24 June 1957

In Roth v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment.

In Roth v. United States (1957), the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark ruling concerning the First Amendment and its protection of free speech. The case involved Samuel Roth, a publisher and bookseller convicted under a federal statute for mailing obscene materials. Roth argued that the statute violated his First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, held that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote the majority opinion, stating that “obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press.” The Court established a new standard for defining obscenity, which included material whose “dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest” and that is “utterly without redeeming social importance.”

The ruling clarified that the First Amendment does not protect obscene material, thus allowing for regulation and prohibition of such content. This case set the precedent for subsequent obscenity cases and was a pivotal moment in First Amendment jurisprudence, balancing the protection of free speech with societal interests in regulating obscenity.

The Roth test for obscenity, although later refined by subsequent rulings such as Miller v. California (1973), remains a significant development in U.S. constitutional law.

9 April 1957

The Suez Canal in Egypt is cleared and opens to shipping following the Suez Crisis.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was a major international conflict that occurred in Egypt and had far-reaching implications for global politics.

Background:

Egypt had been under British influence for decades, primarily due to its strategic importance as the location of the Suez Canal, a vital waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.
In 1952, a group of Egyptian military officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk in a coup, establishing a new government.
Nasser emerged as a charismatic and nationalist leader, aiming to modernize Egypt and assert its independence from foreign influence.

Nationalization of the Suez Canal:

In July 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, a move that shocked Britain and France, the two major stakeholders in the canal company.
The canal’s nationalization was seen as a direct challenge to British and French interests, as they depended heavily on it for their trade routes to Asia and the Middle East.

International Response:

Britain and France, along with Israel, which was hostile to Egypt due to ongoing conflicts, saw Nasser’s actions as a threat to their interests and sought to regain control of the canal.
In secret coordination, Israel invaded Egypt on October 29, 1956, quickly capturing the Sinai Peninsula.
Britain and France issued an ultimatum for both sides to cease hostilities and withdraw from the canal zone, but their true intention was to intervene militarily.

Military Intervention:

Ignoring the ultimatum, British and French forces launched a joint military operation on October 31, 1956, with the aim of seizing control of the Suez Canal.
However, their actions were met with widespread international condemnation, including from the United States and the Soviet Union, who feared that the crisis could escalate into a larger conflict.
Under pressure from the United States and the Soviet Union, the United Nations passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Egypt.

Resolution:

Facing international pressure and condemnation, Britain, France, and Israel agreed to withdraw their forces from Egypt.
The crisis ended with the withdrawal of British, French, and Israeli troops, and the Suez Canal remained under Egyptian control.
The crisis marked a significant shift in the balance of power in the Middle East, with Nasser emerging as a hero to many in the Arab world and demonstrating that former colonial powers could no longer impose their will on newly independent nations without consequences.

10 October 1957

The Windscale fire results in Britain’s worst nuclear accident.

The Windscale fire, also known as the Windscale Pile No. 1 incident, was a significant nuclear accident that occurred in the United Kingdom in October 1957. It is considered one of the worst nuclear accidents in British history.

Windscale was a facility located in Cumbria, England, and it housed two nuclear reactors known as “piles.” These piles were used for the production of plutonium for the UK’s nuclear weapons program and later for electricity generation.

The incident began on October 10, 1957, when a routine cooling operation in Pile No. 1 went awry. The reactor experienced overheating due to a combination of design flaws and operator errors. As the temperature inside the reactor continued to rise, there was a fear that it could lead to a catastrophic explosion.

In a desperate attempt to prevent an explosion and the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere, a decision was made to cool the reactor using forced air circulation. This action, however, resulted in a fire breaking out inside the reactor. Firefighters and plant workers struggled for several days to bring the fire under control, using various methods, including the use of water and carbon dioxide to extinguish the flames.

During the fire-fighting efforts, a significant amount of radioactive contamination was released into the atmosphere. Fortunately, the prevailing wind direction carried most of the radioactive plume out to sea, minimizing immediate health risks to the nearby population. However, there were concerns about potential long-term health effects for those involved in the response efforts and the possibility of contaminated milk from local farms.

In the aftermath of the Windscale fire, significant efforts were made to contain and clean up the contamination. The reactor involved in the accident, Pile No. 1, was permanently shut down, and it was later renamed Windscale Reactor No. 1. The incident led to a reevaluation of safety protocols and design improvements in nuclear reactors.

29 July 1957

The International Atomic Energy Agency is established.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an independent international organization that serves as the global focal point for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology. It was established on July 29, 1957, by the United Nations (UN) in response to the “Atoms for Peace” initiative proposed by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953.

The IAEA’s main objectives are:

Promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy: The agency facilitates the transfer of nuclear technology and knowledge to member states for various peaceful applications, such as electricity generation, medicine, agriculture, industry, and scientific research.

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons: The IAEA plays a crucial role in verifying and ensuring that nuclear materials and facilities are used exclusively for peaceful purposes. It safeguards nuclear materials and facilities to prevent their diversion to nuclear weapons development.

Enhancing nuclear safety and security: The agency assists member states in establishing and maintaining high levels of nuclear safety to protect people and the environment from the potential hazards of nuclear activities. It also supports efforts to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.

Promoting nuclear science and technology: The IAEA fosters research and development in nuclear science and technology, helping member states benefit from the peaceful applications of nuclear energy.

The IAEA operates through its Secretariat, which is based in Vienna, Austria. Member states voluntarily contribute to the agency’s budget and resources, and its work is guided by the General Conference and the Board of Governors. The General Conference, consisting of all member states, meets annually to set the agency’s policies and budget, while the Board of Governors, composed of 35 member states elected by the General Conference, meets periodically to make decisions on various technical and policy matters.

The IAEA collaborates with other international organizations, governments, and non-governmental organizations to fulfill its mission effectively. Its work is vital in promoting the responsible and safe use of nuclear energy while preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

9 April 1957

The Suez Canal in Egypt is cleared and opens to shipping following the Suez Crisis.

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing ships to sail directly between Europe and Asia without having to navigate around the southern tip of Africa. The idea of a canal across the Isthmus of Suez dates back to ancient times, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the canal became a reality.

In 1854, a French diplomat named Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained a concession from the Egyptian government to build a canal across the isthmus. Construction of the canal began in 1859, and it was completed ten years later, in 1869. The canal was initially owned by a French company, but in 1875, the British government purchased a controlling stake in the canal to ensure its strategic importance to Britain.

The Suez Canal played a significant role in world trade, allowing for faster and more efficient transportation of goods between Europe and Asia. However, control of the canal was a source of tension between European powers, particularly Britain and France. In 1956, the Egyptian government nationalized the canal, prompting an invasion by Israel, Britain, and France. The Suez Crisis, as it became known, lasted for several months and ended with the withdrawal of the invading forces.

After the crisis, the canal was reopened to international traffic, and the Egyptian government retained control of the waterway. In the decades since, the canal has been widened and deepened to accommodate larger ships, and it remains an important conduit for global trade.

21 June 1957

Ellen Fairclough gets sworn in as Canada’s first female Cabinet Minister.

The Rt. Hon. Ellen Louks Fairclough. The addition of the title “Rt. Hon.” to her name may appear strange given that, in Canada, that title has normally been reserved for prime ministers, governors general and justices of the Supreme Court of Canada. And most of them have been men. However, on Canada Day in 1992, Queen Elizabeth II bestowed that title on Ellen Fairclough, almost 30 years after she left Parliament. It recognized her life of many achievements, the most notable being that she was the first woman to enter the federal Cabinet, on June 21, 1957. She was also elected to the House of Commons five times, a record unmatched by any other woman during the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, Fairclough was responsible for Indian Affairs when, in 1960, many Aboriginal Canadians were given the right to vote. In January 2003, she celebrated her 98th birthday.

The early years
She was born Ellen Louks Cook, in Hamilton, Ontario, on Saturday, January 28, 1905, the third of five children in a fifth-generation Canadian family. On her mother Nellie’s side, she was descended from Huguenots and United Empire Loyalists who moved to Norfolk County from Vermont in 1790. Her paternal ancestors emigrated to Ancaster, Upper Canada, in 1802, from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her father, Norman Ellsworth Cook, had farmed in Norfolk County, but the light soil did not produce sufficient crops and, in 1904, he moved his family to a house on the western edge of Hamilton. In her memoirs, Fairclough states, “Although we never went hungry, we were not an affluent family. Money was often hard to come by, especially when ‘hard times’ descended on Hamilton, which they seemed to do periodically.” When Ellen was nine, the family could not even afford each child’s school fees of 10 cents per month.

A life of long hours of work began early. When Ellen was 13, a flu epidemic swept the country. When most of her family fell ill, she was spared and, while caring for four very ill people, also had to prepare three meals a day for her father and two boarders, make beds, and give medication and other general nursing aid. She usually obtained high marks at school, but by today’s standards did not receive a lot of formal education. Her family could not afford “collegiate,” so instead she enrolled in a commercial studies program. Since taking a streetcar would cost five cents, she walked to school. She would learn secretarial work, which would pave the way for a series of bookkeeping jobs. Sundays consisted of morning attendance at Zion Methodist Church, bible study, Sunday school in the afternoon, playing the piano and singing – but only religious music. In 1921, at the age of 16, at a church-related social function, she met Gordon Fairclough. Ten years later they would elope to marry in Buffalo, New York. Their only child, Howard, was born 10 months later.

In those years, Fairclough does not appear ever to have thought of someday trying to be elected to Parliament, but she did serve in the trenches of the Conservative Party. She and Gordon joined the Junior Conservative Club and she would become the president of the local Young Conservatives organization and vice-president of the Young Conservatives of Ontario.

During a 10-year period, Fairclough held many clerical and bookkeeping jobs. In Saturday’s Child: Memoirs of Canada’s First Female Cabinet Minister, Margaret Conrad has written that “Ellen was an ambitious and enthusiastic recruit to the new bureaucratic processes, increasingly making her mark by her ability to ‘fix’ people’s muddled financial records.” She took several correspondence courses and earned accreditation as a general accountant, making her part of a very male-dominated profession. Her accounting practice grew and she became the Secretary for the Canadian Wholesale Grocers’ Association. Those duties included visits to Ottawa to meet departmental officials and members of Parliament.

29 July 1957

The International Atomic Energy Agency is set up.

1280px-Flag_of_IAEA.svg

The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology. The Agency’s genesis was U.S. President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 December 1953.

The U.S. Ratification of the Statute by President Eisenhower, 29 July 1957, marks the official birth of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In the press conference following the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., President Eisenhower evoked his address to the UN General Assembly in December 1953, at which he had proposed to establish the IAEA.

The IAEA is strongly linked to nuclear technology and its controversial applications, either as a weapon or as a practical and useful tool. The ideas President Eisenhower expressed in his speech in 1953 helped shape the IAEA’s Statute, which 81 nations unanimously approved in October 1956.

The Agency was set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization within the United Nations family. From the beginning, it was given the mandate to work with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies. The objectives of the IAEA’s dual mission – to promote and control the Atom – are defined in Article II of the IAEA Statute.

In October 1957, the delegates to the First General Conference decided to establish the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Until the opening of the Vienna International Centre in August 1979, the old Grand Hotel next to the Vienna Opera House served as the Agency’s temporary headquarters.

The IAEA has also two regional offices located in Toronto, Canada and Tokyo, Japan, as well as two liaison offices in New York City, United States of America and Geneva, Switzerland. The Agency runs laboratories specialized in nuclear technology in Vienna and Seibersdorf, Austria, opened in1961, and, since 1961, in Monaco.