Category Archives: World News

The Woman Who Almost Killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Story Of Izola Ware Curry and The Stabbing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Arrest Ms Curry stabbed Martin Luther King 1958

Dr. Martin Luther King’s attacker being booked

As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day we’ll recount a story many people are not familiar with.

It’s a forgotten story in which the Civil Rights movement narrowly escaped a crippling blow in 1958.  It’s also the story of the woman who tried to be an assassin and failed and is now very old, free, and living a mostly anonymous life here in New York City.

Ten years before being cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came within a fraction of an inch of losing his life in an assassination attempt in New York City.

At 3:30 pm on September 20, 1958 Dr. King was in Harlem on the ground floor of  Blumstein’s Department store at 230 West 125th Street signing copies of his new book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. With about 20 people on line, a 42 year-old woman, Izola Ware Curry burst through the line, asking Dr. King if he was in fact Martin Luther King. When King affirmed he was, Curry said either “Why do you annoy me” or “I’ve been after you for six years,” and opened her purse, took out a letter opener, closed her eyes and suddenly plunged the steel blade into his left chest.

The stunned Dr. King remained seated in his chair with the blade buried deep into his chest. Curry tried to leave the store but was seized quickly by those standing near Dr. King and held for the police. It was later discovered Curry also had an automatic handgun hidden in her bra.

At the book signing there was no police protection for Dr. King and the first police officers who responded to the scene, Al Howard and Phil Romano, were nearby in their police car when they received a report of a disturbance at Blumstein’s. They arrived to see King sitting in a chair with the steel letter opener protruding from his chest. Officer Howard told King, “Don’t sneeze, don’t even speak.”

Officer’s Howard and Romano escorted Dr. King, still in the chair, down to an ambulance and rushed him to Harlem Hospital. After waiting for the proper surgical team to arrive to perform the delicate operation, the Chief of Surgery Aubre Maynard attempted to pull out the letter opener, but cut his glove on the blade. At 6:30 pm Dr. King underwent a two and a quarter hour operation. A surgical clamp was finally used to pull out the blade.

After the surgery Dr. King was listed in critical condition. He contracted pneumonia while convalescing, but recovered completely and was released from the hospital two weeks after the attack.

In his posthumously published autobiography King wrote, “Days later,when I was well enough to talk with Dr. Aubre Maynard, the chief of the surgeons who performed the delicate, dangerous operation, I learned the reason for the long delay that preceded surgery. He told me that the razor tip of the instrument had been touching my aorta and that my whole chest had to be opened to extract it. ‘If you had sneezed during all those hours of waiting,’ Dr. Maynard said, ‘your aorta would have been punctured and you would have drowned in your own blood.'” Continue reading

In 1961 Dr. Richard W. Hamming Predicted The Harmful Effects of Computer Technology

Loss Of Privacy, Pooling Of Data And The Slow Blurring Of The Distinction Between Human And Machine “Thinking.”

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

Richard W. Hamming photo: Naval Postgraduate School

In 1961, scientist and mathematician Dr. Richard W. Hamming of Bell Telephone Laboratories, had enormous foresight in predicting that computers would soon change our lives in ways that few people could have imagined half a century ago.

Dr. Hamming saw the future improvements that the computer revolution would bring, but he also warned of the coming dangers in that revolution.  Looking back at his insights today you will find them eerily accurate. In many ways Dr. Hamming merely scraped the surface on many of his suppositions.

Today we are all aware that marketers are tracking your movements on the internet. Unless you’ve set up blockers, all your clicks, all your searches, every site you visit is captured and analyzed. Big Data firms want that information, supposedly just to market to you. The government, banks, schools, brokerage firms, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and merchants all collect information that you are obliged to provide in order to receive services. You just hope your information is secure and not compromised.

But then you voluntarily share information on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. We know that the information we provide is used to compile an aggregate online portrait of our lives that is available for the world to peer into and that includes stalkers, thieves and hackers and yet we still provide it!

Which leads us back to a symposium held in December 27-29, 1961 on “Man and the Computer” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science held in Denver, CO. At the symposium Dr. Hamming’s observations were listened to attentively and the New York Times interviewed him afterwards. Summarizing  Hamming’s observations:

While computers will surely benefit mankind in ways not yet dreamed of he said, certain harmful effects of the computer revolution can be foreseen. One example he gave was a reduction in individual privacy that would be possible with the increasing storage of personal records even travel information in computers.

A major concern is that a growing amount of personal information was being committed to the memory of machines: various data collected by Selective Service; Social Security, Internal Revenue, insurance companies, places of employment, medical services and even airline companies.

“How do we know that this is always being used for the benefit of the individual?” he asked, “How can we be sure that this information will not be used against a person?”

Continue reading

Malcolm Young’s Illness Spells The End For AC/DC

AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A.  Times

Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times

When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.

Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.

AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.

Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.

It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.

In a recent Guitar World interview Angus Young said:

Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.

Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.

My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!

Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading

Shared Media 1939 Style

16 Very Concerned New York City Kids – 1939

Reading the war news in a Polish neighborhood NYC 1939 9 5

This is simply a great photograph of something you will probably never see again, kids gathering around a newspaper to read a story. The communal reading or sharing of news done without a tablet, mobile device, Twitter, Facebook or any social network. Just friends, schoolmates and neighbors sharing a very important event.

In this case the boys are looking at the New York World -Telegram issue of September 1, 1939 announcing the German bombing of Poland.

When the Nazis invaded Poland it was of great interest to the Polish neighborhoods in New York City. The slug for this Acme news photograph reads:

War News In Polish District Of New York

New York City – A group of boys in the Polish district of downtown New York City study a newspaper bearing the news of the German invasion of Poland. As these lads read the paper boys their own age in Poland got their first taste of modern war as German planes dropped bombs from the sky. Credit Line (Acme) 9-1-39

A few of these boys in the photograph look older than thirteen. Since the war would last until August 1945, I couldn’t help but wonder if any of them went on to fight and die in World War II.

How The 50th Anniversary Of President Lincoln’s Assassination Was Observed

With The JFK Assassination Anniversary Approaching, A Look At  How The Nation Remembered President Lincoln On The 50th Anniversary Of His Assassination – April 15, 1915

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper April 29 1865

Leading up to November 22, 2013, there has been an abundance of media recalling the fateful weekend fifty years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

Over the years many parallels and coincidences have been drawn between the assassinations of President’s Lincoln and Kennedy. Several of these are urban legends-  i.e. Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy; Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln. Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln, but there is no evidence Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. But some parallels are true: Both presidents were shot on a Friday in the presence of their wives. Both presidents were shot in the head. Both presidents were accompanied by another couple, etc.

Burlington Weekly Free Press April 15, 1915 - click to enlarge

Burlington Weekly Free Press April 15, 1915 – click to enlarge

For the 50th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination the media coverage was not the front page kind that the Kennedy assassination is receiving now. Obviously in the 21st century we have film, TV radio, magazines, newspapers and of course the internet to propagate thousands of stories about JFK and the assassination.

In 1915 print reigned supreme as the main mass medium, with motion picture newsreels still in their infancy.

Surprisingly, in the days leading up to and after the date of the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination, newspaper and magazine stories were not that widespread.

So how exactly did the nation remember the martyred president on the 50th anniversary of his assassination and what were the stories about?

Many newspapers covered the fact that President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order that on Thursday April 15, 1915 to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, that all the executive offices be closed. The American flag would be placed at half staff on all public buildings, forts, military posts and United States vessels.

New York Governor Charles S. Whitman also issued a proclamation that mirrored part of President Wilson’s executive order by  ordering the lowering of all flags on public buildings.

In the week leading up to the anniversary some newspapers such as The Washington Herald ran a series of long stories surrounding little known facts about Lincoln and his last days in office. The series included profiles of the assassin John Wilkes Booth and other key people, accounts of the assassination itself and the aftermath.

Like the current coverage of Kennedy’s assassination, a lot of the stories in 1915 are about the assassin and the conspiracy rather than about Lincoln. Continue reading

The Strange Origin Of Modern Building Fire Laws In Britain

Why Every Employee Must Be Able To Reach A Fire Exit In Under Two And A Half Minutes

Empire Theatre Fire photo Edinburgh Libraries and Museums and Galleries

Empire Theatre Fire photo Edinburgh Libraries and Museums and Galleries

The Telegraph just featured an interesting interview with Professor of Fire and Structures at Edinburgh University, Luke Bisby.

Professor Bisby does something I also do as well, which is when I enter a building I have never visited, I check how to get out of the building and where the fire exits are. Of course he looks at other factors that the average person wouldn’t take into account such as what is hanging on the walls and what the carpeting is made of.

Among the topics discussed was: why there are such tough safety rules in place in case of a fire in office worker’s buildings in the U.K.. The answer he provides is fascinating:

It may not be a surprise to learn that there are tight regulations surrounding the positioning and width of fire exits, and their location relative to workers’ desks, in a modern office.

But the basis for the stringent rules, which state that every employee must be able to reach a fire exit within two-and-a-half minutes, and that fire doors must be wide enough for all employees to pass through within the same time frame, is scarcely to be believed.

“This two-and-a-half minutes is the fundamental basis on which the built environment can exist,” Prof Bisby said. “You would presume there must be a good reason for it.

“The reason is that two-and-a-half minutes is, I’m told, the mean length of God Save the Queen. The British national anthem, when played in full, by a concert orchestra.”

The stipulation can be traced back to a fire at Edinburgh’s Empire Palace Theatre in 1911 which broke out during a performance by a French illusionist named The Great Lafayette, he explained. Continue reading

Woman Missing For 28 Years Found Buried In False Wall In Her Own Home

Getting Away With Murder

photo Poughkeepsie Journal

photo © Poughkeepsie Journal

It’s cases like this one that leave me scratching my head.

JoAnn Nichols, a 55-year-old elementary school teacher in Poughkeepsie, New York went missing December 20, 1985. Her husband, James I. Nichols Jr. notified the police the next day and gave them a note supposedly from his wife indicating despondency.

James I. Nichols Jr. died December 21, 2012, at the age of 82 in the home he shared with his missing wife. There were no relatives to claim his body and the dissolution of the estate fell to Dutchess County.

Neighbors, co-workers and former students never forgot Mrs. Nichols. They wondered where she had gone and what had happened to her. The police never found JoAnn Nichols and it became a cold case.

It took a contractor doing renovations in the home at 720 Vassar Road on June 28, to discover a false wall in the basement that contained a sealed container which held the remains of JoAnn Nichols. The cause of death has been determined to be blunt force trauma to the head. Homicide.

How the police never searched the house thoroughly at the time of the disappearance is perturbing.

It looks as if James I. Nichols Jr. got away with murder.

Your Wasted Presidential Vote

2012 Election Over, Same Problems, No Solutions

Last night I tuned in briefly to watch the Presidential election results knowing full well that my candidate would not win.

Not because I had voted for Mitt Romney.

Gary Johnson

For the eighth consecutive Presidential election I voted for a 3rd party candidate.  In this case, Libertarian, Gary Johnson.

While watching the results come in a friend called me and asked who I had voted for. When I told her Gary Johnson, she thought I was kidding and then realized that I was serious and quite sternly reprimanded me by saying, “why did you waste your vote?”

I replied,  “I believe that of the 120 million who voted, more than half voted not for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, but against them.”

“Gary Johnson was the candidate who presented the best ideas, that’s why I voted for him. I didn’t waste my vote.”

This logic did not persuade my friend. She insisted my logic was faulty and I had wasted my vote.

What would happen if more people voted for the person they felt would do the best job, instead of voting for a candidate they didn’t really like?

Maybe we’d have more people in government representing “we the people.”

1924 Presidential candidate Robert La Follette Sr.

1980 Presidential candidate John Anderson

1992 & 96 Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot

 

 

 

 

 

Over one million people agreed with my assessment and voted for Gary Johnson. Another 396,000 people voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Over 200,000 votes were cast for others.  One day, hopefully, the United States will have more than two parties. Instead of complaining about sending the same political hacks back to office, maybe people should wake up and do something about changing the status quo.

I didn’t waste my vote. Did you?

The First $2 Billion Bank

Chase Bank Had Two Billion Dollars In Deposits During The Depression

In New York City on June 30, 1930 The Chase National bank announced it had deposits of $2,065,434,000.

It was the first time in history that any bank’s deposits had topped the two billion dollar figure.

Chase achieved this lofty figure by a series of mergers. On June 2, 1930 Chase merged with The Equitable Trust Company and The Interstate Trust Company. Chase had also merged in the past year with National Park bank. These mergers increased Chase’s deposits by over one billion dollars in less than a year.

Eighty years later some banks lose significantly more than that sum in a bad quarter.

According to their annual report as of December 30, 2011, JP Morgan Chase, as the company is now known, has total assets of $2.265 trillion dollars.

Unique Antique Vampire Slaying Kit Up For Auction

Die, Dracula, Die!

On June 22, 2012 at Tennants Auctioneers in Yorkshire, England, a 19th century vampire slaying kit will be auctioned off.

Practically everything you would need to kill a fictional character is included. The kit,  housed in a mahogany box, contains a mallet and stakes, a pistol, a silver bullet mold, glass bottles containing holy water and holy earth, garlic, rosary beads, a bible, a crucifix and a handwritten psalm.  It is believed that the kit was made in earnest in the late 19th century. It is being consigned by a woman who inherited it from her uncle.

Because vampire sightings are on the rise and people are looking for extra security from the living dead, the auction has been attracting wordwide attention. The presale estimate of £1,500-2,000 (US $2,300 – 3,100) is probably on the low side considering the number of Dracula fans and strange goths who file down their teeth into fangs believing they are vampires.

UPDATE 7/25/12 – The final hammer price was £7,500 (US$11,700)!