Wikinews:Audio Wikinews/News Briefs/Workspace/archive/July25-31

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to navigation Jump to search

July 25, 2010


July 26, 2010

I'm including this story (which was published over the weekend) so that I have a way to at least mention the wikileaks document dump. Hopefully by tomorrow, we will have that story ready to go for publication. Turtlestack (talk) 00:59, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Music credit []
This is a pretty big story, so I'll include this one too even though it was from over the weekend. Turtlestack (talk) 00:59, 27 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Music credit []

On this day in history


Just before dawn on July 26, 1953, 102 Arizona state police officers and soldiers from the Arizona National Guard entered a polygamist Mormon fundamentalist community located in Short Creek, now known as Colorado City, Arizona.

Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle initially called the raid "a momentous police action against insurrection" and described the Mormon fundamentalists as participating in "the foulest conspiracy you could possibly imagine" that was designed to produce "white slaves." More than 100 reporters had been invited by Pyle to accompany the police to observe the raid. However, the raid and its tactics attracted mostly negative media attention.

The community, which was composed of approximately 400 Mormon fundamentalists and led by Joseph White Musser, had been tipped off about the planned raid and were found singing hymns in a schoolhouse while the children played outside. The entire community was taken into custody, including 263 children. One hundred fifty of the children who were taken into custody were not permitted to return to their parents for more than two years, and some parents never regained custody of their children.

In the same week that the Korean War ceasefire was achieved, the raid achieved notoriety in media across the United States, including articles in Time and Newsweek, with many media outlets describing the raid as "odious" or "un-American." One commentator has suggested that commentary of the raid was "probably the first time in history that American polygamists had received media coverage that was largely sympathetic.

One of the few media outlets to commend the raid was the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News, which was owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The News applauded the action as a needed response to prevent the fundamentalists from becoming "a cancer of a sort that is beyond hope of human repair." When the paper later editorialized its support for separating children from their polygamist parents, there was a backlash against the paper and the church by a number of Latter-day Saints, including Juanita Brooks, a Mormon historian and author, who complained that the church organ was approving of "such a basically cruel and wicked thing as the taking of little children from their mother." The Short Creek raid was the last action against polygamous Mormon fundamentalists that has been actively supported by the LDS Church.

One year later, in 1954, Governor Pyle lost his bid for re-election to Democratic candidate Ernest McFarland with Pyle blaming the fallout from the raid as having destroyed his political career and Joseph White Musser, leader of the Short Creek fundamentalists died causing a split between fundamentalists who believed he was a Mormon prophet and those who instead chose a new leader.

After the Short Creek raid, the fundamentalist Mormon polygamist colony at Short Creek eventually rejuvenated. In 1991, the Mormon fundamentalists formally established the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church).

The members of the sect did not face any prosecutions for its polygamous behavior until the late 1990s, when isolated individuals began to be prosecuted. In 2006, FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs was placed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted List and was arrested and convicted in 2007 of being an accomplice to rape for performing a wedding between a 19-year-old man and his 14-year-old cousin.

On 3 April 2008, following allegations of physical and sexual abuse by an unidentified caller who claimed to be a 16-year-old girl, law enforcement officers raided a FLDS compound Jeffs had founded in Texas called the YFZ Ranch and authorities removed a total of 416 children. While former member of the FLDS Church, Carolyn Jessop, stated her opinion that the action in Texas was unlike the Short Creek raid, others, however, have drawn direct connections between the two events.

July 27, 2010

Busy news day - I assume nobody here plays Starcraft II? :) Turtlestack (talk) 02:56, 28 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
  • Music credit []
  • Music credit []

On this day in history


Ernest Gary Gygax, an American writer and game designer, best known for co-creating the pioneering role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) with Dave Arneson, was born in Chicago within a few blocks of Wrigley Field in 1938.

The son of Swiss immigrant and Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Ernst Gygax, Gary spent his early childhood in Chicago, but in 1946 after he was involved in a brawl with a large group of boys, his father decided to move the family to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Gary's mother's family had settled in the early 19th century.

During his childhood and teen years, he developed a love of games and an appreciation for fantasy and science fiction literature which his father introduced to him through pulp novels. At the age of ten, he and his friends played the sort of games that eventually came to be called "live action role-playing games", with one of them acting as a referee. His interest in games, combined with an appreciation of history, eventually led Gygax to begin playing miniature war games in 1953, with his best friend Don Kaye.

By December 1958, the game Gettysburg from the Avalon Hill company had particularly captured Gygax's attention and he ordered from the company the first blank hexagon mapping sheets that were available, which he then employed to design his own games. He looked for innovative ways to generate random numbers, and used not only common, six-sided dice, but dice of all five platonic solid shapes, which he discovered in a school supply catalog.

Gygax soon became active in fandom and by 1965 he was active in the wargame hobby, and was writing many magazine articles on the subject.

During the 1960s, as Gygax was working as an insurance underwriter for the Firemen's Fund in Lake Geneva, in 1966, he co-founded the International Federation of Wargamers (IFW) with Bill Speer and Scott Duncan. The IFW, which was created by combining several preexisting wargaming clubs, aimed to promote interest in role-playing games, especially those set in the medieval period, and provided a forum for international wargamers.

In 1968, Gygax rented Lake Geneva's vine-covered Horticultural Hall for $50 to hold the first Lake Geneva Convention, also known as the Gen Con gaming convention for short and in 1969 he met Dave Arneson, the future co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, at the second Gen Con.

By 1970, Gary had left the insurance business and became a shoe repairman to make more time for pursuing his interest in game development and began working as editor-in-chief at Guidon Games, a publisher of wargames, for which he produced the board games Alexander the Great and Dunkirk in 1971.

That same year, his and Jeff Perren's Chainmail, a miniatures wargame that simulated medieval-era tactical combat was published and in 1972, he added a Fantasy Supplement to the rules. This supplement included warriors who were monsters of non-human races, drawn from the works of Tolkien and other sources. He also included rules for individual heroic characters, including wizards which included ten spells that could be used to affect a battle, including lightning bolts and fireballs.

Dave Arneson, who had written the game Blackmoor, adopted these new fantasy rules into his game and while visiting Lake Geneva in 1972, he and Gygax immediately saw the potential of role-playing games. Gygax and Arneson collaborated on "The Fantasy Game", the role-playing game that later became Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). In 1973, Gygax quit his day job and attempted to publish the game through Avalon Hill, who turned down his offer.

So, together with Don Kaye as a partner, in 1973 he founded the publishing company Tactical Studies Rules (later known as TSR, Inc.) with an initial investment of $1000 each. However, this did not give them enough capital to publish the rules for Dungeons & Dragons and, worried that other companies would be able to publish similar projects first, the two convinced acquaintance Brian Blume to join TSR in 1974 as an equal one-third partner; this brought the financing that enabled them to publish Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons was first released by TSR in January 1974 as a boxed set; a hand-assembled print run of 1,000 copies, put together by hand in Gygax's home, sold out in less than a year. That same year he also created the magazine The Strategic Review with himself as editor, which later became known as Dragon magazine.

Then, sadly, in 1975, Don Kaye unexpectedly died of a heart attack in January at the age of 36. As Kaye had not made any specific provision in his will regarding his one-third share of the company, his share of TSR passed to his wife, a woman whom Gygax characterized as "less than personable" and who "dumped all the Tactical Studies Rules materials off on my front porch. It would have been impossible to manage a business with her involved as a partner."

However, two years later, in 1977, a new version of D&D, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), was published. The Monster Manual, released later that year, became the first supplemental rule book of the new system, and many more followed over the next few years and by 1980 sales of the Dungeons & Dragons game reached $8.5 million.

Dungeons & Dragons reached mainstream notoriety when negative media attention focused on Dungeons & Dragons. In 1982, Patricia Pulling's son killed himself; blaming Dungeons & Dragons for his suicide, and Pulling formed an organization named B.A.D.D. (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) to attack the game and the company that produced it.

By 1984, Gygax discovered that TSR had run into serious financial difficulties and was $1.5 million in debt. In October 1985, TSR's Board of Directors removed Gygax as the company's President and Chairman of the Board. Sales of Dungeons & Dragons reached $29 million by 1985, but Gygax, seeing his future at TSR as untenable, left the company on December 31, 1985.

Gygax continued to write new books and games, and in the intervening 20 years, he became something of a cult, nerd hero, culminating in a famous episode of the Fox cartoon series Futurama in which he, Nichelle Nichols from the original Star Trek series, the famed physicist Stephen Hawking and US Vice President Al Gore each leant their voices as a team of "Vice Presidential Action Rangers", whose task is to protect the space-time continuum. In fact, Gary Gygax's appearance alongside Al Gore is something of an inside joke since Gore's wife, Tipper, hates Dungeons & Dragons and has been publicly critical of it.

A lifelong cigarette smoker, Gygax went into semi-retirement after suffering strokes on April 1 and May 4, 2004, and almost suffered a heart attack after receiving incorrect medication to prevent further strokes. In late 2005, he was diagnosed with an inoperable abdominal aortic aneurysm, yet despite his reduced workload, Gygax continued to be active in the gaming community.

Then on March 4, 2008, Gygax died at his home in Lake Geneva at age 69.

Gygax married his first wife, Mary Jo Gygax, in 1958. By 1961 they had two children who would later assist with play-testing Dungeons & Dragons. Three more children were to follow before the marriage ended in divorce in the early 1980s. On August 15, 1987, the same day as his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, he married his second wife, Gail Carpenter, and together they had his sixth and last child. By 2005, Gygax had seven grandchildren.

Gygax's influence is still strongly felt across the gaming community as a whole. The popular online role playing game, World Of Warcraft, dedicated a patch to the franchise in his honor, numerous webcomics make reference to him and even faux-conservative Stephen Colbert, avid D&D gamer in his youth, dedicated the last part of the March 5, 2008 episode of The Colbert Report to Gygax.

Of his life and work, Gygax is quoted as saying "I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else."

July 28, 2010


On this day in history


While it may be hard to believe now, the piece of music you are listening to had, for over 100 years, been largely ignored. Yet such was the fate of composer, priest, and famous virtuoso violinist Antonio Lucio Vivaldi.

Born in Venice on March 4, 1678, he was immediately baptized, possibly due to an earthquake that shook the city that same day and in the trauma of the quake, Vivaldi's mother, Camilla Calicchio, may have dedicated him to the priesthood either out of fear or due to his poor health.

And his health was problematic. His symptoms, "tightness of the chest", has been interpreted as a form of asthma, but this did not prevent him from learning to play the violin, composing or taking part in musical activities, although it did stop him from playing wind instruments.

His father, Giovanni Battista, a barber before becoming a professional violinist, taught Antonio to play the violin, and then toured Venice playing the violin with his young son.

In 1693, at the age of 15, he began studying to become a priest and was ordained in 1703, aged 25. He was soon nicknamed il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest", because of his red hair, a family trait. However, not long after his ordination, in 1704, he was given a reprieve from celebrating the Holy Mass because of his ill health. Vivaldi only said mass as a priest a few times and though he appears to have withdrawn from priestly duties, he remained a priest.

In September 1703 at the age of 25, Vivaldi, who was regarded as an exceptional technical violinist, became the master of violin at one of the four, state run orphanages called the Devout Hospital of Mercy in Venice and over the next thirty years he composed most of his major works while working there.

Shortly after Vivaldi's appointment, the orphans began to gain appreciation and esteem abroad yet his relationship with the board of directors of the orphanage was often strained. Each year the board had to take a vote on whether to keep a teacher and the votes on Vivaldi was seldom unanimous. In 1709 the vote went 7 to 6 against him and he was dismissed. However, after a year as a freelance musician, he was recalled by the orphanage with a unanimous vote in 1711; clearly during his year's absence the board realized the importance of his role. He then became responsible for all of the musical activity of the institution and was promoted to maestro di' concerti (music director) in 1716.

In early 18th century Venice, opera was the most popular musical entertainment and this proved profitable, if contentious, for Vivaldi as there were several theaters competing for the public's attention. In 1715, he pallned to put on an opera titled Arsilda Queen of Ponto but the state censor blocked the performance because the main character, Arsilda, falls in love with another woman, Lisea, who is pretending to be a man. However, Vivaldi got the censor to accept the opera the following year, and it was a resounding success.

His progressive operatic style caused him some trouble with more conservative musicians, like Benedetto Marcello, a magistrate and amateur musician who wrote a pamphlet denouncing him and his operas. The pamphlet, The fashionable theater, attacks Vivaldi though without mentioning him directly.

Though only around 50 operas are known to exist, Vivaldi makes mention of him writing 94 and though he certainly composed many operas in his time, he never reached the prominence of other great composers, as evidenced by his inability to keep a production running for any period of time in any major opera house.

Then, around 1718, Vivaldi was offered a new prestigious position as Maestro di Cappella of the court of the prince Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, governor of Mantua. While he continued to write operas during this period, one of which he performed before the new Pope Benedict XIII, it was during this time that he wrote the Four Seasons, the famous four violin concertos depicting scenes appropriate for each season and probably inspired by the countryside around Mantua.

The concertos were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized), barking dogs, buzzing mosquitoes, crying shepherds, storms, drunken dancers, silent nights, hunting parties from both the hunters' and the prey's point of view, frozen landscapes, children ice-skating, and warming winter fires. Each concerto is associated with a sonnet, possibly also by Vivaldi, describing the scenes depicted in the music. They were published as the first four concertos in a collection of twelve in Amsterdam by Le Cène in 1725.

During his time in Mantua, Vivaldi became acquainted with an aspiring young singer Anna Tessieri Giro who was to become his student, protégée, and favorite prima donna. Anna, along with her older half-sister Paolina, became part of Vivaldi's entourage and regularly accompanied him on his many travels. There was speculation about the nature of Vivaldi's and Giro's relationship, but no evidence to indicate anything beyond friendship and professional collaboration and he adamantly denied any romantic relationship in a letter to his patron dated November 16, 1737.

During the height of his career, Vivaldi received commissions from European nobility and royalty. In 1728, Vivaldi met Emperor Charles VI who admired the music of the Red Priest so much that he is said to have spoken more with the composer during their one meeting than he spoke to his ministers in over two years. Charles even granted Vivaldi the title of knight, a gold medal and an invitation to Vienna.

However, like many composers of the time, the final years of Vivaldi's life found him in financial difficulties. His compositions were no longer held in such high esteem as they once were in Venice as changing musical tastes quickly made them outmoded. In response, Vivaldi chose to sell off sizeable numbers of his manuscripts at paltry prices to finance his migration to Vienna. The reasons for Vivaldi's departure from Venice are unclear, but it seems likely that, after the success of his meeting with Emperor Charles VI, he wished to take up the position of a composer in the imperial court.

Shortly after Vivaldi's arrival in Vienna, en route to which he may have stopped in Graz to see Anna Giromay, Charles VI died, a stroke of bad luck that left the composer without royal protection or a steady source of income. Not long after the emperor, on the night between July 27 and 28, 1741, while staying in a house owned by the widow of a Viennese saddlemaker, Vivaldi died of an "internal infection". On July 28 he was buried in a simple grave at the Hospital Burial Ground in Vienna.

Interestingly, Vivaldi's funeral took place at St. Stephen's Cathedral, where one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the classical period and the "Father of the Symphony and String Quartet", a young Joseph Haydn, was then a choir boy.

Only three portraits of Vivaldi are known to survive: an engraving, an ink sketch and an oil painting, the later giving us possibly the most accurate picture for it shows Vivaldi's red hair under his blond wig.

Vivaldi's music was innovative. He brightened the formal and rhythmic structure of the concerto, in which he looked for harmonic contrasts and innovative melodies and themes and many of his compositions are flamboyantly, almost playfully, exuberant.

Johann Sebastian Bach was deeply influenced by Vivaldi's concertos and arias and Bach transcribed six of Vivaldi's concerti but after the Baroque period, Vivaldi's published concerti went relatively unknown, and largely ignored, including The Four Seasons. Though his body of work includes over 500 instrumental concertos, sacred choral works and at least 50 operas, it would not be until the early 20th century that his work would be rediscovered.

In fact, it was an act of forgery which shed light onto the forgotten works of the composer when Fritz Kreisler composed a Vivaldi-styled concerto and tried to pass it off as an original Vivaldi work. This impelled the French scholar Marc Pincherle to begin an academic study of Vivaldi's oeuvre. Many Vivaldi manuscripts were rediscovered, and were acquired by the National University of Turin Library with generous sponsorship of Turinese businessmen Roberto Foa and Filippo Giordano.

In 1926, in a monastery in Piedmont, researchers discovered 14 folios of Vivaldi's work, previously thought lost during the Napoleonic wars. Though some volumes in the numbered set were missing, they turned up in the collections of the descendants of the Grand Duke Durazzo who had acquired the monastery complex in the 18th century. The volumes contained 300 concertos, 19 operas and over 100 vocal-instrumental works.

The resurrection of Vivaldi's unpublished works in the 20th century is mostly due to the efforts of Alfredo Casella, who in 1939 organised the historic Vivaldi Week, in which the rediscovered Gloria and l'Olimpiade were first revived. Since World War II, Vivaldi's compositions have enjoyed wide success. In 1947, the Venetian businessman Antonio Fanna founded the Italian Institute of Antonio Vivaldi having the purpose of promoting Vivaldi's music and publishing new editions of his works. Unlike many of his contemporaries, whose music is rarely heard outside an academic or special-interest context, Vivaldi is popular among modern audiences.

Rediscoveries of works by Vivaldi are from as recent as 2006 when the lost 1730 opera Argippo was found by conductor and harpsichordist Ondrej Macek and Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot has said of Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus, which was rediscovered in 2005, to be "arguably the best nonoperatic work from Vivaldi's pen to come to light since... the 1920s"

The first recording of The Four Seasons is a matter of some dispute. There is a recording of one made by the violinist Alfredo Campoli taken from a French radio broadcast from early in 1939 and the first proper electrical recording was made in 1942 by Bernardino Molinari, and though his adaptation is somewhat different from what we have come expect from modern performances it is clearly recognizable.

Subsequent recordings of The Four Seasons, of which more than 300 exist, have sold tens of millions of copies, making Vivaldi one of the most popular and well known of the great composers. If he were alive today, he would be a very wealthy man from the royalties alone, though one might also like to imagine a modern Vivaldi still teaching at an orphanage in Italy, instructing the youth and inspiring them with some of the most beautiful music that has ever been written.

July 29, 2010


Hopefully I will have enough time to finish today's show, but I have to be to work in a few hours so we'll see how it goes. Turtlestack (talk) 00:56, 30 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

On this day in history


In 1967, during the Vietnam war, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal had been launching air strikes against North Vietnam from the Gulf of Tonkin. For four days, 150 missions had been flown off her flight deck until on the morning of July 29, while preparations for the second strike of the day were being made, an unguided 5 inch "Zuni" rocket located in a rocket pod under the wing of a F4 Phantom fighter jet was accidentally fired due to an electrical power surge during the switch from external power to internal power.

The rocket then flew across the flight deck, striking a wing-mounted external fuel tank on another plane which was awaiting launch. Though it is still unclear exactly which plane the rocket hit, one of the planes directly involved was being piloted by a young LCDR named John McCain, the now well known US Senator from Arizona and 2008 Presidential Candidate.

What happened next was a series of cascading disasters, many of which were preventable, but due to lack of training, poor equipment maintenance and confusion, would become one of the worst accidents in US Naval history, an incident still used in US Navy training schools today.

When the Zuni rocket hit the external fuel tank of the waiting aircraft, the warhead's safety mechanism prevented it from detonating, but the impact tore the tank off the wing and ignited the resulting spray of escaping JP-5 fuel, causing an instantaneous conflagration. Other external fuel tanks overheated and ruptured, releasing more jet fuel to feed the flames which spread along the flight deck, leaving pilots in their aircraft with the options of being incinerated in their cockpits or running through the flames to escape.

At the time, because of a shortage of 1,000 lb bombs, the older style Composition B bombs had been loaded from the ammunition ship USS Diamond Head, instead of newer Composition H6 which capable of withstanding higher temperatures. One pilot, LCDR Fred White, leaped from his burning aircraft but was killed instantly (along with many firefighters) by the cooking off of the first bomb. LCDR Herbert A. Hope jumped out of the cockpit of his aircraft between explosions, rolled off the flight deck and into the starboard man-overboard net. He then made his way down below to the hangar deck, and took command of a firefighting team. McCain escaped by climbing out of the cockpit, walking down the nose and jumping off the refueling probe.

The fire team's chief, Gerald Farrier (without benefit of protective clothing) immediately smothered two of the 1,000 lb bombs which lay in the burning fuel with a PKP fire extinguisher, a dry chemical fire suppression agent, in an effort to knock down the fuel fire long enough to allow the pilots to escape.

According to their training, the fire team normally had almost three minutes to reduce the temperature of the bombs to a safe level, but the chief did not realize the older Composition B bombs were already critically close to cooking-off until one split open. The chief, knowing a lethal explosion was imminent, shouted for the fire team to withdraw but the bomb exploded seconds later - only one and a half minutes after the start of the fire.

The detonation destroyed McCain's aircraft (along with its remaining fuel and armament), blew a crater in the armored flight deck, and sprayed the deck and crew with shrapnel and burning jet fuel. It killed the on-deck firefighting contingent, with the exception of three men who survived with critical injuries. Two bomb-laden aircraft which were in line ahead of McCain's were riddled with shrapnel and engulfed in the flaming jet fuel still spreading over the deck, causing more bombs to detonate and more fuel to spill.

Nine bomb explosions occurred on the flight deck, eight caused by the Composition B bombs and the ninth occurred as a sympathetic detonation, a detonation of an explosive charge by a nearby explosion, between an old bomb and a newer H6 bomb. The explosions tore large holes in the armored flight deck, causing flaming jet fuel to drain into the interior of the ship, including the living quarters directly underneath the flight deck, and the below-decks aircraft hangar.

Sailors and Marines finally controlled the flight deck fires within about two hours, and continued to clear smoke and to cool hot steel on the 02 and 03 levels until all fires were under control by 1:42pm. They finally declared the fire defeated at 4:00am the next morning, due to additional flare-ups. Throughout the day the ship’s medical staff worked in dangerous conditions to assist their comrades including HM2 Paul Streetman, one of 38 corpsmen assigned to the carrier, who spent over 11 hours on the mangled flight deck tending to his shipmates.

In all, the fire left 134 crewmen dead and 161 more injured. Many planes and armament were jettisoned to prevent them from catching fire or exploding. Twenty-one aircraft also sustained enough damage from fire, explosions and salt water to be stricken from naval inventory.

Though there were many firefighting tools available on Forrestal, including emergency respirators, the general crew were not trained in their use and either failed to use them correctly or did not coordinate their efforts correctly. For example, there were damage control teams spraying foam on the deck to contain the flames, which was the correct procedure, yet crewmen on the other side of the deck sprayed seawater, washing away the foam and worsening the situation by washing burning fuel through the hole in the flight deck into the decks below; burning fuel is not easily extinguished and can in fact be spread by water. Due to the first bomb blast killing nearly all of the specially trained firefighters on the ship, the remaining crew, who had no formal firefighting training, had to improvise.

The Navy still commonly refers to the fire aboard Forrestal, and the lessons learned, when teaching damage control and ammunition safety. A large portion of basic training is dedicated to firefighting and prevention tactics and every US Navy sailor is considered a firefighter first, a job your host once had when he served in the US Navy 25 years after the USS Forrestal, or Forrest Fire, incident.

July 30, 2010

Again, like yesterday, I don't know if I can get this done before I have to go to work, but we'll see. Turtlestack (talk) 00:33, 31 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]
After editing the script together, I had to make a few alterations, combinations and cut one story, the Apple story. Sorry to do that, but it's rare I cut anything. However, I will mention the article in the outro by stating "To receive the latest news, including full coverage of Apple's release of the new Magic Trackpad and updates for the iMacs and Mac Pros, please visit, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias." Turtlestack (talk) 01:01, 31 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]



Raging Southern California wildfires force mandatory evacuation orders; 3 fatal air crashes occur in the United States; a French woman admits to killing her eight infants and, in history, Jimmy Hoffa disappears without a trace.

Combined Turtlestack (talk) 01:01, 31 July 2010 (UTC)[reply]

On this day in history


Born February 14, 1913, James Riddle Hoffa, better known simple as Jimmy Hoffa, disappeared on this day in 1975.

Hoffa was born in Brazil, Indiana; his father, a coal miner, died in 1920 when Hoffa was seven years old and so the family moved to Detroit in 1924, where Hoffa was raised and lived the rest of his life. Hoffa left school when he was still a teenager at 14, and began working as a full-time manual laborer to help support his family.

While working at a grocery chain he and his fellow employees were displeased with working conditions as the chain paid substandard wages and offered minimal job security and so they tried to organize a union to better their lot. Although Hoffa was young, his bravery and approachability in this role impressed his fellow workers, and he rose to a leadership position. By 1932, after being dismissed from the grocery chain—in part because of his union activities—Hoffa joined and became involved with Local 299 of the truck driving and warehousemen Union, known as the Teamsters, in Detroit.

Although he never actually worked as a truck driver, he became president of Local 299 in December 1946. Through his tactic of using "quickie strikes", secondary boycotts, and other means of leveraging union strength at one company, to then move to organize workers, he copuld win contract demands at other companies.

He then rose to lead the combined group of Detroit-area locals shortly afterwards, and advanced to become head of the Michigan Teamsters groups sometime later. During this time, Hoffa obtained a deferment from military service in World War II, by successfully making a case for his union leadership skills being of more value to the nation, by keeping freight running smoothly to assist the war effort.


The Teamsters union, founded in 1899, had only 75,000 members in 1933. As a result of Hoffa's work with other union leaders to consolidate local union trucker groups into regional sections and then into one gigantic national body — work that Hoffa ultimately completed over a period of two decades — membership grew to 170,000 members by 1936. Three years later, there were 420,000; and the number grew steadily during World War II and through the post-war boom to top a million members by 1951.

By 1952, Hoffa rose to national vice-president of the Teamsters' IBT union, which was on its way to becoming the largest and most powerful single union in the United States. To gain this position, Hoffa quelled an internal revolt against incoming president Dave Beck, by securing the Midwest's support for Beck during an IBT convention in Los Angeles.

In 1955, the IBT moved its headquarters from Indianapolis to Washington, DC, taking over a large office building in the US capital and with an increased staff with many lawyers hired to assist with contract negotiations.

When, in 1957 when he had taken over the presidency of the Teamsters, his predecessor, former president Dave Beck was under indictment on fraud charges and appeared before the John Little McClellan-led US Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor or Management Field in March 1957. Beck took the Fifth Amendment, which protects a defendant from being a witness against himself, 140 times in response to questions.

Following Hoffa's re-election as president in 1961, he worked to expand the union. In 1964, he succeeded in bringing virtually all over-the-road truck drivers in North America under a single national master-freight agreement. He then tried to bring the airline workers and other transport employees into the union, but with limited success. During this period, Hoffa was facing immense personal strain as he was under investigation, on trial, launching appeals of convictions, or imprisoned for virtually all of the 1960s.

In 1964, Hoffa was convicted in Chattanooga, Tennessee, of attempted bribery of a grand juror, and was sentenced to eight years. Hoffa was also convicted of fraud later that same year for improper use of the Teamsters' pension fund, in a trial held in Chicago. He received a five-year sentence to run consecutively to his bribery sentence.

Heoffa began serving his sentences in March 1967 at the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Just before he entered prison, Hoffa appointed Frank Fitzsimmons as acting Teamsters president. Fitzsimmons was a Hoffa loyalist, fellow Detroit resident, and a longtime member of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit, and owed his own high position in large part to Hoffa's influence. Despite this, Fitzsimmons distanced himself from Hoffa's influence and control after 1967, much to Hoffa's displeasure. Fitzsimmons also decentralized power somewhat within the Teamsters' union administration structure. During the Hoffa era, Hoffa had kept most power in his own hands.

But then on December 23, 1971, less than five years into his 13-year sentence, Hoffa was released from the Lewisburg, Pennsylvania prison, when President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence to time served. The IBT had endorsed Richard Nixon, the Republican Party's candidate, in his presidential re-election bid in 1972; in prior elections, the IBT union had supported Democratic Party nominees. Suspicions were soon raised of a deal for Hoffa's release being connected with the IBT's support of Nixon in 1972.


While glad to regain his freedom, Hoffa was displeased with the condition imposed on his release by President Nixon that restricted Hoffa from participating in union activities until 1980. Hoffa was planning to sue to invalidate the non-participation restriction, in order to reassert his power over the Teamsters; but he faced immense resistance to this course of action from many quarters, and had lost much of his earlier support, even in the Detroit area. As a result, he intended to begin his comeback at the local level, with Local 299 in Detroit, where he retained some influence.

Then at, or sometime after, 2:45 pm on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, a suburb of Detroit, Hoffa disappeared. It was believed that he was to have been meeting with two Mafia leaders — Anthony Giacolone from Detroit, and Anthony Provenzano from New Jersey, but during the ensuing FBI investigation, Giacolone and Provenzano were each found not to have been in the vicinity of the restaurant that afternoon, and each of them denied that they had scheduled any meeting with Hoffa.

Although not claiming to conclusively establish the specifics of his disappearance, a 56-page report the FBI prepared indicates that law enforcement's belief is that Hoffa was murdered at the behest of organized crime figures who deemed his efforts to regain power within the Teamsters to be a threat to their control of the union's pension fund.

Following Nixon's resignation as president in disgrace over the Watergate scandal in August, 1974, Nixon avoided public life for over a year; his first public event was a charity fundraising golf tournament in California on October 9, 1975, at the La Costa Resort and Spa, which was heavily attended by Teamsters' leaders and associates, including IBT President Frank Fitzsimmons and mobster and IBT leading official Allen Dorfman; Hoffa had disappeared only ten weeks earlier.