Lawpagandist Brian Foley explains how America's patchwork of local legal procedures - which vary between states, counties and founding-era traditions - presents a barrier to access for regular non-lawyer people without lots and lots of money, and because Brian just launched a legal practice in Pennsylvania, he delivers a handy guide to making your lawyer lots and lots of money.
On this day in 1908 – (107 years ago) – an enormous explosion ripped through the Pittsburgh-Buffalo Coal Mine near Marianna, Pennsylvania. The blast was so loud that it could be heard for miles, and hardware and debris from the mine opening was later found half a mile away. The explosion killed 154 miners. Only one survived. Experts later found that the explosion had been caused by an ignition of concentrated coal dust triggered by a routine dynamite charge being used to loosen the coal in a mine wall.
On this day in 1942 – (73 years ago) – the dance orchestra was about to begin its second set for an over-capacity crowd at Boston’s ritzy Cocoanut Grove supper club when a sixteen-year-old busboy in the downstairs lounge lit a match. Moments later, flames raced across the lounge ceiling and quickly spread up the stairwells into the main ballroom, which was heavily festooned with fake palm trees, bamboo furniture, cloth draperies, and paper decorations, many of which covered the exit signs. As fire spread to the restaurant kitchen, the refrigerators, running on flammable propellant due to a wartime shortage of freon, exploded. In minutes the club was a raging inferno as screaming patrons pounded on padlocked exits and jammed both sides of a revolving door, rendering it useless. Other unlocked doors which opened inward were also useless in the chaos, and a plate glass window had been boarded over. When firefighters finally got inside, they found 492 dead people – some charred to cinders, others still seated at tables with drinks in their hands, overcome by poisonous smoke. It was the deadliest nightclub fire in US history. Barney Welansky, the Cocoanut Grove’s mob-connected owner, was convicted of nineteen counts of manslaughter, and died of cancer after four years in prison.
On this day in 1979 – (36 years ago) – an Air New Zealand DC-10 airliner departed from Auckland on a sightseeing flight over Antarctica, having received erroneous flight programming information the night before. The airplane veered from its usual course, was caught in a whiteout, and crashed into Mount Erebus, the southernmost active volcano on earth. All 257 passengers on board the plane were killed instantly, along with the ten-member crew. Crash investigators later determined that the crew had been unaware of danger until six seconds before their impact with the mountain. It was Air New Zealand’s first fatal accident. The famed explorer Edmund Hillary had planned to be aboard the flight, but had canceled at the last minute.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
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Scott is co-author of the New York Review of Books essay Paris: The War ISIS Wants.
Brian just started his own law practice in Philadelphia.
Glen has been writing about #BlackLivesMatter for Black Agenda Report, including the recent pieces “Black Lives Matter” Groups Hoping for a Big Payday
Valerie and Elizabeth are authors of the In These Times investigation Why the US Leaves Deadly Chemicals on the Market.
Suzanna is author of We Sell Drugs: The Alchemy of US Empire from University of California Press.
This day in rancid, ugly, horrible, putrid, rotten history . . .
On this day in 1386 – (629 years ago) – the Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur of Samarkand, known to Europeans as Tamerlane, captured and sacked the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, took King Bagrat V of Georgia captive, and—according to the ancient chronicles—forced the Christian monarch to convert to Islam. Tbilisi was just one of Timur’s many conquests. His domain stretched from the western edge of China into what is now Turkey, but it was short-lived. On his deathbed, Timur designated a favorite grandson as his successor—but his other descendants ignored his wishes and went to war with each other, and the empire disintegrated in a few years.
On this day in 1918 – (97 years ago) – amid the armed conflict that persisted between Poland and Ukraine after the end of World War I, Polish soldiers and lawless civilians in the eastern European city of Lviv subjected its Jewish population to a pogrom that would last three days. Between 50 and 150 Jewish people were massacred, while about two thousand lost their homes, and some five hundred businesses were destroyed.
On this day in 1920 – (95 years ago) – in Dublin, Ireland, thirty-one people were killed in a day of deadly violence during the Irish War of Independence. It was the second and bloodiest of four different historical incidents in Ireland that have since become known as “Bloody Sunday.” It started in the morning with a series of carefully planned killings of British spies at various locations around the city by members of an assassination unit operating under the Irish military leader Michael Collins. Late that afternoon, a unit of militarized British police responded to the assassinations by showing up at a well-attended football match and firing upon the crowd of Irish spectators. By day’s end, the death toll on both sides included fourteen Irish civilians, fourteen British spies, and three IRA prisoners.
On this day in 1927 – (88 years ago) –about five hundred striking miners and I.W.W. activists outside the Columbine Coal Mine near Boulder, Colorado, were attacked by a detachment of state police armed with tear gas and machine guns. The month-old strike, prompted by wage theft and dangerous work conditions, had been uneventful for more than a month until the arrival of cold weather and the rising demand for coal put pressure on mine owners and local authorities to break the strike. In the chaos of the police attacks, six strikers were killed and about sixty injured. The police later claimed that some miners had fired guns at them, but those accounts were contradicted by witnesses, and no police had actually been shot.
On this day in 1953 – (62 years ago) – The British Natural History Museum announced that the famous skull of the prehistoric “Piltdown Man,” discovered four decades earlier in England and believed to be one of the most important hominid fossils ever found, was actually a hoax, constructed by combining a modern human skull with the jawbone of an orangutan. For more than forty years, paleontologists had been led down a scientific blind alley, publishing more than 250 scientific papers that were now revealed to be worthless. Since then, the identity of the hoax’s perpetrator has never been firmly established. But the “Piltdown Man” hoax is nowadays often cited by creationists, who claim that it shows the dishonesty of scientists who support Darwin’s theory of human evolution. This, despite the fact that it was precisely such scientists who actually exposed the hoax.
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Curtis is author of We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data from Melville House.
The Oakland Institute just posted the release International Civil Society Alarmed by Conviction of Cameroonian Environmental Human Rights Defender.
Laura was just on CCTV talking about legalization trends in Mexico and the United States..
Brooke is author of the Atlantic article Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts.
Kyle wrote the Guardian opinion piece It's so dangerous to be a black American, I've sought asylum in Canada. To help with Kyle's legal fees, contribute to his GoFundMe here.
Rania was quoted in the Intitute for Public Accuracy's news release From Beirut After Bombing: 'We are Not Numbers'.
Not sure if this program is the most effective forum for that, but we're with you Jeffy.
Here is what Chuck is reading to prepare for Saturday's show:
We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data - Curtis White [Melville House]
International Civil Society Alarmed by Conviction of Cameroonian Environmental Human Rights Defender- Anuradha Mittal [Oakland Institute]
Laura Carlsen on Marijuana Legalization - CCTV [Video segment]
Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts - Brooke Harrington [The Atlantic]
From Beirut After Bombing: 'We are Not Numbers' - Rania Masri [Institute for Public Accuracy]
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Roslyn is author of Beasts and Gods: How democracy changed its meaning and lost its purpose from Zed Books.