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Today In History - 20th of April

Published by Daily Times on Sun, 20 Apr 2014


Sunday April 20, 2014 the 109th day and 16th week of 2014, there 256 days and 36 weeks left in the year. Highlights of today in world history...1914 Militia slaughters strikers at Ludlow, ColoradoEnding a bitter coal-miners' strike, Colorado militiamen attacked a tent colony of strikers, killing dozens of men, women, and children.The conflict had begun the previous September. About 11,000 miners in southern Colorado went on strike against the powerful Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation (CF&I) to protest low pay, dangerous working conditions, and the company's autocratic dominance over the workers' lives. The CF&I, which was owned by the Rockefeller family and Standard Oil, responded to the strike by immediately evicting the miners and their families from company-owned shacks. With help from the United Mine Workers, the miners moved with their families to canvas tent colonies scattered around the nearby hills and continued to strike.When the evictions failed to end the strike, the Rockefeller interests hired private detectives that attacked the tent colonies with rifles and Gatling guns. The miners fought back, and several were killed. When the tenacity of the strikers became apparent, the Rockefellers approached the governor of Colorado, who authorized the use of the National Guard. The Rockefellers agreed to pay their wages.At first, the strikers believed that the government had sent the National Guard to protect them. They soon discovered, though, that the militia was cunder orders to break the strike. On this day in 1914, two companies of guardsmen attacked the largest tent colony of strikers near the town of Ludlow, home to about 1,000 men, women, and children. The attack began in the morning with a barrage of bullets fired into the tents. The miners shot back with pistols and rifles.After a strike leader was killed while attempting to ne gotiate a truce, the strikers feared the attack would intensify. To stay safe from gunfire, women and children took cover in pits dug beneath the tents. At dusk, guardsmen moved down from the hills and set the tent colony on fire with torches, shooting at the families as they fled into the hills. The true carnage, however, was not discovered until the next day, when a telephone linesman discovered a pit under one of the tents filled with the burned remains of 11 children and 2 women.Although the "Ludlow Massacre" outraged many Americans, the tragedy did little to help the beleaguered Colorado miners and their families. Additional federal troops crushed the coal-miners' strike, and the miners failed to achieve recognition of their union or any significant improvement in their wages and working conditions. Sixty-six men, women, and children died during the strike, but not a single militiaman or private detective was charged with any crime.1926 New sound process for films announcedOn this day in 1926, Western Electric, the manufacturing arm of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), and the Warner Brothers film studio officially introduce Vitaphone, a new process that will enable the addition of sound to film.By the mid-1920s, several competing systems had been developed to add sound to motion pictures. In 1923, inventor Lee de Forest demonstrated Phonofilm, in which music was recorded on a narrow strip at the edge of the film. When De Forest tried to sell Phonofilm to the major Hollywood movie studios, however, they rejected it, dismissing talking pictures as a novelty that was not worth the cost. De Forests sound-on-film system evolved into the Movie tone sound process, introduced in 1927.The major studios also turned away Western Electric, makers of Vita phone, in 1925. The Vita phone system logged sound on a record linked electronically to the projector, keeping sound synchronized with image. Because the precise alignment of projector and phonograph had to be set by hand, the system was prone to human error; fitting a movie theatre for a Vita phone sound system was also extremely costly. Warner Brothers, then a minor studio, decided to act aggressively. It sank $3 million into the promotion of Vita phone, which the studio announced it would use to provide synchronized musical accompaniment for all its films.Vita phone debuted in August 1926 with the costume drama Don Juan, starring John Barrymore and featuring an orchestral score by the New York Philharmonic. The following year, Warner Brothers released its second Vita phone feature, The Jazz Singer, which included classical and popular music, as well as about 350 words of dialogue. The success of these two films led directly to the motion-picture industrys conversion to sound, as the major studios quickly lobbied to gain the rights to use Vita phone as well. Warner Brothers agreed to give up its exclusive rights to the system in exchange for a share of the royalties, and by the spring of 1928 virtually every Hollywood studio had jumped on the sound bandwagon.1978 Korean Air Lines jet forced down over Soviet UnionSoviet aircraft forced a Korean Air Lines passenger jet to land in the Soviet Union after the jet veers into Russian airspace. Two people were killed and several others injured when the jet made a rough landing on a frozen lake about 300 miles south of Murmansk.The jet was on a flight from Paris to Seoul when the incident occurred. Soviet officials claimed that the plane, which usually flew over the northern Polar Regions to reach Seoul, suddenly veered sharply to the east and penetrated Russian airspace. Soviet jets intercepted the passenger plane and ordered it to land. Instead of going to the airfield indicated by the Soviet jets, however, the KAL flight made a very rough landing on a frozen lake south of Murmansk. Two passengers were killed and several others were injured during the landing. A short time later, the Soviet Union allowed a civilian American aircraft to retrieve the survivors.U.S. officials were confused about what had gone wrong with the KAL flight, and Soviet officials were not extraordinarily helpful in clearing up matters. South Korea claimed that "navigational errors" were to blame for the plane flying so far off course. Aviation experts, however, doubted that "errors" of that magnitude would occur in such a sophisticated aircraft or that navigation problems could account for the plane's wildly inaccurate flight pattern. All that could be said for certain was that the episode once again demonstrated the Soviet Union's strict adherence to the protection of its airspace. Since the end of World War II a number of civilian and military aircraft had been driven away, forced to land, or shot down by the Soviet air force. The Russian policy would have even more tragic consequences on September 1, 1983, when Soviet jets shot down KAL Flight 007 after it veered 300 miles off course and flew over the Soviet Union--nearly 270 people died in that crash.1980 Castro announces Mariel BoatliftOn April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announced that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day.The boatlift was precipitated by housing and job shortages caused by the ailing Cuban economy, leading to simmering internal tensions on the island. On April 1, Hector Sanyustiz and four others drove a bus through a fence at the Peruvian embassy and were granted political asylum. Cuban guards on the street opened fire. One guard was killed in the crossfire.The Cuban government demanded the five be returned for trial in the dead guard's death. But when the Peruvian government refused, Castro withdrew his guards from the embassy on Good Friday, April 4. By Easter Sunday, April 6, some 10,000 Cubans crowded into the lushly landscaped gardens at the embassy requesting asylum. Other embassies, including those of Spain and Costa Rica, agreed to take a small number of people. But suddenly, two weeks later, Castro proclaimed that the port of Mariel would be opened to anyone wishing to leave, as long as they had someone to pick them up. Cuban exiles in the United States rushed to hire boats in Miami and Key West and rescue their relatives.In all, 125,000 Cubans fled to U.S. shores in about 1,700 boats, creating large waves of people that overwhelmed the U.S. Coast guard. Cuban guards had packed boat after boat, without considering safety, making some of the overcrowded boats barely seaworthy. Twenty-seven migrants died, including 14 on an overloaded boat that capsized on May 17.The boatlift also began to have negative political implications for U.S. President Jimmy Carter. When it was discovered that a number of the exiles had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities, many were placed in refugee camps while others were held in federal prisons to undergo deportation hearings. Of the 125,000 "Marielitos," as the refugees came to be known, who landed in Florida, more than 1,700 were jailed and another 587 were detained until they could find sponsors.The exodus was finally ended by mutual agreement between the U.S. and Cuban governments in October 1980.1945 Operation Corncob is launched while Hitler celebrates his birthdayOn this day in 1945, Allied bombers in Italy began a three-day attack on the bridges over the rivers Adige and Brenta to cut off German lines of retreat on the peninsula. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler celebrated his 56th birthday as a Gestapo reign of terror results in the hanging of 20 Russian prisoners of war and 20 Jewish children: Of these, at least nine are under the age of 12. All of the victims had been taken from Auschwitz to Neuengamme, the place of execution, for the purpose of medical experimentation.1999 A massacre at Columbine High SchoolTwo teenage gunmen killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. At about 11:20 a.m., Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, dressed in long trench coats, began shooting students outside the school before moving inside to continue their rampage. By the time SWAT team officers finally entered the school at about 3:00 p.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 fellow students and a teacher, and had wounded another 23 people. Then, around noon, they turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide.The awful crime captured the nation's attention, prompting an unprecedented search--much of it based on false information--for a scapegoat on whom to pin the blame. In the days immediately following the shootings, many claimed that Klebold and Harris purposely chose jocks, blacks, and Christians as their victims. In one particular instance, student Cassie Bernall was allegedly asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God. When Bernall said, "Yes," she was shot to death. Her parents later wrote a book entitled "She Said Yes," and toured the country, honouring their martyred daughter.Apparently, however, the question was never actually posed to Bernall. In fact, it was asked of another student who had already been wounded by a gunshot. When that victim replied, "Yes," the shooter walked away. Subsequent investigations also determined that Klebold and Harris chose their victims completely at random. Their original plan was for two bombs to explode in the school's cafeteria, forcing the survivors outside and into their line of fire. When the homemade bombs didn't work, Klebold and Harris decided to go into the school to carry out their murderous rampage.Commentators also railed against the so-called "Trench Coat Mafia" and "Goths," and questioned why these groups and cliques were not monitored more closely. However, further investigation revealed that Klebold and Harris were not part of either group.Columbine High School reopened in the fall of 1999, but the massacre left behind an unmistakable scar on the Littleton community. Mark Manes, the young man who sold a gun to Harris and bought him 100 rounds of ammunition the day before the murders, was sentenced to six years in prison. Carla Hochhalter, the mother of a student who was paralyzed in the attack, killed herself at a gun shop. Several other parents filed suit against the school and the police. Even Dylan Klebold's parents filed notice of their intent to sue, claiming that police should have stopped Harris earlier. A senior at Columbine was arrested after he threatened to "finish the job." And when a carpenter from Chicago erected 15 crosses in a local park on behalf of everyone who died on April 20, parents of the victims tore down the two in memory of Klebold and Harris.In an effort to show the world "that life goes on," Columbine school board officials voted to replace the library where students were murdered with an atrium. The shootings at Columbine stood as the worst school shooting in U.S. history until April 16, 2007, when 32 people were shot and many others wounded by a student gunman on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.
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