Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Day in History: Jul 31, 1975: Jimmy Hoffa disappears


On July 31, 1975, James Riddle Hoffa, one of the most influential American labor leaders of the 20th century, disappears in Detroit, Michigan, never to be heard from again. Though he is popularly believed to have been the victim of a Mafia hit, conclusive evidence was never found, and Hoffa's death remains shrouded in mystery to this day.

Born in 1913 to a poor coal miner in Brazil, Indiana, Jimmy Hoffa proved a natural leader in his youth. At the age of 20, he helped organize a labor strike in Detroit, and remained an advocate for downtrodden workers for the rest of his life. Hoffa's charisma and talents as a local organizer quickly got him noticed by the Teamsters and carried him upward through its ranks. Then a small but rapidly growing union, the Teamsters organized truckers across the country, and through the use of strikes, boycotts and some more powerful though less legal methods of protest, won contract demands on behalf of workers.

Hoffa became president of the Teamsters in 1957, when its former leader was imprisoned for bribery. As chief, Hoffa was lauded for his tireless work to expand the union, and for his unflagging devotion to even the organization's least powerful members. His caring and approachability were captured in one of the more well-known quotes attributed to him: "You got a problem? Call me. Just pick up the phone."

Hoffa's dedication to the worker and his electrifying public speeches made him wildly popular, both among his fellow workers and the politicians and businessmen with whom he negotiated. Yet, for all the battles he fought and won on behalf of American drivers, he also had a dark side. In Hoffa's time, many Teamster leaders partnered with the Mafia in racketeering, extortion and embezzlement. Hoffa himself had relationships with high-ranking mobsters, and was the target of several government investigations throughout the 1960s. In 1967, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

While in jail, Hoffa never ceded his office, and when Richard Nixon commuted his sentence in 1971, he was poised to make a comeback. Released on condition of not participating in union activities for 10 years, Hoffa was planning to fight the restriction in court when he disappeared on July 31, 1975, from the parking lot of a restaurant in Detroit, not far from where he got his start as a labor organizer. Several conspiracy theories have been floated about Hoffa’s disappearance and the location of his remains, but the truth remains unknown.

Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history [31.07.2012]

Monday, July 30, 2012

This Day in History: Jul 30, 1956: President Eisenhower signs "In God We Trust" into law


On this day in 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase "under God" inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a law officially declaring "In God We Trust" to be the nation's official motto. The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency. The phrase had been placed on U.S. coins since the Civil War when, according to the historical association of the United States Treasury, religious sentiment reached a peak. Eisenhower's treasury secretary, George Humphrey, had suggested adding the phrase to paper currency as well.

Although some historical accounts claim Eisenhower was raised a Jehovah's Witness, most presidential scholars now believe his family was Mennonite. Either way, Eisenhower abandoned his family's religion before entering the Army, and took the unusual step of being baptized relatively late in his adult life as a Presbyterian. The baptism took place in 1953, barely a year into his first term as president.

Although Eisenhower embraced religion, biographers insist he never intended to force his beliefs on anyone. In fact, the chapel-like structure near where he and his wife Mamie are buried on the grounds of his presidential library is called the "Place of Meditation" and is intentionally inter-denominational. At a Flag Day speech in 1954, he elaborated on his feelings about the place of religion in public life when he discussed why he had wanted to include "under God" in the pledge of allegiance: "In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource in peace and war."

The first paper money with the phrase "In God We Trust" was not printed until 1957. Since then, religious and secular groups have argued over the appropriateness and constitutionality of a motto that mentions "God," considering the founding fathers dedication to maintaining the separation of church and state.

Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/president-eisenhower-signs-in-god-we-trust-into-law [30.07.2012]

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gemsbok (Oryx) almost drowns on Skeleton Coast

I wish this was me , but I cant take credit for it. This was taken from another blog (Artigli Social Café )

Skeleton Coast National Park to the Kunene River mouth.

We were driving along the beach close to Bosluisbaai on our way to the mouth of the Kunene when we came across 3 gemsbokke. Two ran towards the dunes and the other straight to sea.

Believe or not but the gemsbok is in there somewhere.

Part of its head above water. Some of the people in our party reckoned that the gemsbok could stand and was never in real trouble, I beg to differ.

While taking these photos I was trying to explain to Ciske its not save for me to try and help it...

Just as we contemplated leaving as not to witness the eventual drowning.

After staring at us for what seemed like minutes (but probably 20 seconds) it took off.

 Taken from: http://artigli-artigli.blogspot.com/ [27.07.2013]

This Day in History: July 27, 1981: Adam Walsh is abducted


Adam John Walsh, age six, is abducted from a mall in Hollywood, Florida, and later found murdered. In the aftermath of the crime, Adam's father, John Walsh, became a leading victims' rights activist and host of the long-running television show America's Most Wanted.

Early in the afternoon on July 27, Adam entered a Sears department store with his mother, Reve. She allowed him to watch a group of older boys play video games in the toy department while she shopped nearby. When she returned for him less than 10 minutes later, he was gone. Investigators learned a teenage security guard had asked the older children to leave because they were causing trouble. Adam, reportedly a timid child who might have been afraid to speak up, followed one of the older boys out and didn't tell the guard his mother was in the store. He was likely kidnapped outside the store after the other child left. Adam's parents launched a massive hunt for their son; however, on August 10, 1981, his severed head was discovered by two fishermen in a drainage canal in Vero Beach, Florida, some 100 miles from Hollywood. His body was never found.

In October 1983, career criminal Ottis Ellwood Toole, then an inmate at a Raiford, Florida, prison, confessed to Adam's abduction and murder and also implicated serial killer Henry Lee Lucas in the crime. However, investigators soon discovered that Lucas couldn't have been involved because he was in jail in Virginia when Adam was kidnapped. Toole then admitted he had carried out the crime on his own and police announced they had found Adam's killer. However, investigators were unable to locate Adam's body where Toole claimed to have buried it and without any physical evidence the Florida state attorney couldn't prosecute the case. Several months later, Toole recanted his confession. In the years that followed, Toole repeatedly confessed to killing Adam Walsh and then took back his story. He died of cirrhosis of the liver and AIDS in 1996 in a Florida prison, where he was on Death Row for another murder. Years later, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who was living in Florida at the time of Adam's abduction, was considered a possible suspect in the case. Dahmer died in a Wisconsin prison in 1994. On December 16, 2008, the police department in Hollywood, Florida, announced that the case against Toole was strong enough to close the investigation into Adam's death.

John Walsh channeled his grief into advocacy work for crime victims. He was a founder in 1984 of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and in 1988 he became host of America's Most Wanted, a show that has since helped law enforcement officials track down hundreds of fugitives. On July 27, 2006, 25 years after Adam went missing, President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act into law, which created a national database of convicted child sex offenders, strengthened federal penalties for crimes against children and provided funding and training for law enforcement to fight crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children via the Internet.

Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/adam-walsh-is-abducted [27.07.2012]

This Day in History: Jul 27, 1949: First jet makes test flight

On this day in 1949, the world's first jet-propelled airliner, the British De Havilland Comet, makes its maiden test-flight in England. The jet engine would ultimately revolutionize the airline industry, shrinking air travel time in half by enabling planes to climb faster and fly higher.

The Comet was the creation of English aircraft designer and aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882-1965). De Havilland started out designing motorcycles and buses, but after seeing Wilbur Wright demonstrate an airplane in 1908, he decided to build one of his own. The Wright brothers had made their famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. De Havilland successfully designed and piloted his first plane in 1910 and went on to work for English aircraft manufacturers before starting his own company in 1920. De Havilland Aircraft Company became a leader in the aviation industry, known for developing lighter engines and faster, more streamlined planes.

In 1939, an experimental jet-powered plane debuted in Germany. During World War II, Germany was the first country to use jet fighters. De Havilland also designed fighter planes during the war years. He was knighted for his contributions to aviation in 1944.

Following the war, De Havilland turned his focus to commercial jets, developing the Comet and the Ghost jet engine. After its July 1949 test flight, the Comet underwent three more years of testing and training flights. Then, on May 2, 1952, the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation (BOAC) began the world's first commercial jet service with the 44-seat Comet 1A, flying paying passengers from London to Johannesburg. The Comet was capable of traveling 480 miles per hour, a record speed at the time. However, the initial commercial service was short-lived, and due to a series of fatal crashes in 1953 and 1954, the entire fleet was grounded. Investigators eventually determined that the planes had experienced metal fatigue resulting from the need to repeatedly pressurize and depressurize. Four years later, De Havilland debuted an improved and recertified Comet, but in the meantime, American airline manufacturers Boeing and Douglas had each introduced faster, more efficient jets of their own and become the dominant forces in the industry. By the early 1980s, most Comets used by commercial airlines had been taken out of service.

Taken from: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-jet-makes-test-flight [27.07.2012]