Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On May 14

On this day in ...
... 1950, Karen Lorraine Speier was born in San Francisco. As a girl she chose her confirmation name in honor of then-1st Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. At age 28, by then a lawyer and aide to U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Cal.), Speier (left) joined him on a 1978 factfinding mission to Jonestown, a compound in a jungle in Guyana to which a charismatic Bay Area preacher, Jim Jones, had moved with many followers. She said later of her decision:

'In those days, there weren't many women legal counsels in Congress, and I worried how it would reflect on women if I appeared reluctant to go.'

At Jonestown Ryan was killed, and Jones and nearly all his followers committed suicide by drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. Speier began her own career as an elected official in 1980; since then, she's served in numerous local and state posts. On April 8 of this year she won a special election for a vacated congressional seat. Within days House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the oath of office to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Cal.).
... 1948 (60 years ago today), at midnight, the British mandate over Palestine ended and the independent state of Israel came into being. Almost at once President Harry S. Truman announced the United States' recognition, and attacks were launched from neighboring states.

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