G'day folks,

The Manhattan Project was the codename for the American effort to develop and test nuclear weapons during World War II. 

 Run by General Leslie Groves, the construction of the actual bomb was overseen by Robert Oppenheimer, who was head of the Los Alamos Laboratory where it was developed.

In 1939 a letter written by Leo Szilard and signed by Albert Einstein was delivered to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The letter urged the United States to develop uranium stockpiles and commence research efforts, especially as Nazi Germany might do the same.

Two bomb types were developed: Little Boy, a uranium bomb, and Fat Man, a plutonium bomb. The work was carried out with extreme secrecy; many of those working on the project had no idea what they were working towards. Despite the security, Soviet spies managed to penetrate the project, and were aware that the US had developed the bomb.

On July 16, 1945, the Trinity test became the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Less than a month later, President Harry Truman authorized the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to date the only use of nuclear weapons in history. The bombs brought about the quick end of World War II without the need for a catastrophic invasion of Japan, but with an exceptionally high loss of civilian life in the two destroyed cities.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... and things sure have changed since then. 

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G'day folks,

On March 23, 1944, in South Carolina, two white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames, were found dead. They had failed to return home the night before.

Police arrested George Stinney, then 14, and his older brother Johnny, for the murders. Johnny was released but George was held and charged for the murders. His trial, by an all-white jury, lasted one day, and he was found guilty. 


He had not been allowed to see his family before the trial and he was questioned alone without an attorney. During the trial Stinney's defense offered no cross-examination, did not call witnesses and offered virtually no defense. The jury deliberated for ten minutes before he was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Stinney was executed shortly after, on June 16, 1944. He was so small compared to adult prisoners that prison staff had difficulty securing him to the electrodes. Only 83 days had passed between his arrest and his death, and he became the youngest American to be sentenced to death and executed.

In 2004 the case was re-opened, and in 2014 the conviction against Stinney was vacated as it was determined by the court that he had not received a fair trial.

Clancy's comment: Justice should not only be done, but also be seen to be done. Amen!

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G'day folks,

A crowd variously estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 gathered at Owensboro, Kentucky in 1936 to watch the last ever public hanging in the United States. 


The fact that the prisoner was a young black man and that the sheriff overseeing the execution was a white woman intensified the interest of both the public and the Press. Reporters from across the country arrived to cover the event.

Rainey Bethea, aged 22, had been found guilty of raping a wealthy white widow, 70-year-old Lischia Edwards. A neighbour failed to get a reply when he knocked on her door on a Sunday morning in late June, concerned about her not leaving for church. Mrs. Edwards was then found dead on her bed, the coroner later declaring that she had been strangled and raped the previous night.

Bethea, who had a criminal record for burglary, had worked as a servant for several Owensboro families and had been employed at the apartment building where Mrs. Edwards lived. He became the prime suspect when a cheap ring belonging to him was found in the room.

After being arrested Bethea confessed to the crimes and admitted stealing jewellery belonging to Mrs. Edwards.

Under Kentucky state law at the time, conviction for robbery and murder would result in execution at the state penitentiary, but the prosecution, wanting the execution to take place at Owensboro, proceeded only with a charge of rape. This carried the possibility of public hanging, satisfying the lust of some townspeople for vengeance.

At his trial in a packed courthouse Bethea pleaded guilty. The prosecution still presented the facts to the jury as they would need to decide the sentence. There was no defence.

The judge instructed the jury that their only job was to decide whether Bethea should get between 10 to 20 years in prison or the death sentence. It took them less than five minutes to decide that he should be hanged.

This was not good news for Florence Thompson. She had taken over the job of sheriff from her husband who had died three months earlier. Sheriff Thompson, a mother of four, was expected to become the first woman executioner in United States history because in law it was her duty to spring the trap. But she was repelled by the idea and said so publicly.

She then received death threats and it was agreed she could ask someone to do the job for her. And so retired police officer Arthur Hash was hired by Sheriff Thompson to pull the lever.

Organising the whole squalid affair was an Illinois farmer named G. Phil Hanna who had overseen about 70 hangings. He took interest in the grisly pursuit when he saw a botched execution that caused great suffering for the victim. After studying how to hang someone as humanely as possible he began offering his services.

At Owensboro Hanna adjusted the noose around Bethea’s neck and gave the signal to Hash to pull the lever. But Hash was reportedly drunk and failed to notice. Exasperated, Hanna yelled, “Do it now!” And so one of America's most shameful executions came to an end.

Many newspapers denounced “the carnival of sadism” saying that the crowds enjoyed it too much. But they also carried a large number of indignant letters, the writers telling of their shame that such a thing could happen in Kentucky. Two years later the state abolished public executions.

Clancy's comment: Who would want to attend such an event?

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G'day folks,

An American woman spectator at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finding Adolf Hitler “so friendly and gracious”, leaned over and kissed him, and there were ungracious consequences for the Fuehrer’s guards.

It happened during the 1500 metres freestyle swimming event, which was being watched by 40-year-old Carla de Vries, an American tourist who went to the Games with her husband.

She was intrigued to see Hitler sitting at the front of his box and tried several times to get near so that she could take a photograph, but each time she was blocked by Black Guards.

She managed, though, to break through the cordon during the excitement of the finish of the race, shook Hitler’s hand and then kissed him, while the crowd rocked with laughter.

Hitler, seemingly in high spirits, joined in the fun, clapping his hands as the woman returned triumphantly to her seat.

Mrs de Vries said later: “I simply embraced him because he appeared so friendly and gracious. I don’t know why I did it. Certainly, I hadn’t planned such a thing. It’s just that I’m a woman of impulses, I guess.

“It happened when I went down to take Hitler’s picture with my small movie camera. He was leaning forward, smiling, and he seemed so friendly that I just stepped up and asked for his autograph, which he wrote on my swimming ticket.

“He kept on smiling and so I kissed him. People sitting near his box began to cheer and applaud so loudly that I ran back to my husband and told him we had better leave.”

On protection duty that day were members of the Schutzstaffel, the Black Guards who were to form the much-feared SS. But on this occasion they could not even stop the advances of a middle-aged woman.

An unsmiling and ungracious Hitler later saw to it personally that several of them were dismissed and others demoted.


Clancy's comment: My mother was chosen to compete in those games, but didn't attend. I doubt she would have kissed Hitler if she'd attended.

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G'day folks,

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel  became a civil engineer responsible for the tower that bears his name and which became the iconic symbol of Paris – and, indeed, France itself. But he also played an important role in building the equally iconic symbol of the United States – the Statue of Liberty.


The Eiffel Tower was built as the main exhibit of the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), held to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. Eiffel designed and oversaw construction of the project, which was completed on 31 March, 1889.

The tower remained the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. The original plan was that it would be dismantled after 20 years but it was saved because of its use as a wireless telegraph transmitter.

It also went on to become a growingly popular attraction despite fears by critics at the start that it would be an ugly structure dominating the Paris skyline.

Such was its status in 1940 that it was one of the first locations where Adolf Hitler chose to be photographed after he invaded France in 1940.

Interestingly, though the French could do nothing about Hitler's presence, Resistance fighters were determined that the Fuhrer would not have the satisfaction of ascending the structure – so the lift cables were cut before the Germans got there. Reaching the top then meant a climb of 1,665 steps.

Nazi soldiers were nevertheless ordered to climb to the summit and hoist the swastika – which they managed to do. But the flag was so large it blew away after a few hours and had to be replaced by a smaller one. Hitler's reaction is not recorded.

Early in his career, Eiffel had built a number of bridges for the French railway network and had developed a reputation as a man who knew a thing or two about wind resistance. Just the man to tackle the problems posed by a giant statue designed to stand in New York Harbor.

The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Eiffel. It was dedicated in 1886.

To make the edifice stable, Eiffel came up with a four-legged pylon structure which would support the copper sheeting that made up the body of the statue. The entire structure was assembled at his works in Paris, then dismantled and shipped to the United States in crates.

But he will probably be best remembered for the Eiffel Tower – a structure that was lucky to survive the Second World War. In August 1944, Allied troops were advancing towards Paris and it became obvious that the Germans would soon be driven out.

A furious Hitler sent orders to General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to turn the city into rubble – including the Eiffel Tower. Thankfully, Choltitz did not carry out the command.

The much-loved tower is 324 metres tall (including antennas) and weighs 10,100 tonnes.

The French car manufacturer Citroen treated it as a giant billboard between 1925 and 1934 using a quarter of a million light bulbs to emblazon their name on the structure. The Guinness Book of Records recorded it as the world’s biggest advertisement.

But perhaps the most bizarre incident involving the tower came in 2008. A woman with an objects fetish "married" the Eiffel Tower, changing her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel in honour of her "partner". The "bride," who was at one time a US soldier, was obviously attracted by strong, silent types.

There's no telling what Gustave Eiffel would have made of it all. He died in 1923, aged 91.

Clancy's comment: I'm glad his tower survived so I could visit it and view Paris.

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G'day folks,

London’s famous West End was haunted for years – and still might be – by the ghost of a leading actor savagely murdered at the stage door of a theatre on this day.

Suave William Terriss was one of the biggest stars of the late Victorian era and had it all – talent, charisma, good looks and an ability to turn in fine performances playing anything from a swashbuckling hero such as Robin Hood to comedy roles and melodrama. He was equally adept at classic drama and was a noted Shakespearean actor.

On this day he arrived at the stage door of the Adelphi Theatre to prepare for an evening performance of a melodrama called Secret Service when, according to a witness, “somebody rushed from across the road and struck him two blows most rapidly on the back.”

When the stunned Terriss turned around, the assailant “raised his arm a third time and plunged a large knife deep into the actor’s chest.”

Terriss cried out: “My God, I am stabbed! Arrest him!” A number of theatre staff rushed to his aid and, according to one newspaper report, “formed all too late a bodyguard.” Terriss was carried into a passage behind the stage door and propped up on pillows but he could not be saved. As he died, his lover, actress Jessie Millward, heard him whisper: "I will come back."

The killer was a deranged actor named Richard Prince who, because of his drinking and mental instability, had become unemployable. Although Terriss had helped him in the past, Prince blamed his plight on the West End star and had lain in wait to carry out revenge.

He was put on trial for murder and found guilty but insane. He was sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum, where he spent the rest of his life.

Terriss’s promise that “I will come back” apparently came true in 1928. According to reports, a young actress was resting in her dressing room before a performance at the Adelphi Theatre when her couch began to shake. When it happened again she saw a green mist. Then something grabbed her arms and held her down. Her ordeal continued until there were two knocks on the door.

She learned later that the room had belonged to William Terriss who, through superstition, would always knock twice on the door with his cane before entering. In the 1950s Terriss was reported to have been seen emerging from a green mist at the theatre.

At nearby Covent Garden Tube Station, ticket collector Jack Hayden said in 1955 that he saw Terriss walking along the platform. “He was wearing an opera cloak and gloves, holding a cane, and had a very, very sad face and sunken cheeks,” he said.

The actor is even said to have been seen walking through a closed cafeteria door. The last reported sighting was in 1972.

Why Terriss should haunt the theatre and surrounding area is anybody’s guess. But as everyone knows, thespians just love making an appearance . . .

Clancy's comment: Ah,  love the West End of London. 

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G'day folks,

Nobody knows what was wrong with Daniel Lambert who was born in 1770, but he went from being a slim, athletic, sports-loving youngster to a mountain of a man in his thirties, so huge that he entered record books as the heaviest person ever to have lived.

Lambert was born in Leicester, England, to a family passionate about hunting, gamekeeping and field sports. He joined eagerly in these pursuits and excelled at them. He was also an excellent swimmer and taught children to swim across the river that runs through the city.

There is a story that one day his dog slipped loose and bit a dancing bear performing in one of the city’s streets. The keeper removed the bear’s muzzle so that it could attack the dog but Lambert stepped forward and punched the bear’s head, sending it sprawling to the ground and allowing the dog to escape. Such was his strength and fitness.

It all seemed to start going wrong in 1791 when, aged 21, Lambert took over from his father as Keeper of the local Bridewell prison or House of Correction, as it was known. Ten years later, his weight had ballooned to 40 stone (250 kg) – and rising.

Lambert, a genial and much-liked person, was as mystified as doctors by his condition. He did not drink alcohol and he ate much the same as anyone else. But still he piled on the pounds.

By 1805 35-year-old Lambert weighed 50 stone (320 kg) and became unemployable when, in that year, the Bridewell prison closed, leaving him without a job.

At first he became a recluse but faced with the need to earn money he decided in 1806 that he had no choice but to make an exhibition of himself, and moved to London where he charged visitors to visit his home and gaze at his enormous bulk.

Despite his physical difficulties, Lambert remained cheerful, engaging his visitors in amiable conversation and fascinating many of them with his extensive knowledge of hunting, fishing, shooting and horse racing.

It became fashionable in London society to visit his house at Piccadilly, where Lambert soon drew about 400 paying visitors every day. By late 1806 Lambert was a wealthy man and returned to Leicester. But he continued to exhibit himself, making tours that took in a number of English towns and cities.

It was while on tour in 1808 and staying at an inn that he was suddenly taken ill and died at the age of 39. His body could be removed from the inn only by taking down a wall. A few days earlier Lambert had been weighed and tipped the scales at 52 stone 11 pounds (335 kg).

His coffin measured 6 feet 4 inches long, 4 feet 4 inches wide and 2 feet 4 inches deep (193 cm × 132 cm × 71 cm). It was built on wheels and a sloping approach was created to his specially dug grave in the local churchyard. Even so, it took 20 men about half an hour to ease him into his resting place.

There was no post-mortem examination and nobody knows what killed Lambert. But he has not been forgotten. Several public houses have been named after him and museums continue to display his clothes and other memorabilia. In the town of Stamford where he died, the local football team is nicknamed "The Daniels" after him.

In 2009, on the 200th anniversary of his death, Leicester celebrated Daniel Lambert Day, and the local newspaper described him as "one of the city's most cherished icons”.

Clancy's comment: Poor man. That's some coffin, eh?

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G'day folks,

Since 1990, the human race has destroyed over 129 million hectares of forest. This is a total area of land roughly the same size as South Africa. Every year an area roughly the size of Panama is lost due to deforestation. 

This produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions furthering the issue and pushing out natural habitats and species. It is getting worse, not better and we need to make an immediate change if we wish to sustain this planet we all share.

A Brazilian photographer named Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz decided to start to make a difference by showing what a passionate group of dedicated and hard-working people can do if they work together with the same goal in mind.

Sebastião returned from photographing the Rwandan genocide in the 1990’s exhausted both physically and emotionally after documenting the horrific ordeal. He returned to his native home in Brazil which was once beautiful, lush and green, to see it completely devoid of life from deforestation. There was no wildlife, no trees, nothing.

His wife believed that the land could be restored to its former glory. “The land was as sick as I was – everything was destroyed” stated Sebastião. They decided to replant the forest tree by tree and slowly the insects, birds and fish returned. “Thanks to the increase of trees, I, too, was reborn – this was the most important moment”.

Sebastião and Lélia founded Instituto Terra, which is a small organization that has planted 4 million saplings and brought the forest back from the dead. They study the land in order to plant the native trees. The native trees ensure that the animals will enjoy the area and return.

Making sure that only native plants are returned to the land, the area has absolutely flourished in only 20 years. The wildlife has returned and birds and bugs are filling the air with noises.

Over 172 species of bird have returned as well as 33 species of mammals, 293 species of plants, 15 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians. An entire ecosystem has been rebuilt from scratch by a handful of people.


Clancy's comment: What the Salgado’s have done is nothing short of amazing and proves that we still have hope for our home. We have done nothing but ultimately abuse and shorten our sustainability here on this rock we are so lucky to have. If we work together with a motivated and healthy attitude, we can bring our earth back to thriving. We need to raise awareness and work together making small impacts to eventually make a bigger impact.

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