September 2006

May 6

6 May 1953: Airman Ronald Maddison died less than hour after sarin gas was deliberately dripped onto his arm as part of an experiment at a chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, Wiltshire. Fifty-one years later, a fresh inquest has decided that Maddison was unlawfully killed. His relatives intend seeking compensation from the Ministry of Defence, and more than 500 claims from exservicemen who were involved unwittingly in the WMD tests (and survived) could be forthcoming.

The Guardian has a report today. BBC Online has a series of articles about the inquest, and the background to this amazing story. Best way to navigate is to start at the verdict and follow the related links back.

January 2

January 2, 1967: Project Nassau (AKA Operation Istanbul) was aborted. This was a failed attempt by a band of mercenaries to invade Haiti. US customs officers arrested about 80 people in a beach house at Florida Keys which contained a cache of arms.

Among the people arrested were three cameramen from CBS. It was later revealed that CBS had paid the mercenaries for exclusive rights to film the invasion.

It seems, also, that Haiti was to be used as a springboard for recapturing Cuba. What might have been: “Bay of Pigs 2, Sunday at 9 on CBS…”

The US House of Representatives later conducted a hearing to determine whether CBS was funding foreign revolutions. As we all know, that’s the government’s job, not private enterprise.

April 15

More on:

April 15, 1955, and the first McDonald’s “restaurant” opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, named by milk shaker-salesman Ray Kroc after the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, whose hamburger stand in San Bernadino, California became his inspiration. The rest… yeah well you know.

April 22

A remarkable story that I was unaware of until today. April 22, 1959, and the acclaimed ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn is detained in a Panama City lock-up for 24 hours while her husband is on the run attempting a coup against the Panamanian government.

BBC Online’s On This Day section picks up the story.

July 22: Yesterday's terrorists are today's...

July 22, 1946: The Zionist militant group Irgun bombs the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, the headquarters of the British Mandate Secretariat in Palestine. A total of 91 people were killed. The Irgun were led by Menachem Begin, who was subsequently Prime Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983.

Wikipedia describes the events in more detail. The Times’ reportage of the outrage in 1946 can be read in a PDF of page five of the July 23, 1946 edition. Sixtieth anniversary commemorations are taking place this week in Jerusalem, and have been condemned by the British Ambassador to Israel and its Consul-General in Jerusalem.

September 11

September 11, 1906: Indian-born lawyer and South African resident Mohandas Gandhi spoke in Johannesburg calling for non-violent resistance to racial discrimination, in particular Transvaal’s Asiatic Laws. This week is the centenary of Gandhi’s first satyagraha.

It’s a pity that the date of September 11 has become associated with an audacious act of mass murder. With both events in mind, the Mahatma’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, has submitted that September 11 be observed as a Day of Prayer for Peace and Harmony. There’s more information at the Gandhi Institute, including a PDF document of Arun’s paper “The Duality of September 11“.