IN REMEMBRANCE: 9-21-2014

JOE SAMPLE, CRUSADERS PIANIST WHO WENT ELECTRIC

Joe Sample at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011. His last solo album, “Children of the Sun,” is to be released this fall. Credit Jean-Christophe Bott/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The cause was mesothelioma, said his manager, Patrick Rains.

The Jazz Crusaders, who played the muscular, bluesy variation on bebop known as hard bop, had their roots in Houston, where Mr. Sample, the tenor saxophonist Wilton Felder and the drummer Nesbert Hooper (better known by the self-explanatory first name Stix) began performing together as the Swingsters while in high school.

Mr. Sample met the trombonist Wayne Henderson at Texas Southern University and added him, the bassist Henry Wilson and the flutist Hubert Laws — who would soon achieve considerable fame on his own — to the group, which changed its name to the Modern Jazz Sextet.

The band worked in the Houston area for several years but did not have much success until Mr. Sample, Mr. Felder, Mr. Hooper and Mr. Henderson moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Jazz Crusaders, a reference to the drummer Art Blakey’s seminal hard-bop ensemble, the Jazz Messengers. Their first album, “Freedom Sound,” released on the Pacific Jazz label in 1961, sold well, and they recorded prolifically for the rest of the decade, with all four members contributing compositions, while performing to enthusiastic audiences and critical praise.

In the early 1970s, as the audience for jazz declined, the band underwent yet another name change, this one signifying a change in musical direction. Augmenting their sound with electric guitar and electric bass, with Mr. Sample playing mostly electric keyboards, the Jazz Crusaders became the Crusaders. Their first album under that name, “Crusaders 1,” featuring four compositions by Mr. Sample, was released on the Blue Thumb label in 1972.

With a funkier sound, a new emphasis on danceable rhythms and the addition of pop songs by the Beatles and others to their repertoire, the Crusaders displeased many critics but greatly expanded their audience.

For Mr. Sample, plugging in was not a big step. He had been fascinated by the electric piano since he saw Ray Charles playing one on television in the mid-1950s, and he had owned one since 1963. Nor did he have any problem crossing musical boundaries: Growing up in Houston he had listened to and enjoyed all kinds of music, including blues and country.

“Unfortunately, in this country, there’s a lot of prejudice against the various forms of music,” Mr. Sample told The Los Angeles Times in 1985. “The jazz people hate the blues, the blues people hate rock, and the rock people hate jazz. But how can anyone hate music? We tend to not hate any form of music, so we blend it all together. And consequently, we’re always finding ourselves in big trouble with everybody.”

They didn’t find themselves in much trouble with the record-buying public. The Crusaders had numerous hit albums and one Top 40 single, “Street Life,” which reached No. 36 on the Billboard pop chart in 1979. Mr. Sample wrote the music and Will Jennings wrote the lyrics, which were sung by Randy Crawford.

By the time “Street Life” was recorded, Mr. Henderson had left the Crusaders to pursue a career as a producer. Mr. Hooper left in 1983. Mr. Sample and Mr. Felder continued to work together for a while, but by the late 1980s Mr. Sample was focusing on his solo career, which had begun with the 1969 trio album “Fancy Dance” and included mellow pop-jazz records like “Carmel” (1979).

His later albums included the unaccompanied “Soul Shadows” (2004). His last album, “Children of the Sun,” is to be released this fall.

He also maintained a busy career as a studio musician. Among the albums on which his keyboard work can be heard are Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Joni Mitchell’s “Court and Spark” and “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer,” Steely Dan’s “Aja” and “Gaucho,” and several recordings by B. B. King.

His music has been sampled on numerous hip-hop records, most notably Tupac Shakur’s “Dear Mama.”

Joseph Leslie Sample was born on Feb. 1, 1939, in Houston, the fourth of five siblings, and began playing piano when he was 5. His survivors include his wife, Yolanda; his son, Nicklas, a jazz bassist with whom he occasionally performed; three stepsons, Jamerson III, Justin and Jordan Berry; six grandchildren; and a sister, Julia Goolsby.

Mr. Sample’s fellow Crusader Mr. Henderson died in April.

In recent years, Mr. Sample had worked with a reunited version of the Crusaders and led an ensemble called the Creole Joe Band, whose music was steeped in the lively Louisiana style known as zydeco. At his death he had been collaborating with Jonatha Brooke and Marc Mantell on a musical, “Quadroon,” which had a reading in July at the Ensemble Theater in Houston.

Correction: September 18, 2014
An obituary on Monday about the pianist Joe Sample misstated the year his album “Soul Shadows” was released. It was 2004, not 2008.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE: SEPTEMBER 21, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is annually held on September 21 to recognize the efforts of individuals, organizations and governments to end conflict and promote peace.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of Peace English
Día Internacional de la Paz Spanish
יום השלום הבינלאומי Hebrew
اليوم العالمي للسلام Arabic
평화의 날 Korean
Weltfriedenstag German

Alternative name

Peace Day

International Day of Peace 2014 Theme: The Right of Peoples to Peace

Sunday, September 21, 2014

International Day of Peace 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – personal or political.

UN International Day of Peace

The dove is a symbol often associated with the International Day of Peace.

©iStockphoto.com/Sue McDonald

What do people do?

On the International Day of Peace, also known as Peace Day, people around the world take part in various activities and organize events centered on the theme “peace”. Events vary from private gatherings to public concerts and forums involving large audiences. Activities include:

  • Interfaith peace ceremonies.
  • A toast for peace.
  • A peace choir.
  • Lighting candles.
  • Peace prayers.
  • A peace convoy of vehicles.
  • Tree planting for peace.
  • Art exhibitions promoting peace.
  • Picnics for peace.
  • Peace walks.

Organizations such as Roots & Shoots, an international environmental and humanitarian program for youth, show their support for the event on an annual basis. Young people involved in Roots & Shoots may engage in activities such as crafting giant peace dove puppets from re-used materials and flying the doves in their communities. People from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds also commit to organizing an International Day of Peace Vigil. Some groups observe a minute of silence at noon in every time zone across the world on Peace Day.

Public life

The UN’s International Day of Peace is a global observance and not a public holiday. It is a day when nations around the world are invited to honor a cessation of hostilities during the day.

Background

A UN resolution established the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September each year until 2002, when September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. The assembly decided in 2001 that the International Day of Peace should be annually observed on September 21 starting from 2002. By setting a fixed date for the International Day of Peace, the assembly declared that the day should be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.

By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged people to work in cooperation for this goal. Since its inception, Peace Day has marked personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people worldwide and many events are organized each year to commemorate and celebrate this day.

Symbols

The peace dove flying with an olive branch in its beak is one of the most commonly featured symbols for the day. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam a white dove is generally a sign for peace. The dove can also represent “hope for peace” or a peace offering from one person to another, hence the phrase “to extend an olive branch”. Often, the dove is represented as still in flight to remind people of its role as messenger.

External links

International Day of Peace: September 21

International Day of Peace Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Tue Sep 18 1990 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 17 1991 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 15 1992 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 21 1993 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 20 1994 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 19 1995 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 17 1996 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 16 1997 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 15 1998 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 21 1999 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 19 2000 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 18 2001 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sat Sep 21 2002 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sun Sep 21 2003 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 21 2004 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Wed Sep 21 2005 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Thu Sep 21 2006 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Fri Sep 21 2007 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sun Sep 21 2008 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Mon Sep 21 2009 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Tue Sep 21 2010 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Wed Sep 21 2011 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Fri Sep 21 2012 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sat Sep 21 2013 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sun Sep 21 2014 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Mon Sep 21 2015 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Wed Sep 21 2016 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Thu Sep 21 2017 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Fri Sep 21 2018 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Sat Sep 21 2019 International Day of Peace United Nations observance
Mon Sep 21 2020 International Day of Peace United Nations observance

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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE OZONE LAYER: SEPTEMBER 16, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE OZONE LAYER

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer focuses on the importance of protecting human health and the environment.

Local names

Name Language
International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer English
Día Internacional de la Preservación de la Capa de Ozono Spanish
היום בינלאומי לשימור שכבת האוזון Hebrew
اليوم العالمي للحفاظ على طبقة الأوزون Arabic
오존층 보존을위한 국제의 날 Korean
Tag für die Erhaltung der Ozonschicht German

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2014 Theme: Ozone Layer Protection: The Mission Goes On

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
List of dates for other years

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated on September 16 every year. This event commemorates the date of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987.

UN International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone

The earth’s ozone layer plays an important role in protecting human health and the environment.

©iStockphoto.com/Stephen Strathdee

What do people do?

On this day primary and secondary school educators throughout the world organize classroom activities that focus on topics related to the ozone layer, climate change and ozone depletion. Some teachers use educational packages from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) that have been specifically tailored to address topics about the earth’s ozone layer.

Other activities that are organized by different community groups, individuals, schools and local organizations across the world include: the promotion of ozone friendly products; special programs and events on saving the ozone layer; the distribution of the UNEP’s public awareness posters to be used for events centered on the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer; and the distribution of awards to those who worked hard to protect the earth’s ozone layer.

Public Life

The UN’s International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

In 1987 representatives from 24 countries met in Montreal and announced to the world that it was time to stop destroying the ozone layer. In so doing, these countries committed themselves, via the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to rid the world of substances that threaten the ozone layer.

On December 19, 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed September 16 to be the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date when the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987. The day was first celebrated on September 16, 1995.

Symbols

Many promotional items used for the day feature images of the sun, sky, or earth’s natural environment to represent the ozone’s importance in protecting the environment. Selected winning paintings from the 1998 Children’s Painting Competition, which was part of UNEP’s public awareness campaign at the time, have since been reproduced on posters, calendars, publications, and other material.

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer Observances

Select another year-range:
1777–1799
1800–1849
1850–1899
1900–1949
1950–1999
1990–2020
2000–2049
2050–2099
2100–2149
2150–2199
2200–2249
2250–2299
2300–2349
2350–2399
2400–2449
2450–2499
2500–2549
2550–2599
2600–2649
2650–2699
2700–2749
2750–2799
2800–2849
2850–2899
2900–2949
2950–2999
3000–3049
3050–3099
3100–3149
3150–3199
3200–3249
3250–3299
3300–3349
3350–3399
3400–3449
3450–3499
3500–3549
3550–3599
3600–3649
3650–3699
3700–3749
3750–3799
3800–3849
3850–3899
3900–3949
3950–3999

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sat Sep 16 1995 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Mon Sep 16 1996 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Tue Sep 16 1997 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Wed Sep 16 1998 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Thu Sep 16 1999 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sat Sep 16 2000 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sun Sep 16 2001 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Mon Sep 16 2002 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Tue Sep 16 2003 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Thu Sep 16 2004 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Fri Sep 16 2005 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sat Sep 16 2006 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sun Sep 16 2007 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Tue Sep 16 2008 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Wed Sep 16 2009 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Thu Sep 16 2010 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Fri Sep 16 2011 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sun Sep 16 2012 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Mon Sep 16 2013 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Tue Sep 16 2014 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Wed Sep 16 2015 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Fri Sep 16 2016 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sat Sep 16 2017 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Sun Sep 16 2018 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Mon Sep 16 2019 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance
Wed Sep 16 2020 International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer United Nations observance

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY: SEPTEMBER 15, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Democracy is observed on September 15 each year.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of Democracy English
Día Internacional de la Democracia Spanish
היום הבינלאומי של דמוקרטיה Hebrew
اليوم الدولي للديمقراطية Arabic
민주주의의 날 Korean
Internationaler Tag der Demokratie German

 International Day of Democracy 2014 Theme: Engaging Young People on Democracy

Monday, September 15, 2014

International Day of Democracy 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Democracy is annually held on September 15 to raise public awareness about democracy. Various activities and events are held around the world to promote democracy on this date.

Definition of democracy typed on a typewriter.

The International Day of Democracy aims to raise public awareness about democracy – its meaning and importance.

©iStockphoto.com/Richard Goerg

What do people do?

Many people and organizations worldwide, including government agencies and non-government organizations, hold various initiatives to promote democracy on the International Day of Democracy. Events and activities include discussions, conferences and press conferences involving keynote speakers, often those who are leaders or educators heavily involved in supporting and endorsing democratic governments and communities.

Leaflets, posters and flyers are placed in universities, public buildings, and places where people can learn more about how democracy is linked with factors such as freedom of expression and a tolerant culture. Organizations, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), organize activities such as public opinion surveys about democracy and political tolerance.

There has been a campaign, known as the Global Democracy Day Initiative, which involves a petition being made to the UN and heads of states to officially adopt October 18 as Global Democracy Day to support International Day of Democracy.

Public life

The International Day of Democracy is a UN observance day but it is not a public holiday.

Background

The UN strives to achieve its goals of peace, human rights and development. It believes that human rights and the rule of law are best protected in democratic societies. The UN also recognizes a fundamental truth about democracy everywhere – that democracy is the product of a strong, active and vocal civil society.

The UN general assembly decided on November 8, 2007, to make September 15 as the annual date to observe the International Day of Democracy. The assembly invited people and organizations, both government and non-government, to commemorate the International Day of Democracy. It also called for all governments to strengthen their national programs devoted to promoting and consolidating democracy. The assembly encouraged regional and other intergovernmental organizations to share their experiences in promoting democracy.

The International Day of Democracy was first celebrated in 2008. The UN general assembly recognized that the year 2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the first International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, which gave people a chance to focus on promoting and consolidating democracy worldwide.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map represents all the people of the world. It has been featured in black against a white background.

International Day of Democracy Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Mon Sep 15 2008 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Tue Sep 15 2009 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Wed Sep 15 2010 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Thu Sep 15 2011 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Sat Sep 15 2012 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Sun Sep 15 2013 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Mon Sep 15 2014 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Tue Sep 15 2015 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Thu Sep 15 2016 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Fri Sep 15 2017 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Sat Sep 15 2018 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Sun Sep 15 2019 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance
Tue Sep 15 2020 International Day of Democracy United Nations observance

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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR SOUTH-SOUTH COOPERATION: SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR SOUTH-SOUTH COOPERATION

Quick Facts

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation is observed on September 12 each year.

Local names

Name Language
International Day for South-South Cooperation English
Día de las Naciones Unidas para la Cooperación Sur-Sur Spanish
יום האומות המאוחדות לשיתוף פעולת דרום הדרום Hebrew
باليوم العالمي للتعاون بين بلدان الجنوب Arabic
남 – 남 협력을위한 유엔의 날 Korean
Internationaler Tag für Süd-Süd-Zusammenarbeit German

International Day for South-South Cooperation 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

International Day for South-South Cooperation 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation is annually observed on September 12.

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation celebrates economic, social and political developments in many developing countries.

©iStockphoto.com/adrian beesley

Originally observed on December 19, the date for the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation was moved to September 12 in 2011. It commemorates the date when the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a plan of action in 1978 to promote and implement technical cooperation among developing countries.

What do people do?

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation aims to raise people’s awareness of the UN’s efforts to work on technical cooperation among developing countries. It also celebrates the economic, social and political developments made in recent years by regions and countries in the south. It is a time for individuals and organizations to agree on the importance of South-South cooperation, in complementing North-South cooperation, to support low-income countries in achieving development goals.

On this day political leaders from different countries reaffirm their goals in working with UN leaders to reinforce or strengthen ties on their commitment to South-South cooperation in developing countries. This can be done through speeches, action plans, special seminars or conferences, or press announcements. Educators in the area of social or political sciences may highlight the day through classroom activities that bring forth an awareness of issues centered on the event.

Public life

The United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation is not a public holiday so public life is not affected.

Background

In 1978 the UN General Assembly established the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation to promote, coordinate and support South-South and triangular cooperation on a global level. Two regional service centers, one in Asia and one in Africa, support South-South cooperation by pooling resources and by offering different types of services.

In 2003, the General Assembly declared December 19 to be observed as the UN Day for South-South Cooperation. But in 2011, the Assembly moved the date to September 12, to mark the date when it adopted the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.

The assembly urged all UN organizations and other institutions to enhance their efforts to mainstream the use of South-South cooperation in designing, formulating, and implementing their regular programs.

These organizations were also asked to consider increasing various resource allocations to support South-South cooperation initiatives. Recent initiatives have been tied with the Tsunami relief projects. In recent times a silent revolution has taken place among fast-track performers such as Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, South Africa, and Thailand.

Symbols

The UN emblem consists of a projection of the globe centered on the North Pole. It depicts all continents except Antarctica and four concentric circles representing degrees of latitude. The projection is surrounded by images of olive branches, representing peace. The emblem is often blue, although it is printed in white on a blue background on the UN flag.

International Day for South-South Cooperation Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sun Dec 19 2004 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Mon Dec 19 2005 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Tue Dec 19 2006 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Wed Dec 19 2007 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Fri Dec 19 2008 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Sat Dec 19 2009 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Sun Dec 19 2010 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Mon Dec 19 2011 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Wed Sep 12 2012 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Thu Sep 12 2013 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Fri Sep 12 2014 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Sat Sep 12 2015 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Mon Sep 12 2016 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Tue Sep 12 2017 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Wed Sep 12 2018 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Thu Sep 12 2019 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance
Sat Sep 12 2020 International Day for South-South Cooperation United Nations observance

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SKYWATCH: COMET LANDING SITE PICKED, COUNTING ALL THE SKY’S STARS, AND MORE

LATEST NEWS

Where Will Philae Land on Comet 67P?
On November 11th, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft will dispatch the heavily instrumented Philae lander to an area called “Site J” on one end of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Small Galaxy Boasts Big Black Hole


Astronomers have detected a supermassive black hole in the center of a tiny galaxy – where it has no right to be.

OBSERVING HIGHLIGHTS

9,096 Stars in the Sky – Is That All?


Ten thousand stars bedazzle the eye on a dark night. Wait, how many?

Tour September’s Sky: Farewell to Saturn


The astronomical calendar says autumn arrives on September 22nd. It’s a season of transition, with plenty of celestial comings and goings in the evening sky.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, September 19-27


Sky & Telescope’s weekly celestial-events calendar, with sky views, offers selected astronomy sights for your unaided eyes, binoculars, or a telescope.

COMMUNITY

Calling All U.S. Amateur Astronomers


NASA’s Night Sky Network is conducting a new survey in order to better help the amateur astronomy community in the United States.

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HATEWATCH: PAIR ACQUITTED IN NEVADA MURDER OF ANTI-RACIST SKINHEADS

Pair Acquitted in Nevada Murder of Anti-Racist Skinheads

By Don Terry on September 4, 2014 – 12:05 pm

Despite his sister’s and ex-girlfriend’s dramatic testimony against him, Ross Hack, the alleged neo-Nazi mastermind behind the ambush murders of two anti-racist skinheads 16 years ago, was found not guilty today by a federal jury in Las Vegas.

Hack’s co-defendant, Leland Jones, was also acquitted after the two week trial that included testimony from an unlikely parade of white supremacists and meth addicts and at least one apparent Holocaust denier, who testified as a character witness for the defense.

The racially diverse jury deliberated for more than a day and a half before announcing its verdict around 9:30 a.m. local time.

Melissa Hack.

The verdicts bring to a close a cold case revealing a hot war. For decades, racist and anti-racist skinheads have battled in the streets and music venues, often violently. Rarely, though, has the conflict resulted in murder, let alone a double murder as it did in a remote patch of sand and rocky dirt in the desert about 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas, sometime between the last minutes of July 3 and the first minutes of July 4, 1998.

That’s when the anti-racist activists, Lin “Spit” Newborn and Daniel Shersty, were ambushed and shot to death, prosecutors say, by six neo-Nazi skinheads, including two women who lured the victims to the desert with the promise of a night of partying.

Also testifying against Hack and Jones was John “Polar Bear” Butler, the only one of the skinhead conspirators to be tried and convicted of the slayings. Butler, like the two women, said the ambush was Hack’s idea and Hack and Jones had in fact fired the first shots.

But there was no physical evidence, no fingerprints or DNA or CSI television show science to tie the defendants to the 16-year-old crime scene.

The not-guilty verdict was a blow to the government, which has a conviction rate in federal court of more than 90%. The verdict was a moment of pure elation for “the entire Hack family,” Hack’s lawyer, William Kennedy, a federal public defender, told Hatewatch today. “This has been hanging over Ross’ head for 16 years,” Kennedy said. “He didn’t plan it. He didn’t participate in it. He wasn’t there. He didn’t do it. And he’s always been not guilty.”

Jones’ lawyer, James Hartsell, told Hatewatch that the jurors obviously took the case “very seriously in how long it took them to deliberate.”

“They didn’t rush to judgment,” Hartsell said. “They considered all the evidence and or lack of evidence before rendering a verdict.”

During the trial, Kennedy repeatedly attacked the veracity of the government’s star witnesses, branding them a trio of liars and meth addicts, willing to say anything to reduce their time behind bars. Butler, with an extensive criminal record and a longtime addiction to meth, was convicted in state court of the murders in 2000. Now 44, he is serving two life sentences.

Hack’s younger sister, Melissa, 39, and Hack’s ex-girlfriend, Mandie Abels, 36, were the women who lured Newborn and Shersty to their deaths. In plea agreements with the government, both women pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and both testified against Hack and Jones in exchange for reduced prison terms.

The women said the phony date and the real ambush were both Hack’s idea. They also testified that they witnessed Hack and Jones open fire minutes after Newborn and Shersty arrived at the “party” along an isolated stretch of desert, lined with towering power line poles.

“Ross, why?” Melissa Hack shouted across the courtroom from the witness stand at her brother, gently rocking in his chair at the defense table. “Our lives are ruined. My mother’s life is ruined. The victims’ lives are ruined.

“Why?” she wailed. “Because of fucking hate. That’s why.”

Newborn, who was 24 and black, and Shersty, a white, 20-year-old U.S. Air Force airman, claimed allegiance to the loosely organized anti-racist movement called SHARP or Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, the bitter enemies of racist skinheads.

Charismatic and popular, Newborn worked in a local body piercing shop and was the initial target of the murder plot. Shersty was killed because he happened to be hanging out with Newborn when the two women walked into the shop and asked Newborn to party with them under the stars.

The sixth alleged skinhead killer that night, Daniel Hartung, was never charged in the case. A former member of the violent Hammerskin Nation, Hartung died in a car crash at age 36 in 2012, the same year the Hacks and Jones were arrested for the killing.

Also in 2012, Abels quietly pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and agreed to testify. Last May, Melissa Hack reached a similar deal with prosecutors.

Abels, Butler and Melissa Hack told essentially the same chilling and tragic story of race, hate and murder. It was, Abels said, “a vile deed.”

There was so much shooting, Butler testified, that he was temporarily blinded by the muzzle flashes as he chased after Newborn, fleeing for his life across the desert.

As part of his plea agreement, Butler has entered the Witness Protection Program and has been moved to a secret prison location. Abels has already started serving a 15-year sentence. Melissa Hack is expected to receive a 20-year term when she is sentenced later this month. Both women could have their terms reduced because of their cooperation.

Kennedy, the federal public defender, called a string of character witnesses to the stand who vouched for Ross Hack’s nonviolent past. One of them was a man named Tyler Vickery, who played guitar in a skinhead white-power band called Stronghold with Ross Hack, who played drums. Vickery also dated Hack’s girlfriend, Abels, after Hack travelled to Germany shortly after the murders in 1998. Abels had gone to Europe with Hack but returned after six weeks. Hack stayed for six years.

Vickery, a pair of sunglasses perched on his baldhead, told the court that he had never known Hack to be violent and that Abels was “generally untruthful.”

During cross-examination, prosecutor Sumner asked Vickery if he and Hack were white supremacists.

“I’d use white racialist,” he said.

Sumner asked, what’s the difference?

“White supremacist is a little of a buzzword,” he said, adding a couple of minutes later that “generally speaking” white people’s abilities are better than those of other races.

Then the prosecutor asked Vickery about a “white racialist” event he and Hack played in Florida called Hate Fest. There, the men posed for a photo with a group of friends, including Abels. In the background was an image of SS lightning bolts. Vickery explained that the bolts were the symbol of the Schutzstaffel of Nazi Germany, the personal bodyguard, he said, of Hitler.

Sumner asked him if they were the same soldiers involved in the atrocities against the Jews of Europe.

“I don’t know about any atrocities in Europe,” he said. “I’ve heard stories about atrocities. Whether that’s correct or not, I have my doubts.”

Apparently, the jurors also had doubts and sent Hack and Jones home.

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