Japanese Instrument of Surrender-the end of WWII

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On September 2, 1945, representatives from the Japanese government and Allied forces assembled aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, which effectively ended World War II.

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The document was prepared by the U.S. War Department and approved by President Harry S. Truman. Eight short paragraphs formalized the “unconditional surrender to the Allied Powers of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters and of all Japanese armed forces and all armed forces under Japanese control wherever situated.” The Japanese signatories of the surrender were Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, and acting as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces General Douglas MacArthur accepted their surrender.

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The formal ceremony was witnessed by delegates from the other Allied nations, including China, the United Kingdom, the USSR, France, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

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The surrender came after almost two years of continuous defeats for the Imperial Japanese Army, compounded by the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945. Word of the Japanese surrender became public on August 14, when President Truman addressed the nation, and August 15 was marked by victory celebrations across the world.

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On September 7, the Japanese Surrender Instruments were presented to President Truman in Washington, DC, and in less than a week later, they were put on public display in the Rotunda of the National Archives, where the the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights reside today.

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Below are some further impressions of that day

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The Thing-not the movie.

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The Thing, also known as The Great Seal Bug, was a passive covert listening device, developed in the Soviet Union and planted in the study of the US Ambassador in Moscow, hidden inside a wooden carving of the Great Seal of the United States. It is called a passive device as it does not have its own power source. Instead it is acivated by a strong electromagnetic signal from outside. The device was code named LOSS by the US and RAINDEER by the Soviets.

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On 4 August 1945, the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer organization 1 presented a hand-carved replica of the Great Seal of the United States to US Ambassador Averell Harriman, as a gesture of friendship to the USSR’s World War II ally. It hung in the library at the Residency Spaso House.

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Unknown to the Americans however, the carving contained an HF radio bug of a novel design, in that it didn’t have its own power source and was not connected via wires. Instead, the device was illuminated by a strong radio signal from the outside, which powered and activated it. It gave the bug a virtually unlimited life and provided the Soviets with the best possible intelligence.

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The bug was finally discovered by the US State Department in 1952, three ambassadors later, during the tenure of Amb. George F. Kennan.

In 1951, a British radio operator was monitoring Russian air force radio traffic, when he suddenly picked up the voice of the British Air Attaché loud and clear, but a survey of the embassy did not reveal any hidden microphones. A similar thing happened to an American interceptor in 1952, when he overheared a conversation that appeared to come from the ambassador’s residency at Spaso House. After a search by the Department of State, the bug was finally discovered by means of a so-called crystal-video receiver , whilst the Russians were actively illuminating the bug.

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The device appeared to be hidden inside the wooden carving behind the ambassador’s desk, and resembled a cylindrical microphone with an antenne rod connected to it. Tiny holes in the wood under the eagle’s beak, guided the sound to the membrane of the bug that was mounted just behind it. When the Russians knew that an important meeting would take place, they parked an unmarked van in the vicinity of the residency 3 and illuminated the bug. A receiver, tuned to the bug’s resonant frequency, was then used to pick up the conversation in the ambassador’s office.

The discovery of the bug was kept secret for many years, until the 1960 U-2 incident . On 1 may 1960, the Soviets had shot down an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet airspace, as a result of which the Soviet Union convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, accusing the Americans of spying. On the 4th day of the meeting (26 May 1960), in an attempt to illustrate to the council that spying between the two nations was mutual, American Ambassador to the UN, Henry Cabot Lodge, revealed the Russian bugging device.

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The Thing consisted of a tiny capacitive membrane connected to a small quarter-wavelength antenna; it had no power supply or active electronic components. The device, a passive cavity resonator, became active only when a radio signal of the correct frequency was sent to the device from an external transmitter. This is currently referred in NSA parlance as “illuminating” a passive device. Sound waves (from voices inside the ambassador’s office) passed through the thin wood case, striking the membrane and causing it to vibrate. The movement of the membrane varied the capacitance “seen” by the antenna, which in turn modulated the radio waves that struck and were re-transmitted by the Thing. A receiver demodulated the signal so that sound picked up by the microphone could be heard, just as an ordinary radio receiver demodulates radio signals and outputs sound.

Theremin’s design made the listening device very difficult to detect, because it was very small, had no power supply or active electronic components, and did not radiate any signal unless it was actively being irradiated remotely. These same design features, along with the overall simplicity of the device, made it very reliable and gave it a potentially unlimited operational life.

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The Sleepy Lagoon murder case

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What began as a neighborhood party during the summer of 1942 led to the largest mass murder trial in California’s history. After young Jose Diaz was found murdered near Los Angeles’ Sleepy Lagoon reservoir, 600 Mexican Americans were rounded up by the police, 24 were indicted, and 17 were convicted. But thanks to the efforts of crusading lawyers, Hollywood celebrities, and Mexican Americans throughout the nation, all 17 convictions were thrown out in an appellate decision that cited lack of evidence, coerced testimony, deprivation of the right to counsel, and judicial misconduct.

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Late at night on August 1, 1942, eight to ten uninvited young men were ordered to leave a birthday party at the east Los Angeles ranch home of the Delgadillo family. The party crashers ended up half a mile away on a “lover’s lane,” where they assaulted several young people parked by a reservoir nicknamed “Sleepy Lagoon.” The victims of the beating returned to their own neighborhood, collected a large group of friends, and returned to confront their attackers. Finding no one there, they followed the sound of music to the nearby Delgadillo party. What happened when they arrived would never be clear, but a brawl erupted inside and around the Delgadillo house.

Police arrived to find two stabbing victims. They also discovered 22-year-old Jose Diaz dying nearby on the roadside. Authorities blamed Diaz’s death and the fight at the Delgadillo house on a perceived “Mexican youth gang” problem in Los Angeles. Intending to extinguish gang-related crime, police used Diaz’s death as a pretext to arrest hundreds of young Mexicans and Mexican-Americans for offenses ranging from weapons possession to minor charges like vagrancy, curfew violation, “unlawful assemblage,” or possessing a draft card with an incorrect address.

By the end of the week, between 300 and 600 people had been detained in nightly police sweeps. Police singled out young “zoot suiters,” who wore extravagant wide trousers, drape jackets, and flamboyant hats.

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Twenty-two of the detainees were charged with murder and assault, while two others were indicted as juvenile offenders. They became known as the “Sleepy Lagoon defendants.” Prosecutors accused them of being members of a teenaged “gang,” which had conspired to crash the Delgadillo party in search of the group that had attacked them earlier. Since Jose Diaz was allegedly killed during a fight resulting from this conspiracy, the Sleepy Lagoon defendants were held collectively responsible for Diaz’s murder.

American participation in World War II played a major role in how the case was viewed. Conservative dailies like the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Examiner railed against “zoot suit hoodlums,” but skeptics derided the trial. The California Eagle, Los Angeles’ African-American weekly, accused the conservative press of manufacturing fake “crime waves” perpetrated by minority young people in order to perpetuate segregation. Each side accused the other of aiding Nazi attempts to sow discord in the United States during wartime. Worried over reports that the Axis powers were using the trial to encourage a fascist “fifth column” in his country, Mexico’s consul accused the prosecution and the conservative Los Angeles press of being motivated by racism.

 

Lyndon B. Johnson taking the Presidential Oath.

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President Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Jackie was angled in such a way as to hide the blood on her coat. It’s the perfect image reflect the American Pain of the moment, the quick need for seamless succession, and yet, and yet, in that relatively desperate moment, attention is still given to the gloss and optics of how the whole thing is presented.

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For the inauguration twenty-seven people squeezed into the sixteen-foot square stateroom of Air Force One for the proceedings. Adding to the discomfort was the lack of air conditioning as the aircraft had been disconnected from the external power supply, in order to take off promptly. As the inauguration proceeded the four jet engines of Air Force One were being powered up.

The Warren Commission’s report detailed the inauguration: “From the Presidential airplane, the new President telephoned Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who advised that Mr. Johnson take the Presidential oath of office before the plane left Dallas. Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes hastened to the plane to administer the oath. Members of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential parties filled the central compartment of the plane to witness the swearing in. At 2:38 p.m. CST, Lyndon Baines Johnson took the oath of office as the 36th President of the United States. Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs. Johnson stood at the side of the new President as he took the oath of office. Nine minutes later, the Presidential airplane departed for Washington, D.C.”.

 

The swearing-in ceremony administered by Judge Hughes in an Air Force One conference room represented the first time that a woman administered the presidential oath of office as well as the only time it was conducted on an airplane. Instead of the usual Bible, Johnson was sworn in upon a missal found on a side table in Kennedy’s Air Force One bedroom. After the oath had been taken, Johnson kissed his wife on the forehead. Mrs. Johnson then took Jackie Kennedy’s hand and told her, “The whole nation mourns your husband”.

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The famous photograph of the inauguration was taken by Cecil Stoughton, John F. Kennedy’s official photographer. On Stoughton’s suggestion Johnson was flanked by his wife and Jacqueline Kennedy, facing slightly away from the camera so that blood stains on her pink Chanel suit would not be visible. The photograph was taken using a Hasselblad camera.

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The Valentine’s day Theodore Roosevelt wished never had happened.

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On February 14, 1884, Theodore Roosevelt received a terrible news, his wife and mother died within hours of one another in the Roosevelt house in New York City. His mother, age 50, succumbed to typhus, and his wife Alice died at the age of 22 giving birth to her namesake. The following diary entries lovingly describe his courtship, wedding, happiness in marriage, and his grief over the death of his wife Alice. In his ever-present pocket diary on February 14, 1884, Theodore Roosevelt simply wrote an “X” above one striking sentence: “The light has gone out of my life

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Roosevelt had been called by telegram back to New York City from Albany where he was a New York State Assemblyman. The concern was his mother’s fading health. Alice had just given birth to a baby girl two days earlier. But by the time Theodore reached his home at 6 West Fifty-seventh street, Alice’s condition had taken a serious downward turn. He was greeted at the door by his brother, Elliott, who ominously told him that “there is a curse on this house”.

And so it seemed. Roosevelt’s not yet 50-year-old mother, Mittie, was downstairs burning up with a fever from typhoid. And upstairs, his beloved Alice, scarcely able to recognize him was dying of undiagnosed Bright’s disease. Alice died two days after their daughter was born from an undiagnosed case of kidney failure (in those days called Bright’s disease), which had been masked by the pregnancy. His mother Mittie died of typhoid fever on the same day, at 3:00 am, some eleven hours earlier, in the same house

Since he first cast his eyes upon Alice’s face in 1878, Theodore Roosevelt had filled pages of his diary by writing about her nearly as often as he thought about her. He noted the simplest expressions, the smallest acts of recognition, the quietest smiles, the loudest silences, and every action that resulted in a memory that they could replay again-and-again in the future that they had planned together.

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After his wife died, Roosevelt not only never spoke her name again, but never allowed anyone else to speak her name in his presence. That included their daughter, Alice Longworth Roosevelt, who never heard her father speak her mother’s name. His belief was, and he told this to a friend who also lost his wife, that the pain had to be buried as deep inside as possible or it would destroy you.

In a short, privately published tribute to Alice, Roosevelt wrote:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving, tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her—then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever.

The founding of the FBI

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On July 26, 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is born when U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte orders a group of newly hired federal investigators to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice. One year later, the Office of the Chief Examiner was renamed the Bureau of Investigation, and in 1935 it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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When the Department of Justice was created in 1870 to enforce federal law and coordinate judicial policy, it had no permanent investigators on its staff. At first, it hired private detectives when it needed federal crimes investigated and later rented out investigators from other federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, which was created by the Department of the Treasury in 1865 to investigate counterfeiting. In the early part of the 20th century, the attorney general was authorized to hire a few permanent investigators, and the Office of the Chief Examiner, which consisted mostly of accountants, was created to review financial transactions of the federal courts.

Seeking to form an independent and more efficient investigative arm, in 1908 the Department of Justice hired 10 former Secret Service employees to join an expanded Office of the Chief Examiner. The date when these agents reported to duty–July 26, 1908–is celebrated as the genesis of the FBI. By March 1909, the force included 34 agents, and Attorney General George Wickersham, Bonaparte’s successor, renamed it the Bureau of Investigation.

The federal government used the bureau as a tool to investigate criminals who evaded prosecution by passing over state lines, and within a few years the number of agents had grown to more than 300. The agency was opposed by some in Congress, who feared that its growing authority could lead to abuse of power. With the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917, the bureau was given responsibility in investigating draft resisters, violators of the Espionage Act of 1917, and immigrants suspected of radicalism.

Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover, a lawyer and former librarian, joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920.

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He set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his power during the so-called “Palmer Raids,” Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation.

During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of bureau-issued guns,

while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Inc., were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.

With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare.

In 1956, Hoover initiated COINTELPRO, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of COINTELPRO were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.

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By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate scandal about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77.

The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress.

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Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in the future monitoring of the FBI.

Hedy Lamarr- WiFi during WWII

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For most of the late 1930s and ’40s, Hedy Lamarr was just your average world-famous actress who appeared in countless films alongside the likes of Charles Boyer, Spencer Tracy, and Clark Gable — and also invented a critically important military technology in her spare time.

She had a room in her house that was dedicated to tinkering, inventing, and just figuring out whatever she wanted!

Unbeknownst to many who saw her on screen, Lamarr was a passionate inventor — and, as an Austrian immigrant, an ardent Nazi despiser. Working with composer George Antheil, Lamarr discovered an ingenious method of preventing enemy ships from jamming American torpedoes by making radio signals jump between frequencies, rather than stay on a single channel.

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As a foreigner, a non-member of the military, and a woman, Lamarr’s invention went largely ignored until the 1960s, when some dude scientists unearthed it and put it to use during the Cuban Missile Crisis (and probably took all the credit for it at parties). It’s also basically the reason we have things like GPS, Bluetooth, and advanced guided missile technology.

Before Hedy became a famous movie star, she was married to an Austrian military arms merchant. And while her arms-dealing husband was chatting about weapons . Hedy was listening. So when she got fed up with hearing about all the crappy news of the war, she called upon her own talents to make a difference.

So she teamed up with George Antheil, a pianist and composer, and they came up with a solution.

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If it looks a bit like piano music, you’d be on track. Using a player-piano mechanism, they created a radio system that could jump frequencies, making it essentially jam-proof.

Lamarr and Antheil got a patent for their idea in 1942, in the middle of Hedy’s career as a Hollywood star!

And even though the U.S. military didn’t use the technology until the ’60s, the work they did laid the foundation for the complex radio communications that are behind cellphones, Wi-Fi, satellite tech, and more.

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The Wild Bill Hickok – Davis Tutt Duel

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On July 21, 1865, Wild Bill Hickok shot Davis Tutt in a duel in Springfield, Mo. The event became known as the first real shootout in Old West.

Tutt and Hickok, both gamblers, had at one point been friends, despite the fact that Tutt was a Confederate Army veteran, and Hickok had been a scout for the Union Army. Davis Tutt originally came from Marion County, Arkansas, where his family had been involved in the Tutt–Everett War, during which several of his family members had been killed. He had come north to Missouri following the civil war. Hickok had been born in Illinois, coming west after mistakenly thinking he had killed a man in a drunken brawl

The eventual falling out between Hickok and Tutt reportedly occurred over women. There were reports that Hickok had fathered an illegitimate child with Tutt’s sister, while Tutt had been observed paying a great deal of attention to Wild Bill’s paramour, Susanna Moore. When Hickok started to refuse to play in any card game that included Tutt,

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the cowboy retaliated by openly supporting other local card-players with advice and money in a dedicated attempt to bankrupt Hickok

What began as an argument over gambling debts, turned deadly when Tutt seized a prize watch of Wild Bill’s as collateral.

 

Warned against wearing the watch in public to humiliate Wild Bill, Tutt appeared on the square on July 21, prominently wearing the watch. The two men then unsuccessfully negotiated the debt and the watch’s return.

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Hickok returned to the square at 6 p.m. to again find Tutt displaying his watch. Wild Bill gave Tutt his final warning. “Don’t you come around here with that watch.” Tutt answered by placing his hand on his pistol.

Standing about 75 yards apart and facing each other sideways in dueling positions, Tutt drew his gun first. Wild Bill steadied his aim across his opposite forearm. Both paused, then fired near simultaneously.

Tutt missed. Wild Will’s shot passed through Tutt’s chest. Reeling from the wound, Tutt staggered back to the nearest building before collapsing.

Wild Bill was acquitted of manslaughter by a jury after a three-day trial. Nothing better described the times than the fact that dangling a watch held as security for a poker debt was widely regarded as a justifiable provocation for resorting to firearms.

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The death of William H. Bonney- aka Billy the Kid

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Billy The Kid was born in the slums of New York City in 1859. After the death of his father, he traveled west with his mother ending up in Silver City, New Mexico Territory in 1873. Little of substance is known about Billy’s life during this period, and myth has replaced fact to shroud the early years of Billy the Kid in folklore. What is known for sure is that he arrived in Lincoln County, New Mexico in 1877 using the name William Bonney. His life would last only four more years, but in that short period he became embroiled in the events that made him a legend.

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Lincoln County was in a state of near-anarchy in 1877. The native Apache had recently been subdued and the local cattlemen divided themselves into two camps in a fight for local power. Unfortunately for Billy the Kid, he allied himself with the losing side in this “Lincoln County War.” Billy worked as a ranch hand for John Tunstall a leader of one faction seeking control of the county. Tunstall befriended the Kid acting in many ways as a surrogate father. Tunstall’s ambush and murder in 1878 by a sheriff’s posse set the Kid off on a path of revenge. His first victims were the sheriff and his deputy, killed from ambush on the streets of Lincoln. On the run for two years, the Kid was eventually captured, tried, convicted and returned to Lincoln to hang for the murders. However, Lincoln’s makeshift jail was no match for Billy the Kid.

On the evening of April 28, 1881 as he was climbing the steps returning him to his cell, the Kid made a mad dash, grabbed a six-shooter and shot his guard. Hearing the shots, a second guard ran from across the street only to be gunned down by the Kid standing on the balcony above him. Mounting a horse, William Bonney galloped out of town and into history.

Pat Garrett was elected Sheriff of Lincoln County in 1880 on a reform ticket with the expectation that he would reinstate justice in the area. One of his first acts was to capture Billy the Kid, sending him to trial for the murder of the Lincoln sheriff and his deputy. Garrett was away from Lincoln on county business when the Kid made his escape.

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While Bonney was on the run, Governor Wallace placed a new $500 bounty on the fugitive’s head. Almost three months after his escape, Garrett acted in response to rumors that Bonney was in the vicinity of Fort Sumner. Garrett and two deputies left Lincoln on July 14, 1881, to question one of the town’s residents, a friend of Bonney’s named Pete Maxwell.Maxwell, son of land baron Lucien Maxwell, spoke with Garrett the same day for several hours. Around midnight, the pair sat in Maxwell’s darkened bedroom when Bonney unexpectedly entered the room.

Accounts vary as to the course of events. The canonical version states that as Bonney entered the room, he failed to recognize Garrett due to the poor lighting. Drawing his revolver and backing away, Bonney asked “¿Quién es? ¿Quién es?“, Spanish for “Who is it? Who is it?”. Recognizing Bonney’s voice, Garrett drew his revolver, firing twice. The first bullet struck Bonney in the chest just above his heart, killing him.

A few hours after the shooting, a local justice of the peace assembled a coroner’s jury of six people. Maxwell and Garrett were interviewed by the jury members and Bonney’s body was examined along with the place of the shooting. After the jury certified the body as Bonney’s, the jury foreman was put on record by a local newspaper as stating, “It was ‘the Kid’s’ body that we examined.Bonney was given a wake by candlelight. He was buried the next day and his grave was denoted with a wooden marker.

Five days after Bonney’s killing, Garrett traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to collect the $500 reward offered by Governor Lew Wallace for his capture, dead or alive. William G. Ritch, the acting New Mexico governor, refused to pay the reward. Over the next several weeks, the citizens of Las Vegas, Mesilla, Santa Fe, White Oaks, and other New Mexico cities raised over $7,000 bounty reward money for Garrett. A year and four days after Bonney’s death, the New Mexico territorial legislature passed a special act to grant Garrett the $500 bounty reward promised by Governor Wallace.

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Because people had begun to claim that Garrett unfairly ambushed Bonney, Garrett felt the need to tell his side of the story. In response, Garrett called upon his friend, journalist Marshall Upson, to ghostwrite a book for him.] The collaboration led to the book The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid,which was first published in April 1882. Although only a few copies sold following its release, the book eventually became a reference for historians who later wrote about Bonney’s life.

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Saddam Hussein-Detroit’s honorary citizen.

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I am not sure what they were smoking in Detroit when this happened but it must have been some heavy stuff.

In 1980 America, the Cold War was still very much hot, Ronald Reagan was elected President, and the United States’ Olympic hockey team shockingly upset the USSR in what would be dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” Oh, and the new president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was given a key to the city of Detroit. How did this come to pass?

 

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Saddam Hussein donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Detroit church and received a key to the city more than two decades ago, soon after he became president of Iraq.

The events contrast sharply with the attack Saddam’s regime is now facing from a U.S.-led coalition, reflecting his changed relationship with the United States since Washington helped Saddam covertly in his 1980-88 war with Iran.

Saddam’s bond with Detroit started in 1979, when the Rev. Jacob Yasso of Chaldean Sacred Heart congratulated Saddam on his presidency. In return, Yasso said, his church received $250,000.

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“He was very kind person, very generous, very cooperative with the West. Lately, what’s happened, I don’t know,” Yasso,, said . “Money and power changed the person.”

Yasso said that at the time, Saddam made donations to Chaldean churches around the world.

“He’s very kind to Christians,” Yasso said.

Chaldeans are a Eastern Rite Catholic group in predominantly Muslim Iraq. Among prominent Chaldeans is Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz.

A year later, Yasso traveled with about two dozen people to Baghdad as a guest of the Iraqi government, and they were invited to Saddam’s palace.

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“We were received on the red carpet,” Yasso said.

Yasso said he presented Saddam with the key to the city, courtesy of then-Mayor Coleman Young. Then, Yasso said, he got a surprise.

“He said, ‘I heard there was a debt on your church. How much is it?'” Yasso said.

Saddam donated another $200,000.

In the 1980s, Iraq and the United States were allied in their mistrust of Iran, which held hundreds of Americans hostage under the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Yasso called Saddam an American puppet.

“The job the United States trusted to him is done; now he’s no good,” he said.

There are tens of thousands of Chaldeans among the roughly 300,000 Americans of Middle Eastern descent in the Detroit area. About 1,200 families attend Sacred Heart, said Yasso, who came to the United States in 1964.

Some church members disagreed that Saddam was once kind.

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