Today in History – August 27th

2007 – Michael Vick, a star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, formally pleads guilty before a Richmond, VA, judge to a federal felony charge related to running a dog fighting ring. That December, the 27-year-old Vick, once the highest-paid player in the NFL, was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison.

1984 – In an effort to spark new interest in the space shuttle program, NASA began discussions on including private citizens in the space program. On August 27, 1984, President Reagan announced the official formation of the Teacher in Space Project. More than 11,000 teachers applied to be considered for the program.

Image of Teachers Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan

By June 0f 1985, NASA had chosen 114 semifinalists to be the first teacher in space. This selection included two teachers from each state. Later, a review panel chosen by NASA and the Council of Chief State School Officers selected 10 finalists. On July 18, 1985, NASA chose Christa McAuliffe as the flight candidate for the program and Barbara R. Morgan as her alternate.

After the challenger accident, NASA decided to cancel the Teacher in Space Project. They also cancelled similar programs, such as an upcoming Journalist in Space program.

1952 – the New York Times front page contained three stories suggesting the impact of the Red Scare on the upcoming election. In the first story, the Republican-dominated Senate Internal Security Subcommittee released a report charging that the Radio Writers Guild was dominated by a small number of communists.

The second front-page story was a report that the American Legion was demanding, for the third year in a row, that President Harry S. Truman dismiss Secretary of State Dean Acheson for his lack of vigor in dealing with the communist threat. The Legion report declared that the Department of State was in desperate need of “God-fearing Americans” who had the “intestinal fortitude not to be political puppets.” The organization demanded a quick and victorious settlement of the Korean War, even if this meant expanding the war into China.

The third story provided a counter of sorts to the previous two stories. It reported a speech by Democratic nominee for president Governor Adlai E. Stevenson, in which he strongly criticized those who used “patriotism” as a weapon against their political opponents. In an obvious slap at the Senate Subcommittee and others, such as Senator Joseph McCarthy, Stevenson repeated the words of the writer Dr. Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”

The three related stories from the front page of the Times indicated just how deeply the Red Scare had penetrated American society. Accusations about communists in the film, radio, and television industries, in the Department of State and the U.S. Army, in all walks of American life, had filled the newspapers and airwaves for years. By 1952, many Americans were convinced that communists were at work in the United States and must be rooted out and hunted down.

1883 – The volcanic island of Krakatoa near Indonesia erupts on this day in 1883, killing thousands in one of the worst geologic disasters of modern times.

The beginning of the amazing events at Krakatoa in 1883 date to May 20 when there were initial rumblings and venting from the volcano, which had been dormant for about 200 years. Over the next three months, there were regular small blasts from Krakatoa out of three vents. On August 11, ash started spewing from the small mountain. Eruptions got progressively stronger until August 26, when the catastrophe began.

At noon, the volcano sent an ash cloud 20 miles into the air and tremors triggered several tsunamis. This turned out to be just a small indication, however, of what would follow the next day. For four-and-a-half hours beginning at 5:30 a.m. on August 27, there were four major and incredibly powerful eruptions. The last of these made the loudest sound ever recorded on the planet. It could be heard as far away as central Australia and the island of Rodrigues, 3,000 miles from Krakatoa. The air waves created by the eruption were detected at points all over the earth.

Sunday Open Thread

76,000 qualified nursing school applicants were turned away in the last 12 months.

My advice: don’t bother with the Danish raunch comedy movie, Klown.

Seven minutes of terror:

Despite speculation, the Castro twins are the future of the D Party in TX, if it has a future.  I will go further: they represent the future of the entire D Party, if it has a future.

Just why would Iranians have a “pilgrimage” to Damascus?

British jocks are performing so well in front of the home crowd.  Congrats to all the Brit medal winners.  Murray beat Federer.

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