mitchell Report is publicly released. George Mitchell was a US Senator from Maine from 1980-1995, serving 6 years as Senate Majority Leader. He is a lawyer by profession and after serving in the Senate, went back to practicing law and has been active in peace initiatives at home and abroad. He was in the running for Democrat Vice Presidential candidate in 2000. He was Chairman of the Board for two years at The Walt Disney Company and Director in the front office for the Boston Red Sox, quitting in November 2006.
Mitchell was invited by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to head an independent investigation into steroid and growth hormone use. Mitchell’s investigation led him to speak with only two baseball players, but several known steroid dealers, personal trainers, club attendants, and others with ties to the drugs also spoke with investigators. Twenty months of inquiry led to 89 players being named as drug users in the 409-page report. The report also stated the abuse had been going on for decades.
Anabolic steroids are related to testosterone. They increase protein synthesis causing tissue to build – a process called anabolism. The tissue buildup is most noticeable in muscles. However, they also have androgenic and virilizing properties leading to greater masculinity, such as growth of body hair and vocal cords. They were first synthesized in the 1930s and were therapeutically used to treat wasting conditions such as cancer and later, AIDS. Because they also built muscle mass and physical strength, they began to be used by sports figures. There are decided health risks involved for long-term users. Growth hormones also stimulate growth and cell production and were used in conjunction with the steroids.
The report did not just look at the problems, but also gave 19 recommendations for solving them. Players’ reputations were tarnished by the report and some responded with outrage and denials. Mitchell and Selig worked toward maintaining the integrity of the game while not acting in a punitive manner towards those named in the report. Mitchell said 20-25 people from his office worked on the report. Although not officially noted, the cost of the report was said to be ≈ $20 million.
“The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game. Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records.” – George Mitchell
“Many players are named, their reputations affected forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been.” – Don Fehr
“This is a sad day for Major League Baseball but a good day for integrity in sports.” – Henry Waxman
“Let’s put it this way, the cost of not doing it would’ve been a lot higher.” – Bud Selig
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Some of the side effects of anabolic steroid use are dose-dependent. These can include raising of blood pressure and changing cholesterol levels. Blood sugar is also affected. Many users suffer from acne and balding can be a side effect, as well. High doses can cause liver damage. Some side effects are gender specific. Men can see increased breast tissue form as well as testicular atrophy as sperm production is lowered, leading also to infertility as well as sexual function issues. Women can see increased body hair, enlarged clitoris, and decreased menstrual cycles. Use during pregnancy can affect the fetus, causing gender problems. Teens are affected differently than adults and can have some severe side effects. Bones can stop lengthening as well as other skeletal problems. Steroids can have effects on sexual development. In all users, the heart muscle can be damaged which can lead to death. There are psychological effects as well and Roid Rage may be the result of neurological disruptions.
Also on this day: Maximum Insecurity – In 2000, seven violent offenders escape from the John Connally Unit, a maximum security prison in Texas.
Get Rael – In 1973, the Elohim reveal themselves to a human.
Tasman - In 1642, New Zealand was discovered by Europeans.
December 12, 1408: The Order of the Dragon is established by King Sigismund and Queen Barbara. Sigismund was the son of Emperor Charles IV, King of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor from 1355-1378. Sigismund was born to Charles’s fourth wife and he had one surviving older brother. Sigismund was the King of Hungary from 1387-1437 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1433-1437. The Holy Roman Emperor was chosen by the Electors’ Council and various men from Otto I to Francis II held the post from 962-1806.
At the age of 6, Sigismund was betrothed to Mary, eldest daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Poland. Mary was to assume the throne. By age 10, Sigismund was at the Hungarian court and soon became devoted to his adopted country. At age 13, his older brother and guardian, Wenceslaus, King of the Romans, sent the younger brother to Kraków to learn the language and customs in Poland. Court intrigues led to his expulsion. Mary became Queen of Hungary in 1382 and married Sigismund in 1385. He was crowned king in 1387; the coronation came at his instigation.
The marriage of Mary and Sigismund was not happy. He plotted to have his wife and mother-in-law kidnapped and the older woman killed. Mary was rescued but never forgave her husband. They lived in separate households. She died suspiciously in 1395 late in a pregnancy. Sigismund had his own troubles, often being taken and imprisoned by nobles but bribing his way to freedom. In 1396, Sigismund led combined armies to extend the borders of Hungary. Fighting continued with battles won and lost and power shifts. By 1406, Sigismund was married to Mary’s cousin Barbara and had amassed an army to crusade against the Croats and Bosnians.
After the battle for Bosnia was won, Sigismund began the Order of the Dragon based on the Order of St. George. These chivalric orders brought some stability to the area. The noblemen and knights pledged allegiance to the king and were charged with his protection against political intrigue and plots against him. The Order of the Dragon had an initial 24 members and expanded later to form two degrees. It was internationally recognized by 1409. After Sigismund’s death, the order lost prominence but the dragon symbol remains a part of the coat of arms for many Hungarian crests.
“Though the practice of chivalry fell even more sadly short of its theoretic standard than practice generally falls below theory, it remains one of the most precious monuments of the moral history of our race, as a remarkable instance of a concerted and organized attempt by a most disorganized and distracted society, to raise up and carry into practice a moral ideal greatly in advance of its social condition and institutions; so much so as to have been completely frustrated in the main object, yet never entirely inefficacious, and which has left a most sensible, and for the most part a highly valuable impress on the ideas and feelings of all subsequent times.” – John Stuart Mill
“Chivalry is the most delicate form of contempt.” – Albert Guerard
“Justice is better than chivalry if we cannot have both.” – Alice Stone Blackwell
“Chivalry’s dead, sugar.” – Adam Brody
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The members of the Order of the Dragon were called Draconists and were referred to as barons in the statutes. They were Sigismund’s political supporters and came from a limited region of allegiances. After a time, more distant groups were permitted to join en masse. The original members formed one degree of membership while this second group held a different degree. There were two different insignia worn by members of the Order. One showed a dragon forming a circle with the tail of the dragon wrapped several times around its own neck. The other emblem was also a circled dragon, but this time the dragon was eating its own tail. Interestingly, one of the members was Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III Dracula or Vlad the Impaler, the basis for the Dracula stories. There were foreign allies as well including Henry V of England, King Ladislaus II of Poland, and some other high born foreigners. These did not need to swear an oath of loyalty.
Also on this day: Katzenjammer Kids – In 1897, the Katzenjammer Kids first saw print.
Boom! – In 1862, the USS Cairo sunk.
Ice, Ice, Baby – In 1985, Arrow Air flight 1285 crashed shortly after takeoff.
December 11, 2006: Tehran, Iran hosts a 2-day International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust. While the term can be used for other sponsored genocides, this conference was in reference to the Holocaust perpetrated by Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi). Fifteen of the best and brightest men in the Third Reich came up with the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Between 9 and 11 million people were killed. Most of the victims were Jews – 5.9 million. The Roma, Soviets, ethnic Poles, the disabled, and gay men along with political opponents were also targeted.
Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, invited 67 attendees from 30 countries. This was to be an open discussion for scholars. David Duke, former Louisiana House of Representative and Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was one “scholar.” The other American was anti-Zionist Yisroel Dovid Weiss. His own father hid in a cellar during World War II and his grandparents, aunts, and uncles all died in the camps. He has stated since the conference that he does not deny the horrors of the Holocaust but went to speak about the differences between Zionists and Jews.
The UN condemned the conference while much of Iran tried to disassociate itself from the 2-day event. While presenting papers to like-minded individuals, a veritable panoply of revisionist tactics were used. Not only were Jews not targeted for anything, but many of them did not die. It was all, said the “scholars” at the conference, propaganda. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted the disintegration of Israel. No one from Israel was there. Khaled Kasab Mahameed’s invitation was revoked after it was learned he held Israeli citizenship.
The UN was outraged and so was much of the world. Germany organized a counter-conference. Israel’s Prime Minister denounced the Iranian conference while in Germany. The US, France, and the UK joined their voices in condemnation of the Iranian’s willful denial of historical facts. Others protested the bastardization of history. The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury called the conference disgraceful. On December 15, 35 of the world’s leading policy institutes broke off relations with the Institute for Political and International Studies, the host of the conference.
“Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision is intended to create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust.” – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
“Denying historical facts, especially on such an important subject as the Holocaust, is just not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable to call for the elimination of any State or people.” – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
“As a truly patriotic American I oppose Americans being killed or maimed by the thousands in Iraq in a war not for America, but for Israel. I am here because I love my country and oppose those who lead America and the world to ruin on behalf of Zionism.” – David Duke
“While the nations of the world gather here to affirm the historicity of the Holocaust with the intent of never again allowing genocide, a Member of this Assembly is acquiring the capabilities to carry out its own. The President of Iran is in fact saying: ‘There really was no Holocaust, but just in case, we shall finish the job.’” – Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) is an Iranian foreign policy think tank and part of Iran’s foreign ministry. According to their website, their main objectives are: 1) To conduct and promote independent research in the field of international relations; 2) To undertake and encourage the analysis, research and dissemination of knowledge in the political, economic, legal, strategic, security and cultural issues; 3) To collect and publish reliable information and assessments on international affairs; 4) To advocate the analytic understanding of issues affecting the Islamic Republic of Iran; and 5) To provide consultations to policy makers and relevant departments of the foreign ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The capital of Iran (official name is the Islamic Republic of Iran) is located in Tehran and the Supreme Leader is Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President is Dr. Hassan Rouhani. There are over 75 million Iranians living there with the official language is Persian and the major export is oil.
Also on this day: What Would You Do for Love? – In 1936, King Edward VIII of England abdicates to be free to marry Wallis Simpson.
UNICEF – In 1946, UNICEF was established.
Indiana - In 1816, Indiana was admitted to the Union.
December 10, 1907: A riot breaks out in Trafalgar Square in London. Medical science seeking answers to questions of anatomy and bodily function used the technique of vivisection. This involves surgery on living organisms, usually animals with a central nervous system. Today the practice has been replaced by less invasive animal experimentation resulting in non-mortality for the subject. Only cancer research still uses vivisection as a method of research.
Frances Power Cobbe founded the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) in 1875. Animals were being studied either with or without the use of anesthesia. Information was gathered in front of lecture classes via vivisection. This outraged many Edwardian English folk. Some of the more famous lecturers who used vivisection as a teaching method were attacked verbally and physically. The NAVS, with the support of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, were able to pass the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876.
In December of 1902, a stray brown dog weighing about 14 pounds was operated on and his pancreatic duct was tied off. He then lived in a small cage until February 2, 1903 when he was again brought before medical students and Physiologist Ernest Starling opened the dog’s abdomen. Next, Physiologist William Bayliss examined the salivary glands after making a second incision in the dog’s neck. Finally, student and future Nobel Laureate Henry Dale removed the dog’s pancreas and then killed the dog. The doctors said the dog was anesthetized by the use of morphine, chloroform, and ether without the crowd knowing it. The dog became a cause célèbre.
A statue of the Brown Dog was erected at Battersea in 1906. Medical students were angered by the wording on the plaque. Bayliss, who discovered hormones by using vivisection, sued for libel and won. The statue had a 24-hour guard. On this day, about 1,000 “anti-doggers” marched through the streets of London and clashed with suffragettes, trade unionists, and about 400 police in Trafalgar Square. The resulting melee is known as the Brown Dog Riots. The statue was removed in 1910 and finally replaced with a new statue in 1985.
“In Memory of the Brown Terrier Dog done to Death in the Laboratories of University College in February 1903, after having endured Vivisection extending over more than two months and having been handed from one Vivisector to another till Death came to his Release. Also in Memory of the 232 dogs vivisected at the same place during the year 1902. Men and Women of England, how long shall these things be?” – from the Brown Dog statue
“As we go walking after dark,
We turn our steps to Latchmere Park,
And there we see, to our surprise,
A little brown dog that stands and lies.
Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee, hee!
Little brown dog how we hate thee.” – One of the songs the rioters sang as they marched
“The dog struggled forcibly during the whole experiment and seemed to suffer extremely during the stimulation. No anaesthetic had been administered in my presence, and the lecturer said nothing about any attempts to anaesthetize the animal having previously been made.” – Liouse Lind-af-Hagbey
“This monument replaces the original memorial of the brown dog erected by public subscription in Latchmere Recreation Ground, Battersea in 1906. The sufferings of the brown dog at the hands of the vivisectors generated much protest and mass demonstrations.” – inscription on new statue’s plaque
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Vivisection comes from the Latin word for alive, vivus, and the term for cutting, sectio. The purpose for this is to gather information that is not available via other methods. When done on humans, it is considered to be a form of torture. Today, the practice is regulated by external ethical review boards and is governed, at least in the English speaking world, by laws. The US, UK, and Australia all have laws that regulate both the allowable reasons and the treatment modalities with all countries having measures to avoid or lessen the animals’ pain. Even without the use of cutting, the animals of the world have gained some rights through the laws concerning animal testing. Many countries implement laws but they are jurisdictional and the vary greatly around the world. The US has several laws regulating testing on animals. These regulations do not cover a wide range of animals and testing continues with some outrageous practices still in use.
Also on this day: Stop! Go! – In 1868, the first traffic signal is used for the railroads.
Nobel Prizes - In 1901, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded.
Two Marks – In 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published.
December 9, 1935: Walter Liggett is gunned down in front of his wife and 10-year-old daughter. Walter founded a newspaper, the weekly Midwest American, and was an investigative reporter working on some of the biggest stories of his day. Based out of Minnesota, the paper was known for reporting on crimes in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. Liggett had written an anti-Hoover biography, The Rise of Herbert Hoover. He caught the attention of Hoover’s defenders and his reputation suffered.
On the local scene, the muckraker journalist took on the subjects of Kid Cann and Floyd B. Olson as well as their relationship. Kid Cann was the street name of Isadore Blumenfeld. Born in Romania, his family came to the US when Isadore was two. Living in poverty, Isadore quit school to sell newspapers for money needed to help support the family. He began running errands for pimps and madams. He went from small time hood to major player when Prohibition opened a market for bootleg whiskey. The family name changed to Bloom and he and his brothers were mob bosses in the Jewish community of North Minneapolis.
Floyd Olson eventually earned a law degree and worked his way up through a corrupt political system. He made a name for himself by prosecuting corrupt businessmen and even took the Ku Klux Klan to trial. After the stock market crashed, local farmers helped to elect the man as the 22nd Governor of Minnesota. He tried to get utilities under state’s ownership – an idea he called collectivism and his opponents called socialism. He invoked martial law and threatened a dictatorship. Liggett’s accusations of mob connections have never been proven.
Liggett began printing his series of exposé stories. He had already been beaten up and falsely charged with rape. Liggett was machine gunned in an alley behind his home at the age of 49. Poor investigative work allowed Kid Cann to escape charges unscathed. Cann continued to get away with murder although he did spend a short time in prison. He died of heart disease at the age of 81. Floyd Olson had dreams of running for President but a trip to the doctor’s proved his ulcers were more than a reaction to stress. He died of stomach cancer at the age of 44 in 1936.
“My wife and I have lived for several years in New York City under Tammany Hall and are thoroughly familiar with the underworld tactics of professional spoilsmen. That is one reason why we object to the Tammanyization of Minnesota by this All-Party group of racketeers. We knew precisely what to expect when we began our expose of Floyd Olson and his crew of political hatchet-men.” – Walter Liggett
“My belief is that Olson would have preferred not to know the details. I also assume that he—unlike some Minneapolis hoodlums—was astute enough to realize that my father’s murder could prove to be more troublesome than my father alive…certainly, some of [Olson’s] less savory companions might have undertaken the task as a favor. I believe that the atmosphere was sufficiently poisonous and that criminals had sufficient clout to know they would not be convicted.” – Marda Liggett Woodbury
“The assassin who struck down Walter Liggett in Minneapolis removed from the American scene one of the last of the old-school crusading journalists, miscalled ‘muckrakers’, who for personal integrity stood head and shoulders above the common ruck.” – Delbert Smith
“Today we expect, if not a free press, one that has been honestly bought and paid for.” – China Hand
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Muckraker was a term used for investigative journalists who were writing mostly in magazines and newspapers in order to affect reform in the status quo. Before World War I, the term was used in a more general sense for any writer of exposé pieces more in the spirit of a watchdog or for information. Later usage calls to mind a more adversarial and is more in line with reform than with information. The term comes from John Bunyan’s work, Pilgrim’s Progress, where “the Man with the Muck-rake” rejected salvation to focus on filth. Muck in this sense refers to manure. It became popular in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt referred to the character while making a speech. It is not to be confused with “yellow journalism” which has little or no basis in fact.
Also on this day: NYC’s First Daily – In 1793, Noah Webster began to publish NYC’s first daily newspaper.
Doctor? - In 1946, the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials began.
Coal Power – In 1911, the Cross Mountain Mine disaster occurred.
December 8, 1609: The first public library on continental Europe and the second in the world, opens its reading rooms. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, located in Lombardy, Milan, was named after St. Ambrose – patron saint of Milan. It was founded by Cardinal Federico Borromeo who sent agents across western Europe, Greece, and Syria to collect books and manuscripts for the library. They were able to bring in the entire library of the Bobbio monastery and more than 800 manuscripts from Vincenzo Pinelli of Padua.
The Cardinal’s plan was to amass a library and open it to scholars who could research and answer treatises being put out by the Protestant presses. By 1603, construction on a library had begun. Biblioteca was needed to house the 15,000 manuscripts and more than 30,000 books in the Cardinal’s collection. The Bodleian Library at Oxford had been opened to the public in 1602, although at the time they did not have the same number of books and manuscripts at their disposal.
Borromeo not only wanted the library to thrive, but he also wanted other institutions of scholarship and culture to grow along with it encouraging the College of Doctors, the Fine Arts Academy, and the Gallery. The library’s collections have expanded over time with many collectors of rare books bequeathing their treasures to the institution. Their “most outstanding” manuscript comes from the 5th century – an illuminated Iliad, the Ilia Picta. They have a dozen Leonardo da Vinci manuscripts including the Codex Atlanticus in their stacks. There is also an art gallery in the library which opened in 1618.
The library houses over 450,000 printed items. There are about 3,000 incunabula – or items published pre-printing press by the use of printing blocks. There are around 15,000 manuscripts dating from medieval to modern times. There are also nearly 12,000 parchments at the library. There are more than 2,000 paintings, sculptures, and furniture pieces and another 12,000 drawings. Historical correspondence is preserved with 40,000 letters, about half of them on display.
“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” – Edward P. Morgan
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles W. Eliot
“Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own.” - William Hazlitt
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” - Abraham Lincoln
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Federico Borromeo was born in Milan in 1564. He was the second son of an influential family and his cousin was Archbishop of Milan prior to Federico’s assumption to that post. He asked to become a Jesuit at the age of 16 but was dissuaded from this path by his cousin who sent him to Collegio Borromeo of Pavia. After graduating with a doctorate of theology in 1585, he continued studying in Rome. He became a Cardinal on December 18, 1587 at the age of 21. He was involved in five different papal conclaves (where the cardinals elect a new Pope). The first of these was in 1590 when he was only 26 making him one of the youngest Cardinals to participate in the papal election. He was appointed as Archbishop of Milan in 1595. He composed 71 printed and 46 manuscript books during his lifetime, most of them written in Latin. He died in Milan at the age of 67 on September 21, 1631.
Also on this day: John is Dead – In 1980, John Lennon was murdered.
Da Bears – In 1940, the Bears and Redskins played football.
Women’s Work – In 1660, Othello opened with a woman playing the part of Desdemona, the first time that happened.
December 7, 1963: CBS-TV uses Instant Replay technology during a broadcast of an Army-Navy football game. This was the first use of the technique, useful in reviewing questionable calls by a referee. The debate over first use comes when the instant is added to the replay. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation claims to have invented Instant Replay when director George Retzlaff used a “hot processor” to develop kinescope film in order to review a hockey play. There was a lag to the instant – but it was only 30 seconds. Slow motion review had also already been used, but the film had to be developed as slo-mo and that created a delay.
With videotape technology developed by Ampex, the instant could be truly instantaneous. The process was first used in 1962 during a heavyweight championship fight between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johannsen. It was first used on Network Television on this date by CBS Sports director, Tony Verna. The National Football League (NFL) first permitted limited use of Instant Replay in 1986 and modified the rules again in 1999.
In the NFL, each team can challenge a call twice per game (three is special cases). Only certain types of plays can be reviewed and the team calling for review must still have a time-out available. Challenges must be used prior to the two minute warning. A coach signals his wish for a challenge by throwing a red flag onto the field. The referee has 60 seconds to review the play and decide if an error was made. If the play stands, the team loses a time-out. If the call is overturned, no tine-out is forfeited. After the two minute warning and during overtime play, only the replay assistant, a non-partisan observer in the control booth, can call for review.
College football has incorporated the use of Instant Replay with similar but not the same rules as pro ball. Canadian football began using Instant Replay in 2006. Basketball has different needs and Instant Replay is used for buzzer beaters and also for personal fouls resulting in fights on the court. Ice Hockey also uses the technique but only when the on-ice referee calls for a review. In Major League Baseball, it is only the umpire who may ask for a chance to review a play. Tennis, rugby, cricket, rodeo, and NASCAR have used Instant Replay on a limited basis. Thankfully, this is not yet available for in-home use.
“I totally blew that call. In fact, it wasn’t even close. But don’t worry, I’ll penalize the other team for no good reason in the second half, to even things up.” – from an advertisement
“That is the object of replay, to get the call right, not to decide whether you can review this or whether you can review that.” – Ron Wolf
“I don’t know how we could use it to improve the job that umpires do, … The human element in sport has always been a big part of the game. I’m a football fan, too, and I hate instant replay in the NFL. Football games are taking four hours.” – Bud Selig
“I don’t really complain about the refs too much. We’re all human. They don’t get to see instant replay on every play. The biggest thing is not to make a crucial call to change the outcome of the game.” – Andre Dyson
“Books had instant replay long before televised sports.” – Bern Williams
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: During the game, the instant replay was only used once and did not include a slow motion option. The machine used for the replay weighed 1300 pounds and there were technical issues. After finally being able to see the replay, the announcer quipped, “Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!” However, the technology improved and it has been credited with the increased popularity of American televised football. Prior to this, it was difficult to follow the game on small black and white sets. However, the technology uses feeds from several different cameras and angles and gives a much better view of the entire field as well as individual players. Brutal hits shown in slo-mo become dance-like and the miracle of a forward pass can be fully appreciated. It also gave the viewer something to watch as the game legged between actual plays. With all this technology, ABC was able to make a success of Monday Night Football.
Also on this day: The Blue Marble – In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 took a world-famous picture of the world.
Fireproof - In 1946, the Winecoff Hotel burned.
Cicero - In 43 BC, the Roman statesman was assassinated.
December 6, 1969: The Altamont Free Concert is held at the Altamont Speedway in California. The concert headlined The Rolling Stones who had been touring the world. The Maysles Brothers film company had been shooting footage throughout the tour. The event outside San Francisco was first planned for the Golden Gate Park, but scheduling conflicts forced a change of venue. Sears Point Raceway was the fallback site, but there was a dispute over film distribution rights. On December 4, the venue changed again. With such short notice, logistic problems cropped up.
Santana, Jefferson Airplane, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Cosby Stills, Nash, & Young all played before the Stones took the stage. The Grateful Dead were to have played after CSN&Y but declined to come out on stage because the 300,000 strong crowd was too violent. The stage was only 4 feet off the ground. There was a need for security between the concert goers and those performing. The Stones’ road manager hired the Oakland chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, under Ralph “Sonny” Barger, to be that security.
There is a dispute about how the Hells Angels came to be in charge of keeping order. Both the FBI and the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada list them as one of the big four outlaw motorcycle gangs. They were considered by the hippies of the day to be “noble savages.” When asked how they should be paid, Barger said he liked beer. Crowd management was not the bikers’ forte. They used violence to quell any commotion, hitting people with weighted sawed-off pool cues or charging them with their bikes at full throttle. Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane was knocked out on stage by a Hells Angels member.
Meredith Hunter got into an altercation with some bikers while the Stones were playing Under My Thumb. Hunter neared the stage and drew a gun. He was stabbed five times and then kicked as he lay on the ground. Hunter, 18-years-old, was dead. The Stones, unaware the young man had died, kept playing. They interrupted their set several times but were threatened with violence if they quit. Alan Passaro was charged with murder and acquitted after pleading self-defense. The free concert that was to be “Woodstock West” ended in horror and became, instead, the end of an era.
“You keep fuckin’ playing or you’re dead.”- Sonny Barger to Keith Richards
Sweet William of Hells Angels: “We don’t police things. We’re not a security force. We go to concerts to enjoy ourselves and have fun.”
Sam Cutler, The Rolling Stones business manager: “Well, what about helping people out – you know, giving directions and things?”
Sweet William: “Sure, we can do that.”
“The violence just in front of the stage was incredible. Looking back I don’t think it was a good idea to have Hells Angels there.” – Keith Richards
“Really, the difference between the open air show we held here in Hyde Park and the one there is amazing. I think it illustrates the difference between the two countries.” – Keith Richards
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The Rolling Stones are an English rock band. The group formed in 1962 and became part of what was known in the sixties as the “British Invasion”. They were part of the counterculture of the 1960s. They incorporated blues into their music, even taking their name from a song written by Muddy Waters. Originally the band was made up of Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts. Today, Jagger, Richards, and Watts are joined by Ronnie Wood. They group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Rolling Stone, the magazine, ranked them fourth in the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” list. It is estimated that they have sold over 200 million albums. They have released 24 studio and 11 live albums and many compilations.
Also on this day: Encyclopædia Britannica – In 1768, the first edition of the encyclopedia is released.
Blood in the Water – In 1956, the Melbourne Olympics became violent.
Boom - In 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour.
December 5, 1933: Utah ratifies the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution. Congress proposed the Amendment on February 21, 1933. The first state to ratify came on April 10 when Michigan approved adoption. Wisconsin was second on April 25. Two more states were added in May and June saw the list grow by five more. July brought the total to 15 and August added another 5 states. September, October, and November brought the total to 33. Thirty-six states needed to ratify in order for the Amendment to pass. On December 5 first Ohio, then Pennsylvania, and finally Utah ratified the document.
The 21st Amendment repeals the 18th Amendment which was ratified on January 16, 1919 and certified on January 29. It went into effect on January 29, 1920. It prohibited the “manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors” in the US and all her territories. The 18th Amendment is the only one to ever be repealed. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th and allowed states, territories, or possession of the US to construct laws regarding the beverages.
The 18th Amendment is sometimes called the “noble experiment.” The plan was to reduce crime and corruption and improve social issues including prisons, poorhouses, poor health, and hygiene. It did not work as planned. Alcohol was not banned in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Their exports to the US were fanned out across the country with Chicago as a major distribution hub. Al Capone and Bugs Moran made millions via illegal alcohol sales. Speakeasies sprang up with 10,000 in Chicago alone, all under Capone’s control.
We can’t really track overall alcohol consumption during the time the 18th Amendment was in effect. Deaths due to cirrhosis dipped from about 12/100,000 to 7/100,000 during the time. They did not reach 12 again until the mid-1960s and peaked in the late-1970s. Today there are about 10/100,000. The homicide rate increased during Prohibition and then declined until the late 1960s. That number has remained high since then. The second peak coincides with the War on Drugs in the US.
“Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.” – Will Rogers
“Prohibition makes you want to cry into your beer and denies you the beer to cry into.” – Don Marquis
“A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn’t care to drink with, even if he drank.” – H. L. Mencken
“We find many things to which the prohibition of them constitutes the only temptation.” – William Hazlitt
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The American Temperance Society was founded on February 13, 1826 in Boston, Massachusetts. Lyman Beecher and Dr. Just Edwards, both preachers, were the company-founders of the society with Rev Joshua Leavitt as the first secretary. There were over 2,000 local chapters within just five years and more than 170,000 members all of whom had pledged to abstain from drinking distilled beverages. Five years later, there were over 8,000 chapters and 1.5 million non-drinkers. About 35-60% of the local chapter members were women. Their influence spread and in 1869 they were able to form the Prohibition Party which is still in existence today. They have, to date, won no elections on the federal or state level although they did manage to secure 519 votes in the 2012 Presidential election. After the end of slavery, it was hoped that an end to demon rum could follow. It took decades before the experiment could be tried. It failed.
Also on this day: Off Into the Wild Blue Yonder – In 1945, five US Air Force planes are lost and a rescue plane also goes missing.
Going, Going, Gone - In 1766, Christie’s Auction House was formed.
Yelling “Fire” in a Crowded Theater – In 1876, a fire at the Brooklyn Theater killed over 300.
December 4, 1791: The world’s first Sunday newspaper, The Observer, is published. It is a weekly paper first published by W.S. Bourne as a broadsheet, the size of newspaper that is about twice the size of a standard tabloid paper. Bourne soon found himself with £1,699 of debt and tried to sell his paper to anti-government groups in London. His wealthy brother intervened and approached government officials who also declined to buy the paper. They did offer to underwrite costs for the privilege of influencing content.
In 1814, William Innell Clement, already in possession of several papers, bought up The Observer. Defying a court order in 1820, he published details of the trial of the Cato Street Conspirators. He used wood-cut illustrations to promote the story. During the US Civil War, The Observer sided with the North. The paper changed hands several times. The Julius Beer family controlled the paper from the 1870s with Rachel Beer editing both The Observer and The Sunday Times. The 1st Viscount Astor purchased the paper in 1911 and it was finally sold to Atlantic Richfield (a US oil company). It is now part of the Guardian Media Group (GMG).
The Guardian, a Monday through Saturday paper, is also part of the GMG. Both papers take a liberal/social democratic line on political issues, although they are split on opinions regarding the Iraq War. In 1990, Farzed Bazoft, a journalist for The Observer, was charged with spying in Iraq and was executed. Both papers of the GMG went from broadsheet to Berliner format on January 8, 2006. This is a newssheet size which is slightly taller and wider than a tabloid paper while being narrower and shorter than a broadsheet.
The Observer was the first newspaper to publish a blog allowing the outside world insight into the internal editorial process. They were also the first paper to provide podcasts. The paper has monthly magazines with rotating topics included in each edition. The headquarters is located in Farringdon, London where John Mulholland sits as editor. They have a circulation of about 454,400 or greater than 100,000 more than their sister paper, The Guardian.
“The fact that a man is a newspaper reporter is evidence of some flaw of character.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
“The image of the reporter as a nicotine-stained Quixote, slugging back Scotch while skewering city hall with an expose ripped out of a typewriter on the crack of deadline, persists despite munificent evidence to the contrary.” – Paul Gray
“Reporters thrive on the world’s misfortune. For this reason they often take an indecent pleasure in events that dismay the rest of humanity.” – Russell Baker
“When a reporter sits down at the typewriter, he’s nobody’s friend.” – Theodore H. White
This article first appeared at examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Guardian Media Group (GMG) was founded in 1907 when CP Scott purchased the Manchester Guardian from his cousin’s estate. The paper had been founded in 1821. Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd was created in 1924 when the Manchester Evening News was added to the morning paper. The current name was adopted in 1993. GMG is headquartered in Greater London and serves both England and Wales. Besides the two papers above, they have a portfolio of investments which support journalism. Amelia Fawcett is the Chairman and Andrew Miller is the CEO while Alan Rusbridger is editor-in-chief. GMG is entirely owned by Scott Trust Limited which was created to allow for editorial independence of The Guardian in perpetuity. However print media has been heavily impacted by the Internet. In the 2011/2012 financial year the group lost £75.6 million. The Observer’s circulation has fallen to 216,000 while The Guardian is at 189,000.