2014 - %3, August

President Richard Nixon Announced His Resignation 40 Years Ago

| Fri Aug. 8, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Richard Nixon departing the White House after resigning. Oliver F. Atkins/White House/Wikimedia

Forty years ago today President Richard Nixon finally announced his resignation on national television, effective 12 p.m. August 9, 1974.

Good riddance.

CBS

Bonus photo: Nixon's last meal in the White House, as President:

A picture of the last meal Nixon ate as President prior to him leaving the White House. White House Photo Office/National Archives

 

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50 Years Ago Today: Congress Authorizes Vietnam War Under Bullshit Pretense

| Thu Aug. 7, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Captain John J. Herrick, USN, Commander Destroyer Division 192 (at left) and Commander Herbert L. Ogier, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Maddox on 13 August 1964. They were in charge of the ship during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats on 2 August 1964. Photographed by PH3 White. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center
 

After just nine hours of deliberation, both houses of Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution today in 1964. The bill authorizing the United States to officially go to war with Vietnam was signed by President Lyndon Johnson three days later. Of course, the United States had been increasingly involved in Vietnam at least since 1955, when then-President Eisenhower deployed the Military Assistance Advisory group to help train the South Vietnamese Army.

Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in a post-midnight press briefing, August 4, 1964 in the Pentagon points out action in Gulf of Tonkin in August 4 attacks by North Viet Nam PT boats against U.S. destroyers on patrol. McNamara called the attacks unprovoked and deliberate, in view of the previous attack on Aug. 2. Bob Schutz/AP
 

The supposed August 4th attack on the USS Maddox was used to legitimize the growing U.S. presence in Vietnam and to give the President authority to use the military in the effort to combat Communist North Vietnam. Even Johnson questioned the legitimacy of the Gulf of Tonkin. A year after the incident, Johnson said to then Press Secretary Bill Moyers, "For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there."

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs "Gulf of Tonkin" resolution. Cecil Stoughton/White House Photograph Office/National Archives

 

Colbert Wishes Your Kid a Good Night's Sleep With This New Pro-Gun Illustrated Book

| Wed Aug. 6, 2014 3:46 PM EDT
"My Parents Open Carry" Lorna Bergman, Brian G. Jeffs, Nathan R. Nephew.

I first saw this children's book going around Facebook yesterday. You know the one: it celebrates 13-year-old Brenna's Mom and Dad for "open carrying" their hand guns. At first I thought, "the illustrations and dependence on Comic Sans are so eye-bleedingly bad it must be a perfectly conceived Masters project by some NYU Tisch grad." The website promoting the book carries the kind of knee-slapping prose that must be satirical, right? "Before writing this, we looked for pro-gun children's books and couldn't find any." Couldn't find any! Ha, ha, ha. Which non-profit/government agency/university supplied the grant to fund this brilliant take-down of gun culture in America? Was it Bloomberg himself?

But then I paid my $3.95 for the PDF (you'll pick up the tab, Mother Jones), and it dawned on me: It's real. Then I thought, "Wow, this seems custom-made to be pilloried by Stephen Colbert!"

Enjoy:

Voting Rights Act Signed Into Law Today in 1965

| Wed Aug. 6, 2014 10:04 AM EDT
African Americans demonstrating for voting rights in front of the White House as police and others watch; sign reads "We demand the right to vote everywhere." Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law today in 1965. Conservatives began work to chip away at it immediately, culminating in the 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder which, in the New York Times' words, "effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act."

President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr, and other civil rights leaders look on. Yoichi Okamoto/LBJ Library

 

This Woman Just Shattered One of Pro Sports’ Most Enduring Glass Ceilings

| Tue Aug. 5, 2014 5:23 PM EDT
Becky Hammon, the newest member of the Spurs' coaching staff

The San Antonio Spurs confirmed today what was already clear: The NBA is, by far, the most progressive Big Four sports league when it comes to gender equity. The team announced the hiring of Becky Hammon, a six-time All-Star with the WNBA's San Antonio Stars, as an assistant coach. When the season tips off this fall, she'll be the first woman on the coaching bench in NBA history.

Women have held other (and less formal) jobs on NBA staffs before, but Hammon, 37, will become the first full-time female coach. It makes sense that the Spurs are at the forefront, given the recently crowned NBA champs' history of innovative, progressive leadership. (They lead the league in international players, for example.) And it further boosts a newsworthy summer for women in the NBA: In addition to Hammon's hiring, the basketball players' union named lawyer Michele Roberts as its executive director.

Notably, the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) named the NBA the leading sports league for gender diversity in its annual report, adding that while women aren't as represented as they could be, the league still handily beat MLB and the NFL. Forty percent of the NBA's league office is staffed by women, helping it earn a B+ grade from TIDES. (The MLB and NFL got C+ and C grades, respectively.)

So why is basketball so far ahead of the other leagues? Slate's Amanda Hess suggests that it could be because, unlike football and baseball, women actually play basketball—and they're good at it. From the NCAA to the WNBA (which the NBA created in 1996) to the Olympics, we're used to seeing women like Hammon excel on the court. On the other hand, female engagement in the NFL stops at the sidelines, where cheerleaders are routinely degraded by team organizations.

Hess also argues that part of the NBA's commitment to gender equity stems from the view of former commissioner David Stern, who was instrumental in shaping the league into the powerhouse it is today. Stern is a noted liberal, for one, but also a shrewd businessman; he figured that making women essential to the league would boost the its bottom line. To an extent, it did: Stern argued that the WNBA initiatives helped to expand the NBA's female audience, even though it still lags behind the NFL's.

Today's decision from the Spurs, however, seems to disregard any business calculus. The best candidate for the job was hired, and she's a woman.

33 Years Ago: Reagan Goes Union-Busting, Fires 11,000 Striking Air Traffic Controllers

| Tue Aug. 5, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
A group of uniformed men, who acknowledged they were military air traffic controllers, stand at the door which leads to the tower of Washington’s National Airport, as a guard rises to let them in. The Reagan administration claims its firings of striking air traffic controllers have broken the strike, partly due to the work of military controllers. Jeff Taylor/AP
 

Just days after members of the Professional Air Traffic Controls Organization (PATCO) went on strike, President Ronald Reagan declared the strike illegal under the Taft-Hartley act. Reagan ordered the 13,000 striking air traffic controllers to return to work within 48 hours. On August 5, 1981 Reagan fired over 11,000 workers who refused to return to work. PATCO, who supported Reagan in the 1980 election, was decertified as a union and the fired workers were banned from holding federal jobs ever again. It took the FAA close to ten years to return staffing to its normal level. Some former air traffic employees were eventually rehired. Military air traffic controllers also worked as replacements until new controllers could be trained. In 1993 Bill Clinton lifted the civil service ban on former strikers.

President Reagan with US Attorney General William French Smith making a statement to the press regarding the air traffic controllers strike from the Rose Garden. White House Photo/Ronald Reagan Library

 

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3 New Summer Songs Picked By Critic Jon Young

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

1. "Is What It Is"

From She Keeps Bees' Eight Houses

FUTURE GODS

Liner notes: Smokey and languid, Jessica Larrabee croons defiantly, "Be not completely consumed/Do not surrender," on this hazy ballad, with kindred spirit Sharon Van Etten singing backup.

Behind the music: Larrabee fronted the Philadelphia band the English System before teaming with drummer Andy LaPlant to form the Brooklyn-based duo.

Check it out if you like: Moody chanteuses (Cat Power, Angel Olsen, PJ Harvey).
 

2. "Pressure"

From My Brightest Diamond's This Is My Hand

ASTHMATIC KITTY

Liner notes: The fourth MBD album gets off to a rousing start with this joyful brew of marching-band rhythms, xylophone, brass, and Shara Worden's big, operatic voice.

Behind the music: An alumna of Sufjan Stevens' band, Worden's résumé includes collaborations with David Byrne, Matthew Barney, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Decemberists.

Check it out if you like: Brainy art-poppers, meaning St. Vincent, tUnE-yArDs, or Joanna Newsom.
 

3. "To Turn You On"

From Robyn Hitchcock's The Man Upstairs

YEP ROC

Liner notes: Hitchcock gives Bryan Ferry's morose love song a charming, irony-free makeover, setting his surprisingly tender vocal to a delicate chamber-folk arrangement.

Behind the music: The former Soft Boys leader teamed with producer Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention, Anna and Kate McGarrigle) for this vibrant mix of originals and covers (Doors, Psychedelic Furs).

Check it out if you like: Vital vets like Richard Thompson and Marshall Crenshaw.

70 Years Ago Today: Anne Frank Was Captured by the Nazis

| Mon Aug. 4, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Anne Frank, 1941 Anne Frank Fonds Basel/DPA/ZUMA Press

On this day in 1944, German policed discovered the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family in the secret annex of the building where Otto Frank (Anne's father) worked. Following the arrest of the Franks and two other families that were in hiding, Miep Gies collected papers and photo albums left scattered around the living quarters, including Anne's diary. Gies saved them, hoping to return them to Anne after the war.

Anne Frank's diary of her time in hiding was published 1947 and has been made into a play and a film publicizing the plight of millions. Uppa/Photoshot/UPPA/ZUMA Press

 

Watch Stephen Colbert Give Great, And Completely Unironic, Advice to Teen Girls

| Fri Aug. 1, 2014 8:05 PM EDT

Stephen Colbert's wife of two decades, Evelyn McGee-Colbert, once told Oprah she didn't like his TV alter-ego—someone she calls "that other guy." In this video, as he offers advice to teenage girls wearing a plaid button-down and thick-framed hipster glasses, he's definitely left the other guy behind.

When Loretta, 14, asks why some guys are jerks, he says to confront them (they may just be trying, badly, to get her attention), but also:

For this kind of thing to stop, boys have to be educated. Does our society educate boys to be misogynistic? It probably doesn't value girls and women as much as it should, and boys probably see that as a signal that they can get away with things like devaluing women.

For Maria, 19, who asks how you can tell when someone likes you, he ends up defining love: when someone thinks "your happiness is more important than their happiness." And cookies. "Cookies are also a really good sign that somebody likes you."

The video is part of the girl-positive Rookie Magazine's series "Ask a Grown Man." Earlier last year, Rookie's fashionista founder, then 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, was the youngest person ever to appear on The Colbert Report, where she gave the self-proclaimed "pear-shaped" Colbert style suggestions and called him a "Cool Dad" (capitals hers).

At the time, Colbert—a father of three, including 18-year-old Madeleine—wasn't thinking of dispensing sage advice for Rookie. Instead he proposed a dad-inspired magazine project in which he would veto pictures of teen girls' skin-baring outfits in a column called "You're Not Wearing That."

First Indochina War Ended 60 Years Ago [Photo]

| Fri Aug. 1, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

A wounded Vietminh prisoner is given first aid by Franco Vietnamese medicals after hot fire fight near Hung Yen, south of Hanoi, 1954. US Department of Defense

On this date in 1954 the first Indochina War officially ended. After a long war in Viet Nam, culminating in the nearly four month battle of Dien Bien Phu, the French withdrew under the the Geneva Acccords. That agreement also also divided Viet Nam along the 17th parallel under the condition that a unification election would be held two years later. When elections didn't happen as planned, the communist Viet Minh fought to reclaim the South, which eventually drew the United States deeper into the fight between the Communists and Western-backed South Vietnamese government.

A French Foreign Legionnaire goes to war along the dry rib of a rice paddy, during a recent sweep through communist-held areas in the Red River Delta, between Haiphong and Hanoi. Behind the Legionnaire is a U.S. gifted tank, 1954. US Department of Defense