It’s Hump Day Wednesday!! Did you know…
* 1873 – Lord Dufferin’s Order-in-Council constitutes the North West Mounted Police (NWMP).
The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) was a Canadian police force, established in 1873 by the Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald, to maintain order in the North-West Territories. The mounted police combined military, police and judicial functions along similar lines to the Royal Irish Constabulary, and deployed the following year to the Alberta border in response to the Cypress Hills Massacre and subsequent fears of a United States military intervention. Their ill-planned and arduous journey of nearly 900 miles (1,400 km) became known as the March West and was portrayed by the force as an epic journey of endurance. Over the next few years, the police extended Canadian law across the region, establishing good working relationships with the First Nations. The force formed part of the military response to the North-West Rebellion in 1885 but faced criticism for their performance during the conflict.
The mounted police assisted in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, including relocating indigenous communities living along the route. The force established a wide network of posts and patrols, enabling them to protect and assist the ranchers who created huge cattle businesses across the prairies. The living conditions of the police on the prairies were spartan and often uncomfortable, and only slowly improved over the course of the century. Meanwhile, the railway enabled more settlers to migrate west, creating new towns and industries, while the force restricted the First Nations to the reservations. The mounted police faced challenges in adapting to the changing situation, especially when applying the unpopular prohibition laws to the white community. The force also became drawn into the growing number of industrial disputes between organized labor and company owners.
By 1896, the government planned to pass policing responsibilities to the provincial authorities and ultimately close the force. With the discovery of gold in the Klondike, however, the force was redeployed to protect Canada’s sovereignty over the region and to manage the influx of prospectors. The mounted police sent volunteers to fight in the Second Boer War, and in recognition were retitled the Royal North-West Mounted Police in 1904. The plans for closure were abandoned in the face of opposition from regional politicians. Large numbers of the police volunteered for military service during the First World War, and the future of the badly depleted force was once again put in doubt. Towards the end of the war, however, fears grew about a potential Bolshevik conspiracy and the authorities tasked the mounted police to investigate the threat. In the aftermath of the violence of the Winnipeg General Strike, the government decided to amalgamate the force with the Dominion Police, to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920.
* 1967 Thurgood Marshall confirmed as Supreme Court justice.
On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
From a young age, Marshall seemed destined for a place in the American justice system. His parents instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution, a feeling that was reinforced by his schoolteachers, who forced him to read the document as punishment for his misbehavior. After graduating from Lincoln University in 1930, Marshall sought admission to the University of Maryland School of Law but was turned away because of the school’s segregation policy, which effectively forbade blacks from studying with whites. Instead, Marshall attended Howard University Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1933. (Marshall later successfully sued Maryland School of Law for their unfair admissions policy.)
Setting up a private practice in his home state of Maryland, Marshall quickly established a reputation as a lawyer for the “little man.” In a year’s time, he began working with the Baltimore NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and went on to become the organization’s chief counsel by the time he was 32, in 1940. Over the next two decades, Marshall distinguished himself as one of the country’s leading advocates for individual rights, winning 29 of the 32 cases he argued in front of the Supreme Court, all of which challenged in some way the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that had been established by the landmark case Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). The high-water mark of Marshall’s career as a litigator came in 1954 with his victory in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. In that case, Marshall argued that the ‘separate but equal’ principle was unconstitutional, and designed to keep blacks “as near [slavery] as possible.”
In 1961, Marshall was appointed by then-President John F. Kennedy to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, a position he held until 1965, when Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, named him solicitor general. Following the retirement of Justice Tom Clark in 1967, President Johnson appointed Marshall to the Supreme Court, a decision confirmed by the Senate with a 69-11 vote. Over the next 24 years, Justice Marshall came out in favor of abortion rights and against the death penalty, as he continued his tireless commitment to ensuring equitable treatment of individuals–particularly minorities–by state and federal governments.
* 2006 California Senate passes Global Warming Solutions Act.
On this day in 2006, the California State Senate passes Assembly Bill (AB) 32, otherwise known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. The law made California the first state in America to place caps on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, including those found in automobile emissions.
The Global Warming Solutions Act became law thanks to an alliance between the state’s Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and its Democratic-controlled legislature. The bill’s passage solidified California’s role as a leader in enacting legislation aimed at combating global warming, or the gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere due to the so-called “greenhouse effect” caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. California–which represents 10 percent of the nation’s automobile market and is known for its struggles with air pollution–took the lead early in setting stricter fuel emissions standards than the federal government’s.
Despite his professed enthusiasm for the Hummer, a sport utility vehicle (SUV) known for its prodigious size (and prodigious emission of greenhouse gases), Schwarzenegger sought to uphold his state’s pioneering legislation regarding automobile emissions, passed during the tenure of his predecessor, Gray Davis. That law, AB 1493, required the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate greenhouse gases under the state’s motor vehicle program and gave automakers until the 2009 model year to produce cars and light trucks that would collectively emit 22 percent fewer greenhouse gases by 2012 and 30 percent fewer by 2016.
The Global Warming Solutions Act went even further, calling for an overall 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (or to 1990 levels) by 2025, a timetable that would bring California close to full compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate-change treaty signed in that Japanese city in 1997. Even after Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 into law in September 2006, California faced an uphill battle to enact these new standards against the resistance of the automotive industry, backed by the administration of President George W. Bush. Automakers had historically resisted increases in fuel-economy standards, as stricter standards usually require an overhaul of their production methods to make cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles. The tides turned, however, with the presidential election of 2008, and in 2009 President Barack Obama announced new nationwide rules on auto emissions standards, bringing them into line with those mandated by California.
* 1963 The U.S.-Soviet “hot line” goes into operation.
Two months after signing an agreement to establish a 24-hour-a-day “hot line” between Moscow and Washington, the system goes into effect. The hot line was supposed to help speed communication between the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union and help prevent the possibility of an accidental war.
In June 1963, American and Russian representatives agreed to establish a so-called “hot line” between Moscow and Washington. The agreement came just months after the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, in which the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear conflict. It was hoped that speedier and more secure communications between the two nuclear superpowers would forestall such crises in the future. In August 1963, the system was ready to be tested. American teletype machines had been installed in the Kremlin to receive messages from Washington; Soviet teletypes were installed in the Pentagon. (Contrary to popular belief, the hot line in the United States is in the Pentagon, not the White House.) Both nations also exchanged encoding devices in order to decipher the messages. Messages from one nation to another would take just a matter of minutes, although the messages would then have to be translated. The messages would be carried by a 10,000-mile long cable connection, with “scramblers” along the way to ensure that the messages could not be intercepted and read by unauthorized personnel. On August 30, the United States sent its first message to the Soviet Union over the hot line: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890.” The message used every letter and number key on the teletype machine in order to see that each was in working order. The return message from Moscow was in Russian, but it indicated that all of the keys on the Soviet teletype were also functioning.
The hot line was never really necessary to prevent war between the Soviet Union and the United States, but it did provide a useful prop for movies about nuclear disasters, such as Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove. Its significance at the time was largely symbolic. The two superpowers, who had been so close to mutual nuclear destruction in October 1962, clearly recognized the dangers of miscommunication or no communication in the modern world.
Though the Cold War is over, the hot line continues in operation between the United States and Russia. It was supplemented in 1999 by a direct secure telephone connection between the two governments.
* 1983 First African American in space.
U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Guion S. Bluford becomes the first African American to travel into space when the space shuttle Challenger lifts off on its third mission. It was the first night launch of a space shuttle, and many people stayed up late to watch the spacecraft roar up from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 2:32 a.m.
The Challenger spent six days in space, during which time Bluford and his four fellow crew members launched a communications satellite for the government of India, made contact with an errant communications satellite, conducted scientific experiments, and tested the shuttle’s robotic arm. Just before dawn on September 5, the shuttle landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California, bringing an end to the most flawless shuttle mission to that date.
Guion Stewart Bluford II was born in Philadelphia in 1942. From an early age, “Guy” was fascinated with flight and decided he wanted to design and build airplanes. In 1964, he graduated from Penn State with a degree in aerospace engineering. Deciding he’d need to know how to fly planes if he wanted to build them, he entered the U.S. Air Force and graduated with his pilot wings in 1965. He was assigned to a fighter squadron in Vietnam, where he flew 144 combat missions. After combat service, he became a flight instructor and in the 1970s went on to receive a master’s degree and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
In 1979, he was accepted into the U.S. astronaut program. He made his first flight in 1983 as a mission specialist on the eighth shuttle mission. He later flew three more shuttle missions, logging a total of 700 hours in orbit. After returning from NASA, he became vice president and general manager of an engineering company in Ohio.
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/