Monday, May 21, 2012


Leopold, Darrow and Loeb
On this day in 1863, the Seventh Day Adventist Church - an offshoot of the Apocalyptic creed of Millerite Protestantism - is organized in Battle Creek, Michigan. Today, there are over seventeen million "Sevvies" around the world, and they are one of the most ethnically diverse branches of the Christian faith. Seventh Day Adventists celebrate the Sabbath day on Saturday, in the Old Testament style of the Jews, and they place a strong emphasis on healthy eating and living. Probably the most lasting impact that they've had on popular culture is the introduction of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals to the North American diet.

On this day in 1871, French troops invade the Paris Commune and engage its residents in street fighting. By the close of "Bloody Week" some 20,000 anarchist and Marxist "communards" will have been killed and 38,000 arrested. Thus ended a historic, two-month experiment in self-rule by the people of Paris.

On this day in 1924, two young, well-to-do homosexuals named Leopold and Loeb murder 14 year-old Bobby Franks. At the time, this murder was considered one of the vilest and most sensational crimes in U.S. history, because the killers did it just for kicks. Defending the young murderers in court, legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow claims that the boys would never have become killers if they hadn't read the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose theory of the Ubermensch - a highly evolved idealization of humanity who exists above and beyond the mundane conceptions of "good" and "evil" - he claims twisted their minds.

On this day in 1946, physicist Louis Slotin is blasted with a fatal dose of radiation in a criticality incident during an experiment with the aptly-named Demon Core - a 6.2 kilogram subcritical mass of plutonium - at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was the second time that such an incident resulted in the acute radiation poisoning and subsequent death of a scientist. After these incidents, the core was used in an atomic bomb test in 1946, and proved in practice to have a slightly increased yield over similar cores which had not been subjected to criticality excursions. Here's a dramatization of the Slotin incident from the movie Fat Man and Little Boy.

On this day in 1969, Palestinian immigrant Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for killing Robert Kennedy in a restaurant kitchen. The sentence is never carried out, as California got rid of the death penalty.

On this day in 1979, the White Night Riots take place in San Francisco following the manslaughter conviction of Dan "Twinkie Defense" White for the assassinations of mayor George Moscone and openly gay city councilman Harvey Milk.

On this day in 1981, the Italian government releases the membership list of Propaganda Due, also known as the P2 Lodge, a Masonic lodge operating under the jurisdiction of the Grand Orient of Italy from 1945 to 1976 (when its charter was withdrawn), and a pseudo-Masonic or "black" or "covert" lodge operating illegally (in contravention of Italian constitution banning secret lodges and membership of government officials in secret membership organizations) from 1976 to 1981. During the years that the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi, and corruption cases within the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona's financial empire. It has also been connected to the CIA-connected European right-wing black-ops org known as Gladio.

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