The first operating lighthouse on the U.S. West Coast was on Alcatraz Island. Isolated in San Francisco Bay, the storied Alcatraz is better known as the site of the infamous prison. It was a federal maximum-security facility for only twenty-nine years, from 1934 until 1963. For a century before, it had been various iterations of military fortifications and military prisons.
As a federal prison, Alcatraz was designed to hold troublemakers from other federal prisons. It became home to notorious bank robbers and murderers, including Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Rafael Cancel Miranda, who led the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party’s armed attack on the United States Capitol building in 1954, also spent time at Alcatraz.
The panoramic view of the close-by city of San Francisco is said to have intensified the misery of being incarcerated in Alcratraz Prison. “Baghdad by the Bay” sits only a mile-and-a-half away but is an unobtainable swim through cold, swirling currents.During its time as a federal prison, Alcatraz claimed there had been no successful escapes. Thirty-six men tried in fourteen escape attempts. Twenty-three were caught; six were shot and killed; two drowned; five were listed as “missing and presumed drowned.”
In normal current times, Alcatraz is a popular tourist site, managed by the National Park Service. In these COVID lockdown days, one can intuit the reverse of a penitentiary inmate. Sheltering in place in San Francisco, you can see Alcatraz, but you can’t get there.
As this is being written, zillow.com lists twenty homes for sale with views of Alcatraz Island. Asking prices range from $1.225 million (839 sq ft condo) to $25 million (7,000 sq ft house).
(Thanks to Mi Ae Lipe for the inspiration.)
It’s a mother’s worst nightmare.
Her S.U.V. was only fifteen feet from the entrance to the meat market in Beaverton Oregon. She was going to be in the store for just a few moments, so it was okay to leave the car’s engine running and her four-year-old strapped in a car seat.
When she came out of the store her car and her child were gone.
The thief didn’t go far. He made an abrupt U-turn in an adjacent parking lot and came roaring back to where the frantic mother stood. He demanded she take her kid out of the car. He lambasted her for leaving her child in the vehicle unattended and threatened to call the police on her. He then drove off again in the mother’s car.
The suspect, who as yet has not been found, was also wearing a face mask.
Snyder is the first Michigan governor or former governor to be charged for alleged criminal conduct while in office.
Former Michigan governor and GOP golden boy Rick Snyder has pleaded not guilty to charges of willful neglect of duty, stemming from poisoning the city of Flint’s water supply in 2014.
Flint had been declared a state of “financial emergency” near the end of 2011. Michigan’s governor and both legislative houses were staunchly Republican, and strongly believed in local control… except when they don’t. Governor Snyder appointed an emergency manager to take control of the city. To save money, the officials he put in charge of Flint’s finances switched the source of the city’s water from the Detroit River to the polluted Flint River. Two outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease, with twelve fatalities, soon followed. Tests found E. coli and lead in the city’s new water supply. Thousands of Flint residents now suffer long-term damage from lead in their water.
After a two-year investigation, a grand jury recently brought criminal charges against Snyder and eight others. Snyder’s former top aide faces felony charges of obstruction of justice and extortion. Two former state health officials each face nine counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Continue reading “Water Chronicles”
Andrew Jackson decisively won both the popular and the Electoral -College vote and thus the presidency in 1828. He had been the popular-vote winner in 1824 and received more electoral votes than his opponents, but not a majority. After some wrangling and deal-making, the House of Representatives awarded the presidency to John Quincy Adams.
The first to become president after losing the popular vote, four years later Adams achieved another first; the first president to be defeated in his bid for re-election. (John Calhoun was voted vice-president in both elections.)
Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson gained fame for his exploits in the War of 1812. He led U.S. troops against Creek Indians—who were allied with the British—and later repelled the British in the Battle of New Orleans.
The 1828 campaign was notable for its vituperation. Jackson and his wife Rachel were vilified with accusations of adultery and bigamy. (Rachael died shortly after the election.) Similar accusations were flung at Adams. Still, Jackson’s popularity with the working classes carried him to victory.
Continue reading “Inauguration Follies”
Newly-elected representative Cliff Bentz, the sole Republican in Oregon’s congressional delegation, cast his first votes last week. The freshman congressman joined 138 other representatives and eight senators voting to overturn election results.
The New York Times has provided us with a handy reference, including portraits, of the 147 legislators who cast votes against democracy.
Click here for the list of those with whom Rep. Bentz’s name will forever live in ignominy.
Veterans of American Expeditionary Forces in the First World War (known simply as the Great War until we had the Second World War) were promised a bonus. Such bonuses were instituted in the Revolutionary War, when soldiers were given additional compensation of money and land. (The tradition goes at least as far back as Roman times.) Its purpose was to make up some of the difference between a soldier’s military pay and what he may have been earning at a civilian job.
WWI veterans were given a paltry $60. The American Legion, formed in 1919, led the movement for an additional bonus.
Continue reading “Laying Siege to the Capitol”